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Yes, You Should Read Mistborn Secret History: Here's When To Pick It Up

SPOILERS ahead for the Mistborn series through The Hero of Ages


  • Kelsier’s fate after The Final Empire is detailed in Mistborn: Secret History.
  • Secret History is crucial in connecting the Mistborn series to the broader Cosmere universe.
  • The novella should be read after The Bands of Mourning and before The Lost Metal.

Brandon Sanderson’s fantasy universe can be difficult to navigate, with Mistborn novellas like Secret History being vital to the overarching narrative. The Mistborn book series is the author’s most widely read work, with seven novels available to date and more on the way. The timeline can get confusing, however, as there’s a 300-year gap between books 3 & 4, The Hero of Ages and The Alloy of Law. It’s even more confusing when considering connections to The Stormlight Archive and other books from Brandon Sanderson’s saga.

The Mistborn series and The Stormlight Archive are both part of a fictional book universe called the Cosmere, along with standalone like Tress of the Emerald Sea,Warbreaker, and various novellas and short stories. Mapping it all together can be a challenge, and while there’s a lot of lenience in the order one can take, certain stories are best read at the right time. Mistborn: Secret History is a novella that was released in 2016 as a companion to the original Mistborn trilogy, and it’s a gem for Cosmere fans.

Do You Need To Read Mistborn: Secret History? Why The Novella Is Essential

Mistborn Shows Kelsier’s Journey After Death In The Final Empire

Anyone who loves the Mistborn series or is invested in the broader Cosmere universe should absolutely read Mistborn: Secret History. As demonstrated by The Stormlight Archive’s ventures into Shadesmar, there’s far more to the Cosmere than just the physical realm, and Secret History details Kelsier’s adventures into the Cognitive Realm following his death at the hands of the Lord Ruler in The Final Empire. There, Kelsier meets with old friends and foes, including Preservation, Hoid, and the Lord Ruler himself, after he’s killed by Vin.

Kelsier has always been one of the Cosmere’s most compelling characters, with a particular unhinged charisma that makes him an exhilarating narrator. What’s most important about the novella is that Kelsier’s story doesn’t end in The Final Empire, and he has a far more significant role to play throughout Brandon Sanderson’s universe. Secret History shows him essentially cheating death, realizing that there’s more at play on Scadrial than just his conflict with the Lord Ruler and deciding he needs to have a part in it.


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Where Mistborn: Secret History Falls On The Series’ Timeline

Secret History Occurs Around The Events Of Mistborn 1-3

The Lord Ruler with spears impaling him from Mistborn Spanish illustrated edition

Mistborn: Secret History picks up at several points around the timeline of the original Mistborn trilogy. The first chapter sees Kelsier in the moment immediately after he’s killed, appearing beside his body and watching events unfold in the aftermath. The subsequent chapters continue to follow Kelsier through different events and meetings with various characters from Mistborn and the Cosmere beyond. The novella ends around the time of the catacendre; the end of The Hero of Ages.

Mistborn Era 2 picks up 300 years after the first trilogy, with critical aspects of the world’s culture defined by the events of The Hero of Ages. Mistborn: Secret History doesn’t have an immediate effect on Era 2, but it’s crucial to catch up on at a certain point for the Mistborn series’ overarching narrative. It also importantly takes place before The Stormlight Archive and has some effect on that series as well, so it’s worth reading Secret History before pivoting away from Mistborn. According to Brandon Sanderson (via Arcanum), The Stormlight Archive happens chronologically before Mistborn Era 2.


Mistborn Vs. The Stormlight Archive: Which Brandon Sanderson Fantasy Book Series Is Better

Mistborn and The Stormlight Archive are pillars of Brandon Sanderson’s oeuvre and the Cosmere universe. Here’s how they stack up against each other.

What Books To Read The Mistborn Novella Between

Brandon Sanderson Suggests Reading It After The Bands Of Mourning

Mistborn Era 2 The Bands of Mourning Brandon Sanderson

Mistborn: Secret History was released in 2016, shortly after The Bands of Mourning in Mistborn Era 2. The order in which it was released is likely the best time to read it, as there are some minor spoilers for The Bands of Mourning. In fact, Brandon Sanderson himself has stated (via 17thshard) that it “is intended to be read after Bands of Mourning.” Still, it certainly wouldn’t ruin Era 2 to read Secret History after The Hero of Ages, and it may have more emotional resonance given the connections to main characters from Era 1, so either option is acceptable.

The most important detail with the order is that Mistborn: Secret History should be read before The Lost Metal. It’s also probably best to read the novella before diving into The Stormlight Archive, as matters in Rhythm of War may get confusing without it. Brandon Sanderson has purposely left the order of reading throughout the Cosmere vague, as he’s crafted most of his stories to be enjoyable without reading the entire universe. For Mistborn readers or Cosmere obsessives, Mistborn: Secret History is a must.

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