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The Way of Kings Annotations ()
#102 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

World Map

The world map for Roshar changed dramatically between various iterations of the book.

Work on this novel started when I was fifteen. Back then, most of the plots and characters were combined with another world of mine, called Yolen. (That's where the book Dragonsteel takes place.) Somewhere in my early 20s, after I had a whole lot more experience and knew (kind of) what I was doing, I realized that the plots I had going in this world didn't click well together, so I divided the books into two separate series.

I wrote Dragonsteel first, back in 1999 or 2000. (Although Dragonsteel was the third book I wrote in the cosmere—after White Sand and Elantris—it was meant to be the chronological origin of the sequence. Hoid was one of the main characters of that series. The first book even includes significant viewpoints from him.)

I started outlining The Way of Kings fairly soon after. That original map I imagined as a continent with three prongs facing downward, with a connection at the top. There was the Alethi prong in the center, Shinovar to the west, and a long prong with Natanatan on the east.

Over the years, my worldbuilding skills grew. And part of that growth was realizing that the map I'd designed didn't work well for the story I wanted to tell. I wanted something better, and I changed designs.

I gave Isaac the outline of this world that became Roshar. (Based on an iteration of a Julia set, though for a while I played around with making the whole continent a cymatic shape.) That didn't happen for Mistborn, where I basically just told him, "Make the world map as you wish, with these guidelines." Mistborn, I knew, was going to happen basically in a couple of cities.

The Way of Kings was going to be huge, and I wanted scope for the project. That meant a big, epic map. I'm very pleased with Isaac's work here. Do note that this is a southern hemisphere continent, with the equator up north.

MisCon 2018 ()
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Questioner

I'm a geologist. I was wondering does Scadrial have tectonics the way Earth does?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. Scadrial does have tectonics. Roshar doesn't. I think it's the only one I built that doesn't, because of some specific things. But yes, Scadrial tectonic.

Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
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Questioner

Where are the rest of Roshar's named gems? Like, we have the Hope diamond, we've got dozens of--

Brandon Sanderson

A lot of them are in the [Thaylen Gemstone Reserve] ...There's a lot of them around and there are places like that. One of the tricks, and I actually kind of was aware of this, particularly in book three, I was like "Yeah, I maybe should have named some of these things earlier." One of the tricks with a book like Way of Kings, there are already so many new names and terms that oftentimes I find myself finding ways to not include a new name or term because the overwhelming nature of the learning curve is so big. And I will admit, writing book three I'm like, "Ah, I should have named some of these earlier," this is what they would do.

But it's kind of this Occam's razor, well, that's the wrong term. It's this idea of "Let's try to keep it as simple as possible for that fact that it's really complex." and that's why I naturally just didn't do it. 

I would say in-world a lot of them are named. But you've also got to remember that gems are not as eternal on Roshar as they are. They are a little more ephemeral, you will often end up using them for something and they are wearing out, so to speak. So the idea that a diamond is forever is more of an Earth concept than a Roshar concept.

Arcanum Unbounded Chicago signing ()
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Questioner

What role will the chasmfiends play?

Brandon Sanderson

So there's a bunch of different roles for the chasmfiends that are all minor but-- For instance, I don't think anyone's made this connection, thunderclasts have chasmfiend-- it's part of the in-world inspiration for thunderclasts. And really chasmfiends exist in part to show off the symbiotic relationship between certain spren and certain creatures on Roshar. So when people who read the first book who know a little about physics can be like "Uhh, Mr. Sanderson" and I'm like "Well, look at these things that are flowing around this thing when it dies." It's an introduction of gemhearts and things like this. And the ability of certain creatures on Roshar to hold Investiture permanently, as Szeth says, rather than it seeping away like it does to humans.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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ccstat

When Jasnah talks about soulcasting the 8 different types of blood, is she referring to transfusion typing within humans (e.g. ABO+/- on Earth) or to different kinds of blood between species (e.g. human vs axehound vs greatshell vs Aimian, etc)?

Brandon Sanderson

Both, though people on Roshar haven't hit upon the levels of complexity in blood types that we know.

KingSloth

Did these arise naturally on Roshar, or did Honor/Cultivation get lazy on templating humanity and copying existing?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO. (Sorry.)

Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
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usuyami

With all the linguistic elements in Stormlight, how much have you done in the way of mapping out the linguistic history of Roshar, ie deciding that this modern language descends from this older language, which descends from that ancient language that also gave rise to all these other languages, etc.?

Brandon Sanderson

I've done a surprising amount of this. The linguist in me slipping out. The vowel shifts are one of my favorites.

