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The Dusty Wheel Show ()
#51 Copy

Matt

Were you tempted to have Kaladin be taken by Odium?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, I was tempted.

Matt

What is it the held you back from doing that?

Brandon Sanderson

Kaladin, if I were going to do it, I would have done it with Dalinar. The reason being that Kaladin as a theme represents his triumph over the darker parts of his mind. And Dalinar represents that too, but he also represents in some ways, succumbing to those. Like those are both themes for Dalinar, and for Kaladin it just would not ever have worked--I don't think--reasonably well. And beyond that, Kaladin is not scary as a villain, because Kaladin's strength comes from the people he's trying to protect. Kaladin's really scary to face when he thinks you're going after somebody he's trying to keep safe, that is when Kaladin is dangerous. Or as you saw in Rhythm of War, when you've gone too far, right? But Kaladin as an overarching villain, I don't think would be scary. Dalinar would be; Dalinar would be terrifying in that situation, but I don't think it would just add very much. If I were going to have had one of them, it would have been Dalinar.

Oathbringer Newcastle signing ()
#53 Copy

Questioner

So, Kaladin met Hoid a long long time ago, and Hoid gave him a very important flute that he has not learned how to play. Is he ever going to put the time in to get good at that? Or is that just something we're going to have to wait for?

Brandon Sanderson

You'll have to wait for. Kaladin has a lot of things on his mind. He sure could use something to keep him from stressing out, but you're just gonna have to wait and see if Kaladin understands the reason he was given a flute, or not.

Firefight release party ()
#54 Copy

Questioner

Where did you get your inspiration for Kaladin?

Brandon Sanderson

Kaladin came because I was reading about the life of a surgeon in the Medieval age and how it-- how strange it was to be like this person who had one foot in science and one foot not, and that was really interesting to me. And he evolved a lot over time becoming more the hybrid warrior and things like that. But that's where it started, what it was like to live and be a surgeon in a Medieval world.

Firefight Seattle UBooks signing ()
#55 Copy

Questioner

I read online, something about one of your original drafts, [I think it was about] Gavilar, and it was where he was blind?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah that was actually Taravangian, in the oldest version. One of the very first things I wrote was that, though Taravangian had a different name then, and was very different. Szeth has stayed the same through all the revisions. Kaladin has changed wildly, and almost everybody has changed dramatically, except Szeth is the same person. Him and Dalinar are the same.

Rhythm of War Preview Q&As ()
#57 Copy

Harbournessrage

That line, about Kaladin trying to take on ardent job, then general one, and then on running away. Did you mean surgeon job being in certain way the running away way for Kaladin? Or you will leave it for readers to decide?

p.s. to me it felt like very sad decision tonally and probably the lowest point of Kal's regression.

Brandon Sanderson

So, right now, Kaladin views this as somehow giving in. That he should have been able to find a better option, a way to keep doing what he'd been doing. It is supposed to be sad tonally because Kaladin is sad about it.

However, this is partially Kaladin not being quite able to see clearly. So I suggest waiting for a little bit and seeing what happens next.

Skyward release party ()
#58 Copy

Questioner

[Their question is] Why do you hurt Kaladin so? They're really sad by that. And why can't he be happy? And who the heck is Wit?

Brandon Sanderson

I hurt Kaladin because I tell the stories and the characters put themselves in the situations. Why can't he be happy? Kaladin has a hard time with happiness. He is working on it.

BookCon 2018 ()
#59 Copy

Questioner

This book seemed a little sadder, I thought Kaladin would reach the next level.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, he's still got some things to work out. 

Questioner

I was surprised that Elhokar getting killed *inaudible*

Brandon Sanderson

At least, in this draft, it wasn't Dalinar that that killed him like in the original version... That didn't work.

Idaho Falls signing ()
#60 Copy

Questioner

Would Dalinar or Kaladin like Kelsier?

Brandon Sanderson

You know, I think they both would have their issues with Kelsier.

Questioner

'Cause he's more of a rogue.

Brandon Sanderson

It would really depend on what situation they were in. But I think Dalinar would not approve of his methods. And I think Kaladin would empathize with him, but at the end would not approve either. To Kaladin he would probably represent the things that Kaladin kind of wishes he would do, but is too moral to do. And that would be a dangerous thing for Kaladin.

