Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)
Dalinar is the first character I ever wrote.
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Dalinar is the first character I ever wrote.
This book seemed a little sadder, I thought Kaladin would reach the next level.
Yeah, he's still got some things to work out.
I was surprised that Elhokar getting killed *inaudible*
At least, in this draft, it wasn't Dalinar that that killed him like in the original version... That didn't work.
So once upon a time Brandon was going to write Szeth as the flashback character for book three, but then Brandon changed his mind, decided to write Dalinar's flashback chapters to see how that would go, and then after writing them made book 3 Dalinar's book instead. Here is a quote from the first Stormlight Book 3 Update post Brandon made in this subreddit
As someone else has posted, I have finished the rough draft of Dalinar's flashbacks for Stormlight Three. I consider the experiment of writing his flashbacks for this book, instead of waiting for book five, to be a success. Therefore, I'm proceeding with the Dalinar/Szeth flip.
The reasoning for this is something I can't discuss in detail until the book is released. I'd be happy to revisit this topic once you all have a chance to read the novel.
Now that the book has been out for 6 months or so, I'd love to hear Brandon discuss the reasoning behind this. Personally, I have a very tough time imagining how this book would have played out if Szeth had been the flashback character. Clearly we wouldn't have had to Dalinar/Odium confrontation if we didn't have Dalinar's flashbacks, as those were integral to the overall storyline. I'd love to hear what the plot of this book was originally supposed to be when Szeth was going to have the flashbacks. Does anyone know the answers to this, or am I going to have to hope Brandon sees this post and decides to answer more than a RAFO? :)
Hmm. This is going to be difficult to answer without straying into spoilers for books four and five. It's also hard to say how the books would have played out if I'd swapped these back.
The Dalinar/Odium confrontation would still have happened, as that was something I'd been planning for a while. But how would things have played out? Hard to say, as an outline is only a rough guide--even for someone like me. It's when you get to the nitty gritty of the story that things come together.
Having finished the book, it's hard for me to imagine going another direction--as I made the decisions I did because I felt they were the ones that were right for the story. And a lot has changed over the years as I've worked on the details. (Kaladin's arc from book two, for example, was originally plotted for book three--parallel to Szeth and his flashbacks, which share some similarities.)
Dalinar's flashbacks would work very well for book five for reasons I can't explain yet--but it became clear to me that I needed them for this book, despite the outline looking at the Szeth/Kaladin dynamic. (Which was upended anyway when I moved Kaladin's second character arc to book two.)
So...that's a whole lot of not saying much, I'm afraid. I can answer a lot more once book five is out.
Does it mean that we shouldn't expect any explanations or clues about what happened with Dalinar at the end of Oathbringer before book 5?
Ask just to know if we'll know more in book 4 or we'll have to wait a bit longer.To avoid false expectations:)
There will be explanations and clues, but I would anticipate more Dalinar in book 5 than in book 4.
Why didn't we get to see Dalinar meet Gallant in Oathbringer in the flashbacks? I was so disappointed...
I planned that for a different flashback... I intentionally didn't put that one in, because it didn't fit the rest of the narrative that I was telling. But I will do that eventually.
Is it after he arrives at the Shattered Plains?
I will RAFO that for now, because I'd have to go look exactly at the timeline where I'm slipping it in.
But it's around that time?
Yeah, it's more recent than most of the things that you're reading about... Let's say, the person that Dalinar has been through most of his life would not end up with him... I will get into it. I realize that that was a hole that is not in the story, and it's an intentional one. But I eventually worked in the flashbacks with Kaladin in the last book, I found a little extra place for them. I'll try to find some of those for Dalinar.
Also, I noticed that Dalinar fits well enough with the Hero of Ages prophecy. Lines like "The Hero of Ages was the person who united others, who brought them together" and so on. So I wanted to ask if there is a coincidence or not? Or that's a RAFO?
Who is the most dangerous of Kaladin, Shallan, and Dalinar?
