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Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#52 Copy


Let's say some kid ended up with Szeth's Oathstone and tried to pull an Aladdin by destroying it and freeing him.

Szeth doesn't seem like he'd actually let himself be freed, but with the Oathstone destroyed, what does he do next (designate a new rock?)

Brandon Sanderson

Use the pieces and try to glue them back together, I'd say. If you actually completely destroyed it, it kind of depends. He might transfer the devotion to the object used to destroy it, or he might try to get another one assigned to him by his homeland--though he would have trouble convincing himself to go back.


Oathbringer Leeds signing ()
#54 Copy


What was Szeth's reasoning for following Dalinar? From what saw he's only met Dalinar once or twice and wasn't aware he is a Bondsmith.

Brandon Sanderson

It wasn't about being a Bondsmith. It was partially about how everyone reacted to Dalinar and partially... Let's see if I can explain this. 


Was it, like, 'cause in--

Brandon Sanderson

Well, part of it was that. Definitely part of it was what he had seen and things like this. Part of it was how everyone, like-- he knew about Dalinar, right? He had fought Kaladin a couple of times. My own justification for it when I was writing this, 'cause I actually did think about this one, like, Dalinar has a magnetism to him. And Dalinar has a reputation. And Dalinar lived up to the reputation, and Szeth was just looking for something-- The reputation was in some ways more important than the man. For instance, there's a chance in that same situation that Szeth would have followed Amaram. Right? Fortunately he made a better choice than that but-- Anyway.


You're thinking about a similar feeling of the honor because obviously Dalinar is really honorable toward the end and then he's got the same, Szeth's got the same--

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. Yes, but at the same time that gives a little bit too much credit to Szeth, to be perfectly honest.

General Reddit 2016 ()
#55 Copy


Is Lift the only one who is able to see the afterimage around Szeth when he moves? And would she have seen that afterimage around him before he was brought back to life by Nalan?

Brandon Sanderson

Lift is seeing that Szeth's soul isn't quite attached to his body any longer. She is not the only one that can see it, but her special physiology is certainly helping her see it.

Words of Radiance Seattle signing ()
#57 Copy


He said, "I was reading through *inaudible* Szeth section he mentioned that 'we are all that remains'. Is he saying that the Shin are the lost Order? The one that didn't abandon the oaths? Of course the section *inaudible* alternatives-- *interrupted*

Brandon Sanderson

What they are doing is-- Szeth is saying, "We are all that remains that remembers what happened before." [...] And they may be-- they may not remember accurately. But they consider themselves the only ones who know. Does that make sense? [...] It is not reference to the Orders.

San Diego Comic-Con@Home 2020 ()
#58 Copy


How the heck is Nale's spren still with him? Is his spren as wacky as he is? Or is it dead, and he still carries it around?

Brandon Sanderson

Nale's spren is alive. The highspren... I would say "wacky" is probably a decent term for them. I would blame some of how Nale is acting more on the highspren. Obviously, it's partially being a Herald and all the things he's gone through, but they're all on board for this. So read that as you will.

Well, "all." The ones that are making Radiants of the Order are on board for it. You'll get to see Szeth interact with his just a little bit. There's not a ton of Szeth in this book, but you've got a few chapters. At least one, for sure. And he gets to interact with his spren, and you'll get a better picture of the highspren from that moment.

Firefight San Francisco signing ()
#59 Copy


Szeth-son-son-Vallano is one of my favorite characters and I was wondering how-- He's so complex, right, which is why I love him. What was your inspiration for him, and how did you get all those amazing layers of--

Brandon Sanderson

What was my inspiration for Szeth? Boy. Talking about my inspiration for characters is one of the hardest things that I do because, while I plan my settings a lot and I plan my outlines a lot, I do not plan my characters in the same way. I actually discovery-write my characters and this is something I do very intentionally because I feel like if I plan the character too much, I plan the life out of them basically. So when I have a plot I basically cast a bunch of people in it. I'll write a chapter with someone in it and I'll throw it away, and I'll a chapter with a different personality, and I'll do that until somebody clicks with that plot. Once I know who they are I'll usually rebuild the outline to fit them, kind of the character has veto power over the plot that I've designed for them. But I just keep casting people in the roles, and with Szeth I think it was the whole idea of when I was building Roshar and I'm like, alright, I know there's going to be a place where there aren't any rocks, the rest of the world is all about this kind of stone sensibility to it so what if it's reversed, what if these people worship stone. What if stone were holy. And so I kind of built out of that, it was his religious ideals that came first. 

