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Oathbringer Houston signing ()
#101 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

In fact, in the origin of The Stormlight Archive, the first Surgebinding things I did, every order of the Knights Radiant was going to be able to Soulcast. Be able to change things from one to another. It was just, you would be locked into the element that was associated with your order of Knight Radiant, you could turn that into anything else you wanted to. That was one of my original pitches. I eventually moved away from that, a lot of the Orders were just feeling too similar in what they did, but that core concept is still there in Stormlight, and Soulcasting as a concept is there because the series is about change.

Oathbringer Chicago signing ()
#103 Copy

Questioner

I actually wanted to get a tattoo of the Truthwatcher symbol. Are there any-- are there narrative reasons you would go against that?

Brandon Sanderson

Uhh, no.

Questioner

Are they-- would they be an order that's about using knowledge to help people?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

Could I get an Ideal if possible?

Brandon Sanderson

Of them? I can't do 'em because I don't want to canonize them yet, I have to do that when I actually write the books.

Questioner

But it is broadly speaking knowledge and help?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#107 Copy

BusinessCress

In Stormlight Archive, all three main characters, Dalinar, Shallan and Kaladin, suffer from various mental health issues. Is that a normal psychological condition for all Radiants or the lead three is an extreme example of how people break?

Brandon Sanderson

I am very interested in mental health, and the way that we--as human beings--react to and interpret the world around us in different ways. This is a theme of the Stormlight books, but it's going to take a lot of work to do it justice--and I want to approach it from different directions. So yes, it's a theme, and these sorts of issues were common for Knights Radiant.

But I'd point out that they are also common themes for being human. And one of the correlations between orders of Knights Radiant is people who overcome, persist, and push through very difficult trials.

Goodreads WoK Fantasy Book Club Q&A ()
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Jay

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

Brandon Sanderson

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

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#111 Copy

RayW2

What is the most powerful Radiant Order? Bondsmith?

Brandon Sanderson

"Power" is related to situation, perception, and need. A Bondsmith can probably draw the most raw investiture, depending on the situation--but comparisons like this ignore the heart of the matter. I don't look at people in the cosmere as having a "power level," because I don't consider it to be a good measure of the way the stories will play out.

Words of Radiance Chicago signing ()
#112 Copy

Argent

There is a person on the forums who noticed that Shallan has this awesome Memory thing going on, Jasnah seems to have a really powerful, kind of, geolocation thing going on, Kaladin is a really good fighter - are those just their traits, or is there something supernatural going on?

Brandon Sanderson

There is something supernatural going on. Each Order... Well, how about this. If you look at the scholar interpretations, there are some scholars who think that these things are not supernatural, in the past, and some who said they definitely are. But many, if you look, many Lightweavers had powerful mnemonic abilities.

Argent

So it's definitely tied to the Orders?

Brandon Sanderson

It's tied to the Orders. Now, I am not going to say that you've got them all 100% correct, but each Order, there are things that come with Order, things that do not add up from simple the "you get this power plus this power," there is something else going on. And I would say that for Windrunners, watch the number of squires and the power of the squires... is abnormal for the Windrunners.

Argent

And each Order's squires are somehow different from the other Orders'?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeeeaaaah... some Orders don't have them, [that] is the difference.

Argent

 But some have more?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah.

General Reddit 2011 ()
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gunslingers

The number 10 seems to be a recurring theme in this world. Are the "ten fools" the antithesis of the ten orders of the knights radiant?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, ten is a number of mythological import in the world. The Ten Fools are, essentially, the opposites of the Ten Heralds--who each represented an ideal. (Those ideals were later adopted by the orders of Knights Radiant, so yes, there is a connection--but there's a step between them.)

Calamity Philadelphia signing ()
#114 Copy

marcos

As of Words of Radiance, are there two groups of Skybreakers running around claiming to be Skybreakers?

Brandon Sanderson

Nale’s group is the only one I think I’ve had on-screen, so yeah I think there’s only one. Why would you ask that?

marcos

Was the group that Helaran joined the actual Skybreakers?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, I get what you’re saying. Okay. Yes, there is one unified group that call themselves the Skybreakers, good question.

Holiday signing ()
#115 Copy

Questioner

The cover of, the front cover of any Way of Kings books, there's the little engraving, are those Honorblades?

They are the symbols of the various orders of Knights Radiant stylized as Honor-- as Shardblades.

Questioner

Oh, okay. That makes a lot more sense, because I've seen the symbols on the back...

Brandon Sanderson

*pointing at the book* So it's this symbol right here is the same symbol as this.

Questioner

Right, it's just a little more expanded and stuff down the blade.  Wow.

