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Firefight release party ()
#102 Copy

Lady Radagu

Does being the donor of a Hemalurgic spike have any implications for your afterlife? Or how about the recipient?

Brandon Sanderson

That is actually going to depend on-- Okay. Yes it has implications for the afterlife. Yes.

Lady Radagu

Okay so are there a bunch of Scadrian souls wandering the afterlife with holes in their personalities or memory or identity? Or some with extra parts tacked on?

Brandon Sanderson

So it has implications, but they are not exactly ones that you are assuming. So in the cosmere there is "dead" and "mostly dead". Okay? And this has been shown several times so once someone dies there is a period before they transition. Sazed talks about this in Mistborn 3. And so most of the implications are for before transition. Does that make sense? Post-transition you are going to have to ask the philosophers and the theologians who are the ones that talk about that. So there is an afterlife and an after-afterlife. Not as many implications for after-afterlife. Middle? Yes. Okay?

17th Shard Forum Q&A ()
#103 Copy


Is there a chance that any dead protagonists will miraculously come back (IE Vin, Elend, Lightsong) to help fight later battles? You have shown Kelsier having influence after he died, and Sazed makes a statement about keeping in touch with Vin and Elend.

Brandon Sanderson

I don't want to be unsympathetic to people's love for these characters, but I feel that as a writer I must resist the urge to bring back characters in this manner. I feel it would undermine my storytelling. I never want to get to the point where people read and the tension of a character being in danger is ruined by the thought, "Well, even if they die, they'll probably just be brought back in the future."

I'm not saying I won't ever do it, but I want to be very sparing. I like how Robert Jordan did it with a certain character's return in [Towers of Midnight]. It was foreshadowed, built into the story itself, and relevant.

There are characters--in the 36-book-cosmere-superoutline--who return when thought dead. Some have not met their perceived end yet, while others have. So it's going to happen, but I want it to be very rare.

The Great American Read: Other Worlds with Brandon Sanderson ()
#105 Copy


Is there one true Shardblade form for a spren?

Brandon Sanderson

"True" in this sense is mutable and it can change, based on perception. I would say yes, but it is not a kind of platonic truth, it is a momentary truth.


Will dead Shardblades change, when an owner has them for a long time will they slowly change or will they stay the same?

Brandon Sanderson

Shardblades have changed before that were considered dead.

Hero of Ages Q&A - Time Waster's Guide ()
#106 Copy


I can guess two possible options for the kandra.

1. God Sazed endowed the gift of presence on the now mistwraiths.

2. Some of the kandra survived in the cave with the Terrisman and people of the city, along with the small mistwraiths, these are re-born with the spikes they pulled out during the resolution.

I can imagine too that some kandra on assignment may have hidden in the shelters with the rest of humanity.

Brandon Sanderson

The kandra.

Yes, they live. The people were smart enough, eventually, to replace their spikes. (And there were a couple who were on assignment who made it to storage caches.)

However, there will likely never be any more of them, since Hemalurgy is required to make them. They are now some of the few people who can communicate directly with Sazed, who—like Ruin—can whisper to people most easily when they are connected to him via spikes. With some speculation, you can probably guess what kind of roles the kandra will end up playing in future books.


On a broader level, is Hemalurgy officially dead, then? Or is it still extant in some Ruin-free (but still messy) form? (If it's gone, is there any imbalance since Preservation's magic power is kept and Ruin's isn't?)

Brandon Sanderson

Is Hemalurgy dead? No, not at all. It, like the other two powers, was not created by Ruin or Preservation, but by the natural state of the world and its interaction with the gods who created it. It still requires the same method of creation, but very few people are aware of how it works.

JordanCon 2016 ()
#107 Copy


Speaking of the Stormfather, would the Nightwatcher and the giant water spren be on the same level of spren as the Stormfather?

Brandon Sanderson

...The Nightwatcher, yes. Um... There are, I would say, a level below the Stormfather and the Nightwatcher who are also much-- a much bigger deal than something like one of the sapient spren, and that's what Cusicesh is.


So the Nightwatcher is a spren you'd say?

Brandon Sanderson

The Nightwatcher-- I mean, they call the Nightwatcher a spren. Everyone in the books thinks the Nightwatcher is a spren. That's what they would call-- that's what they would call, if they knew what Honor was, they would call Honor a spren. A spren is Investiture that is alive.



Brandon Sanderson

So they would call Nightblood a spren. They would call-- That's the word for what all of these things are. They would probably've called Adonalsium a spren…


What would Hoid call one of those?

Brandon Sanderson

What would Hoid call the Nightwatcher? *laughter* What would Hoid call one of what?


Yeah what would Hoid call the Nightwatcher?

Brandon Sanderson

Um… *long pause/laughter*


If Hoid were to use a non-proper noun?

Brandon Sanderson

Unpleasant names. *laughter*

Elantris Annotations ()
#108 Copy

Brandon Sanderson


So, Hrathen wasn't really dead. (Ironically, while many of you are probably saying "yeah, yeah. That was obvious," I actually didn't have him appear here in the first eight drafts of the book. I'll explain later.)

I think this is my favorite scene of this chapter. Not only is it written a little better than the rest of the book (I added it quite late–just this last summer) but it gives final closure to the Hrathen-Dilaf relationship. It uses Hrathen's time in Dakhor as an ironic twist against Dilaf. In short, it is a pretty good scene. Fulfills character, plot, and theme at the same time–while giving us a nice image to boot. (Though I do hate to do the "Hey look, a guy we thought was dead is really alive" twist.)

The story behind this scene is pretty recent. One of the original rewrites Moshe asked for was a fix of the ending, which he thought was too Deus Ex Machina. (Which, indeed, it was.) I don't think I'll go into the entire original version here–it was quite different. You can read the alternate ending in the deleted scenes section, when I throw it up next month. The short of it, however, is that Ien (Raoden's seon) showed up to save Raoden and Sarene from Dilaf. I used a mechanic of the magic system that I have since pretty much cut from the novel (since it was only in the book to facilitate this scene) that allowed Ien to complete his Aon, "healing" Dilaf. Except, since Ien's Aon was broken, it turned Dilaf into an Elantrian instead. (A non-glowing Elantrian. One like Raoden the group used to be–like Dilaf's own wife became after she was improperly healed in Elantris.)

I know that's probably confusing to you. The scene, over all, was just kind of weak. It relied on a barely-explained mechanic mixed with a tangential character showing up at just the right moment. When Moshe asked for the change, I immediately saw that I needed to bring Hrathen back to life for a few more moments. Letting him die on the street just wasn't dignified enough (though originally I wanted him to die this way because it felt more realistic.) I wanted a final confrontation between Hrathen and Dilaf, since it would give most people's favorite character a heroic send-off, and would also let me tie in the aforementioned Dakhor irony.

In the end, I was very pleased with the rewrite. It's good to have an editor.

Orem signing ()
#109 Copy


In the cosmere, sixteen is obviously a very important number, or very significant, but on Roshar everything comes in groups of ten. Is that a cultural construction or is that really how things are being grouped on that planet?

Brandon Sanderson

It is both. It is a cultural construction that came from slight cosmere events that are not super, super, super important. Like, there's a reason we think in base ten, right? Is it important to the universe? Meh? Right... And it's maybe a little more on Roshar, but at the same time it's like**


There are ten orders of Surgebinders. Did they order them that way? Or are there actually sixteen different--

Brandon Sanderson

Well, it kind of goes back to there were ten [Heralds] with ten sets of power given by Honor, and Honor is an individual, right, so does that make sense? You cannot separate, in a lot of places in the cosmere, the perspectives of the sapient beings who are interfering with what's going on. Even going back to the number sixteen.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#110 Copy


Would humanity be better or worse off by the end of Oathbringer if Honor ended his visions with:

"This has been a pre-recorded message from Honor. If you have any inquiries, please direct them to the Stormfather or to a local spren representative."

Brandon Sanderson

Dial 9 to refill with Stormlight. 

