Nazianzen

Getting People Hooked on the Cosmere

19 posts in this topic

(I hope this is the right section for this kind of conversation and if not I apologize. Did a quick search and didn't immediately see another thread talking about this though I'm sure several exist.)

I have been pushing Sanderson on people lately with varying levels of success and so I was wondering where you have recommended people start to get them to buy into reading more. For example, I started with Way of Kings and so some people I have recommended they begin there. With my little sister, who hasn't really read any fantasy beyond The Chronicles of Narnia, I recommended she begin with Mistborn but she got bored fairly quickly and gave up—I was devastated! I had some nerdier friends who I told to read "Sanderson's Second Law" so they would see how strong of a grasp Brandon has on the genre and how much he has magic systems down to a science. Recently, I have been recommending Elantris or The Emperor's Soul because they're strong, short, and largely self-contained.

How have you approached this? What have you found worked well and what didn't? (Yes, I know people are going to like what they like but I like to pretend that I am something of an Allomantic Soother...)

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It would depend on each reader's interest, age and reading experience. If the reader has read several large scale epic fantasy series, then you can have him start right away with WoK. If the reader has limited experience with long-term series and if the reader hasn't read too many fantasy stories, then you can have him start with Mistborn.

In the case of your young sister who's fantasy reading experience is Narnia, Mistborn was probably too complicated for her. She seems a young reader or at least an inexperienced one, Mistborn might be considered too slow going for her. I would recommend starting with the Reckoners and/or Alcatraz, something more appropriate to younger readers. Sure, it isn't Cosmere, but it is Brandon Sanderson. Or perhaps you could have her read Elantris which is a simple story, but it may be it lacks actions and it does revolve quite strongly around religion.

I personally wouldn't recommend The Empereror's Soul as a first read as it is kind of an odd one. There may be those who would love to read it first, but it got nothing more than a shrug from me and I feel people like it mostly because it explains better how the realms work. But huh, you never know. Maybe it is a good fit for your nerdy friends.

Recently, Peter suggested new readers to start with... Edgedancer. I find it an apt suggestion, so perhaps you could start there. It is short, it has action and it does give a good view of Brandon's style, it isn't daunting. 

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When I recomended the books to my friends I tailored the recommendation, then picked something out of the book that they would really like. Some of my friends are fantasy nerds enough that 'fantasy book with giant world' is enough, but I related stuff like an apocalypse story (with Elantris) or just a character that they would really like.

I know it isn't ideal, but could you start with Mistborn Era 2? It isn't the best starting point, but they're in a more modern setting and are shorter than a lot of the others.

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I showed one of my friends Legion. He loved it and asked me for more of Brandon's books. Voila!

I think Legion works as a good intro to Brandon.

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I started with WoK for a patron at my library because he was looking for a large, well-written book with great characters, and he loved it. I don't know if I would start everyone off with that book, though, but it was my first intro to Brandon's work and it worked really well for me. The vibrant characters were what kept me hooked and so I never felt like the book really dragged. The size of WoK can be daunting, though.

This patron has also finished WoR and is on the 2nd mistborn book now. I'm not sure how I'll tell him about the Cosmere, but I'm thinking of just giving him Arcanum Unbounded when the time comes and sending him on his way :P

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I got my parents into Sanderson through mistborn.

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Out of my personal interest I would recommend The Way of Kings first, since it has a special place in my heart. Though it is obviously not for everyone. I'll go with The Final Empire for sf/f readers who first discover Sanderson books (according to Brandon's suggestion), The Emperor's Soul for general readers. Why choosing TES? Because it is quite standalone and is received EXTREMELY well here in China, in case you didn't know. Seriously, I haven't even seen any meh comments in the community. It seems that everyone I met loves it. Brandon's story and his understandings of Asian cultures really blew our mind.

But for those who decide to fully dive into Brandon's world, I would advise them to read books according to the publication order, so that they can see Brandon's growth as a writer, which is amazing, at least for me =) (BTW my first Sanderson book is Elantris, but it didn't prevent me from getting to love the whole universe.)

Edited by Botanica
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My call for someone who may not commit to a long read is always TES or Warbreaker, depending on whether they prefer something serious or something fun and funny. I think TES is a masterpiece. But Warbreaker is just wonderful. I don't enjoy the 'main' story line hugely but Lightsong is just wonderful, the magic is intriguing, Vasher is completely intriguing and then awesome, and it's free! 

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I recommended my mum Legion, because she likes both detective stories and fantasy, and she was pissed at me, because I forgot that she has an obsession with unfinished plots, and Sandra's plot made her angry ;) So I gave her TES to fix the first impression quickly and she liked it. I think other short stories, Shadows for Silence and First of the Sun, might work too, and Reckoners is also a certain hit. Didn't read The Rithmatist yet, but I bet it's great too? 

To my friends, I am afraid to recommend WoK, because not only is it huge, it's also not going to be finished for the next 20 years, that intimidates people. I tell them to read Warbreaker. I think it's a great example of Sanderson's worldbuiding, has an interesting magic system and great characters, also Siribron plot is so sweet. I've seen some voices that Warbreaker is not many people's favourite though. 