Hmm… haw… Depends on which era of their lives… Probably Dalinar is the most dangerous. But that's a really tough question! After Dalinar probably Shallan.
Do you have a favorite character that you've created or one that you've tended to favor over another?
Do I have a favorite character? No, that's again, you know, the thing. I will say Dalinar is my oldest character, followed by Hoid. Those two have been around since I was 15 and so, there is some favoritism for them, perhaps, just in longevity sense.
I wondered if there's a bit of you in all the characters... and it's characters where they don't have bits of you that you get stuck with writing them, and how you overcome that?
Yeah, getting stuck. So characters are the hard one for me to talk about because I plan my worlds in great detail before I start writing, in most cases, and I plan my plots in moderate detail. I plot backward, I start with what I want to have happen for a plot cycle; not necessarily the last scene, but, you know, something like this character learns to use the magic, and I've got the scene where it shows that this is working, and then I list a bunch of bullet points underneath. That's my-- And so if you look at my outline, it's like goal, bullet points, goal, bullet points, goal, bullet points-- that's my whole outline.
My characters, I figure out who they are when the book starts, but I do not outline them in great detail. The reason for this is we find that writers tend to fall into two general camps. We have what we call outline writers, and discover writers. Now, discovery writers, George RR Martin calls them gardeners, they like to discover their story as they go. Stephen King says you never start with an ending in mind because otherwise it ruins the book, he just goes and see what happens. They tend to write character really well. In fact if you're reading a good and you go "Wow these characters all feel really vivid and alive", that's probably a discovery writer. If you're-- On the other hand outliners, or architects as George RR Martin calls them, tend to plan everything out ahead of time and because of this they tend to have spectacular plots. If you've got somebody who's got a great plot, it's a page-turner, the great twist at the ending-- that's most likely going to be an architect, but the flaw of this is they tend to have weaker characters; and the flaw over here is they tend to have weaker plots. Terrible endings are a horrible kind of habit of the discovery writer.
Over time I've really tried to kind of mitigate this by letting myself discovery-write my characters to kind of get some more of that living character status, which means I have to have a flowing outline where, once I've started writing my way into the character I will then have to rebuild the outline periodically to match the person they're becoming, which sometimes rips apart that outline quite a bit. The other thing that it requires me to do is I often have to kind of cast characters in a role. Vin is a great example of this, where I actually tried Vin three different times--I posted one of these on my website--with a different personality each time until I got one that would fit the story that I'm telling, and who she was, and I went from there.
And so it's really hard for me to pick out what I do with characters, but if my book is not working it's almost always that a character is not working for me. And this happened with Sazed in book 3 of Mistborn. I wrote this in the annotations, you can go and read it off that. Dalinar, in the original draft of The Way of Kings. When a character is not clicking 100% it is the biggest problem I run into with books, that takes a lot of drafting to figure out what to do. With Dalinar, if you're not familiar with what happened there, is I split him into two people. It always had his son Adolin, but Adolin had not been a viewpoint character, and the problem I was having with Dalinar was that I wanted to present a strong figure for the leader because people though he was going mad, but I also had to have him talk about this madness, and be really worried about it, and so he came on very weak, because everyone thought he was going mad, and he spent all of his time brooding about going mad. When I took the brooding out to his son, and had Dalinar be like "I'm not mad, something's going on, everyone thinks that I'm crazy, but I can deal with this", and had his son go "my dad, who I love, is going crazy", those two characters actually both became more alive, and worked better, than they had with the conflict of "I'm going crazy" being Dalinar's. So, it takes a lot of work to figure these things out sometimes.
Is the reason Dalinar rejects the Thrill because he has a connection to Honor through his visions from the Stormfather?
…Is the reason that Dalinar rejects the Thrill because he has a connection to the Stormfather through his visions?
The answer is yes, this is parti-- this is in play. Though you could say the two of them have a si-- The reason he has a connection to the Stormfather also influences the reason that he rejects the Thrill, so it may be more correlation than causation, but there's at least a little causation as well.
