Reading order for Cosmere series by Brandon Sanderson

  • My entry into Brandon Sanderson's works is Mistborn Trilogy, I finished and loved it. Then I got to know that many of his series are connected and happen in the same universe - Cosmere. Next I started with the Way of Kings, but am now kind of worried if I might read the series in the wrong order. So what is the right order to read them? is it the publication order..?

    • Elantris (2005)
    • Mistborn Trilogy
    • Warbreaker (2009)
    • The Stormlight Archive: The Way of Kings (2010)
    • Mistborn: The Alloy of Law (2011)
    • The Emperor's Soul (2012, novella)
    • Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell (2013, short story published in Dangerous Women)
    • The Stormlight Archive: Words of Radiance (2014)

    or I have seen people suggest the following order too,

    • Mistborn Trilogy
    • Elantris and the Emperor's Soul
    • The Way of Kings
    • Warbreaker
    • Words of Radiance
    • The Alloy of Law
    • Shadows of Self

    I have also read posts where they say it doesn't matter which order you read it in. So am confused, since I have already started the Way Of Kings (Only a few chapters in), should I stop it and go back to Elantris, and follow an order, or should I just continue finish this and pick other books in an order.

    The *easiest* thing to do is just read them in published order. As far as I know there isn't any reason to do otherwise, and if you pay enough attention you'll even get most of the Easter Eggs.

    I will note that the Mistborn books are just *better written books* that Elantris... some people recommend reading them first to get a better idea what Sanderon's capable of than Elantris. But if you have already read his later books then this isn't even a problem for you.

    Stormlight Archive is just better then earlier books IMO - this alone may (or may not) be reason to start there.

    My advise would be to read Mistborn or Stormlight whenever you want and forget about Elatris because it's kind of a demo tape.

  • Cosmere Books Reading Order as of 01/2016

    This is a chart I created to give people a way to decide on what order to read Brandon Sanderson's Cosmere books. It is current as of January 2016.

    Welcome to SF&F! This chart looks very thorough and easy to use. Do you have a source for where you got this order from?

    +1 for the work on the image, and the logic, although this isn't really a reading order as much as what can spoil what.

    I created the chart myself and it's my opinion based on reading every Cosmere book so far. The only thing I'd mention is that it is recommended that someone new to Brandon's work start somewhere other that The Stormlight Archive. My first was the original Mistborn Trilogy and I've been hooked on Brandon Sanderson's work ever since.

    @BrandtBoulden IMO, people new to Sanderson's work should just read the novels in published order which is, roughly, Elantris -> Mistborn -> Warbreaker -> Stormlight -> Mistborn 2. (though Stormlight & Mistborn 2 are a bit interleaved, it doesn't really matter that much.) Perhaps you can note the publication dates on your chart to make that easier?

    @BrandtBoulden I might recommend putting a dotted line from Elantris to Mistborn: Secret History, as there is a plot point or two in M:SH that connects to Elantrian lore. And you might want to add Edgedancer.

    Needs an update for Edgedancer!

    Do you still have the original file? If you uploaded it, that would be convenient so this could be updated as the universe expands.

    *Dark One* will not be Cosmere, as it takes place on Earth, and will be a TV show according to The Coppermind.

  • Some advice from Reddit here:

    1. Elantris
    2. Mistborn 1-3
    3. Emperor's Soul
    4. Warbreaker
    5. Stormlight Archives 1-2
    6. Mistborn 4

    I posted this because, as many people don't know, Brandon Sanderson's works take place in a universe called the cosmere. Each series is on a different planet in the universe (Except for Emperor's Soul/Elantris). There also some characters called world hoppers who go from planet to planet, the most prevalent of these is one named Hoid who shows up in every book. While this reading order isn't necessary per se, I assert that it is better.

    The reasons for the OP's assertion is subjective, but it seems to be a well-informed decision.

    For a complete overview of Sanderson's plans with Cosmere, as well as some discussions about it, read here (warning, spoilers present on this blog):

    The shape of Sanderson's cosmology and setting is much clearer now and we will certainly learn more about the Cosmere through future books. However, it sounds like we might have a very long (more than a decade?) wait before we get to The Liar of Partinel and the Dragonsteel books which will fully explain what is going on. In the meantime, we can theorise and assess.

    I would suggest that the reading order does not matter as yet as Sanderson is planning to release many more novels in the Cosmere setting.

    Good... Then I feel like I should stop WOK and start elantris..... But it does look like there isn't a set reading order for this...

    Yes, I imagine Sanderson plans to bind the worlds together in a way (also talked about in the blog) in one of his later novels, but I don't think we should worry about the reading order as of yet.

    You are right... Thank you for the suggestion.... Will start elantris now...!

  • Mostly each series is almost completely separate from the others. So while you do have to make sure your read each series in its proper order (for example, mistborn 1 before mistborn 2) you don't have to worry about ordering your reading of the various serieses in relation to one another (for example, you could start with Stormlight 1 or Mistborn 1 but don't read stormlight 2 before stormlight 1 or mistborn 2 before mistborn 1).

    Sanderson is using mini chapters in The Stormlight series to start tieing things together. but it is still so loosely connected that reading order won't mess you up.

    As such, Stormlight 1 and 2 do contain some very minor characters that are more important characters in other serieses. However, they are very minor characters in Stormlight and you won't miss anything in the Stormlight plot if you don't know who the characters are.

    Only other thing is that from what I hear "Mistborn: Secret History" contains some spoilers for "Bands of Mourning". So it sounds like Bands of morning should be read before Secret History.

    Also, *Elantris* should be read before *Mistborn: Secret History* or you'll have no idea what's going on during a significant segment of the plot.

