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Hero of Ages Q&A - Time Waster's Guide ()
#1 Copy

Brandon Sanderson


This essay I just posted:

Started as a blog post for this thread, talking about the old books I wrote to give context to my previous post. It outgrew the length of a proper forum post, so I put it on the site instead. But this might help you understand some of my history as a writer, not to mention explain the origin of all these old books Ookla that references all the time.

Lightning Eater

I remembered a thread from ages ago in which Brandon posted a list of the books he'd written, I looked it up when I realised it wasn't in the article, and I figured you guys might be interested too, so here it is.

1) White Sand Prime (My first Fantasy Novel)

2) Star's End (Short, alien-relations sf novel.)

3) Lord Mastrell (Sequel to White Sand Prime)

4) Knight Life (Fantasy comedy.)

5) The Sixth Incarnation of Pandora (Far future sf involving immortal warriors)

6) Elantris (You have to buy this one!)

7) Dragonsteel (My most standard epic fantasy)

8) White Sand (Complete rewrite of the first attempt)

9) Mythwalker (Unfinished at about 600 pages. Another more standard epic fantasy.)

10) Aether of Night (Stand-Alone fantasy. A little like Elantris.)

11) Mistborn Prime (Eventually stole this world.)

12) Final Empire Prime (Cannibalized for book 14 as well.)

13) The Way of Kings(Fantasy War epic. Coming in 2008 or 2009)

14) Mistborn: The Final Empire (Coming June 2006)

15) Mistborn: The Well of Ascension (Early 2007)

16) Alcatraz Initiated (YA Fantasy. Being shopped to publishers)

17) Mistborn: Hero of Ages(Unfinished. Coming late 2007)

18) Dark One (Unfinished. YA fantasy)

19) Untitled Aether Project (Two sample chapters only.)

Brandon Sanderson

Thanks for posting that. Note that I can never quite remember which was first, Aether or Mistborn Prime. I always feel that Aethershould be first, since it wasn't as bad as the two primes, but thinking back I think that the essay is more accurate and I wrote it between them.

This would be the new list:

1) White Sand Prime (My first Fantasy Novel)

2) Star's End (Short, alien-relations sf novel.)

3) Lord Mastrell (Sequel to White Sand Prime)

4) Knight Life (Fantasy comedy.)

5) The Sixth Incarnation of Pandora (Far future sf involving immortal warriors)

6) Elantris (First Published)

7) Dragonsteel (My most standard epic, other than the not-very-good Final Empireprime.)

8 ) White Sand (Complete rewrite of the first attempt, turned out much better.)

9) Mythwalker (Unfinished at about 600 pages. Another more standard epic fantasy.)

10) Aether of Night (Stand-Alone fantasy. A little like Elantris.)

11) Mistborn Prime (Shorter fantasy, didn't turn out so well.)

12) Final Empire Prime (Shorter fantasy, didn't turn out so well.)

13) The Way of Kings Prime (Fantasy War epic.)

14) Mistborn: The Final Empire (Came out 2006)

15) Mistborn: The Well of Ascension (Came out 2007)

16) Alcatraz Verus the Evil Librarians (Came out 2007)

17) Mistborn: Hero of Ages(Came out 2008)

18) Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener's Bones (Came out 2008)

19) Warbreaker (Comes out June 2009)

20) Alcatraz Versus the Knights of Crystallia(November 2009ish)

21) A Memory of Light(November 2009ish. Working on it now. Might be split into two.)

22) The Way of Kings Book One (2010ish. Not started yet.)

23) Alcatraz Four (2010. Not started yet)

Peter Ahlstrom

Will elements of your untitled Aether project be worked into the Dragonsteel series?

The Silence Divine(Working title. Stand alone Epic Fantasy. Unwritten.), Steelheart (YA Science Fiction. Unwritten), I Hate Dragons (Middle Grade fantasy. Maybe an Alcatraz follow up. Unwritten.), Zek Harbringer, Destroyer of Worlds (Middle Grade Sf. Maybe an Alcatraz follow up. Unwritten.)

