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Brandon Sanderson biography and books reviewed

Brandon Sanderson was born in December of 1975 in Lincoln, Nebraska. As a child Brandon enjoyed reading, but he lost interest in the types of titles often suggested for him, and by junior high he never cracked a book if he could help it. This all changed in 8th grade when an astute teacher, Mrs. Reader, gave Brandon Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly. Brandon thoroughly enjoyed this book, and went in search of anything similar. He discovered such authors as David Eddings, Melanie Rawn, Robert Jordan, Anne McCaffrey, and Orson Scott Card. Brandon continued to be an avid reader through junior high and high school. He liked epic fantasy so much that he even tried his hand at writing some. His first attempts, he says, were dreadful.


In 1994 Brandon enrolled at Brigham Young University as a Biochemistry major. From 1995-1997 he took time away from his studies to serve as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Brandon often says that it was during this time in Seoul, Korea that he realized that he didn't miss chemistry one bit, but he did miss writing. Upon his return to BYU Brandon became an English major, much to the dismay of his mother, who had always hoped he would become a doctor.


Brandon began writing in earnest, taking a job as the night desk clerk at a hotel because they allowed him to write while at work. During this era he went to school full time during the day, worked nights to pay for his schooling, and wrote as much as he could. He says it made for a rather dismal social life, but he finished seven novels during his undergraduate years. Brandon submitted many manuscripts for publication . . . and accumulated quite a pile of rejection letters. In spite of this he continued to be a dedicated writer.


Volunteering for The Leading Edge, BYU's Sci Fi/Fantasy magazine, was a wonderful experience for Brandon. He read lots of submissions, formed some lifelong friendships, and even served as Editor in Chief during his senior year.


Brandon learned much about the business side of being a writer by taking a class from David Farland, author of the popular Runelords series. One piece of advice Dave gave Brandon was to attend conventions, such as WorldCon and World Fantasy, in order to connect with industry professionals. Brandon and a small group of friends who were also aspiring writers began to do so. He eventually met both his current agent and one of his editors at conventions.


It was in 2003, while Brandon was in the middle of a graduate program at BYU, that he got a call from an editor at Tor who wanted to buy one of Brandon's books. Brandon had submitted the manuscript a year and a half earlier, and had almost given up on hearing anything, so he was surprised and delighted to receive the offer. In May of 2005 Brandon held his first published novel, Elantris, in his hands. Tor also published Brandon's Mistborn trilogy, and has plans to release other Sanderson titles in the future.


In 2004 after graduating with his Master's degree in creative writing from Brigham Young University, Brandon was asked to teach the class he had taken as an undergraduate student from Dave Farland. In spite of his busy schedule, Brandon continues to teach this one section of creative writing focused on science fiction and fantasy because he enjoys helping aspiring writers. It also gets him out of the house, he says.


In July of 2006 Brandon married Emily Bushman. Emily and Brandon ran in many of the same circles at BYU during their student days, since Emily majored in English as well. They never met, however, until a mutual friend set them up on a date in 2005. Emily had spent seven years as a teacher, but chose to quit with the birth of their son Joel in October of 2007. Emily now works from home part time as Brandon's business manager.


Brandon's repertoire expanded into the children's market when Scholastic published Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians, a middle-grade novel, in October of 2007. Nancy Pearl gave this book a very favorable review on National Public Radio, which pleased Sanderson fans. Since the release of Alcatraz Brandon has enjoyed visiting schools and interacting with younger readers.


In December of 2007 Brandon was chosen by Harriet Rigney to complete A Memory of Light, book twelve in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. Brandon is now hard at work on this epic project.

Brandon Sanderson reviews

Mitosis by Brandon Sanderson

Epics still plague Newcago, but David and the Reckoners have vowed to fight back.

"All in all, I wouldn’t recommend this story to anyone. It’s alright, but definitely nothing special, and more derivative than anything I’ve ever read of Brandon Sanderson."

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Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

And by the end of the book, I was caught, desperately wanting more of the story, more of the characters, and more of everything. I hope that Sanderson will put a bit more time and effort into polishing the next book (called ‘Firefight’, if the final page reveal is to be believed) so that there is a bit more depth and feeling. So while it may not be the height of his writing abilities, Steelheart is definitely recommended.