    @MasonWheeler Honestly, it's not even very clear what is happening when you do know where those characters come from. We know practically nothing about that group still.

  • While the graph is a good option, if you want to really feel the world growing bit by bit:

    1. Mistborn Era 1.
    2. Elantris & The Emperor's soul
    3. Warbreaker
    4. Stormlight 1-2 (WOK, WOR)
    5. Edgedancer (which is missing in the graph but it's actually important)
    6. Oathbringer (Stormlight 3)
    7. Mistborn era 2
    8. Mistborn: A Secret History (Can be read before Era 2 or after Bands of Mourning, as it contains really small spoilers for it)

    Notice that you can read Arcanum Unbounded after Edgedancer (which is a part of it) but not before Words of radiance and definitely only after you've read Elantris and Mistborn. You should try it after Era 2 if you can.

    That's what I did. Without any spoilers, it made every bit of the Cosmere so much better, as things grew around me all the time and I learn stuff in a way that felt very natural.

    I'm not really familiar with Cosmere but per my understanding here this is missing some of the works in the series. Do you know where they would fit in your suggested order? If so you can [edit] that in.

    These are the main stories in the Cosmere. The missing works are part of Arcanum Unbounded (including Edgedancer and A Secret History), you can read them later. But Secret History and Edgedancer are a part of these main plotlines.

    I disagree with this advice with regards to Arcanum Unbounded. You don't have to specifically read any of Stormlight before almost all of Arcanum Unbounded. The only tie-in is Edgedancer. The rest of AU is basically irrelevant to SA. You can basically read Arcanum Unbounded whenever you want, as long as you pay attention to the preface for each story which explains what other works it spoils or should be read first.

    Reading after SA makes you feel a part of a larger world. Reading AU **after** reading SA and learning about shards was a really fun experience.

    It's not like you need to learn that much about the shards to read AU, or that it spoils much if anything about what is happening with them. If you aren't very familiar with realmatics, all Khriss' talk about each of the systems is really quite vague. It mentions shards and investiture, but never explains what those are. I don't think any of the stories delve into that besides Secret History. More importantly IMO, your advice is fundamentally misleading. You say you "definitely" have to read Elantris and Mistborn before AU; but AU doesn't work like that. It could easily be cleared up.

  • I really just recommend reading in series order. So I'd start with any of these:

    • Elantris (Elantris, short stories)
      • His first published book. It is currently stand-alone, with sequels planned and two short stories. Elantris must be read before "The Hope of Elantris"1; it takes place partially after the ending, with extremely major spoilers.
      • "The Emperor's Soul" can be read before Elantris2. It takes place on another continent on the same planet, with some connections. However, r/Cosmere's guide recommends reading it after Elantris. I haven't read it yet, so I have no opinion.
    • Mistborn Era 1 (The Final Empire, The Well of Ascension, The Hero of Ages, "The Eleventh Metal")
      • The Final Empire was his second published book. None of the books in the first series spoil Elantris or any other series of his.
      • "The Eleventh Metal" can be read before after The Final Empire, but it's not really a very important story.
    • Warbreaker
      • I haven't read it, but according to r/Cosmere's guide, this one really should be read before Words of Radiance.
    • White Sand

    Depends on what you have read:

    • Stormlight Archive (The Way of Kings, Words of Radiance, Edgedancer, Oathbringer)
      • I've read The Way of Kings, and it has no connections that make it necessary to read any other books before it.
      • r/Cosmere's guide says to read Warbreaker before Words of Radiance; I've read neither and have no opinion yet. After Words of Radiance comes Edgedancer, a novella. Then read Oathbringer.
    • Mistborn Era 2/Wax and Wayne (The Alloy of Law, Shadows of Self, The Bands of Mourning, untitled sequel, "Allomancer Jak and the Pits of Eltania")
      • Absolutely must read Era 1 before this. The other books are amazing (and better than these), and these spoil the other series—it's just not worth it.
      • r/Cosmere recommends that Secret History, a novella about Kelsier, should be read after The Bands of Mourning, Elantris, Words of Radiance, and Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell. I haven't read it yet. They more strongly say that at least The Bands of Mourning should be read before it.
    • "Allomancer Jak and the Pits of Eltania" should be after The Alloy of Law. It's got some worldbuilding that is more interesting if you've read the other book.

    Short standalone:

    • Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell. Read whenever you feel like it.
    • Sixth of the Dusk. Read whenever you feel like it.

    How to get these:

    • All mentioned short stories and novellas are in Arcanum Unbounded. Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell was originally in the Dangerous Women anthology, edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois.
    • Some novellas and short stories are available in eBooks and print alone.
    • Warbreaker is under Creative Commons and available free on Brandon's website. Also available in print.
    • Others are all books, available normally in print or eBook.

    1Source (spoilers — it's got the story right there)


    I will update this when I've read more Cosmere books.

    FYI you should totally read Warbreaker when you get a chance. It ties into Stormlight more than the other Cosmere books so far, and is one of my favourite examples of the "slow burn and then explode" plot style that Sanderson has.

  • enter image description here

    With a lot of help from The Coppermind's page on the Cosmere, other guides, hours of research and opinions on it available online I have come up with chart as a guide for reading order and the location of books etc for a noob like me.

    I have just finished the Mistborn Era 1 series, after reading the Reckoners. Now I am determined to read the whole of the Cosmere and am using this as a guide. I hope it may help others.

    Can you explain what this order is based on? Is it chronological or by publishing order or something else entirely?

    @Valorum it’s certainly not either publishing or chronological.

    It's not clear to me, is this saying you should just go down the list? Putting Secret History before Era 2 is also a bit strange.

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