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The cosmere[1] is a fictional universe where Brandon Sanderson's adult epic fantasies (including Elantris, Mistborn, Warbreaker, and the The Stormlight Archive) are all set.[2] It does not contain Earth.[3]

Brandon has said that you do not need any Cosmere knowledge to understand the books, and that they can be enjoyed separately, but it will be necessary eventually to have a certain understanding of Realmatic Theory.[4][5] Elements of the cosmere are slowly being added into the books, behind the scenes, until they come into the forefront with Dragonsteel and the final Mistborn trilogy.[6]

The underlying mythology of the cosmere revolves around Adonalsium, the power of creation, which was broken into sixteen pieces called Shards. The Shards are effectively gods, and magic is derived from their power.

Properties and Forces[edit]

A map of Shadesmar--a part of the Cognitive Realm[7]--from Roshar's perspective. Expanses on this map represent other planets in the cosmere.

The structure and physics of the cosmere are the same as our own, but the main story of the cosmere occurs on a compact dwarf galaxy, meaning it has many fewer stars and systems than our galaxy.[8] Time flows the same in the cosmere (except under special magical effects, such as Allomantic cadmium and bendalloy).[9]

There are ten primary planets in the cosmere, sometimes called Shardworlds, as the Shards of Adonalsium play major roles there.[10] There are inhabited worlds with no Shards on them, and some planets may only have Splinters of a Shard on them.[10] Planets without Shards are generally referred to "minor Shardworlds". On all cosmere planets, magic is called Investiture, a word that means something has gained a portion of Adonalsium's magic.[11] All magic we've seen has been derived from the Shard's--or Adonalsium's--power.[12] Specific magic systems, like Allomancy or Surgebinding, are termed "manifestations of Investiture."[13] On minor worlds, people don't utilize Investiture directly, and magic is more something people interact through nature.[14]

The physical universe of the cosmere only tells one part of the story. In fact, there are three Realms of existence: the Physical Realm, the Cognitive Realm, and the Spiritual Realm that all coexist simultaneously, and everything has aspects in each of these Realms.[15] Even planets themselves have souls.[16] Investiture transcends all three of these Realms.[17] The Cognitive Realm and Shadesmar allows for travel between cosmere planets.[18] Also, there is something beyond the Three Realms, where people "pass on," which Shards can potentially touch,[19] but Brandon does not wish to reveal anything about it.[20]

There are also other forces outside of things derived from Adonalsium. One is a force that opposes Adonalsium, which still exists[21], and some say there are "subtle forces" being manifest, separate from Adonalsium, perhaps referring to the God Beyond.[22][23]


There are currently ten known planets in the cosmere. Two of these, Threnody and First of the Sun, are minor Shardworlds.[24] Note that the following chart lists Shards currently on the planet, and may have had other Shards there at other points in time.

World Shards Books
Ashyn None[25] The Silence Divine[26][27]
Braize Odium[28] The Stormlight Archive[27]
Nalthis Endowment[29] Warbreaker, Nightblood[30]
Roshar Honor, Cultivation[31] The Stormlight Archive[30]
Scadrial Preservation, Ruin;[32] Harmony* Mistborn[30]
Sel Devotion, Dominion[33] Elantris & sequels,[30] The Emperor's Soul[34]
Taldain Autonomy, held by Bavadin[35] White Sand[30]
Yolen Unknown Dragonsteel[30]
Threnody None Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell[24]
First of the Sun None Sixth of the Dusk[24]

*Harmony is the combination of two Shards, Ruin and Preservation, that are intermingled since they are under the control of one individual.[36] Harmony is referred to as a Shard,[37] though it is not one of the original sixteen Shards of Adonalsium.


Before the Shattering[edit]

Even now, I can barely grasp the scope of all this. The events surrounding the end of the world seem even larger than the Final Empire and the people within it. I have delved and searched, and have only been able to come up with a single name: Adonalsium. Who, or what, it was, I do not yet know.
Harmony in the Words of Founding[38]

Little is known of the extremely distant past of the cosmere: the time before the Shattering of Adonalsium and the Shards. It is not even clear who or what Adonalsium exactly is. Is it a god, the God? Is it a force, or person? It isn't clear if it was self-aware or not. Regardless, it is sometimes described as the power of creation,[39] possibly a thing with incredible amounts of Investiture (since Investiture is a piece of Adonalsium[11]), and a power which does not vanish.[40][41]

Humans existed on worlds before this time,[42] though how many is unknown. At the very least, the first humans were on Yolen.[43] Hoid in particular is from Yolen.[44][45] All cosmere planets existed prior to the Shattering, and their names existed before the Shards got there.[46][47] Magic (Investiture) also existed prior to the Shattering, though its form was different.[48] The technology level of this society prior to the Shattering was less than present day Earth's.[49]

There was a force that opposes Adonalsium[21] which created a weapon,[50] but important specifics, such as if it is still around, or if it had played a role in Adonalsium's Shattering, are unknown. There was once a plot to destroy Adonalsium, which failed.[51]

The Shattering[edit]

Through unknown means, Adonalsium was broken, in an event called the Shattering. Hoid was present,[52] and due to Hoid being from Yolen, it is thought that this event occurred on Yolen. This Shattering happened intentionally,[53] and occurred all at once.[54]

Ati was once a kind and generous man, and you saw what became of him.
—Hoid on Ruin[55]

Adonalsium split into sixteen pieces, referred to as Shards of Adonalsium, each taking a particular facet, or intent, of the greater power of Adonalsium. Sixteen people took up those Shards, effectively ascending into godhood. Hoid and the Recipient knew these sixteen people prior to their Ascension, as they were familiar with their original names.[56][57][58] Some of these individuals and the Shard they took up are: Aona (Devotion), Skai (Dominion), Ati (Ruin), Leras (Preservation), Tanavast (Honor), and Rayse (Odium). Another individual who took up a Shard was Bavadin, though their Shard's intent is not known, though has been revealed in interviews with Brandon to be Autonomy . There are two more known Shards: Cultivation, whose holder is female but otherwise unknown, and Endowment, whose holder is not known.

