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Manchester signing ()
#101 Copy


In Words of Radiance, we have Vasher showing up... One of his aliases on Nalthis is Kalad, which is very similar to the name of one of the Heralds on Roshar. So I was wondering how far back this connection between him and Roshar goes.

Brandon Sanderson

It goes pretty far back, in fact when I wrote Way of Kings, the 2002 version; he was a main character and was Kaladin's swordmaster. I wrote Warbreaker to jump back and write out his backstory, Vasher's. So to me Warbreaker actually came after Way of Kings. But the connection goes back pretty far, further than you would first guess.


Did he actually come from Nalthis and not Roshar?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm not going to actually answer that one-- Well I can answer that: yes he does come from Nalthis. It's pretty obvious that the way that the Breath's working, the reason he moved is because it's easier to get Stormlight than Breaths, and Stormlight can fuel being a Returned like him. And so yes, he was born on Nalthis. Becoming Returned without being born on Nalthis would be really hard.

Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
#102 Copy


Can you give any history on Denth? I don't know what he did as one of the Five Scholars. What was his roll during the Manywar?

Brandon Sanderson

Boy, you know, I'd rather leave the history of the Five and the Manywar for the sequel. Denth was there, and at first he tried to stop it, work as a peacemaker, and eventually took Vasher's side. Until the death of his sister.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#104 Copy


My wife really wants to know whether Vasher has had children, or wants to have children. It would mean a lot to her to find out from you!

Brandon Sanderson

Vasher doesn't have kids, but he really does want them. Or, at least, he has wanted them at most points in his life.

Salt Lake City ComicCon 2017 ()
#105 Copy


So, it's not a "why." But how in the world did Vasher get to Roshar. Because I know about Kelsier not being able to really travel too easily outside of his realm, so how did this happen?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, yeah, you're asking, because he's heavily Invested, with Investiture from uh-- yeah. So that's actually a RAFO. I thought you were going to ask a much easier question, this is a much harder question. It's a RAFO that I promise to answer. The books will dig into it, okay?

ICon 2019 ()
#106 Copy


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.

Skyward Chicago signing ()
#107 Copy


For the worldhopping that happens with Vasher and Vivenna. Does that happen... Are they the humans that came over--

Brandon Sanderson

No, they're not.


They're just completely independent people who hopped--

Brandon Sanderson

They're moving more with the hidden cosmere economy that has grown up moving between planets. Between Nalthis and Roshar, you can actually catch a caravan. There's actual movement and travel between them. That's been in place on Roshar for quite a while at this point.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#109 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Vasher is wrong about Arsteel, by the way. Arsteel didn't need to be killed; Vasher misinterpreted the man's motives in joining with Denth. It's unfortunate that the two came to blows, but Arsteel never intended to kill Vasher in the duel, just subdue him and talk some sense into him. ("Sense" as Arsteel saw it. He wasn't actually right in what he was doing—he didn't understand Vasher's reasoning either. All I'm saying is that Arsteel's motives were, in fact, pure.)

Firefight release party ()
#111 Copy


I've got a Vasher question too. In Warbreaker he's not really much of a swordfighter but in his later appearance--

Brandon Sanderson

In Warbreaker he is better than you think he is, but he is tired of fighting. He's just completely-- You know at this point he's several hundred years old, and he created a sword, he's a swordsman. He knows his way around a sword but he is worn out emotionally and just doesn't want to be fighting and things like that. And plus he's had Nightblood, he doesn't need to, right? Nightblood, you swing Nightblood and it doesn't matter how good you are with a sword, really. You know which direction to point him and disaster happens. And so he's much better than you think he is.

Herowannabe's wife

But now he doesn't have it anymore.

Brandon Sanderson

But now he doesn't have it anymore, and now he kind of has to survive-- He has to make a living somehow and this is something he was good at.

Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
#112 Copy


Something that i've been wondering, you said before that Nightblood was modeled after Shardblades intentionally so my question is, did Vasher create his Phantoms with Shardplate in mind?

Brandon Sanderson

He was aware of Shardplate, but I wouldn't call them a conscious influence.


Any sort of influence from the Soulcasting-to-Stone burial customs?

(If Vasher were a little more sneaky I'd think he had created the custom in case he needed a ready supply of Phantom material)

Brandon Sanderson

Let's say that yes, Soulcasting was very interesting to Vasher.

Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
#113 Copy


As you (probably) know/remember, I'm really interested in the early parts of your creation process. The ideas basically. What was the first idea that created Zahel in WoK prime? What came first, Zahel or Nightblood and what were they like originally? Was it through them that you came up with the idea of worldhoppers or did you just want another worldhopper to appear to show that Hoid wasn't the only one?

