The Cosmere is the greater universe in which The Stormlight Archive and all other Brandon Sanderson's adult fiction books take place. That is, each book he writes is set on a unique world, and each of these worlds is set in the same Cosmere. All of the books share a single creation myth, a single cosmology and are connected by an overarching story. However, none of them dominate the storyline of any of the books.
While he was selling his initial works to publishers, Brandon was encouraged to write books set in different worlds as opposed to a huge epic fantasy series. That way, if a publisher didn't like one book, said publisher could pitch a different one, which one can't do with a huge fantasy series. But as a way of still having a huge fantasy series, Brandon made all of these independent stories a "hidden epic." That is, he seeded continuing characters and elements into all of these different worlds, now dubbed the "Cosmere".
The first book Brandon sold, Elantris, was embedded with these elements and he kept putting them in subsequent novels. So far there is one character who appears in all of the worlds that he has created, sometimes by his name, Hoid, and sometimes only by appearance. He is connected to the grander story ongoing within the Cosmere.
Adonalsium's (Ah-doe-nahl-see-um)'s exact nature has not been revealed; however, it is essentially the setting's (i.e.: the Cosmere's) power of creation that permeated everything. Due to unrevealed events, Adonalsium has been shattered into pieces, known as Shards of Adonalsium, or 'Shards' for short, which are pieces of the power of creation itself.
Shards of AdonalsiumEdit
Shards are named after a specific action or ideal, called an intent. A mind must control a Shard. When a person holds a Shard, they are imbued with its power, but they also become the Shard. One of the 'basics' of the magic in all of the worlds is that the energy of Shards can fuel all kinds of interactions, not just interactions based on their personality/role. The 'role' of the Shard has to do with the way the magic is obtained, not what it can do.
All things exist in three realms: the Spiritual, the Cognitive, and the Physical.
- The Physical realm is the most readily understood as it is merely the manifestation of the world as experienced by the characters, with properties similar to our own.
- The Spiritual realm is presumably the site of the afterlife for much of the Shardworlds.
- The Cognitive realm, also known as Shadesmar, binds the other two realms of existence and can be used as means of Worldhopping and travel. Both Shallan and Jasnah have traveled there.
The Cosmere has the same structure as our universe, with galaxies, solar systems, and the like. Within the Cosmere, there are an untold number of inhabited worlds and ten "core worlds", each of which has a soul, where there is Shardic presence and which take part in the overarching story. Six are known and their respective locations, include:
|Ashyn||Unknown||The Silence Divine||Unknown|
|First of the Sun||Unknown||Sixth of the Dusk||Aviar|
|Roshar||Cultivation, Honor, (Odium)||The Stormlight Archive||Old Magic, Soulcasting, Surgebinding, Voidbinding|
|Scadrial||Preservation, Ruin||Mistborn Trilogy, Mistborn Adventures||Metallic Arts*|
|Sel||Devotion, Dominion||Elantris, The Emperor's Soul||AonDor*|
|Taldain||Unnamed Shard held by Bavadin||White Sand||Unknown|
|Threnody||Unknown||Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell||Shades|
Dragonsteel, Liar of Partinel
Shards are named after a specific action or ideal, called an intent. One of the 'basics' of the magic in all of the worlds is that the energy of Shards can fuel all kinds of interactions, not just interactions based on their personality/role. The 'role' of the Shard has to do with the way the magic is obtained, not what it can do. A person or thing that has or can use magic is generally refered to as being Invested.
However, there are some exceptions to this rule, most notably that Awakening (BioChroma) requires one to "Endow" Breath upon something or someone, and that in Hemalurgy (Ruin's magic) there is always a net loss of energy.
- AonDor, by use of Aon Runes, as well as two other forms of magic; one that works with different runes being inscribed into a person's bones and is used by Dahkor monks; the other is ChayShan, a sort of martial art based magic. From The Emperor's Soul there is also Soulforging where Forgers write "stamp" runes on an object that rewrite the past of an object.
- Metallic Arts are the manifestations of power of the Shards Ruin and Preservation. The three Metallic Arts are geneticlly passed ablities to utilize specific metals for specific abilities. Allomancy is of Preservation, which enhances various physical and mental capacities. Feruchemy is the power of balance, used to store particular attributes in metals, which can be drawn internally later. Hemalurgy is of Ruin, used for stealing a person's abilities or powers.
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It has been explained that all things exist between three realms: Physical, Spiritual, and Cognitive in the Cosmere. A reader has surmised that different things "exist more" in a certain realm than another, though all things have some presence in the three. Humans appear to "exist more" in the Physical realm. Spren appear to "exist more" in the Cognitive realm (i.e., Shadesmar in The Stormlight Archive). Investiture appears to have various forms in the Physical realm (e.g., Allomantic metals, mist, Stormlight).
- Does investiture have a consistent form (regardless of magic system and its physical form) in one of the other realms?
- Vasher has shown that he can substitue his need for Breath with another investiture (presumably Stormlight). To what extent is investiture interchangeable between magic systems?
- Is investiture finite? Hemalurgy and a Return's need to consume breath seem to show that it can be destroyed. If it is finite, is the Cosmere's magic source doomed to the law of entropy?
Brandon's responses to the above questions were as follows:
- It's consistent in the Spiritual Realm. Location isn't particularly important there.
- Very interchangeable, but not always simple to apply. (Sel's magics are regional, and so they are going to be tough. Scadrial's magics are the easiest.)
- Investiture can not be created or destroyed. It follows it's own version of the laws of Thermodynamics.
Q&A with BrandonEdit
Q. Can any two Shards be joined together, like Preservation and Ruin, or does it depend on their Intents?
A. Any can be joined, theoretically, but boy, some of the pairings would have an odd resulting pressure on the one holding them. And similar intents make for an easier time melding.
Q. Since we generally don't see inhabitants of your worlds refer to their planets by name, where do the names come from?
A. From world-hoppers, Shards, and those who know about the cosmere.