Sanderson FAQ

Sanderson’s official FAQ only has 3 answers, and we all know that he and his assistants are busy people. In the course of co-running the Sanderson Army twitter account, I’ve found that there’s a lot of questions that get asked and answered over and over again, so I decided to throw together a (not so) short FAQ about some Sanderson stuff. Note that any information about unreleased books or other forthcoming items is mostly hear-say, but I will try to cite the source whenever possible. If you have updated information, or see incorrect info, PLEASE LET ME KNOW. If you have a Sanderson question that is not answered here, feel free to ping me on Twitter or comment on this post, and I’ll do my best to answer.

FAQs:

Is Brandon a robot?

Who are Brandon’s helpers/assistants?

What’s in/What *is* the Cosmere?

How should I read the Cosmere/Sanderson works? What should I read next?

What’s the Grand Plan for the Stormlight Archive?

And the overall plan for Scadrial/The Mistborn Series?

What’s the release schedule look like?

What sample chapters are available for unreleased works right now?

What’s up with movie/tv deals?

What’s up with the Mistborn: Birthright game and/or the Board Game and/or the Roleplaying Game?

What are White Sand and/or Aether of Night?

Why are the Alcatraz books not available on Kindle?

What’s up with the Rithmatist sequel?

What about the Warbreaker sequel?

More Legion stories?

Another Perfect State story?

Is Calamity the last Reckoners book?

Will there be any more Wheel of Time books?

When is the next White Sand book coming?

Are there any published Sanderson stories I haven’t read yet?

Can you (Sanderson) give me any writing advice/help?

How much of this FAQ did you (Mark) write off the top of your head?

Answers:

Is Brandon a Robot?

Yes. There is video evidence as well as this post, which tells us where he got the robots (Tony Stark).

In all seriousness, though, Brandon has an amazing output. This year, 2016, he’s released Calamity, The Bands of Mourning, Mistborn: Secret History, and White Sand. We still have Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians: The Dark Talent and Edgedancer as part of Arcanum Unbounded. Not to mention rereleasing the first 4 Alcatraz books with awesome new art and covers. Next year will be another 400k word Stormlight novel. And that’s just what he’s told us about. I don’t blame you for thinking he’s a robot. But in truth, he doesn’t even write that quickly. He’s said that his average writing speed is 500 words per hour, though that will go up when he’s writing exciting scenes, especially near the end of a book. Instead, he writes consistently. When he is on his general daily schedule, Brandon writes 1-5, takes time off to be with his family, and then writes again 10-2/4 in the morning. This adds up to 8-10 hours of writing, every day. He works more than full time at this, and we all love him for it. In addition to writing consistently, Brandon has an amazing team of assistants who handle many of the other tasks that typically bog writers down–they do at least as much work as he does, so don’t forget to tell them thanks too, if you ever see them at a convention or on Twitter.

Who are Brandon’s helpers/assistants?

You can find Brandon’s words about his assistants here, including the introduction of his newest assistant, Adam.

Note: I am NOT an assistant. I’m just some kid on the internet who is obsessed with Brandon’s work, and so I read/listen to everything he puts out online, meaning that I know more about him than is probably healthy.

What’s in/What *is* the Cosmere?

Many of Brandon’s novels and a few of his short stories take place in the same universe, called “the Cosmere”. At some point in the distant future (maybe a decade away), Brandon will start making this much more apparent, and it will be important to have read all of the books set on the various planets. For now, however, you’ll mostly pick up tidbits of characters who appear on different planets–worldhoppers. The first, and most notorious, of these is Hoid.

The Cosmere currently consists of the novels Elantris, Mistborn: The Final Empire, The Well of Ascension, The Hero of Ages, The Alloy of Law, Shadows of Self, The Bands of Mourning, Warbreaker, The Way of Kings, and Words of Radiance, as well as the novellas The Emperor’s Soul, Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell, Sixth of the Dusk, and Mistborn: Secret History.

We’re getting another novella, Edgedancer, in the Cosmere Anthology Arcanum Unbounded this fall. The anthology also comes with some awesome new art and full-page charts of every solar system in the known Cosmere, so we’re going to find out a bit more about it in November.

