World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Brandon Sanderson

Brandon Sanderson
Brandon Sanderson signing.
Born (1975-12-19) December 19, 1975
Lincoln, Nebraska, U.S.
Occupation Writer, creative writing instructor
Nationality American
Alma mater Brigham Young University (B.A., M.A.)
Period 2005–present
Genre Fantasy, science fiction
Notable works Mistborn series
The Stormlight Archive series
final three books in The Wheel of Time series

Brandon Sanderson (born December 19, 1975) is an American writer. He is best known for his Mistborn series and his work in finishing Robert Jordan's epic fantasy series The Wheel of Time. In 2010, Sanderson published The Way of Kings, the first of a ten book series called The Stormlight Archive.

Sanderson worked as an editor for the semi-professional magazine Leading Edge while attending school at Brigham Young University, where he now periodically teaches creative writing. In 2008 Sanderson started a podcast with author Dan Wells and cartoonist Howard Tayler called Writing Excuses, involving topics about creating and producing genre writing and webcomics.


  • Brief biography 1
  • Career 2
  • Sanderson's Laws 3
    • Sanderson's First Law 3.1
    • Sanderson's Second Law 3.2
    • Sanderson's Third Law 3.3
  • The Cosmere 4
  • Bibliography 5
  • Selected awards and honors 6
  • See also 7
  • Notes 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10

Brief biography

Sanderson was born in Lincoln, Nebraska.[1][2] After completing a two year LDS mission in Seoul, South Korea in 1997[3] he attended Brigham Young University as an English major. During his graduate program at BYU Sanderson was on the staff of Leading Edge, a semi-professional speculative fiction magazine published by the university. He completed his master's degree in creative writing in 2005.[4]

In 2006 Sanderson married Emily Bushman, a fellow English major and teacher,[5] who later became his business manager.[6] They reside, with their three children, in American Fork, Utah.[7] Sanderson currently teaches creative writing at Brigham Young University, in addition to working on his own writing.[8][9]

Sanderson is a participant in the weekly podcast Writing Excuses with authors Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, and web cartoonist Howard Tayler.


Sanderson in 2007

Sanderson's first novel, Elantris, was published by Tor Books on April 21, 2005, to generally positive reviews.[10][11] This was followed in 2006 by The Final Empire, the first book in his Mistborn fantasy trilogy, where "allomancers" — people who have the ability to ‘burn’ various metals and alloys after ingesting them — can enhance senses and allow control over powerful supernatural forces. He followed up in 2007 with a sequel, The Well of Ascension.

Sanderson then published the children's novel Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians, again in 2007, about a boy named Alcatraz with a unique gift: he’s very good at breaking things. He also confronts a group of evil librarians who are bent on taking over the world. In 2008, the third and final book in the Mistborn trilogy was published, titled The Hero of Ages, as well as the second book in the Alcatraz series, titled Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener's Bones.

In 2009, Tor Books published Warbreaker, which originally appeared serially on Sanderson’s website while he was writing the novel from 2006 to 2009. The same year the third Alcatraz book followed, titled Alcatraz Versus the Knights of Crystallia.

After Robert Jordan’s death in September 2007, Sanderson was selected by Jordan's widow and editor, Harriet McDougal, to complete the final book in Jordan’s epic fantasy series The Wheel of Time. McDougal asked him to finish the series after she was deeply impressed by his first Mistborn novel.[12] Tor Books made the announcement on December 7, 2007.[13] After reviewing what was necessary to complete the series, Sanderson and Tor announced on March 30, 2009, that a final three books would be published instead of just one. The first of these, The Gathering Storm, was published on October 27, 2009, and reached the number-one spot on the New York Times bestseller list for hardcover fiction.[14][15]

In 2010, Sanderson published the first novel, titled The Way of Kings, in a planned ten-book series called The Stormlight Archive. It achieved the number seven slot on the New York Times hardcover fiction bestseller list.[16] Towers of Midnight, the second-to-last Wheel of Time book, was published just over a year after The Gathering Storm on November 2, 2010, also debuting at number one on the bestseller list.[17] The fourth Alcatraz novel, Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens, was published a month later on December 1.

