Many of Brandon Sanderson’s works take place in a single “Cosmere” universe. You can visit Roshar in the Stormlight Archive, or Scadrial in Mistborn, but readers have yet to see the most important planet in the Cosmere…
Somewhere out there is a planet that breeds trouble, that produces scholars, that has seeded different worlds with different types of magic. Sanderson has yet to reveal that planet and its story, but we do know one thing: it’s named after Jane Yolen, author of Finding Baba Yaga and numerous other fantasy works!
The planet Yolen has yet to appear in any of Sanderson’s published works, but on his blog and elsewhere he has referenced Dragonsteel, an unpublished work set on Yolen that acts as a sort of prequel to the rest of the Cosmere series.
In 2016, Sanderson revealed that this planet is indeed named after the author Jane Yolen. It turns out that Yolen’s Pit Dragon Trilogy, specifically the first book Dragon’s Blood (1982), was one of the first books he ever read, and it had a profound inspirational effect on the young author.
The story of Dragon’s Blood mixes epic fantasy and science fiction—a planet settled as a penal colony develops its own society over centuries, adapting to the planets harsh environment. Humans capture and tame a species of dragon, breeding them as livestock and for entertainment in the fighting pits.
The blending of science fiction and fantasy is echoed in many of Sanderson’s novels—it feels all too appropriate that the Cosmere’s magic and stories can all be traced back to a planet named for her.
It all begins with Yolen. In more ways than one.
An earlier version of this article was published in November 2016.