Book Sleeves & Tea Leaves – A Year Of Brandon Sanderson

Before we get into today’s post, I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has filled out the Google Form for Project Sunset’s beta round! I was shocked by the response it received, and I just… wow. You guys really know how to come through for a little writer… So thank you thank you THANK YOU! I can’t even begin to express how much your support means to me! I’ve been typing away relentlessly the past few weeks to get this book nearer towards completion, and I am so excited for you guys to meet Edward and the gang…!

Please stay tuned as I continue to shape this book up into something slightly readable, lol! It’s been a fast and fun month around here!


I’ve been talking about Brandon Sanderson a lot lately. It’s getting a little awkward, I won’t lie. But Sanderson has been taking the publishing world by storm lately–not to mention that ridiculous article published by WIRED just this past week–and the more I learn about this increasingly interesting individual, the more I realize how insane it is that I’ve never actually read a Brandon Sanderson novel.

Not even one.

I’ve listened to his writing advice, I’ve binged his podcast, I’ve watched Authortubers challenge themselves to follow his personal writing routine… and yet for all the research I’ve done, I’ve never picked up one of his books to test out the age-old adage: can the man practice what he preaches?

According to the internet, the answer to this is across the board. Some say he’s incredible. Others say his prose is nothing to write home about. Personally, I think anyone who criticizes another’s prose is inevitably asking for the same compliment to be payed to them, but who am I to judge? I’ve never read a Sanderson book. Maybe they’ve got a point.

All that to say, I’ve been struck with the epiphany that, if I’m to continue following along with this man’s journey, and–dare I say it–try to walk in his footsteps as an author, it stands to reason that reading at least one of his books is probably a good idea. So I decided that, instead of reading just one novel… I’m going to read the entire Brandon Sanderson backlog. Hopefully within 365 days.

Now, I think it’s safe to mention that there are a ton of Brandon Sanderson novels out there in the universe, and so–for the duration of this challenge–I’m really only focusing on his main series’. Meaning that if there are novellas or spin-off’s or short stories or anything like that which aren’t super integral to the plot, I’m most likely not going to try and squeeze those in… As it stands, I have taken his 51 book list from Fantastic Fictionnot including his secret projects releasing this year, because #help–and am planning on reading all of them by next April. And that is… a lot of books, friends.

Apparently Sanderson also has a “Where Do I Start?” post on his website, which would be extremely helpful for me if I wasn’t planning on reading them in order of publication. The goal of this experiment is not just to see if Sanderson is worth his salt, but also to watch him grow as an author, from his first published book, ELANTRIS in 2005, to his 2021 release of EVERSHORE. (Again, we’re not focusing on the 2023 releases right now. 51 books is plenty, mate.) However, if anyone else is interested in joining me in the Year of Sanderson, I’d highly recommend checking that post out. It seems like a pretty good guide for finding your Sanderson Series. (if you’re not a raging lunatic such as I)

I think now is as good a time as any to foreshadow that this challenge will most likely result in tears and/or bloodshed. It’s fine.

I’ve spoken very briefly about this challenge over on my instagram account, where I’m planning on giving more daily updates as I progress through the books. The blog, however, will be my more “meat and potatoes” kind of updates, where I dive into the stories and actually discuss the plotlines in depth as I read them. So, that being said, if you’re interested in following along with this journey, definitely make sure you’re subscribed both to FeatherWick Press and my @featherwickpress on instagram! Also be aware that there WILL be spoilers. I’ll do my best to give spoiler warnings before revealing any, but let’s be real–these books are pretty old. If you haven’t read them yet, you’re probably a slacker like me and don’t really care too much about spoilers. (although, strangely enough, I’ve never been spoiled for a Sanderson book? or if I have I can’t remember it.) But if you are concerned about spoilers, rest assured that I will put a disclaimer at the start of the blog posts. Especially if something incredibly crucial happens in the story I’m reading…

So you might be asking yourself, which book are we STARTING with, Kenzie? And this is a very solid question. For one thing, Sanderson has so many household titles, from the Cosmere to the Wheel of Time series which he is graciously finishing for Robert Jordan. (I absolutely pulled this from Sanderson’s bio. I don’t know who Robert Jordan is.) As I mentioned above, however, we are starting with his very first published work, ELANTRIS. For those who know absolutely nothing of this story, like me, here’s the blurb taken from Fantastic Fiction…

Elantris was built on magic and it thrived. But then the magic began to fade and Elantris began to rot. And now its shattered citizens face domination by a powerful Imperium motivated by dogged religious views. Can a young Princess unite the people of Elantris, rediscover the lost magic and lead a rebellion against the imperial zealots?

And here is where we enter our first spoiler zone:

Was anyone else aware that Sanderson’s first book was essentially a Zombie Novel? ’cause, uh… I most certainly was not.

Now, here’s where I want to be perfectly transparent: I had no clue what I would step into when I opened my first Sanderson novel. I’ve heard many things about Sanderson’s writing, and from my own experience with fantasy writers, I had built up this image in my mind of that slightly pretentious way of writing which seems to befall most (typically male) fantasy writers of the day. (I’m not saying this is right or even good. But it’s just the way my brain works. I could go on a whole tirade of how annoying I find many “classic” fantasies, but that is not for today. XD) Now, alongside this, I also had a very high appreciation for Sanderson as a human. But while some might think that this would taint my appreciation for his craft, I can assure you that past experiences have proven this false. In fact, I’d say that my distaste for someone’s art style is often in direct opposition of how much I like the creator. So when I opened Elantris for the first time, it’s safe to say that my feelings towards what I would find were so extremely convoluted that I didn’t really have any sort of expectation at all.

What I did find, however, was a very, very pleasant surprise.