In October 2011, he finished a novella ebook, Infinity Blade: Awakening, based on the action role-playing, iOS video game Infinity Blade, developed by Chair Entertainment and Epic Games.[18] A standalone sequel to the Mistborn trilogy, Mistborn: The Alloy of Law, was published in November 2011, where it debuted at number seven on the New York Times bestseller list.

On August 31, 2012, Sanderson published a science fiction novella entitled Legion. Another short work, The Emperor's Soul, appeared in October 2012. A few months later, on January 8, 2013, A Memory of Light was published, the final book in The Wheel of Time series.[19] On May 14, 2013, Sanderson published the first in a new young adult series titled The Rithmatist. Another young adult book series, The Reckoners, began with the publication of Steelheart on September 24, 2013.[20][21] Words of Radiance, the second book in the Stormlight Archive, was published on March 4, 2014.[22] The second novella in the Legion series, Legion: Skin Deep, was published in November 2014. In January 2015, the second book of The Reckoners, titled Firefight, was published.

Sanderson's Laws

Sanderson's First Law

"An author's ability to solve conflict satisfactorily with magic is directly proportional to how well the reader understands said magic."[23]

While originally created as a rule for magic systems in fantasy novels, Sanderson has specified that this law need not apply just to fantasy, but is also applicable to science fiction. This Law was originally defined in Sanderson's online essay "Sanderson's First Law".[23] In the essay he qualifies the two extremes[note 1] of design as being:

Hard Magic
Magic/technology has well defined rules that the audience understands. As a result, one can use this to solve conflict more easily as the capabilities are cleanly defined. Sanderson classifies this as "Hard Magic". C.L. Wilson in her essay Worldbuilding 101 - Making Magic[24] advocated this method of creation, stating, "...create your rules, then follow them."
Soft Magic
Magic/technology has unclear or vague rules, or none at all. This allows for a greater sense of wonder to be attained for the reader, but the ability to solve problems without resorting to deus ex machina decreases. Sanderson classifies this as "Soft Magic". Lawrence Watt-Evans specifically advised "The trick is to be a benevolent and consistent deity, not one who pulls miracles out of a hat as needed."[25]

Sanderson's Second Law

"Limitations > Powers"[23]

Or in other words, a character's weaknesses are more interesting than his or her abilities. It was initially set down in Episode 14 of the podcast Writing Excuses.[26][note 2]

John Brown, likewise looked to Sanderson's work in his own essay involving magic systems, noting "What are the ramifications and conflicts of using it?"[27] Patricia Wrede likewise noted several issues on this topic ranging from magic suppressing other technologies, to how a magic might affect farming.[28][29]

In explaining the second law, Sanderson references the magic system of Superman, claiming that Superman's powers are not what make him interesting, but his limits, specifically his vulnerability to kryptonite and the code of ethics he received from his parents.

Sanderson's Third Law

"Expand what you already have before you add something new."[30]

The Third Law implies that the writer should go deeper with worldbuilding before going wider.

Sanderson points out that magic does not take place in a vacuum, a good magic system should be interconnected with the world around it. It is related to the ecology, religion, economics, warfare, and politics of the world it inhabits. The job of the author is to think further than the reader about the ramifications of the magic system. If magic can turn mud into diamonds, that has an effect on the value of diamonds. Sanderson states that readers of genre fiction are interested not just in the magic system but how the world and characters will be different because of the magic.[31]

The Cosmere

The Cosmere is the name of the universe in which the majority of Sanderson's books exist. This idea came from his desire to create an epic length series without requiring readers to buy a ridiculous number of books. Because of that he hides connections to his other works within each book, creating this "hidden epic". In the end the Cosmere Cycle will include between 32-36 books.[32]

The story of the Cosmere is about a mysterious being called Adonalsium, who existed on a world known as Yolen. Something made Adonalsium shatter into sixteen different Shards, of which each bears immense power. The sixteen people who took these Shards created new worlds, populating them with people and different types of magic. However, each Shard has an Intent, such as Ruin or Honor, and they became molded to it. A man named Hoid travels these so-called Shardworlds, interfering with the people of those worlds when they become heroes and come in contact with the Shards.[33]


Selected awards and honors

Sanderson has been nominated for and also won multiple awards for his various works. See Writing Excuses for additional awards and nominations.

