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Words of Radiance Seattle signing ()
#54 Copy

Questioner

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.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#55 Copy

The__Good__Doctor

Hi Brandon! I wanted to talk about the revised ending of Words of Radiance.

So, it looks like Kaladin won't be actually delivering the killing blow to Szeth any more. I think that Kaladin was entirely justified in doing this, since it was a fight to the death, and Kaladin was protecting not only Dalinar but his entire squad below. Kaladin even seems surprised when he lands the blow, expecting Szeth to block it like he had been doing the entire fight. The killing was not done in vengeance or with malice, unlike what Adolin does later. Having the storm kill Szeth seems like an anti-climatic way to end the scene, since it takes away Szeth's decision to die by the sword, and means we no longer have an example of why the spren Shardblades don't immediately kill people.

Brandon Sanderson

I woud be fine having him do it, though I think killing a foe who has given up was against this thematic plot. But what pushed me over the edge to change was the sense that I was pulling too many fast ones on the reader with people coming back to life. I wanted it clear to readers that Szeth was not dead, so this scene wasn't a fake out, which would weaken Jasnah's arrival later.

Dancingedge

Um, Mr. Sanderson, I don't mean to be disrespectful as you probably have the scene better in your head than I do but how is a man without Stormlight falling from a very large hight, while in the middle of two Highstorms coliding and throwing entire platoos in the air expected to survive? Maybe I don't have the right persective on this given that I saw both Jasnah (the body disapearing is just as much a give away as it never being shown in my book) and Syl (Pattern outright said Sprens can be revived) coming but unless you severly change the fight scene I don't see how being stabbed actually matters for Szeth survival chances.

Brandon Sanderson

The idea is that the reader didn't see him die, so there's a psychological trigger--one that says "Ah, I didn't see a body. He's probably not dead."

Yes, Szeth totally died from that fall--just as the young man that Lift revived had died from what he suffered. We know that Stormlight can fix the body and bring back the dead, so long as very little time has passed.

The import of the tweak to me is allowing some question in the reader's mind, so that the return is not a betrayal.

The__Good__Doctor

That is a lot more understandable. Having too many reveals at the end could be problematic. I agree that Jasnah coming back felt like pulling a fast one right at the end. However, I think the suprise of Szeth coming back was really well done, especially with the reveal of Nin (Nale, Nalan? This dude is so old he has three names!) at the very end with his special sword friend. I feel like that was the real zinger that should have closed the book.

I was a little underwhelmed with Jasnah coming back, not because I dislike her, but because I thought she was well and truly dead. She died so early in the book that I was completely accepting of her death by the end, and her coming back in a 'gotcha' moment felt a little hollow. Perhaps this could have happened about a hundred pages into the next book? I don't know the entire story like you do, of course, but as a reader it felt like Szeth and his rebirth should have been the final closing image.

Brandon Sanderson

This all came about, if you're curious, during the detailed plotting of the second book. Originally, the outline did not call for Jasnah to leave, but I was having real trouble getting Shallan into a place--emotionally and experience-wise--where she could do the things she needed to do while Jasnah was around. I determined that Jasnah needed to pull a Gandalf, and let her ward alone for a while, and I'm glad I did it--the book is much, much stronger for it. However, the side effects of the last-minute change in the plot required Jasnah's reappearance, which sent a few waves through the book. (Szeth's death and survival being the main one.)

General Reddit 2016 ()
#56 Copy

Ray745

During the final fight between Szeth and Kaladin, Szeth seems far too surprised when Kaladin follows him out past the stormwall.

Kaladin exploded out of the stormwall, surrounded by windspren that spiraled away in a pattern of light. He shouted, driving his spear toward Szeth, who parried hastily, his eyes wide. "Impossible!"

And before that you make a point of mentioning all the windspren streaming around Kaladin as he's flying. A popular theory about Shardplate is that it's made up out of "cousin" spren. Obviously that is a RAFO question, but I wanted to ask if Szeth was surprised for any reason other than Kaladin just following him out of the storm? My theory is Szeth saw the beginnings of a vague suit of Shardplate forming around Kaladin. I know you won't answer that directly, but I was hoping to see your face when I asked it haha. Do you have any comment on that theory?

Brandon Sanderson

Szeth was surprised for more reasons than just Kaladin following him out. He is realizing that the Radiants are returning, and that his exile was unearned.

Holiday signing ()
#57 Copy

Questioner

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.

Questioners

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.

Words of Radiance San Diego signing ()
#58 Copy

Questioner (paraphrased)

Will we see more of Szeth’s backstory, including how he became a Truthless?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

That, you will have to wait for his flashback sequences in a future book. Each character gets a set of flashback sequences. I'm not going to promise that the characters live to the book where their flashback sequences are. You might have a character die and then get their flashbacks the next book to get more information on them. This will be Shallan's flashback, then the next book will be Szeth's flashback, then Eshonai, then Dalinar.

OdysseyCon 2016 ()
#61 Copy

Blightsong

Is anything magical going on with the screams Szeth hears?

