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The Cosmere

Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell

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Originally appearing in the Dangerous Women anthology and now available as a solo ebook, Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell is a chilling novella of the Cosmere, the universe shared by Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn series and the #1 New York Times bestselling Stormlight Archive.

When the familiar and seemingly safe turns lethal, therein danger lies. Amid a forest where the shades of the dead linger all around, every homesteader knows to follow the Simple Rules: "Don't kindle flame, don't shed the blood of another, don't run at night. These things draw shades." Silence Montane has broken all three rules on more than one occasion. And to protect her family from a murderous gang with high bounties on their heads, Silence will break every rule again, at the risk of becoming a shade herself.

89 pages, Kindle Edition

First published December 3, 2013

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About the author

Brandon Sanderson

436 books203k followers
Brandon’s major books for the second half of 2016 are The Dark Talent, the final volume in Alcatraz Smedry’s autobiographical account of his battle against the Evil Librarians who secretly rule our world, and Arcanum Unbounded, the collection of short fiction in the Cosmere universe that includes the Mistborn series and the Stormlight
Archive, among others. This collection features The Emperor’s Soul, Mistborn: Secret History, and a brand-new Stormlight Archive novella, Edgedancer.

Earlier this year he released Calamity, the finale of the #1 New York Times bestselling Reckoners trilogy that began with Steelheart .

Brandon Sanderson was born in 1975 in Lincoln, Nebraska. As a child Brandon enjoyed reading, but he lost interest in the types of titles often suggested to him, and by junior high he never cracked a book if he could help it. This changed when an eighth grade teacher gave him Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly.

Brandon was working on his thirteenth novel when Moshe Feder at Tor Books bought the sixth he had written. Tor has published Elantris, the Mistborn trilogy and its followup The Alloy of Law, Warbreaker, and The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance, the first two in the planned ten-volume series The Stormlight Archive. He was chosen to complete Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series; 2009’s The Gathering Storm and 2010’s Towers of Midnight were followed by the final book in the series, A Memory of Light, in January 2013. Four books in his middle-grade Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians series have been released in new editions by Starscape, and his novella Infinity Blade Awakening was an ebook bestseller for Epic Games accompanying their acclaimed Infinity Blade iOS video game series. Two more novellas, Legion and The Emperor’s Soul, were released by Subterranean Press and Tachyon Publications in 2012, and 2013 brought two young adult novels, The Rithmatist from Tor and Steelheart from Delacorte.

The only author to make the short list for the David Gemmell Legend Award six times in four years, Brandon won that award in 2011 for The Way of Kings. The Emperor’s Soul won the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novella. He has appeared on the New York Times Best-Seller List multiple times, with five novels hitting the #1 spot.

Currently living in Utah with his wife and children, Brandon teaches creative writing at Brigham Young University.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,300 reviews
Profile Image for Tharindu Dissanayake.
281 reviews506 followers
January 17, 2023
"One could never have too much silver in the Forest."

That was dark, horrifying and messed up on many levels. I’ve never read a horror book before, so it is possible that this is me being a little dramatic, but I’m having a hard time getting rid of some of the mental images this book gave me.

I think this is also the first work of Sanderson to which I’m in no hurry to return to… Since this one appears to have no connection to any of the books I’ve read (I guess I could be wrong here, with SA still being on my TBR), this is also the first one I’m going to recommend the readers to try carefully, especially if you're not a fan of horror. All that being said, the magical system here was completely new and the main character was uniquely intriguing (and it goes without saying the that the world building was awesome as ever). Considering how good Sanderson always is with these things, at the end of the day, that alone should be enough for most fans to give this one a try.

