February 3, 2023

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8 epic fantasy writers like Brandon Sanderson

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Brandon Sanderson’s vast worlds, surprising plots, and wonderful characters have taken the sci-fi fantasy world by storm. However, there are even more authors like Brandon Sanderson waiting for you to pick them up and read them right away.

As a longtime Sanderson fan, I have long recommended his books in the Cosmere, the Cytoverse, and his other worlds. I look forward to its god-level magical systems, dense world stories, and complex political systems. Often all three are on the verge of collapse or dramatic changes due to the actions of weird little jerks trying their best. So I seek out writers like Brandon Sanderson to experience the same magic. From the existence of Doomslug to Spren to that one scene where a character compares their love interest to a potato in a minefield, I can’t get enough weird little details and world-building gems. When I read a Brandon Sanderson book, I always feel like I’m visiting an old friend. It’s equal parts comforting and emotionally devastating and I can’t help but fall in love every time.

Brandon Sanderson has spoken widely about his approach to writing and his early days as a writer, both as a creative writing teacher at BYU and as a regular panelist at book events (including his convention hosted by his company Dragonsteel Books) and on various online platforms. Before selling a single book, Sanderson wrote 13 manuscripts while working as a night porter at a hotel. He is known for writing a lot. Since the publication of his first book, Elantris, in 2005, Sanderson hasn’t stopped.

Sanderson’s many series

At the Cosmere he has his high-fantasy epic, The Stormlight Archive, containing four novels and two novellas. Brandon Sanderson has even teamed up with tabletop game developers and released Call to Adventure: The Stormlight Archive. I can attest that the art is fantastic and the storytelling elements make the game incredibly fun no matter how many times you play it. The Mistborn Saga has a further seven books. Then there are the two standalone novels, three White Sand graphic novels, and the short story collection Arcanum Unbounded.

Sanderson’s Cytoverse includes his YA sci-fi series The Skyward Series, which includes three novels and a collection of short stories. Finally everything else is what Brandon Sanderson wrote. These include the Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds collection, the four books in the YA sci-fi series The Reckoners, the six books in his mid-range series Alcatraz vs Series, the five books he wrote in of the Wheel of Time series and his Magic The Gathering novella. Not to mention The Rithmatist, the first book in a YA series that may never be finished.

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Also, you may have recently heard about how he wrote four secret novels for fun during the pandemic. Sanderson apparently had free time away from his personal events and speaking engagements. The Kickstarter did very well, but it wasn’t surprising that it came from someone who frequently wins awards and has been on the New York Times bestseller list. The whole thing made it clear that he had fans (myself included) willing to buy anything he wrote.

Selection of Sanderson’s read-alikes

I’ve put together a collection of middle school, youth, and adult science fiction and fantasy writers like Brandon Sanderson. The goal was to find work that reminded me of aspects of Sanderson’s writing. These compelling authors like Brandon Sanderson are master craftsmen who have engineered impossible worlds and envisioned a group of people just trying to survive them.

Writers like Brandon Sanderson

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse book cover

Rebecca Roanhorse

A Black and Native American author, Rebecca Roanhorse’s science fiction and fantasy novels often center around Navajo characters and their relationships with gods and heroes. The Sixth World series is set in a post-apocalyptic world with Native American gods and monster hunters. I promise it’s perfect for fans looking for a darker, more mature take on the Reckoners series. Her high-fantasy series Between Earth and Sky, inspired by pre-Columbian America, is a great fit for fans of the Cosmere. She even has a mid-range book, Race to the Sun, and a Star Wars novel, Resistance Reborn, for fans of his other works. I’ve found her tone and god-centric worldbuilding to be a perfect fit for Sanderson fans.

The fifth season of NK Jemisin book covers

NK Yemisin

I would honestly recommend NK Jemisin to anyone interested in fantasy, but I think she would be a great fit for Brandon Sanderson fans as well. She has a deep catalog for fantasy readers who like to be consumed by single authors for a long time. Urban fantasy books set in New York City, The Great Cities is an excellent option for fans of multiple points of view that come together seamlessly to defeat the great bad. The Broken Earth Trilogy, The Inheritance Trilogy, and The Dreamblood Duology are all filled with empires rising and falling over millennia, powerful gods, struggles for territory, and individuals resisting oppression at the heart of it all. That said, if you like Sanderson’s epic worldbuilding and wonderful characters, Jemisin is an excellent option for you.

