13 Best Brandon Sanderson Books: Breathtaking Adventure and Epic Fantasy

Read our list of the best Brandon Sanderson books and discover the ultimate fantasy novels with characters beyond imagination.

We have compiled a list of the best Brandon Sanderson books, and it wasn’t easy to choose. Witness jaw-dropping daredevil acts, soar above wondrous landscapes, and team up with gods, talking swords, thieves, and revolutionaries. Yep, Sanderson has it all.

One of the big names in fantasy, Brandon Sanderson, published his first book, Elantris, in 2005. Since then, his novels have brought him increasing notoriety, especially since the release of the popular Mistborn series, described as “An epic fantasy set in a world where the Dark Lord has gained dominion over the world.”

A Nebraska native now living in Utah, Sanderson’s books are not merely good fun. They tackle issues regarding society, religion, culture, and more, all through characters and places that exist solely on the page. And with over 70 books published as of 2023, Brandon Sanderson has set himself up to be impossible to ignore by fantasy and science fiction lovers. According to his website, Sanderson has “hit the New York Times Best-Seller List fifteen times.”

Novels aren’t just happy escapes; they are slivers of people’s souls, nailed to the pages, dripping ink from veins of wood pulp. Reading the right one at the right time can make all the difference.

Brandon Sanderson

All of Brandon’s epic fantasy books are connected, taking place in the universe known as Cosmere. For this reason, sometimes, characters from one book traverse into other stories. 

While this may sound daunting to those about to embark on discovering Cosmere, the truth is that the multi-book plots and appearances do not stop casual readers from enjoying individual stories. 

Follow our list below to find the best Brandon Sanderson books, free of spoilers. And make sure also to check out our list of authors like Brandon Sanderson.

Best Brandon Sanderson Books Ranked

1. Elantris

Sanderson’s love for fantasy began at fourteen when a teacher handed him a copy of Barbara Hambly’s Dragonsbane

Sanderson’s first book is a more than satisfactory entry point into his literature and universe. In Elantris, he imagines a once radiant city, full of benevolent god-like creatures, that is devastated after its magic fails. The book’s protagonist, Princess Sarene of Teod, was supposed to marry Crown Prince Raoden, but she finds herself besieged by religious fanatics sent ahead by a power-hungry emperor. 

Elantris showcases Sanderson’s world-building prowess. The book places much of its emphasis on the decay of the once-great city. Sanderson’s debut novel strikes a carefully constructed balance between characters, plot, and setting, each contributing to tour-de-force in story-telling.

“The first step in taking control of a nation, Arteth, is the simplest. You find someone to hate.”

Brandon Sanderson
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02/19/2024 08:51 pm GMT

2. Mistborn: The Final Empire

Mistborn: The Final Empire
The book is the first in the acclaimed Mistborn series

In The Final Empire, a heist sparks a rebellion to remove the dictatorial and immortal emperor and end his 1000-year rule. At the center of the struggle is Kelsier, who has the powers of a Mistborn and bands together with other Allomancers to defeat the Lord Ruler. 

The Final Empire works well as a standalone novel, but most importantly, with its masterful worldbuilding and obvious promises of what’s to come, it sets the stage for the entire Mistborn trilogy and is sure to convince readers of Sanderson’s skill.

“Belief isn’t simply a thing for fair times and bright days, I think. What is belief—what is faith—if you don’t continue in it after failure?”

Brandon Sanderson
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02/19/2024 05:37 pm GMT

3. Steelheart

The book is one of Sanderson’s Young Adult novels

Steelheart takes place in a world much like the present one, with one exception – it is populated by individuals with superpowers given by an event called the Calamity. Unlike most superhero stories, however, these Epics receive their powers because they are evil. Steelheart is the name of the worst Epic, who declared himself emperor of Chicago and renamed it Newcago. 

The story begins after Steelheart kills the father of David, the book’s young protagonist, who swears to be revenged by joining the Reckoners, the only group who fight back against the Epics. 

Steelheart turns the superhero genre on its head, using all the flying, caped types as evildoers and placing the focus on average people trying to prevail. For that reason, it makes for an engaging read for comic book lovers in particular.

“They looked so dangerous, like alligators. Really fast alligators wearing black. Ninja alligators.”