These titles are news to me. You described two potential YA or middle-grade books to me and Karen when you came out to Book Expo, plus Dark One, but now I can't remember the plots except they were cool (and that one of them involved superheroes). Are they among this list? Also, is that really Harbringer or is it supposed to be Harbinger?

Brandon Sanderson

Bah! That's what I get for typing so quickly. Yes, Harbinger. It should be "Zeek" too. Short for Ezekiel.

Steelheart would be the superhero one, though that's a working title, since I'm not sure if it's trademarked or not. Haven't had much time for thinking about any of these books lately.

Peter Ahlstrom

Brandon, here you said Alcatraz 4 is called Alcatraz vs. The Dark Talent; is that still the working title? Also, you mentioned Dragonsteel: The Lightweaver of Rens, but now you say The Liar of Partinel is a standalone. Change of plans? (I know you can't get back to Dragonsteel for a while.)

Brandon Sanderson

The Alcatraz titles are in flux because I need to know if Scholastic wants the fifth one or not. (They only bought four.) Dark Talent will be one of them for certain.

The Liar of Partinel was part of a two-part story told hundreds of years before the Dragonsteel epic. However, since I've dropped plans to go with Liar anytime soon—A Memory of Light has priority, followed by Way of Kings—I don't know what I'll end up doing with the second book, or if I'll ever even write it. I was planning on not calling either of these "Dragonsteel" in print, actually, and just letting people connect the two series on their own. It wouldn't be hard to do, but I didn't want the first actual book in the main storyline to be launched by Tor as "Book Three" since there would be such a large gap of time.

TWG Posts ()
#2 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, it's looking like my next series--after Warbreaker, which is looking like it will be a two-book cycle--will be set in the Dragonsteel world. I'm revamping the setting significantly, mashing it together with Aether of Night, which always had a cool magic system but a weaker plot.

I have some sample chapters done, actually. Dragonsteel is now the series name, and the first book will be titled "The Liar of Partinel." (Probably.) The book you all read (now tentatively titled "The Eternal War") will be the third or fourth book in the series, and we will wait that long to introduce Jerick, Ryalla, and Bat'Chor. "Liar" will take place some five hundred years before "The Eternal War."

Brandon Sanderson

The following is a complete Brandon Sanderson Bibliography, published and unpublished.  Prime indicates an early attempt at a book which was later redone.  (Note that when I redo a book like this, it isn't a 'rewrite.'  Generally, it's me taking some elements from the setting and writing a whole new book in that setting, using old ideas and mixing them with fresh ones.)  Published books are in bold.

1) White Sand Prime (My first book, took two + years to write.  1998)

2) Star's End (Science fiction.  1998)

3) Lord Mastrell (Sequel to White Sand Prime.  1999)

4) Knight Life (Fantasy comedy.  1999)

5) The Sixth Incarnation of Pandora (Science fiction.  1999)

6) Elantris (2000.  Published by Tor: 2005)

7) Dragonsteel (2000)

8 ) White Sand (2001)

9) Mythwalker (Never finished. 2001)

10) Mistborn Prime (Stole the magic system and title for a later book.  2002)

11) Final Empire Prime (Stole a character, some setting elements, and title for a later book.  2002)

12) The Aether of Night (2002)

13) The Way of Kings (350,000 words.  Took a long time.  2003)

14) Mistborn: The Final Empire (2004, Published by Tor 2006)

15) Mistborn: The Well of Ascension (2005.  Contracted to Tor for 2006)

16) Alcatraz vs. The Evil Librarians (2005.  Contracted to Scholastic for 2006)

17) Mistborn: The Hero of Ages (2006.  Contracted to Tor for 2007)

18) Warbreaker (2006.  Tentatively to be released by Tor for 2007)

19) Alcatraz vs. The Scrivener's Bones (2006.  Contracted by Scholastic for 2008)

20) Dragonsteel: The Liar of Partinel (Unfinished.  2007?)