FanX Spring 2019 ()
#63 Copy

Questioner

At the end of Oathbringer, or near the end, Kaladin is talking to Syl about not getting Shallan or whatever, and he says that she really just reminded him of someone, who is it that she reminded him of?

Brandon Sanderson

She reminded him of Tien, his brother, because his brother was a burgeoning Lightweaver, and Lightweavers, you'll notice, when they're around someone, that person starts to act a little bit more like a little bit of their best self. There's a bit of, also, counteraction to feelings of darkness and despair, it's just a natural Lightweaver sort of thing. And so, part of what Kaladin was drawing from Shallan was that feeling. I think it could've totally become love. And he's now cutting that off, he's saying it couldn't at all have become-- it could have. But that was part of what was drawing him in.

General Reddit 2020 ()
#64 Copy

AlwaysTheNextOne

Does Kaladin have a mixed heritage. Like maybe Yolish and Rosharan?

Brandon Sanderson

One thing I wanted to be very careful about in writing the Stormlight books is to stray away from people needing some kind of past or heritage to be special—it's okay for this to be for some characters, but it becomes a crutch. So your answer is no, he doesn't have much secret to his heritage. (Though his mother grew up wealthy for a darkeyes, and that's a little odd.)

The Way of Kings Annotations ()
#65 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Two

Here we finally get to the book's main character, though I suspect that most readers won't catch that he is the one until we've come back to him at time or two.

Discounting Shallan, who was not in Way of Kings Prime, Kaladin is the one who went through the biggest evolution over the years. Dalinar has been Dalinar from day one. Adolin, Jasnah, Renarin, and Taln all solidified into themselves while I was writing Prime. Even Sadeas (under a different name) is basically the same person now as he was ten years ago.

Kaladin, though… Well, I had some growing to do as a writer before I could write him. He started in my concepts as a very generic fantasy "farmboy" protagonist. In Prime, there was nothing really original or interesting about him other than his situation. This is the danger for that style of protagonist; I feel that the best characters are interesting aside from their role.

For all my love of the Harry Potter books (and I do think they're quite excellent), Harry is a blank slate at the start. He's not interesting—the situations he's in are interesting. It isn't until later books, where he gets things to care about (like his godfather) that he starts to be defined as a character.

Kaladin was the same way. It's odd how writers are sometimes better at giving personalities to their side characters than they are at giving them to their main characters.

Shadows of Self London UK signing ()
#66 Copy

Questioner

I make cocktails, and I want to make cocktails based on the characters, have you got any ideas? Particularly Kaladin and Vin, what would they drink?

Brandon Sanderson

...Kaladin and Vin, ah boy. Vin wants something simple, I mean she's going to want something to relax, so maybe something fruity and simple. Kaladin, he'll want something stiff, right, something hard...

The next one actually has a mixed drinks scene. Fortunately, you'll be happy to know, I went to a bartender friend to get some advice on how to make it work, so... If you make Kaladin's stiff and blue, that might be good because of Alethi blue.

Skyward Denver signing ()
#67 Copy

Questioner

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...

Brandon Sanderson

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.

General Reddit 2016 ()
#68 Copy

cinderwild2323

What were you dissatisfied with in WoR?

Brandon Sanderson

It's twofold. Spoilers follow, obviously.

In the original draft, none of the alpha readers felt that I had 'sold' Jasnah dying to them, and were all like, "Ha. Nice try. No body. She's alive.' So I kicked the assassination scene up a notch, until betas were like, "Stormfather! Jasnah just died!"

That was a mistake, I now believe. (Though this didn't get changed, and won't get changed.) Sometimes, I over-emphasize to myself the importance of surprises and twists. The book is fine if readers suspect Jasnah is still alive--actually, I think it's stronger, because it is more satisfying to be right in that situation, and doesn't detract from Szeth's miraculous survival at the end.

I knew this soon after I'd released the book, but decided it was just too extensive a change to try tweaking.

