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Warbreaker Annotations ()
#101 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Blushweaver and Lightsong Visit Mercystar

Just like the last scene showed off what a lot of the standard gods are like, Mercystar is supposed to hint at what a lot of the goddesses are like. I think that there would be a good number of them who would turn out just like this—given anything they want, told how important they are, and blessed with a beautiful and perfect body no matter what they eat or how they act. Imagine what that must do to a person.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#102 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Forty-One

Vivenna, Sick and Disoriented, Gets Turned Away by the Restaurant Keeper

One of the ways I decided to make Vivenna's sections here work better was by enhancing the fuzziness of her mind. By giving her this sense of numbness, I hope to indicate that something is not right with her.

It's common for someone who suddenly becomes a Drab to get sick almost immediately. For a time, her immune system was magically enhanced and warded, in a way, to keep her from becoming ill. With that removed suddenly, sickness can strike. She hasn't built up immunities to the sicknesses going around, and by becoming a Drab, her immune system suddenly works far worse than that of other people.

These things combined made her come down with something pretty nasty the very day she put away her Breath. This would have killed her, eventually, if she hadn't done something about it. She would have grown so dizzy and confused that she wouldn't have even been able to walk.

By sending men to find her, Denth saved her life.

Anyway, I feel that these scenes work much better now. We can look at Vivenna's time on the streets in the same surreal sense that she does. They happened in the past, in a strange dream state. In that way, they can seem much longer than just two chapters and a couple of weeks.

White Sand vol.1 release party ()
#103 Copy

Questioner 1

You know how in, uh... the God King was engaged to Siri?

Brandon Sanderson

Mhm.

Questioner 1

And she went to his room few times?

Brandon Sanderson

Mhm.

Questioner 1

Will there be something like that in the second book? Or will you be avoiding that?

Brandon Sanderson

There will be a romance in the next book between different characters. Slightly different. The outline right now it's-- the romance is a married couple who, for political purposes act like they hate each other.

Questioner 1

Okay.

Questioner 2

*laughs* That's awesome.

Brandon Sanderson

But yes.

Questioner 1

But what I mean is there will be any-- like-- there won't be anything, like, prostrating or whatever...

Brandon Sanderson

Probably not... Um, I mean...

Questioner 1

Because if you avoid it I'll love to read the book. *laughs* I had a hard time recommending Warbreaker to others because of that. I mean, it's not a big criticism or anything, it's just more uncomfortable.

Brandon Sanderson

I understand that completely. It was a book about a wedding night. And I felt there were certain things that were appropriate for that book that may not have been appropriate for others.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#104 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

My editor tried to take out the shot of the final man, slumping back but remaining kneeling, staring up into the sky with Nightblood rammed through his chest and propping him up from behind. But I think it's one of the more powerful ones in the book, so I fought for it. (He didn't think it was realistic that the body would just remain there kneeling.)

Daily Dragon interview ()
#105 Copy

Daily Dragon

You posted the chapters of Warbreaker on your website at BrandonSanderson.com as you wrote them. The first and some subsequent drafts of the novel are still available for download to help aspiring writers study your revision process. What are some of the positive and negative consequences of posting your work in progress?

Brandon Sanderson

For one thing it lets people see all of the pops and bells and whistles that go into a book, meandering, sometimes, toward becoming a better novel. My agent and editor's big worry is that readers would read an unfinished work and therefore have a wrong taste in their mouth for how my books are. So I'd say that's the biggest disadvantage. I don't think personally that there has been any sort of sales repercussion. I can't say for certain.

I would like to say that it has been better for my books, particularly releasing it when I did, when a lot of Wheel of Time fans were discovering that I was taking over their series and wanting to know what kind of writer I would be. They were able to download the book for free and know a little about me and my writing. I think it was helpful. I think the big advantage is that I was able to give something back to my readers. I'm always looking for something I can give back. They support me; I get to do this job because of them, so I like to add as much value as I can to the books for them.

Daily Dragon interview ()
#106 Copy

Daily Dragon

With all the focus on social media these days, what impact do you think fans might have on story development in the future?

Brandon Sanderson

Boy, I think that they will have some impact. What, I'm not sure. With Warbreaker I was able to read perspectives on the book online as I was working on it, and that certainly did inform how I did my revisions. Maybe you'll see more crowdsourcing on editing and that sort of thing. I do think that the ability to directly connect with fans helps me understand the way a reader's mind works. Usually that doesn't translate one-to-one to changes in a novel, because there are a few steps in between in deciding what the reader really actually wants and what they say they want—working on The Wheel of Time as both a fan and a writer has helped me figure that out, because there are things that as a fan I would have said I wanted, but looking at it as a writer I can say, "Oh, if I gave that to the fans, it would actually in the long run make the story less satisfying." So there is some work to be done there, but I think social media is a great resource.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#107 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Lightsong Meets Allmother

This was a tough scene to get right. The trick is, I knew by this point that I wanted Allmother to be one of those who disliked Lightsong. She thinks that he's a useless god, and she isn't one of those who saw hidden depth in him.

I also knew that I wanted to give a twist here by having Lightsong offer up his Commands and give himself a way out, so to speak. What he does here is rather honorable. He knows that Allmother is a clever woman and perhaps one of the only gods capable of going toe-to-toe with Blushweaver. By giving her his Commands, he does a good job of countering Blushweaver without having to resist her.