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Firefight by Brandon Sanderson

Babylon Restored, formerly Manhattan, may give David answers. Ruled by the mysterious High Epic, Regalia, David is sure Babylon Restored will lead him to what he needs to find. And while entering another city oppressed by a High Epic despot is a gamble, David's willing to risk it. Because killing Steelheart left a hole in David's heart. A hole where his thirst for vengeance once lived. Somehow, he filled that hole with another Epic—Firefight. And he's willing to go on a quest darker, and more dangerous even, than the fight against Steelheart to find her, and to get his answers.

"Despite how fast I read Brandon Sanderson novels – especially Reckoners and ‘Mistborn’ novels – there is nothing simple about his writing. The stories are complex, fascinating, and filled to the brim with three-dimensional characters – sometimes, though, those characters get only passing moments to shine, or none at all."

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Calamity by Brandon Sanderson

They told David it was impossible - that even the Reckoners had never killed a High Epic. Yet, Steelheart - invincible, immortal, unconquerable - is dead. And he died by David's hand. Eliminating Steelheart was supposed to make life more simple. Instead, it only made David realize he has questions. Big ones. And there's no one in Newcago who can give him the answers he needs.

"In the end, the ‘Reckoners’ is a missed opportunity. Unsurprisingly, the germ of an idea is brilliant – as with anything Brandon Sanderson creates. However, unlike literally everything else he has ever written, the execution here is lacklustre. There are points of brilliance, sections of fast-paced action or dramatic character development, but not enough to be relied upon."

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Legion by Brandon Sanderson

This is an awesome concept with awesome characters and that familiar Sanderson style of writing. I feel like with all this awesomeness around the place, the plot never gets a chance to shine through and become a meaningful aspect of the story (see what I did there... yeah I'm probably going to the special Hell they reserve for book reviewers). This would be perfect as an episodic TV Series, and Sanderson has confirmed that he has signed a deal to try and make this happen. An excellent Saturday morning read.

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Legion: Skin Deep by Brandon Sanderson

Leeds is a genius; his mind contains too much information. And to cope it has split his skills off into individual personalities. They crowd his head, and he lives with them in a vast, empty mansion. While he can call on any one of them to solve a problem, he also walks a line across an all-consuming madness.

"Legion: Skin Deep is an absolutely fantastic read, and while I'd like more and more of it, I think I understand why Brandon Sanderson has kept this to be a series of novellas. Maybe, in time, it will be expanded to full-length status (though that would require a lull in the author's absurdly busy schedule of books to write), but in the meantime, I'm content to read these gems whenever they make an appearance."

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Legion: Lies of the Beholder by Brandon Sanderson

Stephen Leeds, also known as 'Legion', has a unique mental condition. He can become an expert on any subject in hours... and with every new area of expertise a new 'aspect' of Stephen is created.

Is he schizophrenic? Possibly. Does that make him an incredible intelligence agent? Definitely.

And this is his final, and perhaps his strangest, adventure.

It begins with two unrelated events: the disappearance of Armando, one of Stephen's many "aspects," and an unexpected cry for help from Sandra, the woman who, many years before, helped him learn to live with his condition . . . and the combination of the two leads to a sinister high-tech firm specializing in advanced methods of human incarceration.

"Legion: Lies of the Beholder might simply be one of the best things Brandon Sanderson has written, and while I’m sure there is a call somewhere for him to write more, or longer tales of Stephen Leeds, I think these novellas were the right choice: They let Sanderson play in a different field, away from his Cosmere shards and mammoth tome-length series’, and reveals a truly caring and genuine author. Let Legion live on as a high point in Sanderson’s oeuvre."

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The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

In his Mistborn series Brandon Sanderson has written one of the seminal fantasy stories of his generation. Compelling and flawlessly executed with exquisite skill, the enormous magnitude of the story being told showcases the breathtaking imagination at work here. Themes like religion and death are dealt with, power and helplessness, corruption and goodness. Weaved together like a master basket maker, this story lets you grow attached too, love, and lose, characters that you never thought would be lost.

