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General Reddit 2020 ()
#101 Copy


Here's my theory, and I want to get it down here so when it turns out to be right I can say "See I called it!"

​Dalinar becomes the new Honor, Lift becomes the new Cultivation. Why? Cultivation touched three people, Dalinar, Taravangian and Lift. She planned for Taravangian to become the new Odium, so I figure the other two are the new Honor and her eventual successor Cultivation. At least this is Cultivation's plan, even if that's not exactly how it ends up happening.

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO indeed.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#103 Copy


During the perpendicularity scene in Oathbringer is it safe to say that what Dalinar did is akin to super powered versions of his surges? Tension to make the realms ductile and formable, adhesion to bring them together. I know the specific ability is unique to Dalinar but I'm fairly attached to this rationalization

Brandon Sanderson

I wouldn't immediately shoot down this particular theory. interview ()
#106 Copy


I need to ask, Dalinar lost his wife's name. I was talking about it with Klaudia yesterday and I need to ask, is it punishment or it's-- was it his wish?

Brandon Sanderson



When will it be revealed?

Brandon Sanderson

It will be revealed in Oathbringer. You will get flashbacks of Dalinar going, you actually see him visit the Nightwatcher.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#107 Copy


Dalinar is my absolute favorite character in any book now. During previous AMA someone asked you about character’s mental health and you wrote that Dalinar has had PTSD, alcoholism and “a few other things”. Can you explain what these “other things” are?

Brandon Sanderson

All right, so with Dalinar, I wouldn't suggest looking for some broad categorization--like, I think there would be an instinct by some people to diagnose him with Antisocial PD during his youth. He certainly has some hallmarks (the lack of empathy, the aggression, and the and willingness to put responsibility for his actions onto someone else.)

But I think more, with Dalinar, it wasn't some grand schema to diagnose--but a lot of little problems, like most of us have, that were unhealthy ways of seeing the world. Some of this relates to his mix of jealousy/devotion related to his brother, both of which emotions were unhealthy at times. But also his bloodlust in combat, which wasn't just the Thrill--but a real enjoyment of fighting, and a willingness to ignore consequences to others for that.

These are still all issues he has, though he's worked through many--but the knowledge that losing control was so bad for him in the past has led him to what I'd call his current biggest challenge, which is the need to be in control at all times. (To the point that he doesn't completely trust others to see something get done, despite what he claims.)

Firefight Seattle UBooks signing ()
#111 Copy


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.

Oathbringer Glasgow signing ()
#112 Copy


In that one long rejection of Odium, how many Oaths did Dalinar swear before merging the Realms? And is "I am Unity" the fifth.

Brandon Sanderson

No, that is not an Oath. He swore one ideal in that experience.


Okay. How many Oaths is he on?

Brandon Sanderson

The number you think. So, he should have just finished three, right? Or maybe four. I'll have to go look. It's the number that you think it is. I'm not being sneaky on you. There's nothing sneaky there. He doesn't get armor, so I can't remember where he is... He should be at three. "Life before death." "I will unite instead of divide." "I will stand up each time I fall." Yeah, so he's done three.

Idaho Falls signing ()
#115 Copy


Would Dalinar or Kaladin like Kelsier?

Brandon Sanderson

You know, I think they both would have their issues with Kelsier.


'Cause he's more of a rogue.

Brandon Sanderson

It would really depend on what situation they were in. But I think Dalinar would not approve of his methods. And I think Kaladin would empathize with him, but at the end would not approve either. To Kaladin he would probably represent the things that Kaladin kind of wishes he would do, but is too moral to do. And that would be a dangerous thing for Kaladin.

Stuttgart signing ()
#116 Copy

Questioner (paraphrased)

What idea sparked Stormlight for you?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

The very first seed for everything was a man who's brother to a king. The king gets assassinated and the nephew becomes a bad king. How he copes with that is what I started thinking about. We all have somebody in our family. That became Dalinar and Elhokar in The Stormlight Archive.

Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
#117 Copy


I have a couple of questions regarding Dalinar. We know that he visited the Nightwatcher and it doesn't look like anybody else knows about it.

