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DragonCon 2012 ()
#101 Copy

Trae Cooper (paraphrased)

Why are Invested objects like metalminds and Hemalurgic spikes able to be Pushed and Pulled on, but Shardblades and Shardplate, which are also invested, are not susceptible to Pushing and Pulling?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

There were a few concepts that he outlined in answering this question.

1.) The ability to Push/Pull an Invested object is predicated to the amount/power of the Investiture.

2.) Further, Invested objects also gain resistance to pulling/pushing based on proximity to soul possibly via the soul. An example given is that a Hemalurgic spike touches the blood of the person, and from there is now part of both the Spiritual Realm and the Physical Realm. This provides what Brandon termed a kind of "soul interference," based on its proximity to the soul.

This further explains why Vin required more than normal power to Push/Pull the metalminds from the Lord Ruler, because of their proximity to his soul, via the Spiritual Realm.

3.) The amount of Investiture is relatively low on Scadrial, whereas worlds like Sel and Roshar are pushing around "high power" according to Brandon. I interpreted this to mean that Hemalurgic spikes and metalminds have low amounts of Investiture compared to Shardplate and Shardblades.

Brandon said that theoretically you can Push/Pull Shardblades and Shardplates but you would need to wield an incredible amount of power. One example he gave that could so such as a thing is that if you were a Mistborn wielding the full power of the Well of Ascension, you could Push/Pull Shardblades/Plate.

Bands of Mourning release party ()
#102 Copy

Questioner

Could you use steel or iron to Push or Pull off Shardblades or Shardplate?

Brandon Sanderson

Anything that's Invested resists, the more Invested it is the more it resists.

Questioner

Okay, so you could technically--

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

--if it was not charged?

Brandon Sanderson

Well-- Certain objects just have more Investiture and are more purely of the Investiture. A Shardblade's going to be really hard, but it's possible, it's just going to be really, really hard. Even more hard than an absolutely full Feruchemical metalmind because the Shardblade is being created directly out of the Investiture, it's basically all Investiture, it's not a metal that is Invested. It's going to be real hard.

Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
#103 Copy

Argent

When, in Stormlight, Shardblade victims are described as having burned out eyes, do the eyes physically burn out leaving empty eyesockets, or is it closer to a surface burn, maybe just looking like they had burned?

Brandon Sanderson

Eyes actually burn. It is an oddity that I might some day explain.

Calamity Seattle signing ()
#105 Copy

rani

Any kind of Investiture to make a Shardblade?

Brandon Sanderson

Not any but there are multiple methods.  Some work better than others.

rani

Can you Forge a Shardblade?

Brandon Sanderson

To Forge a Shardblade, meaning make a regular sword through Forgery into a Shardblade, would require so much Investiture it’s like asking if we can make lead into gold using a particle accelerator.  Yes but it's horribly, horribly, horribly inefficient.

Bands of Mourning release party ()
#106 Copy

Questioner

If the spren turn into any weapon how come all the dead spren are Shardblades?

Brandon Sanderson

Good question.

Questioner

Read And Find Out?

Brandon Sanderson

It is a Read And Find Out.

Shadows of Self Portland signing ()
#108 Copy

Questioner

Supposing that a skilled Hemalurgist got hold of some a Shardblade or some Shardplate, how would he best use it assuming that the best way isn't to put it on and kill people with it.

Brandon Sanderson

That's probably the best way, to put it on and kill people with it. I'm not sure why a Hemalurgist would want one more than anyone else would because the metal is already Invested which means its not useful to him.

Questioner

So there is no way that he could use a Hemalurgic spike to take some power from the Spren that's crafting it.

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, that's what you're saying. You want to grab something off the Spren? That's gonna be way harder than grabbing one that's not already made into something. So I don't see why he would want the Blade, just go grab it from them. Even then its going to be worse then, probably in most cases, a person. Maybe its possible that spiking yourself with a Spren would be valid, but you don't want to take it out of the Shardblade. That's gonna be harder, but you would probably have to go to the Cognitive either way to make it work, so yeah.

Calamity Austin signing ()
#111 Copy

Questioner

You've said that Shardblades can be made in other magic systems. So if it's not like a Shardblade from Roshar, what makes it a Shardblade?

Brandon Sanderson

The "Shard" refers to the heavy Investiture of a Shard of Adonalsium. Most of what you’ll see will see are the Roshar ones, but it is technically possible to make them out of the other magic systems. It's going to be a heavily invested magical weapon, is kind of how I would define it.

Questioner

So are the Bands [of Mourning] one?