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The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson

The impossible has happened. The Lord Ruler is dead has been vanquished. But so too is Kelsier the man who masterminded the triumph. The awesome task of rebuilding the world has been left to his protege Vin; a one-time street urchin, now the most powerful Mistborn in the land. Worryingly for her Vin has become the focus of a new religion, a development that leaves her intensely uneasy. More worryingly still the mists have become unpredictable since the Lord Ruler died and a strage vaprous entity is stalking Vin. As the siege of Luthadel intensifies the ancient legend of the Well of Ascension offers the only glimmer of hope. But no-one knows where it is or what it can do...

"If you want a good series to read, then Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy definitely seems like a good bet. Two out of three books are spectacular, mixing the metaphysical with political, gripping action with heart wrenching characters, brilliant storytelling with smooth prose."

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The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson

Tricked into releasing the evil spirit Ruin while attempting to close the Well of Ascension, new emperor Elend Venture and his wife, the assassin Vin, are now hard-pressed to save the world. This adventure brings the Mistborn epic fantasy trilogy to a dramatic and surprising climax as Sanderson's saga offers complex characters and a compelling plot, asking hard questions about loyalty, faith and responsibility.

"This review is probably one of the most verbose and superlative I’ve ever written. Maybe because it’s late and I’m tired, but maybe, just maybe, this book is one of the seminal fantasy stories of this generation of writers. Feel free to disagree, but I honestly feel that this book is one of the best that I’ve ever had the opportunity, and sheer pleasure, to read."

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The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson

Whether or not you’ve had the chance to read Sanderson’s original Mistborn trilogy, I think you should pick this up. You don’t need to have read the previous three books to understand this one, nor do you need to have read them to enjoy The Alloy of Law. This book stands on its own, and is a wonderful read that kept me reading well into the early hours of the morning. If you’ve read the series, then you’ll love this; if you haven’t, then I can almost guarantee you that you’ll want to after having read this.

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Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson

Waxillium Ladrian has returned to the capital city of Elendel from the far flung roughs. Elendel is crisscrossed by canals and railways and towers reach for the sky but this is still a city of dangers and of magic; Allomancy and Feruchemy can still change the world. Wax faces many more adventures.

"In Shadows of Self you can feel the world, it's mists and people. You can smell the horse leather and the coal in the air and you just want more. "

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The Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson

The Bands of Mourning are the mythical metalminds owned by the Lord Ruler, said to grant anyone who wears them the powers that the Lord Ruler had at his command. Hardly anyone thinks they really exist. A kandra researcher has returned to Elendel with images that seem to depict the Bands, as well as writings in a language that no one can read. Waxillium Ladrian is recruited to travel south to the city of New Seran to investigate. Along the way he discovers hints that point to the true goals of his uncle Edwarn and the shadowy organization known as The Set.

"The Bands of Mourning serves as testament to Brandon Sanderson’s status as a master of fantasy storytelling."

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Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

Elantris was built on magic and it thrived. But then the magic began to fade and Elantris began to rot. And now its shattered citizens face domination by a powerful Imperium motivated by dogged religious views. Can a young Princess unite the people of Elantris, rediscover the lost magic and lead a rebellion against the imperial zealots? Brandon Sanderson's debut fantasy showed his skill as a storyteller and an imaginer of baroque magical systems to be fully developed from the start.

"I must have been one of the few that missed that Brandon Sanderson explosion onto the market a few years ago, at the time I had completely lost faith in fantasy as it seemed every new fantasy novel I picked up lacked creativity, originality, and that sense of wonder and awe that typically defines every great fantasy story. Having discovered that there was a whole entire world of great fiction outside of fantasy I rarely ventured further than the Crime and Thriller aisle (probably because it was closer to the front door), and so it wasn't until about 18 months ago when I started getting back into fantasy that I saw a copy of The Gathering Storm in the book store penned by some guy named Brandon Sanderson. It was six months ago when I saw Josh's review of The Final Empire that I actually bought my first Brandon Sanderson book, and it was five days later, having just read the last 300 pages of The Final Empire in one sitting, that I found my faith in the future of fantasy writing had been restored and that I must read everything written by this guy named Brandon Sanderson." Fantasy Book Review