State of the Sanderson 2019 ()
#111 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Part Four: Updates on Secondary Projects Dark One

We’re moving ahead with the graphic novel on this, and giving you some glimpses of that is one of the big things I’m happy to announce for this State of the Sanderson. We’ve included some gorgeous pages below. The graphic novel is turning out to be something really special. We don’t have an exact release date for this yet, but it shouldn’t be too much longer before we can announce one.

In addition, many of you may have heard the news that J. Michael Straczynski (creator of Babylon Five, among many other cool projects) is attached to this project to make a television show. The same outline I came up with for the graphic novel drew serious Hollywood attention, which is how this happened. That said, JMS has other projects he’s working on as well, and Dark One needs to wait for the right time for him to work on it.

STATUS: Real motion here. Exciting developments in the process!

Songs of the Dead (Was Death by Pizza)

This perpetual entry in the State of the Sanderson is creeping ever closer to being a reality. My co-author, Peter Orullian, has suggested the title Songs of the Dead—which is a really great title, considering it’s about a heavy metal singer necromancer.

We’ve got a second draft done, but it needs a third one. Unfortunately, the hangup is me, as Stormlight has taken basically all my time this year. Peter sent me his latest draft in June or so, and I’m only halfway through my revision of it at this point. So I’m sorry it’s taking so long; I’m excited for you all to read the book, but as it’s my first true book collaboration, there are some growing pains as we figure out how to make the process work right for us.

Hopefully I can finish my next revision early next year, send it back to Peter for one final draft, then begin showing it to editors.

STATUS: Waiting on my next revision.

The Original

This novella that I wrote with the fantastic Mary Robinette Kowal is finished and being recorded as an audio original. It should come out very soon, and I’m quite proud of it.

I’m a little annoyed as the Will Smith movie that came out earlier this year has a similar premise. But that movie bombed and apparently wasn’t very good. So maybe people will appreciate a similar idea done right? We’ll see. I had hoped to get this out before Mr. Smith’s movie came out, but Mary Robinette was busy winning all of the awards for her excellent Lady Astronaut series, and I was busy getting rained on in Roshar.

STATUS: Out soon.

Alcatraz Six

This one is mostly done, just needing a few little tweaks. Again, I haven’t had a ton of time last year, but this one is looking really good. It’s basically all complete, only needing one last pass. We should be doing the interior artwork and editorial work next year.

STATUS: Basically done.

Elantris, Warbreaker, The Rithmatist

No updates from last year, I’m afraid. There was no intention to make progress on these this year. Once Alcatraz is wrapped up, I’ll turn my attention back to The Rithmatist as the last looming series that needs a wrapup that hasn’t gotten one. Elantris and Warbreaker sequels aren’t to be expected until Stormlight Five and Wax and Wayne Four are done.

I know a lot of you keep waiting on Rithmatist news, and I feel bad having to give you the same news every year. (Yes, that paragraph above is the same one I put in the State of the Sanderson last year.) But the truth is, I really can’t work on this until at the very least Alcatraz is finished.

A glimmer of light for you Rithmatist fans is this: my son just read the book, and he’s joined the crowd calling for me to do a sequel. So you have an in-house representative.

STATUS: Keep Waiting. (Sorry again, again.)

White Sand

Graphic novel three is out now! So if you haven’t picked it up, please check it out!

We’ve learned a lot doing our first graphic novel series. Again, there were some growing pains. (We aren’t thrilled, for example, by how often we ended up needing to change artists.) The good news is that we really enjoy doing these, and so we are planning to do another graphic novel series set on Taldain, visiting darkside and dealing with Khriss and her adventures there. So if you are one of those people who read the prose version years ago, and have been waiting for some resolution, Isaac and I are outlining a sequel series right now.

STATUS: Trilogy complete, likely to do a collection of all three in coming years. Sequel series being outlined.

Leipzig Book Fair ()
#112 Copy


Glys, Renarin's Spren, is he a Cultivation Spren?

Brandon Sanderson



Could you say that he is equally bonded to a different entitiy/to a different Shard like Sylphrena is bonded to Honor?

Brandon Sanderson

You're asking... Is his like the windspren?


I mean allegion to his aspect.

Brandon Sanderson

Are you still talking about Glys?


Yes. Sylphrena is like 100% of Honor. Is Glys like 100% anything?

Brandon Sanderson


Oathbringer Leeds signing ()
#113 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.

Writing for Charity Conference ()
#114 Copy

Zas678 (paraphrased)

A question related to that. There's an idea going around that all the spren that can Nahel Bond, all Knight Radiant spren are called honorspren, and then Nohadon talks specifically about honorspren. Is that the case? You know, is it just the Windrunner spren, or is it all the spren?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

I'm going to deal with this in the next book. So I'll just go ahead and let it be a literal RAFO. It is coming.

*interruption, leading Brandon to lose his train of though*

So what we are dealing with here is that all spren are indeed all pieces of the one who has gone, so those spren are all- except the Windrunner spren, the spren like Syl, have certain umm.

Zas678 (paraphrased)

Nohadon mentioned that "All the spren aren't as discerning as honorspren."

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

So there has been dissension among them about who gets to call themselves honorspren, if that makes sense, and there is some disagreement among scholars about which ones are really, you know "This is what defines an honorspren".

But the spren you are running into are all *inaudible* of either Honor or Cultivation, or some mixture between them. And you can usually tell the ones that are more Honor, and the ones that are more Cultivation. That should be able to be *inaudible*.

Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
#115 Copy


So we know some Orders are of-- Radiant are of Honor and Cultivation, right? So Jasnah is more logical and is definitely kind of, you know, set in stone about her ways. But Shallan, she's got a lot of personal growth and I know-- So I'm wondering is Shallan like one of the Orders that is of Cultivation?

Brandon Sanderson

In their-- They would theorize that's more Cultivation than Honor.

LTUE 2020 ()
#116 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

As Lift hung from the ceiling, dangling precariously from a rope with one hand, reaching out with the other towards the basket, she was forced to acknowledge that stealing food just didn’t give her the same thrill as it once had. She continued to pretend, because she didn’t want her life to change. She hated change. Stealing people’s food was basically her thing. She’d been doing it for years, and she still did get a thrill when she saw their starvin' faces. They’d open a drawer and their chouta wrap was gone, or they’d pick up their plate and find it empty. They’d adopt the most sublime moment of cross-eyed panic and confusion. And then they’d smile and look to see where she was.

They didn’t see her of course, she was way too good at hiding, but they’d look, and they seemed fond. You weren’t supposed to be fond when someone stole from you. Ruined the entire experience. Then there was this. She stretched a little further, fingers brushing the basket. She swung on her rope, stretched out and… there, she snatched the basket. She stuffed the handle between her teeth and scuttled back up the rope, vanishing into the hidden labyrinth of small tunnels that laced the ceilings and walls of the tower. Up here Wyndle waited, coiled up upon himself and making a face out of vines and crystal.

“Oh!” he said, “A full basket! Let’s see what she left you this time.”

“Ain't nobody leavin' me nothing,” Lift snapped. “I stole it, unfair and square. Also, hush. Someone might hear.”

“They can’t hear me Mistress, I am…”

“I hear you, so hush, whinyspren.” She crept away from the hole, pushing the basket ahead of her as she crawled through the small tunnel. The next intersection was a tight squeeze, but she could make herself slippery with Stormlight, so she got through. Two turns and a straight crawl later, they entered a small intersection of tunnels, where she’d left a sphere for light. The roof of the tunnel was a little higher here, letting her settle down with her back against the stone so she could inspect her prize. Wyndle came in on the ceiling, taking the shape of a growing vine that crept across the stone. He formed a face again right above her, looking down as she pulled open the basket and began rifling through it. Flatbreads and curry, sugared mashed beans, little jar with a cute face drawn on top, along with the Horneaters’ symbol for love. It looked like jam inside. Lift looked up at the ceiling and the blinking vine face hanging from it.

“Alright,” she admitted, “maybe she left it out for me.”


Starving stupid Horneater woman,” Lift grumbled, slathering jam on the flatbread. “Her dad knew how to make it look like an accident, leaving stuff out so I could take it. Let me storming pretend.”