21) Alcatraz vs. The Knights of Crystallia (Planned.  2007  Contracted by Scholastic for 2009)

22) Nightblood (Planned.  2008)

23) Dragonsteel: The Lightweaver of Rens (Planned. 2008)

24) Alcatraz vs. The Dark Talent (Planned.  2008.  Contracted for Scholastic for 2010)

I'm not sure if I got all of those dates right, but the order is correct.  I'm finished with all the books up to Dragonsteel, though Mistborn 3, Warbreaker, and Alcatraz 2 are all only in the third draft stage.

Brandon Sanderson

You DON'T have to have read the other Dragonsteel to understand this. The other Dragonsteel will never be published. Some of the plots and characters in it, however, will eventually become book three of this series. Not because I'm doing a 'Dragonlance' type thing, but because when I sat down to work on this project, I realized that I'd rather start back in time a few hundred years. In other words, I'm writing the prequels first, if that's possible.

Brandon Sanderson

In worldbuilding this, I realized that I missed a big opportunity in Dragonsteel Prime by not dealing with fainlife all that much. It was a powerful world element that got mostly ignored. By writing a book here, where I can slam a city in to the middle of the fain assault--before people learned really how to keep the alien landscape back--I think I'll be able to focus more on the setting.

One thing that always bothered me about Dragonsteel Prime is that it felt rather generic for me. I like more distinctive settings, with more distinctive magics. Yet, Dragonsteel Prime had a fairly standard fantasy world (though one set in the bronze age) with magic that didn't really get used all that much in the first book. The idea here is to add the Aether magic in, which is a 'day-to-day' magic, and to enhance the originality of the setting by using fainlife more. Microkenisis, Realmatic Theory, Cognitive Ripples and Tzai Blows, and all of that will STILL be part of this world. I've simply folded the Aethers in as well, and hopefully I can make it all feel cohesive.

JordanCon 2018 ()
#3 Copy


At what point did you go, "Elantris was good, Mistborn was good, now let's do 40 more books"?

Brandon Sanderson

So, a brief, brief history (writer's side, not the in-world side) of the Cosmere is this. So, Elantris was written without the cosmere in mind. This was-- Elantris was the first, kind of, book in my--

So, the way my history works, I was told early on that your first five books are generally terrible. And this was actually really relieving to me, because I'm like "Oh, I don't have to be good until book six." So I wrote five books as, just, lots of experimenting. Lots of different types of stories. And I didn't really even try, I sent one or two of them out, but I didn't really aggressively try to publish them. They were White Sand--not White Sand that you can get from my newsletter signup, an earlier version--which is my first book. And then Star's End, which was a little science fiction book, and then a sequel to White Sand, and something called Knight Life, which was a comedy. Yes. But bits of that got repurposed into Alcatraz. And then The Sixth Incarnation of Pandora, which was a weird cyberpunk, far-future thing. And I got done with all of those, and I'm like, "All right. I kind of know what I want to do. I thought it was epic fantasy. I now know it's epic fantasy." And then I wrote Elantris. My next books were Elantris, a rewrite of White Sand, and Dragonsteel. And this was kind of me exploring "What do I want to do? How do I want to-- What is my-- What do I want to add to this genre?"

But the idea of the interconnected universe grew out of doing these things, writing these books. I started planning The Way of Kings then, I started planning the book that became Warbreaker then. It was called Mythwalker at the time. And I wrote a book called The Final Empire and a another one called Mistborn, which are neither of the ones that you guys actually have read. What eventually happened, is when I sold Elantris, this whole thing of the cosmere had really come together, this is what I wanted to do, I was really excited by it.