"Forescouts don’t cry. Forescouts DON’T CRY!"
Profile Image for Luna. ✨.
92 reviews1,215 followers
March 26, 2017

"They say he shook hands with the Evil itself, that he visited the Fallen World and came back with strange powers. He can kindle fire on even the deepest of nights, and no shade will dare come for his soul. Yes, the white fox. Meanest bastard in these parts for sure. Pray he doesn't set eyes on you, friend. If he does, you're dead"

I really feel this book doesn't get enough love. This is definitely one of my favourite Sanderson Novellas, I honestly loved everything about it, the plot was very cool and different from what Sanderson normally does. It was a lot darker and was actually kinda spooky. I found the concept extremely unique and different, my mind was blown to read Khriss's notes on what the Shades are, once again Sanderson does it again, I'm in complete awe of BS, it's getting to the point where I'm fanatical about his stuff and I feel annoyed if someone doesn't like his books. How does he come up with these awesome books? Clearly because his a genius and the greatest author to have ever lived, yeah that's right, I went there.
Picture from Tor hardcover edition of Arcanum Unbounded

The world building was so cool it is basically about a shard world called Threnody and there is a forest which is like hell (so awesome I know). We follow our Main character Silence, she is a middle aged mother who is also a bounty hunter and she's a total badass. Silence owns a waystop near the forest, she sees a criminal with a bounty in her waystop, so she follows them into the forest. But the forest is hectic because within it lives the Shades.

My only compliant is it was far too short! I wanna know more about this world and could have read a whole novel on Silence because I enjoyed her POV so much.

I do however love the cover of the published novella. I might just buy it separately for the beautiful cover.

Recommended to all fans of Sanderson. You do not need to read his other books before this one, unless you buy Arcanum Unbounded then I suggest reading Mistborn 1-6 first and also Stormlight Archive 1-2. Read in Arcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere Collection anthology.
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.7k followers
December 20, 2018
Brandon Sanderson hit a home run with this one! Madam Silence is the widowed owner of a waystop, on the edge of the vast Forests where shades, destructive ghosts of those who have died, lie in wait for the unwary. Silence runs the inn and tavern with the help of her fourteen year old daughter, William Ann. Silence is also secretly a bounty hunter who hunts down criminals who visit her waystop, for the bounties on their heads, needing the money to keep her inn and her independence.

One day Silence spots a particularly murderous criminal and four of his men in her waystop. She embarks on a risky plan to try to defeat them and collect the valuable bounties on their heads. Doing so means she will have to enter the Forests to follow them ― and William Ann refuses to let Silence go alone. The lurking shades will kill people who fail to assiduously follow certain Simple Rules: Don’t kindle flame. Don’t shed the blood of another. Don’t run at night.

“Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell” has the magical creativity that marks the best of Sanderson’s work, along with a particularly suspenseful plot. It's rather dark and bloody, but I really enjoyed it. This is one of the stories collected in Sanderson's Arcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere Collection anthology.
Profile Image for Petrik.
673 reviews42.7k followers
March 20, 2017
3.5/5 Stars

Mini Review
(I read this in Arcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere Collection)

That was unexpectedly creepy… This novella follows Silence Montane, a greatly written middle-aged mother who tries her best as a bounty hunter to protect her family. It’s really different from Sanderson’s usual stories where this time, taking place in the world of Threnody, the undertone of the novella is darker and similar to a horror movie.

Khriss’s diary in the beginning tells us more of the world and the scary creature that appeared in the book called Shades, I can’t get into details on this, but somehow, Shade reminds me as something that were created by Stephen King. I do find the lack of Sanderson's intricate and unique magic system trademark a disappointment though but I guess it can’t be help since this is a short story.

Overall, another good novella and addition to the Cosmere universe, Sanderson said in the postscript that there will be more stories taking place in this world and I’m excited for it.

You can find the rest of my Adult Epic/High Fantasy & Sci-Fi reviews at Booknest
Profile Image for Choko.
1,196 reviews2,583 followers
October 31, 2022
*** 4.75 ***

Wow! This was very unexpected!!! This story is “Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell” and it takes place on the shard world of Threnody, where vast Forests contain shades and monsters, inciting the natives of the world to link them to Hell... In this place you have to be tough, and if you chose to live close to the Forests you have to be even tougher. Madam Silence is one of the toughest, being a proprietress of an Inn on the border with the land of the Shades. She is a widow and together with her daughter and a small orphan girl whom she fosters, they feed the weary travelers who stop in the place for the night. They also use their unique situation to note rode bandits and lawless men who stop by, and eventually find a way to turn them in for bounty, leaving no evidence of who the bounty hunters actually are.