Brandon Sanderson
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02/19/2024 09:01 pm GMT

4. The Way of Kings

The Way of Kings
Kings has stymied me each time I’ve tried to describe it,” Sanderson once said about the book

The Way of Kings is the first book of the Stormlight Archive series, and it takes place on Roshar, a world of tempestuous magical power where all living things take shelter, even the trees. 

War rages between armies bent on capturing the mystical armor and swords that once belonged to an order called the Knights Radiant and can transform mortal men into near-invincible warriors.

The book features characters such as Kaladin, a slave, Brightlord Dalinar Kholin, who suffers from visions of the Knights Radiant, a notorious heretic Jasnah, who is being used to uncover the secrets of the ancient order by her apprentice Shallan, and the assassin Szeth – Truthless of Shinovar.

Sanderson wrote the novel after ten years of world-building – and he has done his work well. Reviews comment on the book’s astonishing detail and action, particularly given that it is the first in a series. It promises battles galore, intrigue, mystery, and romance, with some insane twists in the plot towards the end of the book. 

There are five books in the first arc of the series, so readers can expect a conclusion to the tale in part.

“Sometimes we find it hardest to accept in others that which we cling to in ourselves.”

Brandon Sanderson
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02/19/2024 09:01 pm GMT

5. Words of Radiance

Words of Radiance
The second book of The Stormlight Archive is 1328 pages long

Standing on the shoulders of The Way of Kings, the second book of The Stormlight Archive continues the story of the four main characters. Kaladin is now a commander of the royal bodyguards. His job is to protect the king and Highprince Dalinar from the Assasin, Szeth, who is on a rampage targeting world leaders with the help of his mysterious powers. 

Far away, scholar Shallan attempts to prevent the return of the legendary Voidbringers. 

Interwoven plots and well-placed humor make Words of Radiance an unmissable Sanderson masterpiece.

“Expectation wasn’t just about what people expected of you. It was about what you expected of yourself.”

Brandon Sanderson
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02/19/2024 09:14 pm GMT

6. Oathbringer

The book is the third in The Stormlight Archive

Oathbringer is the third book in the Stormlight Archive series and another triumph by Brandon Sanderson. It witnesses the return of the swarming Voidbringers. 

The end of civilization is near, and Roshar’s people must stand together against the overpowering foe or perish. 

More of a slow-burner than the first two, the third book of the epic fantasy series is information-rich, building up the world and its history. The ending culminates in a typical Sandersonian way, with an explosion that makes you immediately pick up the next book.

“Sometimes, a hypocrite is nothing more than a man who is in the process of changing.”

Brandon Sanderson
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02/19/2024 09:07 pm GMT

7. Tress of the Emerald Sea

Tress of the Emerald Sea
This is the first book of the series Secret Projects

A fairy tale/pirate adventure, Tress of the Emerald Sea offers a rich, fantastical world in which to lose yourself. Sanderson mixes magic with science fiction, and places at the center a resourceful and good-hearted heroine. 

Tress is a window-washer who loves to collect teacups. When the duke takes his son away to prevent him and Tress from falling in love, she is determined to get him back. Enter smugglers, bloodthirsty pirates, a sorceress, and a talking rat named Huck. 

Trees and the Emerald Sea is the first book in the Secret Projects series.

“She felt less like a mere human being, and more like a human who was merely being.”

Brandon Sanderson
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02/19/2024 09:00 pm GMT

8. Warbreaker

Warbreaker is a standalone novel but some characters feature in The Stormlight Archive

Sanderson imagines a type of magic, or a magic system, for each of his books. As they all take place in the same universe, the systems are often alike in many ways but also very different. 

In this exciting novel, each person in the world of Warbreaker has the power of one breath, which can be used to bring to life inanimate objects, including the dead. These breaths can be stolen, and there is something of an underground market for this valuable resource.

Two princess sisters, Vivenna and Siri, are repulsed by this misuse of power. However, due to a forced marriage of one to their enemies God King, are powerless to act until the threat of war forces their hand.

“Mocking a woman is like drinking too much wine. It may be fun for a short time, but the hangover is hell.”

Brandon Sanderson
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02/19/2024 08:58 pm GMT

9. Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians

Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians
The recommended reading age is 8 to 13 – but the novel can be appreciated at any age

Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians is an offering from Sanderson for young readers, although it has been enjoyed by many adults.

