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Calamity Houston signing ()
#52 Copy

Cadmium (Written) (paraphrased)

Would it actually be possible for a kandra to "become a rusting bunny?".

Brandon Sanderson (Written) (paraphrased)

Yes, But it would be tough.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

They must keep a certain mass to maintain intelligence and a bunny is very small.

Cadmium (paraphrased)

But obviously being a Harvey sized bunny is totally doable.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yeah... Good movie reference.
Barnes & Noble B-Fest 2016 ()
#54 Copy

Questioner

What's the difference between a spike prepared for a Koloss and a spike prepared for a Mistwraith or Kandra? What side effects might occur from... [?]... Koloss spikes?

Brandon Sanderson

It's the pieces of the soul that are being ripped off and the amount of the soul that's being ripped off. That's a big part of it. What side effects would there be? You would probably not get something as intelligent.

Questioner

What's the difference in how you prepare those spikes?

Brandon Sanderson

The Koloss spikes, you've seen how their done. The Kandra spikes were prepared by the Lord Ruler. He gave them to them, and so we don't know what he did, at least in canon.

Questioner 2

That means that we kind of screwed up the role playing.

Brandon Sanderson

You can totally do- I imagine all the role playing happening in a slightly different alternate universe, where there are slight variations and differences.

But yeah, there are no- Kandra spikes are prepared and given by the Lord Ruler, they didn't even know how to make them themselves. I mean they had an inkling of what went on, but they didn't know.

Calamity release party ()
#55 Copy

Zas678

About Bands of Mourning... Marasi finds ReLuur's missing spike, and she describes it as pewter... Which is not one of the four metals conventionally used in kandra blessings...

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Zas678

...and is used to steal Feruchemical abilities. Was Marasi just mistaken, or is something going on there.

Brandon Sanderson

That you will eventually find out.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#57 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Seventy-Five

The Second Generation Seizes Control

This chapter is another indication of my attempt to space out the climaxes in my books. We've had the big Vin fight with the Inquisitors; now I'm going to back off from things just a tad so that the reader has time to catch his or her breath. That isn't to say that the next few chapters aren't going to be more quickly paced than ones from the middle of the book; I just hope that they're not quite as breakneck as similar chapters from Elantris or some of my other books with overwhelming endings.

I had fun with these sections because I was able to make good on some tensions and interactions that were going on since the first TenSoon chapters. TenSoon himself isn't here, but we are paid off for the time we spent with him getting to know the kandra in the Homeland, as now their interactions with Sazed directly affect the major conflicts in the series.

Some readers worried that the revolt of the Seconds here was a little out of nowhere. I read through again, just in case, and this is one of those situations where I disagreed with the alpha readers. I believe I've fully established that the Seconds enjoy being in charge, and have somewhat let their power go to their heads. We've rarely seen them offer to the Firsts the same reverence they demand from everyone else. Beyond that, they were just embarrassed in front of the kandra people, and the Firsts began to speak of requiring the mass suicide of the entire race.

If that wouldn't encourage a group of aristocrats to revolt, I don't know what would. The Seconds control the police force in the tunnels, and are the ones who truly rule the kandra. It makes sense to me that they'd do what they just did. You know, if I were in their place, I'd probably do the exact same thing. What the Firsts are talking about is very discomforting, and something that should make anyone—whatever their level of faith—sit down and question whether their beliefs really should require such a sacrifice.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#59 Copy

wiresegal

Are most kandra comfortable in any body configuration, or is MeLaan being comfortable in any gendered body an outlier? (i.e. do female kandra usually prefer female bodies, etc). And if this is common among kandra, is it because their long lives lead to introspection and self-examination, or is it just part of the species psychology?

Also, it's mentioned that kandra can "smell" whether another kandra is male or female, biologically. Does a transgender kandra have a different "scent?" What about nonbinary? And if they don't smell different, can they change what they "smell" like? (without using any magic beyond their shapeshifting)

Brandon Sanderson

You find a lot more kandra like MeLaan in the later generations. Generations who were allowed to develop a stronger, independent kandra culture separate from always being integrated with human culture. However, I'd say that almost every kandra, by nature of their physiology, spends a good time exploring both genders. I wouldn't call MeLaan an outlier.

Kandra learn very extreme control over their bodies, and can choose which scent to express and which gender (even to other kandra) to present. This includes a neutral scent, or some mix or something new, if they so decide. Remember that a kandra who wants to hide who they are, even from other kandra, is fully capable of doing so. Under current in-world technology, even blood tests would not be able to distinguish a kandra from the form they have decided to take.

