Brandon Sanderson launched the most successful Kickstarter ever. In addition to four entire novels, there’s a full year of Sanderson swag boxes that backers are looking forward to. As these boxes arrive, Goonhammer dives into the Cosmere and takes a look at what’s inside.
This article series will not contain any spoilers for Sanderson’s novels. However, it will contain images of the swag boxes, and descriptions of the people and places they focus on. It’s a fine line.
And yeah, I know this is a month behind. Someday I’ll have time to catch up on everything, but it is not this day.
Month One: Hoid – Notable Books
- Tress of the Emerald Sea
- A Way of Kings
- Rhythm of War
Teacher, critically acclaimed author, and possibly a machine sent from the future to change fantasy nonfiction forever, Brandon Sanderson is my favorite author. He doesn’t just tell a good fantasy story, instead he tells good stories – they just so happen to be fantastical.
He weaves a tapestry of worlds that feel alive, connected. And they should, for all the stories he tells take place in the Cosmere, a shared universe with ancient history that’s slowly revealed, book by book, era by era.
For fans of the Cosmere, it should then be no surprise that the first month of A Year of Sanderson is focused on Hoid – master storyteller, and one of the most interesting characters in all of the Cosmere. Though it might not be strictly accurate, I’ve always felt that if the Cosmere had a single “main character”, it would be Hoid.
Starting things off, we have a pretty nice enameled pin of Hoid. I love this, and am looking forward to (presumably) more pins in future boxes. It’s nothing fancy, it’s definitely going to find a spot on a backpack or vest.
Hoid stands unique among characters in the Cosmere. Most are relegated to their own world, their own era, their own tale. But Hoid shows up, again and again, in the most unexpected of places. Sometimes he’s little more than a background character with a quick quip, other times he plays a pivotal role in the story unfolding. Different worlds, same Hoid.
To dig any deeper into Hoid would be breaking ground into spoiler territory, so you’ll have to find out more for yourself. But his timelessness and knack for showing up just where he needs to be makes him a fantastic character. No matter where you are in the Cosmere, Hoid’s not far away.
A pair of Hoid-themed post-it notes is also in this month’s swag box. The yellows ones are nice, but kind of impractical to actually use, given that the image and text (muted though they are) take up basically the entire note. The blue ones, however, are fantastic. “DREAM BIG, IDIOT” Hell yeah. 10/10. Wouldn’t change a thing.
Sanderson’s novels are rife with conflict and violence, as you may expect from the fantasy genre. All the typical staples of fantasy that you’re familiar with. But Hoid himself lives outside the conflict and doesn’t reduce himself to the violence. He finds ways of accomplishing his goals by being the smartest man in the room, choosing to sling insults in favor of blades.
But what are his goals? What’s he actually trying to achieve. Well, that’s a question as big as the Cosmere itself. Well outside the scope of this article, and possibly outside the scope of any single novel in the Sanderson catalog.
A set of Hoid stickers. You best bet that a few of these are going on my army transport boxes. As an aside, getting this photo suuucked.
Hoid provides a sense of scale to the Cosmere. In any given story, you’ll meet complex characters with relatable goals. Fantastic locations with deep history. You’ll be drawn in to both the big and small, the brief gondola ride of two, to the highstorms that shape the world. But even at their most grandiose, events in the Cosmere are but a passing moment to Hoid, for his plans are above and beyond those of the gods themselves.
Despite his being such a pivotal character in the Cosmere, Hoid has yet to take the spotlight in any novel. In most, he’s little more than a tertiary character, an Easter egg for observant fans. Frequently going by an alias, or changing his appearance, you sometimes won’t even realize he’s right in front of your face.
By my count, there’s a single novel where he rises to the role of secondary character. If you haven’t read Tress of the Emerald Sea, you should. Not only do you learn quite a bit about Hoid, but it’s also one of the best novels Sanderson has ever written. It’s filled with memorable characters, swashbuckling adventure, and a sense of whimsy inspired straight from a classic, The Princess Bride.
The lone dud in this swag box. I’m a old timey, fuddy-duddy who still uses a mousepad, so this should have been a slam dunk, but this is tiny. Unusably small. The size of mousepad you’d expect to see on grandma’s desk that was included with the Dell PC she bought in 1995 from CompUSA. That being said, you couldn’t really fit a larger mouse pad in the shipping box, so I can’t fault them too much. But I can’t see myself using this for anything. Maybe I’ll use it as the surface for a dice tray or something.
Strangely enough, Hoid wasn’t supposed to be the first swag box. The original schedule on the Kickstarter had him in second. However, I expect that Dragonsteel suffered issues similar to every company on the planet right now – global shipping is a nightmare for which there is no escape.
No matter though, I’m happy to talk about Hoid first. He’s not my favorite character in the Cosmere, but he’s definitely one of the most interesting. I’ve been overly vague in this article, as I don’t want to spoil anything for new Sanderson readers, but if you dive into the Cosmere, keep an eye out for Hoid.
Who’s that handsome gentleman rocking the Hoid shirt? What a sophisticated and smart guy he must be. I bet he’s not only Cool, but also an awesome guy who builds Administratum.
As for the shirt itself, it’s nice and comfortable. Soft cotton but, unfortunately, it’s also rather thin. It’ll live out it’s life the novelty shirt section of my closet, getting an occasional wear. But I fully expect to see holes in it after 5-10 washes.
And that’s the contents of A Year of Sanderson – Month One: Hoid. A good start to the Sanderson swag boxes, with a couple less-than-stellar items. The mousepad is disappointing, but the rest is good stuff. I wish the t-shirt was a little more durable, as thin t-shirts always bug me. I know it’s a cost-cutting measure, but I would gladly pay a couple extra bucks and have a strong, durable shirt. I own plenty of screen-printed shirts of significantly worse quality, though, so I can’t complain too much. And the rest of the box is all good stuff.
This article is almost a full month behind schedule, as I’ve got Month Two sitting upstairs right now, waiting for pictures. Hopefully that’ll be out next week, and then we’ll be on track to get these articles out the moment the boxes arrive.