It was not random who took up the Shards,[59] and there was some sort of design in the way Adonalsium was split.[60]

It turned out that, though the power of a Shard required a mind to control it, the specific intent of the Shard would slowly warp the mind of those that hold it.[55][61] It is not known whether the holders of the Shards knew this would be the case initially. Eventually, the people who took up the Shards would simply be referred to as their Shard's name, and referred to as Shards.

At some point, some Shards traveled to other worlds. The Shards were now the primary source of magic in the cosmere,[12] and so they Invested some planets with their power, and in some cases, created humans and other species.[62]

Early Shardic History[edit]

The exact timeline of what the Shards did after the Shattering is not clear. Shards settled on specific planets, but could have gone to other places before residing upon the worlds they now stay.

Endowment was the only Shard who traveled to Nalthis.[29][63] At some point during the history of Nalthis, Endowment began intentionally splitting its power, creating what are called Splinters. These Splinters were the divine Breath, which made the Returned.[29]

Bavadin was the single Shard to travel to Taldain.[35][64]

Devotion and Dominion went to Sel.[33] During this early Selish era, magic was present on the planet, though different than the kinds seen later, utilizing the Dor.[65]


Ruin and Preservation, having intents that opposed each other so perfectly,[66] found themselves drawn to each other, which caused conflict. If Ruin tried to destroy, Preservation would stop him, and vice versa. At some point they both ended up on Scadrial, but they could not act much without the other.[67]

The only point in creating something is to watch it die.
—Ruin to Vin[68]

They came up with a deal: they would work together to create life, with the condition that Ruin would eventually get to destroy them.[69] But Preservation wanted to create life that they had seen before--humanity[62]--and creating sapient life required more energy. Ruin was not willing to put in that extra energy, so Preservation did. This lead to Preservation being slightly weaker than Ruin. Because of this, Preservation knew that Ruin would inevitably triumph and destroy what they created.[69]

Preservation couldn't stand to let Ruin destroy their creations, so he felt the need to do anything to stop this from happening. Preservation, then, betrayed Ruin. Preservation could not destroy Ruin--doing that sort of assault would result in both Ruin and Preservation's death, and the Shard had influenced Preservation's mind too much for him to do something so destructive. In order to stop Ruin, he needed another plan.

Preservation attacked Ruin with his mental power--the distinct mind controlling the Shard's power, rather than the power itself. This would trap Ruin's mind, making him mostly impotent.[70] However, it cost almost all of Preservation's mind. Preservation knew that the moment he did this attack, he would not be able to help life on Scadrial. Preservation saw the future, creating the Terris Prophecies, to give hope to humanity, and to let humanity know that he had a plan in mind.[71] He also altered Allomancy so that there would be atium (and malatium) Mistings,[72][73] and set up his power--the mists--to Snap those Allomancers.[74] And with that, Preservation gave up his mind, imprisoning Ruin in the newly created Well of Ascension.

Odium's Quest and Roshar[edit]

One need only look at the aftermath of his brief visit to Sel to see proof of what I say. In case you have turned a blind eye to that disaster, know that Aona and Skai are both dead, and that which they held has been Splintered. Presumably to prevent anyone from rising up to challenge Rayse.
—Hoid in the first Letter[33][56]

Odium wanted to become the strongest being in the cosmere.[75][76] He realized that if he ever took up another Shard, that Shard would change him, and Odium preferred his own.[61] So, in his quest to become god of the cosmere, instead of absorbing all the other fifteen Shards, he decided to destroy the other Shards.[75] He developed a way to Splinter a Shard's power, and in the process, killing its holder.[33]

He bears the weight of God's own divine hatred, separated from the virtues that gave it context. He is what we made him to be, old friend. And that is what he, unfortunately, wished to become.
—The Second Letter on Odium[77]

Odium traveled to Sel for a short time to attack Devotion and Dominion, and Odium Splintered them.[33] This left a lot of energy on Sel, and, with no release valve and entity to control the power, Shadesmar became incredibly hazardous on Sel.[78] Selish magic itself changed,[65] and perhaps the Dor was created--a force that can drawn upon but with no controlling entity. Odium left Sel after this event, and did not Invest any of his power on the planet.[78]

At some point--perhaps before Odium's actions on Sel, or after--Honor and Cultivation went to Roshar together.[31] Later, Odium went to the Greater Roshar system.[79] Before this, Odium did not settle on a specific planet, but on Roshar, he Invested his power, and his magics are felt there,[80] and perhaps other worlds in the system. Devastating wars called the Desolations were fought over Roshar, between Odium's Voidbringers and Honor's Heralds and Knights Radiant.[81] Cultivation's exact role in the Desolations is not clear, but Honor and Cultivation were a romantic item.[31]

Odium eventually killed Honor, using the same method as he did with Devotion and Dominion.[82] However, Honor was crafty, and even though Honor perished, Odium was then trapped on the Greater Rosharan System.[57] At some point, Odium ended up being on Braize, which he is currently located, prior to the True Desolation.[28] Cultivation, on the other hand, survived Odium, and is still alive.[83] Odium has not killed another Shard after this point.[58]

Before Odium's confinement on Greater Roshar, at an some unknown time, he also killed another Shard in addition to Devotion, Dominion, and Honor.[84] There is also a Shard who just wants to survive, presumably against Odium's onslaught.[85]

Hoid and the Seventeenth Shard[edit]

For I have never been dedicated to a more important purpose, and the very pillars of the sky will shake with the results of our war here. I ask again. Support me. Do not stand aside and let disaster consume more lives.
Hoid on Odium's war[86]

Hoid was deeply concerned about Odium's involvement on Sel, and thought that his war would lead to devastate the whole cosmere.[86] He sent a letter[56][61] to a person (possibly a dragon[87]) to call off his "friends of the Seventeenth Shard" and help join Hoid.[88] The recipient of Hoid's original letter did not see things as Hoid, and said that the reason these events have occurred is because of their involvement.[89] As such, he advocated nonintervention,[90] where Hoid meddled a great deal, on all main worlds.