"... “She swept her knife through the first shade, as Grandmother had taught. Never creep back and cower before shades. You’re Forescout blood. You claim the Forests. You are their creature as much as any other. As am I. . . .” ..."

This story had a very spooky feel to it and send shivers through me for all kinds of reasons. No wonder many are afraid of the Forests - generation after generation have created legends and stories to craft the image of monsters in their debts, and this is Brandon Sanderson's addition conjured for our time...

"... “What would it take?” she asked. “For you to see a miracle instead of a coincidence?”
“It would take a miracle, obviously," Silence said, picking up her knife. "Instead of just a coincidence.” ..."
Profile Image for J.L.   Sutton.
666 reviews864 followers
August 10, 2022
“Hush now, my dear one . . . be not afraid. Night comes upon us, but sunlight will break. Sleep now, my dear one . . . let your tears fade. Darkness surrounds us, but someday we’ll wake. . . .”

Only Cosmere — spiralofdragon: Based on Brandon Sanderson's...

Deep in the forests of the shard world of Threnody, in Brandon Sanderson's novella, Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell, Silence Montane is a homesteader who will do whatever it takes to protect her family. With shades and other monsters in the forests and criminals passing through her inn on the forest's borders, that is a lot indeed. Even though this is part of the Cosmere universe along with the Mistborn Series and the Stormlight Archive, this felt like a different kind of story. Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell is engaging and just a little creepy. 3.75 stars
Profile Image for Bibi.
1,282 reviews3,270 followers
December 25, 2018
Below average

I’ve said it before and I’ll repeat: Sanderson’s weakest attribute is his inability to write robust and authentic female characters and when he, in the foreword, mentioned that this story was part of an anthology about strong women, I was both eager and apprehensive.

And wouldn’t you know it, our heroine, Silence, a bounty hunter, seemed like a variant of most of the female characters in his other books. That is, a facsimile. The premise itself was interesting; a small town located within a forest that’s inhabited by ghosts who hunt those that have shed blood, but aside from this interesting setting, the story itself was simple.
Profile Image for TS Chan.
698 reviews868 followers
February 10, 2017
Update: Dec 2016

After reading Khriss' essay on The Threnodite System in the amazing Arcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere Collection, I finally know what the shades are and I'm mind-blown by this concept.

This is what I call genius at work. .

Mar 2015: Sanderson's claim that his weakness lies in short stories is surely debunked by now. In just 89 pages, he managed to build good characters, another intriguing (Cosmere) world and an engaging and satisfying plot.

While this story lacks his usual imaginative magic system, his idea of "Dangerous Women" is not your typical femme fatale with superlative skills. His concept is premised on what a mother is prepared to do to protect her family, albeit Silence Montane does have the prerequisite training to deal with the shades, which are downright creepy!!
Profile Image for Valliya Rennell.
361 reviews230 followers
October 16, 2020
2.75 stars

Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell is a short story about a woman called Silence, living on a continent, colloquially called Hell, where if you spill blood, light a fire, or run at night, mysterious creatures known as Shades will tear you to shreds. Silence's inn, a safehouse from the Shades, is in danger of being taken away from her, and seeing as she is a middle aged woman trying to sustain herself and her kid, she decides to go collect a bounty... after all Silence is also the infamous White Fox.

The main objective for this book, I think, was to set up Threnody. I think that it did what it was supposed to well enough. We get information about the Evil on the larger continent, we understand the rules and the Shades on the smaller one. The more Cosmere-aware people will see some small ties to other parts of the Cosmere (for example why the Ire were cautious of Cognitive Shadows from Threnody). I always as myself a question before reviewing a book: did the author accomplish what they set out to do? Yes? It will probably be around a 3 star book and it can only increase/decrease based on other elements (my liking of it especially).