She stuffed the bread in her mouth. Damnation it was good. Only made the experience more humiliating.

“I don’t see the problem, Mistress,” Wyndle said.

“That’s 'cause you’re a dummyspren,” she said, then stuffed the rest of the flatbread into her mouth, talking around it. “Don’t <blahgruhbluhbluhluh>.”

“I do too like fun in my life,” he said. “Last week I displayed the most beautiful art installation of chairs from around the tower. The others thought it quite majestic; they complimented the stools in particular.”

Lift sighed, leaning back against the wall and just slumped there. Not really angry, not really sad, she was just… <blarglegorf>. Supremely <blarglegorf>.

Storms. The wrap she wore underneath her shirt was really starting to itch today. “Come on,” she said, grabbing the basket and sphere and then moving on through the tower's innards.

“Is it really so bad?” Wyndle said, following. “Cord likes you. That’s why she leaves things out for you”.

“I’m not supposed to be liked,” Lift snapped. “I’m a shadow. A dangerous and unseen shadow moving mysteriously from place to place, never seen, always feared.”

“A… shadow.”

“Yes, a starvin' shadow alright?” She had had to squeeze through the next tunnel, too. Stupid, stupid, stupid. “This tower here, it's like a big old corpse, and I’m like blood, sneakin' around through its veins.”

“Why would a corpse have blood in its veins?”

“Fine, it’s not dead, it’s…sleepin', and we’re its stormin' blood, alright?”

“I should think,” Wyndle said as she squeezed through another tight fit, “these air vents are more like intestines. So the allegory would make you more akin to, um, well… feces, I guess.”

“Wyndle…” she said, pulling through.

“Yes, Mistress?”

“Maybe stop trying to help with my deezy metaphors, alright?”

“Yes, alright.”

Storming lamespren,” she muttered, getting to a section of air vents that were larger. She did like this tower. There were lots of places to hide and places to explore, particularly if you were a person of the smaller variety. Up here in this network of stone ventilation shafts, she found the occasional mink or other scavenger, but it was really just her domain. The adults were too big and the other children too frightened. Plus, she could glow when properly fed, and her awesomeness could get her through tight squeezes. When she'd first started exploring up here, there hadn’t been nearly as many of those as there were now. Stupid, stupid, stupid!

They eventually reached her nest, an opening where four ventilation shafts met. Here, she'd piled up blankets, food stores, and some treasures. One of Dalinar’s knives she was absolutely sure he hadn't wanted her to steal. Some interesting shells. An old flute that Wyndle said looked strange to him. There were near a well where she could get all the water she wanted, but far enough away from population that she could talk without feeling like people could hear her.

The previous nest she'd made before moving had let her listen in on echoes of people nearby, but they’d been able to hear her, as well. She’d heard them talking about the echoing in the ventilation shafts. "The spirit of the tower," they’d said. And that had been nifty at first, but then they’d started leaving out stuff for her, like she was like the stormin' Nightwatcher. And then she’d started to feel guilty. You can’t be takin' stuff from people who don’t have much to give. That was the first rule of not being a total and utter useless piece of chull dung.

She munched on some stolen food from her basket, then sighed and got up. She stepped to the side wall, putting her back to it.

“Come on,” she said, “Do it.”

Wyndle moved up the wall. As always, he left a trail of vines behind him. Those would crumble and decay soon after, but for a short time could be used to mark something, like the height of a girl standing beside the wall. He moved across the wall atop her head, then she stepped back and marked the line with a more permanent one out of chalk.

“That’s almost a full inch since last time,” she said.

“I’m… sorry, Mistress.”

She flopped down in her nest of blankets, wanting to curl up and cry. But she didn’t do that, because she wasn't storming weak. Instead, she took off her shirt, then undid the wrap around her chest and redid it tightly.

“I’ll stop eating,” she said. “That’ll stunt my growth.”

“You? Stop eating?”

“I could do it!” She pulled the wrap tighter, then put her shirt back on. Then she just lay and stared up at the marks on the wall showing the progress of her height over the last eight months.

“Mistress,” Wyndle said, curling up like an eel and raising a vine head beside her. He was getting better at making faces, and this one was one of her favorites. It had little vines that looked like mustaches. “Don’t you think it is time that you told me what exactly you asked the Nightwatcher?”

“Doesn’t matter.” she said. “It was all lies. The boon, the promises. Lies, lies, lies.”

“I have met the Nightwatcher,” Wyndle said. “She does not think the same way the rest of us do. Cultivation created her to be apart, to be separate from mankind, unconnected. She wanted to create a daughter whose shape and personality would not be influenced by the perceptions of humans. This makes the Nightwatcher less... well, human than a spren like myself. Still, I don’t believe her capable of lying. It isn’t something she could conceive of, I believe.”

“She’s not the liar,” Lift said, closing her eyes. Storms, she’d made the wrap too tight; she could barely breathe. “It’s the other one, the one with the dress like leaves merging into the underbrush, hair like twigs, skin the color of deep brown stone.”

“So, you saw Cultivation herself. That is rare.”

Lift shrugged.

“I had suspected it was true. Your situation is unique. Why, seeing into the Cognitive Realm even a little is an uncommon feature in a human, and turning food into Stormlight… well, you’re special, Lift”.

“I didn’t want to be special.”

“Says the girl who just earlier was comparing herself dramatically to a shadow.”

“I just wanted what I asked for.”

“Which was?”

“Not important now.”

“I rather think it is.”

“I asked not to change,” Lift whispered, opening her eyes. “I said when everything else is going wrong, I want to be the same. I want to stay me, not become someone else.”

“Those are the exact words you asked?”

“Best I can remember.”

“Hmm,” Wyndle said, snuggling down into his vines. “I believe the problem is how vague you were.”

“I wasn’t vague! I told her, make me so I don’t grow up.”

“That is not what you said, Mistress. And if I might be so bold, having spent a great deal of time around you, I should tell you that you are not an easy person to understand.”

“I asked not to change, so why am I changing?”

“You’re still you, just a bigger version.”

She squeezed her eyes shut again.

“Mistress. Lift. Will you tell me why this bothers you so much? Everyone grows, everyone changes.”

“But I’m…I’m her little girl.”

“Who’s little girl?” he asked gently. “Your mother?”

Lift nodded. Stupid, sounded stupid and she was stupid. Mother was dead, that was that. Why hadn’t she said the right words? Why hadn’t Cultivation just understood? She was supposed to be some sort of starving god. It was her fault if a little girl came and begged for a promise that got deliberately misinterpreted and… and Lift liked who she was, who she had been. She wouldn’t be the same when she got older.

Steelheart Seattle signing ()
#117 Copy

Questioner (paraphrased)

Please explain what you will about Shards and Splintering and Slivers.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

An event happened long ago which destroyed something called Adonalsium into 16 pieces. And 16 people took up that power.

Questioner (paraphrased)


Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

I call all intelligent species people. If someone takes up the power and lets go of it, it has the effect much like a balloon that's been stretched and then the air is let out. I call that a Sliver; based off of the Lord Ruler calling himself the "Sliver of Infinity". The Lord Ruler is someone who held the power and then released it. And so, current Slivers are the Lord Ruler, Kelsier, and there may be others around who at one point held the power and let go of it. A Splinter is a term used by certain people in the cosmere for power of Adonalsium which has no person caring for it, no... no person holding it, which has attained self-awareness.

Questioner (paraphrased)

So is that like the mists and the Well? Are they...

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

They are not, because they have not attained self-awareness. But, the Seons are self-aware. So, any piece, for instance there were some spren on Roshar before Honor and Cultivation got there. Those were already Splinters of Adonalsium where he had left power which attained sentience on its own. So, it can be intentional is what I am saying, does that make sense? You have seen other Splinters.

Questioner (paraphrased)

Are the highstorms related to the Splintering of Honor?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

The highstorms are more related to the mist from Mistborn which terminology we have not discussed yet. You have seen Splinters quite a bit on various planets.

