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“Year of Sanderson” is an on-going, monthly series that will post on the last Friday of each month in which I will cover various Brandon Sanderson-related things. This will largely be comprised of book reviews (some from his back catalog and some from the books being released this year), as well as assorted other topics like reviews of the items in the swag boxes that will be coming out as part of Sanderson’s Kickstarted campaign. Frankly, we’ll just have to see what we get from this series, very much like the Kickstarter itself!
Brandon Sanderson first popped up on the fantasy book scene back in 2003 when he published his first novel “Elantris” through Tor publishing. He went on to write the “Mistborn” trilogy, which is his earliest best known work. From there he continued to pump out books at a prodigious rate, especially as an author who lived up to the stereotype of fantasy writers producing massive, multiple hundreds of pages long tomes. While most of his work has been for adult readers, he’s also ventured into middle grade and YA fantasy as well with series like “Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians” (middle grade) and “Steelheart” (YA).
His name likely first became known to general readers outside of the fantasy genre in 2007 when he was selected to complete Robert Jordan’s massively popular “Wheel of Time” series. He wrote the final three novels in this series, which were well-received by fans and cemented his place as a powerhouse in the modern fantasy genre.
He has won numerous awards over the years, including the Hugo Award in 2013 for his novella “The Emperor’s Soul.” His books have also been on the New York Times Best-Seller list 15 times, speaking to the long-lasting popularity of his writing across several series. While “Wheel of Time” has been produced as a streaming show on Amazon Prime, it is still early in its run and nowhere near the seasons that would depict Sanderson’s entries to the series. However, DMG Entertainment has optioned his entire Cosmere universe for potential future projects. Speaking of the Cosmere…
Brandon Sanderon is also known for his unique approach to many of his fantasy books, both stand-alones and series. Like the Marcel Cinematic Universe, Sanderson has created a larger “universe” in which many of his books take place. Currently, none of his books from other series need to be read before jumping into a different, unconnected book or series, but there are many Easter Eggs left for the devoted fan who has read much of his work. Particularly, there are a few sort of “god level” characters who world-jump and will appear in multiple different books and series.
Sanderson is also well known for creating detailed and interesting magic systems. While all of the magic systems presented in his many fantasy novels are unique to themselves, books that take place within the Cosmere do feature systems that seem to operate on similar principles and are organized in similar fashions. Beyond this, Sanderson has mentioned that all worlds within the Cosmere feature the same creation myth.
The books that currently make up the Cosmere are “Elantris,” “Mistborn,” “Warbreaker,” “The Stormlight Archive,” “White Sand,” and anything from “Arcanum Unbounded.” While books like “Elantris” and “Warbreaker” are currently standalones (there is a “Warbreaker” sequel in the works), “Mistborn” and “The Stormlight Archive” are each long works that add hundreds upon thousands of pages to the ever-growing Cosmere. “The Stormlight Archives” is Sanderson’s current signature epic fantasy, comprised of four massive books (the most recent book, “Rhythm of War,” topped out at 1232 pages.)
Back in the spring of 2022, Brandon Sanderson surprised fans by starting up a Kickstarter campaign. Per the usual for the fast-writing author, while other authors expressed struggles with writers block during the Covid pandemic, Sanderson managed to whip together four entirely new novels, and it was these four novels that comprised the heart of the campaign. However, the author didn’t stop there. While the four books would ship out on a quarterly basis starting in January of 2023, funders could also back the project further to receive monthly swag boxes over the entire 12 month period of 2023.
While this particular type of campaign (swag boxes, etc.) was a first for Sanderson, the author already had a foot firmly in the self-publishing field. Indeed, Sanderson already had his own publishing company, Dragonsteel Entertainment; previous to the Kickstarter, Dragonsteel was largely used to publish collector versions of Sanderson’s previously published works.
When the Kickstarter first went up, Sanderson’s goal was to hit $1 million, the amount estimated to produce and distribute the four books he wrote during the pandemic. He ended up breaking all of the records, ultimately topping out at $41 million dollars. According to an article by USA Today, “The campaign is the biggest project in Kickstarter history by pledge volume and is more than double the previous record holder. It also set a record for both the most money raised in the first 24 hours ($15.4 million) as well as the most funding and backers for the same time period.” Sanderson went on to pay it forward, donating to almost every other Kickstarter with a publishing focus that was currently running while his own was live.
I’ve been a fan of Brandon Sanderson almost from the beginning. While I didn’t catch “Elantris” when it was first published, I read the original “Mistborn” trilogy as it released. I’ve read almost everything else by the author to date (though I haven’ read all of his middle grade or YA fantasy). I own copies of most of his books, including said massive “Stormlight Archives” tomes, and even a few of the leather bound collector versions that were produced by Dragonsteel Entertainment. To this day, I point my husband in this direction if he’s looking for a last minute gift idea for me.
I got to meet Sanderson at an author event at the St. Paul children’s bookstore, “The Red Balloon.” It is a small space, but it was absolutely jam packed for this event, and for good reason. When listening to him speak, it’s impossible not to catch the infectious joy that he has not only for reading and writing, but for fantasy and fandom as well. After seeing that level of energy on display, it’s less difficult to understand his rate of publication.
When I saw that Sanderson had a Kickstarter up and running, I knew that I would have to join. I dithered for about a day over the kind of insane price of going the “swag box” route, but in the end, I decided “hey, what are credit card points for if not off-setting the ridiculous price of things you’d never ordinarily buy??” As I don’t know exactly what is coming in these swag boxes or much about the four books either (there are details out there for the books, but I’d rather just be surprised), I can’t say exactly what this post series will contain over the next year. Instead, it will be a fun surprise for us all! I hope you enjoy the ride with me!
Brandon Sanderson YouTube Channel
USA Today article about the Kickstarter campaign