Unfortunately, the short story itself is a bit lackluster. I did like it! Otherwise I'd have given it a 2-1 star rating. However I have a few issues with Sanderson that came up while reading this (all based on personal preference). I really don't like his prose. With 50 pages of set up for a planet and a little bounty chase, I just didn't get what usually overshadows my dislike of Sanderson's prose (characters, a heart-pounding plot). It was a story that I am glad I read, if only for the world building. Not gonna lie, I hoped to catch a glimpse of Nazh, but oh well. (now I'm thinking his real name is "Nice" haha).

I am definitely going to be on the lookout for the first full Threnody novel, though when I do pick it up, I must say I won't really care if it centers around the main characters of this short-story or not.

Thank you all for joining in for Episode 4 of Quickie Review with Valliya!

Previous episode: The Dead Zone - Stephen King ★.25

Next episode: The Hope of Elantris - Brandon Sanderson ★★★
Profile Image for Robin (Bridge Four).
1,606 reviews1,480 followers
April 30, 2015
As Novella’s go this is not one of my favorites from the Brandon Sanderson universe. It is a really short time to build a story and sometimes it just isn’t enough. I can tell that there is a much bigger world going on and I want to know more about it…but in less than 90 pages it is almost impossible.

What he was able to do is tell the story of Silence. I woman raised to be hard and an assassin but who has decided that she will not raise her own children in that way. However when you are an assassin they tend to pick up things on their own and this time Silence needs her daughters help.
“You remember when Harold’s hound went mad last spring?” Silence asked. “Do you remember that look in the hound’s eyes? No recognition? Eyes that lusted for the kill? Well, that’s what these men are, William Ann. Rabid. They need to be put down, same as that hound. They won’t see you as a person. They’ll see you as meat. Do you understand?”

The men they are hunting though are just a small part of the danger. There are rules in the forest if you want to survive through the night. There are laws to follow and Silence knows them all very well. She has lost many people she loved to them.
I believe in the God Beyond,” Silence said, after they reached the other side.
“I don’t worship,” Silence said, “but that doesn’t mean I don’t believe. The old books, they called this land the home of the damned. I doubt that worshiping does any good if you’re already damned. That’s all.”

I liked Silence and this world. I could definitely spend a little more time here and have it more fleshed out. But it was missing Sanderson normal sense of humor and that slightly bigger twist at the end that I have grown to expect from him.

Still a decent short story to get you by but not necessary to the rest of the Cosmere. I would recommend The Emperor’s Soul if you are looking for a good novella by Sanderson first.
Profile Image for Karl.
3,258 reviews263 followers
March 5, 2016
In the novella "Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell" Brandon Sanderson gives us an inventive fantasy adventure featuring an older woman as the point of view character. The pace of the story fluctuates between historical reminiscences and outright action.

Within the boundaries of the "Forests of Hell" we have the spirits of the dead (here called shades) floating aimlessly, nightly, in order to kill the living invaders of their realm. All it takes to arouse the dead's savagery is a drop of blood, a loud noise, or fire light.

Into this hostile environment we are introduced to Silence Montane who is the proprietress of a way-station within the woods for travelers to take refuge as they travel from fort to fort. However, Silence is more than she appears to be.

Mr. Sanderson has produced a fine story with a mysterious world. I'm not familure with his other work(s) to know if this creation is part of some of his other work or series as this is my introduction to his story telling.

I recommend this work to anyone who enjoys a good story and is a fan of Heroic Fantasy with the added bonus of a strong female lead character.

This is copy 35 of 500 limited signed copies, signed and numbered by Brandon Sanderson and comes in a slipcase with "Perfect State" also signed and numbered.
Profile Image for Lamaleluna.
286 reviews1,130 followers
March 30, 2022
Esta novela corta está dentro del libro Arcanum ilimitado Antología de historias del Cosmere.
Es Independiente, no necesitás haber leído ningún otro libro ni relato del autor.