The Seventeenth Shard are a group of Worldhoppers moving between planets using various magics, and are perhaps led by the Recipient.[88] Their members are from many worlds,[91] including Scadrial, Taldain, and Sel. They searched for Hoid on Roshar shortly before the Everstorm was summoned.[92] They may also be nonintervenionists, due to their possible relationship with the Recipient.[88]

There is also Khriss, a Worldhopper who is the most knowledgeable person in the cosmere, by far.[93] She writes all the Ars Arcanums,[94][95] and as such, is a member of the Seventeenth Shard.[96] She has an employee, Nazh, who, among other things, draws and annotates maps, and collects other things for Khriss.[97][95] Their motivations--and exact relationship with the Seventeenth Shard--are not clear.

However, there is an end goal of the Seventeenth Shard.[98] In the immediate future, they fear Hoid's purpose will not align with theirs, and so they hunt him down.[99]

There is not a universal language for all cosmere worlds that these worldhoppers speak.[100]

The Ascension of Harmony[edit]

Ruin's Plan for Freedom[edit]

On Scadrial, the Well of Ascension, that power that came from Preservation, could be utilized by humanity. For much of Classical Scadrian history, a person called the Hero of Ages by the Terris Prophecies would take up the power and become a protector of mankind. They would live the rest of their lives blessing people with the power of Preservation, renewing Ruin's prison, and watch over the world.[101] The power did not vanish, instead returning every 1024 years.[102]

Ruin was keenly interested in the Well of Ascension. If he could get a person to hold the power there, but instead of utilize the power, release it, then the prison on Ruin's mind would vanish, and he would then be free to finally destroy the world.[103] To do this, Ruin manipulated the Terris Prophecies over a long period of time. He made it so the Hero of Ages would include the "sacred piercings," actually Hemalurgic piercings, so he could influence the Hero.[104] More importantly, Ruin changed the Prophecies extensively so that the Well and the Hero's purpose was obscured.[101] Now the Hero was supposed to take the Well's power and release it.

Then, Ruin drove the world into desperate straits so that people would believe in a hero of ancient prophecy. If he fought Preservation, the mists--the Shard of Preservation's direct essence--which still protected the land would oppose him. So, he used Preservation to his advantage: the mists Snapped Allomancers, and people misinterpreted the mists as a negative thing. Instead of fighting against the mists' action, Ruin enhanced them, bringing the death of plants, and causing the threat that became the Deepness.[74]

Thus, when a Terris Worldbringer, Kwaan, claimed that Alendi was the Hero of Ages,[105] Ruin saw an opportunity. He altered the Terris Prophecies to fit Alendi more perfectly.[106] Alendi came to persuade kings and all the Worldbringers who denied him that he was the Hero, and under the threat of the Deepness, Alendi was their leader.[107][108] So, to defeat the threat of the Deepness, Alendi traveled to the mountains of Terris, where the Well of Ascension lay, to take up the power, and release it to eliminate the Deepness.[109]

Alendi must not reach the Well of Ascension, for he must not be allowed to release the thing that is imprisoned there.

Kwaan, however, had a fabled memory, and noticed that the Prophecies had changed.[112][113] But Kwaan was not able to persuade Alendi that he was not, in fact, the Hero after they had argued for so long to prove that he was the hero of legend.[114] So Kwaan, knowing something was awry with the Well, tasked a nephew, Rashek, who hated Alendi, to be Alendi's guide through the mountains.[115][116] Since Rashek was a Feruchemist, Rashek and his friends were easy picks for Alendi. If Rashek could not lead Alendi astray, he was to kill him.[117]

And Rashek did murder Alendi. Rashek took the power of the Well himself, and in those few moments of Ascension, he tried to stop the Deepness by moving Scadrial itself closer to the sun, to burn the mists. To counteract the heat, he created the Ashmounts.[118] He also altered humans on Scadrial, creating skaa and nobles. He learned of the Metallic Arts, developing Hemalurgic constructs, and with the discovery of Allomancy, he figured out a way to combine Allomancy and his Feruchemy to become immortal (through Compounding).[119] Rashek would be the Lord Ruler, the Hero of Ages, and protect the world from Ruin.[120]

One can see Ruin's craftiness in the meticulousness of his planning. He managed to orchestrate the downfall of the Lord Ruler only a short time before Preservation's power returned to the Well of Ascension. And then, within a few years of that event, he had freed himself. On the time scale of gods and their power, this very tricky timing was as precise as an expert cut performed by the most talented of surgeons.

Ruin saw the Lord Ruler's poor use of the power and saw that the Lord Ruler would be an agent of spectacular destruction.[122] So, subtly, Ruin manipulated him to destroy. The Lord Ruler did do things to stymie Ruin, such as hiding atium,[123] but Ruin's subtle manipulations took a toll on the man, and led to him subjugating his own people, among other atrocities. But as destructive as the Lord Ruler was, a thousand years later, the Well of Ascension was about to refill. The Lord Ruler planned to retake the Well's power,[124] and Ruin would not have that happen.