Shadows of Self London UK signing ()
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Neuxue

Does Roshar have a magnetic field?  

Brandon Sanderson

Um, Roshar, magnetic field, yes, it does. Yes. Yeah it does  

Neuxue

You said at one point that it is all one plate--  

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Neuxue

--that there's no tectonic activity. What is the interior of the planet like?  

Brandon Sanderson

That’s a good question... You're not going to get an answer on that one. It's a weird planet, let's just say that. It's a pretty weird planet

Neuxue

Are the diamonds naturally occurring?  

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, but most are going to be-- They aren't-- all gemstones are naturally occurring, but most of, many or most of, the gems they are getting they are getting from creatures that grow them, not from the rock. Though there are mines on Roshar, you just have to-- most of them are on the leeward side of mountains, where the crem isn't being deposited.

Neuxue

So, diamond mines are about tectonics--

Brandon Sanderson

It was a created planet, keep that in mind.

Salt Lake City ComicCon 2017 ()
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Questioner

How do they handle, like, trash and bathrooms in the Purelake? How does that work?

Brandon Sanderson

Fortunately, you have a couple of things going on here. You fortunately have low population. You have highstorms and driving and-- so, the waste is broken down really easily. The trash is a problem. But it's a pre-industrial society, so the trash is not stuff that doesn't ever biodegrade, and things like this, and you do have traders going through, and things like this. So, it all kind of works out. It's the low population that's really helping with a lot of this. It's not as bad, a big a deal as you would think it is...

All of Roshar has a slight issue in that you just can't bury things, but you do have the crem that comes down and hardens around things and creates a layer of stone, and things like this. In my opinion, the way I've worked it out, it all just kind of works out just fine...

It's no bigger a deal in the Purelake, in other words, than these other places. In fact it's kind of a smaller deal. Like, you might ask, like, traveling out on the greatshells in the Reshi Sea, they would have a harder problem in some ways, 'cause they have a tight population density on top of something that they also can't bury anything, and stuff like that. I just had to work out the ecology of the system to work.

Oathbringer London signing ()
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kalamitous_emoashions

Have we seen any evidence of Hemalurgy on Roshar? And, as sort of an addendum, given the end of Oathbringer, was what happened to Jezrien Hemalurgy?

Brandon Sanderson

There are certain cosmere philosophers that would count it. I would divide it as two separate things that are using similar fundamentals... I wouldn't call it myself, but there are people who would disagree with me in-world. Have we seen evidence? I would say no evidence that is easily-- easy to pick out.

kalamitous_emoashions

But it's there?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, there are people with Hemalurgy who have been to Roshar. I'm pretty sure they've been on-screen.

Shadows of Self San Diego signing ()
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leinton

Does Roshar experience storms outside of the highstorms and the Weepings? And if so, how often would Shinovar get them?

Brandon Sanderson

So, the weather patterns are dominated by the highstorms. Non-highstorm storms are rare but do occur. The further to the west you get, the harder it is to tell the difference between a highstorm and a regular storm. Like, in Shinovar, a highstorm is just kind of like-- it feels like what a storm you might get here, or even weaker. But they do happen. They're gonna happen, most often you're going to notice them in the quote-unquote "summers," when the highstorms are further apart.

Firefight release party ()
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Questioner

Does Roshar have plate tectonics?

Brandon Sanderson

Roshar does not have plate tectonics, good question.

Questioner

Well when I met you in Orem, I was asking about frequencies. And you said it was more the shape of the plate-- The frequency. We've got no plate tectonics, we've got people who like to sing.

Brandon Sanderson

Good question. Now the weird thing that we would have is with the crem, we have to do some weird geology gymnastics, because Roshar is moving...

Roshar, the continent of Roshar, it's moving, right? As it gets weathered and things like this. Making Roshar actually work requires some really interesting scientific gymnastics. But one of them is I just didn't think plate tectonics, or even volcanoes and things, is just not something that is going to work on Roshar the way that I built it. So I just stayed away from all of that.  It's a pangaea.

Questioners

Is the pangaea built up of crem?

Brandon Sanderson

 It's a pangaea built up of crem.

Rubix

Over a long time--

Brandon Sanderson

Well no, because it was created at first.

Bystander

And then crem was on top of it?

Brandon Sanderson

...The whole idea that this is a fractal-- The whole point of that is, somebody built this. Somebody built this using mathematics that you know. They said "Oh. Boom. Bing!" and grew themselves a continent.

OdysseyCon 2016 ()
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Blightsong

Are sandlings from white sand an early concept for crustaceans on Roshar, with greatshells being a parallel to deep sandlings?

