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Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
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ccstat

A question I've been thinking about recently: In Warbreaker we see Nightblood's consciousness shift dramatically when he is actively consuming investiture. Does the Shardic flavor of that investiture (Breath vs Stormlight or Preservation Mist vs Ruin Mist) influence how his mind functions in that state?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO, actually. Good question.

Calamity Philadelphia signing ()
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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.

Calamity Seattle signing ()
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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.

Salt Lake City signing ()
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Chaos

Is atium Invested?

Brandon Sanderson

Is atium Invested? Atium is Investiture distilled into the Physical Realm, right? So is electricity electric? Or is it--

Chaos

Well I think the question Sharders had was if it's Invested, how can people Push and Pull on it. That was the struggle.

Brandon Sanderson

Atium breaks a lot of rules, in the same way that you will see other things break rules. Atium plays weirdly. When you get distilled Investiture, you're starting like-- My kind of rule for myself is it's kind of like when you start going on the quantum level, the rules just start playing weirdly. Because it's like, what Realm does atium exist in-- is another thing. Because-- Pure Investiture like that is like a mini black hole, right? It's like existing in three Realms at once. Kind of, and things like that... There's lots of weirdness.

The writerly answer is there is lots of weirdness because when I built atium, I didn't have the rest of the cosmere built, right? And so it breaks a lot of rules that I later set up that everything else has to follow, right? So the writerly answer is we just have to accept that atium and lerasium and some of these other distilled Investiture things are going to play very weirdly with the magic systems. But that's okay. Nightblood will too, and some of these things that were built even after the cosmere was coming together.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
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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.

Shadows of Self San Jose signing ()
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Questioner

What’s your most terrifying character, and why is it Nightblood?

Brandon Sanderson

Ha. Nightblood is pretty terrifying… You know, an object created to destroy evil but doesn’t know what it is?

Questioner

When you brought it back...I had <to like shut the book> a little bit and like, scary.

Brandon Sanderson

I wanted you to think that Nightblood in the hands of Szeth should be one of the most terrifying things that you have ever contemplated.

Shadows of Self San Jose signing ()
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Questioner

On the coppermind it states specifically that Nightblood is fueled by Investiture, would that mean that an Allomancer burning, say, steel, could then [draw] Nightblood and fuel it off of that?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, Nightblood would feed off that Kinetic Investiture, you could make that work. You would have to keep that portal open, and he would eat the power instead of whatever you were planning to do with it, and when you ran out of metal he’d kill you.

Questioner

Would that also work with say...whatever you have in a Coppermind or metalmind?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, yes, theoretically you could make that work too. That’s an excellent question, you’re the first to ask that.

Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
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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. 

Warbreaker Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Another note here is that Nightblood can sense where Vasher is. This is because Nightblood has ingested and fed off Vasher's Breaths in the past. When he does that, it connects him to someone. It's also, by the way, one of the secrets as to why Vasher doesn't get sick when holding Nightblood, even though he's a good person. It's not simply familiarity (though that is part of it). Nightblood has a built-in test. If he feeds off you and you survive, then you become somewhat immune to his powers.

Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
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Questioner

If an Allomancer drew Nightblood, would it eat the metals first?

Brandon Sanderson

Only if they were burning it. 

Questioner

At the time, otherwise it would go straight through and eat them?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah it would just eat them. Yeah. If they were burning the metals, it would burn through the metal, and he would take the power instead of you gaining whatever ability you were trying to get from it.

Questioner

Who he be able to use the metal power or would he just eat it as...?

Brandon Sanderson

He would just take it as raw Investiture. 

ICon 2019 ()
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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.

General Reddit 2016 ()
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uchoo786

So just for clarification, once Nightblood consumes investiture, that investiture gets recycled? That's what I've always assumed. That it enters the cognitive/spiritual realm?

Brandon Sanderson

The investiture he consumes is not gone forever--it's not leaving the system, so to speak.

JordanCon 2014 ()
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Questioner

Will you tell us a little about the sword from Warbreaker?

Brandon Sanderson

Nightblood is a weapon that I devised. He is partially inspired by my love of Michael Moorcock's writing. He was built into the cosmere using many of the foundational cosmere magic system things that exist on multiple worlds.

Bands of Mourning release party ()
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Questioner

So Nightblood is sentient, he can make choices, and now he is in Roshar. Could Nightblood bond a spren and become a Radiant?

Brandon Sanderson

Could Nightblood bond a spren-- *drowned out by laughter* That one's just a bit farfetched. *laughter* I rarely say anything is impossible but let's just say that one's pretty farfetched.

Shadows of Self release party ()
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Questioner 1

What would happen if you used lerasium as a spike for Hemalurgy?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh lerasium as a spike for Hemalurgy? Um lerasium as a spike for Hemalurgy--

Questioner 1

Would it work or would it just not work?