Before I give this next link, two WARNINGs: First, if you’ve not read all of the Cosmere works, be wary in clicking on links from this page. SPOILERS ABOUND. Also, if you are willing to click on those links, you can say goodbye to the next few hours, as your mind is blown again and again and you can’t stop reading. Here’s the Sanderson Wiki (The Coppermind)’s page on The Cosmere.

How should I read the Cosmere/Sanderson works? What should I read next?

This question is too long to answer here. I’m working on a blog post to try to cover the whole thing, but it’s going to take a while. In the mean time, you might check out this guide.

What’s the Grand Plan for the Stormlight Archive?

The Stormlight Archive series will be 10 books long. The story will be divided into 2x 5-book arcs, meaning that there will be a firm resolution after the 5th book, and a gap of some years (both in the real world and in the book timeline) between the first 5 and the back 5. The prologues of the first 5 will all focus on the feast scene from various points of view, though we don’t know whose points of view will be in the prologues for books 3, 4, or 5. We do know that all 10 of the books will feature a different flashback character. Book 3 is Dalinar’s book, and the remaining two (Current assumption is that Szeth and Dalinar’s books have swapped.) of the “front 5” will be Eshonai and Szeth’s books, currently expected in that order. The flashback characters for the back 5 books are in flux, but the latest report had Sanderson planning (and he has every right to change his mind before then) to feature Lift, Taln, Renarin, Shallan, and Ash (Note: LOTS of possible spoilers at the link, but it’s the best source I can find.). The order of these flashbacks is completely unknown. Also, note that Sanderson has stated multiple times that a flashback character does NOT need to be alive during their book, so it’s entirely possible (and given Sanderson’s history, fairly likely) that some of the characters listed above will die before or during their respective books.

And the overall plan for Scadrial/The Mistborn Series?

The Mistborn books all take place on the planet Scadrial. Sanderson was tired of the trope of planets that stay in technological stasis for thousands of years while following different sets of characters, and so he wanted to do something different. Thus, the Mistborn books were originally planned as a trilogy of trilogies. The first, the Mistborn trilogy, the one that is already out, is epic fantasy. The second, which would take place in a 1980’s level of technology, would be the “modern” era. The third would focus on the world after FTL travel was developed–as a consequence of magic, of course. This has been called the “space opera” trilogy. The current series that Sanderson is working on in this world, featuring Wax and Wayne, was an accident. Sanderson originally started out to write a short story, which turned into a novella, which turned into a short novel, and ended up as The Alloy of Law, after which he sat down and plotted out a trilogy set in the same era (Typical Sanderson…). He has recently changed his terminology to reflect this, calling the original trilogy “Era 1”, Wax and Wayne “Era 2”, 1980’s “Era 3”, and the space opera trilogy “Era 4”. The Era 2 books are considerably shorter than main sequence books, coming in at around 100k words each, but they “are no longer a side project”, which is quite exciting. Sanderson still plans to do the 3 main trilogies on Scadrial, but acknowledges that other stories may pop up in-between. He has stated that he may do more Secret History novellas, but they are not guaranteed.

What’s the release schedule look like?

Sanderson has a lot of stuff coming down the pipeline right now! First off, the confirmed novels with release dates are:

September 6, 2016: Alcatraz Versus The Evil Librarians: Book Five: The Dark Talent. The 5th and final book in the Alcatraz series. Non-Cosmere. The 4th is scheduled for a rerelease on July 19, 2016, and the first three were already rereleased this year. The cover art can be found here.

November 22, 2016: Arcanum Unbounded. This one contains stories that have already been released in the Cosmere, as well as a new novella, Edgedancer, which features Lift and much awesomeness.

And now for the more nebulous stuff:

Stormlight 3 – Oathbringer. Sanderson is at 58% writing on this right now, and has been working diligently on it for a while now. It is confirmed to be Dalinar’s book, with the working title of Oathbringer. Sanderson has finished writing the flashback scenes, and feels like he is more than halfway done. A late 2017 release is the current target. (Please be my birthday!)

Unfettered 2. We don’t know much about this one, but Sanderson’s participation seems to be confirmed. We may know more when the table of contents is unveiled, but even that does not have an official date. It was originally planned for July 1st, but Speakman has decided to push it back for an undetermined period of time. We have no clue what this will be, as Sanderson stated recently that he has “no short fiction works in the pipeline”. A release schedule is not set, either, unfortunately.