So, Ruin plotted the Lord Ruler's downfall. He subtly put in Kelsier's mind the idea of an "eleventh metal" to the ten known Allomantic metals of the time.[125][126] This, combined with Kelsier's desire to see his dead wife avenged and her dreams of a world without ash be a reality, led Kelsier to seek to kill the Lord Ruler. He formed his crew, consisting of many, but including Vin, a skaa Mistborn who Ruin manipulated; Marsh, his brother; and Sazed, a Terris Keeper, who studied the past before the Lord Ruler. In the process of leading the skaa to revolt against the Final Empire, the Lord Ruler killed Kelsier.[127] Vin confronted the Lord Ruler, and using the power of the "Eleventh metal", discovered that the Lord Ruler was a Feruchemist.[128] She somehow drew upon the mists and pushed the Lord Ruler's metalminds away, leading to his death a mere two years before the Well was replenished.[128]

Ruin now needed a person who could hold the Well's power. The servants he could touch most easily through Hemalurgy, the Steel Inquisitors, could not hold Preservation's power,[129] so Ruin chose Vin to do it. Ruin, early in Vin's life, had caused her mother to go insane, killing her sister with an earring. The earring turned out to be a Hemalurgic spike, so Ruin could influence Vin. The spike, through increased bronze Allomancy, allowed Vin to hear the pulses of the Well of Ascension.[130] Ruin strengthened the mists again to recreate the threat of the Deepness, and influenced events so that Vin seemed like the Hero of Ages.

With all this, Ruin led Vin and Sazed to the Well of Ascension for them to "save" the world once again. However, Preservation had a shadow of his mind left, and in the form of a mist spirit, tried to foil Ruin.[131] Preservation even wounded Vin's husband, Elend, at the Well so Vin would use the power to heal Elend instead of releasing it. But Vin did what the prophecies supposedly asked, releasing the power.[132]

Ruin was free once again.

Vin and Preservation[edit]

Ruin could now directly affect the world, but the power of Preservation--in the form of the mists--still protected the planet.[133] Ruin had been weakened since the Lord Ruler hid his essence, atium, and so Ruin and Preservation were balanced again. Ruin could not find the atium personally, as he could not see metal, and the Steel Inquisitors, had spikes in their eyes, and so had this same flaw. So, Ruin continued to use his pawn, Vin, along with Elend, to find the atium for him.[124]

Ruin did not know that Preservation had actually selected Vin to take up his power,[130] which enabled Vin to draw upon the mists--Preservation--directly.[134] Unfortunately, Vin could not use this power with her earring being a Hemalurgic spike, as Hemalurgy, being of Ruin, pushed away Preservation.[135]

In those final days, the shadow of Preservation's mind that remained communicated with Elend, and then passed.[136] This had the potential to be a catastrophic event: when a Shard lacks a mind controlling it, and the power has no "release," it is incredibly dangerous, as happened on Sel when Odium destroyed Devotion and Dominion.[78] Fortunately, Kelsier, who had not passed on beyond the Three Realms, held onto Preservation's power for just a little longer, until Vin could take it up.[137]

Vin eventually caught onto Ruin's ploys, and would not find the atium for him.[138] Because of this, Ruin sent his Inquisitors, along with Marsh, his main Inquisitor, to kill Vin.[139] Marsh, though almost entirely under Ruin's direct control, held a small bit of himself back, and he used that shred of humanity to tear the Hemalurgic earring from her.[139] Vin could now access the mists--Preservation's power--fully, and upon burning it, she ascended, becoming Preservation.[140]

The Catacendre[edit]

Preservation could never destroy you! He could only protect. That's why he needed to create humankind. All along, Ruin, this was part of his plan!
Vin to Ruin[141]

Upon Vin's ascension, she tried to oppose Ruin, but learned that she could not do much, for Ruin would oppose her.[62] On the ground, Elend and Sazed discovered the atium, and Ruin immediately sent his forces to destroy them.[142][143] Ruin, through Marsh, killed Elend, and Vin realized Preservation's plan. Preservation needed someone who could preserve, but also destroy, and Preservation was too touched by his Shard to destroy Ruin. Vin knew she had little left to live for without Elend, and so, directly attacked Ruin with her power. She pressed in, not shying back, and in the assault, killed Ruin and herself in the process.[141]

Sazed, on the ground at the battle, saw the corpses of Ati and Vin, with the power of their Shards leaking from their bodies, and Sazed took up both Shards together. The power did not vanish as the Well of Ascension's power did; these were the Shards themselves, which, under the control of one mind, could both preserve and destroy, or create. Using the knowledge from his metalminds, he began to remake the world, and undid the damage the Lord Ruler did to Scadrial.[144] He then created a paradise for them to live in.[145][146] The conflict on Scadrial had vanished, for now.

Now under the control of one mind, Ruin and Preservation's power began to intermingle, and Sazed became known as Harmony.[36] It is considered a single Shard, much like a king of two countries is still just one king.[37]

Odium became aware of Harmony, is scared of him,[147] and is making plans regarding him.[148]


I wrote thirteen novels before I sold one. I spent a lot of time practicing and learning, and I love big epic grand series. However, you know, you can't grow up reading the Wheel of Time without loving big series, but advice I heard early on was, selling a big series is actually pretty hard from a new author and if you, for instance, spend your life and you write like six books in the same series, and you send off the first book to someone and they don't buy it, you can't really send them the second book. ... I wanted to expand my chances, and so I wrote thirteen novels in different worlds, all with their own different magic systems and own characters. But secretly I loved the grand epic, and so I started connecting all these worlds during my unpublished era, and telling a hidden epic behind them all that I was setting up for.

When Brandon was beginning writing and trying to get published, he loved gigantic epic fantasy series. He knew, however, that starting with a big series might not be the best idea. If he wrote four books in a series, and the first one didn't get published, he couldn't submit his sequels.[149] He decided instead to focus on standalones and trilogies. Not only would they be easier to market to publishers, but Brandon also wanted people to trust his writing before digging into something bigger.[150]

He still loved the idea of a huge epic series, so he decided to create a "hidden" epic to link his novels together. His ideas for this connected universe--the cosmere--came about when he wrote Elantris, Dragonsteel, White Sand, and Mythwalker (which became Warbreaker).[149] Brandon had seen other authors who made a single universe for all their books, like Isaac Asimov, but Brandon didn't like how Asimov had to retcon and shoehorn things together to connect their books. Brandon wanted to do the cosmere from the ground-up, so it would always be consistent.[150]

