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Figment chat ()
#51 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.

BookCon 2018 ()
#52 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.

Words of Radiance Philadelphia signing ()
#55 Copy

Questioner

Kaladin in the second book seemed to be a different Kaladin than at the end of the first book.

Brandon Sanderson

In what way?

Questioner

And he seemed angrier, and my question is, why did you write him that way?

Brandon Sanderson

He has always been angry. In the first book, he is focused on saving his men and now that his men are safe, all of those emotions—if you go look at him from the first nine chapters of Way of Kings, he's that way there, it's when he becomes focused on saving his men he has something to drive him and it kind of subsumes these things, but once they're safe all these things he hasn't dealt with came back out.

Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
#57 Copy

Questioner

What was your inspiration for Kaladin? What made you want to make him?

Brandon Sanderson

Kaladin's origin was in me reading about the interesting lives of surgeons in pre-industrial eras. Surgeons who were at times treated no different from a butcher, and at other times straddled this line between superstition and science in a really interesting way. And I wanted to write a surgeon who straddled that line. Where the superstition was against them, but in some ways the science that they knew also worked against them because the people didn't trust it. That's a really fascinating character. He started more as his dad, and as I worked the books he became Kaladin the son of a surgeon instead of the surgeon himself.

Barnes & Noble B-Fest 2016 ()
#58 Copy

Questioner

Is there any specific relation between Kelsier and Kaladin, and the fact that Kelsier was killed with a spear and Kaladin used a spear. They seem like almost exact opposites.

Brandon Sanderson

Not really an intentional one, though I do intend their personalities to be opposed. I like how they are opposing philosophies as protagonists, but the spear thing is completely coincidental. They are very opposite styles of hero, the big pitch for myself was "Kelsier would the villain if he were in the wrong story." This is a guy where you could easily imagine that this guy could be the antagonist. He gets channeled towards good things and becomes the protagonist. There is no way Kaladin would ever be the antagonist, or if he did it would rip him apart, right. It's not in his nature.

Manchester signing ()
#60 Copy

Questioner

Where do you get your people from? Do you take inspiration from people you know in real life?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, yes I do. Sometimes, sometimes not. As I said, usually the seed that starts a character for me as I grow them is a conflict. For Kaladin it's the conflict between being trained as a surgeon and finding out you are really good at killing people, and how do you deal with that. For some it can be very simple, for Sarene I had a friend who is a woman that is 6 foot 2, or whatever she is, *to the side* How tall is Annie? She's tall. Anway, Annie's tall, and she always complains about how tough it is to be a tall woman. Which is something I never thought of, I'm like "I'm going to use that. I'm going to make use of that in a story," Of course that isn't her whole personality, but that little seed, you drop down and I grow a personality around it as I try someone out... That person I knew, a piece of her turned into a character. For other things, it's just trying and trying and trying untill something works, as I explained before. It is "What has their life done to them", often times it's "What are the passionate about? What do they want? Why can't they have what they want?" Those sorts of things lead me into creating a character

Legion Release Party ()
#61 Copy

Stormlightning

Is Kaladin related to Aesudan?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, but it's not a close relation. A very complex system of things, but yes.

Stormlightning

I was just wondering why he knew her...the melody she was humming.

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, he did. That is not because they're related.

Stormlightning

So it's something else?

Brandon Sanderson

It's something else. I thought that was a sideways question about Kaladin's mom.

Stormlightning

It kinda was, I thought maybe she hummed that and so that's why he recognized it.

Brandon Sanderson

No, good question.

Salt Lake City Comic-Con 2014 ()
#62 Copy

Questioner

Who is your favorite character you've written, if you had to pick one?

Brandon Sanderson

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.

Questioner

Dalinar is a good character, I like Kaladin a lot too.

Brandon Sanderson

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.