JordanCon 2018 ()
#118 Copy


It is said by a spren, Syl, that everything has a spren. Does aluminum have a spren? 

Brandon Sanderson

Does aluminum have a spren? This is a good question for philosophers in world. I would say the majority of them would say yes, its just a very isolated and unresponsive spren. There are some who would say no, it is the dead material, that has no spren, but others would argue that a dead material with no spren would just disintegrate to death, so aluminum is kind of a strange duck. 

JordanCon 2018 ()
#119 Copy


Are mandras gravityspren?

Brandon Sanderson

*Very hesitantly* Nooooo? Kind of-- So the actual gravityspren, you're talking about the things Kaladin saw stuck to a wall? Those are not mandras.


Oh no, I was thinking about the ones that appear around dead chasmfiends.

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, dead chasmfiends, yes. The arrowheads, yeah.


But you're saying those are not gravityspren? They're mandras?

Brandon Sanderson

So the things Kaladin saw stuck to the wall are not gravityspren, right. So I want to make sure.-- So arrowhead spren, that Shallan is philosophizing, theorizing about, are mandras.

Orem signing 2014 ()
#120 Copy

mail-mi (paraphrased)

What would a Shardblade do to [a "zombie" Elantrian]?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Um, a Shardblade would...oh boy. A Shardblade...a Shardblade would still be dangerous to them, um, the trick is, um, the Shardblade's gonna treat them half alive, half dead. So, it probably would be kind of a flicker, so it depends on when you hit them. It might cut the arm off.

mail-mi (paraphrased)

It might cut the arm off...

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

And it might just leave it dead.

White Sand vol.1 Orem signing ()
#121 Copy


So, the fan page wanted to know. Would it be possible for Hemalurgy to steal a living Shardblade? That was the top voted question.

Brandon Sanderson

Ok, so you're bonded to a Shardblade. You get spiked, then they spike off the bond so that the Shardblade is bonded to someone else.


I assume so...

Brandon Sanderson

But can they do it with a living Shardblade? You can definitely do it with a dead Shardblade because its just stealing the Connection. With a living Shardblade, yes you could do that 'though the spren could break the bond at will.


So the spren would survive? That was the second-- the corollary--

Brandon Sanderson

Ehhh. Would the spren survive? The spren would survive as long as the oaths were--



Brandon Sanderson

--the person didn't break the oaths. But you could theoretically steal the bond, break the oaths, and kill the spren. If you wanted to. Its a very convoluted to kill a spren, they are easier to kill than that, but yes. You could do that. That is a viable but twisted route that you can do. You would end up with a dead spren and a Shardblade, so there is that. But there are easier ways to accomplish that...

Oathbringer London signing ()
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So, if Dalinar used Spiritual Adhesion to forge a bond between Sja-anat and Honor or Cultivation or whoever, then could Sja-anat corrupt a spren, an Odiumspren back to Honor or Cultivation?

Brandon Sanderson

Maybe. Nyeh...


What about the Fused?

Brandon Sanderson

The Fused-- I mean, it's the same kind of thing, they're a Cognitive Shadow. Eh? Eh. I'm gonna give you an "Eh." on that one... I don't know how you write that on the forums.

General Reddit 2020 ()
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When will the Wandersail ebook come out?

Brandon Sanderson

Ballpark is October. In a perfect world, here is my process:

Write it mid-July to mid-August. Beta read late August. Revisions early October. Copyedit done mid-October, to get to people a month before the new book.

That's my goal, at least. Things can always slide--and I'll try to be up-front about that, if it happens.

Note that I've been toying with a variety of different names. Wandersail might not be the best title, since that's the ship name--but it's not doing anything that has to do with the Wit story from book one. So I might call it something else, to prevent confusion.


Sorry to distract you from everything else to ask another question, but I think previously you said you may revise The Apocalypse Guard in July as well. Will that still be the case?

Brandon Sanderson

I just went through my schedule, and realized that with Stormlight 4 taking a week or so longer than planned (current turn in date is expected to be the 10th) I'd need to push back AG a little bit. I still hope to get to it before the end of the year, but timing is going to be tight in July with the kickstarter and the novella, so I want to keep my attention on those. I also need to do a quick draft of Death by Pizza, which is still coming along. (Though the co-author and I call it Songs of the Dead now.)


I literally 4 days ago found out about Songs of the Dead, and being a Heavy Metal fan, got so hyped.

Brandon Sanderson

One of our biggest challenges in the book so far has been to make it feel like it's sincerely about someone who is part of the culture (as my co-author is) without it turning into either a) sounding elitist or b) sounding like we're just Ready Player One style name-dropping a bunch of metal references. I think we're getting there, but there's a lot of nuance to writing something like this that is deeply entrenched in a specific sub-culture.


Please don't forget Wax and Wayne 4!

Brandon Sanderson

I won't. Goal is to start that January 1st, after Skyward 3. Then I'll do the fourth (and final) Skyward book, on target (hopefully) for Stormlight 5 the following January.


Can you give us a rough timeframe for the release of The Lost Metal?

Also, can you give us a little tiny piece of non important information from the book so we can something to hold on until the release?

Brandon Sanderson

Goal: Finish by one year from today. Release date: Following spring/summer.

Tidbit... Probably going to lead with a Wayne flashback, instead of a Wax flashback, in this one.

General Reddit 2019 ()
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Is this (see sources) a valid breakdown of known Rosharan Magic? The idea here is that two Shards on Scadriel gave us 3 systems - two mono-shardic and one di-shardic. Mono-shardic systems being each shard expressing itself, and multi-shardic systems arising from an interaction between the two. So by that logic, on Roshar, 3 shards should give us 3 mono-shardic, 3 di-shardic, and 1 tri-shardic systems. It is mentioned that Odium (the Void) is bound by the powers of Honor and Cultivation. With the caveat that the Everstorm is also probably in between Honor and Odium?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO. I'd suggest the chart is worth studying, however.

Footnote: I don't know if Brandon was talking about the Voidbinding chart or my linked chart.
Boskone 54 ()
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So with Soulforging, are you able to Soulforge yourself so that you die?

Brandon Sanderson

Uh, can you Soulforge yourself to death? So, Soulforging that requires large state changes of Investiture and/or inputs of Investiture are very difficult. However, killing yourself is not that hard, but basically you could - so, Soulforging yourself so that you are already dead would a little bit harder, but Soulforging yourself would be, yeah.


<background noise> and be able to check in the afterlife and then return--

Brandon Sanderson

No, because transfer of Investiture to and from the Beyond or even into the Cognitive Realm is going to require more investiture than a Forger pulls through, you can Forge yourself to death.


So I can kill myself but I can’t come back.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. That would be one of those things where you kill yourself, your soul passes to the Beyond, your body when the Forgery is broken comes back, and just dead.

Salt Lake City signing 2012 ()
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I was just wondering, how Stormlight 2 is coming?

Brandon Sanderson

How is Stormlight 2 going? It's going pretty well. This whole being trapped in a hotel during the storm thing was not actually as conducive as you might think. Cause I sat down and I worked on it for a bit but being away from home, being, you know, annoyed that I'm trapped in a hotel and things like that I actually ended up writing a short story I owed somebody instead, just to kind of further clear the plate.

I owe Charlaine Harris a story. Charlaine's a friend and she's been a dear to me and she keeps trying to get me into one of her anthologies. And I'm like "Charlaine, this isn't really my thing," but she keeps asking so I finally said yes to one of them because the concept sounds fun, it was called Games Dead People Play. So I wrote her a story for her Games Dead People Play anthology. So we'll see about that.

It was actually four thousand words; you can be impressed now. I don't write things very short very often, if you can't tell. My short stories are as long as the book you're holding in your hand usually. So that's how that tends to go. So four thousand words is really short for me; it's only like 20 pages or something, it's tiny. Anyway, Stormlight 2 is coming along well. Hopefully next Christmas-time is when it should be coming out. I'm supposed to be turning in a new title this week and a cover concept by the end of the month, so that Michael Whelan can paint one. So we will see if I'm able to keep these deadlines.