Some ideas that came into the worldbuilding of the cosmere came from Plato's theory of forms, which contributed to the idea of Realmatic Theory, and the idea of the Physical, Cognitive, and Spiritual Realms. In this, the distinction of what is perceived as "ideal" and what is the true ideal is important: true ideals have much to do with the Spiritual Realm, while people's perception of ideals deals with the Cognitive Realm. Another influences is Spinoza, with the idea that God is in everything.[151] Brandon also incorporated the idea of a "unifying theory of everything" from physics to the magic in the cosmere. All magics have underlying rules, and are derived from a single unified theory of magic.[152]

There is a distinct beginning, middle, and end to the cosmere sequence, and a clear sequence Brandon wants to tell.[153] There's about 36 main cosmere books, and Brandon has three "core" cosmere series: Dragonsteel, Mistborn, and the Stormlight Archive,[154][155] which are well-planned out.[156] Dragonsteel is the start of the cosmere sequence that will tell Hoid's backstory[157] and, presumably, the Shattering of Adonalsium. Mistborn will have three big trilogies, its last one being science fiction, deals heavily with the cosmere[158] and has travel between the different planets of the cosmere.[159] Stormlight Archive is set in the middle of the cosmere sequence.[160] Generally, the cosmere will not come into the forefront until Dragonsteel or the final Mistborn trilogy,[6] and the final Mistborn trilogy is one of the last cosmere series, if not the last. Brandon has said it will all fit together, and thinks we'll be impressed.[161]

I hope that people will stick with me for all these books, because I'll do a lot of them. But they will fit together in some really cool ways once they are all done. I think you'll be very very impressed, but that's a while off.
—Brandon on the cosmere[161]

At the start of Brandon's career, he wrote cosmere novels in chronological order, but there are books that are skipped, like Dragonsteel and White Sand,[160] some of his earlier, unpublished novels. (Those unpublished novels would need to be rewritten from scratch, much like Brandon rewrote The Way if Kings.[162]) He wanted these cosmere novels to not require knowledge of previous books in the hidden epic of the cosmere. Generally, clues to the cosmere are currently easter eggs, and will not be in the forefront. However, more hints to the greater universe are inevitable, and eventually the worlds will cross over and interact,[163] perhaps in the last Mistborn trilogy.

Hoid, a character who appears in each cosmere novel, is one such easter egg. It is not random where he is; Brandon has said that if Hoid appears in a place, that place is about to be very dangerous.[5] Hoid is doing things behind the scenes, and at some point, we might have Hoid short stories explaining what is doing and why.[164][44] There are also other people who cross between worlds that eventually Brandon thinks will be much clearer later, once we see those characters more.[165] But for now, they are easter eggs.

Brandon does not feel that the cosmere is restrictive to his writing.[161] Though cosmere novels are intensive, as they require more planning and specific rules[166] (Brandon has continuity editors, like Peter and Karen Ahlstrom, on his internal wiki to keep it straight[167]), he feels that if he needs to take a break, he can just write a non-cosmere novel. Those "breather" novels are used to keep Brandon creatively engaged, and are almost always non-cosmere.[168] If there is a concept he really wants to write but doesn't fit in the limitations of the cosmere, he moves it into a non-cosmere book.[169]

The Rithmatist used to be a cosmere novel, and its magics take many elements from cosmere magics,[170] but Brandon decided that Earth is not in the cosmere, nor any alternate Earths.[171]

Eventually, there will be an official timeline for cosmere events.[172] There will probably be a cosmere encyclopedia at some point, but not for a long time.[173] It is more likely there will be Stormlight and Mistborn worldbooks first.[174] There will eventually be a Shadesmar map and star map for the cosmere that is released.[175]

Brandon does generally plan out which cosmere hints to give to fans, but sometimes he gives hints on the fly. Usually, fans are able to pry much more than he initially intended to tell.[176]

Bibliography of the Cosmere[edit]

Publication Title Series
2005 Elantris Elantris #1
2006 The Hope of Elantris Elantris #1.5
Mistborn: The Final Empire Mistborn (Era 1) #1
2007 The Well of Ascension Mistborn (Era 1) #2
2008 The Hero of Ages Mistborn (Era 1) #3
2009 Warbreaker Standalone
2010 The Way of Kings The Stormlight Archive #1
2011 The Alloy of Law Mistborn (Era 2) #1
2012 The Emperor's Soul Short Work
2013 Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell Dangerous Women Anthology
2014 Words of Radiance The Stormlight Archive #2
Sixth of the Dusk Shadows Beneath Anthology
2015 (forthcoming) Shadows of Self Mistborn (Era 2) #2
2016 (forthcoming) Bands of Mourning Mistborn (Era 2) #3
White Sand Graphic Novel
untitled The Stormlight Archive #3


The following are other confirmed upcoming cosmere stories.

  • The Lost Metal, the fourth and final Era 2 Mistborn novel.[177]
  • The Silence Divine, a novella[177] that will take place on Ashyn,[178] a planet on Greater Roshar.
  • Nightblood, the sequel to Warbreaker
  • Elantris sequel and Elantris finale, the sequels to Elantris. These will be written in between the break of Stormlight 5 and Stormlight 6, and needs to be written before the next Mistborn trilogy can be written.[177]
  • Era 3 Mistborn trilogy, the trilogy with Allomancy in a modern, 1980s technology level. This will be written in between the break of Stormlight 5 and Stormlight 6.[177]
  • Dark One, a young adult "series" that is centered on the individual destined to destroy the world, rather than save it.[177]
  • Skyward, a young adult cosmere novel[179]
  • Dragonsteel, the origin story of Hoid. This will not be written until after the Stormlight Archive is finished.[177]
  • Era 4 Mistborn trilogy, the science fiction trilogy. Hoid is a main character of this.[157] This will be one of the last known cosmere sequence, chronologically, and has much to do with the worlds coming together.[6]

Chronological Order[edit]

The exact order of cosmere stories is difficult, as Brandon has typically not canonized it, as he wants to remain flexible for the behind-the-scenes stories with Worldhoppers and other unpublished works. An uncanonical timeline of the cosmere has the distance between the Shattering and the breaking of the Oathpact is about 6000 years.[180] Do not take that for exact fact, but it probably means that these time scales are in thousands of years, not millions of years.