Brandon Sanderson

No, um, the idea for white sand came first, and it was more that I was exploring divergent ecology, but I've been doing that in Dragonsteel and in White Sand and in here with Roshar. I would say that the fact that white sand hadn't been published meant that I could do something's that were similar without worrying about repeating myself, but it's not like I used them specifically as models.

Blightsong

*jokingly* So are we going to get to see little dragons running around in Dragonsteel?

Brandon Sanderson

Uh, well, in Dragonsteel the dragons are sapient, so when I write Dragonsteel I will put dragons in there, but the dragons are intelligent and uh, can take human form, but there are actual little dragons.

Blightsong

Wait, they can take human form?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, yes, yup.

ICon 2019 ()
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Questioner

We've heard a lot about the lighteyes' ranking system, but less so about the darkeyes. I would like to ask if you can tell us more about what happens at, like, tenth nahn, the lowest of the lowest.

Brandon Sanderson

So, tenth nahn is easy, because that's the slaves. So, it's the middle ones that get really interesting. And actually, in some ways, the top ones are interesting because the nahns, the top of the Alethi darkeyes, would be analogous to how in the early 1800s, you saw a rise of a merchant class -- that actually started back in the 17, maybe 1600s -- but the rise of a merchant class who were not noble, but more powerful or richer than the nobility in almost every situation except for some legal situations. And that's what you're seeing there. That's really interesting.

The middle nahns are also interesting because they have the right of movement, which is an Alethi right that you can leave a city and move to another city. You basically can't be a sharecropper, you can't be required... you can't be a serf. And that power can be wielded over the lighteyes, by -- if the lighteyes is terrible, they can call upon the right to move, leave to a different city and that lighteyes is demoted, right? Because your lighteyes rank can be influenced by how important the people... your civic rank, you could actually become a lower dahn because of that, or at least lose a lot of prestige because of that.

And then the lowest of them are basically serfs, they don't have the right of movement, and the right of movement is a big dividing line. There is a nahn that doesn't have the right of movement that isn't a slave, also, and these people have pretty dismal lives.

Bands of Mourning release party ()
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Questioner

*audio obscured*

Brandon Sanderson

Honestly? I just, these days, say "It kind of looks something like this" and he [Isaac Stewart] reads the book and finds any references I've made and comes up with something. I can trust him to the point that I don't have to worry too much about it. On some I'll give him a shape. On Roshar I gave him the shape, and said "It's like this" and then I split things up. Because that one shape was very important to me. But like Mistborn I'm like "It looks kind of like this. Go for it."

Isaac Stewart

*audio obscured*

Brandon Sanderson

Oh yeah I sent an MS Paint thing.

Goodreads: Ask the Author Q&A ()
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Leinton

So a friend and I who share a passion for sword fighting have been trying to find the real world correlates for the stances that Sharbearers use. So far we've made connections between Windstance and Haidong Gumdo, and Smokestance and the late Medieval/early Renaissance fencing. I was wondering if you could give us more information or at least hints on the other real world correlates?

Brandon Sanderson

I developed these with Ben McSweeney's help, and we plan to include representations of all the stances eventually. However, a few are NOT based on real-world equivalents, because of the size of Shardblades. Look at how various very-large weapons like zweihanders or Zanbat's were used.

General Reddit 2015 ()
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bullshque

I thought the spheres of different denominations were also different sizes.

_robbiehunt_

Someone mentioned this, too. Now with a second person it seems to make even more sense. Was it mentioned in the books?

Garnet and ruby are still right next to each other in value, but with all the other differences... it's probably just enough information to differentiate them.

Thanks!

Kabsal

Huh. I'd always assumed that the glass portion of a sphere was the same size for each gem type, but I can't find solid proof one way or another in the books. It's clear that within a gem type the glass size is constant while gem size grows from chip to mark to broam, but otherwise? I'd have to do a careful reread to try and find any evidence one way or another, and it might not be there at all.

This seems like the kind of question [Brandon Sanderson] or [Ben McSweeney] can give a definitive answer to: would a diamond chip's glass be the same size as an emerald broam's?

Ben McSweeney

[Peter Ahlstrom] ought to know for sure.

I want to say they're all the same size sphere, with larger or smaller gems? But now I'm blanking on what that sphere size is... like, about the size of a marble? Half-inch or so in diameter?

Peter Ahlstrom

The spheres are all the same size, about as big around as a man's thumbnail. Only the gems inside the spheres differ in size.

Oathbringer San Francisco signing ()
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Questioner

On the eye colors on Roshar, there are some weird ones, like orange and yellow. Are those there for a specific reason, or are they just--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. The whole eye color thing is kinda based a little bit on the Knights Radiant, the eyes changing is involved there. What's normal eye colors to them, it's just normal to them. It's not weird to see violet eyes and things like that. But it would be weird to us.

