The 10 Best Books by Brandon Sanderson, Ranked

Brandon Sanderson is one of the most prolific and influential fantasy writers of our time. Here are our favorite books of his.
The 10 Best Books by Brandon Sanderson, Ranked

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Brandon Sanderson is beloved by many and known around the world for his fantasy and science fiction stories.

Most of his main stories—which range from massive novels to intimate novellas—take place in the Cosmere, a shared universe that governs and informs the lore that makes each story so interesting.

Among aspiring writers, Brandon Sanderson is best known for his Writing Excuses podcast (where he offers advice and encouragement while deconstructing the craft of storytelling).

He's also known for Sanderson's Laws of Magic, a set of guidelines that distinguish between "hard magic" and "soft magic" and explain how magic should be used depending on the story being told.

Not to mention that he was hand-picked by Harriet McDougal (Robert Jordan's wife and editor) to complete The Wheel of Time after Robert Jordan's untimely passing.

As of this writing, Brandon Sanderson has published 31 novels, 18 novellas, four graphic novels, and several short stories. He's one of the most prolific and fascinating fantasy authors today.

Here are my picks for Brandon Sanderson's best novels and why they stand out in his rapidly growing library of incredible stories.

10. Elantris

Authored by Brandon Sanderson

First published on May 1, 2005

638 pages — 4.19 on Goodreads

Elantris is Brandon Sanderson's debut book, first published way back in 2005. It's a bit rough around the edges as far as the writing goes, but the story is fascinating even to today's standards.

This epic fantasy story revolves around Elantris, a mystical city that used to be a place of magic, where anyone could potentially become an Elantrian and gain immortality.

But ten years ago, a cataclysm called the Reod made magic disappear. People can still become Elantrians, but the awakening is now seen as a curse and Elantris is now a place for exiles.

Prior to Elantris, Brandon Sanderson had written 13 novels that were all rejected by various publishers. In that sense, Elantris holds special meaning—as a symbol of persistence, grit, faith, and hard work.

9. The Rithmatist

Authored by Brandon Sanderson

First published on May 13, 2013

353 pages — 4.25 on Goodreads

Brandon Sanderson's The Rithmatist is set in a world that's strikingly similar to our own, blending fantasy with technology to create a land where magic coexists with complex geared machines.

In this YA story, all children who reach the age of 8 must undergo a religious ceremony known as Inception to decide their fate. Very rarely, children are chosen to become Rithmatists, who perform magic by drawing geometric patterns using chalk.

The Rithmatist feels a lot like Brandon Sanderson's version of Harry Potter: you have a young boy who goes off to magic school to learn and hone his abilities as a magic user.

The ideas in The Rithmatist are imaginative and fun, making it a great read for younger audiences. It's not as action-packed as his other novels, but the story is fleshed-out enough to be quite engaging.

8. Mistborn

Authored by Brandon Sanderson

First published on July 17, 2006

537 pages — 4.47 on Goodreads

Mistborn is a series of epic fantasy novels, comprised of seven books (as of this writing) and several more still planned for release.

Many consider Mistborn to be among Sanderson's best works, mainly because he truly started to gain widespread recognition after the success of the first book Mistborn: The Final Empire.

The story begins with a clandestine group of Allomancers—people who can manipulate metal in magical ways—who are trying to overthrow a tyrannical empire in a world literally covered by ash.

I find this to be one of the most atmospheric, suggestive, and evocative premises in modern fantasy literature.

The Mistborn books were the first ones written in Sanderson's Cosmere, so we owe a great deal of respect to what this series accomplished.

7. Sixth of the Dusk

Authored by Brandon Sanderson

First published on October 16, 2014

59 pages — 4.24 on Goodreads

Arcanum Unbounded is a collection of nine tales—novellas and short stories—that are all set in the Cosmere, along with illustrations and essays that expand on the worlds therein.

There's one story in particular, however, that I'd like to highlight: Sixth of the Dusk, which was originally published in 2014 as part of the Shadows Beneath anthology by the Writing Excuses cast.

Sixth of the Dusk takes place on a planet called First of the Sun and follows the adventures of a hunter-priest trapper named Sixth of the Dusk as he tries to save his home from a mysterious danger that he doesn't quite understand.