Generally, cosmere novels have been written chronologically, so Elantris is before era 1 Mistborn books, which is before Warbreaker. However, Brandon will go back and add other works into this scheme, like Dragonsteel and White Sand.[160]

A rough chronological ordering of current cosmere works is:

Dragonsteel will be the beginning, before Elantris. Mistborn Era 3--the modern day trilogy--will be between the two halves of Stormlight Archive. Mistborn Era 4, the scifi trilogy is at the end.[155] Nightblood, the Warbreaker sequel, will be set closer to Warbreaker than Stormlight Archive.[184]



The capitalization of the word "cosmere" is inconsistent at best from official sources. Generally, in the novels, like Stormlight Archive books, cosmere is uncapitalized,[185][186] but exclusively in The Alloy of Law, its Ars Arcanum refers to it with a capital C.[13] Adding to the confusion, these Ars Arcanums are written by the same person,[94] and Words of Radiance's Ars Arcanum uses lowercase.[187]

From interviews where Brandon types responses, Brandon sometimes capitalizes cosmere,[168] and sometimes leaves it uncapitalized.[188] Peter Ahlstrom, Brandon's assistant, has said that generally, cosmere is uncapitalized in books, but capitalized outside of them.[189]

See Also[edit]


  1. Is this "character" a common link between your books for religion or magical or maybe even both?
    Theoryland - July 2009
  2. I thought I saw somewhere that you said that all your books (yours not WOT) are connected somehow
    Theoryland - Jan 18th, 2010
  3. Are you going to cameo in the cosmere?
    — Twitter - Jan 4th, 2011
  4. Do you have to know anything about the Cosmere to read your books?
    — Goodreads
  5. a b The first, most important thing to say to the person who's being sent there is to enjoy the story you're in.
    Theoryland - Mar 24th, 2014
  6. a b c Are you going to expand on the cosmere in its own book?
    Theoryland - Mar 6th, 2014
  7. Is Shadesmar just a name for the Cognitive Realm or is there a difference?
    Theoryland - Mar 4th, 2014
  8. Physical structure of cosmere
    17th Shard forums - Sep 28th, 2012
  9. YA fantasy livestream
    — Livestream - Nov 16th, 2013- min 55:33
  10. a b Tell me something new about the cosmere
    Theoryland - Nov 24, 2011
  11. a b What you can tell me about Investiture?
    Theoryland - Mar 4th, 2014
  12. a b Are there any magic systems in the cosmere that aren't shard based?
    Theoryland - Apr 15th 2013
  13. a b The Alloy of Law Ars Arcanum
  14. What differentiates a minor shardworld like First of the Sun?
    17th Shard forums - Dec 19th, 2014
  15. The Emperor's Soul - Day 12
  16. Do cosmere planets have a soul?
    Theoryland - Apr 15th, 2013
  17. What is the Realmatic composition of Investiture?
    Theoryland - Mar 11th 2014
  18. Shadesmar- you can WALK to the other planets
    Theoryland - Dec 6th, 2014
  19. Where Tindwyl exists is beyond space and time, in a place Sazed hasn't learned to touch yet. He might yet
    Theoryland - July 2009
  20. Well... I don't want to speak too much about the great beyond in the books, as in my opinion that level of cosmology is influenced by your own beliefs in the hereafter and in deity
    Theoryland - Oct 19th, 2008
  21. a b Before Adonalsium shattered, was it consciously opposed by something, be it people or another cosmic force? Is whatever opposed it still around?
    Theoryland - Apr 15, 2013
  22. There are those who would say there are other subtle forces being manifest
    Theoryland - Sep 22nd, 2012
  23. There is belief in a God who is not one of the Shards
    17th Shard forums - June 5th, 2015
  24. a b c Names of minor shardworlds
    17th Shard forums - April 12th, 2014
  25. This is a world that does not currently have a shard.
    Theoryland - Mar 22nd, 2014
  26. Is that Shard on The Silence Divine?
    17th Shard forums - Aug 8th, 2013
  27. a b Ashyn and Braize
    17th Shard forums - Aug 9th, 2013
  28. a b Odium's presence is felt on Roshar, but he is on Braize, the 3rd planet in the system
    Theoryland - Aug 8th, 2013
  29. a b c The Voice is, indeed, one of the Shards of Adonalsium
    Theoryland - July 2009
  30. a b c d e f One other question, what is the name of the planet that Elantris is on?
    Theoryland - July 2009
  31. a b c Were Cultivation and Honor romantically involved?
    Theoryland - May 22nd, 2013
  32. Is Scadrial the name of the Mistborn world?
    Theoryland - Oct 10th, 2008
  33. a b c d e The Way of Kings chapter 22 epigraph
  34. On the second day he read from a new novel set in the Elantris world
    Theoryland - April 2012
  35. a b Will we see Bavadin sometime?
    Theoryland - Aug 31st, 2011
  36. a b If Sazed were to die, would he drop the shards Ruin and Preservation, or would he drop the shard Harmony?
    Theoryland - Apr 15th, 2013
  37. a b Were Ruin and Preservation two shards or one?
    Theoryland - Nov 21st, 2011
  38. The Hero of Ages chapter 39 epigraph
  39. The powers of Ruin and Preservation are Shards of Adonalsium, pieces of the power of creation itself.
    Theoryland - Oct 16, 2008
  40. Why does Preservation fueling Allomancy not weaken Preservation compared to Ruin?
    Theoryland - Sep 2012
  41. Investiture can not be created or destroyed
    Theoryland - Mar 25th, 2015
  42. Were any of the central cosmere worlds inhabited by humans?
    Theoryland - Jan 17th, 2015
  43. Where did humanity originate in the cosmere?
    Theoryland - Sep 2012
  44. a b He is a primary viewpoint protagonist of 'Dragonsteel, but that happens before all of the other books