Brandon Sanderson

The idea was actually writing Kaladin's swordmaster in TWOK Prime. By then, worldhoppers were already quite well established. (I'd written Elantris in 99, along with Dragonsteel to be a prequel to the entire cycle. That was followed by White Sand and Aether of Night in 2000 or so--and Aether has the first on-screen appearance of a Shard.)

Kings Prime was 2002-2003, and I wanted Kaladin's swordmaster Vasher to have an interesting backstory. That was the origin of the idea for a worldhopper who was very interested in Shardblades. From there, wanting to do a sympathetic magic, and (years later) my editor suggesting a world more "colorful" drove me to try out Warbreaker itself.

Here is his first appearance in TWOK Prime. Note, none of the names are changed in this, so you get Kaladin and Adolin's original names, among others.

After a few moments, one of the monks noticed him watching. The man paused, regarding Merin with the eyes of a warrior. "Shouldn't you be practicing with the other lords, traveler?"

Merin shrugged. "I don't really fit in with them, holy one."

"Your clothing says that you should," the monk said, nodding to Merin's fine seasilk outfit.

Merin grimaced.

The monk raised an eyebrow questioningly. He was an older man, perhaps the same age as Merin's father, and had a strong build beneath his monk's clothing. He was almost completely bald, save for a bit of hair on the sides of his head, and even that was beginning to gray.

"It's nothing, holy one," Merin said. "I'm just a little bit tired of hearing about clothing."

"Maybe this will take your mind off of it," the monk said, tossing him a practice sword. "And don't call me ‘holy one.'"

Merin caught the sword, looking down at it blankly. Then he yelped in surprise, dropping his Shardblade and raising the practice sword awkwardly as the monk stepped forward in a dueling stance. Merin wasn't certain how to respond--all of his training in the army had focused on working within his squad, using his shield to protect his companions and his spear to harry the opponent. He'd rarely been forced to fight solitarily.

The monk came in with a few testing swings, and Merin tried his best to mimic the man's stance. He knew enough not to engage the first few blows--they were meant to throw Merin off-balance and leave him open for a strike. He retreated across the cool sand, shuffling backward and trying not to fall for the monk's feints. Even still, the man's first serious strike took Merin completely by surprise. The blow took Merin on the shoulder--it was delivered lightly, but it stung anyway.

"Your instincts are good," the monk said, returning to his stance. "But your swordsmanship is atrocious."

"That's kind of why I'm here," Merin said, trying another stance. This time he managed to dodge the first blow, though the backhand caught him on the thigh. He grunted in pain.

"Your Blade is unbonded," the monk said. "And you resist moving to the sides, as if you expect there to be someone standing beside you. You were a spearman?"

"Yes," Merin said.

The monk stepped back, lowering his blade and resting the tip in the sand. "You must have done something incredibly brave to earn yourself a Blade, little spearman."

"Either that, or I was just lucky," Merin replied.

The monk smiled, then nodded toward the center of the courtyard. "Your friend is looking for you."

Merin turned to see Aredor waving for him. Merin nodded thankfully to the monk and returned the practice sword, then picked up his Shardblade and jogged across the sands toward Aredor. Standing with Dalenar's son was a group of elderly, important-looking monks.

"Merin," Aredor began, "these are the monastery masters. Each of them is an expert at several dueling forms, and they'll be able to train you in the one that fits you best. Masters Bendahkha and Lhanan are currently accepting new students. You can train with either one of them, though you'll need to pay the standard hundred-ishmark tribute to the monastery out of your monthly stipend."

Merin regarded the two monks Aredor had indicated. Both looked very distinguished, almost uncomfortably so. They regarded Merin with the lofty expressions of men who had spent their entire lives practicing their art, and who had risen to the highest of their talents. They stood like kings in their monasteries--not condescending, but daunting nonetheless.

Merin glanced to the side, a sudden impression taking him. "Holy ones, I am honored by your offer, but I feel a little overwhelmed. Could you tell me, is the monk I just sparred with accepting students at the moment?"

The masters frowned. "You mean Vasher?" one of them asked. "Why do you wish to train with him?"

"I. . .I'm not certain," Merin confessed.


Is the payment to a devotary while training under an ardent still canonical? And given that Vasher had a reputation for being a bad duelist in Warbreaker, exactly how good is he with a blade? Is it just a case of Nalthian swordmasters being better or did Vasher learn from his experiences?

Brandon Sanderson

It's been a while.

And Vasher isn't as bad as the text implies.

Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
#114 Copy


Are you saying that Elantris has other worldhoppers in? I just finished the prose version of White Sand as well (i've never been a fan of graphic novels but didnt want to miss anything from the Cosmere) and didnt even notice Hoid in it, let alone other worldhoppers there.