Prague Signing ()
#116 Copy

Snoxcatko

Can people from another world like Scadrial or Sel become a Knight Radiant.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Snoxcatko

Is there some like special conditions in world?

Brandon Sanderson

Nope. You just have to be chosen by the spren. So because the spren are involved then the requirements are a little different for Roshar. But to became an Awakener, you just need to get the Breath so you could pick it up on Nalthis also pretty easily.

JordanCon 2014 ()
#117 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

With Lift part of the inspiration was-- Boy, what was the inspiration for Lift? When I was building The Stormlight Archive I said, "I want the Knights Radiant to run the gamut of different character styles, ages, and types of story." And when you say "knight"--when I say knight you imagine one thing. What you don't imagine is a thirteen-year-old Hispanic girl, right? And I said "I want to have the people that are in the Knights Radiant to not be the standard what you think of." They are the entire world's cultures having different people. And so I said "Well, what is somebody who does not fit that mold?" That you would say is not a knight. Lift was partially developed out of me wanting to build a character who was awesome but was so different from what everyone would think of. 'Cause you say knight and they think of white dude in armor, and I wanted something very different from that. And that's where she came from. It also came partially from my wife reading a lot of fantasy and complaining that she's like, "you know the Asians show up in fantasy a lot, Asian culture inspires a lot. European culture of course does. You see a lot of these things but where are the Hispanics?"

*audience laughs*

...Yeah there's one. So she challenged me to put a Hispanic culture in my books because I had never done it before, and so Lift is an outgrowth of that, so are the Herdazians. They are meant to be sort of in the same way that the Alethi are inspired by Korean culture, mashed up with this sort of concept of medieval knights. The same way Shallan is based a little off of Western American/Europe culture. The Herdazians are launching off some of the original Hispanic concepts. So the thing is, you want every culture to be new and original but you are working from somewhere. And the problem is we all work from the same stories for so long that is part of the reason why fantasy is starting to feel so stale.

Words of Radiance Washington, DC signing ()
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Questioner

The Knights each have two Surges, they spill over each. I am wondering, is the crossover [shared] Surge for each Knight [Order] the same? Like gravity for Windrunners and--

Brandon Sanderson

Windrunners are always the same thing.

Questioner

No no no, the way the [Gravitation] Surge is for Skybreakers and--

Brandon Sanderson

The way they act? Yes. To an extent, yes. Each of the combinations make a little bit of a tweak to how things act but when you see Skybreakers affect gravity it'll be more or less the same as the Windrunners.

Salt Lake City ComicCon 2017 ()
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Questioner

What's the relationship between the Knights Radiant and their opposite gender spren? Is that important or not?

Brandon Sanderson

Ah it is slightly important.

Questioner

I have to RAFO it though?

Brandon Sanderson

It's more important narratively than it is in the world. It happens more often but it doesn't mean anything when it doesn't happen, does that makes sense? So it's slightly important, partialy it's a narrative trick. I want to keep some gender balance and it's a lot easier to play off someone different than yourself, and things like that so I naturally do that. It doesn't necessarily mean anything when I don't. It depends on the personality of the spren.

Firefight Miami signing ()
#121 Copy

Questioner

I can't really remember very well, but I think only Kaladin really says Radiant Oaths in the books, at least. So, for Shallan to have as many powers as she does, has she already said one of the ideals, and we just don't know?

Brandon Sanderson

...You have her glyph whisper one. And you have seen Dalinar say one. So, most of them say them. Shallan's Order, they admit truths. Their Oaths are a very different sort of thing.

Questioner

'Cause I know, I did read that, but I was wondering-- it said somewhere else that all the Knights Radiant have to say the First Ideal.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, they do have to do that.

Questioner

So, she has said that.

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, yeah, she has said that. That is somewhere in her past.

Questioner

Which, presumably, we'll find out about some other point in time?

Brandon Sanderson

Possibly. I think that can be inferred.

Warsaw signing ()
#125 Copy

Questioner

If someone out of Roshar knows the Immortal Words, and he's, for example, a kandra, can he become a Knight?

Brandon Sanderson

So, becoming a Knight Radiant is up to the spren, right? Saying the Ideals, swearing the oaths, these sorts of things, you have to convince a piece of sapient Investiture that you deserve it, and that's the main thing.

Questioner

And the kandra?

Brandon Sanderson

So, the kandra would have to lots of fast talking, and there are a few more difficulties involved, but this is theoretically possible. For instance, taking some pieces of Investiture offworld are difficult.

Holiday signing ()
#126 Copy

Questioner

If you were to place yourself in the...  what Knight Radiant-- what Radiant Order would you be?