Just prior to meeting with the Nightwatcher 5.5 years ago, Dalinar wakes up at the end of a highstorm and seems to have experienced a vision from Stormfather. But in The Way of Kings, Dalinar says that the visions only began "a few months ago." He also seems to have specific memory of the "first" even if he can't recall all of the details, and it seems unlikely he would have visions for several years without anyone having noticed.
So, should we assume that (1) this strange "dream" in Oathbringer was not actually a one of Honor's visions? Is that just a weird dream, or perhaps some OTHER vision from Stormfather?
Or, (2) this is one of Honor's visions and any contradictory details from The Way of Kings are superseded by Oathbringer?
Or, (3) this is one of Honor's visions, and Dalinar just doesn't remember his history of the visions very well.
So, I did this quite intentionally, it's not number two. But I expected these questions to be asked, and it's a RAFO, but it's one of these RAFOs where I wrote it very deliberately the way I did on purpose, and I'm going to leave it to your speculation as to what it means.
What inspired you to write Dalinar's amnesia and all that? What was your inspiration for that?
That, all of that, was really just partially narrative necessity. I didn't want to dig into that until I got to the right book, and so I needed the meddling to have pulled a little bit of that back. Plus, the fact that he was an alcoholic let me get away with a little bit of what was going on there. I really liked the intriguing element of someone who had had a piece of their memories ripped away and then was being given it back at the right time, right? That deliberateness of it was really interesting to me. I thought it made for an interesting story hook, when you meet a character and then realize he's had part of his memory excised. It's a bunch of things moving together.
Will we get a depiction of Dalinar, aside from the image in Unfettered II? I was slightly disappointed these [Oathbringer endpapers] are depictions of Heralds actually, although having said that, they are gorgeous!
I'm sure we'll get one eventually. But there's not one in this book.
We were talking that it's kind of a shame that Dalinar doesn't have his own "real" spren. I think it's an upgrade, is there a way I should think of this? Is it a cool thing or a bad thing?
This is a very cool thing, but it's also a very dangerous thing.
Well [the Stormfather] controls the highstorms ... follow-up question: if he dies, does that affect the spren?
Dying, as long as the oaths are not broken, does not affect the spren in a very terrible way. There are effects.
Do you have a favorite character?
I don't. That said, Dalinar's *inaudible* been with me the longest, so...
Yeah, so I've got a special fondness for Dalinar.
Dalinar had two non-Stormfather visions. First at the end of Words of Radiance, and second with Nohadon in Oathbringer. I'm curious if these two are related or they come from different sources?
So, by even answering that, this is one of those questions I tend to RAFO because by answering it I'm implying that your postulations are correct, which I am not even willing to do. It's more of a RAFO in that... let's just say I'm not even willing to confirm the postulations.
Will we know why Dalinar has a "warm feeling" sometimes? More specifically, in Oathbringer Hoid calls (covertly) Adonalsium's Power a "God's Light". Is it the same Light Dalinar senses?
Why Cultivation thought that helping Dalinar would be very, very dangerous? Also, there's a theory that she wants him for a new vessel for Honor's Shard. Is this...valid assumption?
RAFO on both, I'm afraid.
It must be very difficult to write Dalinar, since it's--
Yeah he's a very different person, it's kind of brutal to write him now. But it works, it's a good counterpoint.
*inaudible* Shallan and Kal are both younger, so you have less to write about than Dalinar?
Oh yeah the flashbacks cross about 20, 30 years with Dalinar so it is a challenge. But you get to see a lot of sweeping changes in his personality which is really fun.
What was your opinion of the Blackthorn?
What about it? What do you mean?
Like, in general, people call him a monster, when I ask, ask around. I think he's a badass.
He totally was a badass. He was also not morally centered.
Does the message that Dalinar continues to receive about "uniting them" refer to more than simply Roshar? Or is it...