Stormlight Three Update #3 ()
#64 Copy

Moosehead

I'm pretty sure it's a case of me just forgetting that I read such a part, but where in the book does Shallan find out about Kaladin's abilities? I know once Adolin confronts Shallan for the first time about her powers, he then asks if she can fly like 'him (Kaladin)', and she just goes yeah, as if she knew for some time now about Kaladin's abilities.

It's such a small thing but it's been grinding away at me. I know Shallan revealed to Kaladin by summoning her Shardblade over his shoulder in the chasm, but how did Kaladin reveal himself to Shallan?

Brandon Sanderson

If you re-read that scene, I believe she's confused by the question about her being able to fly, as so far as she knows, Radiants don't fly. (She only knows about herself and Jasnah.) She finds out about Kaladin sometime around when most everyone else finds out about him, I believe. I'd have to look back specifically to see if I noted it, but by the end of that battle, everyone will be talking about it and so she will know.

Skyward Denver signing ()
#65 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.

Oathbringer release party ()
#67 Copy

Questioner

I read the earlier version of The Way of Kings. When did Kaladin get depressed?

Brandon Sanderson

That was when I realized he was the main character and the least-- the least a character, right? And so, it was when I sat down and asked myself, what went wrong with it? And the main thing of the things I came up was that Kaladin wasn't real. And so I started looking at what would make him real. And depression doesn't make more real, but it's an outgrowth of him making the other decision, what happened with his brother, he had PTSD, and all of this stuff. It grew out of that.

Salt Lake City Comic-Con 2014 ()
#69 Copy

Questioner

Did you do the same thing with Kaladin's depression?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes I did but that one is a little closer to home, [several people in Brandon's life have depression].

Questioner

I have depression as well, it's pretty inspiring to me.

Brandon Sanderson

I had never seen a hero who had depression and I was like "I need to do a real, legitimate that it's not about their depression, they just have it" Does that make sense? Like whenever I read a book it is all about them having depression. And I'm like "No, your life is not about you having depression, your life-- that is part of your life but--" So it was very important to me that I get that one right.

Questioner

I just, yeah I just find your book so inspiring so I just really appreciate you doing all this for us.

Firefight San Diego signing ()
#70 Copy

Leinton (paraphrased)

So for Kaladin's depression and Stormlight's healing abilities, does Kaladin remain depressed because of his view of himself, or is it a limitation of Stormlight's abilities to heal, or something else?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Disorders like depression are a part of a person's personality, and thus aren't diseases and cannot be cured. He talked a lot about this, and he talked about how a hyper kid annoys people but that doesn't mean there's something wrong.

FanX 2018 ()
#71 Copy

Questioner

Is there a reason Kaladin is always talking about the Survivor.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. The Survivor? No. You're trying to get me to slip up on something; no. He does not know Kelsier, nice try.

Questioner

But are they connected?

Brandon Sanderson

Only thematically.

The Way of Kings Annotations ()
#72 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter 10

Kal helps his father work on a young girl's hand

For years I had been wanting to do a full-blown flashback-sequence book. Flashbacks (or non-linear storytelling) can be a powerful narrative device, but they're also dangerous. They can make a book harder to get into (nothing new for this book) and can create frustration in readers who want to be progressing the story and not dwelling in the past.

The payoff, in my estimation, is a stronger piece of art. For example, as Kaladin is slowly being destroyed in the bridges we can show a flashback for contrast. The juxtaposition between the naive Kal wanting to go to war and the harsh realities of the Kaladin from years later suffering in war might be a little heavy-handed, but I feel that if the reader is on board with the character, this will be powerful instead of boring.

I often talk about how books grow out of separate ideas that buzz around in my head. One of those ideas was to create a character who was a surgeon in a fantasy world. A person who believed in science during an era where it was slowly seeping through the educated, but who had to fight against the ignorance around him.