Questioner

Did the eyes have to do with the Orders?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Calamity Seattle signing ()
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Questioner

It feels like Roshar is-- has an essence, where it’s like a prism, you can see all the rest of them, due to the nature of the Cognitive Realm and the spren’s ideas, Cognitive things coming to light.  Have I spent too much time looking at the Shard?

Brandon Sanderson

No, you are on the right path.  Of all the things you noted, that one is the one that is perhaps the most important.

Questioner

The prism idea.

Brandon Sanderson

The idea that Roshar is special and a key on Shadesmar.

Words of Radiance Philadelphia signing ()
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Leiyan

Can you tell me which is the most massive moon [of Roshar]? Not the biggest, but the most massive moon.

Brandon Sanderson

I think the biggest is the most massive. All three moons are much closer than our moon is.

Leiyan

Yes, I gathered that. And so is that Nomon?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Leiyan

How big is Nomon on the night sky, compared to our moon?

Brandon Sanderson

Larger than our moon, but not dominating of the sky.

[Interruption]

I do believe Nomon is, I told Peter, bigger. But he had to run the actual calculations, so he may come back and say, "No Brandon, that's not possible." But I believe it is bigger than our moon in the sky. You're supposed to be able to see moderately well by Nomon.

Phoenix Comic-Con 2016 ()
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Badger (paraphrased)

Are there service animals on Roshar/Alethkar and if so what are they, out of the fauna we know?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Axehounds are very easily trained and domesticated and would make for great service animals. Minks, probably next but not nearly as good as axehounds. He also mentioned that we'll know more about them, and their name, later.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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CoverYourSafeHand

Where do spheres come from in Stormlight? Is there a giant factory somewhere that turns gemhearts into spheres?

Brandon Sanderson

It's similar to mints in various kingdoms on Earth. They're made by different regional powers, and sometimes there are exchange issues because of it--but since Roshar had some unique forms of societal unification in the past, a lot of things like this got standardized.

Shadows of Self Boston signing ()
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Questioner (paraphrased)

Has anyone figured out what the secret in the map was, in Words of Radiance?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yeah, they have. That it's modeled after the Julia Set. Which is meant to indicate that Roshar was designed specifically.

AndrewStirlingMacDonald (paraphrased)

Did it happen through crem buildup?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

No.

Firefight release party ()
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Questioner

I've been trying to brainstorm what Stormlight characters would have jumped into the other books so far. You told me they had at one point.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, they have but you've got to remember that The Stormlight Archive you are seeing right now, what's happening in it is like late cosmere era, does that make sense? So there are lots of people from the world that have been to other worlds but the people you know--this is happening just before Alloy of Law era-- So does that make sense? That's the first time you'd be able to see anyone here and by that era the bleed over is a lot less because we have the whole Odium trapped and things like that. There's a lot less-- There are a lot fewer people traveling in and out of Roshar than there once were.

Salt Lake City Comic-Con 2014 ()
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Questioner

How much involvement does the other planet in the same system as Roshar have with Roshar?

Brandon Sanderson

*long pause* Your question has a fundamental flaw to it.

Questioner

And that is?

Brandon Sanderson

That there are multiple planets that have an influence on Roshar.

Questioner

I thought there were multiple planets in the system that...

Brandon Sanderson

There are, but you said "the other", there are more than one so the phrase, "the other" doesn't make sense.

Questioner

How much influence do the other planets have?

Brandon Sanderson

A great deal.

MisCon 2018 ()
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Glamdring804

How advanced is astronomy on Roshar? Because it's something you haven't really talked about, and I'm thinking--

Brandon Sanderson

Depends on the region. Some people, the astronomy's getting moderately well.

Glamdring804

Surely they've seen Ashyn and Braize in the sky, and I'm wondering how long it will be before they start detecting signs of civilization on Ashyn.

Brandon Sanderson

That would depend on a couple of things, such as, the easiest way to detect civilization is with radio waves, so-- You need some good telescopes. I don't think that would be, even if they spotted it, as revolutionary as you might think it would be, because we thought there were people on all of our planets for most of the history of mankind, and it didn't really affect how we viewed cosmology. I think if you went to Roshar and asked them, they'd be like "Yeah, totally, people live on those planets. Obviously." Just like if you went back and said "Do people live on the moon?" in the 1700s, people would be like, "Yeah probably, seems like they must."

Oathbringer Newcastle signing ()
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Questioner

So, I was wondering, as a dyslexic, when you were designing Thaylen names, was that intentionally a massive practical joke on your part?