    Theoryland - Aug 31st, 2011
  45. Would that be Hoid?
    Theoryland - Mar 4th, 2014
  46. Who names the planets?
    Theoryland - May 31, 2011
  47. Roshar's name predates the Shards' arrival
    Theoryland - Nov 24, 2011
  48. Before Adonalsium was shattered, was there magic in the Cosmere and what form did it take?
    Theoryland - Sept 2012
  49. What is the technology level of the singular society that existed when Adonalsium Shattered?
    Theoryland - Dec 6th, 2012
  50. There was a weapon created by the opposition of Adonalsium
    Theoryland - Mar 4th, 2014
  51. Long ago there was a plot to destroy Adonalsium. It failed
    Theoryland - Jan 6th, 2015
  52. Hoid was at the Shattering of Adonalsium
    Theoryland - Mar 17th, 2012
  53. Was Adonalsium shattered intentionally?
    Theoryland - Mar 5th, 2014
  54. Was Adonalsium shattered all at once?
    Theoryland - Jan 6th, 2015
  55. a b The Way of Kings chapter 18 epigraph
  56. a b c The Way of Kings chapter 23 epigraph
  57. a b Words of Radiance chapter 69 epigraph
  58. a b Words of Radiance chapter 70 epigraph
  59. It is not random who got which Shard
    Theoryland - Mar 16th, 2012
  60. Was there a force determining which way it shattered?
    Theoryland - Nov 16th, 2013
  61. a b c Remember that holding a shard changes you, over time
    Theoryland - March 2013
  62. a b c The Hero of Ages chapter 76
  63. There's just the one system in Warbreaker, and it's also a world with only one Shard on it
    Theoryland - Nov 8th, 2011
  64. He is the only shard on the planet
    Theoryland - Mar 6th, 2014
  65. a b The things that they do in those books, couldn't have been done pre-splintering
    17th Shard forums - Nov 29th, 2012
  66. Because they're such perfect opposites
    Theoryland - May 2010
  67. The Hero of Ages chapter 53 epigraph
  68. The Hero of Ages chapter 57
  69. a b The Hero of Ages chapter 54 epigraph
  70. The Hero of Ages chapter 55 epigraph
  71. Annotation for The Hero of Ages Chapter 81
  72. So he took out the most unlikely (difficult to make and use) metals for his sign to his followers
    Theoryland - July 2009
  73. They were designed and created specifically to do what they did
    17th Shard forums - Jan 23, 2014
  74. a b The Hero of Ages chapter 81 epigraph
  75. a b Odium wants to be the only Shard
    Theoryland - Mar 16th, 2012
  76. His goal is to destroy them all and be the only one left at his power level
    Theoryland - Dec 15th, 2011
  77. Words of Radiance chapter 71 epigraph
  78. a b c Does Roshar have a similar problem, with Honor being Splintered?
    Theoryland - March 2013
  79. Is Odium native to Roshar?
    Theoryland - Sep 22nd, 2012
  80. Odium never really settled on a planet
    17th Shard forums - June 10th, 2014
  81. The Way of Kings chapter 42
  82. The Way of Kings chapter 75
  83. Is Cultivation's holder still alive?
    Theoryland - May 22nd, 2013
  84. Odium has killed at least one more Shard than the ones we know about
    Theoryland - Nov 29th, 2014
  85. Give us the name of a Shard's intent we have not seen before
    17th Shard forums - Dec 9th, 2012
  86. a b The Way of Kings chapter 28 epigraph
  87. The Way of Kings chapter 19 epigraph
  88. a b c The Way of Kings chapter 26 epigraph
  89. Words of Radiance chapter 66 epigraph
  90. Words of Radiance chapter 74 epigraph
  91. I want to know if the Seventeenth Shard members come from all of the planets, not just Sel
    Theoryland - Nov 6th, 2012
  92. The Way of Kings interlude I-1
  93. Khriss is the most aware by a long shot
    Theoryland - Mar 11th, 2014
  94. a b Are they all written by the same person?
    Theoryland - Dec 6th, 2012
  95. a b He is kind of like a cosmere special agent, who gathers things for the person who is writing the Ars Arcanum
    17th Shard forums - Feb 7th, 2015
  96. It's either Hoid or a member of the 17th Shard
    Theoryland - Nov 11th, 2011
  97. Khriss is Nazh's employer.
    17th Shard forums - Aug 8th, 2014
  98. The Seventeenth Shard has a specific purpose
    Theoryland - Mar 5th, 2014
  99. So they have a task, they have goals, and they are worried that he is going to be at cross purposes to them, so they are trying to hunt him down
    Theoryland - Mar 21st, 2014
  100. Is there one universal language?
    Theoryland - Sep 2012
  101. a b What was Vin supposed to do at the end of Well of Ascension?
    Theoryland - October, 2008
  102. The well refills every 1024 years
    Theoryland - May 2010
  103. The Hero of Ages chapter 46 epigraph
  104. Alendi's "Piercings of the Hero"?
    Theoryland - Oct 16, 2008
  105. The Well of Ascension chapter 13 epigraph
  106. The Well of Ascension chapter 40 epigraph
  107. The Well of Ascension chapter 23 epigraph
  108. The Well of Ascension chapter 24 epigraph
  109. The Well of Ascension chapter 50 epigraph
  110. The Well of Ascension chapter 58 epigraph
  111. The Well of Ascension chapter 59 epigraph
  112. The Well of Ascension chapter 45 epigraph
  113. The Well of Ascension chapter 46 epigraph
  114. The Well of Ascension chapter 52 epigraph
  115. The Well of Ascension chapter 53 epigraph
  116. The Well of Ascension chapter 54 epigraph
  117. The Well of Ascension chapter 56 epigraph
  118. The Hero of Ages chapter 4 epigraph
  119. The Hero of Ages chapter 9 epigraph
  120. The Hero of Ages chapter 48
  121. The Hero of Ages chapter 50 epigraph
  122. The Hero of Ages chapter 63
  123. The Hero of Ages chapter 71
  124. a b Annotation for The Hero of Ages Chapter 63
