Arcanum Unbounded Reveals What Brandon Sanderson’s White Sand Looked Like Before it Became a Graphic Novel

This past June, Dynamite Entertainment revealed White Sand, a brand new world within Brandon Sanderson’s epic fantasy universe known as “the Cosmere.”

White Sand is unique from Sanderson’s other Cosmere works in that it’s unfolding as a multi-volume graphic novel, with a script by Rik Hoskin and illustrations by Julius Gopez. But it didn’t start out that way. Arcanum Unbounded, out from Tor Books on November 22nd, reveals Sanderson’s original prose from which the White Sand graphic novel was constructed.

Check out the comparison below!

From Arcanum Unbounded:

White Sand prologue symbol
The wind caressed the stark dunes with a whispering touch, catching fine grains of sand between its fingers and bearing them forth like thousands of tiny charioteers. The sand, like the dunes it sculpted, was bone white. It had been bleached by the sun’s harsh stare— a stare that never slackened, for here, in the empire of the white sand, the sun never set. It hung motionless, neither rising nor falling, ever watching the dunes like a jealous monarch.

Praxton could feel the wind-borne grains of sand biting into his cheek. He pulled up the hood of his robe, but it seemed to make little difference. He could still feel the particles attacking the side of his face like furious insects. The sand masters would have to hurry— the winds could whip the Kerla sands from stagnation to a whirling typhoon in a matter of minutes.

A dozen forms stood a short distance away, clothed in brown robes. They had their hoods pulled up against the wind, but it was easy to tell from their small frames that they were children, barely into their second decade of life. The boys stood uncomfortably, shuffling with nervous feet as the winds whipped at their robes. They knew how important this day was. They couldn’t understand as Praxton did; they couldn’t know how many times they would look back on the event, how often the results of the testing would determine the course of their lives. Still, they could sense the significance of what was about to happen.

At the bidding of a white-robed mastrell, the boys reached into their robes and pulled out small cloth bags. Praxton watched the event with a stern face— the face he usually wore— presiding over the ceremony as Lord Mastrell, leader of the sand masters. He watched with emotionless eyes as each boy pulled a handful of white sand from within his bag. They had to hold tightly to keep the increasingly powerful wind from tearing the sand away and scattering it across the Kerla.

Praxton frowned, as if his simple displeasure could force the wind to abate. The testing took place close to the mountain KraeDa— one of the few places in the Kerla where stone jutted free from the sand. Here the wind was usually blocked by both mountain and surrounding cliffs.

Arcanum UnboundedHe shook his head, taking his mind off the wind as the first boy began the testing. Two mastrells stood before him, instructing him in quiet voices that were lost upon the wind. Praxton saw the results, even if he couldn’t hear the voices— the boy stared at the sand in his hand for a moment, a brief flutter of wind revealing the look of concentration on his face. The sand, cupped protectively in his open palm, began to glow faintly for a moment, then turned a dull black, like the charred remnants of a fire.

“A good start,” one of the senior mastrells, Tendel, muttered from behind him. Praxton nodded silently— Tendel was correct; it was a good sign. The boy— Praxton thought he recognized him as Traiben, son of a lower sand master— had been able to make the sand glow bright enough to be seen even from a short distance, which meant he had at least moderate power.

The testing continued, some of the boys producing glows similar to Traiben’s, some barely managing to turn the sand black. Overall, however, it was an unusually strong batch. They would bring much strength to the Diem.

There was a sudden flash, one so bright that it produced an explosive crack loud enough to be heard even over the wind. Praxton blinked in surprise, trying to clear the bright afterimage from his eyes. The two mastrells performing the test stood stunned before a small child with a shaking hand.

Tendel whistled beside Praxton. “I haven’t seen one so powerful in years,” the old mastrell said. “Who is that?”

“Drile,” Praxton said despite himself. “Son of Reenst Rile.”

“A profitable catch in more than one way, then,” Tendel noted.


From the White Sand: Volume 1 Graphic Novel:
White Sand Brandon Sanderson graphic novel

White Sand Brandon Sanderson graphic novel


From Arcanum Unbounded:

The testing mastrells recovered from their surprise and moved on to the next, and final, boy. Despite his age, his determined calmness, and his stern nature, Praxton felt his heart beat a little more quickly as the final child listened to their instructions.