A lot of people love Mistborn, but I personally find it the weakest of cosmere. I myself started with it and it was a "meh" for me - enough to check author's other works, because I loved the worldbuiding, but not enough to jump in the hypetrain, because I didn't love the characters (liked some, but only had a connection with Elend, who was kinda secondary). 

A lot of people don't like Elantris and I loved it. I can see issues with it, yes, but it was a pleasant read. 

So, I don't think there is one way to do this, but I would aim at short stories the most. Except of Perfect state, because that one is odd. But it's a good way to get to know the author enough to trust him with Stormlight.

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Wow, thanks everybody for weighing in. This is all so helpful.

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While I don't have much experience getting people into Sanderson beyond recommending him to a couple Wheel of Time or Kingkiller Chronicles fans, I believe the story of how I became a Sanderfan can give some insight. 

My first exposure to Sanderson was reading Mistborn at fourteen. I was reading anything I could get my hands on, saw the trilogy boxed set on sale, and bought it with a gift card I had. While I enjoyed the books, I didn't love them, and I probably would not have read past TFE if I hadn't bought all three and felt I should get my money's worth. I put the books aside and forgot about them. 

About a year later, my book club read The Rithmatist. I loved the magic system and connected with the characters. The only part I was not thrilled with was the ending. 

I asked a friend of mine for some book recommendations a few months later. Among that list was WoK. I recognized Brandon's name from Rithmatist, so I decided to give it a try. I immediately got sucks into the story. Conversations with that friend about a certain King's Wit led me to the cosmere as a whole. A Google search led me to the Coppermind where I saw a farmiliar name… The Mistborn Trilogy. 

Basically, as others have said, it's about knowing what the person will like. Mistborn wasn't able to  make me a Sanderfan, but Stormlight was. 

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On 5/1/2017 at 11:28 PM, cloudjumper said:

There is a thing Brandon Sanderson has on his website that might be applicable here.

https://brandonsanderson.com/books/where-do-i-start/

Ooh I hadn't seen this. Thanks, @cloudjumper. Funny that he recommends Warbreaker as a romance. I feel like that better characterizes the first Mistborn trilogy even though I get how it makes sense for Warbreaker too.

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First off, I definitely wouldn't recommend WoK first. At least not if you want to read the whole Cosmere. (I'm actually planning to get my dad to read Stormlight but I don't think he'll read the whole Cosmere so it doesn't matter). I definitely recommend reading Mistborn before SA - because in SH, the cognitive realm is really explained much more in depth so you won't be like This post has been reported for attempting to skirt the rules is going on when reading WoK. But most importantly - WARBREAKER!!! (Because Vasher and Nightblood).

Also, stop EVERYONE who would even think about reading Mistborn era 2 before era 1!

Really, I'd go with Warbreaker first, then all the Mistborns, then Elantris (or maybe Elantris before SH) then SA with the various non-spoilery short stories anywhere in between or even first.

But everyone has their own favourite order. Just...just...Warbreaker before SA, please? Don't let people repeat my mistakes :D

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On 5/6/2017 at 3:45 PM, Staphylococcus said:

But everyone has their own favourite order. Just...just...Warbreaker before SA, please? Don't let people repeat my mistakes :D

YES. One of my long-time good friends, (and I mean, like since we were 3) almost had a fit of excitement when he heard that SA was my favorite book series. When I asked him if he'd read all the other cosmere books, he said he hadn't read Warbreaker yet. And he's trying to read OB right now, even though I tried to convince CE him to wait. :blink:

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Oh boy, I think I've gotten like, 3-5 of my friends hooked(on different levels, some more, some less) on Sanderson.

I started some out with Steelheart, while lending another one WoK as a beginner, going to let another friend read Mistborn Era 1 next year :P 

 

Personally, now that I've read more, I think I would get people started on Elantris/ Warbreaker(or maybe something out of AU) to get them into Sandersons works.

Then go for Mistborn Era 1, WoK, Secret History, Mistborn Era 2, WoR, probably some of the random Arcanum Unbounded stories between here and there as well, like Sixth of the Dusk and Shadows for Silence.

 

I haven't gotten my Oathbringer yet, so I'm still waiting to actually finally get that, hopefully this week...

Edited by DudeJr
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I started my friend on Mistborn, the same way I started. Personally, I believe it is the best way to start one off on their Sanderson addiction.

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My father started me on Mistborn a good five or so years ago, and I've been hooked since, I've reread a large number of novels by Sanderson. I think the Mistborn trilogy (first era) is great for starting people on. I've recommended it to many people as it is fast paced, and gritty. (I think SA is the best but it is definitely more dragged out and there are a lot more factors to take into account).

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I always start people out with Warbreaker or Stormlight Archive. But the best idea is probably to start with a non-Cosmere book (I recommend Reckoners), they tend to be easier to understand for new people. 

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