Songs of the Dead

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Songs of the Dead
Collaborators Peter Orullian
Released unknown

Songs of the Dead is the name of a planned novel by Brandon Sanderson and Peter Orullian about a heavy metal singer with necromantic powers. Brandon originated the story as an urban fantasy about a necromancer pizza delivery man and referred to it as Death by Pizza.[1] The pizza delivery angle was later removed, with the protagonist changed to a heavy metal singer; Peter Orullian was brought on as co-author. Brandon then jokingly referred to the revamped story as Death Without Pizza[2] before Orullian suggested the current name.[3]


Original draft and hiatus[edit]

Brandon first mentioned the story in 2010[4] and wrote the majority of a novel-length story before 2013, but it had many flaws that prevented it from being published.[1] Brandon noted that the title was a bit too silly for the subject matter and was likely to change.[5] Few details of the story are known; Brandon mentioned that necromancers would increase their power after death and resurrection.[6]

Brandon continued to occasionally mention the book at signings[7] and in his annual State of the Sanderson blog posts.[8] After looking at it again as a potential reading for the Firefight tour in 2015, Brandon decided that it didn't work, and simply considered it as practice in the urban fantasy genre.[9] Although the story did see some minor development later that year,[8] it was put on hiatus and stayed there for several years.[10][11] The book was never officially trunked, but it took a back seat to other commitments including The Rithmatist and Alcatraz.[12]

Revival of project and collaboration[edit]

In 2018, Brandon mentioned that he was once again actively working on the necromancer novel.[13] He noted that the pizza delivery aspect of the story did not fit the setting and magic system, and he realized that a better choice would be the culture of heavy metal music. The updated novel features an American metal singer living in London who discovers his latent necromancy powers.[2] In the 2018 State of the Sanderson, he revealed that he had completed a new outline and world guide early in the year and had done additional work on the project throughout the year.[2] Some elements of the revamped magic system were culled from another unpublished work called The King's Necromancer.[14]

Brandon also announced that the novel would be written as a collaboration with novelist Peter Orullian. Brandon did the worldbuilding, but Peter wrote the first draft and developed the individual characters.[15] Brandon feels that Peter is an ideal collaborator because he is a heavy metal musician who has toured internationally.[2] Since this is Brandon's first true collaboration, the two authors had to figure out a way to make it work[15] with both of them performing revisions, the first of which Brandon was working on completing at the end of 2018.[2] Brandon intends to make sure that the novel does not take an "over-the-top metal" tone in the style of Brütal Legend or This Is Spinal Tap.[15][2]

Peter completed a second draft in June 2019, but the project stalled slightly due to Brandon's commitments on Rhythm of War. By the end of 2019, Brandon was working through another revision and was hoping that a final draft would be completed in 2020.[3] If the book works well, it could become a series.[16] The main character's name is currently slated to be Jack Solomon.[15]


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