Brandon Sanderson

Uhhh, Szeth's screams. Uhhm, I'm trying to decide how to answer this. It is not, see here's the thing. What we would call magical may not be considered magical in the Cosmere, but it depends on your definition of magic. Would Szeth if he were on our planet and have done those things would he hear those screams, probably not, but would someone else in the Cosmere who had gone through what he had gone through hear those screams, yes.

Blightsong

So it has to do with the spiritual realm?

Brandon Sanderson

Yea, mhmm, yea.

YouTube Livestream 9 ()
#62 Copy

Questioner

Who would win: Dalinar with his Shards, or Szeth in Stormlight?

Brandon Sanderson

Young Dalinar with his Shards, Dalinar in his prime versus Szeth? I think, long run, Szeth wins. The reason for this being, Stormlight is just an unfair advantage. You take away the Honorblade from Szeth and Dalinar does win. Szeth is good. But Szeth doesn't have experience with Plate nearly as much. He has been trained almost exclusively on Honorblades and Surges. His fighting styles are all built around them. He is an expert at using Surges, but if he doesn't have those, he's got nothing. Dalinar is good at a lot of different fighting styles, has been in war a ton, and even if he didn't have Plate and you put the two of them without powers against each other, Dalinar's probably going to win. But if Szeth has an Honorblade... being able to heal and being able to fly, these are two almost insurmountable advantages in a one-on-one combat.

Skyward release party ()
#63 Copy

JoyBlu

Szeth Son-Son. When did his name change from Son to Son-Son.

Brandon Sanderson

When he was made Truthless.

JoyBlu

Do we know the time of when he was made Truthless? How long has he been Truthless since the [Prologue]?

Brandon Sanderson

I know, but I'm not confident enough, because I rely on Karen so much to fact check my numbers.

JoyBlu

Is it like a couple of years or a lot of years. Recent?

Brandon Sanderson

I would say recent, but that's also subjective and relative.

JoyBlu

Because if he's lived a thousand years, then a hundred years could...

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, but he hasn't lived a thousand years.

JoyBlu

So, he's lived about thirty years...

Brandon Sanderson

Mmhmm.

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

Jay

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.

Firefight Miami signing ()
#66 Copy

Questioner

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.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#69 Copy

Phantine

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.

 

Firefight San Francisco signing ()
#70 Copy

Questioner

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. 

The Way of Kings Annotations ()
#71 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Lashings

I'll be referencing the original draft of The Way of Kings (AKA Way of Kings Prime), written in 2002, as I feel it will probably be fun for readers to see how the book evolved over time. Every other book of mine you've read was conceived and executed over a relatively short period. The Way of Kings is different—it had a lot of evolving to do before hitting the state it's in now.

One of those evolutions was the magic. Mistborn had one of my best magic systems to date. In Way of Kings Prime (written before Mistborn) we only had two types of magic: Shardblades and Soulcasting. Shardblades were great, but not really magic. Soulcasting didn't work so well. [Assistant Peter's note: There was also something called Windrunning, but it was completely different from the version we know now.]

Mistborn really upped the ante in terms of magic in my books, and I wanted The Way of Kings to have a more dynamic, interesting magic system. That is one factor in why I waited so long to release it.

I finally worked out Lashings while on tour for The Well of Ascension. (That was the tour I went on following the call from Harriet, asking if I was interested in finishing The Wheel of Time.) What I liked about the Lashings system was the visual power and the means of manipulating gravity and pressure in interesting visual and creative ways. I had already built into the sensibilities of the world the idea that there were ten fundamental forces I had based on the idea of fundamental forces in our world's physics. It all fit together nicely.

Anyway, Szeth (named Jek in the first version of the book) was a more ordinary assassin in the original. He didn't have powers beyond being a really, really good killer.

Firefight Seattle UBooks signing ()
#76 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.

Orem signing ()
#79 Copy

Questioner

How do you pronounce Szeth's name?

Brandon Sanderson

Zeth. 

Questioner

Just the Z?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. There's a little bit of s...

Questioner

And Sazed?

Brandon Sanderson

So, he says something more close to Saze-d. But Kelsier says Say-zed. And people just kind of go with what Kelsier does. I say Say-zed also.

General Reddit 2017 ()
#81 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.

Warsaw signing ()
#83 Copy

Questioner

*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.

Questioner

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].

Oathbringer Leeds signing ()
#85 Copy

Questioner

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. 

Questioner

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.

Questioner

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.

DragonCon 2019 ()
#86 Copy

jmcgit

Compared to Oathbringer, how much Szeth are we going to see in the book?

Brandon Sanderson

This one, probably less Szeth than Oathbringer. Mostly, because we're going to get his big plot in the next book. There's some cool Szeth stuff in this still, but we're looking more like first book Szeth rather than third book Szeth, where I give him his own micro plot in book 3.

jmcgit

I was kind of imagining, he's like the first character expected to die in the first five books.

Brandon Sanderson

He starts in jail, in book four. Because Dalinar told him to go there.