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Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson

Warbreaker is the story of two sisters, who happen to be princesses, the God King one of them has to marry, a lesser god, and an immortal trying to undo the mistakes he made hundreds of years ago. Theirs is a world in which those who die in glory return as gods to live confined to a pantheon in Hallandren's capital city. A world transformed by BioChromatic magic, a power based on an essence known as breath. Using magic is arduous: breath can only be collected one unit at a time from individual people. But the rewards are great: by using breath and drawing upon the color in everyday objects, all manner of miracles and mischief can be performed. Brandon Sanderson proves again that he is a master of what Tolkien called 'secondary creation,' the invention of whole worlds, complete with magics and myths all their own.

"I've come to expect a lot from Brandon Sanderson after reading Elantris and the Mistborn Trilogy, yet he amazed me once again with Warbreaker. The colourful world full of intrigue and mystery made a big impression, as did the shocking plot twists. I dare not spoil the delights that are awaiting any who have yet to pick up this masterwork. On a side-note, the ending of this story is closed but in the epilogue he clearly implies that he could return to this world at a later point, for which I am very, very glad." Fantasy Book Review

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Infinity Blade: Awakening by Brandon Sanderson

Adaptations of popular video games do not normally translate very well into any medium, they are often awkward and clunky, restricted by the mechanics of the game, and devoid of whatever it was in the video game that appealed to you so much. There are so few decent attempts at movies or books based on video games because video games are a completely different medium, they rely on player interaction and gaming mechanics to tell you the story over the course of around 12 - 15 hours. Well trust the ever productive Brandon Sanderson, the author who it seems can do no wrong, to defy conventional wisdom and attempt to tell a decent story based on a video game. And you know what, his attempt is better than decent - Infinity Blade: Awakening might just be the best adaptation of a popular video game that I have experienced.

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The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson

Shai is a Forger, a foreigner who can flawlessly copy and re-create any item by rewriting its history with skilful magic. Condemned to death after trying to steal the emperor's sceptre, she is given one opportunity to save herself. Though her skill as a Forger is considered an abomination by her captors, Shai will attempt to create a new soul for the emperor, who is almost dead.

"The Emperor's Soul is a fantastic addition to Sanderson's already bulging bibliography. At 175 pages, it is on the short side, but unlike his previous attempts you really feel like you get a full story in these 175 pages. For those big Sanderson fans, there are a number of neat little Cosmere Easter eggs scattered throughout this story, but you don't need any knowledge of prior Sanderson works to fully appreciate this novel. This is an easy recommendation to every fantasy reader out there." Ryan Lawler, Fantasy Book Review

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The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson

If you are looking to entice a young reader into a good book, then this is for you, with just the right amount of terror to keep it interesting, and characters that ring true. If you want a good book to read over the weekend, then the same applies again. Sanderson might have written this for a younger audience, but he hasn’t excluded their parents.

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Arcanum Unbounded by Brandon Sanderson

Welcome to New York Times and Sunday Times bestseller Brandon Sanderson's first collection of short fiction. These wonderful works, originally published individually, have been collected for the first time and convey the true expanse of the Cosmere. Telling the exciting tales of adventure Sanderson fans have come to expect, Arcanum Unbounded include the Hugo Award-winning novella 'The Emperor's Soul', an excerpt from the graphic novel 'White Sand', and the never-before-published Stormlight Archive novella 'Edgedancer'. This superb collection also includes essays and illustrations which offer an insight into the numerous worlds in which the stories are set.

"For any fan of Brandon Sanderson, this book is a must have. But more importantly, I feel that this book is a perfect jumping on point for Sanderson-newbies. Each story is prefaced with a short note about whether it contains spoilers or not, so there is no chance to unintentionally reveal something you didn’t want to know. The stories are a wonderful introduction to the worlds of Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere, and his talent as a writer, and are all individually very satisfying."

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Snapshot by Brandon Sanderson

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Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

Spensa's world has been under attack for hundreds of years. An alien race called the Krell leads onslaught after onslaught from the sky in a never-ending campaign to destroy humankind. Humanity's only defense is to take to their ships and fight the enemy in the skies. Pilots have become the heroes of what's left of the human race.