FAQFriday 2017 ()
#61 Copy

Questioner

Are Hemalurgic spikes fabrials? Is a body that has been spiked a fabrial? Are koloss and kandra also something similar?

Brandon Sanderson

No, actually.

Fabrial means specifically a bit of Investiture that has been trapped by a gemstone and then modified to do something else. Hemalurgy is its own thing--though there is a slight similarity. In most Hemalurgy, Investiture keyed to the Identity of someone (a bit of a soul) is ripped off, and then magically grafted onto someone else's soul. Not the same, though I can see the confusion.

Koloss and kandra are similar, though in this case, the soul is mostly just being distorted by using an Invested spike. In the cosmere, the body will attempt to match the soul, and so a twisted soul (Spiritual aspect of a person) can have profound effects on both mind and body.

Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
#63 Copy

greaterbookwyrm

What happens when you cut a kandra with a Shardblade?

Brandon Sanderson

So a kandra is going to react basically the same way, in that the Shardblade's going to be hitting at the soul and severing it and things like that. They are not immune to Shardblades. But because they have mutable shapes, there will be a little bit of weirdness involved in that. You'll get to see that happen eventually.

Stormlight Three Update #6 ()
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Khyrindor

You've said that Returned count as Cognitive shadows "stapled" back into their bodies, and that the Heralds are at least similar. Would I be right in assuming that Elantrians could be considered as Cognitive Shadows as well, or am I barking up the wrong tree?

Brandon Sanderson

Elantrians are something different. They don't actually "die" to be created.

Recognize that the term cognitive shadow is an in-cosmere theory, which I'm not going to comment on as the creator of the setting. The theory is this:

Investiture seeks sapience. It looks for someone to control it or, in some instances, spontaneously adopts personality.

A mind (cognitive aspect of a person) can become infused with Investiture. This acts a little like minerals with petrified wood, replacing the mind and personality with investiture.

When the actual person dies, this investiture imprint remains behind. A copy of the soul, but not the actual soul.

Others disagree with this, and think the soul itself persists. Still others reject the theory in its entirety.

linkhyrule5

Huh.

... Kandra are almost literally stapled to their bodies with Hemalurgy - would they count as such, to the in-setting scholars?

Brandon Sanderson

No, they wouldn't. They are beings who have had their souls twisted by Hemalurgy--the soul never left, it's just been messed up. Someone else who has a soul stapled to a body with Hemalurgy would count though.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#69 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

The Resolution

TenSoon and the other kandra resist Ruin and are able to pull the spikes from their shoulders. There are a couple of reasons why they can do this.

The power that Allomancers have to take control of them is the same power Ruin has. That control is exerted in the form of mental pressure through emotional Allomancy. As can be seen from Marsh's viewpoint, it is more than simply forcing the body to act as Ruin wishes. The extreme pressure on emotions changes the very way the mind thinks, tricking it into doing exactly what Ruin wants. The flaw in Hemalurgists leaves them open to this kind of manipulation.

Kandra, who only have two spikes, are far more difficult to control than koloss or Inquisitors. Vin is able to control TenSoon with ease in book two, but that's partially because he wanted her to do so. He would have been able to resist her. If she'd continued to push, she could have broken him, but it would have taken time.

Even Ruin's pressure wasn't enough to take control immediately. The kandra had a few moments during which they could overcome him and maintain their free will. Beyond that, they were in a cavern surrounded by metal ore in the walls, making it very difficult for Ruin to see what was going on and interfering with his ability to control them.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

The Blessing of Stability

It's mentioned in this chapter, and in the preceding chapter's epigraph, where the epigraph author notes that it is "rarely used." There's a simple, rational reason why you never see this one getting used in the book.

I added the Blessing of Stability after the fact.

You see, I realized that I needed at least one more Blessing to fit with what I'd built for Hemalurgy. I needed another mental power to complete the set of four. Two are the basic physical powers from Allomancy and Feruchemy: strength and fortitude from one, increased power of the senses in another. However, for Allomancy and Feruchemy, the mental powers deviate from one another. So I wanted the same thing to happen here. Hence the Blessing of Presence—which makes the mind more stable.

But after writing the book, I realized I needed a forth. The Blessing of Stability was born, and I wrote it in in a few places just to make token note of it. I like the concept for the power—that of making one emotionally stable—and am kind of glad I don't show anyone using it. I can show it off better in a later book.

Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
#71 Copy

Melhay

In Mistborn #3 Hero of Ages: It isn't mentioned where all the Steel Inquisitors, Kandra, and Koloss went in the end. Do you feel that they were removed from the world and Sazed took all the lost souls to his better place?

Brandon Sanderson

Marsh survived. (He'll show up in the Mistborn sequel series.) The Kandra were restored, and have taken a vow to live only in animal bodies. There will never be any more of them, but they are functionally immortal. So you'll see them again. The Koloss who were in the cavern at the time survived, and were changed to become a race that breeds true, rather than Hemalurgic monsters. More below.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#72 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

TenSoon Declares That Vin Is the Lord Ruler's Successor

I think TenSoon's argument here is a good one. If the Seconds had stopped to give it some real thought, they might have decided that he was right. Without the Lord Ruler, their religion and society were destined to degenerate into chaos. But if they'd picked Vin to follow instead, the Seconds could have perhaps kept it all going.

However, that would have felt too much like a relinquishment of power. In truth, some of them were pleased at the fall of the Lord Ruler, for it removed the great force ruling over them. His death left them, in essence, free. Without the First Contract, they could govern themselves, particularly now that mankind had forgotten how to control kandra by using Allomancy.

TenSoon spoiled that last part, of course. Perhaps you can see why they're so determined to punish him.

/r/Fantasy_Bookclub Alloy of Law Q&A ()
#73 Copy

midwestredditor

How are there kandra and koloss? Kandra especially, since they did their "mass suicide" thing at the end of the original trilogy.

Brandon Sanderson

The nice thing about the kandra for me in the narrative was that, though removing their spikes turns them feral, you can always stick those spikes back in. TenSoon feared that this was the end of his people, and it could have been, if those spikes hadn't gone back in quickly. As it was, there were costs. Time spent without spikes causes a kandra's memories to deteriorate, and some that were left a relatively long time were essentially reborn as new people. But the race survived, even if it is unlikely that their numbers will be added to.

Brandon Sanderson

Did TenSoon survive, then (as the TenSoon who experienced growth under Vin)?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, though he did lose some things.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#74 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Eighty - Part Two

Sazed Sees Mistwraiths

I worry that I didn't get to show mistwraiths very much in this book. It's not that big of an issue—they're only a minor world feature, and are only tangentially important. Still, they're a part of the kandra past and culture, and I want readers to understand what they are and what they have to do with the kandra life cycle.

Remember, all of the kandra save for the First Generation were born first as mistwraiths. That race of creatures breeds true, and has only a fifty-year lifespan. They die off, but birth new members. Taking one of those new members and adding spikes to them, however, awakens them and brings them sentience. They're part human, just like the koloss who remember having once been human.

Calamity release party ()
#75 Copy

Questioner

So Lessie's kandra, but in the original Mistborn series kandra can't bleed. So how was it that *inaudible* <bleed>?

Brandon Sanderson

I think they can bleed. In fact I think Vin has a conversation about it, because otherwise you could just prick the fingers of everybody in order to find a kandra who was imitating somebody.

Questioner

Because when Ten-- well, it's TenSoon but she thinks it's OreSeur-- gets shot and hurt, it talks about how there's no blood.

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, they can stop the bleeding if they want. 

Questioner

Okay.

Brandon Sanderson

I mean they have absolute control of their muscles and things. But if you look in Well of Ascension they talk about, "Well, we could just prick everyone's finger and find the kandra," but that doesn't work. They can bleed if they want to. They can cut it off.

Questioner

Okay, so when I went through and re-did my reading of the series before Shadows of Self came out I just probably missed that.

Brandon Sanderson

I'm-- I'm pretty sure I put that in. If I didn't it's in the annotations, because otherwise there's a really easy way to find a hiding kandra. 

Worldbuilders AMA ()
#76 Copy

danimalod

I also just finished Shadows of Self and was thinking about what would happen if a kandra tried to eat a shade. If they don't have bones, it probably can't happen I guess. But maybe a shade that was a kandra could be pretty frightening.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, a kandra couldn't eat a Shade. And how scary the shade kandra would be depends entirely on the kandra, I'd figure...

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#77 Copy

Oudeis16

TenSoon comments that when the unbirthed are given Blessings, they lose the mimickry instinct that mistwraiths have and have to be taught anew. If their only native senses are touch and taste, how exactly do you teach a blob of muscles how to form things like eyes and ears?