  1. Have we seen anything in the first two books, which shows the boon he got from the Nightwatcher?

  2. As we see from the preview chapter of Oathbringer, Dalinar was extremely brash and maybe a bit cruel in his youth. Does his change of character has something to do with the Nightwatcher?

Brandon Sanderson

These are both questions that, presumably, the Dalinar flashbacks in book three will answer. So RAFO. :)

General Reddit 2017 ()
#119 Copy


Considering Brandon likes MTG, this is probably something he has thought out haha.

Kaladin strikes me as someone with a very White personality and Blue powers.

Shallan's Blue.

Dalinar's White, but I feel like he was Red before.

Adolin has some Red, some White, and recently some Black I guess.

Lift is Red in personality and I guess Green at powers.

What else can you guys come up with?

Brandon Sanderson

Hmm... These are not bad, and it's always hard to figure out how to define by this system--honestly, I wouldn't trust my definitions, I'd have to go to MaRo or something.

I'd suspect that Shallan is red/blue instead of mono blue.

Lift is very green, not just in powers, but in personality. She's all about instinct, and doing what occurs to her in the moment.

As OP said, Kaladin is very white/blue. And Dalinar is red who became white. Navani is mono-blue. Szeth is black/white, and Taravangian probably mono-black. Eshonai is probably green.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#120 Copy


I was rereading W&W books recently and noticed something interesting.

In Shadows of Self, when Sazed/Harmony is talking with Wax, he feels warmth.

Wax felt a warmth, a fire, as if the inside of the carriage were heating to incredible temperatures

The voice vanished. The temperature returned to normal. Wax leaned back, sweating, feeling drained.

That makes me think about our favorite Bondsmith who experiences something familiar. Is it a coincidence? No, I don't mean Sazed specifically, but perhaps this happens when Shard (any Shard) tries to communicate with people? In the case of Dalinar it could be Cultivation or another big splinter of Honor.

Brandon Sanderson

This parallelism is intentional, but that's all I will say for now.

Oathbringer Leeds signing ()
#121 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.

/r/fantasy AMA 2017 ()
#122 Copy


Do you think you'll ever go outside of the established raunchiness of your books? I don't mean a murder sex party, but you know, straying a bit into the dark and gritty. It's just my opinion but I feel like you play it a little safe. Not necessarily a bad thing though!

Brandon Sanderson

I don't think I've crossed the line where I'm personally comfortable doing, but I think I'm close. Usually, I give a few characters (like Wayne) the ability to go further than others, as an acknowledgement that there are good people out there who don't happen to have my same prudish nature.

I think the thing you'll see that is the closest is when (and if) I write the Threnody novel.

For everything else, you'll have to settle for knowing that one of my quirks as a writer is that I do indeed play it a little safe--and probably will always do so. I'm very aware that my children, nieces, and nephews read my books. Beyond that, I feel that I'm an intentional and specific contrast to other writers in the genre--I consider it my duty to prove that (like many of the classic movies) you can write something that is for adults, and has depth, without delving into grittiness.

This is not a disparagement of people like Joe Abercrombie, who I think is an excellent writer, or others like him--and I'm glad we have them in the field. However, my own path goes a different direction, and I think it's important that I also publish, proving to those who perhaps wish to be more circumspect in these areas that there is a place for them in the genre too.


Does that mean that you recognize that the stories that take place on Threnody, a world of your creation, are stories that you are uncomfortable exploring because they are too harsh or intense? If that's the case I find that absolutely fascinating and very impressive- it's almost as if the cosmere is a real place with real people and you're just communicating their stories to us. I personally would rather you never told those stories instead of forcing them to be something that is untrue to what you created them to be.

Brandon Sanderson

A writer must be willing to do uncomfortable things; I fully believe that. Stories like Snapshot (my most recent novella) have done this before, and if I write the Threnody novel, I intend to do it well. (But also be very clear to audiences that it's darker than other cosmere books.)

It's not about intensity--I feel other books are intense. Or even about violence or darkness. It's about how far the narrative needs to delve into these things, or the relationship of light and hope to the darkness.