And so, the first book that I wrote knowing about the cosmere was Mistborn. And Elantris got retrofitted into this as I was writing the Mistborn trilogy. And it was while I was working on the Mistborn trilogy that I made the nine book arc that is kind of the core, though-line of the Cosmere, the past/present/future Mistborn. I called my editor in... 2005 with a really big, exciting, sort of huge outline for 40 books (it was 32 back then), I'm like, "It's gonna be this, it's gonna be this, it connects here, and all this stuff--" That's when it all kind of happened, and I built that all out. It was the process of working on the Mistborn original trilogy and building out the nine book arc for those that really solidified a lot of these ideas. By then, I had written Dragonsteel, so I knew--- Dragonsteel was book number seven, so I knew about Adonalsium and all of this stuff, but it was really kind of in Mistborn where I decided how I was gonna incorporate all of that. And even then, even in Mistborn, there are still things that I was still putting together.

So, yeah. There's a brief history of it. By the time I had those three books done, 'cause I wrote them in a row, I was pretty solid on how all of this was gonna come together.

YouTube Livestream 16 ()
#4 Copy


Do you see yourself ever releasing any more Sanderson Curiosities? And if so, when?

Brandon Sanderson

Response to Way of Kings Prime was strong enough that I would at least like to release, in hardcover form, the good ones. The good books from the Sandersons Curiosities are: White Sand, Aether of Night, and Dragonsteel. They are all of an equivalent quality, I would say; as in being slightly worse than Elantris. Maybe significantly worse, but has similar problems. They're all good enough books that I don't think you waste your time reading them. They are just not good enough books that I would want to mass release them. They are, I think, great books to read as somebody who is like, "This is one of Brandon's early books that could have gotten published, good enough to get published, but didn't quite make it there." And I think people can have a lot of fun with those.

So I would imagine that we do one of these per Stormlight Kickstarter. Because we will probably continue to do... the Stormlight Archive books are just a big enough thing and require a big enough gear-up and enough funds that we'll probably continue to do one of those every three years. We will continue to do other leatherbounds, not as Kickstarters. They have smaller print runs, and we probably will continue to do all of those in bonded leather, and then do the Stormlight books in Kickstarters. And we will probably have a new Curiosity each time. So I would expect us to have White Sand, Dragonsteel, and Aether of Night curiosities in the next three of these Kickstarters.

And then we'll take a long, hard look at what we have left. Because after that, we go down another jump in quality. We have Mistborn Prime and Final Empire Prime, which are probably the next two in quality. Where they aren't bad books, and I think they're readable, but they're a little step further away from what ended up being my vision. But I think that White Sand, Dragonsteel, and Aether of Night are probably a little bit stronger of novels than Way of Kings Prime. So maybe Final Empire Prime and Mistborn Prime are both kind of equivalent to that.

Then, after that, we have another big dip in quality, and then you get things like Star's End, which was my second novel. You get things like Knight Life, which was my attempt at a comedic, sort of Bob Asprin adventure-style comedy. (Mostly cringe, with a little bit of actual comedy.) And the book I called The Sixth Incarnation of Pandora, which is a cyberpunk look at immortality, where people have been turned into superweapons with nanites and stuff like that, and I have no idea how that book measures up anymore. It's the book I wrote right before Elantris. But those ones, I could even see releasing those.

Then, we have a huge dip in quality for White Sand Prime and Lord Mastrell Prime, which are the first versions, the first books I wrote, and are really bad. And Mythwalker, which is the one I didn't finish because it just wasn't any good. And those are the other Sanderson Curiosities. I would not expect us to ever release those. Those are just bad enough that they aren't worth charging you for. Whereas a lot of these books are things I was experimenting with and exploring with and getting better at, they're my journeyman works, the first version (White Sand Prime and Lord Mastrell) are the equivalent of the stuff you do as a filmmaker in high school with your parents' camera, your parents' phone, where you make your own Indiana Jones movie with your parents' phone when you're sixteen. That's the equivalent of what you would be getting, and I just don't know if I can charge people for that. Maybe we'll put 'em up free on my website, and if people really wanna complete the collection, they can complete them and have them bound themselves.

