Series: Short Story Collection
Publisher: Tor Books (November 22, 2016)
Length: 672 pages
My Rating: 5 stars
Arcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere Collection is Brandon Sanderson’s first short story collection. Yes, it does an amazing job collecting every previously released Cosmere story in one beautifully illustrated volume, but this collection is more than merely a convenient compilation: It is a mesmerizing study of the Cosmere Universe itself.
What is the Cosmere Universe, you ask? Well, Brandon Sanderson has always asserted his plans to unite all his adult fantasy books into one overarching story. Each “Shardworld” portrayed in his stories as part of a group of planets bound together by a shared creation. Hints and expositions of the true nature of the cosmere subtly inserted into the individual books until they eventually burst to the forefront in later stories. But this underlying theme has never been fully explored until now.
In Arcanum Unbounded, the cosmere is the focus. Every story is organized based upon its Shardworld. There are essays and illustrations of how magic works in each one, written by Khriss, the author of the Ars Arcanum in Mr. Sanderson’s books. Much of the information espoused here new, never having been discussed or explained exactly this way before. So for fans of Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere Universe, this book is more than a story collection, but rather a wealth of tantalizing tidbits which will feed their theories of Cosmere for years to come.
For those who are merely interested in the stories themselves, have no fear, because each and every one of them are amazing. They run the gamut of Brandon Sanderson’s amazing creative mind, filled with old familiar characters and introducing new faces, as well as adding further details to the worlds they inhabit.
Mistborn gets the most love here and had my favorite stories from the collection: The Eleventh Metal and Mistborn: Secret History. The former was an interesting prequel tale, which showed me a different side of Kelsier’s difficult past, and the later brings us back to Kelsier, following the events of the first Mistborn novel. Allomancer Jak and the Pits of Eltania rounded out this trio with its homage to pulp fiction.
Next up with two entries is the World of Elantris. The Emperor’s Soul is a great standalone novella, and the fact that it’s set in the same world as Elantris gave it a little more meaning for me personally. The Hope of Elantris was fairly short, but did give a lot of background information regarding characters from Elantris itself.
White Sand was a unique look at both the graphic novel and written version of this story. Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell was a dark standalone story, set in a haunted forest and centered on revenge, much more serious and gloomy than most Sanderson faire. Sixth of the Dusk was an interesting piece dealing with the struggles of a people as they deal with the societal stresses of an industrial revolution-like change in their land.
Edgedancer seems to be the novella most people desperately wish to read however, which is easy to understand considering it comes from the ongoing Stormlight Archive. And for fans of the series, they will not be disappointed, as the magic of the world is spotlighted, as well as Sanderson doing his usual great job of characterization, weaving sadness and humor into this story of Lift.
Overall, Arcanum Unbounded is a great collection, which is definitely a must read for long-time Sanderson fans and would be thoroughly enjoyed by new readers (though I would encourage them not to read Mistborn: Secret History and The Hope of Elantris until after enjoying the novels themselves.) Filled with great stories, amazing illustrations, prefaces by Khriss, and with postscripts by the author himself, this is a story collection not to be missed.
I received an advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank them for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.