Year Organization Award title,
Work Result Refs
2005 Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Best Book Award,
Best Epic Fantasy Novel Award
Elantris Won [34]
2006 World Science Fiction Convention John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer -- Nominated
Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Best Book Award,
Best Epic Fantasy Novel Award
Mistborn Nominated [35]
2007 World Science Fiction Convention John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer -- Nominated
Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Best Book Award,
Best Epic Fantasy Novel Award
The Well of Ascension Nominated [36]
Polytechnic University of Catalonia UPC Science Fiction Award Defending Elysium Won [37]
LDStorymakers Whitney Awards,
Best Speculative Fiction
The Well of Ascension Nominated [38]
Whitney Awards,
Best Youth Fiction
Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians Nominated
2008 Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Best Book Award,
Best Epic Fantasy Novel Award
The Hero of Ages Won [39]
LDStorymakers Whitney Awards,
Best Speculative Fiction Award
The Hero of Ages Won [40]
2009 LDStorymakers Whitney Awards,
Best Speculative Fiction
Warbreaker Nominated [41]
2010 LDStorymakers Whitney Awards,
Best Speculative Fiction Award
The Way of Kings Won [42]
LDStorymakers Whitney Awards,
Best Novel of the Year Award
The Way of Kings Won [42]
Goodreads Goodreads Choice Awards 2010,
Best Fantasy of 2010
Towers of Midnight Won [43]
2011 DGLA David Gemmell Legend Award The Way of Kings Won [44]
LDStorymakers Whitney Awards,
Best Speculative Fiction Award
The Alloy of Law Won [45]
2012 Goodreads Goodreads Choice Awards 2012,
Best Fantasy of 2012
The Emperor's Soul Nominated [46]
2013 World Science Fiction Society Hugo Award,
Best Novella
The Emperor's Soul Won [47]
World Fantasy Convention World Fantasy Award,
Best Novella
The Emperor's Soul Nominated [48]
Goodreads Goodreads Choice Awards 2013,
Best Fantasy of 2013
A Memory of Light Nominated [49]
LDStorymakers Whitney Awards,
Best Young Adult—Speculative
Steelheart Won [50]
Goodreads Goodreads Choice Awards 2013,
Best Young Adult Fantasy of 2013
Steelheart Nominated [51]
2014 World Science Fiction Society Hugo Award,
Best Novel
The Wheel of Time Nominated [52]
DGLA David Gemmell Legend Award,
Best Novel
A Memory of Light Nominated [53]
Goodreads Goodreads Choice Awards 2014,
Best Fantasy of 2014
Words of Radiance Nominated [54]
Whitney Awards 2014 Whitney Finalists,
Words of Radiance Won [55]
2015 DGLA David Gemmell Legend Award Words of Radiance Won

See also


  1. ^ In the essay, Sanderson clarifies, "Most writers are somewhere in the middle between these two extremes."
  2. ^ From the same episode, this law is also called Tayler's First Law. "If the energy you are getting from your magic is cheaper than letting a donkey do it, your medieval economy just fell apart."


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^ a b c
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^
  39. ^
  40. ^
  41. ^
  42. ^ a b
  43. ^
  44. ^
  45. ^
  46. ^
  47. ^
  48. ^
  49. ^
  50. ^
  51. ^
  52. ^
  53. ^
  54. ^
  55. ^

External links

  • – Brandon's writing podcastWriting Excuses
  • Brandon Sanderson at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
  • The Coppermind – Fan-made wiki for all of Brandon's Sanderson's books
  • 17th Shard - Official fansite of Brandon Sanderson
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.