The other one I did tweak. In the battle at the end between Kaladin and Szeth, I'd toyed with letting the storm take Szeth--him essentially committing suicide--as opposed to him spreading his hands and letting Kaladin kill him. I felt that after the oath Kaladin had just sworn, stabbing a docile opponent unwilling to fight back just didn't jive. This I tweaked, changing the paperback from the hardcover, which has produced mixed results.

Most people agree the change is better, but they also say they'd rather not have the hardcover and paperback have different accounts in it, and would rather I just stick to what we put in the hardcover. It was interesting to try, to see what the response would be like, but it seems that the better option all around is to just wait until I'm certain I don't want to revert any of the revisions or tweak anything new.

Calamity Seattle signing ()
#69 Copy

Questioner

Kaladin. I've heard before that authors, when they write characters, particularly heroic characters, they try to put traits that they like about themselves or that they aspire to in these characters. And when I read about Kaladin, he was everything I've aspired to. But he also had this reluctance to it, almost depression. What were you thinking when you wrote Kaladin? What traits did you have in him?

Brandon Sanderson

Well, one thing is that he does have depression. That's just an aspect of his personality. I was looking at Kaladin as kind of... extremely loyal, almost to a fault. He's got a bit of this, what we call a superhero complex, where he takes responsibility for things that other people have done. And that can be really advantageous when he's on your side, but it can also be kind of soul-crushing. That's a big aspect of him. The other big aspect of Kaladin is his training as a surgeon, and then discovering that he's really good at killing people. And that contrasted side of him creates a big part of the mix of who he is, the pull from my father versus the pull from my spirit.

Oathbringer Edinburgh signing ()
#70 Copy

Questioner

Who is the greatest warrior in the cosmere? I think it's Kaladin?

Brandon Sanderson

Well, define "warrior" versus "soldier" versus--

Questioner

Who could win at an all-out fight? Even with powers taken away, I think he could still take on a lot of the other warriors.

Brandon Sanderson

A question. Are they on a battlefield? 'Cause Kelsier just murders him in his sleep.

Questioner

Battlefield.

Brandon Sanderson

The actual soldier, battlefield, is probably Kaladin. Problem is, you could put Dalinar in his prime. And they're both pretty good. But, Kaladin is a true soldier.

General Reddit 2018 ()
#76 Copy

sockmop

Who would win in a fight, Kaladin with no Shards but with Surgebinding and his favorite spear (aluminum tip) or Kelsier with the first nine metals of Allomancy?

AndTwoYears

Kelsier, I think, if Kaladin doesn't have Syl with him. But it may depend on nearby metal sources.

Alternatively, they come to a shaky alliance where they both fight against the nobility but still get on each other's nerves. [Brandon] care to weigh in?

Brandon Sanderson

If they came to arms, Kelsier would try to kill Kaladin in his sleep, most likely. But it depends on a lot of factors, and I think your alternative is the most likely.

Rhythm of War Preview Q&As ()
#77 Copy

Metagross22

Hey Brandon while you’re here and we’re talking about Kal’s relationship with Lyn, we know he’s had at least one romantic relationships in the past being Tarah I was wondering if he was still a Virgin. Were these relationships just romantic? Also how negatively is sex before marriage viewed on roshar and namely vorin culture? I know these topics sometimes can make you uncomfortable but I’m really curious about this part of their culture.

Brandon Sanderson

In these cases, I generally allow it to be vague enough that people can think/assume what they want. However, some of Kal's relationships in the past (including the one with Tarah) progressed to the point that in our world, most people would have been sleeping together.

In Vorin culture, I'd say that they're not as relaxed about such things as most modern cultures are, but aren't as strict as the more religious cultures on Earth are. Alethi are concerned about oaths in specific--what have you promised, and do you keep those promises. So, for example, cheating is a far, far worse offense in their eyes. And opinions and strictness in areas of moral chastity would vary depending on upbringing and personal beliefs. To some, a promise of, "We'll be together until we split" that is kept would be considered honorable--while to others, that would be too lax a treatment of oaths.

Also, lighteyes are expected to be circumspect and maintain an image of certain decorum. But that's something else entirely...

Calamity release party ()
#78 Copy

Questioner

How hard was it for you to write Kaladin *inaudible* end of the second book?

