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Cognitive Shadow

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Cognitive Shadow is term used by Brandon to refer to a spirit that has not yet moved into the afterlife[1]. While the manifestations of this kind of entity can vary depending on the world it occurs on, Cognitive Shadows have consistent rules and can occur on any planet of the Cosmere. In general, they are similar to the concept of ghosts on Earth. Some of them are created when a person has sufficient attachment to something in Physical realm, a Vessel that has held onto the Shard for a long time dies[2], or the cognitive aspect of a recently deceased person finds a source of Investiture to anchor themselves to the Cognitive Realm before passing on to the Beyond.



Common on Threnody, Shades are somewhat unique in that they can convert living people into more Shades. This is explained by the kind of Investiture the people on that planet help, as well as the lack of Shard[3].


A cognitive shadow of Honor on Roshar[4].


After his death, Kelsier still managed to influence Physical Realm for some time, even holding Preservation's shard for a time.

Spoilers for Mistborn: Secret History

Kelsier became a cognitive shadow not through his attachment to the Physical Realm, but by anchoring his mind (his cognitive aspect) to Shadesmar (the Cognitive Realm) with investiture from Preservation's shardpool (the Well of Ascension).


  1. Steelheart release party
    Theoryland - 24th September, 2013
  2. Orem Signing Report - Zas678
    Theoryland - 6th December, 2014
  3. WoR Signing Report - Bartbug
    Theoryland - 6th March, 2014
  4. Brandon Sanderson - /r/books AMA 2015
    Theoryland - 12th March, 2015
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