MisCon 2018 ()
#60 Copy


Szeth has an afterglow because his soul is lagging behind his body slightly.

Brandon Sanderson



So if he was moving fast enough, could a Shardblade pass through his physical body and not cut the soul?

Brandon Sanderson

Ummm, that sounds like the sort of thing-- I'm going to say, the soul is more stretchy, so I don't think that's possible. But you could do some weird things where you're cutting the soul and not the body.

Legion Release Party ()
#61 Copy


Are we just going to see Szeth kill a lot of people in the next book?

Brandon Sanderson

Szeth has some better influences than he's had in a long while. He did have some good influences early on. But it's been a long time since he has had as good influences as he now has. I wouldn't count Nightblood as one of those. But at the same time, he's had worse influences than Nightblood.

Holiday signing ()
#62 Copy


Why isn’t the next book about Szeth?  He’s my favorite character and he only had /four/ chapters in the first book.

Brandon Sanderson

I know. Szeth-- The next book's not about Szeth because I didn't feel his backstory matched what was going on with this book well enough. I felt it matched Dalinar's.

Questioner 2

Is Szeth in the third book?

Brandon Sanderson

Szeth will appear in the third book yes.



Questioner 1

More than the other ones I hope?

Questioner 3

Does the sword corrupt him?

Brandon Sanderson

You'll have to see. *laughter* Where you're really going to get a lot of Szeth is Book 5. But you will see.

Goodreads WoK Fantasy Book Club Q&A ()
#67 Copy


Do Szeth and Kaladin both belong to the same order of knights radiant?

Brandon Sanderson

Szeth isn't actually in an order of Knights Radiant. Something different is happening with Szeth that people have already begun to guess. And Kaladin isn't yet a Knight Radiant, but the powers he uses are those of the Windrunners, one of the orders of the Knights Radiant. Szeth is using the same power set. So your phrasing is accurate to that extent.

Stormlight Three Update #5 ()
#68 Copy


Would Szeth still have been chosen to be a skybreaker if Nalan'Elin had known that Szeth was willing to kill Adolin "on his own time" unlawfully without being compelled by his oathstone? Or did Nalan'Elin know about that and still think he'd be a good fit?

Brandon Sanderson

Nobody is perfect, and Nale knows this--but he has worse days than others. It's not so much the law, as willingness to follow a personal code, that Nale is most interested in. He's also more harsh with people once they join the order than before.

So, he wouldn't have loved it, but it wouldn't have stopped him from offering.

Warsaw signing ()
#71 Copy


*inaudible, but referring to the RAFO cards*

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, yeah. You want a RAFO card? You gotta ask me a hard question. Come up with a question.


So what's next for Szeth-son-son-Vallano?

Brandon Sanderson

Uh, okay, yeah, take [inaudible due to laughter, presumably Brandon was indicating that he could take a card].

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#74 Copy


I only yesterday found out you changed the ending for [Words of Radiance]. So here is my question. I've only read the first version where Kaladin kills Szeth. When Szeth gets killed now, it's by the storm. What is it that specifically kills him since he can normally just evade the storm or even be healed by stormlight?

Brandon Sanderson

Good question! So, the idea here is that Szeth has given up, and wants to die. I wanted the storm to kill him, then, as opposed to Kaladin. What kills him is losing control in the storm, and being slammed into the ground.

The bigger change here was actually my desire to leave it at least partially clear that he's not dead, in order to avoid the 'fake out' ending. Having him be dead and reborn was important, but I felt in the first stab I erred on the side of pulling a fast one on the reader.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#75 Copy


At the end of Oathbringer, it seems that many (including myself) felt that Szeth's return and sudden alignment with the protagonists went over a little too easily. Are they accepting of him now? Why the sudden change of heart? Are there going to be trust issues in the future?

Brandon Sanderson

Uh, yeah. Obviously crazy men who shift allegiances quickly, after murdering the king and starting a war, aren't exactly the sort you leave home to babysit your kids.