What sample chapters are available for unreleased works right now?

A chapter from Stormlight 3 has been released here, but we do not know if it will make it into the final book in anything resembling its current form. There have been a few readings at signings over the past several months that you can likely find on YouTube. A sample chapter of Alcatraz 5 was sent out with the last Sanderson newsletter last January, but Sanderson has asked that the chapter be kept private to newsletter subscribers only. Sanderson provided a cut chapter of his Lift Novella, and another from an unnamed novella, on the Writing Excuses Patreon (You really should be supporting that.). The first three chapters of Edgedancer, the Lift novella, went out with Sanderson’s June 2016 newsletter, and you may be able to sign up through his website and request the newsletter to get the chapter (It’s hilarious), but that is not a guarantee.

What’s up with movie/tv deals?

The latest (and most exciting news) is the Steelheart deal! Carter Blanchard was recently announced to adopt the movie for Shawn Levy at Fox. I remain cautiously optimistic about this deal, since it appears to be the farthest along any Sanderson novel is for movie adaptation, and (at least in my opinion) Steelheart is the easiest to adapt for the big screen, as is the book that would have the widest appeal in today’s DC/Marvel superhero craze.

The option for the Legion TV series expired a while back year, and someone else snatched it up (Someone help with a source?), and there will hopefully be some progress this time.

As far as I can determine, most of Sanderson’s works have been optioned, excepting perhaps The Rithmatist and Elantris–which means that a studio is paying him some money so they can sit on the rights in the case they eventually decide to develop it further. While the fan-made movie trailers look awesome, I’ve heard nothing super hopeful about any of the other adaptations, though Brandon did recently say that an Emperor’s Soul movie was likely to come before a Mistborn movie.

Oh, and if you heard about the Wheel of Time “adaptation”… I ranted about it here. The litigation on that has been completed, and we have heard rumors of a show coming, though we do not know many details yet.

What’s up with the Mistborn: Birthright game and/or the Board Game and/or the Adventure Game?

The computer/console game, called Mistborn: Birthright is, as far as we can tell, stuck in development. The last official update from the makers of the game, back in December 2014, was that release had been delayed until 2016, pushing the timeline back yet again. The page for the game makers has been completely silent since then, and we’ve only heard occasional rumbling that development is still progressing. I wouldn’t hold your breath if you’re anxiously awaiting this.

The outlook for the Board Game and the Adventure Game is a lot more hopeful. The Adventure game is already out, with 2 supplements available, and several more planned. I haven’t personally played it, but I intend to remedy this soon, and I hear it’s rather enjoyable. The Board Game is on Kickstarter right now, and you should totally go back it right now..

What are White Sand and/or Aether of Night?

White Sand and Aether of Night are books that Sanderson wrote before he was published. Neither book is ever intended for publication. They are, however, available for request through Sanderson’s website. Be patient if you request, however, as it can sometimes take several months to get a reply, due to the number of messages that get sent to Sanderson’s already overburdened assistants. If you want to read these in the future, it may be best to request them now, so that you have them available when you decide to go ahead and read them.

White Sand is being adapted into a trilogy of graphic novels, the first of which was just released. It’s unknown how much the plot has changed from the original, but since White Sand was an early Sanderson novel, and he’s gotten considerably better since then, I expect that the plot may have changed significantly, in order to bring it up to his current standards.

Aether of Night contains several elements that have since been cannibalized for other Sanderson books. The book is still considered Cosmere, but it is not even close to being cannon now, though it may still contain some interesting Cosmere relevant tidbits.

When reading both of these works, remember that they’re pre-publication works that have not been fixed up and would need a major rewrite if Sanderson wished to actually publish them. They’re excellent as fun background reading for the truly nerdy Sanderson fans, but if you want to stick to the best stuff, you won’t miss any information that won’t be later revealed in a published volume that is Cosmere relevant.

Why are the Alcatraz books not available on Kindle?

The first 3 should be available now, and the 4th and 5th as well when they are released. The original editions were not available because of rights issues with the previous publisher of those editions.

What’s up with the Rithmatist Sequel?

