I'm starting to be a real fan of Brandon Sanderson own work, all supposedly taking place in the same universe called Cosmere. I read the Mistborn Trilogy and Alloy of Law, Elantris and Warbreaker. Two traits all these books have, are (strong) female leads and magic.

His approach of magic is in my eyes rather unique. Each story has a completely different approach to it:

  • Mistborn using metals as catalysators
  • Elantris having one city where the magic is strong and can be accessed by drawing symbols
  • Warbreaker having BioChromatic Breath which is mainly used to awaken "living" things, and some exceptions.

Are they somehow connected after all?


1 Answer 1


Yes, all of these systems of magic are linked (see: http://coppermind.net/wiki/Cosmere), all forms of magic in the cosmere are linked through the 3 planes/realms:

  • Physical
  • Spiritual
  • Cognitive

You can read up on these different aspects by looking up the cosmere's Realmatic Theory

It's theorised that the over arching magic systems will end up on some kind of table that describes how the systems mesh with one another (something like the allomantic table of push/pull & external/internal).

We know that all magic in the cosmere is a form of Investiture, which exists in all three of the afore mentioned realms. Investiture also obeys it's own version of thermodynamics, by which I mean it cannot be created or detroyed. Only moved from one place to another eg. Biochromatic breath.

Another big part of the collective magic system is Intent. Each shard has intent, and that intent shapes the world's unique magic system (this implies that some magics are not entirely based on each shard, but possibly something else.. (Q160)) eg. Ruin (of the Mistborn series) had destructive intent, which is easily visible in something like the Koloss, his creation. To breed, they would kill 4 humans and then implant spikes used to kill these people into another person (it uses Hemalurgy if I'm not mistaken). This is a very destructive process, you put in 5 people and get 1 Koloss. They're strong, but not an awful lot else.

There is also intent in using Investiture (magic of any kind), for instance in Warbreaker we know that you must issue commands that fit your will specifically, or the command will not work as planned. Another form of Investiture is in Feruchemy, you invest in your metalminds.

Next up is the focus of each magical system, we know that there are multiple unique systems to some shards.

Sel magic systems (Elantris & The Emperors Soul)

  • AonDor
  • Forgery
  • Bloodsealing
  • ChayShan
  • Dakhor

Scadrial magic systems (Mistborn)

  • Allomancy
  • Feruchemy

Roshar magic systems (Stormlight Archives)

  • Surgebinding
  • Soulcasting

Nalthis magic systems (Warbreaker)

  • Awakening

We know that some of these systems do not work well together (Q143), however we know that some are "universal" eg. 'Hemalurgy can be used to bestow any form of magic]5(Q143 again) however it's noted by Hoid when he world hops for what we think is the first time, that "it's different here" or something like that (again I will find a reference after work).. I'm afraid only Brandon Sanderson himself knows all the links at this point.

It's also worth noting that there are "magical sciences" (defined as the use of Investiture without alteration of the Spiritweb) eg. Fabrials from Roshar (Stormlight Archives), different coloured gems, capture spren and require some mechanical configuration to cause an effect (sounds like something similar to Biochromatic breath?), we can also see here all the components needed for magic: Physical - Mechanical setup, Spiritual - Biochromatic breath (or maybe better to call it, the "magic") and Cognitive - the Spren.

  • 1
    we also know that the shards that end up on each planet play a big role in how magic on that planet works. Sanderson has also said that leaving your "home world" will change how magic works for you in some way.
    – KutuluMike
    Aug 5, 2015 at 11:34
  • 1
    I know this is an old answer, but would like to add Hemalurgy to Scadrial, and Voidbinding to Roshar.
    – AerusDar
    Oct 16, 2018 at 0:15
  • @AerusDar Well, you can make suggested edit, but I don't feel like this list needs to be (or even can be) complete.
    – Mithoron
    Oct 29, 2018 at 22:05
  • I think Soulcasting is a form of Surgebinding, but Roshar definitely has other magics. There's the Old Magic, and Voidbinding. Mar 8, 2023 at 18:38
  • It's also worth noting that metals interact with Investure in interesting ways on all the planets, especially aluminum, which "negates" Investure. Pewter seems to make things "Physically Stronger", and Zinc seems to make things "Mentally Stronger" in all magic systems, even in Fabrials and Kandra. coppermind.net/wiki/Fabrial#Reactions_to_Metal Mar 8, 2023 at 18:47

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