  125. The Hero of Ages chapter 24 epigraph
  126. The Eleventh Metal
  127. The Final Empire chapter 34
  128. a b The Final Empire chapter 38
  129. The Hero of Ages chapter 49 epigraph
  130. a b The Hero of Ages chapter 74 epigraph
  131. The Hero of Ages chapter 56 epigraph
  132. The Well of Ascension chapter 58
  133. The Hero of Ages chapter 58 epigraph
  134. The Hero of Ages chapter 79 epigraph
  135. The Hero of Ages chapter 77 epigraph
  136. The Hero of Ages chapter 55
  137. You may want to note that the moment Preservation dropped out and let the last of his consciousness die, someone was waiting in the Cognitive Realm to seize the power and hold on for a short period until Vin could take it up more fully.
    Theoryland - Oct 17th, 2008
  138. The Hero of Ages chapter 67
  139. a b The Hero of Ages chapter 72
  140. The Hero of Ages chapter 44
  141. a b The Hero of Ages chapter 81
  142. The Hero of Ages chapter 79
  143. The Hero of Ages chapter 80
  144. The Hero of Ages chapter 82
  145. Map of Elendel Basin
  146. Where did Alloy come from?
    Theoryland - Nov 7th, 2011
  147. Is Odium mad about Sazed having two Shards?
    Theoryland - Sept 4th, 2014
  148. He has "plans" for Harmony, and he is very much aware of Harmony's power
    17th Shard forums - Jan 24th, 2014
  149. a b c I've read a bit online about how you have an overall storyline covering all of your novels
    Theoryland - Apr 14th, 2012
  150. a b Where did your idea for the Cosmere originate?
    Theoryland - Aug 31st, 2011
  151. [Do] you think it is necessary to use philosophy to make a good fantasy world?
    Theoryland - Apr 15th, 2013
  152. Do you have all the rules for them written down somewhere?
    Theoryland - Aug 31st, 2011
  153. there's a beginning, middle, and end to the shattering of Adonalsium and the involvement there.
    Theoryland - Mar 21st, 2014
  154. How many series in the cosmere?
    Theoryland - Mar 7th, 2014
  155. a b Is it safe to say The Stormlight Archive will become the backbone series of the story of the cosmere?
    Theoryland - Apr 16th, 2014
  156. How much of the Cosmere and its story would you say you already have a plan for?
    Theoryland - Aug 21st, 2011
  157. a b When will we see a Hoid book?
    Theoryland - Nov 8th, 2011
  158. When will be see the whole Cosmere-concept (Shards, the plans of Hoid) at the level of the books?
    Theoryland - Sep 2012
  159. Will you ever have characters use the different systems of magic openly in front of each other?
    Theoryland - Mar 6th, 2014
  160. a b c d What time period do they all fit in, do they all fit in time- at the same time?
    Theoryland - Dec 6th, 2012
  161. a b c Do you ever feel stifled?
    Theoryland - Nov 14th, 2011
  162. Are you planning to revise these books that haven’t been published and to reinvent them, so to speak?
    Theoryland - May 2012
  163. When do you expect to have more crossover between worlds
    Theoryland - Apr 15th, 2013
  164. Will Hoid have a short story, novel or will we have to try and piece it together?
    Theoryland - Jan 18th, 2010
  165. Are there going to be other characters other than Hoid that will be crossing over between books?
    Theoryland - Oct 14th, 2013
  166. How do you address the different types of magic systems in your different books?
    Theoryland - May 13th, 2013
  167. Lots of work in my internal wiki mixed with continuity editors.
    Theoryland - Mar 18th, 2014
  168. a b Is this book [Steelheart] part of the Cosmere?
    Theoryland - Jan 2013
  169. Have you ever felt constrained by this commitment to consistency across the Cosmere?
    Theoryland - Apr 15th, 2013
  170. The Rithmatist is (mostly) consistent with the Cosmere rules
    Theoryland - Jul 10th, 2013
  171. For some part of its existence, the Rithmatist was in the Cosmere
    Theoryland - Mar 21st, 2014
  172. is there a cross-book timeline available?
    Theoryland - Apr 15th, 2013
  173. Are you planning on putting together a Cosmere bible at any point?
    Theoryland - Apr 15th, 2013
  174. Do you think you'll eventually publish a "The World of Brandon Sanderson's Cosmere"?
    Theoryland - Nov 14th, 2011
  175. Eventually, he'll come out with a Shadesmar map of the cosmere, and a Starmap as well.
    Theoryland - Dec 6th, 2014
  176. Do you decide what cosmere hints you'll let out before going to events?
    Theoryland - Nov 14th, 2011
  177. a b c d e f State of the Sanderson: December 2014
    Brandon's blog - Dec 18th, 2014
  178. Q&A at Spokane Barnes & Noble
    17th Shard forums - 09 August 2013
  179. State of the Sanderson
    Brandon's blog - Jul 24, 2013
  180. Current timeline, which I have NOT canonized, is around 6,000 years
    Theoryland - Nov 29th, 2014
  181. When is The Emperor’s Soul set relative to Elantris specifically and the other cosmere books?
    — Tumblr - Mar 7th, 2014
  182. The Stormlight Archive is set before The Alloy of Law.
    Theoryland - Dec 6th, 2014
  183. Is it up into the third trilogy of Mistborn?
    Theoryland - Jan 17th, 2015
  184. If you write Nightblood, the Warbreaker sequel, chronologically, will it come before or after Stormlight?
    Theoryland - Mar 13th, 2014
  185. The Way of Kings chapter 54
  186. Words of Radiance chapter 75 epigraph
  187. Words of Radiance Ars Arcanum
  188. Hemalurgy really is an oddity in the cosmere
    Theoryland - Sep 2012
  189. How is cosmere supposed to be capitalised?
    — Twitter - June 6th, 2015
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