That is a RAFO.
I noticed in the end of Oathbringer, right before Dalinar goes all Unity on us, that his fabrial gets ripped off his wrist. Is that significant?
Yes. Maybe not for the reason you're thinking, but it is.
We're doing a piece of art for a friend that's a crossover between The Stormlight Archive and Harry Potter. How would you sort Dalinar, Kaladin, Jasnah, and Shallan...
Jasnah's a Slytherin. Hands down, very easy.
Dalinar's would depend on which Dalinar you're talking about. Dalinar is probably going to be Gryffindor either way, would be my guess.
Shallan's a Ravenclaw, straight up.
Kaladin's tough. You could Hufflepuff Kaladin. You could totally Hufflepuff Kaladin. I think that works.
You got one of each in that case.
There has been evidence that Dalinar was able to heal with Stormlight (unintentionally) even before he said his oaths. How is this possible, and if Dalinar was able to do it, why does he have all these crazy scars? We know that Stormlight healing doesn't leave scars.
Dalinar, his memory issues, are they his boon or his curse?
You will actually find out. That's coming. I’m not going to tell you that. You've got a whole flashback sequence dealing with this sort of stuff.
Why is Dalinar so hard on himself? He values his intellectual capacities very low (Well, he constantly thinks he's dumb) and so on. Considering how wise and humane he really is, I'll admit, it's sad that he sees himself in such a negative light.
This is a tough one to answer. Why are people hard on themselves? It's something a lot of us tend to do, and doesn't correlate with how much we deserve it. That doesn't stop it from happening, though, even when pointed out.
Does Dalinar bond with the Stormfather differ from any other spren bond?
This bond is a little different.
Dalinar and Lan, who wins in a swordfight? Both full Shardbearers.
Both full Shardbearers. Lan probably wins, I would guess. Lan is more pure swordsman than Dalinar. Dalinar spent a lot of time on things like battlefield tactics.
I started writing my first novel when I was fifteen years old. I didn’t have a computer; I had an old, electric typewriter. It would remember your file on a disc, but it was really just a printer with an attached bare-bones word processor. (It had a tiny LCD screen at the top that could display three lines at a time. You could scroll through and edit bit by bit, then you hit print and it would type out the document.)
The book was terrible. It was essentially a hybrid of Tad Williams and Dragonlance, though at the time I felt it was totally new and original. It did have a wizard who threw fireballs with smiley faces on the front, though, so that’s kind of cool. At its core were two stories. One vital one was the tale of a wise king who was murdered by assassins, forcing his younger brother to take up the mantle and lead the kingdom while trying to find/protect the king’s son and rightful heir. The other was about a young man named Rick, originally blamed for the murder.
I still have some of these pages. (Not the entire book, unfortunately.) I used to hide them behind a picture on the wall of my room so that nobody would find them. I was so anxious about letting people read my writing, and was—for some reason—paranoid my family would find the pages and read them, then make fun of them.
Over the years, many ideas proliferated and matured in my mind. I began writing books in earnest (I never finished that one I started as a teenager.) I grew as a writer, and discovered how to make my works less derivative. Most of my ideas from my teenage self died out, and rightly so. Others evolved. My maturing sensibilities as both a reader and a writer changed how I saw the world, and some stories stood the test of both time and internal criticism, becoming stronger for the conflict.
Rick became Jerick, hero of the book now known as Dragonsteel. (It was my honor’s thesis in college, and will someday be rewritten and published. For now, the only copy available is through interlibrary loan, though it appears to have vanished.) Jared, the man who lost his brother and had to lead in his stead, protecting his nephew, slowly evolved into a man named Dalinar, one of the primary protagonists of The Way of Kings. Some of you may be curious to know that the character many now call Hoid also appeared in that ancient book of mine.