Brandon Sanderson

Basically, you feed it some partially digested eyes, then some more eyes, then eventually it starts making eyes on its own. It takes a while; Kandra 'children' grow more slowly than human ones.

Oudeis16

I don't know if you've considered how mistwraiths would be taxonomically classified; have you decided whether or not mistwraiths would be considered 'mammals'?

Brandon Sanderson

They are not mammals. Since they were deliberately created, I'd place them in their own branch.

Salt Lake City signing ()
#81 Copy

Questioner

So Kandra that just bones. Obviously they need that physically but is there a Cognitive and Spiritual purpose to the bones too?

Brandon Sanderson

Uh, no the bones are just there for the muscles to pull against.

Questioner

So they don't need it, some spiritual link for the bones to...

Brandon Sanderson

No, good question.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#83 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Eleven

OreSeur

If I ever do any short stories in the Mistborn world, one I would like to write would be from OreSeur's viewpoint near the end of the events of book one.

He was a complex individual, a true kandra in many ways—but also a rebel. It was no accident that he was assigned to Kelsier's team, who were planning to overthrow the empire. OreSeur was one of the only kandra willing to take that Contract, and he came out of a long retirement in the Homeland to accept it.

His motivations were his own, and I'd like to explore them. What would a kandra think, joining a movement to overthrow the Father of his own religion? What would he think when that movement actually succeeded? How would he react to, then, being assigned to care for the woman who had held the spear that killed the Lord Ruler?

Many of the Third Generation, TenSoon and OreSeur included, weren't as devout in their dedication to the Lord Ruler as many others. OreSeur himself had seen what the Lord Ruler had done to the world and the people in it. And yet, fighting against the man who was revered by his people in such a holy light?

Anyway, it would make for a good story. I can't tell it here, unfortunately, but maybe somewhere else I will.

Eventually, I'll explain why the kandra think that they are of Preservation, when the other races are of Ruin. We'll get to that, don't worry. Just watch for it in the text of the book.

JordanCon 2016 ()
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Questioner

If a kandra where to get the bones of a Dakhor monk, would they get the Dakhor monk's abilities?

Brandon Sanderson

If a kandra got a hold of the bones of a Dahkor monk, yeah, would they get the abilities… It would take more than just the bones, but that would be a big part of it.

JordanCon 2016 ()
#85 Copy

Questioner

This became a question, I thought this had been answered, but kandra can't produce kandra children.

Brandon Sanderson

Well, yes they can. You get them some spikes.

Questioner

Can the kandra produce human children with consumed parts?

Brandon Sanderson

You know, I saw a big thread about this on Reddit and chose not to participate, despite being asked to.

Questioner

I thought she said that you did, so…

Brandon Sanderson

I gave vague and unuseful answers, and so I'm going to give the same to you. RAFO.

Legion Release Party ()
#86 Copy

ShadowBlaze

Would a kandra react to electrical shock differently than a human would?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, but not that much differently. It's going to depend on the kandra and if they have enough control over their bodies. A kandra that's expecting it, for instance. But a kandra that's not expecting it I think would respond like a human [being?] would.

ShadowBlaze

Could it be an effective revealing method?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm going to RAFO that the same way I've been RAFOing the question of whether they actually go down on the DNA level. So the whole point behind *inaudible* the kandra was, a blood test under Era 1 technology would not identify one. I'm going to have to decide in Era 3, I'm going to have to canonize whether, you get that under a microscope, if you can tell. And what about Era 4 you just do genetic testing, can you tell. And I don't know how I'm going to need that to go yet. And I don't know how realistic it is? And I don't know if I want to deal with the ramifications, like with human/kandra hybrids.

Right now, the way I have it, they fundamentally build their DNA in such a way, they could even have children. But I don't know if I'm going to keep that or not.

Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
#87 Copy

Arkadious4028

Can Kandra learn to photosynthesize or imitate plants? I'm thinking no, due to the biological differences between animal and plants cells, but I gotta know.

Brandon Sanderson

They've toyed with this, and it hasn't worked so far. There are kandra who believe they can figure it out, however.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#89 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Fifty-Nine

TenSoon Visits Urteau

The fact that TenSoon is out of the homeland without a Contract is an important point, one I myself didn't consider up until now. Always before, anyone who wanted to hire a kandra left a message in a designated place in Luthadel. The kandra found you—a creature who was under direct Contract by the Lord Ruler to act as an intermediary.