Brandon Sanderson

I would not call them one, but they are close. They're not Invested enough.

Words of Radiance Washington, DC signing ()
#112 Copy

Questioner

Would Allomancy affect Shardplate or Shardblades?

Brandon Sanderson

It cannot affected Shardblades. Well, "cannot" is a strong word. Things with innate investiture are much more difficult to affect with any of the magics at all. Which is why it's very hard, for instance-- Szeth is not able to bind people, or Lash people wearing Shardplate to the ceiling. In the same Allomancy would not be able to Push on it without some help. Duralumin and a really strong [Steel]Push could probably do it. 

Questioner

I was just wondering if it's actually metal.

Brandon Sanderson

Oh yes. It is metal-ish... it is metal enough for Allomancy to work on it.

Shadows of Self release party ()
#113 Copy

Questioner

So could somebody using maybe a duralumin Push or Pull, or just a strong Allomancer, take control of a Shardblade?

Brandon Sanderson

The more heavily Invested something is, the most-- the more <release?> other forms of Investiture? But as we have proof in Mistborn you can Push and Pull on metalminds, you can Push and Pull on even a spike that’s inside of somebody. If you have the strength. So it's kind of pushing against the strength of the Investiture.

A Memory of Light Los Angeles Signing ()
#114 Copy

Questioner (paraphrased)

Why do the Shardblades in The Stormlight Archive have the effect on flesh (human tissue) that they do?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

He originally wrote the scene in the prologue with the assassin Szeth using a traditional sword, but it was so bloody and gruesome that Brandon was actually disgusted. He had to find a way to avoid that and so he came up with a new way for the swords to behave.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#116 Copy

WeiryWriter

Does hair that is still attached to a person's head get cut if a Shardblade passes through it? If not, if that person had the Royal Locks could they change the color of the hair "below" the cut?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, hair gets cut. It counts as dead in my mind--but not to someone who has the Royal Locks. They could only change below, as you state, and wouldn't get their hair chopped off. (I'm not 100% sure on this, but I Think I've mentioned in Stormlight before that you can cut things like shells on living animals with a Shardblade, but then it doesn't cut the flesh.)

WeiryWriter

With the Royal Locks, the individual would be able to change the color in the bit between the cut and the scalp? (In my original question I had meant "below" to mean the bit between the cut and the end whereas your answer uses it the opposite, I think?)

Brandon Sanderson

Distance between scalp and cut, yes you can change that. Otherwise every time you got a haircut, you wouldn't be able to change the hair. Maybe I don't get your question.

WeiryWriter

So just for clarity's sake is the following correct:

Let's say Siri's hair is two feet long. A shardblade passes through the hair exactly in the middle ("dividing" the hair into two one-foot sections). In your previous answer you said that while usually the shardblade would just sever the hair (leaving only a foot attached to the head) with the Royal locks the entire two feet would remain attached but only the foot on the "head" side of the cut would be able to change color.

Thank you, I just want to make sure there is zero doubt in what is actually going on.

Brandon Sanderson

I did misinterpret your original question. As a shardblade cut is likely to be wider than a piece of hair, I doubt you could cut the royal locks lengthwise.

Bands of Mourning release party ()
#118 Copy

Questioner

Shardblades are essentially spren that have died--

Brandon Sanderson

Not all of them have died but yeah.

Questioner

Oh, my question was if they could be revived?

Brandon Sanderson

Um this… According to the understanding of those in-world it would require the same person who broke their oath. So it would be possible if any of them were still alive. I'm not ruling out other ways, but that's how it's understood by--

Questioner

It would be the traditional way.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, mmhmm.

Oathbringer Chicago signing ()
#121 Copy

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.

Holiday signing ()
#123 Copy

Questioner

So we know that Shardblades can't cut through other Shardblades because they are Invested objects, right?

Brandon Sanderson

That is definitely-- Yes, that's part of it.

Questioner

So could a Shardblade cut through other kinds of Invested objects like--

Brandon Sanderson

Depends on how Invested it is.

Questioner

--like a Hemalurgic spike?

Brandon Sanderson

A Hemalurgic spike would resist being cut.

JordanCon 2014 ()
#125 Copy

Questioner

What was the reason for choosing the base form of Shardblades as blades, why not another form? Was it because of the spren?

Brandon Sanderson

Why was the base form of Shardblades chosen to as blades, as swords? It is because the Shardblades were devised... They were devised as imitations of the Honorblades, which were created and given to the Heralds. And so since the original pattern was the Honorblades, they were built to feel like the Honorblades.

