For any reader following Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere, “Arcanum Unbounded” is a must-have. I already owned (and reviewed) “Sixth of Dusk,” “Emperor’s Soul,” and “White Sand” (and I suggest buying “White Sand” and “Shadows Beneath” separately for the extra content), but we bought the collection for the six other short stories and novellas. I also found fascinating the astronomical explorations of each system in the cosmere, and the contextual post-scripts of each story. I rate each of these between ****3.5-4 stars****.
The first of those six was “Hope of Elantris.” Unlike “Emperor’s Soul” (which is in the same world), this one connects directly to “Elantris.” In fact, it mostly takes place during the climax of “Elantris,” so it’s necessary to read “Elantris” first. Instead of dealing with Raoden and Sarene, though, it’s the story of what Ashe was doing during the climax, focusing on a ‘mother’ of the orphan house in the city of Elantris. ***3.5 stars****
Everything in the Scadrian (Mistborn) System was new to me. “The Eleventh Metal,” gives some fun background to Kelsier as he learns his mistborn powers and comes across the eleventh metal.
“Mistborn: Secret History” should only be read after the first trilogy and gives some insight to what might be coming, as it shows Kelsier’s experience in the cognitive realm (during the 2nd and 3rd books). This one was probably my favorite, though I probably need to read it again to understand it better.
Then “Allomancer Jak and the Pits of Eltania, ep. 28-30” was… just ridiculous and fun. No need to read the others first, as long as you know how the magic works and what a Koloss is. The annotations were the best part.
This will probably be one of my only posts tagged as both “clean” and “vulgar.” Most of Brandon Sanderson’s short stories are clean, and I like that his characters usually swear with words normal to us, but appropriately cursing for his setting (ie:”storming,” “colors,” “flaming…”). “Warbreaker” has his most literary “fan-service,” but short story “Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell,” easily beats any of his stories out for swear words. I don’t just mean “h*ll” in reference to the place, but several uses of the ‘d’ and ‘b’ words. It doesn’t help that it also has Sanderson’s typical graphic descriptions of horrific deaths. This story is probably my least favorite among the collection.
Finally, there was “Edgedancer,” with more insight into my new favorite series, “The Stormlight Archive.” This takes place almost immediately after “Words of Radiants,” and follows Lift – who was introduced in the second Stormlight book, so I suggest reading the first two Stormlight books before diving into this short story. (But let’s be real, I suggest reading the Stormlight Archive whether or not you plan on reading this short story, just because they’re fantastic). Though this is set far away from Kaladin, Shallan, and the Kholin family, “Edgedancer” explores another city dealing with the same storms and developing magic system. Small spoiler: the Assassin in White is involved. Lift isn’t my favorite character in the Stormlight Archive, but she’s a young urchin who loves food and calls her magic “awesomeness.” Needless to say, she’s at least entertaining to read about. 😉