Brandon Sanderson

No. Though I will admit, when I was designing Thaylen names, I had a little bit of Welsh going on, and things like that. Now, one of my good friends, actually, the person this book is dedicated to, Alan Layton, is dyslexic. He was one of the people I brainstormed Stormlight with, but he listens to them all on audio. It's more a practical joke on the people who read the audiobooks, because I don't know how they read those names sometimes. But they also have to do Rock's name, right? Numuhukumakiaki'aialunamor. I make them do stuff like that.

Idaho Falls signing ()
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Questioner

If an Inquisitor went to Roshar, would they be a lighteyes or darkeyes?

Brandon Sanderson

If an Inquisitor went to Roshar, they would probably be like someone who has heterochromia, one eye of each, meaning people don't know what to do with them and they are very awkward with trying to figure out how to treat them. The society breaks down a little bit when you run into anything that ruins their perfect system. Which is not so perfect, obviously.

Arcanum Unbounded Chicago signing ()
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Questioner

Are there any greatshells in Roshar's oceans larger than the ones we've seen?

Brandon Sanderson

No.

Questioner

So the Reshi Isles--

Brandon Sanderson

The Reshi Isles, that's the biggest, and even with that I'm doing major fudging on the square-cube law. They've just spren-bonded, we'll talk about this. But even with the spren, those are a stretch. That's as big as it gets. They could exist in the oceans because the square-cube law doesn't apply the in same way, with buoyancy and things. But I think we don't need anything larger than islands.

Questioner

No Godzilla?

Brandon Sanderson

They're bigger than some version of Godzilla.

17th Shard Forum Q&A ()
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FireArcadia

Does the world map in The Way of Kings show all of the landmasses of Roshar? Does that make the continent on Roshar a Pangaea-like supercontinent? And as I think about it, are there tectonic plates on Roshar?

Brandon Sanderson

It is a supercontinent. I won't say there is NOTHING out there, but (unlike Scadrial) there is not another full continent. Plate tectonics are not a factor on the supercontinent.

Words of Radiance Omaha signing ()
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Questioner

Are are they any other continents on Roshar?

Brandon Sanderson

Roshar is, I haven't said that there's anything else out there, but I have said it's Pangea, meaning if there's anything else out there, they are small.  They are not of a similar scope and size.  Now on Scadrial, there is other stuff going on.  And I've told people that for years, and years, and years.  So, you may find some other stuff going on there.  For years, you know, the southern continent was populated on Scadrial during the Final Empire era, even.  It was just impossible to reach because the heat, the poles were the only habitable places on that planet, and so anything in between, you just couldn't deal with it.  The Final Empire was on the North Pole.  

Oathbringer Glasgow signing ()
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Hoidonalsium

What was the order of the Shards coming to Roshar and changing allegiances? Did humans come with Odium?

Brandon Sanderson

So... you're talking about on Roshar specifically? So, Odium had visited Roshar. The humans gave him more of an ear... The Dawnsingers would have considered him the god of the people who had come, but-- I mean, it wasn't like they necessarily brought him. He was capable of getting around before that. I mean, he did kinda come along with them, he was instrumental in what happened there.

Hoidonalsium

Okay, but he was separate, and after Honor and Cultivation had really settled there?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, he was after Honor and Cultivation had settled.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
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Questioner

My question has to do with the color of Shallan's eyes currently, because we've noticed over the books that Kaladin's eyes, as he's continued to use his Surge, changed to lighter and lighter blue. Whereas one could argue that Shallan is farther in her Ideals than Kaladin is, yet her eyes have not changed at all.

Brandon Sanderson

Right, 'cause they were already light.

Questioner

'Cause they were already light? So it only affects lightness or darkness in the eyes, not necessarily any other color?

Brandon Sanderson

It's not like it is-- It's not like it's saying "Light minus 50%".

Questioner

It's not like Honor is blue and--

Brandon Sanderson

No. It is not. It is just kind of the way that the changes the Stormlight is making the body and certain people are already descended from people who had repeated, over time, changes by the body which stopped physically... That's not to say that all lighteyes that's where they came from. There are some that are natural mutations.

Oathbringer release party ()
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TheFulgid

Where do gemstones come from?

Brandon Sanderson

Gemstones on Roshar are mostly coming from gemhearts. And, I remembered to stick in some mentions of this in Oathbringer, 'cause a lot of people have been asking about this. It's not something-- like, the daily ranching of animals for their gemhearts is not something that we bring up a lot, but there is some limited mining operations on Roshar as well, you've just gotta get through the crem.