Firefight Miami signing ()
#76 Copy


Assassin in White. He's still working for the bad guys, right? Because he doesn't have a spren attached to his sword? *pause* You don't know?

Brandon Sanderson

I know. "Bad guys" is an interesting definition in the cosmere. Right now... he is directly under the influence of the Skybreakers. Who were an Order of Knights Radiant.

FanX 2021 ()
#77 Copy


How did Nale bring Szeth back to life?

Brandon Sanderson

Szeth's spirit had not moved onto the Beyond. It was basically Rosharan CPR. He repaired the body, and Szeth was not dead dead. His heart had stopped, but when his body came back together, it started beating again.

YouTube Livestream 13 ()
#78 Copy


If you had to design a legendary creature for Magic: The Gathering for Szeth, what would it do? And what colors would it be?

Brandon Sanderson

Szeth is maybe Mardu. Maybe Orzov. It depends on if you get that red in there. He's very passionate, but his passions don't really direct him, it's more the logic. So probably some sort of White/Black, maybe with Red. Like, Mardu is a pretty good fit for him, but the Red is definitely the weakest of those three.

What would I have him do? I don't know. The tricky thing about designing characters as Magic cards is: the power sets in the Stormlight Archive do not match the colors of the personalities of characters. A lot of times, for the iconic Magic characters, they make their power set match their personality leanings. Szeth's powers may not really match a White/Black character very well. Having power to fly works in White/Black, so you could do that. So he would probably have some sort of thing like that. But there's also kind of an indestructibility, which also could work. Maybe some of the vampire designs recently would work for Szeth. I don't know; I'd have to think about it.

Skyward Seattle signing ()
#83 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Someday... once I'm sure everything that it would spoil has been released, I will release [Way of Kings Prime] so you can read it. You can probably see that, if you read Stormlight, a chunk of the book belonging to Taln moved to Szeth, instead, who was a character in the first book but had a slightly different plot. Eventually, we will get to the whole story, though.

/r/fantasy AMA 2011 ()
#84 Copy


Was Vallano, Szeth's grandfather, also a Truthless? And if not, what did he do to disgrace the Shin?

Brandon Sanderson

No, Vallano was not Truthless.

Szeth was a very respected member of his society, once. There are clues to what happened in his story, but you won't hear it in full until he gets his book. (Which will include his flashbacks.)

Salt Lake City signing ()
#85 Copy


So Truthless are kind of pretty rare, right, in the Shin society?

Brandon Sanderson



So how did they come by the [Honorblades] that Szeth's got?

Brandon Sanderson

They, historically, kept all of them.


Oh, ok. I wondered if that was the case. Interesting. Does that have anything to do with why they think stone is sacred?

Brandon Sanderson

You will find out more about that as time progresses.

General Reddit 2017 ()
#86 Copy


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 2015 ()
#87 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Words of Radiance Tweak

Moving on to Words of Radiance, as we were entering typo fixes for the paperback of this book, I made changes to a few lines near the end. This isn't anywhere near as extensive as the changes in Elantris, but once again I figure I should be up-front about what I did and why I did it.

This part is going to have some spoilers for the book, so if you haven't read it, please stop right here. I'll put a number of blank lines here to prevent accidental spoilers. Scroll down if you've finished the book.

So, in Words of Radiance, I think the scene I worked on the longest both in my head and on the page was the final confrontation between Kaladin and Szeth.

There was something I wanted to do, and took a stab at it in the text, then backed off because I couldn't make it work. It was important to me that Kaladin refuse to kill Szeth at the end. Kaladin is about protection, not vengeance, and once he realized that Szeth really just wanted to be killed, I wanted Kaladin to hesitate.

It didn't end up working, and I moved on to a new version and submitted it. But this itched at me, and by the time the book was released, I felt I'd made the wrong choice for that scene. So I've taken this chance to roll it back to the previous idea, and written it in a new way, which I like much better.

The events are the same, except for that moment. Szeth is now killed by the storm instead of by Kaladin, which I think is more thematically appropriate.

The question this raises is about Szeth being stabbed by a Shardblade, then being resuscitated. I'm sad to lose this sequence, as it's an important plot point for the series that dead Shardblades cannot heal the soul, while living ones can. I'm going to have to work this into a later book, though I think it's something we can sacrifice here for the stronger scene of character for Kaladin and Szeth.