Hero of Ages Q&A - Time Waster's Guide ()
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I am curious if any changes were made to the story after you got A Memory of Light or after the Name of the Windwas published? The style hasn't changed, but the story seemed to flow much better this time around.

Brandon Sanderson

Actually, no. This one was finished off back before I knew anything of A Memory of Light or before I'd read Name of the Wind. Hopefully, the smoothing is a result of me trying to work out kinks in my storytelling ability. I'm learning to distance out my climax chapters, for instance. (I think I've I'd have written this book years ago, I'd have tried to overlay Spook's climactic sequence with the ending ones, for instance, which would have been a mistake.)

Also, of the three books, I worked the hardest on this one. Choosing that ending—even though I'd planned it for some time—was very difficult. I knew that it would anger some readers. I also knew that it was the right ending for the series.

I'm glad it worked for you.


I have to admit, I am one of those angered. I will be so glad when this cliché of killing off the heroes will finally pass. I escape to fantasy for the happy ending. If I wanted to be depressed I'd grab a 3-dollar bottle of Mad Dog 20/20 and drink it all and contemplate my mundane life. I can't spend much time reflecting on the book because of the mental picture of Vin and Elend dead in a field keeps popping up instead. They didn't even get a chance to reproduce.

Now outside of the horrible ending (which wasn't surprising in the least because it is so common to kill the heroes) I enjoyed them. I absolutely cannot wait to read your books written 10 years from now. You can definitely pick up the improvement in transitions and character development in each book I've read from you. I'm quite often reminded of David Eddings although I'm sure plenty would disagree. And while Eddings isn't one of my favorite writers to be at his level (to me) so early in your career leads me to believe great things will be coming.

I would like to ask you one thing to consider when writing endings. Fantasy is an escape, please don't ruin it with such depressing endings. When you have had the opportunity to look upon your dead wife in her coffin, reading about others dying isn't fun at all. It is absolutely terrible. Happily ever after.

Brandon Sanderson

I understand your anger. I wrote the ending that felt most appropriate to me for this book and series. I didn't find it depressing at all, personally. But people have reacted this way about every ending I've written.

I won't always do it, I promise. But I have to trust my instincts and write the stories the way they feel right to me. I didn't 'kill off' Vin and Elend in my mind. I simply let them take risks and make the sacrifices they needed to. It wasn't done to avoid cliché or to be part of a cliché, or to be shocking or surprising, or to be interesting or poetic—it was done because that was the story as I saw it.

I will keep this in mind, though. I know it's not what a lot of people want to read. Know that I didn't do it to try to shock you or prove anything. And because of that, if a more traditionally happy ending is something that a story requires, I'll do that—even if it means the people on the other side of the fence from you will point fingers at me for being clichéd in that regard as well.

If it helps, realize that one of the reasons I added the lines in Sazed's note was to let the characters live on for those who wanted them to live on. I ALMOST didn't have Spook even discover the bodies, leaving it more ambiguous.

Stormlight Three Update #2 ()
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(Until the second five books, where our primary characters will shuffle. So you Renarin fans will have to be patient.)

Do you worry that assuring us that a character will likely survive the first arc of the series removes some of the tension in their scenes?

(While you've discussed the idea that a main character can have a book about them while they are dead when Dalinar was expected to be central to book 5, this seems different)

Brandon Sanderson

I have said many times before that Renarin and Lift are main characters for the next five, but--as you point out--I've also said that I have no problem having a main character who is actually dead, and their story told through flashbacks and the stories of the other characters. Renarin is not safe, but you will see a lot more from him in the future, even if he does die.

To say more would be to give too many spoilers about the nature of the back five books.

San Diego [email protected] 2020 ()
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What kind of spren is Oathbringer, the Shardblade?

Brandon Sanderson

Oathbringer is not technically a spren. Why I call these things the Honorblades, kind of where the whole Shardblade concept fits in, is that these are literally pieces of Honor's soul that he Splintered off and formed weapons out of for the Heralds. These didn't actually have sentience, in the same way that the spren forming most of the Shardblades are. They're literally a piece of the god who ruled this world turned into weapons. And the spren, who are also pieces of the same divinity, saw what was happening, and this kind of became a model by which Shardblades came about.

So Oathbringer doesn't have a spren. If you wanted to call it something, call it a sliver of Honor that has been manifested in physical form. That does mean the blade would actually be made of Tanavast's god metal, so tanavastium, if you want to call it that.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, that's just me hearing what I wanted to hear, not what was actually asked. It happens more often than I'd like; I get into this groove of answering questions, and start answering what I'm thinking about rather than what actually gets asked. A lot of times, I'm expecting a question (often because it's one that gets asked a lot, like what are Shardblades made out of) and my brain defaults to the answer I've prepared. I think it might be because I've trained myself to answer questions while doing other things.

Oathbringer's not an Honorblade. It was a Stoneward's blade a long time ago, with the corresponding spren.

Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
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So, say you have a gold/gold Twinborn and they worldhop to Roshar and they study the magic and do the whole Khriss and Nazh thing for a while so they know a lot about the magic, but they've also left themselves a lot of options with what they can do. So then they manage to pull up a gold shadow of them having actually become a Surgebinder and then kind of meld themselves with that shadow a bunch, could they change their Cognitive Identity enough so that they could, like, tap a lot of gold and grow the spren and actually be a Surgebinder?

Brandon Sanderson

Unfortunately, no. It's a good question, but no. That won't work for a couple of reasons. One of which is, simply creating Investiture is not something that can happen, right?


They are a gold Twinborn, so they can tap a lot of gold...

Brandon Sanderson

They can tap a whole bunch, that's true, they can do that, but simply having it is not gonna create a spren because the spren is from a different god, right, a different Shard.


So if they had Regrowth cast on them, would that do it?

Brandon Sanderson

*hems and haws for a second*


A really, really big Regrowth, like in the middle of a Highstorm.

Brandon Sanderson

Hmmm, this, you are getting to the realm of plausibility at that point. I still don't think gold is the way to do it. I think you just get all that Investiture. It would become sapient by you sticking a whole bunch of Investiture in, and then you can bond to that. But it's not like people gain what you would have done. Does that make sense? That's just what's going to happen, is you're gonna, you can create a, potentially create a spren that way, but you are more likely to end up with something like Nightblood. But you could potentially create a spren, but I mean you're just gonna end up...


So there are other, more optimal ways to do that?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, go bond a spren. (evil grin of course)


But you can't easily bond multiple, and if you did this you could maybe get multiple.

Brandon Sanderson

Nyeaaahhh... The spren still has to choose. If you want to be a Surgebinder, the choice is being made. You can't fake your way into it. Decision and Honor are too much a part of Surgebinding for you to be able to fake your way into that. Other magics you might be able to do that. Other magics that don't require, like... Surgebinding works because a piece of Honor or Cultivation or a mix has chosen you specifically. There is will from the actual Investiture involved in it in Roshar. So it's not something you can cheat your way into, right. But cheating your way into Breath might be easier.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Parlin Is Dead

Parlin was always meant to die here. That's one of the main reasons I left Vivenna with someone from Idris to be in her team, in fact. (The other reason is that I found it unrealistic that she wouldn't have somebody with her.)

Maybe this is why Parlin never worked as a character, to be honest. I wonder if he was always in my mind as the character who was going to get killed by Tonk Fah, which kept me from giving him enough depth. I'm not sure; I do know that in the book as it stands, he's probably the biggest component I wish I had time to change. I'm not certain what I could put in his place that wouldn't distract too much from the plot—and wouldn't take away from the humor of Denth and the mercenaries—but would still be sympathetic enough that when he dies here, it would be more powerful. But I would have liked to have found something.

Tonk Fah tortured him to death. He wasn't supposed to, but he got carried away. It was an accident, as Denth claims. (Denth shouldn't have left Tonks alone with the prisoner to continue the torturing.) Denth came back and found Parlin dead, and was annoyed and frustrated. He left Tonks behind, storming out in anger, and eventually found Jewels and Clod, who were talking to slum contacts and trying to find Vivenna. They came back to regroup.