Brandon Sanderson

No I mean it would work--

Questioner 1

If you were to place a lerasium spike would you transform into a full Mistborn as opposed to--

Questioner 2

Well it can also steal powers, not just grant them, right?

Brandon Sanderson

Um, right. The thing about it is you're trying to Invest something that is already very Invested, which always has weird effects. So while you could do it, it would be a gross waste of the potential. It's like using a nuclear bomb as a paperweight. It is functional but--

Questioner 1

Does that mean it would be hard, for example, to make Nightblood stick something? Because--

Brandon Sanderson

Yes it would be very hard to make Nightblood stick to something. The amount of Investiture in Nightblood is--

Bystander

Astronomical?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. Larger than most things you've seen. So Pushing on Nightblood, really hard.

Oathbringer Houston signing ()
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Cadmium

With Nightblood. Was the sheath part of its construction when he was Awakened? Or was that kinda afterward?

Brandon Sanderson

The sheath is not part of its construction. Good question.

Cadmium

So... when the intent was placed on it, was the sheath there?

Brandon Sanderson

So-- The sheath was not relevant to that. The sheath was not part of the original Awakening, and it's not part of the intent or anything like that. I'm not saying it wasn't there ready for it, but it is not part of the sword. In the same way.

Cadmium

So, at some point we'll figure out why it learned to stop once its in the sheath?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, kind of. It's a function of the sheath.

LTUE 2020 ()
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Questioner

Can you become a Nightblood savant? 

Brandon Sanderson

Um... No, I don't think that would work. Just the way that things are working, probably not. Whether Nightblood is savant or not... But you probably could not become a savant of Nightblood.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Nightblood Origins

I've been wanting to do a book with a talking sword for some time. Sentient objects are a favorite theme of mine from fantasy books I've read, and I think you'll probably see more of them in future books from me.

The magic sword is its own archetype in fantasy, even if there haven't been any good magic sword books among the big fantasy novels of recent years. Perhaps that's because Saberhagen and Moorcock did such a good job with their books in the past. I'm not sure. (I don't count appearances of magic swords like Callandor in the Wheel of Time. I mean books with major parts played by swords.)

Anyway, that's a tangent, and I'm certain that half the people reading this can think of examples and exceptions to what I just said. Either way, this is a theme I wanted to tackle, and the magic system of this world lent me the opportunity.

Nightblood is another favorite character of the readers. I think his personality works the best out of any non-viewpoint character I've ever written. He doesn't get that much dialogue in the book, but it is so distinctive that it just works.

Oathbringer Chicago signing ()
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Questioner

Can I ask you real quick: Where Warbreaker falls in Stormlight Achive?

Brandon Sanderson

Warbreaker is before Stormlight Archive. Vasher, before Warbreaker, had been to Roshar.

Questioner

Okay, that's what I needed to know. Nightblood.

Brandon Sanderson

Nightblood was patterned off of things that Vasher and the others saw on Roshar.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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Heartlight

What is Nightblood's opinions on gender, and who decided on him having he/him pronouns?

Brandon Sanderson

Nightblood is fascinated by gender, and trying to figure it out. Unlike spren like Syl, Nightblood has not self gender assigned as an influence of interacting with humans. That said, Vasher was probably the one who just started calling him He, so if you want to take the issue up with anyone, go to him.

Orem Signing ()
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Questioner

You've previously said that Nightblood is the most powerful non-Shardic being in the Cosmere. Is he more powerful than the Unmade or Stormfather in terms of raw Investiture?

Brandon Sanderson

Raw Investiture? Here's the thing, when you say powerful, it can mean lots of different things. More raw Investiture than the Stormfather... probably not. Than the Unmade, probably. I would have to look, I don't have the numbers on this. But the Stormfather is very restricted in what he can do.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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participating

In Warbreaker, Vasher makes the claim that Nightblood's personality is essentially static, that he'll never change. How true is that? Assuming Nightblood managed to stick around for thousands, or millions of years, could he grow in even the smallest of ways; develop a legitimate sense of right and wrong and figure out what's really going on around him?

Brandon Sanderson

Vasher believes it's true. Vasher has been wrong on occasion, but he is a fairly authoritative source.

#tweettheauthor 2009 ()
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onelowerlight

What first gave you the idea for Warbreaker? What was your first inspiration for it?

Brandon Sanderson

WRBRKR came from a lot of sourcres. Siri and Vivenna were side characters in a book I never finished.

Vasher came from the line that starts the book. No space to post it here, but give it a read.

Nightblood came because…well, I just wanted to have a talking sword.

Tel Aviv Signing ()
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Questioner

When Zahel worldhopped to Roshar, did he ever do that before Warbreaker?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, in fact Roshar was where the idea for Nightblood kind of came from.

Questioner

Will you ever write about that?

Brandon Sanderson

I will probably reference it in future books and maybe I'll do some flashbacks, but I haven't decided. I'm unlikely to write a book that covers that time period on its own.