Dalinar's backstory in Stormlight is uncomfortably dark, and I won't pull punches from it. But it's balanced by the man he has become. In Threnody, some of the stories don't have that balance.

General Reddit 2017 ()
#123 Copy


Will we get a depiction of Dalinar, aside from the image in Unfettered II? I was slightly disappointed these [Oathbringer endpapers] are depictions of Heralds actually, although having said that, they are gorgeous!

Brandon Sanderson

I'm sure we'll get one eventually. But there's not one in this book.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#124 Copy


I was wondering about origins and meaning of Dalinar's name. It's a shame we know name meanings of minor characters like Oroden, but don't know about our main character. How you came out with Dalinar's name and what does it means in-world?

Brandon Sanderson

Dalinar is actually a chicken-egg thing. I had his name way before I had the linguistics of Roshar, and it was always just the RIGHT name for me. I built a lot of the naming conventions around the fact that I liked the name.

Shadows of Self Newcastle UK signing ()
#125 Copy


I wondered if there's a bit of you in all the characters... and it's characters where they don't have bits of you that you get stuck with writing them, and how you overcome that?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, getting stuck. So characters are the hard one for me to talk about because I plan my worlds in great detail before I start writing, in most cases, and I plan my plots in moderate detail. I plot backward, I start with what I want to have happen for a plot cycle; not necessarily the last scene, but, you know, something like this character learns to use the magic, and I've got the scene where it shows that this is working, and then I list a bunch of bullet points underneath. That's my-- And so if you look at my outline, it's like goal, bullet points, goal, bullet points, goal, bullet points-- that's my whole outline.

My characters, I figure out who they are when the book starts, but I do not outline them in great detail. The reason for this is we find that writers tend to fall into two general camps. We have what we call outline writers, and discover writers. Now, discovery writers, George RR Martin calls them gardeners, they like to discover their story as they go. Stephen King says you never start with an ending in mind because otherwise it ruins the book, he just goes and see what happens. They tend to write character really well. In fact if you're reading a good and you go "Wow these characters all feel really vivid and alive", that's probably a discovery writer. If you're-- On the other hand outliners, or architects as George RR Martin calls them, tend to plan everything out ahead of time and because of this they tend to have spectacular plots. If you've got somebody who's got a great plot, it's a page-turner, the great twist at the ending-- that's most likely going to be an architect, but the flaw of this is they tend to have weaker characters; and the flaw over here is they tend to have weaker plots. Terrible endings are a horrible kind of habit of the discovery writer. 

Over time I've really tried to kind of mitigate this by letting myself discovery-write my characters to kind of get some more of that living character status, which means I have to have a flowing outline where, once I've started writing my way into the character I will then have to rebuild the outline periodically to match the person they're becoming, which sometimes rips apart that outline quite a bit. The other thing that it requires me to do is I often have to kind of cast characters in a role. Vin is a great example of this, where I actually tried Vin three different times--I posted one of these on my website--with a different personality each time until I got one that would fit the story that I'm telling, and who she was, and I went from there.

And so it's really hard for me to pick out what I do with characters, but if my book is not working it's almost always that a character is not working for me. And this happened with Sazed in book 3 of Mistborn. I wrote this in the annotations, you can go and read it off that. Dalinar, in the original draft of The Way of Kings. When a character is not clicking 100% it is the biggest problem I run into with books, that takes a lot of drafting to figure out what to do. With Dalinar, if you're not familiar with what happened there, is I split him into two people. It always had his son Adolin, but Adolin had not been a viewpoint character, and the problem I was having with Dalinar was that I wanted to present a strong figure for the leader because people though he was going mad, but I also had to have him talk about this madness, and be really worried about it, and so he came on very weak, because everyone thought he was going mad, and he spent all of his time brooding about going mad. When I took the brooding out to his son, and had Dalinar be like "I'm not mad, something's going on, everyone thinks that I'm crazy, but I can deal with this", and had his son go "my dad, who I love, is going crazy", those two characters actually both became more alive, and worked better, than they had with the conflict of "I'm going crazy" being Dalinar's. So, it takes a lot of work to figure these things out sometimes.