The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri book cover

Tasha Suri

Tasha Suri is a British Punjabi author who writes South Asian-inspired fantasy novels that absolutely capture the grand stakes, grand magic and grand energy of empire-level government that Sanderson has in his adult high fantasy series. Her high-fantasy series The Burning Kingdoms and Empire of Sand both question the impact of colonial rule on native magical systems and religious practices – often in a way that the people affected seek to overthrow or undermine the empire in charge. Suri’s work is perfect for fans of Sanderson’s many fantastic uprisings.

The Final Strife by Saara El-Arifi book cover

Saara El-Arifi

Although Saara El-Arifi is a Debut Writer of 2022, I can already say that she is someone the fantasy world should fall in love with. The Final Strife is the first book in an epic fantasy trilogy inspired by her Ghanaian and Arabic heritage. The series is absolutely perfect for fans of Mistborn’s Vin and the crew she works with to overthrow the Lord Ruler. In El-Arifi’s first novel, not only a revolution awaits to overthrow the ruling class, but also an unlikely chosen one. The whole thing is a beautiful ride (and it’s sapphic, too).

The Disasters of MK England book cover

MK England

MK England is really my recommendation for fans of the Skyward series. They write queer YA sci-fi that will knock your socks off. The Disasters perfectly captures the energy of Skyward Flight Academy’s unlikely group of pilots. Then Spellhacker is for everyone who loves Cytonic’s Heist energy. In general, they’re just great at building large casts of YA characters that you instantly understand and fall in love with. Then they expose them to the most life-threatening scenarios that could save or destroy their communities. Really excellent all around.

Zero-sum game by SL Huang book cover

SL Huang

SL Huang’s Cas Russell Series is tailor-made for Legion fans. Look, I know the Legion fan base might not be that big, but if you’re one of them, today’s your lucky day. The trilogy of Sanderson’s sci-fi mystery novels, which follow a detective with multiple alter egos, is an excellent complement to Huang’s sci-fi thrillers. The series follows a female investigator who uses her supernatural mathematical skills to meet an assassin to get anything or anyone out of any situation. Trust me when I say you’re planning on getting yourself a SL Huang book soon.

A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab book cover

VE Schwab

VE Schwab really is an obvious choice for a Sanderson author composition, but they had to be included. Not only does her work span the Sanderson age range (from middle school to preteen to graphic novels), but the tone and world-shaping of her books is also a great fit. The YA series I would recommend to fans of the cities and teens in The Reckoners is the Monsters of Verity series. Mistborn (and Mistcloaks) fans will love the Shades of Magic series (and Kel’s Cloak). Also, if you like Sanderson’s creative writing classes, Schwab has an excellent series of videos in which they interview writers in No Write Way and discuss their writing process.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss book cover

Patrick Rothfuss

I will begin my Patrick Rothfuss recommendation with a warning. If you start this series I am not responsible for the fact that you may never finish it. The second book, The Wise Man’s Fear, was released in 2011 and the likelihood that we’ll ever get a final book seems further and further away with each passing year. Now that all of that is settled, the Kingkiller Chronicle is a great option for fans of the Cosmere. The series is told from the point of view of a magical young man who now owns a tavern but tells a story of a time when he was growing up, exploring the world and learning the extent of his power. It’s a solid option for fans of Sanderson’s sprawling, high-fantasy worlds.

Find more authors like Brandon Sanderson

I hope this list from authors like Brandon Sanderson helps you find your next great sci-fi/fantasy read. Brandon Sanderson’s books are appearing like clockwork, providing more and more material in his growing worlds.

If you are looking for some of the best fantasy books, give these a try. Perhaps this list of the best fantasy series is more your style. And if you’re looking for more specific book recommendations, try Book Riot’s Tailored Book Recommendations Service (TBR). This book recommendation service matches you with a qualified bibliologist, ready to help each reader find their next great read.

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