So you created Vasher and then made them a worldhopper, and the magic system and Nalthis stemmed from there? I actually have another question related to that. Have you ever thought about something you wanted to add to the Cosmere - say, an idea or an ability or something - and then built from there, or do you always write a cool story because its a cool story and the Cosmere stuff comes after?

For example, did you write Mistborn E1 to introduce the idea of Shards or did you write the plot and then realize you can wiggle the shards in there?

Brandon Sanderson

Hoid's part in White Sand was very minimal. I believe he's only referenced, and doesn't even appear on screen. Though Elantris has the famous mural depicting worldhopping.

You have it right. I was designing Vasher, decided he was a worldhopper, and then filed away "I'll tell his backstory some day" in the back of my brain. The magic for Nalthis grew more out of the idea for a sympathetic magic than it did for him, but the book was always intended to be his backstory world, so knowledge that Shardblades (or a version of them) being involved was part of my core creation of that setting.

Every story happens differently. Shadows for Silence happened from a writing prompt, for example. But at the same time, I'd been imagining for years a world to delve more into Cognitive Shadows. These things just kind of fit together as you work on them in your brain. But I've started with story first, and I've started with world first. Mostly, though, it's a mixture of both.

By Era One of Mistborn I was already very certain what I was doing with Shards, and so they were there from the get go. I'd say in the cosmere canon right now, White Sand is the most oddball, since it was the only world I designed and wrote a book in (the 1997 version, which is different from the 2000 version) before I had settled on the mechanics of the cosmere. I then placed it in the cosmere when writing the new version.

All of the published novels were written with the cosmere mechanics fully locked in, however, and the interactions of the Shards set forth.


Where is that [Hoid's part in White Sand]? I totally missed it? Is it possible to read the 97 version too, and LORD MASTRELL as well?

Brandon Sanderson

I don't send out the 97 version. It's just too bad. (Sorry.) Maybe some day, but not right now. It's the first book I ever wrote.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#116 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Vasher Is Tortured More

It's very important to note that Vasher is hiding and saving his strength here. Writing his scenes here was tricky, since I knew that he would need to be able to pull off some feats of strength later in the book. I figured that one night of torture wouldn't do very much to him, though I also didn't want to spoil the tension by drawing too much attention to that fact.

Denth is frustrated, here, that he's not enjoying the process of torturing his old friend—much as he's frustrated with his life as it exists presently. He wants so badly to just be the carefree, work-for-whoever-pays thug. But he can't. He can't be like Tonk Fah, and it frustrates him. Hurting Vasher hurts Denth too, as it reminds him of so many things that have been lost.

General Reddit 2017 ()
#117 Copy


Did Vasher do to himself something similar to what Cultivation did to Dalinar, with his memory? I know in Warbreaker he says he knew the commands to take Denth's memories of things they'd done in the past away. Is there a chance he is not "whole" in his ability to recall his past?

Brandon Sanderson

It's safe to say that Vasher's memory has a few holes.

Legion Release Party ()
#119 Copy


Given a situation where they have perfect knowledge of Hemalurgy--everything is known. Is it possible they could use a Shard-scalpel and spike to carefully...

Brandon Sanderson

To excise without killing somebody? The real damage is to the soul...


I'm imagining taking out toxic sort of things.

Brandon Sanderson

You've seen Vasher do something similar, so it's not off books that that's possible.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#125 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Nightblood and Vasher Interact as He Sneaks into the God King's Palace

Note that Nightblood is capable of more change than Vasher assumes. Vasher has a bit of a blind spot when it comes to Nightblood. He makes assumptions he wouldn't make regarding other people or elements of Awakening. It's hard for him to regard the sword without bias. If you want to know more about this, read the sequel. (Er, if I ever write it.) Which is tentatively named Nightblood.

Salt Lake City Comic-Con 2014 ()
#128 Copy


My brother and I disagreed, at the very end of Words of Radiance, the sword that-- Is it the same as in Warbreaker?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes it is, in fact Vasher is in the book.


Is that Vasher?!?

Brandon Sanderson

No, look for somebody making color metaphors and when they are waking up they feel like they can sense other people's presence and things like that. There is one character who is Vasher. He doesn't go by that name anymore.

Words of Radiance San Francisco signing ()
#129 Copy


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.


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.

Salt Lake City signing ()
#132 Copy


Is the sword at the end of Words of Radiance, is it the actual Nightblood from Warbreaker?

Brandon Sanderson

It is, actually. It's fun because when I first wrote Way of Kings in 2002, Vasher was one of the main characters. And then when I wrote Warbreaker in 2006, I wrote a book about him to do his past. And then when I re-wrote Way of Kings it's like, "Well, time for Vasher to come back." So he's been in Roshar, in my head, since the beginning, for some 20 years. But he wasn't-- He didn't originate there, but... He was one of the worldhoppers that I hid in the very first version. Which was a lot of fun to then be able to go write a book about him and come back.