Sombras por silencio en los bosques del infierno es sin duda la creación más oscura, sangrienta, sombría y cruel del autor.
Tenemos a Silencio, una mujer viuda y de mediana edad, capaz de hacer cualquier cosa por sobrevivir y mantener su posada y a sus dos hijas. CUALQUIER COSA.

La historia me llegó a dar escalofríos en cuentas escenas y si bien no es mi favorita del autor la recomiendo mucho.
Profile Image for Jonathan O'Neill.
160 reviews323 followers
May 19, 2020
This is a story about Silence Montane. A mother, an innkeeper... And a b.b.b.bad mothertrucker!

Set on the dark, sinister planet of Threnody within the Threnodite System of the Cosmere. There are a set of simple rules that the inhabitants of these lands know to follow in order to avoid the unwanted, violent attention of the 'Shades', a translucent wraith-like entity that are particularly active at night:

"Don't kindle flame, don't shed the blood of another, don't run at night."

This aspect is reminiscent of the movie, 'A Quiet Place', only the rules here are based loosely off of the Jewish Laws of what you can and can't do on the sabbath.

This story is much darker than what you're likely to find in other works by Sanderson and I like what Threnody could potentially add to the Cosmere!
Profile Image for Eric Allen.
Author 3 books732 followers
June 7, 2015
Another great read by Brandon Sanderson.

I tried reading the "Dangerous Women" anthology that this novella first appeared in. I got to the Snodgrass story and just couldn't get past it. I mean, I enjoy sex as much as the next man, but holy shit lady, you made it WEIRD. If I wanted stories about a dude fucking a catgirl, I'd go watch some Japanese porn, thank you very much. Way too much weird sex, not enough anything else in that one IMO. Anyway, I returned the book in disgust without ever getting to the Sanderson story or the GRRM story that I bought it for, (Luckily the Jim Butcher story was earlier in, and was fantastic as always) with the hope that maybe one or both of those authors would release it separately, and hurray, Sanderson did.

Though short, this story is highly engaging, and it left me desperately wanting more stories that take place in this world. It's amazing how Sanderson was able to build such an interesting and complex world in such a short amount of space, while also telling a good story about interesting characters, all while not making it seem like he's dumping any info on us. He truly is an excellent writer and storyteller.

Definitely a must read for Sanderson fans, and probably a pretty good sampler for anyone looking to give him a try, as it's short, well written, and basically gives you Brandon Sanderson in a nutshell.
Profile Image for Fares.
246 reviews316 followers
June 21, 2019
Can this please be a full length novel!!
I want more! I NEED more!
It's not fair to end this quickly, it just isn't! I LOVE these characters 😭😭😭
Profile Image for Raviteja.
92 reviews23 followers
April 15, 2021
3.5 stars

This is the story of a woman "Silence" who fights hard for her family, that hardwork she put in and the reward she deserves for it. I loved the story and characters. But this as a part of the Arcannum Unbounded collection, so I was expecting the story to reveal something about Threnody system and Cosmere as a whole and on that front, I am disappointed.
Profile Image for Scott  Hitchcock.
779 reviews224 followers
December 20, 2016
Read as part of Arcanum Unbounded.

My least favorite work of Sanderson to date. I liked that he tried to go for a frontier setting on the book which also felt like a tale such as Sleepy Hollow but the characters and story were flat for me.
Profile Image for Ana .
109 reviews33 followers
June 27, 2020
This was so interesting!! The plot was really engaging even though this was short and kept me at the edge of my seat. I was so immersed in it. The characters were also great, captivating and perfect for this story, but what I loved the most about this is the world building and the atmosphere. It was so cool and fun to read about and also felt mysterious and I really enjoyed being in this world and learning about it. I wish this was longer, I really, really want to know more about this world.
Profile Image for Jarek "the Mistborn" Dąbrowski.
200 reviews54 followers
May 16, 2017
As with most of the short stories in The Arcanum Unbound collection I wish there was more. Sanderson has such an imagination for creating entire worlds,its rules,inhabitants religions etc its amazing. I really hope that someday he will decide to at least make a full lenght stand alone in this world. Awesome stuff:)
Profile Image for David S Meanderings).
325 reviews86 followers
February 13, 2020
I really, really enjoyed this novella. The "Simple Rules" and the ways to fight were so creative and made the story feel fraught with danger. Silence was a compelling protagonist even in the few pages we get in this novella. I would love to see more of this world in a full length Cosmere novel!
Profile Image for Melcat.
250 reviews25 followers
October 18, 2022
My favorite of Sanderson short stories (and maybe overall? I have to think about this).