Brandon Sanderson’s writing style is clean. Not in the way that most modern people describe “clean”, as in free of expletives and “risque” scenes–though it seems to be that, as well! (an extra bonus!)–but just… clean. Easy to understand, not written in a way that’s meant to leap over your head like the cow jumping the moon. Right from the start you can tell that he’s a storyteller for the common reader, the one who simply wants to escape into a magical world and ignore reality for a while. And as someone who has been burned by ‘classics’ which make absolutely no sense whatsoever… this comes as a very welcome change.

The other thing I love about ELANTRIS is how off-the-wall it is from what I was anticipating. Again, when I think Sci-Fi and Fantasy, my brain jumps straight to things reminiscent of Star Wars. War between planetary rivals, spaceship battles, galaxies with unpronounceable names… But while some of the names in ELANTRIS are rather odd, this book takes place in a medieval setting overrun by… zombies? Magical zombies. Putrid, rotting, creepy zombies that had once been gods–before, of course, the rot took over. It’s honestly super intriguing, and once you add in the wars between kingdoms and the female protagonist bent on wreaking havoc, I’d say we’re setting this story up to be one of mass success…

Naturally, I could be speaking far too soon, but judging by the first five chapters of ELANTRIS, I’d say that I’m rapidly becoming a true fan of Sanderson’s books.

Whether or not this sticks remains to be seen, but stay tuned, friends! The Year of Brandon Sanderson is off to an incredible start!

talk to me, peasants!

Do you have a favorite Brandon Sanderson novel? Was it common knowledge that ELANTRIS had zombie creatures? Am I just a smol starfish living under a rock? What are the odds that Kenzie will finish this challenge before consuming far too much caffeine and/or throwing an axe through the window? Let’s chat, friends! And let me know of any reading challenges you’re undertaking, as well!

4 thoughts on “Book Sleeves & Tea Leaves – A Year Of Brandon Sanderson

Add yours

  1. I have so much respect for you for trying this challenge, because this is a daunting endeavor! But you can do this! (Please don’t throw an axe through the window, though—I hear windows are rather expensive to replace. XD)

    (Honestly, I may attempt to join you—I’ve been meaning to do this for far too long, have tried, and then gave up.)

    Ooo, have fun with Elantris! I very much enjoyed it when I read it. And I quite agree, I too was not expecting the zombie vibes. But it become much more than that, which I greatly appreciated. 😀


  2. OKAY. This is SUCH a fabulous and admirable endeavor!!! Because I, too, have somehow gone my entire life without reading one (1) Sanderson book??? And…I don’t know how this has happened but HERE WE ARE. But we are such twins, because the truth is I’ve also been a little overwhelmed by his stories. I had in my head they’d be difficult to read like so many older fantasies. So you are not alone in this mindset! But that is a DELIGHT to hear that his narrative is easy and accessible. This gives me far more motivation to finally pick up one of his books!

    And okay but I also did not know Elantris involved magical zombies?? But that sounds SO COOL. I…I kind of like zombie plots? Not sure what that says about me but…yes. They’re rather fascinating, not gonna lie. So now I am INTRIGUED.

    You are totally inspiring me to stop procrastinating reading Sanderson and just DO THE THING. Your plan to read his entire backlog in a year is EPIC. I am cheering you on all the way and cannot wait to see your thoughts on his books! This is such a fun idea! 😀


  3. Wow! This is a super ambitious goal, and I applaud you, Kenzie!

    My family has been OBSESSED with Brandon Sanderson basically since I left for college, and because I’ve been at college, I haven’t gotten swept up in that as much as they’d like, but I’m working through the Way of Kings series, and I’ve read Mistborn… I have enjoyed and am enjoying both of those things very much! My sister has been bugging me to read Elantris, so that may be the next one on my list, so that I can come back and read all of your thoughts!

    I…had no idea that he had a podcast or gave writing advice or anything, though! Ironic…I’m almost in the opposite boat as you at this point.

    I will say, though, from the thoughts of yours that I did read (I’m sorta semi trying to avoid spoilers, but not really, lol) he is totally easy to read! Which is part of how I can read his many-hundred-page-books in so little time, lol. It’s quite nice.


  4. Okay, but I LOVE this, and I will be following along with bated breath to hear you analyze his many many books (only a few of which I have actually read, myself – maybe when you get to the ones I’m especially interested in I’ll read them too? I think that would be really fun). I also ADORE the idea of reading in pub order to see how he’s improved/changed (not all changes are necessarily improvement, after all, lol).

    Cuz, see, I’m definitely one of the people who don’t love his prose, but…like, first of all, he DOES actively care about and work on his craft, and so I’ve noticed that his prose has improved from the earlier books of his I’ve read to the later, and I really, really respect that. Someone who’s wildly successful and doesn’t NEED to work on something to improve but still does because he cares about his craft and providing his readers the most quality books he can…like YES. This is wonderful.

    ALSO. I agree with you that his prose, while (in my opinion) a little annoyingly on-the-nose, IS very clear and concise and therefore easy to read. And I’m pretty sure he does that on purpose, and it’s very nice and accessible for readers who don’t like “classic” feeling prose but would love to read his stories… yeah, he’s not entirely my favorite writer, but he’s definitely one of the writers I respect the absolute most. Also his worldbuilding and magic and plots are insanely creative and SATISFYING. and yeah, I’m just excited about your Year of Sanderson.

    I used to listen to his podcast too, though! It was great.

    (ALSO. I have tried so many times to comment on your new site and it never lets me. But this is the day (I have decided) that this comment is going through, no matter what evil spirits I have to bribe, so…just wanted to say I love your new blog! And am happy to hear about your writing! And was insanely busy and thus didn’t manage to sign up for your beta-reading form (because I ignore the internet when I’m busy, oops) but would totally die of happiness were I to be put on the waitlist, lol!)


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