Oathbringer Chicago signing ()
#126 Copy

Questioner

So Honorblades: Can they actually be bound? ...Can you bind to an Honorblade or not?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeees you can, but it's not exactly the same thing.

Questioner

It's not exactly the same thing as a regular Shardblade?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah... In some ways they're more powerful in some ways they're a prototype, if that makes sense.

/r/fantasy AMA 2017 ()
#127 Copy

Adontis

I've always wondered, how do you determine where the line between "Word of Brandon" and "Read and Find Out" is? Has it ever caused issues where you've said something, but later that thing changed when it went into a book making your first statement now false?

Thanks so much for writing as much as you do, I'm looking forward to all your upcoming books, keep up the great work!

Brandon Sanderson

Boy, this one is an art, not a science.

I've several times said something that I later decided to change in a book. I've always got this idea in the back of my head that the books are canon, and things I say at signing aren't 100% canon. This is part because of a habit I have of falling back on things I decided years ago, then revised in notes after I realized they didn't work. My off-the-cuff instinct is still to go with what I had in my head for years, even when it's no longer canon.

An example of this are Shardblades. In the first draft of TWoK in 2002, I had the mechanics of the weapons work in a specific way. (If you wanted to steal one from someone, you knock off the bonding gemstone, and it breaks the bond.) I later decided it was more dramatic if you couldn't steal a Shardblade that way--you had to kill the person or force them to relinquish the bond. It worked far better.

But in Oathbringer, Peter had to remind me of that change, as I just kind of nonchalantly wrote into a scene a comment about knocking off a gemstone to steal a Shardblade. These things leak back in, as you might expect for a series I've been working on for some twenty years now--with lore being revised all along.

So...short answer...yes, I've contradicted myself a number of times. I try very, very hard to let the books be the canon however. So you can default to them.

As for what I answer and what I RAFO...it depends on how much I want to reveal at the moment, if I'm trying to preserve specific surprises, or if I just want people to focus on other things at the moment. Like I said, art and not science.

damenleeturks

In WoR, Navani muses to Dalinar about how the gemstones in the Blades could be the focus that allows the bond with the Blade to exist. If this theory is correct, it would follow that someone could damage that gemstone and thus be able to steal the Blade with it then having no intact bonding mechanism, right?

I guess I'm having trouble seeing how the example you describe isn't possible.

Peter Ahlstrom

The gemstone is needed to create the bond and operate the bond's functions. If you remove the gemstone, the person the sword is bonded to can't summon it or dismiss it to mist. But neither can anyone else. If they eventually pop another gemstone in and try to bond it themselves, they will fail, and the original person can then resummon their Blade. The bond is with the dead spren of the Blade, not with the gemstone. The stone facilitates the bond.

So, you can haul around a de-gemstoned Blade with you all the time and successfully steal it that way. But this makes it very easy to steal back. You'd have to kill the holder of the bond in order to rebond it. Which is no different from usual.

And in general, if you can get close enough to a Shardbearer to steal their Blade, you are also close enough to kill them anyway.

Phantine

So that scene where Dalinar crushes the gemstone and hands the Shardblade over, he's also doing some sort of mystical de-bonding?

Or is it just 'if you WANT to give it up, you gave it up'?

Peter Ahlstrom

Yes, if you want to give it up, you gave it up.

Phantine

If nobody is currently bonded to it, does the attuning still take a week?

Otherwise it seems weird people would figure out putting a gemstone in hilt lets you summon it, since nothing would happen without a week of bonding time.

ricree

Not that weird. One of the books (WoK, I think) mentions that many years passed before the gemstone bonding was discovered. Shardblades were still really valuable, though, and even more vulnerable to theft, so it makes sense that people would have kept them close at hand long enough for the bonding process.

Other than that, all you need is someone to accidentally decorate the blade correctly, which is something that took a long time to happen, but was probably bound to happen eventually considering how key infused gemstones are to the world.

Peter Ahlstrom

Well said.

Arcanum Unbounded Hoboken signing ()
#128 Copy

AndrewHB

Is the rapier a weapon that somebody who doesn't have a Shardblade would use on Roshar?

Brandon Sanderson

Why do you ask that?

AndrewHB

You know why. Because of the last scene in Words of Radiance. The weapon was an unusual weapon that, well, she needed. *inaudible* odd form *inaudible* If it's common then you can understand why someone would have a Shardblade of that type.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, so... you are on to something.

AndrewHB

So that's a read and find out?

Brandon Sanderson

Yep, read and find out. You know how to read and find out. I'm not going to answer it, but *inaudible*.

