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  •  Brandon Sanderson

    Whenever people find out I study English and work at the Provo Library, they immediately ask me what books I recommend. My immediate response is, “Any book by Brandon Sanderson.”

    It would be an understatement to say that I’m an avid fan. When I first read his books, I thought, “Boy, this is what a novel should be.” Then I discovered the man is from Utah, publishes about a book a year, has several different series, and nearly all of these books connect. That’s right, Sanderson has created a universe called “The Cosmere” and several of his book series take place within this universe.

    Take a breath with me; it’s a lot to take in. I remember when I first discovered this, the subtle connection between the books, and I was already several books in. I had to go back and reread all the books (not to mention many internet searches to find out what people much smarter than me already put together).I’m here to do the hard work for you. After my considerable time in the worlds of Brandon Sanderson, I have come up with an order for my friends to read the books. My purpose today is to share that list with you and to highlight an amazing author’s career.

    One last tip, keep a lookout for the name “Hoid.” You may see him pop up here or there.

    11.30 MistbornMISTBORN: THE FINAL EMPIRE
    By Brandon Sanderson
    (2006)

    This is the first Sanderson book I read. In this society, a God-like tyrant, the Lord Ruler has set up society where there are two social classes: Skaa and Nobles. A group of thieves, the leader of which, Kelsier, has a personal vendetta against the Lord Ruler, plans to overthrow the government. The story is a trilogy with a great magic system and great stakes. It can be on the heavier side for those just getting into Sanderson. If you feel this way, go ahead and read the next one (Elantris) first and save this one for second.

     

    11.30 ElantrisELANTRIS
    By Brandon Sanderson
    (2005)

    Elantris is the first book Sanderson wrote. Many say for this fact alone it should then be the first to read. There is an argument for this, but I put it second just because I feel this one is easier to get into after the introduction of Mistborn. Once some people in this world would be taken by the Shaod (as it is called in the book) and become like gods. That is before the events of the Reod, when this blessing became a curse. Now those taken by the Shaod are thrown into the city of Elantris, where the cursed people will live for all eternity.

     

    11.30 WarbreakerWARBREAKER
    By Brandon Sanderson
    (2009)

    Some people have the tendency to skip this one because it isn’t as popular as some of the others like Mistborn or Way of Kings. I beg of you, don’t skip this book if you are fascinated by the connective quality of the books. This one is important for some of those mind-blowing Sanderson moments. Warbreaker is mostly about two sisters, princesses who come from a land where color isn’t widely used. You see, color is part of the source of the magic, along with that which they call “breath.”

    Note: Hoid’s name won’t be mentioned in this book. If you pay attention and perhaps search Wikipedia a little, you’ll be able to find out where he is.

     

    11.30 Way of KingsWAY OF KINGS
    By Brandon Sanderson
    (2010)

    This is the one where things really seem to start colliding. In this monstrous novel (1007 pages, see why I had you warmed up of the ones half that size?) Sanderson gives us a world currently in a ten year war, following the assassination of King Gavilar. This book is Sanderson’s pinnacle of world building, as he builds amazing magic systems, multiple political systems, and several character viewpoints. Not to mention that Hoid character I told you about makes a special, and much longer, appearance. This is the first of three, but Sanderson plans to write ten total of this series. 

     

    Ultimately Sanderson has many more books to read, even in the Cosmere, but I hope you will find this a great beginning guide to your new book obsession.

  • Sullivan

    My father and I have a special kind of two person book club. The two of us read the same books (usually ones that he’ll find for me) and then we nerd out about them together. One day when we were searching for a new fantasy novel, he came across an author who was advertising the fact that his books are all the fun of fantasy without any of the explicit stuff. We jumped on board, and thank goodness we did.

    If you have heard of Michael J. Sullivan, I wouldn’t be surprised. His latest series THE LEGENDS OF THE FIRST EMPIRE has become a hit, especially in the fantasy community. If you haven’t heard of him, then stick around, because you are about to meet your new favorite author.

    Sullivan has written a full series and is in the middle of two more, all of which are set in the same magical world called Elan. The feeling of the novels is very Tolkienesque, fit with elves, dwarves, and wizards, but also with his own great twists. He weaves his story with myths, legends, and religions that are unique to the world in which he’s built.

    Best of all, he writes all of the books in a series before publishing them, a two-fold gift. For one, the intriguing threads he creates are perfectly weaved throughout, from beginning to end. And secondly, this way we don’t have to sit around, staring at his Goodreads profile and waiting for him to give us some kind of sign for when the next book is coming out (looking at you, Patrick Rothfuss).

    One of my favorite things about Sullivan is how approachable he is. At the beginning of every book, he includes an author’s note, asking for you to shoot him an email with feedback. On top of this, his Goodreads profile is extremely active. At one time I emailed him a question for an assignment in my English class and he replied within the day. This is truly a career author who not only writes well, but looks out for his fans.

    Below I’m going to highlight the first books in each of the Sullivan’s series. Although Sullivan promises that each series is spoiler-free for the others, I suggest reading each series in order of publication, as I’ve lain out.

    1.18 Theft of SwordsTHEFT OF SWORDS: BOOK ONE OF THE RIYRIA REVELATIONS
    By Michael J. Sullivan
    (2011)

    The first book in the RIYRIA REVELATIONS is actually made up of two books in one, which he published himself originally: The Crown Conspiracy and Avempartha. When Sullivan’s books were picked up by a publisher, they decided to publish them two at a time. The story follows the unlikely pair of Hadrian, a master swordsman with a huge conscience, and Royce, an amoral thief. While on a job, the rogues end up being framed for the murder of the king and get thrown into an ancient conspiracy. I highly suggest you read this series before the other two, as it is a brilliant introduction to the world of Elan.

     

    1.18 The Crown TowerTHE CROWN TOWER: BOOK ONE OF THE RIYRIA CHRONICLES
    By Michael J. Sullivan
    (2013)

    Since Theft of Swords takes place 12 years after their first encounter, Sullivan takes this series, THE RIYRIA CHRONICLES, as a chance to show us how the unlikely duo came to be. Although the two men hate each other when they first meet, a common ally hires them to steal from The Crown Tower, an impenetrable fortress. This feat cannot be done without the skills of both, so the hope is they don’t kill each other before the job’s done. This series can be read before The Riyria Revelations, but I wouldn’t recommend it. I’m not too prideful to admit that I nearly cried at the end because of how much I had already grown to love the two.

     

    1.18 Age of MythAGE OF MYTH: BOOK ONE OF THE LEGENDS OF THE FIRST EMPIRE
    By Michael J. Sullivan
    (2017)

    This most-recent series, The Legends of The First Empire, takes place about 3,000 years before the events of Royce and Hadrian. The basic premise of this story is that everything you learned about the religions and myths in his other series isn’t necessarily accurate. Sullivan takes the phrase “history is written by the winners” with the wonder of an epic fantasy writer. In an age where men worship the Fhrey as gods, a man named Raithe finds himself a God Killer, and sets into motion the beginning of either human annihilation or the dawn of a new age.