Meanwhile, Tonks heard Vivenna enter, and knew it wasn't Denth. He put his Breath into his clothing, then ducked back under the stairs, his lantern extinguished, wondering who had come. He wasn't terribly surprised to find Vivenna. That was when Denth and Jewels got back and the rest of the situation went down.

I added the corpses of Vivenna's father's agents in the last draft, by the way, since I figured I wanted it to be more obvious what had happened to them.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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In Oathbringer Cultivation calls Dalinar Son of Honor and Son of Odium. Why? Does he Connected to both Shards and technically can be a Vessel for Odium.

Also, why Cultivation says it'd be good for her to have a part of Dalinar inside of her? Is it important?

Brandon Sanderson

This is partially RAFO territory, but let's just say that Cultivation takes the long view on someone--and to her, Dalinar represents both the the best and worst of both Honor and Odium.

Calamity Houston signing ()
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Questioner (paraphrased)

Something carefully worded about how he isn't opposed to having a major character of Stormlight 6-10 arc be dead before the books started and would he do that in a style like in Mistborn: Secret History.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Kudos from Brandon on carefully wording it to avoid MB:SH spoilers and the very consistent answer that if Brandon did so, the character would be the focus of the flashback sequences in those books, and then once the flashback is over they'd be dead, so no one is safe for the book until the flashback sequences are over.
Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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Have you ever thought (just for fun) which KR Order your characters for other books would fit the best? Like, Sazed is Bondsmith, Kelsier is probably Skybreaker.

Which Rosharian Shard, Honor, Cultivation or Odium, better fits with Dalinar's personality?

Brandon Sanderson

I'd agree with the other commenter that Kelsier isn't much of a Skybreaker. But picking orders would depend on what point in the person's life we're talking, and the situation. It's not a hard-fast rule.

For example, young Dalinar is very Odium. Modern Dalinar is very Honor.


What about Magic: The Gathering color alignments?

Like, would Kelsier be Red/White or Red/Black?

Brandon Sanderson

Kelsier is blue/black. Vin is Red/green. Sazed is white/green--with arguments for mono-white. Elend is red white. The LR is white/black.


This actually surprises me a lot. I would have expected Sazed to be Bant-colored, and Elend seems much bluer than he does red.

Brandon Sanderson

Actually, I don't know why I said red/white for Elend. Must have been answering quickly. You're right, blue/white is a better match for him. Ham is red/white.

Arcanum Unbounded Hoboken signing ()
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Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

There was a point when the Heralds didn't need to draw Stormlight from gems, although the Stormlight-in-gems predates Honor's arrival.

There was a following conversation about this topic, about how a lot of the elements were there before Honor arrived, but he co-opted them. So, Stormlight were there, but there are big differences now.

MisCon 2018 ()
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What do you feel about the role of allegory? The whole debate between Lewis and Tolkien. But connected to that, the other side of it, how do you feel about the duty of fiction to say something good, or send a message...

Brandon Sanderson

So, where I fall on that is, I fall on Tolkien's side. In my own fiction, I do not want my fiction to be an allegory of anything other than "Here is how some people see the world." And I think that that is a powerful thing that fiction does, is it shows different perspectives on the same issues. I stole a quote that I swear was from Robert Jordan. I hope someone finds it one day, where said he wrote his stories to give people interesting questions. He didn't write his stories to give them answers. And I put that as a quote from one of my characters in one of my books. I haven't been able to find where Robert Jordan said that, but I swear he said it at some point. That the idea is, that I think fiction is about questions and not answers. But that doesn't mean that I don't enjoy reading Phillip Pullman, who's like, "This is an allegory for my life experience." I enjoy reading C.S. Lewis. I don't enjoy certain authors, we won't extrapolate further along that path. But there are lots of authors that have written books as allegory that I think are great books. A Christmas Carol is an allegory. It's a great allegory, it's fun, but that's not how I generally write. I generally write by saying, "Who is this person? What are they passionate about?" I will look for theme in what the characters are struggling with and bring that theme out as a manifestation of the characters, but I won't go in saying "I'm gonna teach people about the nature of honor." But maybe one of the characters is really interested in the nature of honor, and so they'll talk about it.

Elantris Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

I worked for a while on the last line of Part Two. Originally, Hrathen thought to himself "Well, this isn't good." However, Moshe disagreed with that line. First, he thought it was too quippish. He wanted something more serious here. Second, he didn't think that these events were actually bad for Hrathen. Telrii, a man who had been giving Hrathen serious troubles, and Eondel, one of his main enemies, had just killed each other. On top of that, Roial—the main rival for the throne—is dead. All in all, a lot of annoying people are dead.

Moshe had a point, though I did disagree a bit. I think Hrathen would see Telrii's death as a wasted investment. He was still hoping to control the man, and having Telrii on the throne and amiable to Hrathen would have been a much better outcome, since it would leave Hrathen looking less powerless before Wyrn.

However, I went ahead and changed the line. It now reads "So much for avoiding a bloody revolution." It gets across the same ruefulness as before, without being as flippant.

Words of Radiance Washington, DC signing ()
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Questioner (paraphrased)

In Shallan, in the beginning and middle of the book it's 10 heartbeats, and in the end of the book it's none...?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

The 10 heartbeats is required to revive a dead Shardblade.

Questioner (paraphrased)

But he wasn't dead the whole time.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

He wasn't.  But perception-- all magic systems in the Cosmere are based on perception-what you think you can do. For instance, Kaladin can't get healed because he sees himself as having a wounded forehead with the scars and that can't vanish because his perception is in the way.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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I only yesterday found out you changed the ending for the way of kings. 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.

When Worlds Collide 2014 ()
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Jeremy (paraphrased)

When Honor speaks of his inability to see the future, he likens it to a shattering window. Is this related to the fact that in the not-too-distant future, he himself will be splintered? Or is it more a matter of Intent; e.g., Cultivation (and Preservation?) is geared toward future development, whereas Honor is geared toward current behavior.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

This is not related to his impending Splintering, it is a matter of differing Intents.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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With Jasnah not being dead when we thought she was dead and Szeth coming back to life; how will you retain tension during future battles if the audience thinks that death might not be the end of someone?

Brandon Sanderson

I try hard to make sure things like this are well foreshadowed, but it's always a concern as a writer. Basically every book you write, in an action/adventure world, will contain fake outs like this.

There's certainly a balance. Gandalf coming back in LOTR worked, and Anakin turning out to be alive Empire Strikes back is a powerful moment--but I feel RJ, for example, may have brought people back too often.

Not sure where this balance is for me yet. I know the story I want to tell, though, and I try to leave clues when something like this is going to happen so that it feels less like a fake out and more like an "Aha. I knew it."

Firefight release party ()
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Herowannabe's wife

In this one [Sixth of the Dusk] is the guy he [Dusk] finds dead, is that Hoid?

Brandon Sanderson

They guy he finds dead is not Hoid. Good question.

Herowannabe's wife

Is it anyone we already know?


Does Hoid make an appearance in that one?

Brandon Sanderson

Hoid does not make an appearance in that one.


What about Shadows for Silence?

Brandon Sanderson

In Shadows for Silence he does not make an appearance. I established with those two, my goal was, he-- I found that if I just shoehorned him in it didn't actually fit the narrative. Like I want this to not just be a cameo, he's actively doing things. Does that make sense? He's not just there for cameos... he's actively up to something.

Now he has been to Threnody. Threnody is very interesting to him for certain reasons. He hasn't been to First of the Sun, he's never visited Sixth of the Dusk's planet, yet.

Firefight release party ()
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The dead shardblades, could you possibly get Stormlight into them to reawaken them?

Brandon Sanderson

Dead shardblade could you pump enough Stormlight into them? That alone would not be enough.


So you would have to find someone to re-swear with oaths?

Brandon Sanderson

There is something broken on the Spiritual Realm because of the broken oath and simple Stormlight will not fix that.


So say--

Brandon Sanderson

If the person were still alive and could re-swear the oath then yes.