Spensa has always dreamed of being one of them; of soaring above Earth and proving her bravery. But her fate is intertwined with her father's - a pilot who was killed years ago when he abruptly deserted his team, placing Spensa's chances of attending flight school somewhere between slim and none.

No one will let Spensa forget what her father did, but she is still determined to fly. And the Krell just made that a possibility. They've doubled their fleet, making Spensa's world twice as dangerous... but their desperation to survive might just take her skyward...

"Skyward captivated me unlike any other book has in the past decade. It not only left me wanting more, but left me concerned for people who, in my mind at least, truly exist and who are beautifully special. Skyward is Brandon Sanderson’s greatest work in years, possibly ever, and reminds us of his capacity to inspire us to aspire to be more, to be better – to claim the stars."

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Starsight by Brandon Sanderson

All her life, Spensa has dreamed of becoming a pilot. Of proving she's a hero like her father. She made it to the sky, but the truths she learned about her father were crushing. The rumors of his cowardice are true--he deserted his flight during battle against the Krell. Worse, though, he turned against his team and attacked them. 

Spensa is sure there's more to the story. And she's sure that whatever happened to her father in his starship could happen to her. When she made it outside the protective shell of her planet, she heard the stars--and it was terrifying. Everything Spensa has been taught about her world is a lie.

But Spensa also discovered a few other things about herself--and she'll travel to the end of the galaxy to save humankind if she needs to.

"It takes little effort to understand that Starsight is an intense ride with equal measures of thrilling action and emotional resonance. Once again, he knocks it out of the park; it’s another Grand Slamderson. Every new project he tackles, his storytelling somehow seems to get better and better. His brain belongs in a museum. It’s truly a gift that we get to experience so many stories from such a prolific writer. Don’t be put off by the YA label. Everyone should join Spensa on her journey, and strap in tight. There’s many more light years of space mileage to cover yet."

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The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

With The Stormlight Archive, Brandon Sanderson clearly stamps his authority as the master of the "Hollywood" style of epic fantasy. It is hard to comprehend just how much stuff is going on and how this book impacts the wider Cosmere (the universe that ties all of Sanderson's books together). Big action set pieces of extraordinary people doing extraordinary things is exactly what many want from their epic fantasy.

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Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

Return to a planet swept by apocalyptic storms, a world tipping into war as aristocratic families move to control the shard blades and shard plates, ancient artifacts from a past civilisation that can win wars. As the world tips into a war for control of the mythical artifacts of power made from Shard, characters are swept up into new dangers which will threaten their integrity and their lives. 

"With Words of Radiance, Sanderson clearly stamps his authority as the master of the "Hollywood" style of epic fantasy. It is hard to comprehend just how much stuff is going on this book, not to mention how this book impacts the wider Cosmere (the universe that ties all of Sanderson's books together). Big action set pieces of extraordinary people doing extraordinary things is exactly what I want from my epic fantasy, and Sanderson delivered beyond what I could have hoped for. I'm tired, I can barely keep my eyes open, but I can't stop smiling. That's my endorsement for this book."

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Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson

The Alethi armies commanded by Dalinar Kholin won a fleeting victory at a terrible cost: The enemy Parshendi summoned the violent Everstorm, and now its destruction sweeps the world and its passing awakens the once peaceful and subservient parshmen to the true horror of their millennia-long enslavement by humans. While on a desperate flight to warn his family of the threat, Kaladin Stormblessed must come to grips with the fact that their newly kindled anger may be wholly justified. Nestled in the mountains high above the storms, in the tower city of Urithiru, Shallan Davar investigates the wonders of the ancient stronghold of the Knights Radiant and unearths the dark secrets lurking in its depths. And Dalinar realizes that his holy mission to unite his homeland of Alethkar was too narrow in scope. Unless all the nations of Roshar can put Dalinar's blood-soaked past aside and stand together - and unless Dalinar himself can confront that past - even the restoration of the Knights Radiant will not avert the end of civilization.

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Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson

Rhythm of War was more of a slog than it needed to be, failed to deliver Sanderson’s previous best in terms of prose and storytelling, and left me feeling utterly baffled by what, if anything, actually happened.

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