content by

Lancelot Schaubert

Power is Money in Sanderson’s Cosmere

Sometimes money is power, but sometimes power is money—especially in Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere. When we look at the various currency systems within Sanderson’s worlds, we find that he often inextricably fuses each economy to its local magic system. It makes sense, of course, from a magical perspective: if Apple makes money off of iPhones and other devices, why shouldn’t Garrick Ollivander profit from his abilities as the greatest wandmaker in the wizarding world? If a pawnshop or a bank in Southern Illinois uses the American legal system to gouge poor families with high-interest loans, why shouldn’t Devi do the same to Kvothe to gain access to arcane knowledge?

But Sanderson takes it a step further: starting with the assumption that money is power, he retroactively anticipates the corollary: that power is money. Anyone remotely familiar with American politics expects this. We seldom expect it, however, with magic.

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