General Reddit 2013 ()
#130 Copy

wesem

Just realized what Shardblades remind me of..

In my head, they remind me a lot of Keyblades from Kingdom Hearts. The blade appearing out of nowhere when you hold out your hand seems rather similar. They're also both highly coveted in their universes and for both types each blade is different from the next (I think). Just wanted to see if anyone else noticed this or if I'm just crazy and have had way too much time to think waiting for Words of Radiance.

Brandon Sanderson

Shardblades aren't inspired by keyblades specifically, though there is a core inspiration that might be shared by both myself and the creators. While I did play the first kingdom hearts game when it came out, the first draft of The Way of Kings was well under way when the game was released.

However, I did play all of the final fantasy games--I had the first on original Nintendo, so get off my lawn, you kids. The origin of Shardblades relates to fantasy games and art in general, and the concept of the stylized sword which is also horribly impractical.

In a lot of my writing, I react toward or against the fantasy archetypes of my youth in the 80s and 90s. When designing the Stormlight Archive, one of the things I asked myself was, "Can I make a situation where these oversized, over-stylized blades are actually practical? Why in the world would you need a weapon like that? And how do you actually use one?"

Making the blades summonable seemed one of the only ways that carrying one around would be reasonable.

MisCon 2018 ()
#131 Copy

Glamdring804

Szeth has an afterglow because his soul is lagging behind his body slightly.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Glamdring804

So if he was moving fast enough, could a Shardblade pass through his physical body and not cut the soul?

Brandon Sanderson

Ummm, that sounds like the sort of thing-- I'm going to say, the soul is more stretchy, so I don't think that's possible. But you could do some weird things where you're cutting the soul and not the body.

Firefight release party ()
#133 Copy

Questioner

The dead shardblades, could you possibly get Stormlight into them to reawaken them?

Brandon Sanderson

Dead shardblade could you pump enough Stormlight into them? That alone would not be enough.

Questioner

So you would have to find someone to re-swear with oaths?

Brandon Sanderson

There is something broken on the Spiritual Realm because of the broken oath and simple Stormlight will not fix that.

Questioner

So say--

Brandon Sanderson

If the person were still alive and could re-swear the oath then yes.

Questioner

[...] the Spiritual Realm?

Brandon Sanderson

It is not outside the realm of reason but it would be very very very difficult.

Tel Aviv Signing ()
#135 Copy

TomereK

So Shardblades. When they cut off the victims, the eyes burn up. And deadeyes have their eyes scratched out in Shadesmar. Is there any relation between them?

Brandon Sanderson

There is indeed a connection there.

TomereK

Is it RAFO?

Brandon Sanderson

It's a RAFO, but there is a connection. You got something out of me there.

Words of Radiance Dayton signing ()
#136 Copy

luke.spence (paraphrased)

You mentioned that human can’t bond Honorblades, but Nalan tells Szeth that his bond with his Honorblade has been broken. Can you clear this up?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Humans CAN bond Honorblades. There's a crucial difference between Honorblades and Shardblades. When you drop an Honorblade, it does not disappear, even if it has been bonded. A Shardblade will disappear when dropped.

Orem signing 2014 ()
#137 Copy

mail-mi (paraphrased)

What would a Shardblade do to [a "zombie" Elantrian]?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Um, a Shardblade would...oh boy. A Shardblade...a Shardblade would still be dangerous to them, um, the trick is, um, the Shardblade's gonna treat them half alive, half dead. So, it probably would be kind of a flicker, so it depends on when you hit them. It might cut the arm off.

mail-mi (paraphrased)

It might cut the arm off...

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

And it might just leave it dead.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#138 Copy

uchoo786

I was wondering, if one were to take an Honorblade to Nalthis (I think that's the Warbreaker planet?), would it function like a minor version of Nightblood?

And could one fuel one of these Shards with other forms of Investiture, not gas-based like Breath and Stormlight, e.g. burning metals?

Brandon Sanderson

Shardblades will not lose or change functionality when taken off of Roshar.

Bands of Mourning release party ()
#139 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

*referring to a personalization request* That is a R A F O, but you do earn a card for your RAFO... Now let me just say--

Questioner

I'm not asking about Nightblood, I'm asking about the Shardblades.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah-- Oh, OH. You're asking-- okay. You're not asking what other Shardblades made, but if somebody brought a Shardblade to another pl--

Questioner

Like if Kaladin went to Nalthis.

Brandon Sanderson

Okay, his Shardblade would manifest exactly-- it would do exactly the same thing.