Thirteen-year-old Alcatraz Smedry’s only inheritance from his parents is a bag of sand. Only his parents were wizards, and the sand was not the usual kind. The bag is then stolen by the evil Librarians who want to take over the truth, and Alcatraz Smedry has to stop them. 

At 320 pages, Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians is much shorter than Sanderson’s usual tome-lengthed novels. Lighthearted and action-packed, the book lets the reader discover its world through the wonder-filled eyes of a child.

“Authors write books for one, and only one, reason: because we like to torture people.”

Brandon Sanderson
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02/19/2024 09:21 pm GMT

10. The Alloy of Law: A Mistborn Novel

The Alloy of Law
The action takes place three hundred years after the Mistborn era

Much after the action of the Mistborn era, magic still resides in the world of Scadrial. Law enforcers such as Waxillium Ladrian use it to maintain the peace. Upon returning to the capital city, he has to face an outlaw gang of Allomancers as they conduct heists and kidnappings – not to mention that he’s looking to get married. 

The Alloy of Law is full of references to the Mistborn books, and each element in it, from the culture to the architecture, can be appreciated especially by fans of the series. Not as dark as Sanderson’s other novels, the book defies genres and makes for a fun read due to his trademark epic writing style. In addition, Alloy of Law introduces the Wax and Wayne series in continuation to the original Mistborn trilogy.

“To be of use in even a single burst of flame and sound is worth more than a lifetime of achieving nothing.”

Brandon Sanderson
The Alloy of Law
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02/18/2024 01:20 am GMT

11. Yumi and the Nightmare Painter: A Cosmere Novel

Yumi and the Nightmare Painter
The book is often considered one of Sanderson’s most romantic novels

The book follows Yumi, a reluctant heroine who can call on spirits to help her community but who desperately wants a normal life. Meanwhile, Painter roams the shadowy streets at night, dreaming of becoming a hero, which has led to a solitary existence. The two meet, but not by chance. Now they must uncover the mystery of their meeting and work together to save their worlds.

Part of the four-book Secret Projects series, Yumi and the Nightmare Painter, still takes place in the Cosmere universe and has familiar characters from The Stormlight Archive. It also offers impressive character and relationship development, which Sanderson excels at on top of his mastery of worldbuilding.

“It’s a common mistake to assume that someone is weak because they are accommodating. If you think this, you might be the type who has no idea how much effort—how much strength—it takes to put up with your nonsense.”

Brandon Sanderson
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02/19/2024 09:27 pm GMT

12. Skyward

The book’s target audience is between 12 – 17 years old, but readers of all ages can enjoy it

The world at the center of Skyward is under attack by the Krell, and pilots are humanity’s sole line of defense. Spensa wants to be a pilot more than anything, but when her father, a pilot himself, deserted his team and got killed, he also made it so she would never be allowed to fly.

Part teen adventure, part Top Gun, the 500-some page space saga is full of mystery and colorful side characters. With Skyward, Sanderson skillfully bridges the gap between fantasy and science fiction, the combination giving way to a unique story.

“It turned out that strange little girls grow up to be strange young women.”

Brandon Sanderson
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13. The Rithmatist

The Rithmatist
The novel won the New York Times Book Review Notable Children’s Book of 2013

Published in 2014, The Rithmatist is an epic teen adventure designated for young readers between 12 and 18. Rithmatists infuse life into two-dimensional figures and are humanity’s only defense against the unpredictable two-dimensional Wild Chalklings that threaten the American Isles. 

Joel wants to be a Rithmatist and practice chalk magic with all his heart, but he is prevented from studying to become one – until apprentice Rithmatists start disappearing. Solving their vanishing will set young Joel and his friend Melody on an incredible journey. 

The magic in the book is founded in geometry, and there are writing and activity prompts in the back, making it a great book to teach in class. Together with its compelling characters and quick prose, The Rithmatist’s imaginative world easily makes it a fun read.

“‘It’s a fun tradition.’ ‘So was witch-burning,’ Melody said. ‘Unless you were the witch.’”

Brandon Sanderson
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02/19/2024 08:58 pm GMT

If you haven’t quite found what you are looking for, don’t worry; check out our round-up of the best fantasy authors.