Manchester signing ()
#5 Copy


I wanted to ask, at the beginning you mentioned that you had twelve books written before your first book was published, can you tell us, or are you allowed to tell us how many have actually been published?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, I can actually go down the list for you. It is somewhat interesting, I think, for people. My very first book was a book called White Sand, and it was basically kind of a Dune rip-off. Your first book is always  a rip-off, right, of somebody, as a new writer? And that doesn't count the one in high school, which was a SUPER rip-off, like a major rip-off, it was basically a Tad Williams meets Dragonlance. Full blown with elves and things-- Yeah it was totally--

White Sand is the first one I finished, and I actually then went and wrote a science fiction book called Star's End.  And then I wrote the second half of White Sand, because I just stopped and said "This is long enough to be a novel" and then I wrote the rest of it and called that book two, that's actually the only sequel in there I wrote. And then I wrote a comedy, where a lot of the thesis of that comedy came out in Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians ten years later, so that one's kind of half been published. White Sand and Star's End are not any good, they have not been published. And then I wrote something called The Sixth Incarnation of Pandora, which was really weird and sci-fi-y and stuff, and that one hasn't been published because it's really bad too. And then book number six was Elantris which was pretty good. Book number 7 was Dragonsteel, which became my honor's thesis as an undergraduate and half of that book ended up in the contemporary Way of Kings, the Bridge Four sequence was all from Dragonsteel and I ripped that out when I re-did Way of Kings.

After that was a re-write of White Sand, with better writing nowadays, and that one we're turning into a graphic novel, that one's good enough to read-- The biggest problem it has is its a little too bloated.  The story-- It's like 300,000 words with 150,000 words of story. And so we are going to condense it-- into a graphic novel, so you will eventually see that one. The next one was called Aether of Night, that one didn't get published, it's really two decent books that don't work well together, like one half is a Shakespearean farce about a guy who takes his brother's place on the throne, they're twins, it's mistaken identify, yadda yadda; the other half is this dark brutal war book with an invasion going on, and the two halves never really translate well. People read this and they're like, that chapter is hilarious and fun, and OH MY GOODNESS, and yeah, so-- Maybe someday I'll do something with that.

After that I wrote a book named Mythwalker which became Warbreaker. I ripped out the good parts of that and wrote Warbreaker later on. Then I wrote a book called Final Empire, which is not Mistborn: The Final Empire, because then I wrote a book called Mistborn, and neither of those books were working very well. And then I wrote a book called Way of Kings and then I sold Elantris and I said "I want to take these two books that weren't working very well, and I think if I combine them--" because Mistborn had a cool magic system and the Final Empire had this whole thing about the Hero who failed and the Dark Lord took over and mixing these too ideas turned into a great book and that became Mistborn: The Final Empire.

And basically everything from then I've published, Warbreaker came next which was a re-write of Mythwalker. The Way of Kings, the one you hold, is a complete rebuild, I started from scratch, and added the Bridge Four sequence from Dragonsteel and some of these things... The only good one in there, that wasn't published, is White Sand I think, and I think it is going to make a really nice graphic novel because the story is really solid, the characters are really solid. I just wasn't a good enough writer to know how to condense where I needed to.

TWG Posts ()
#6 Copy

Peter Ahlstrom

Dark One. What is it?

Brandon Sanderson

YA novel I'm working on. I have a few sample chapters, if you want them. I may have to change the title, though, since a very dissimilar book just came out with a close title.

I'd rather not talk about the book too much, since I won't be able to get to it for a while, and I'd like to keep the ideas off the internet for a bit.

Brandon Sanderson

Well, anyone here can have the sample chapters if they want. In fact, anyone can have sample chapters of any of my books. I send those out pretty freely. I'm just not sure I want to go posting the ideas for this one about yet.