Back when Kaladin was called Merin, he didn't work well as a character. He was too much the standard "farmboy who becomes a nobleman" from fantasy genre cliché. I struggled for years with different concepts for him, and it was when I combined him with the idea for this surgeon that things really started rolling. It's interesting, then, that he didn't actually become that surgeon character. In the final draft of the book, that character became his father—not a main character as I'd always intended—and Kaladin became the son of the character I'd developed in my head to take a lead role.

General Reddit 2017 ()
#75 Copy

Questioner

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.

Shallan's Blue.

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?

Brandon Sanderson

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.

Brandon's Blog 2014 ()
#76 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

What Is Altered Perceptions?

This anthology will collect "altered" versions of published stories—deleted scenes, alternate endings, original concept chapters, and that sort of thing.

For it, I'm letting people see—for the first time—a large chunk of the original version of The Way of Kings, which I wrote in 2002–2003. This version is very different, and involves a different course in life for Kaladin as a character—all due to a simple decision he makes one way in this book, but a completely different way in the published novel.

These chapters are quite fun, as I consider what happened in The Way of Kings Prime (as I now call it) to be an "alternate reality" version of the events in the published books. The characters are almost all exactly the same people, but their backstories are different, and that has transformed who they are and how they react to the world around them. Roshar is similar, yet wildly different, as this was before I brought in the spren as a major world element.

Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
#77 Copy

Questioner

Are both of Kaladin's maternal... grandparents darkeyes?

Brandon Sanderson

No. Good question. I think you're the first one to pull that out of me...

There's one question, or two questions in [the signing line], that I know are driving your brains crazy, that are not as clear-cut in my answers as you might assume they are. One is about Kaladin's mother.

Skyward Denver signing ()
#78 Copy

LadyKnightRadiant

Kaladin not ever feeling the Thrill. Is there a reason for that?

Brandon Sanderson

There is a reason for that... What do you think?

LadyKnightRadiant

I think it's because he's too good and too pure for this world.

Brandon Sanderson

That is, I would say-- Let's just say that there are points where Kaladin could have felt the Thrill. But once he had the attention of certain nebulous spren, somebody was watching out for him.

LadyKnightRadiant

That was gonna be my second. I thought "He's probably just too good for it," and then I was like, "It's probably Syl's fault."

Brandon Sanderson

There's a bit of a war inside of Kaladin.

Words of Radiance Dayton signing ()
#79 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.

Warsaw signing ()
#81 Copy

Questioner

How many bridge runs did Kaladin make in the Way of Kings?

Brandon Sanderson

How many what? Bridge runs, oh boy. Fewer than he thought, but still a lot. Several dozen. He would have said hundreds but it wasn’t hundreds.

Arcanum Unbounded Chicago signing ()
#82 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Alright we're going to read now. This is a short passage, but it is a flashback from Kaladin. Probably not what you expected. This book will mostly have Dalinar flashbacks, but Kaladin I plan to do multiple books where I sneak flashbacks in. They're short. Like I said they're only a few pages, but they fill in wholes in Kaladin's backstory. He doesn't get all of them in this book, but through the series you'll get glimpses of Kaladin's past. And this is one of them.

Shadows of Self London UK signing ()
#84 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.

General Reddit 2018 ()
#86 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.

The Way of Kings Annotations ()
#87 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.)

Ad Astra 2017 ()
#90 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.

Barnes & Noble B-Fest 2016 ()
#91 Copy

Questioner

How do the characters come to be? I think one of the most interesting, my favorite character is probably Kaladin. How does Kaladin...

Brandon Sanderson

So, Kaladin had an interesting story behind him. I had originally wrote Way of Kings in 2002, and one of the things that didn't work with that draft was that Kaladin's character didn't work. He was called Merin back then. And it's just, personality didn't work. I'd written him too much like a classic apprentice kid on the battlefield who distinguishes himself, it was just too standard of a kind of fantasy storyline. And so I'm like, "Who is this person?" I needed more depth for him, so I added the whole "His father's a surgeon, he's trained as a surgeon" thing. That was one of the first big pillar I added to add more depth to Kaladin, was "All right, he's a surgeon, but he's been forced to go to war." The kind of field medic who also learns he's really good at killing people. That was, like, the first big thing that I got for Kaladin.