These two epics—Dragonsteel and The Way of Kings—have shaped a lot of my passions and writing goals over the last two decades. For example, in my last year of college I took an introductory illustration class to try my hand at drawing. My final project was a portfolio piece of sketches of plants and animals from Roshar, as even then I was hoping to someday be able to publish The Way of Kings with copious in-world illustrations of Roshar and its life. (At that time, I was planning to have an illustrated appendix, though I eventually decided to spread the pages through the book.) Fortunately, I was able to hire artists to do the work in this book instead of forcing you to look at what I came up with . . .
Well, finally—after two decades of writing—Tor has given me the chance to share The Way of Kings with you. They’ve taken a risk on this book. At every juncture, they agreed to do as I asked, often choosing the more expensive option as it was a better artistic decision. Michael Whelan on the cover. 400K words in length. Almost thirty full page interior illustrations. High-end printing processes in order to make the interior art look crisp and beautiful. A piece of in-world writing on the back cover, rather than a long list of marketing blurbs. Interludes inside the book that added to the length, and printing costs, but which fleshed out the world and the story in ways I’d always dreamed of doing.
This is a massive book. That seems fitting, as it has been two decades in the making for me. Writing this essay, I find myself feeling oddly relieved. Yes, part of me is nervous—more nervous for this book than I have been for any book save The Gathering Storm. But a greater part of me is satisfied.
I finally got it published. Whatever else happens, whatever else comes, I managed to tell this story. The Way of Kings isn’t hidden behind the painting in my room any longer.
Who is your favorite character you've written, if you had to pick one?
That's a hard question, I can't pick a favorite character. Dalinar is what I normally say, just because I've been working on him the longest. Honestly, I don't know. It's whoever I'm working on at the time.
Dalinar is a good character, I like Kaladin a lot too.
Kaladin has really worked out well. It's interesting because Kaladin-- the first time I wrote The Way of Kings, in 2002-- did not work and I had to rip him out and try a completely different personality and things for him. So it's cool to see it finally working.
Opening a perpendicularity. Is that a Bondsmith power or just something special Dalinar did for other reasons?
Yeah, we will RAFO that.
What idea sparked Stormlight for you?
The very first seed for everything was a man who's brother to a king. The king gets assassinated and the nephew becomes a bad king. How he copes with that is what I started thinking about. We all have somebody in our family. That became Dalinar and Elhokar in The Stormlight Archive.
This is purely hypothetical, but if Dalinar was to become the Vessel for multiple Shards, would he have had more difficulty with Preservation separately if Harmony was involved? Because that's the only of the Shards I can't see him holding onto particularly well.
Hmm. I can say yes on that. I think that's a good theory... you phrased [that] very well.
Considering Brandon likes MTG, this is probably something he has thought out haha.
Kaladin strikes me as someone with a very White personality and Blue powers.
Dalinar's White, but I feel like he was Red before.
Adolin has some Red, some White, and recently some Black I guess.
Lift is Red in personality and I guess Green at powers.
What else can you guys come up with?
Hmm... These are not bad, and it's always hard to figure out how to define by this system--honestly, I wouldn't trust my definitions, I'd have to go to MaRo or something.
I'd suspect that Shallan is red/blue instead of mono blue.
Lift is very green, not just in powers, but in personality. She's all about instinct, and doing what occurs to her in the moment.
As OP said, Kaladin is very white/blue. And Dalinar is red who became white. Navani is mono-blue. Szeth is black/white, and Taravangian probably mono-black. Eshonai is probably green.
Dalinar is 53 in Way of Kings. Navani is a few months older than him. Sadeas is 3 years younger than him.
Note that these are Rosharan ages. A Rosharan year is 1.1 Earth years.
If you take Bondsmith Honorblade, will you be able repeat Dalinar's Perpendicularity trick, or it is something special only Dalinar can do for a different reason?
When Dalinar repairs temple does he use Bondsmith power or...something else? If first, which Surge does he use?
