Arcanum Unbounded – The Cosmere Collection is the much-anticipated (at least among many people I know) collection of short fiction set somewhere in the Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere. It contains one brand new story and was available years ago as an ebook, but which has been unavailable for several years. The volume collects seven other stories previously published, and it’s nice to have them all together.
Some of the stories I have previously reviewed. “The Emperor’s Soul” is an awesome story set in a location on Sel far from Elantris, and it’s one of my favorites. “Sixth of the Dusk” is set in the Drominad system, where no other stories have yet been set. This one is a little darker than the other stories, but is very good. I look forward to further stories set in this world.
An excerpt from the first White Sand graphic novel is included. As a bonus, Sanderson included an excerpt from the prose version that was adapted to the graphic novel. I would love to see a prose version of the full story published eventually, perhaps once the other two volumes in the graphic novel have been released. The dark world of Threnody is represented by Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell. This is another story I absolutely loved, and I really hope there are more stories to be told from this world.
The endpapers of the hardcover Arcanum Unbounded display a map of the Cosmere (or at least that part Sanderson wishes to share at this time) showing each of the six worlds represented here. Nalthis is also visible, but there are no Warbreaker short works yet. The only part of the Cosmere not yet represented in here is The Scar, a section of the sky visible as a streak of red stars from the world of Roshar.
On to the unreviewed stories! “Hope of Elantris” is set at the very end of the book Elantris. Matisse is a young girl who has been taken by the Shaod and been cast into Elantris. The story isn’t very deep or long, but it was fun to see some of the events from a different point of view.
We learn a little more about Kelsier in “The Eleventh Metal”, a story set before Mistborn: The Final Empire. I had always wanted to learn more about Kelsier’s background and his life before he met Vin. “Allomancer Jak and the Pits of Eltania” was a fun—if somewhat disjointed—tale taken from the middle of an untold story. Some interested revelations are made in Arcanum Unbounded, though readers who paid attention in the first trilogy might not be too surprised by them. I recommend reading The Alloy of Law before reading this story.
The Scadrian System really gets a lot of love here (not surprising, since the Mistborn series is the longest so far, at least in number of volumes). “Mistborn: Secret History” starts toward the end of Mistborn: The Final Empire, just before Kelsier dies (sorry to anyone who hasn’t read the first book, but it’s been out for ten years now). The story timeline ends at about the same time as the last book in that first trilogy. I especially enjoyed the parts set after Kelsier’s death as they really fleshed out the setting quite a lot. They gave interesting insight and introducing some characters who are aware of the connection between all the worlds.
The final story in Arcanum Unbounded is “Edgedancer”, set on Roshar, the location of The Stormlight Archive series of books. Don’t read this tale unless you’ve read the first two Stormlight novels. This story follows Lift, and adopts a humorous tone through much of the story. I found this story to be a great holdover until Sanderson finishes the third book in the series. As of this review, Oathbringer (the current title) is close to being turned in to the publisher.
Two of my favorite parts of this collection are the introductions to each system by Khriss and the postscript to each story by Sanderson. These are packed with new and interesting information about the worlds and characters found here. The maps by Isaac Stewart (anyone who knows me can tell you I love maps…probably too much) and the illustrations by Ben McSweeney add a nice touch.
Arcanum Unbounded – The Cosmere Collection is an awesome collection. Anyone who is trying to piece together the Cosmere must get this book. It’s part encyclopedia and part history from many of the worlds. I highly recommend this collection to any fan of epic fantasy. I will be reading it again.
Release Date: November 22, 2016 (USA)
ISBNs: 0765391163 (9780765391162)
Publisher: Tor Books
Review copy kindly provided by the author/publisher.
Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (occasional)
Language: 1 (occasional, mild)
Violence: 2 (some brutal violence, death, magical and other fighting)