Brandon Sanderson

It was pretty hard. Knowing people whom I love, who have depression, when they are in a depressive funk. And knowing I had to get that across accurately, but try not to make people hate him too much? It was a challenge.

Salt Lake City signing ()
#82 Copy

Questioner

So how did Shallan rescue Kaladin when they fell in the chasm?

Brandon Sanderson

She did not. It was actually Syl, but he was in the process of breaking the bond, and so she was able to get some Stormlight to him. But that is what really set it really poorly. Like you can imagine, she-- this bond was really a strain for her to use at that point, so it was her. But doing what she did just about destroyed her, which is why you don't hear from her after that.

The Way of Kings Annotations ()
#84 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

This chapter in particular was a challenge to write. My experience with Sazed in The Hero of Ages warned me that a character deep in depression can be a difficult and dangerous thing to write. Depression is a serious challenge for real people—and therefore also for characters. Additionally, it pushes a character not to act.

Inactive characters are boring, and though I wanted to start Kaladin in a difficult place, I didn't want him to be inactive. So how did I go about making scenes of a depressed fallen hero locked in a cage interesting and active? The final result might not seem like much in the scope of the entire novel, but these chapters are some of the ones I'm the most proud of. I feel I get Kaladin and his character across solidly while having him actually do things—try to save the other slave, rip up the map, etc.

Syl, obviously, is a big part of why these scenes work. She is so different from the rest of what's happening, and she has such stark progress as a character, that I think she "saves" these chapters.

You might be interested to know, then, that she was actually developed for a completely different book in the cosmere. I often speak about how books come together when different ideas work better together than they ever did separate. Kaladin and Syl are an excellent example of this. He didn't work in The Way of Kings Prime, and her book just wasn't going anywhere. Put them together, and magic happened. (Literally and figuratively.)

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#86 Copy

Pillotsky

What's with the Stormlight Chapter symbols, and their similarity to other Cosmere symbols? I guess this is specifically talking about Kaladin and Shallan's symbols, and their resemblance to an Allomantic symbol and an Aon, respectively.

Is this just showing Roshar's place as significant in the Cosmere? Is there a reason those specific symbols were chosen for those characters? Anything you'd want to share, I'll take.

Brandon Sanderson

The meaning of Kaladin's symbol will be made manifest eventually. The connection to an Allomantic symbol, however, is mostly coincidental. (Both were drawn by Isaac.)

Words of Radiance Dayton signing ()
#87 Copy

darkanimereal1 (paraphrased)

The Weepings--Shallan and Kaladin react very differently to them.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

They do.

darkanimereal1 (paraphrased)

It just seems to me that the Weepings feel very close to Cultivation.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

The primary thing you’re noticing -- and I'm not going to say there's not any magical influence -- but the primary thing you're noticing is that Kaladin has seasonal affective disorder and Shallan likes the rain. That's the primary thing you're noticing. I like the rain--my wife hates it. My wife gets depressed when it rains and I love when it rains.

Holiday signing ()
#91 Copy

Questioner

Did Kaladin’s name come from anywhere in particular?

Brandon Sanderson

No. I'm sure the word paladin was in the back of my head, but it's not like he shares much with like an actual paladin. His name was Merin in the initial version and it was-- it didn't work, he wasn't a Merin and all the fans-- all the readers were like "this name just doesn't work" so I spent years hunting for the right name for him, and that's the one I ended up with. It's really based-- it's Kalak, which is the Storm-- not really the Stormfather but people y'know. Most of the names you'll find are based off one of the Heralds in some way. So he's KALA + DIN, Kalak and din is a suffix.

Isaac Stewart

We do have a meaning for it though. Can I tell them the meaning?

Brandon Sanderson

Ehhh, have we canonized it?

Isaac Stewart

We have canonized it, and we have told people before.

Brandon Sanderson

Then yeah.

Isaac Stewart

It means "Born unto Eternity".

Brandon Sanderson

...I mean, it means that in the same way that names mean something, like my name means-- But when they're naming him that they aren't thinking that. What they are doing is picking one of the Heralds and making a name out of it. But my name technically means "Dweller by the Beacon", but really what it means is "He was the son of Alexander".