The other thing was the big tragedy that happened in his past, followed by the big tragedy involving the Shardblade led me down that path. And the last thing I added was the depression. This was, like, seven years of evolving this character before he actually came together. Characters are hard for me to put a finger on, because I usually write them by instinct. I'll write a chapter from their viewpoint, see how they see the world, step back. And I'll usually throw that chapter away and try it several times until I get the right... soul, cast in the role, if that makes sense. I can talk a lot more about other things, but character is trial and error until someone feels right.

The more distinctive you can make a character's viewpoint, the stronger, I feel, it will come across. When I feel like it's really working for me is when I can write a few paragraphs and say, "No other character that I've ever written could have written those paragraphs, just in how they describe the world."

Calamity Seattle signing ()
#92 Copy

Questioner

Why does everyone know about his [Kaladin] Stormblessed name?  Like Gaz knows about it before he survives the highstorms.  Like how do they know?

Brandon Sanderson

How do they know?  The rumors were already spreading, people started talking about it and things like that.

Arcanum Unbounded Chicago signing ()
#94 Copy

Questioner

If Kaladin and Dalinar were Magic cards, what color do you think they’d be?

Brandon Sanderson

Dalinar now is mono-White. He was mono-Red in his youth, inching toward Black-Red, but I would just call him mono-Red in his youth. Kaladin I would probably call Blue-White in Magic terms because they like things that fly and that have to do with the wind. So he would get the elemental Blue and personality White. Maybe a tinge of Red, but probably-- I would make a Blue-White Kaladin.

Calamity release party ()
#95 Copy

Questioner

I was wondering if you know, like, exactly how tall Kaladin is?

Brandon Sanderson

Um... Kaladin? 6'-4". But you've got to remember... People on Roshar are taller than people here. So like 6'-4" compared to someone else in Roshar. But it's a low gravity, high oxygen environment which means that he's probably more like 6'-8", or something like that. Like you're gonna see... But it-- that's only-- you know, like for instance their year is different than ours too, and things like that. If you just want to imagine him at 6'-4" that's fine.

Calamity Seattle signing ()
#96 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.

The Way of Kings Annotations ()
#99 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter One

This was a controversial chapter for my writing group and my editor, and was wrapped up in the whole learning curve argument. It was suggested several times that if this chapter were from Kaladin's viewpoint, the book wouldn't feel quite so overwhelming at the start. After all, Chapters One and Two would then be from the same viewpoint and would give a stronger clue to readers.

I resisted. I had already accepted that this was going to be a challenging book for readers. That's not an excuse to ignore advice, but at the same time, I decided I was committed to the long-term with this book. That meant doing things at the start that might seem unusual for the purpose of later payoff.

This is an excellent example of that. If I'd done this scene through Kaladin's eyes, I don't think it would have been as powerful. Kaladin is on top of things here, in control. I didn't want the first chapter to feel that in control. I wanted the sense of chaos worry and uncertainty.

Beyond that, I wanted to introduce Kaladin as a contrast to all of that. A solid force for order, a natural leader, and an all-around awesome guy. Doing that from within someone's viewpoint is tough unless they're on the arrogant side, like Kelsier. It can work in that kind of viewpoint, but not in Kaladin's.

Finally, I am always looking to play with the tropes of fantasy where I can. I feel that if I'd been writing this as a youth, I'd have made someone like Cenn the hero. (Indeed, in the original draft of The Way of Kings from 2002, Kaladin was much more like Cenn is now.) Opening with a young man thrust into war, then having him get killed seemed like a good way to sweep the pieces off the table and say, "No, what you expect to happen isn't going to happen in this book."

This also let me set up for a future chapter, where I could flashback to Kaladin's view of these events. As narrative structure was something I wanted to play with in this book, that appealed to me.