Arcanum Unbounded is also home to several other standout stories, including The Emperor's Soul, White Sand, and Edgedancer.

6. Tress of the Emerald Sea

Authored by Brandon Sanderson

First published on January 10, 2023

483 pages — 4.55 on Goodreads

Tress of the Emerald Sea is one of the rare standalone Cosmere novels, but don't be turned away by that. Just because it isn't part of some massive epic series doesn't mean it isn't fantastic!

This novel centers on Tress, a young girl who lives on an island in the middle of an emerald ocean. When her beloved Charlie is taken from her, she heads off on a journey to seek out the Sorceress.

Released in 2023 as one of Sanderson's infamous "Secret Projects" that he wrote during lockdown, Tress of the Emerald Sea has already garnered tons of praise for engaging with many Cosmere events that are retold through different perspectives here.

5. Legion

Authored by Brandon Sanderson

First published on August 31, 2012

88 pages — 4.13 on Goodreads

Legion is the first in a series of novellas about a man named Stephen Leeds, who suffers from a mental condition that's a lot like dissociative identity disorder, except they're real personas and he can create them.

When he receives a mysterious letter with a picture that's absolutely impossible, he sets off to track down an missing inventor who had a camera that could take pictures of the past.

Stephen Leeds, also known as Legion, suffers from deep hallucinations that often end up helpful in some way. He's distrustful of others, though, because so many want to get close to study his condition.

4. The Emperor's Soul

Authored by Brandon Sanderson

First published on October 11, 2012

192 pages — 4.37 on Goodreads

The Emperor's Soul centers on Shai, a thief who's been sentenced to death. She isn't your usual thief, though. She practices magical forgery.

The only reason she isn't dead yet? The current Emperor has been left brain-dead by an assassination attempt and she's given the opportunity to be free if she forges a new soul for the Emperor.

She's given 100 days to get it done, which involves poring over documents and understanding who the Emperor was. Can someone like her change the destiny of a corrupted Empire?

3. Warbreaker

Authored by Brandon Sanderson

First published on June 9, 2009

688 pages — 4.30 on Goodreads

Warbreaker centers on Vivenna and Siri, two Idrian princesses whose fates are beyond their own hands—at least, for now.

Vivenna must marry the God King of Hallandren, which was decided for her before she was even born. But their father, King Dedelin, decides to send Siri to marry the deity instead.

Vivenna follows her sister to save her from her fate. Once in Hallandren, the two sisters are exposed to more than they could've imagined, but are also finally able to captain their own destinies.

Warbreaker is one of Brandon Sanderson's most unique novels because it has been rewritten several times, with the entire story available in digital form on his official website.

2. The Frugal Wizard's Handbook for Surviving Medieval England

Authored by Brandon Sanderson

First published on April 11, 2023

372 pages — 3.82 on Goodreads

What would you do if you woke up one day in England? And you appear to be back in the medieval times? And you have no memories of who you are or where you came from?

Our protagonist finds himself in that very predicament in The Frugal Wizard's Handbook for Surviving Medieval England.

Chased by people from his own time—problems do follow you everywhere you go, don't they?—he'll need to retrieve his memories if he wants to survive and find a way back home.

Although it's one of his lesser-known works, The Frugal Wizard's Handbook for Surviving Medieval England is one of Brandon Sanderson's most fun romps that highlights what he does best.

1. The Way of Kings

Authored by Brandon Sanderson

First published on August 31, 2010

1007 pages — 4.65 on Goodreads

The Way of Kings is the first in Sanderson's Stormlight Archive series, a massively epic fantasy tale that's planned to stretch across ten novels, with four books currently published (each over 1,000 pages long).

It all takes place in the land of Roshar, a world of war and chaos. Revenge drives an ongoing war across the Shattered Plains as kingdoms fight over the legendary Shardblades and Shardplates.

We follow several main characters: Dalinar Kholin, the lord of an army; Shallan, the artist seeking to be a scholar; and Kaladin, the medic-turned-slave who's fallen into depression.

Epic, thrilling, and absolutely addictive, The Way of Kings is more than just the best novel by Brandon Sanderson—it's one of the greatest achievements in modern fantasy. The mysteries embedded in the complex worldbuilding will hook you like no other.