This past week has been incredibly exciting for fans of Brandon Sanderson, with the release of two new Mistborn books and a few giant Cosmere reveals. While Sanderson is a deservedly bestselling author, many fans of his aren’t yet aware of the Cosmere—and I’m here to break it all down, as well as try to lay out some of the more obscure things for those fans who are already into this massive meta-plot. While there won’t be plot spoilers, this post by necessity will reference in which books characters and Shards appear.
So, the Cosmere. It’s a dwarf galaxy in which every one of Brandon Sanderson’s non-YA fantasy novels takes place. As of now, the published Cosmere works include Elantris; Warbreaker; all six Mistborn novels and the Secret History novella; The Stormlight Archive (currently comprised of Way of Kings and Words of Radiance); and several other novellas, including The Emperor’s Soul, Shadows For Silence in the Forests of Hell, and Sixth of the Dusk.
Each of these books and series takes place on a different world:
Elantris/Emperor’s Soul: Sel
Shadows For Silence: Threnody
Sixth of the Dusk: First of the Sun
White Sand (forthcoming): Taldain
While all of these books and series have self-contained plots, there is a larger story going on behind the scenes, sometimes interweaving with the main plot. From the little we know so far, much of this larger story revolves around a now-shattered diety called Adonalsium and the 16 Shards of him that were picked up by people, thus becoming gods themselves. Certain characters have shown up on different worlds from their original story, with varying degrees of frequency. These people are known as “worldhoppers.”
So who are all of these people jumping around between worlds? Well, we’ve got a few prominent ones and a few that are sneakier…
The posterboy for worldhoppers, Hoid has appeared in every single Cosmere novel, as well as Mistborn: Secret History. He has been around for a very, very long time, was present for the Shattering of Adonalsium, and has his own secret agenda.
Khriss is a new, but major player. First officially appearing in The Bands of Mourning at a party, and being named for the first time in Secret History, Khriss is a scholar from the world of Taldain, setting of the soon-to-be-finally-released White Sand. She is almost definitely the author of the Ars Arcanum at the end of each book.
Nazh is best known as the map guy. He’s from Threnody (the world of Shadows For Silence in the Forests of Hell), works for Khriss, and first made an appearance in Words of Radiance. Nazh also appears in Secret History.
Fans of Warbeaker will be familiar with this dynamic duo. Vasher is a powerful and Cosmere-aware character, and Nightblood is his sentient sword that really wants to destroy some evil, thank you very much. They’re out and about in other series (keep an eye out for talking swords and color metaphors).
The 17th Shard
A mysterious, Cosmere-spanning organization, members of the 17th Shard appeared for the first time in Way of Kings, looking for Hoid. All three members that appeared are from planets other than Roshar: Thinker, from Scadrial; Grump, from Sel; and Blunt, from Taldain.
Another worldhopping organization, the Ghostbloods are active on Roshar during the events of The Stormlight Archive. At least one member, Iyatil, is of a race from Scadrial.
Shards of Adonalsium
When Adonalsium was Shattered, sixteen people picked up the pieces and left to be gods on new worlds. So far, we know the identities of several of these people, and the Intents of their Shards:
Ati – Ruin* (Scadrial)
Leras – Preservation* (Scadrial)
Aona – Devotion (x) (Sel)
Skai – Dominion (x) (Sel)
Tanavast – Honor (x) (Roshar)
Rayse – Odium (Roshar)
Bavadin – Autonomy (Taldain)
Edgli – Endowment (Nalthis)
Unknown – Cultivation (Roshar)
(x) denotes Shards that have been Splintered
*Ruin and Preservation are no longer in their original states, though not Splintered like Dominion, Devotion, and Honor.