[...] the Spiritual Realm?

Brandon Sanderson

It is not outside the realm of reason but it would be very very very difficult.

TWG Posts ()
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Brandon Sanderson


I've turned my full attention back to this book, and have done a heavy rewrite of Chapter One, which helped me pound out who Midius is (in my mind at least.)  You can see the effect your comments had.  Here's the new version.  As always, comments are welcome!

Brandon Sanderson

All, here's an experimental change I'm considering for the Theus chapters (and note the new Midius chapter at the bottom of the previous page.) I think this may soften the brutality somewhat, even though it's all still there. It will make for a drastic change in feel for the king as a character, but I'm very tempted to do this instead. Reactions?


It’s a bad day to kill, Theusa thought. Too cloudy. A man should be able to see the sun when he dies, feel the warmth on his skin one last time.

She marched down the dusty path, crops to her right and left, guards behind her. The men of her personal guard wore woolen cloaks over bronze breastplates. Bronze. So expensive. What farming supplies could she have traded for instead of the valuable metal armor?

And yet, she really had no choice. The armor meant something. Strength. Power. She needed to show both.

Several of the soldiers pulled their cloaks tight against the morning’s spring chill. Theusa herself wore a woolen dress and shawl, the copper crown on her head the only real indication of her station. King. It had been twenty-some years since anyone had dared question her right to that title. In the open, at least.

Her breath puffed in front of her, and she pulled her shawl close. I’m getting old, she thought with annoyance.

Behind her towered the grand city state of Partinel, circled entirely--lake and all--by a rough stone wall reaching some fifteen feet high. The wall had been commissioned, then finished, by Yornes the grand, her father-in-law. She’d married his son, Didarion, in her twenty-third year of life.

Didarion been a short time later. That had been almost thirty years ago, now.

Old indeed, Theusa thought, passing out of the ring of crops. Partinel’s trune ring was one of the largest in the Cluster, but it still provided a relatively small area in which to grow food. They grew right up to the edge of the city wall in a full circle around the city. Running in a loop around them was a narrow, earthen road. Beyond that, a wide patch of carefully-watched and cultivated walnut trees ran around the city. Her people cut down one group of trees every year and planted a new patch. It was a good system, giving them both hardwood for trade and nuts for food. In the Cluster, no land could be wasted.

Because beyond the trees, the land became white. The walnuts stands marked the border, the edge of Partinel’s trune ring and the beginning of fainlands.

Theusa could see the fain forest through a patch of walnut saplings. She paused, looking out at the hostile, bleached landscape. Bone white trees, with colorless undergrowth twisting and creeping around the trunks. White leaves fluttered in the breeze, sometimes passing into the trune ring, dusted with a prickly white fungus.

Skullmoss, the herald of all fain life. Her soldiers and workers gathered the leaves anyway and burned them, though it wasn’t really nessissary. Though eating something fain--animal or plant--was deadly to a human, simple interaction with it was not. Besides, fain life, even the skullmoss, could not live inside of a trune ring.

That’s how it had always been. White trees beyond the border, trune life within. People could go out into the fainlands--there was no real danger, for skullmoss couldn’t corrupt a living creature. Some brave cities even used fain trees for lumber, though Theusa had never dared.

She shivered, turning away from the fain forest and turning to where a group of soldiers--with leather vests and skirts--stood guarding a few huddled people. The prisoners included one man, his wife, and two children. All knelt in the dirt, wearing linen smocks tied with sashes.

The father looked up as Theusa approached, and his eyes widened. Her reputation preceded her. The Bear of Partinel, some called her: a stocky, square-faced woman with graying hair. Theusa walked up to the kneeling father, then bent down on one knee, regarding the man.

The peasant had a face covered in dirt, but his sandaled feet were a dusty white. Skullmoss. Theusa avoided touching the dust, though it should be unable to infect anything within a trune ring. She studied the man for a time, reading the pain and fear in his face. He lowered his eyes beneath the scruitiny.

“Everyone has a place, young man,” she finally said.

The outsider glanced back up.

“The people of this city,” Theusa continued, “they belong here. They work these crops, hauling water from the stormsea to the troughs. Their fathers bled to build and defend that wall. They were born here. They will die here. They are mine.”

“I can work, lady,” the man whispered. “I can grow food, build walls, and fight.”

Theusa shook her head. “That’s not your place, I’m afraid. Our men wait upon drawn lots for the right to work the fields and gain a little extra for their families. There is no room for you. You know this.”

“Please,” the man said. He tried to move forward, but one of the soldiers had his hand on the man’s shoulder, holding him down.

Theusa stood. Jend, faithful as always, waited at the head of her soldiers. He handed Theusa a small sack. She judged the weight, feeling the kernels of grain through the canvas, then tossed it to the ground before the outsider. The man looked confused.

“Take it,” Theusa said. “Go find a spot of ground that the fainlands have relinquished, try to live there as a chance cropper.”

“The moss is everywhere lately,” the man said. “If clearings open up, they are gone before the next season begins.”

“Then boil the grain and use it to sustain you as you find your way to Rens,” Theusa said. “They take in outsiders. I don’t care. Just take the sack and go.”

The man reached out a careful hand, accepting the grain. His family watched, silent, yet obviously confused. This was the Bear of Partinel? A woman who would give free grain to those who tried to sneak into her city? What of the rumors?

“Thank you, lady,” the man whispered.

Theusa nodded, then looked to Jend. “Kill the woman.”

“Wha--” the outsider got halfway through the word before Jend unsheathed his bronze gladius and rammed it into the stomach of the kneeling outsider woman. She gasped in shock, and her husband screamed, trying to get to her. The guards held him firmly as Jend pulled the sword free, then he cut at the woman’s neck. The weapon got lodged in the vertebrae, and it took him three hacks to get the head free. Even so, the execution was over in just a few heartbeats.

The outsider continued to scream. Theusa stooped down again--just out of the man’s reach--blood trickling across the packed earth in front of her. One of the guards slapped the outsider, interrupting his yells.

“I am sorry to do this,” Theusa said. “Though I doubt you care how I feel. You must understand, however. Everyone has a place. The people of this city, they are mine--and my place is to look after them.”

The outsider hissed curses at her. His children--the boy a young teen, the girl perhaps a few years younger--were sobbing at the sight of their mother’s death.

“You knew the penalty for trying to sneak into my city,” Theusa said softly. “Everyone does. Try it again, and my men will find the rest of your family--wherever you’ve left them--and kill them.”

Then, she stood, leaving the screaming peasant behind to yell himself ragged. Theusa’s personal guards moved behind her as she returned to the corridor through the wheat, Jend cleaning his gladius and sheathing it. Over the tops of the green spring plants, Theusa could see a man waiting for her before the city.

(Edit, cleaned up language.)

Brandon Sanderson

Thanks for the comments, folks.  A new version has been uploaded, mostly making minor tweaks as suggested by db.  Some good points, and the prose needed streamlining.


For some reason, this just feels less brutal to me.  Theusa's language is softer than Theus's had been, and I think more reasonable.  Still brutal, yet somehow it works better for me.  That might just be because I've seen (and written) too many characters that feel like Theus, and changing the character to a female (who's a bit older, and who is arguably the legitimate ruler of the city) makes them feel a lot more exciting to write. 

Gruff, Gritty, Male solder king: Feels overdone.

Gruff, gritty, grandmother king: Not so much.

I know it's more about how well the character is done, and less about whether it's been done before or not.  However, excitement on my part seems to make for a better story over-all.  So, I'm wondering if this character will be more exciting for me this way, or just much more trouble.  (I'll have to think of what to do for the next Theus chapter, for instance.  I really liked the fight there, and I can't really put Theusa in the same role.)

Brandon Sanderson


There are, unfortunately, reasons why I have to start the book where I did.  I can't get into it without major spoilers.  You are perfectly right about this chapter lacking a hook, which is why I decided from the get-go that I'd need to start with a scene from the middle of the book, then jump back. 

So, this chapter should be considered the SECOND, and not the one that introduces Midius's character. 

