In light of Brandon Sanderson’s new release The Bands of Mourning, which I reviewed yesterday, I thought it only appropriate to make the Book of the Week the OTHER new Sanderson offering, Mistborn: Secret History.
Now, this is gonna be impossible to talk about without spoilers for the original Mistborn trilogy. It’s just how the book is set up.
Because it’s all about Kelsier. And not just his life. No, Secret History is about Kelsier’s death, and what he got up to in the Cognitive Realm after refusing to move into the Beyond when he died. The story literally opens with Kelsier dying at the hand of the Lord Ruler.
But while a lot of the plot structure follows events we already know from The Well of Ascension and The Hero of Ages, Sanderson weaves that story into the greater plots of the Cosmere, and that’s really what Secret History is all about. This is the first time that Sanderson has moved the Cosmere from the background to the spotlight. Hoid is a major player, as are Leras and Ati. Khriss gets significant page time alongside Nazh. New factions of worldhoppers appear, including a significant nod to Sel and the Elantrians. The Shard Autonomy, which is the leading theoretical candidate for the identity of “Trell”, is named in-book for the first time.
Secret History is simply groundbreaking for the Cosmere. We’re past the point where Sanderson is trying to write books and stories that any reader can pick up and understand at any time. This story requires extensive knowledge of at least the Era 1 Mistborn trilogy, and if the reader doesn’t have experience or knowledge of the Cosmere, most of the character interactions will make zero sense.
But for those who do, Secret History is an absolute gold mine. There is so much to unpack from this novella that it practically begs for rampant discussion online. If you’re interested in diving into this kind of thing, check out 17th Shard, the official Sanderson fan site.
Secret History is something that every Cosmere fan absolutely must read. There’s more information revealed in this one short book than in pretty much all of the Cosmere books published before.