I expected to get RAFO...But is Oathbringer a Bondsmith book or Skybreaker book? I know it was supposed to be Szeth/Skybreaker, but changed to Dalinar/Bondsmith. And still we learnt more about Skybreakers than Dalinar and his strange abilities. Will book 5 have more of Dalinar?
Books 5 will have a lot of Dalinar. Once it is out, you'll be able to see why it could have been a Bondsmith book--but I think it's better this way, with Book 3 being the Bondsmith book.
Thank you, Mr Sanderson, I'm pleased with the choice, but I guess, I just wanted to learn more about Dalinar's powers in his book, he's my favorite character. Even after HIS book, his abilities are a mystery. But I'm exited to hear I'll get more in the future. Please, don't keep Dalinar on the background, he's the best.
Note that book four may see less of him, as he steps back a little (like each of the characters will for a book or two here and there) but book five has him as a focus again.
Will Dalinar become the next holder of Honor.
Hahahaha, yeah-- RAFO.
Has Dalinar been on the Bondsmith path for a long time? How about Gavilar?
Yes to both.
Brandon said that Gavilar had been on the Bondsmith path for longer than Dalinar has been.
For Dalinar, is forgetting his wife the curse, or…
That's a Read And Find Out.
Will Dalinar have shardplate by the end of Oathbringer?
That's a spoiler.
Dalinar can't hear his wife's name (or at least it seems to be magically censored to him, anyway), nor can he recall anything about her. But what happens if another woman with the same name is mentioned. Can he not hear her name? Or will he instead be unable to retain the fact that that name is the same as his wife's name?
It would be more the second.
How has Sunmaker's sword ended up with Dalinar?
Initially, it belonged to one of the highprinces. After that it went through a lot of people.
Zahel calls Renarin--he says to Renarin-- I'm sorry, about Renarin... *brief interruption*
So, keep going.
He calls him "the son of the most powerful human on this..." And I was wondering, the word "human", is that referring to Dalinar or is it referring to maybe Dalinar *inaudible/interrupted*
Good question! It is referring to Dalinar.
It is!? So how would you finish that sentence? "The most powerful human on this..."
In Oathbringer Cultivation calls Dalinar Son of Honor and Son of Odium. Why? Does he Connected to both Shards and technically can be a Vessel for Odium.
Also, why Cultivation says it'd be good for her to have a part of Dalinar inside of her? Is it important?
This is partially RAFO territory, but let's just say that Cultivation takes the long view on someone--and to her, Dalinar represents both the the best and worst of both Honor and Odium.
Is Dalinar clean-shaven or does he wear a beard?
It depends on the day, and the time. Dalinar is clean-shaven through most of the books you have seen.
That's what I thought but he thought not.
The audiobook reader just gives me an impression of a wizened person with a well-kept beard.
Let's see if I've got... if I've got enough internet...
I get the impression that Sadeas has a creepy mustache from the audiobook as well.
Beards are not in fashion in Alethkar right now.
Which is why Kaladin shaves it off.
Let's see, Way of Kings, I've got the artwork I used as-- *shows secret canon drawing* So there is the concept art we used for Dalinar.
During the perpendicularity scene in Oathbringer is it safe to say that what Dalinar did is akin to super powered versions of his surges? Tension to make the realms ductile and formable, adhesion to bring them together. I know the specific ability is unique to Dalinar but I'm fairly attached to this rationalization
I wouldn't immediately shoot down this particular theory.
Does Dalinar have Surgebinding abilities?
Will Dalinar get Shardplate once he swears his Fourth Ideal? Or Bondsmiths don’t have Plates?
Can Dalinar hypothetically repair Honor's Shard or this is beyond his powers?
This would not be within the scope of his powers, traditionally. (Though I should note that what it even means to 'repair Honor's Shard' is subject to debate.)
Did you write Dalinar's storyline in the first book as a contrast to Vin's experiences with Ruin in the Mistborn series? It felt like Dalinar's skeptical reaction to his experiences with a god were very diametric to Vin's confidence.
In part, yes.