My goal is to try some new things with this book.  Who knows if it will work, but they will present narrative challenges for me, because even when we flash back, we're starting in the middle of a story, with Hoid already dead.

Brandon Sanderson

I'll admit, I'm really torn on this one.  I can't quite decide which way to go.  The thing is, I've been thinking about the characters so much that they're both--Theus and Theusa--now formed in my head.  I know their motivations and their feelings, but I can only use one of them.  

With Theus I gain the ability to have he, himself fight.  I can show him with his family, which could really round out his character.  Yet, I worry that he's too similar to other characters I've written.  (Cett and Straff both come to mind from the Mistborn trilogy, though neither of them are as rounded, as well as Iadon from Elantris.  I've done a lot of brutal rulers.)   

With Thesua, I lose the two things I mentioned above.  I couldn't soften her by showing a spouse and children, and while she'd still have a daughter, I don't see the child being as much of an influence on reader opinion.  And, there would be less action in the book by a slight amount as Theusa will not be a warrior, and will have to rely on Jend to do her combat.   

However, I gain a tad of originality.  (How many tyrant grandmother city-state rulers are there in fiction?  Have to be fewer than men like Theus.)  I also gain some subtlety--Theusa's rule would be much more tenuous, because of her gender, and there would be a lot of politics working against her.   

Both would play off of Yunmi very well, if for different reasons.  Midius's interactions lean slightly toward me liking Theus, but not a huge amount.   

I keep going back and forth on this one.  So, I'll put off the decision until tomorrow and write a Yunmi chapter instead.  Huzzah!

Brandon Sanderson

After much playing with the plot and wrangling, I've decided to go with the male version of the character.  The new Midius chapter is here to stay, however.

I'll just have to do the old grandma tyrant king in some other book. 

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Adam Horne

A few people have wondered if we're ever going to see time travel in the cosmere.

Brandon Sanderson

Time travel into the past is something that I decided very early in the life of the cosmere that I was not going to deal with. So people can time travel into the future, but we can do that right now - not very much, but if you go fast, you are time traveling into the future by laws of relativity, and it's easier to do that in the cosmere. There are a couple things for storytelling that really throw a lot of wrenches into your worldbuilding. One of them's time travel; as soon as you introduce time travel, it changes everything.

Another one is bringing characters back from the dead, and since my very first cosmere book starts with someone being resurrected in chapter one, I knew that people coming back from the dead was not something I could have a hard fast rule against in the cosmere. Multiple books are based on the idea of people being resurrected; that's where Warbreaker and Elantris both come from, is that kind of idea.

Since I knew I was going to be doing that one, the other two that I think that really mess with things in strange ways are alternate dimensions and time travel. And that's when I just said I'm going to put those both off-limits in the cosmere. You saw me doing alternate dimension stuff in Steelheart, in part because I won't let myself do it in the cosmere. I'm already playing with fire with the way that people can become cognitive shadows in the cosmere, and I don't want to have the other two messing up narratives and storylines and things on the level that they would. So no time travel into the past ever in the cosmere.

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Brandon Sanderson

Eshonai had heard it said that mapping the world removed its mystery. Some of the other listeners in her camp insisted that the wilderness should be left wild, the place of spren and greatshells, and that by trying to lock it down into paper, they risked stealing its secrets. She found this to be flat-out ridiculous.

She attuned Awe as she entered the forest from the back way. Closer to the Shattered Plains, almost everything was flat, grown over only by the occasional rockbud. Yet here, not so far away, was a place where trees grew in abundance. She’d started her map by going around the perimeter of the forest until she found the river on the other side. Now, after a few days of walking, she intended to head back along the river until she came out on the other side, closer to her camp.

Everyone had been so worried about the storms and her being trapped in them alone. But she had been out in storms a dozen times in her life, and she had survived just fine. That had been without the forest here. These trees made a wall before the storm, like the ones that encircled the ten camps.

Those camp walls had fallen long ago, like most of the ancient listener creations. That was proof: you couldn’t steal the secrets from nature simply by exploring them. The mere thought was laughable. Yes, listeners could create mighty walls, but they were a poor imitation for what nature presented. This forest had likely stood when the ancient city at the center of the Plains had been new; and it stood, still, now that the city was little more than a scattering of lumps in the crem.

She settled down near a rock and unrolled her map, made from precious paper. Her mother was one of the few among all the camps who knew the song that outlined the steps in creating it. With her help, Eshonai had perfected the process, and made certain her cases were sealed against the rain. She used a pen and ink to sketch the path of the river as it entered the forest, then dabbed the ink until it was dry before rerolling the map.

Though she was confident, Resolve attuned, she did admit that the complaints of the others had seemed particularly bothersome to her lately.

“We know where the forest is! Why draw it out?”

“The river flows this direction. Everyone knows where to find it. Why bother putting it to paper?”

“You try to capture the songs, but the songs aren’t meant to be trapped. Save writing for marking debts. Don’t force something as alive as spren to become as dead as a sheet of paper.”

Too many of her camp wanted to pretend the world was smaller than it was. She was convinced that was why they continued to squabble and fight with the other camps. If the world consisted only of the ten camps and the ground around them, then fighting over that land made sense.

But their ancestors hadn’t fought one another. Their ancestors had united. Their ancestors had turned their faces to the storm and marched away, abandoning their very gods in the name of freedom.

Well, Eshonai would use that freedom. And with her maps, she would show the others, expand their minds, bring them with her next time she visited the forest, and would show them the wonders out here.

They would sit by the fire and complain that she was stealing Cultivation’s secrets away, never experiencing the beauty she offered, never knowing the best wonder of them all, the ultimate question: What will I discover next?

The river wound through the heart of the forest, and Eshonai mapped its course using her own methods of counting the distance and rechecking her work by surveying sites from multiple sides. It flowed after highstorms, but often continued for days once one had passed. Why? When all the water had drained away or been lapped up, why did this river keep going? Where did it start? Once she had this map done, she intended to head all the way up the river, further than she’d ever gone before, and try to figure out its origin. Rivers excited her. They were markers, guideposts, roadways. You could never get lost if you knew where the river was.

She stopped for lunch near one of the bends, and there discovered a type of cremling that was green, like the trees. She’d never seen one that shade before. She’d have to tell Venli.

“Stealing nature’s secrets?” she said to Annoyance. “What is a secret but a surprise to be discovered?” Making a map didn’t lock down or constrict the wonders of nature. Nature would keep on changing, growing and providing new wonders! All a map did was provide a path to experience them.

Finishing her steamed hasper, she put out her fire and continued on the way. By her guess, she could travel through here only a day and a half before reaching the other side. Then, if she rounded the other side of the forest, she’d have a finished picture of how this land looked. It might take months of work after that to map the interior of the forest; if it could be mapped. How would she keep from getting lost without the river to guide her or the edge of the forest to mark a barrier? Such an intriguing problem. Such a wonderful problem! There was so much to see, so much to know, and so much to do; and she was going to discover it all. She was going to…

What was that? She frowned, stopping in her tracks. The river wasn’t particularly strong right now; it would likely slow to a trickle by tomorrow. The trees grew far back from its banks, evidence that the flood during a highstorm was dangerous. That could be so loud, she could follow it from a distance, just by listening. Now, though, the water made barely a gurgle. And over it, she easily heard the shouts in the distance.

Had others come to find her? She’d told them not to expect her back soon. She hurried forward, in part overjoyed. If someone had come after her, perhaps they were growing more willing to explore.

It wasn’t until after she was almost to the sounds that she realized something was very wrong with them. They were flat, no hint of a Rhythm, as if they were not made by listeners, but by the dead.

A moment later, she rounded a bend and found herself confronted by something more wondrous and more terrible than she’d ever dared imagine.


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If a Mistborn were to burn a piece of a Shardblade, what would happen?

Brandon Sanderson

This would be hard to make happen, but it would be possible. A Shardblade is going to act as, basically, an alloy of the god metal of Honor and so  what would it do? RAFO, but it is possible and it would do something. It would not be inert. It would be Allomanticaly viable.