Oh please, he felt himself mutter in a half-conscious prayer. He was not a religious man, but this was his final opportunity. He had failed so many times before. . . .

The boy looked at his sand. His hood had fallen to the wind, and his face, round and topped with a pile of short blond hair, adopted a look of total concentration. Praxton held his breath, waiting, excited in spite of himself.

The boy stared at the sand, his teeth clenched. Praxton felt his excitement dribble away as nothing happened. Finally, the sand gave a very weak glimmer—one so dark Praxton couldn’t be certain he hadn’t just imagined it— then faded to a dun black.

Though he knew he betrayed no look of disappointment, Praxton felt the senior mastrells around him grow stiff with anticipation.

“I’m . . . sorry, Lord Mastrell,” Tendel said beside him.

“It is nothing,” Praxton replied with a dismissive wave of his hand. “Not every boy is meant to be a sand master.”

“But . . . this was your last son,” Tendel pointed out—a rather unnecessary acknowledgment, in Praxton’s estimation.

white-sand“Take them away,” Praxton ordered in a loud voice. So, this will be my legacy, he thought to himself. A Lord Mastrell who couldn’t produce a single sand master child. I will be remembered as the man who married a woman from Darkside, thereby sullying his line.

He sighed, continuing. “Those who have skill may enter the Diem; the rest will choose another Profession.”

The sand masters moved quickly, their feet sinking easily into the swirling, fine-grained dunes beneath. They were eager to seek refuge from the furious elements. One form, however, did not follow the white-robed mastrells. Small and slight of frame, the boy stood in the increasingly violent wind. His robe whipped around him, writhing like a beast in the throes of a gruesome death.

“Kenton,” Praxton said under his breath.

“I will be a sand master!” the young boy said, his voice barely audible over the wind. A short distance away the line of retreating mastrells and boys paused, several heads turning in surprise.

“You have no talent for sand mastery, boy!” Praxton spat, waving for the group to continue moving. They made only a perfunctory show of obeying the order. Few people ever challenged the Lord Mastrell, especially not young boys. Such a sight was worth standing in a sandstorm to watch.

“The Law says I have enough!” Kenton rebutted, his small voice nearly a scream.

Praxton frowned. “ You’ve studied the Law, have you, boy?”

“I have.”

“Then you know that I am the only one who can grant advancement in the Diem,” Praxton said, growing more and more furious at the challenge to his authority. It looked bad to be confronted by a child, especially his own son. “The Lord Mastrell must give his approval before any sand master can increase in rank.”

“Every rank but the first!” Kenton shouted back.

Praxton paused, feeling his rage build. Every thing beat against him— the insufferable wind, the boy’s insolence, the other sand masters’ eyes. . . . The worst of it was his own knowledge. Knowledge that the boy was right. Anyone who could make the sand glow was technically allowed to join the Diem. Boys with less power than Kenton had become sand masters. Of course, none of them had been children of the Lord Mastrell. If Kenton joined the Diem, his inability would weaken Praxton’s authority by association.

The boy continued to stand, his posture determined. The windblown sand was piling around his legs, burying him up to the knees in a shifting barrow.

“You will not find it easy in the Diem, boy,” Praxton hissed. “By the sands, see reason!”

Kenton did not move.

Praxton sighed. “Fine!” he declared. “You may join.”

Kenton smiled in victory, pulling his legs free from the dune and scrambling over to join the line of students. Praxton watched motionlessly as the boy moved.

The buffeting wind tore at his robes, sand scraping its way into his eyes and between his lips. Such discomfort would be little compared to the pain Kenton would soon know— the Diem was a place of unforgiving politics, and sheer power was often the means by which a sand master was judged. No, life would not be easy for one so weak, especially since his father was so powerful. No matter what Praxton did, the other students would resent Kenton for supposed coddlings or favoritism.

Oblivious to the trials ahead of him, the young boy made his way to the caves a short distance away. It appeared as if Praxton’s final child would also prove to be his largest embarrassment.


From the White Sand: Volume 1 Graphic Novel:

White Sand Brandon Sanderson graphic novel

White Sand Brandon Sanderson graphic novel


The story of White Sand continues in White Sand: Volume 1, and Arcanum Unbounded.

Check out what else readers will find in Brandon Sanderson’s Arcanum Unbounded.

White Sand copyright 2016 Dragonsteel Entertainment, LLC


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