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San Diego Comic-Con 2015 ()
#101 Copy

Cognizantastic

As I understand it, Nightblood is most comparable to a Shardblade. However, unlike a Shardblade, Nightblood requires constant input of Investiture in order to realize his full destructive potential. Why is this?

Brandon Sanderson

Vasher kind of hacked in order to imitate another magic system. Shardblades are organic parts of the world they are on, but Nightblood is a bunch of souls stuffed into something. Nightblood is like a Frankenstein.

Stormlight Three Update #6 ()
#105 Copy

Phantine

What does Nightblood do if he gets fully drawn and runs out of breath and people to eat?

Does he start vaporizing the ground and start boring a hole to the center of the planet?

Brandon Sanderson

No, he won't. (Good question though.) I'm not sure I want to get into the mechanics of why not, yet. It WAS one of the first things we talked about with Nightblood, though. :)

Phantine

Not to go into mechanics, then, does Nightblood just 'go to sleep' when his job's done?

That would explain how Vasher is confident he'll be able to get Nightblood back, even if the person he tosses Nightblood to ends up fully drawing the blade.

Brandon Sanderson

He doesn't sleep, but if he draws in enough, he'll start to sound drunk or drowsy (depending on your interpretation.)

JordanCon 2016 ()
#106 Copy

Questioner

This actually came out of a panel today. You'd originally said that Nightblood is way more powerful than a regular Shardblade, but at the time that question was asked of you we didn' know about live Shardblades, we only knew about dead Shardblades. So is that still true, now that we know we have at least two--

Brandon Sanderson

Oh he is more powerful than a regular Shardblade. *groaning and laughter* that is 100% still true.

Moderator

How does Nightblood compare to a more living Blade?

Brandon Sanderson

More living Blade? Hehe, you’re asking the same--

Moderator

No I'm asking a different question. *laughter*

Brandon Sanderson

Well, let's just RAFO that one.

Calamity Chicago signing ()
#107 Copy

Questioner

Nightblood.  Is there a person-- like are we seeing the outpouring of a sword that can now think more than a sword or was there a person...

Brandon Sanderson

There was--  There were many people who went into that, because it was all the Breaths that were little pieces of people.

Questioner

Okay, but there’s not one person more than another?

Brandon Sanderson

No.  Nope, it attained sapience kind of through sheer weight of Investiture.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#108 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Nightblood was interesting to write in this book as he makes a very nice contrast to Vasher. Vasher doesn't want to say anything about his past; he's so tight-lipped about it that he rarely even spends any time thinking about it. Nightblood, however, dwells quite heavily on the past. Though in some ways his mind is very capable, he has the quirk of being an Awakened object. The first hours of his life—during which time he met Shashara, Denth, and Vasher—imprinted heavily on him. It's like . . . a part of his mind is hard forged in that moment with read-only memory that cannot be changed. Much of him can learn and grow, despite what Vasher says, but he cannot overwrite those initial concepts, states, and understandings that were burned into him during his birth. Shashara was alive then, so he will always think of her as alive, even if thousands of years have passed. Denth will always be pleased with him. Vasher will always be friends with the other two. Those things were some of Nightblood's first impressions.

ICon 2019 ()
#111 Copy

Nameles36

Why was it that Vasher was able to throw Nightblood while fully drawn but Szeth couldn't even drop him

Brandon Sanderson

So it may have been part to why Nightblood has less an effect on Vasher in general than the other people, but there's also a little of a bit a measure of experience... but there's some other stuff going on with Vasher.

JordanCon 2016 ()
#112 Copy

Questioner

Would Nightblood appear in the Cognitive Realm?

Brandon Sanderson

Nightblood will have a manifestation in the Cognitive Realm.

Questioner

…Would it appear as a sword, or because Nightblood appears to perceive itself as something else, would it appear as something else?

Brandon Sanderson

So, um, you will get a RAFO. *laughter* Because most things we're going to deal with we will have some scenes in the Cognitive Realm coming up, and you'll be better able to make guesses along these lines after you've read those.

Holiday signing ()
#115 Copy

Questioner

I have a question about Nightblood. I think I heard that-- Something you said in a Q&A that it is related to a Shardblade, or was a Shardblade?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah… So Nightblood. Vasher visited Roshar, saw Shardblades, came back and tried to make one. With what he knew of his magic. That's the short version of it. Kind of simplifies things, but yes.

FanX 2018 ()
#116 Copy

Questioner

I want to know if Nightblood can be killed in the same way as a spren.

Brandon Sanderson

Well, that's a RAFO. Nightblood does not have the same spren bond, and so the renouncing of Oaths is not going to affect him, but there are certain things that could.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#119 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Anyway, a lot of important things happen here. Note that Nightblood doesn't remember being drawn. When he was created, the Breaths gave him sentience as planned. (That was a big part of the goal in making him—to prove the existence of Type Four BioChromatic entities.) However, once he is drawn, his Command takes force and he acts much more like a regular Awakened object—but one with very strange abilities and powers. During this time, his Breath is diverted to creating the powers, and his mind goes fuzzy.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#122 Copy

Thadamin

How many Cutting edges does Nightblood have? I'm just trying to find out what Nightblood looks like exactly, Warbreaker is a little sparse on an exact description.