Leipzig Book Fair ()
#92 Copy

Questioner

There's a scene where you can see from the perspective of Nan Balat, Shallan's brother, where he's maiming an insect. It's described as soothing his aches. Is that in any way related to how Kaladin feels depressed and down during the Weeping even in his early childhood?

Brandon Sanderson

What's happening to Nan Balat is magically enhanced. What's happening to Kaladin is mostly just chemical depression. Be he is really too young to be diagnosed with depression during some of these events, but he's got the seeds in there. So Kaladin is not magically depressed. Kaladin is just legitimatly a person with depression. Nan Balat... What's up with him is... ah... being exaggerated by certain forces moving in on Roshar. (last bit is a bit indistinctive)

YouTube Livestream 23 ()
#93 Copy

Cody Taylor

What was the scene in Rhythm of War that you had planned or thought of twenty years ago?

Brandon Sanderson

Kaladin jumping off the top of the tower to save his father. Into the storm. I have been working on that scene in one way or another, like, forever. This was a scene I was planning in the original write of Way of Kings, though I don't think it was his father in that, because the relationship with his father was not the same in Way of Kings Prime. It was probably Dalinar back then, but it's been twenty years or so. But this scene of Kaladin jumping off, going into the darkness of a storm, and emerging like a lightning bolt afterward, is one of those pivotal, foundational scenes that built the core of how the Stormlight Archive was going to work, narratively.

/r/fantasy AMA 2017 ()
#95 Copy

Bradtholomew

What is the origin of the name Kaladin?

My wife and I recently had our first child and that's what we named him. Just curious if there's any story behind the name.

Brandon Sanderson

I use Arabic in some of the creation of Alethi names, and Kaled (or Khaled) was the root I started playing with to come up with a new name for Kaladin, as I didn't like the one I'd used in 2002. I'd already designed Kalak after this, the Herald, and wanted a common name version of this.

When I arrived at Kaladin, it sounded right to me--likely because of the similarity to Paladin, as others noted below.

Dragonsandman

So if Kaladin's name is derived from Khaled, is it fair to assume that the Alethi language sounds similar to Arabic?

Brandon Sanderson

Alethi has some Hebrew to it too. I used Semitic language roots for the Dawnchant, which had a huge influence on Rosharan languages. While there are a few oddballs rules, and some linguistics that stand on their own, both major language groups on Roshar (the Azish family and the Vorin family) would probably sound very Arabic to you.

For example, the Alethi Kh is a voiceless velar fricative. The Azish kk or q sound is a voiceless uvular, sometimes stop, sometimes an affricate. Sometimes a uvular ejective.

No, I can't make those sounds on demand. Peter can, though. It's helpful to have a linguist on my team.

Shin is its own language, as is Iriali.

BeskarKomrk

What can't Peter do? He seems to be an expert on everything!

Brandon Sanderson

He is amazing. But, in this case, he was a linguistics major in college. So there's a little extra amazingness from him in these areas.

Ad Astra 2017 ()
#96 Copy

Questioner

I really love this book so much. Kaladin is my favorite of like any book character ever, so that's why that. Like he needs to be hurt, but not too much. Don't hurt him too much, please.

Bystander

Now he's going to kill him off, just for you.

Brandon Sanderson

Kaladin has some rough--has some rough things to deal with in his life. But he survived Bridge Four, so I don't think anything will ever be as bad as that. That's the thing.

Words of Radiance Seattle signing ()
#98 Copy

Questioner

So you mentioned that Kaladin gets sad during the Weeping. Is that due to lack of stormlight or maybe seasonal affective disorder?

Brandon Sanderson

It is mostly due to seasonal affective disorder. Now, you know, there are other things going on and whatnot, but yes he has strong seasonal affective disorder.

Figment chat ()
#100 Copy

Questioner

In transitioning from Merin to Kaladin, was there any plot sacrifices that were particularly difficult for [you]?

Brandon Sanderson

No. I had been disappointed enough in the way that Merin turned out in the original draft of The Way of Kings, that transitioning to someone more vibrant and more interesting in Kaladin really didn’t feel like a sacrifice to me.