Brandon Sanderson

Mmmmm.

Questioner

It's a hard question.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah that is a hard question. I probably naturally, I think the best fit would be Lightweaver but it could be Bondsmith depending on what mood I'm in. You'll have to read that one… Dalinar becomes one at the end.

Questioner

We don't know much about them yet. What do they do? There's only three though, right?

Brandon Sanderson

Right now? There's-- yeah. But there's also Lift, who's an Edgedancer--

Questioner

No, I mean three Bondsmiths.

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, yeah. There aren't very many, ever.

General Reddit 2017 ()
#130 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

A full-blown Radiant can heal almost anything (cut from a Shardblade included) because of the way the magic works--their soul is literally bonded to Investiture, and it suffuses them in such a way that even the soul is very resilient to damage.

Honorblades are what you'd consider a "prototype" for what eventually happened with Shardblades. An Honorblade can be used by anyone, without need for oaths, which makes them very dangerous--but since the bond isn't as deep, they are far less efficient. They use more Stormlight, for example, and can't heal to the extent that a Radiant can.

So the difference is not in the device that did the damage, but in the method using to heal. Over the course of the first two book, the reader should be able to subtly pick out differences from what Szeth says is possible (in more than just healing) and what Kaladin experiences.

YouTube Livestream 14 ()
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Clayton

I think you said you started with the Surges and worked from the bottom up. So what was the hardest Radiant Order to conceptualize in terms of virtual or ideal and powers?

Brandon Sanderson

Cracking how I wanted the Dustbringers to work was probably the trickiest of them all, because I knew that we were going to have (not to give spoilers) some things happening with the Dustbringers that would predispose readers toward them in a certain way that I did not want the Radiant Order to exemplify. And I wanted to be sure what I thought the distinction was and why it was possible that they could go in a different direction. (Trying to circumlocute all of these things to not spoil you.) They were the hardest, probably.

Building up how to make the Surges work, I would say that building up how I wanted the strong force and the weak force, and turning them into fantasticalized versions that basically have very little to do. Like, I even went kind of the surface tension, and things like that. Those were the trickiest. Like, gravity was pretty obvious and ended up working pretty well. I didn't one-to-one move the fundamental forces, by the way. I just took the idea of fundamental forces. But I wanted there to be nods to most of the fundamental forces in the Surges, just because that's where the inspiration was, and because I was gonna be using gravity, quite obviously, because that's the one that made me most excited, and as you can see the Windrunners and the Skybreakers were two of the first ones that we dealt a lot with.

The Great American Read: Other Worlds with Brandon Sanderson ()
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Questioner

Soul Forging. Emperor's Soul. If one created the stamp properly, could you, using it, say, Windrunner you stamp, rewrote past to be Lightweaver. Possible?

Brandon Sanderson

That is possible and a little easier than a lot of other things. It's gonna run into problems... in that the Oaths are gonna be hard to align.

Questioner

Probably require some very fine crafting on the stamp.

Brandon Sanderson

Very fine crafting on the stamp. And there are certain people that they're just gonna have a hard time fitting into certain Orders. This is a lot easier though than just taking a random person and making them into one, because you're gonna already have Investiture that they've got.

Questioner

And have the basis of the First Oath.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. So this is not as hard as it might at first sound. It's the sort of thing that people in the cosmere are looking at. Like, being able to transfer magics between-- and things like that is one of very much interest in the cosmere.

Shadows of Self San Jose signing ()
#134 Copy

Questioner

If Kelsier had been born on Roshar, would he have become a Knight Radiant and if so...?

Brandon Sanderson

I think there’s a possibility that some of the orders might want him, but it really depends on what period he was born in, and what he’s up to, because Kelsier's got this dark edge to him where he could go villain very easily, depending on what’s going on with him. *pause* That’s kind of how I view Kelsier’s defining attribute, if channeled correctly he’s a great force for good, but he’s like right on the line.

General Reddit 2018 ()
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lupicorn

I had a question about what it means to swear the Ideal of Law. Several fans have told me it means to define the law, in the Nixon, "when the president does it, that means it is not illegal," sort of way. I interpret it as becoming the embodiment of the law such that they can't willingly violate any law without breaking their oaths.

Do either of these interpretations hit the mark? Nale seems to follow the law more so than most and that doesn't just seem like a personal preference.

Brandon Sanderson

I would say that both of these interpretations could work for a given Skybreaker, which is why there is disagreement among the order itself. Perception is a big part of the oaths.

I wouldn't want to squish this discussion by offering too much on one side or the other, as this is exactly where I want the conversation to be going right now.