Brandon Sanderson

Nightblood is a long, straight sword, edged on both sides.

morsk

If Nightblood was a Dark Souls weapon, which class would it be? Straight Sword, Greatsword, Ultra Greatsword? I think of it like the Claymore.

Brandon Sanderson

Claymore might be close. Though the dark souls ones might be a tad bigger than he is.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#124 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Lightsong Thinks about How Hallandren Wouldn't Fall

He's wrong here. If he hadn't intervened and taken responsibility, the God King would have died, and another Manywar would have begun. It would have ended with Hallandren in flames, destroyed by the advancing Idrian coalition, who by then would have gained the secret to creating swords like Nightblood from Yesteel, who is hiding in one of the kingdoms across the mountains and who secretly knows what Vasher did to create the sword. He would have brought his kingdom into the conflict. And the world would have burned.

Words of Radiance San Francisco signing ()
#126 Copy

Questioner

So that bit at the end [of Words of Radiance] with Szeth. Getting that black sword...

Brandon Sanderson

That's setting up for book 3, which is going to be crazy.

Questioner

There's another book with a black sword...

Brandon Sanderson

It's the same sword, yes. In fact I wrote the original version of the Way of Kings involving the character who has that sword. He's in the first draft from 2002, then I wrote Warbreaker about him, then I wrote this.

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

Questioner 1

In The Stormlight Archive, do we ever find out how the Assassin in White, how he gets the sword?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, that should be next book.

Questioner 2

And does it intertwine any more with Warbreaker?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh... that you're gonna have to wait a little while for. You're talking about Nightblood. I thought you were talking about the Honorblade. Next book will explain how he got the Honorblade. How he ends up with Nightblood, really how Nightblood got onto the planet, is gonna take a little while. I will work it in. But it's gonna take a while.

Questioner 2

Does that sword have a character arc, because it feels--

Brandon Sanderson

The sword is important and relevant to multiple series.

Questioner 2

It's getting better.

Brandon Sanderson

He has learned some things in the intervening years. He learns real slowly.

Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
#132 Copy

Shadow Guardian

Nightblood, being a sentient object, could he give away his Breath? 

Brandon Sanderson

Ah, Nightblood...could not give away his Breath. It's a good question. It's because that Breath is making him...like something weird has happened to him where the metal is Invested almost to a Hemalurgic or Feruchemical way, right? Like it's no longer just an object with a bunch of Breath. It's become permeating the whole thing. So it's more like the soul of a person, the part of the Breath they can't give away. Like when you give away your Breath, you retain some of your Investiture, you can't give that part away. It's the same thing. 

Shadow Guardian

Cuz I imagine it would be kind of like a Lifeless where that Breath is probably stuck so close that it would not be removable by an Awakener at least.?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, Yep. It's stuck in there, yep. I mean there are ways to get the Investiture out, but it's not the simple "We give it away" thing. Yeah, he can't just give it away. 

Shadow Guardian

<inaudible> corrupted or? 

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, that is part of it, that is part of what that means. 

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#133 Copy

vandar10

Will we see in Nightblood why the returned base breath cannot be given away in the same way the other breath are given?? I'm referring to the fact that when a returned gives his breath the person who receive it don't reach any heightening but use it to heal instead of reaching the fifth heightening and healing anyway.

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#135 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Nightblood

Nightblood's name, by the way, is supposed to sound kind of like the names of the Returned. I played with various different ways for his powers to manifest. I liked the idea of him driving those who hold him to kill anyone nearby. It seemed to work with the concepts that have come before—a kind of unholy, sentient mix of Stormbringer and the One Ring.

The strangest thing about him is the idea that his form isn't that important. The sheath is like a binding for him, keeping his power contained. So drawing him out isn't like drawing a regular weapon, but rather an unleashing of a creature who has been kept chained.

Once that creature is unleashed, he becomes a weapon—even if he's unleashed only a little bit. The sheath itself turns into a weapon, twisting those around it. You don't need to stab someone with Nightblood to kill them; smashing them on the back with the sheath works just as well. It will crunch bones, but beyond that, merely touching them with the sheath when the smoke is leaking can be deadly.

YouTube Spoiler Stream 2 ()
#136 Copy

Zelriel

Is Nightblood considered a Sliver after what happened in Rhythm of War?