Shadows of Self Lansing signing ()
#140 Copy

Questioner

With Adolin you say there that he feels a connection to his sword. And all the other Shardbearers, when they touch a Shardblade they get the screaming in their ears. Does that mean he’s not going to be a Radiant.

Brandon Sanderson

It means he's- number one he's not on the path to being a Radiant, that's the main thing that means.

Firefight San Francisco signing ()
#141 Copy

Questioner (paraphrased)

When spren die, they kind of become part of everything, so why did, when the Knights broke their oaths, why did they stay as Shardblades?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

They had been bound into that form by those oaths. The oaths are broken, but it's like they’re cracked. Does that make sense? Like, there's still something holding those spren and that's what made them *inaudible* It would have been better if they had actually died, does that make sense? But they couldn't-- they're bound in that form.

Questioner (paraphrased)

But their consciousness is still, like, gone?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

They still have a consciousness, some of them. To an extent.

Questioner (paraphrased)

That's why the screaming happens.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yes.

Footnote: The first part of this was transcribed from a separate recording, so it should be close to verbatim. However, the audio file has been taken down, so it cannot be verified exactly.
/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#142 Copy

Phantine

Silly Shardblade question: Dick Cheney's artificial heart was a continuous flow model, which meant he had no pulse. If you gave him a Shardblade, how would summoning it work?

Brandon Sanderson

You know, I've actually had to think about this. (Not because of Cheney, but because of cosmere applications.) Just as blind people dream differently from people without visuals, I feel a Shardbearer without a pulse would end up having another method of representing the way their soul reaches toward a dead Shardblade and summons it. But it would vary based on the individual.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#143 Copy

Argent

Are there non-Invested (or at least not heavily Invested) objects that cannot be cut by Shardblades, or that offer more resistance than what we see in The Stormlight Archive?

Brandon Sanderson

You're unlikely to find anything without high Investiture that can resist a Shardblade. By definition, to stop one, you're going to need something with a powerful spiritual component to it.

zotsandcrambles

Would [Ralkalest] (the unforgeable metal) be at all resistant to a Shardblade given its proven resistance to other forms of investiture?

Brandon Sanderson

That's a RAFO, but is a question you should be asking.

Arcanum Unbounded Seattle signing ()
#144 Copy

Questioner

So you said that, specifically on Roshar, shardblades haven't been revived? And, have they been on other worlds?

Brandon Sanderson

Uh, no, there are very few things you could call shardblades on other worlds.

Questioner

Well, I meant the spren that were...

Brandon Sanderson

Ah ok, yeah yeah yeah. No let's just just...it hasn't ever happened before, and they, in-world, think it's impossible.

General Reddit 2016 ()
#148 Copy

Aurimus

Has Brandon said that the Shardblades are based off of the swords from Soulcalibur/Final Fantasy. (You know, those stupidly huge swords?) Or are they just normal swords when it comes to the shape and size etc?

Ben McSweeney

Shardblades come in many shapes and sizes, but are often larger than normal swords, in order to fight larger-than-normal enemies.

Not always, though. Szeth's Blade, for instance, was about the size of a scimitar.

There is no single source or work from which the inspiration was drawn. It's a refection of a common trope, instead. Isaac and I created a few dozen silhouettes, and Brandon chose the ones he liked best, and we've been extrapolating from there ever since.

Calamity release party ()
#149 Copy

Questioner

So is it possible to Awaken a Shardblade? That's the question-- that's my question for you.

Brandon Sanderson

Um... With the magic system of Awakening, you mean?

Questioner

Yeah.

Brandon Sanderson

So, all forms of Investiture strongly resist other forms of Investiture.

Questioner

Makes sense.

Brandon Sanderson

*brief interruption* Nightblood is essentially an Awakened... Trying to do that.

Questioner

'Cause he shows up in Words of Radiance, right?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. So, it-- let's just say it'd be very, very hard. Because it's like saying, "Can-- I want to turn on a lightbulb that's been turned on." Yes, you can... maybe... I don't know what that even means. It's already Invested. It's already Awakened.

Calamity release party ()
#150 Copy

Questioner

Could a Forger, like, reforge a Shardplate to look differently?

Brandon Sanderson

So here's the thing... Um, yes, *but*... Anything that is Invested is-- resists all of the forms of Investiture. And the level of Investiture in it determines how hard it is. Forging is one of these things that-- It's very hard to reforge things that are Invested. Not impossible though. So yes, *but*... Do you see what I'm saying? There's that-- there's a pretty significant "but" on that one.