Arcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere Collection is finally here. This is a big, 670+ page book, with a ton of stuff. This has every single cosmere story that has been published outside of the main novels in one convenient collection. It has: The Hope of Elantris, The Emperor's Soul (which is incredible), The Eleventh Metal, "Allomancer Jak and the Pits of Eltania, Episodes 28 and 30", an excerpt from White Sand (both graphic novel and from prose), Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell, The Sixth of Dusk, and, for the first time in physical print, Mistborn: Secret History. That's a ton of value, just considering Secret History and Emperor's Soul.
But that is not all. Its main headline feature is a large, 40,000 word long Stormlight Archive novella: Edgedancer. It's a novella about Lift, of course, and covers her story after we saw her interlude up until the end of Words of Radiance. Not only that, but Arcanum Unbounded has some crazy cosmere information--essays from the author of the Ars Arcanum, Khriss, on each of the star systems--and star charts.
So how is it? I'd say its a resounding success. The original content is enough for me to be thrilled about this release, and if you haven't read any of the older content, the value keeps piling up.
Khriss Essays and Artwork
First, let's talk about the cosmere goodies. Each of the stories is separated per star system, and at the beginning, we have a gorgeous drawing of each solar system, followed by a short two page essay written by Khriss. Since she writes the Ars Arcana in each book, that gives you a certain level of expectation on awesomeness. And, well, get excited.
Khriss talks about more than a planet's magic system. She talks about the sizes of planets, the Shards of the planets, and overall covers the basic history. I know that sounds boring, and maybe if you aren't into the cosmere, some of this will be boring. But each star system has crazy, unique things. Here's the thing: Khriss delivers lore bombs casually, if they were nothing. Things that I have wondered for years are answered in a sentence. There's a thing that I never even considered could be possible that is discussed, and it is insane. And, like always, there are new mysteries for us to ponder. (If Khriss can't figure them out... well, we will have on the forums theorizing about it for years to come.)
There are essays on every planet, save for Nalthis. It's probably because there was no Nalthis content in this rather than any other deeper reason. While I'm sure much of this essay info you'll find on the internet (like on the forums, or on the Coppermind soon), but it really does add to this idea that these worldhoppers collected and catalogued this information. It's awesome.
Each story has original artwork preceding it, and every star system gets a neat icon. Oh, and on the endpages of the book, there's also a completely awesome star chart of the cosmere. It's an artistic thing, with drawings that represent constellations on it. It's gorgeous, and terrifying, for a reason that you'll see as soon as you lay your eyes upon it.
The entire product is far more than an anthology.
But, of course, you want to know about new Stormlight content. It feels like an eternity since Words of Radiance, so it is amazing to finally advance the story.
Edgedancer is about Lift, featured in one of the interludes of Words of Radiance. She'll actually be a main viewpoint character in the back five Stormlight books. So, if you love Lift, you'll love Edgedancer. It is that simple. It's funny. It's dramatic. It's emotional. It's everything you wanted out of a Lift story and more.
It's hard for me to imagine going into Oathbringer without having read this. Significant stuff happens. There was actually some mindblowing events here. (And it also has something I did not expect, which answered a huge, huge question in the series. It totally blindsided me that this was the story that this happened in, and I did actually scream.) I suppose it isn't strictly necessary, because the characters here are separated from the main characters of the Stormlight Archive, but you'll be really glad you read this.
I will say, though, that Edgedancer was so sweet that it made me desperate for Oathbringer. It made me realize how much I love Roshar. So, in a way, this piece which Brandon wrote to tide us over until Book 3 as an apology for it taking so long ends up being a novella which makes me need Oathbringer, immediately. I'm basically Gollum, and I wantses it now.
I think any way you slice it Arcanum Unbounded is worth the full price release. The original stuff is great, and the value that the art and the essays bring to the old work is fantastic. Sure, some of the older works in this collection are not my favorite, but come on, with Emperor's Soul, Secret History, and Edgedancer, you get a lot here, and that isn't everything. It's a great anthology.