The kandra Contract was completely confidential, even from the Lord Ruler—though he probably could have demanded to know the details of who the kandra were working for at a given time. He didn't bother, as he never thought that one would be used in a plot against him.

The kandra who arranged Contracts—a member of the Fifth Generation—would travel to the Homeland with the signed papers and the atium, and would send a new kandra out to serve the new master. Nobody left the homeland without a Contract, and if their Contract ended or their master died, then they returned immediately to the Homeland.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#90 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

A Kandra Perspective

I knew I wanted a kandra viewpoint in this book. They have a unique perspective on the setting and the mythology of the world, and beyond that they're just plain fascinating to me. I like their culture, and I'm glad I finally found a place to show the Homeland, their true bodies, and so forth. (More on this in upcoming annotations, of course.)

In addition, TenSoon's viewpoint offers a contrast to the battles, sieges, and wars going on in the other viewpoints.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#91 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Don't Try This at Home

As for the Resolution—the kandra mass suicide—well, don't try this at home, kids. This is one of the more discomforting parts of the book, and I don't want to advocate religious extremism in this way. Remember, this is a fantasy book—just like you shouldn't try jumping off your house and using a coin to Push off of, you shouldn't participate in mass-suicide death cults. The kandra had special circumstances, as they were in the process of being taken over by a dark god when they killed themselves.

The thing you can try is what Sazed did, actively using his religion and calling upon a higher power to bring him help. This is one of the core tenets of many religions—that we, as humans, cannot do all things on our own and need the help of others. I'm not exactly sure (again) what I'm trying to say by having Vin be the one who answers and saves Sazed. But, well, in this theology she's now his god, so I guess it all makes sense. Strangely.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#93 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Kandra Blessings

The Blessings are still a little confusing, I fear. Originally I designed a Blessing as a single bit of metal in each kandra's shoulder. Eventually, however, I realized that I needed to change this for magic system cohesion reasons. I changed it to be two bits of metal, one in each shoulder. So, each kandra has one Blessing, but that Blessing consists of two bits of metal.

Each kandra only gets one Blessing from among the different types. There will be more on this in the book later, of course.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#94 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

The First Contract

I was originally tempted to include the full text of the First Contract. In the end, however, I didn't write it. There wasn't a good place for it, and I felt that we already knew the important information from it without reading it. It would simply have slowed down the plot at this point.

Plus, the questions and problems it could have raised weren't worth the trouble. By including it, I would have taken the chance of contradicting myself or setting up other problems that—at this point in the book—I just didn't want to have to work out.

So we don't get to read it. Sorry. There aren't any hidden secrets in it, though.

Oathbringer release party ()
#95 Copy

Questioner

Can a kandra have a human kid, if they're in a--

Brandon Sanderson

...So, their DNA would-- I've answered this both ways, I think, on the internet, as I go back on forth on whether I want DNA testing to be able to catch a kandra or not. I've erred on the side of, their DNA isn't human, and so they would not be compatible, but I've gone the other direction some of the time when people have asked this question. So, I guess the answer is, I have not fully decided for myself yet.

Oathbringer release party ()
#96 Copy

Questioner

Could a kandra imitating a human have a child with the human?

Brandon Sanderson

So, I kinda go back and forth on this. So-- 'Cause I think about it, then I tweak the magic, and I think "no this isn't possible," and then I go back, and I'm like, "but..." So it kinda comes down to a lot of things, such as, would I want a DNA test to be able to determine if a kandra is real or not. And I haven't canonized that yet, so your answer is, Read And Find Out, once I decide. I go back and forth on that one so much.

Shadows of Self Chicago signing ()
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Questioner

Could you Forge an entire human? What if a kandra eats that human?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, you could Forge an entire human, and the kandra can eat that human as long as the Forgery takes. The problem is, once you break the seal, they're going to change back. So that kandra would have to find a way to eat that person without breaking the Forgery. In that case it would just remain.

JordanCon 2016 ()
#100 Copy

Questioner

What are the upper limits size-wise of what a kandra form can take? Could they say eat a chasmfiend?

Brandon Sanderson

Well, they would have trouble with the square-cube law, and a chasmfiend does not, because they have a symbiosis with natural spren, which keep them from crushing themselves. *scattered laughter* So a kandra would crush themselves if they tried to do that.