The sequel to the Rithmatist, titled The Aztlanian, is set in South America, and will follow Joel and Melody on some fun adventures. The Rithmatist is planned and plotted out as a trilogy, and Sanderson started looking at writing The Aztlanian in May 2014, but decided that he needed more time to research it properly before beginning to write. He has since stated that he has completed the research, and simply needs the time to write it now. Sanderson is likely to jump in and make another attempt at writing the Aztlanian after Stormlight 3, which would give a 2017-2018 release date, but, like many of his plans, this is subject to change.

What about the Warbreaker sequel?

It’ll happen (That State of the Sanderson post has a ridiculous amount of information). The title is planned to be Nightblood. However, this one is relatively low on Sanderson’s writing priority list right now, though it will be written.

More Legion stories?

There will be more Legion stories. However, these are short fun stories that Sanderson squeezes in the gaps between writing novels, when he doesn’t have other urgent projects to work on. Right now, with the number of edits due, and Stormlight 3 taking up Sanderson’s prime writing time, it’s highly unlikely that we’ll get another Legion story until 2017 at the earliest. (If you didn’t manage to get the original hardcovers, the UK hardcovers are out now, and so are the US rerelease hardcovers, both of which are fantastic.)

Another Perfect State story?

It’s possible! I mean, it’s not like Sanderson has enough stuff he wants to write, is it?

Is Calamity the last Reckoners book?

Calamity is the last book in the current Reckoners Trilogy. Sanderson has also expressed a desire to put out a companion book of Epic profiles, like the 3 in the special editions of Steelheart/the UK edition of Mitosis (Which I think would be totally awesome.). We’re also going to get this little thing called THE APOCALYPSE GUARD. Set in the same universe, but following a different set of characters. He also has mentioned SPOILERS: A Mizzy book, (that’s a link) but don’t know if that’s part of the Apocalypse Guard series or not.

Will there be any more Wheel of Time books?

No. We were lucky enough to get a conclusion to the series as it is. Robert Jordan, for much of his life, was against allowing other people to write in his universe. It was not until a few weeks before his death that he decided that he wanted someone else to finish his series. His wishes were always for the main story to be finished, but both Sanderson and Jordan’s widow/editor Harriet McDougal have stated firmly that there will be no more books in the universe. They both believe that Jordan would not have wished it. In addition, while there were copious notes and several chapters/scenes already written to form the basis for the last three books, there are only a handful of sentences outlining the supposed “outrigger” novels.

That does not mean that this is the end of the Wheel of Time universe, however. The Wheel of Time companion is out now, and while it’s not a Sanderson project (and doesn’t even have his name on it), it is awesome, and answers many questions about Randland (Make sure you read the Bela entry.). In addition, There is always the possibility of a TV show, and Brandon has mentioned games set in the universe as another way of expanding on the storyline.

When is the next White Sand book coming?

Brandon has estimated that the graphic novels will be out one per year. Note that the 3 planned graphic novels cover the currently written White Sand prose draft, and plans are uncertain beyond that. Sanderson has expressed interest in writing more of these, but only if the first 3 are popular enough (So go make them popular!).

Are there any published Sanderson stories I haven’t read yet?

It’s possible–nay, likely. The man writes a ridiculous amount. You can find a full and up-to-date listing here. I’ve personally read everything that has been published, and I’m waiting to read White Sand and Aether of Night until I feel the time is right. (Probably when he’s in the middle of something big and we’re not getting regular new books from him.)

Can you (Sanderson) give me any writing advice/help?

Sanderson is a busy man. If you’re lucky enough to catch him at a con, you can ask for a few words of advice, but getting advice online is an iffy proposition. Never fear! There are many resources here!

Note: Brandon is not the only author who offers writing advice, and if you’re just getting started, in addition to the above links, look around at some of your other favorite authors’ websites. Some, such as Brent Weeks, have extensive sections of writing advice available, all for free.

How much of this FAQ did you (Mark) write off the top of your head?

Most of it. I went back and put in sources when I was done. Of course, as time goes by, I’ll update this when new information becomes available. I’m certifiably obsessed with Sanderson. I don’t think there’s a cure, and if there is, keep it away from me.

Note that most of the sources came from either Sanderson or Peter’s Twitter feeds, Reddit posts, or interviews, many of which are transcribed and archived by his official fansite, the 17th Shard. I didn’t become a Sanderson nerd overnight, I just watch those locations, waiting hungrily for any new tidbits I can find.

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