The desert planet of Taldain is locked between two suns so that that with one side is constantly in light and the other in constant darkness with powerful magic apparently only occurring amongst the sands on the dayside. The first volume of Brandon Sanderson’s White Sand graphic novel trilogy is an introduction to a new world of the Cosmere and another unique magic system.
Kenton, a weak but skilled sand master, tries to earn a higher-ranking position in the guild of sand masters by running the Mastrell’s Path, despite the disapproval of his father, the Lord Mastrell. The day after Kenton proves himself on the Path, the sand masters gather for a ceremony where new rank advancements will be granted. One man, Drile, is demoted for having attempted to sell out himself and others as mercenaries. Just as Kenton is grudgingly granted the highest rank, his father is shot with an arrow, and an army of Kerztian warriors attacks. The sand masters, being surprised and unprepared, are soundly defeated. Just before his death, the Lord Mastrell unleashes a wave of power that leaves Kenton buried beneath the sand. After waking, Kenton is joined by Khrissalla, Baon, and two Darkside professors who are lost. They are searching for information about Khriss’ late fiancé and the “sand mages” he sought. On the way to the nearest city, they are attacked by a small group of Kerztian warriors. Kenton’s sand mastery suddenly proves to be inaccessible, but Baon drives the warriors away with his gun. Upon arriving in Kezare, Kenton’s powers return with greater strength than ever, and he stands before the Taishin, who plan to disband the Diem of sand masters. He is granted the position of acting Lord Mastrell and is given two weeks to convince the Taishin otherwise. Kenton returns to the Diem and drives away the rebellious Drile, who Kenton believes was responsible for betraying the sand masters to the Kerztians. Elsewhere, Trackt Ais works to catch a crime lord, Sharezan, amid threats to her family. The Lady Judge meets with Ais and asks her to spy on Kenton. Meanwhile, Khriss inadvertently locates Loaten, an infamous Darksider, in her search for information. He offers little direct help but sets her on a path to meet with the leaders in the city. Ignorant of the role of the sand masters, and of Kenton’s new station, she arrives at the Diem just as Drile returns to do battle with Kenton.
The story has all the hallmarks of Sanderson book with excellent execution of character introduction and conflict amongst the important members of the cast. The art of Julius Gopez and coloring of Ross A. Campbell bring this unique world and environment alive very well. However, while the elements that makes Sanderson, well Sanderson, are there the book also doesn’t feel like Sanderson. I do not want to blame scriptwriter Rik Hoskin for this, the change of format to graphic novel from the usual book could be the main factor and Hoskin could very well be the reason this story still reads like a Sanderson story but there is a noticeable difference from other Sanderson works. The other main issue I somewhat have is more biological than story, the color pigmentation of the characters is reversed from what it should be given the planetary environment they are living in unless there was a cosmic shift that changed things.
White Sands Volume I is a wonderful addition to Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere and is given a unique place in it with the graphic novel format. The art and color are amazing, yet the change from word medium to visual does have an impact on how Sanderson’s style comes across. Overall a very good beginning with story, characters, and atmosphere.