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The Sunlit Man by Brandon Sanderson Review - Goldmine for Cosmere Nerds

Read Time: 8 minutes
Published On: October 30, 2023
The Sunlit Man by Brandon Sanderson

The Sunlit Man by Brandon Sanderson is the 4th Book from The Year of Sanderson and explores a new world in Cosmere.

About 'The Sunlit Man'

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Publisher: DragonSteel Books

Genre: Epic Fantasy, High Fantasy

Other works from the Author: The Stormlight Archive Series, Elantris, Warbreaker, Skyward Series, The Mistborn Saga

Page Number: 447 pages

Goodreads Rating: 4.46/5

My Rating: 4/5

Plot - 5/5

Nomad, a worldhopper (people with the ability to jump across the Cosmere), gets stranded on a mysterious planet in the Cosmere with limited access to Investiture (the universal unit of magic in Cosmere, similar to energy). The inhabitants of the planet are on the verge of siege by a tyrant who wants absolute control over its people.

The Sunlit Man by Brandon Sanderson

The inhabitants of the planet don’t just have a tyrant to deal with. The planet itself is uninhabitable due to the constant bombardment of sun rays that fry the planet instantly every day. The people of the planet live a nomadic life, constantly running from the sun, and live in mobile hovering cities.

Life on this planet is literal hell. Nomad has to find a way to escape the planet because an intergalactic military force called ‘The Night Brigade’ is after him due to him holding a Dawnshard (a weapon capable of killing gods) in the past.

His life is quite similar to the people on this planet. Running from threats and bearing heavy burdens for years after years. He finds people he connects with. But he has to decide whether his need to escape the planet is above the lives of people who are losing their war on every front.

I loved this plot so much. This is exactly the type of fantasy I love to read. Amazing plot with a mind-blowing world that makes you contemplate your long-held beliefs & prejudice. I love how it connects seamlessly with almost all the books in Cosmere without detracting from the main storyline. I have no complaints.

Characters - 3/5


Nomad is definitely my favorite character in The Sunlit Man. Those who have not read The Stormlight Archive series will not know this character. Many readers will not recognize him on the first read. But the fans of Cosmere will immediately know who he is. He is a beloved character and Brandon Sanderson does a phenomenal job of keeping his identity an open secret and lets a multitude of fans keep guessing.

I loved his arc and his motivations. His character raises many questions for the bigger universe of Cosmere and I loved it. It provides important details on his past and the current state of the Cosmere without detracting from the actual plot.


Elegy is also one of my favorite characters. For the first half of The Sunlit Man, we don’t know much about her, but after some time we get to know her more. I loved her determination to do the right thing even when she has no idea about the concept of what’s right or wrong. But she tries to learn. I loved this about her character.


Aux is my second favorite character. Aux is a spren from Roshar. I like that Aux has a distinct voice and is not similar to other sprens we have seen in The Stormlight Archive. But the climax does leave me heartbroken. Why does Brandon have to do this to us? Just why? 😭


I don’t have much connection to Rebeke. She is a major character in The Sunlit Man and has good character depth but I don’t feel anything for her. She is an average character at best.

Worldbuilding - 4/5

The worldbuilding of The Sunlit Man is phenomenal. Brandon Sanderson creates a beautiful yet deadly world that makes your imagination go haywire again. I love the worldbuilding of The Sunlit Man.

The planet Canticle is too close to the sun, surrounded by rings, and spins in a retrograde direction, which is opposite to the direction of its orbit around the sun. The rings reflect sunlight onto the dark side of Canticle that supports plant life, creating a unique biosphere.

Canticle is constantly bombarded with deadly sunrays that melt stone and reshape the landscape every spin, which is why the inhabitants of the planet have been living a nomadic life, always on the move to escape the sun. They live in mobile hovering cities capable of breaking apart into smaller units at a moment’s notice.

Magic System - 5/5

The magic system of The Sunlit Man is fascinating. The magic manifests in a simmering red/orange stone that is used as the energy source for the planet. The sun invests the stone with energy every cycle. These stones are referred to as ‘Ember’ by Nomad.

This magic system doesn’t break the Cosmere physics, yet portrays a unique system that will blow new readers’ minds. I loved how it works and the deadly consequences of running out of this energy source.

Pacing - 5/5

The pacing of The Sunlit Man is perfect. The book is a short read, but has enough length to immerse readers into the fascinating world of Canticle. I never felt the drag or anything unnecessary in the book. The character motivations create tension and hold it until the climax.

Brandon Sanderson’s climaxes are the best I’ve read in fantasy. He writes the best climaxes. I loved it in The Sunlit Man too.

Enjoyment - 4/5

I thoroughly enjoyed my read of The Sunlit Man. This book is definitely not for new readers. It will sound gibberish to new readers. There are connections with basically all the books in Cosmere and it references events happening in the series. In fact, the main character of The Sunlit Man is a beloved character from The Stormlight Archive series. And that series includes much of the backstory of Nomad which new readers won’t have any idea about.

But to Cosmere fans like myself, The Sunlit Man is a goldmine of connections. There are so many little details that answer as many questions as they raise them. There are so many fascinating things happening in this story. I loved it. It’s the best experience.

The Sunlit Man by Brandon Sanderson

Final Thought - 4/5

The Sunlit Man is a riveting fantasy novel set in the Cosmere universe. As a reader, I was immediately drawn into the story of Nomad, a worldhopper stranded on a harsh planet. The inhabitants' struggle for survival in mobile cities to escape the deadly sun rays was both heart-wrenching and inspiring. Nomad's dilemma, whether to escape or help these people, added a layer of complexity to his character that I found intriguing.

The characters Elegy, Aux, and Rebeke each brought their unique stories and motivations to the narrative. I particularly enjoyed the character development of Elegy, whose determination to do the right thing despite her lack of understanding was admirable.

The worldbuilding in The Sunlit Man is exceptional. The depiction of Canticle with its unique biosphere due to its proximity to the sun and retrograde spin was vivid and imaginative. The magic system revolving around 'Ember' was fascinating and adhered well to the established Cosmere physics.

The pacing of The Sunlit Man was well-balanced, maintaining reader engagement throughout. The build-up of tension leading to the climax was masterfully executed.

However, I believe The Sunlit Man might be challenging for new readers due to its numerous connections with other books in the Cosmere universe. But for seasoned Cosmere fans like myself, it's an exciting journey filled with familiar references and surprising revelations.

In conclusion, The Sunlit Man offers an immersive reading experience with its captivating plot, intricate worldbuilding, and intriguing magic system. It provides valuable insights into Nomad's past and sheds light on the current state of the Cosmere universe. It's a must-read for any fantasy readers.

Amazon Blurb

#1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson shows us a future in the Cosmere universe where a perpetual planetary wanderer must decide whether to keep running, or stay and make a difference on a struggling planet.

Years ago he had comrades in arms and a cause to believe in, but now the man who calls himself Nomad knows only a life on the run. Forced to hop from world to world in the Cosmere whenever the relentless Night Brigade gets too close, Nomad lands on a new planet and is instantly caught up in the struggle between a tyrant and the rebels who want only to escape being turned into mindless slaves—all under the constant threat of a sunrise whose heat will melt the very stones. Unable to understand the language, can he navigate the conflict and gain enough power to leap offworld before his mind or body pay the ultimate price?

Buy 'The Sunlit Man'

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