Also, if anyone wants any of my old books--anything pre-WAY OF KINGS--you need but ask. Most of them won't ever get published in their current form. So, if you're ever board, you can read an old, unpublished Brandon novel.

The complete Brandon Library is:

1) White Sand Prime (My first Fantasy Novel)

2) Star's End (Short, alien-relations sf novel.)

3) Lord Mastrell (Sequel to White Sand Prime)

4) Knight Life (Fantasy comedy.)

5) The Sixth Incarnation of Pandora (Far future sf involving immortal warriors)

6) Elantris (You have to buy this one!)

7) Dragonsteel (My most standard epic fantasy)

8) White Sand (Complete rewrite of the first attempt)

9) Mythwalker (Unfinished at about 600 pages. Another more standard epic fantasy.)

10) Aether of Night (Stand-Alone fantasy. A little like Elantris.)

11) Mistborn Prime (Eventually stole this world.)

12) Final Empire Prime (Cannibalized for book 14 as well.)

13) The Way of Kings (Fantasy War epic. Coming in 2008 or 2009)

14) Mistborn: The Final Empire (Coming June 2006)

15) Mistborn: The Well of Ascension (Early 2007)

16) Alcatraz Initiated (YA Fantasy. Being shopped to publishers)

17) Mistborn: Hero of Ages (Unfinished. Â Coming late 2007)

18) Dark One (Unfinished. YA fantasy)

19) Untitled Aether Project (Two sample chapters only.)

Rhythm of War Preview Q&As ()
#7 Copy


Something I've been curious about: will Liar of Partinel be released as a Sanderson Curiosity eventually? I noticed that in the stream a while back where you listed your unpublished books, you didn't list it among them.

Also, you gave four approximate sort of "quality tiers", of

  1. Decent but not great: White Sand, Aether, WoKP, Dragonsteel Prime
  2. Readable but not good: Final Empire Prime, Mistborn Prime
  3. Bad but not horrible: Knight Life, Star's End, Sixth Incarnation of Pandora
  4. Just plain terrible: White Sand Prime/Lord Mastrell, Mythwalker

Which tier would Liar be in?

Brandon Sanderson

Liar would be #2, I'd think. Problem is, it's close enough to continuity (having been written after I'd outlined the cosmere) that I wouldn't want to actually release it until after I've done the actual Hoid backstory book. I've changed some dramatic things about how I want to present the story, so it would be bad to release this one.

We've reached a point where Dragonsteel, however, wouldn't be a spoiler. So I'm tempted to release that one in the next kickstarter. I've been kicking around the idea of an actual revision of White Sand, to make it publishable, and release that as an actual cannon novel. It's the only one that could happen to.


Does this mean there is no chance of a cannon version of Aether of Night ever being published? I really enjoyed it and think a fully polished version would be fantastic.

Brandon Sanderson

It is unlikely, but not impossible. Aether could be made cannon with only slight changes--but it doesn't fit into the larger cosmere story any longer, so I don't know of how much interest it would be.


To clarify, you're referring to the actual Aether of Night novel, not the future rewritten Aether books that you've mentioned before, right? Or are those not likely anymore either?

Since Aether of Night could be canon with slight changes, I assume the Aethers in the book will be mostly canon as they are, at least in your current outline?

If you were to revise Aether to be canon, would you be replacing Ruin and Preservation with two other Shards, or would you be more likely to just remove Ruin convincing the Twins to imprison Preservation?

Brandon Sanderson

Future Aether books are very likely. And the aethers themselves are going to be very like the ones in the book.

If I did try to make it cannon, I'd probably remove the whole Shard plot from the book and instead either use another Shard, or not add a new one, since the Aethers (as I have them now in the notes) function without a Shard's involvement, and even predate the shattering. (Note, that's not yet canon.)