Highly recommend this one, with mercenaries, vengeance and haunted woods!

There was also a dark fairy tale aspect in Shadow of Silence I really enjoyed AND a great little twist at the end that I did not see coming. Great great great.
Profile Image for Marnie  (Enchanted Bibliophile).
818 reviews121 followers
January 14, 2022
“Hide from the green eyes, run from the red”


I feel every time Sanderson gives us a new novella it’s like a teaser… Like see this awesome world I created, see how cool these characters are... Well you’ll have to wait for more.
This realm’s fierce and courageous people; the weird and mysterious evil; everything just screaming where will I fit into the Cosmere – was exactly what I needed to push me into the Stormlight Archives.
Profile Image for Holden Johnson.
Author 2 books45 followers
November 14, 2018
What a unique and awesome story! I'm very glad I read this one, as I was skeptical if I was going to enjoy it or not. It's very different from Brandon's usually colorful worlds, as it's more dark and "Evil".

I'm super glad that we are expected to see more from Threnody!
Profile Image for Mizuki.
2,971 reviews1,179 followers
April 22, 2018
4.5 stars. Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell is a piece of brilliantly written short story by Brandon Sanderson, we follow Silence, an innkeeper who runs her inn at the edge of the dangerous Forests of Hell, to undergo a serial of tricky, risky businesses in order to keep her inn and keep her 14 years old daughter and 8 years old foster child to stay out of slavery.

I can't reveal more plot because I may spoil the plot twists. But this short story is imaginative with a gloomy setting of a bunch of settlers being trapped in a hellish realm with the human-eating Shadows laying in wait in the Forests of Hell. The story is intensive and the final revealing is just........great. So it truly deserves readers' attention.
Profile Image for Anna [Bran. San. Stan].
260 reviews80 followers
December 27, 2020
Only Sanderson has so much imagination that he can use up a whole magic system and a new setting (the planet Threnody, in the Cosmere universe) in what is essentially a “short” story. And it was brilliant! In fewer than 50 pages he manages to come up with characters we care about (Silence and her daughter William Ann), characters we loathe (Chesterton and Theopolis) and an intriguing plot. So Sanderson is absolutely capable of writing short fiction as well! I do hope we get to see more of this world in its own Cosmere novel though.
Profile Image for Mark Medina.
82 reviews26 followers
August 22, 2016

Very good short story. Creepy shades hunting people in the forest. As usual well written and engaging. Well worth reading.
Profile Image for Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller.
724 reviews1,202 followers
September 19, 2016
If you only read one novella from Brandon Sanderson, Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell would be my top pick (by a smidgen – they’re all awesome. And really, why would you limit yourself to just one?). It’s just one more example why Sanderson is one of my favorite authors – his novellas are every bit as good as his full-length novels. I loved this one because it had the perfect mix of characterization, setting, story, pacing, action, and resolution. It felt like a snippet out of a fully developed novel, but was self-contained enough to stand complete on its own. Silence, the main character, really struck a chord with me – her decision-making during the most intense scenes of the story still have me reeling months later. I want to get into the nitty-gritty details and geek out about all of them, but I can’t discuss it to my satisfaction without spoilers. So just take my word for it – this is definitely worth reading! :-)

Via The Obsessive Bookseller at www.nikihawkes.com
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