Brandon Sanderson

By some definitions... *indecisive sputtering* Tenuous. I would say for the most part no. Some people might in-world disagree because Slivers are pretty... it's a moving target, but Nightblood shuts off pretty quick in terms of the amount of Investiture that would come through something like that. And so while he did get a piece of that, technically anything he eats is getting a piece of a Shard. I'm going to say no, with room for debate.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#138 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Old Chaps

I love having random little viewpoints like these in books. I don't do them often, usually just once or twice a book. But I was excited to write this one, as Chaps has a very interesting way of thinking. Dance, dance, dance. I didn't plan him into the book specifically; I simply wrote this scene as it arrived and I knew someone had to fetch Nightblood. I'm always pleased when a little glimpse like this gives us such a distinctive feel and flavor for a character, though.

Nightblood is better at communicating with people who are mentally unhinged. He can influence them more easily. Really, Denth, you should have known to toss Nightblood someplace far deeper than the shallow bay.

Calamity Philadelphia signing ()
#140 Copy

Questioner

Is there a correlation, at all, between Awakening steel, a blade, and the revival of spren every time a Shardblade is summoned? I mean, I know Invesiture is Investiture is Invesiture.

Brandon Sanderson

So revival of the spren so--

Questioner

Similar.

Brandon Sanderson

Okay. So, are you talking about a live Shardblade or a dead one, or it doesn’t matter.

Questioner

Like Nightblood.

Brandon Sanderson

Okay.

Questioner

Awakening the steel, like that, Shardblades <are like Awakening metal> and stuff.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. The big difference here is that in one you’re using a physical component, right, and Investing it. In another, a more pure Investiture is passing into the Physical Realm and taking on an embodiment, a shape. Does that make sense? And so, similar but different things. There is a correlation, but it’s not--yeah.

Firefight release party ()
#141 Copy

Herowannabe

I noticed that Shardblades are unnaturally light but Nightblood is unnaturally heavy.

Brandon Sanderson

That is correct.

Herowannabe

Care to expound on that?

Brandon Sanderson

Nightblood is built around the same principles as Shardblades, if Shardblades were... broken?  I mean he is-- You'll notice dark smoke that goes down rather than light smoke that goes up, and things like this. So, yeah, they are built on the same principles but in some ways opposites.

Calamity Seattle signing ()
#142 Copy

Questioner

Vasher/Zahel is a Returned, which means he needs Breath to live.  But Breath doesn’t exist on Roshar.  Does he use St--

Brandon Sanderson

He uses Stormlight.  One of the reasons--  In fact one of the primary reasons he’s on Roshar is because Stormlight is so much easier to come by than Breath.  And in fact researching about things like this is one of the reasons he discovered Roshar in the first place.

Questioner

So it’s the same reason why Night-- the sword…

Brandon Sanderson

Nightblood.

Questioner

Yes.

Brandon Sanderson

The exact mechanics of how Nightblood ended up there will be explored in a future book.

YouTube Spoiler Stream 6 ()
#146 Copy

LeFlshe

At Dragonsteel this year, you confirmed that Nightblood is not a Dawnshard. However, its abilities seem to be far greater than that of Vivenna’s blade, presumably made with the same method. This disparity may be due to the person who originally Awakened the swords and leads one to believe that Nightblood, despite not being the Dawnshard, had a Dawnshard involved in its creation. Therefore, is Shashara, the person who Awakened Nightblood, a Dawnshard?

Brandon Sanderson

Excellent questions. You’ve got one faulty premise: Vivenna’s sword was intentionally designed differently to not get another Nightblood. So let’s keep that in mind. That said, I don’t know that they could make another Nightblood if they wanted to. But she definitely did not want to, and there’s a different process that they use nowadays for safer swords.

Questioner 2

Is Vivenna’s sword better or worse than Nightblood?

Brandon Sanderson

Depends on what you want from the sword. Vivenna’s sword does not automatically suck the soul and Investiture out of anything it touches, disintegrating that which it touches, which is both a plus and a minus.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#148 Copy

Boogalyhu34

Can Nightblood be considered a Splinter and does it function like a spren realmatically, are there distinct differences is what I'm asking.

Brandon Sanderson

Nightblood is kind of his own strange thing. He's an attempt to use one magic to replicate something in another. He's closest to a spren, but kind of like a...robot spren, for lack of better words to use.

Argent

When you say that Nightblood is "an attempt to use one magic to replicate something in another," do you mean life in general, or are you referring to a specific effect in a specific magic system?

Brandon Sanderson

There are those involved who knew that Shardblades existed before they tried the Nightblood experiment.

uchoo786

So does this mean Vasher had knowledge of Shardblades before creating Nightblood?

Brandon Sanderson

It means what I wrote, and nothing more at this point. :)

wickedmath

Dude. That's the most tantalizing RAFO I've seen in awhile. Have other Shards made Shardblades besides Honor?

Brandon Sanderson

:) RAFO

Phantine

Is that why Vasher uses the word 'Investiture' instead of some personal term for it?

Brandon Sanderson

I could be wrong, but I think Vasher was the first one in any book I allowed to use cosmere-aware terms for speaking of things like the magics. (Investiture is one of these.)