But he couldn't get away with it. He had to stay in the middle of it all, for the good of the story and for the good of him as a character. So the question became, "Why in the world would Allmother give him her Commands?"

The prophetic dreams came to my rescue a couple of times in this book. I know that they're cheating slightly, but since I've built them into the story, I might as well use them. Having her having dreamed of his arrival gives me the out for why she'd do something as crazy as give up her Commands. I think her visions, mixed with the knowledge that Calmseer trusted Lightsong, would be enough to push her over the edge.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#108 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Forty-Three

Vivenna Awakens in Vasher's Care

Vivenna, as a character, was divided into two parts in my head. There was the Vivenna of the first half of the book, who was haughty and misled, though determined and self-confident. Then there was the break in the middle, where everything was taken away from her. Now we're into Vivenna's second half, the confused and uncertain Vivenna who has to essentially start all over.

Her plot is a contrast to Siri's plot. Siri's growth is more gradual; she doesn't have an event like Vivenna's time on the streets to make a focus for her plotline. The depth of growth the changes afford Vivenna made her a very interesting character to write; I'm sorry that she's generally people's least favorite character. But that wasn't all that unanticipated. When presented with a large group of characters, many of whom were amusing or mysterious, then dropping one major character in who had a serious growth arc but started out less likable . . . well, you expect readers to latch on to other characters. By this point in the story, they're not used to caring about Vivenna as much as the others, so I think that her drama isn't as powerful for them—which means she doesn't have time to earn their affection, even when she starts changing and growing.

Of course, part of me still sees the Vivenna of the sequel, where she can continue her growth and learning. I think she'll be a great character for that book, if I ever write it. Though I worry about doing so and making people disappointed that I'm writing about her rather than Siri.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#109 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Sazed and Clubs, then Tindwyl in the Keep

Finally we get the Sazed scene. This is my favorite in the chapter, and it's a chapter filled with a lot of scenes I really like. Allrianne may make me chuckle, but Sazed MEANS something. Showing off the cost of Feruchemy like this made for some interesting worldbuilding, and having Sazed interact with Tindwyl and Clubs gave us some character.

Sazed is beginning to feel troubled by what he's done and what is happening around him, but he's not the type to show it yet–even in his thoughts. However, the fact that he preaches a religion to Clubs (the first time he's done that to anyone in a while) shows that he's stretching, trying to figure out who he is and find his place in this mess. He figures that with the fall of Luthadel, he'll probably end up dead–and so he wants to know who he is before that happens.

Which is also why he finally seeks out Tindwyl to confront her. The scene where he brings back his senses while holding her is one of the great moments that you can have as a fantasy novelists that those realistic writers just can't have.

Two little behind the scenes thoughts on this section. First, Clubs mentions that the latest messenger to visit Straff was executed. If you guessed that this was because Straff himself is now awake, you guessed right!

Also, the religion Sazed preaches here is one I decided to spin off into its own book, focusing Warbreaker around it. They aren't the same planet, but I wanted to do more about a religion that worships art, and that was one of the initial motivations for Warbreaker's setting.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#111 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Everyone Is the Hero in Their Own Story

Another of the big plot events I wanted for this book was to have a character work for the wrong team for a long period of time without realizing it. I'd rarely seen this plot twist in a book, and even more rarely seen anything like it pulled off with any skill. So I wanted to try my hand at it.

Vasher is right here. Denth was playing with her when he told her that line about heroes. He said it partially because he was trying to justify what he was doing, and partially because he was amused that she thought she was doing what was right—when she was a major motivating force driving her people toward destruction.

Vivenna thought she was the hero, but she was the villain—at least for a good chunk of the book.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#112 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirty-Seven

Vivenna Wanders, Then Is Confronted by a Thief Who Takes Her Dress

The next few Vivenna chapters are short. I wanted to convey that she's on the streets for a time, but didn't want us to have to wallow in her problems. I've seen books do that quite well, and I don't want this novel to focus on it. (If you're interested in one that does it well, Paula Volsky's Illusion has a nice section about what it's like to be a noblewoman who is forced to live on the streets.)

Instead, these chapters are the transition chapters for Vivenna's character. The representation of her going as low as she can go, so that later she can begin to rebuild. The dress was a problem—it was way too distinctive, and it could sell for enough that she wouldn't have to live on the streets. She could buy something cheap and modest, then put herself up in an inn. So, naturally, it had to get stolen.

I didn't want to strip her all the way, though. We've been through enough of that with Siri, and I really didn't want to go there in this situation. Vivenna can be brought down to the lows she needs to reach without having to be raped by a random man in an alley. (Personally, I think that rape is overused in a lot of fiction.)

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#113 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Siri and the God King Have Sex

You probably knew this was coming. At the very least, I hope that you were hoping for it. They are, after all, married. I thought it very appropriate that this happen, as the two of them have been falling in love for some time now. And beyond that, of course, it ramps up the tension in the book dramatically. That's always a good thing.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#114 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Forty-Five

Lightsong's Very Short, Two-Paragraph Chapter

I was tempted to make this annotation the longest in the pile, just for irony's sake. But I thought that might get boring. So you'll just have to settle for the only annotation in the batch that's longer than the chapter it annotates.

I've long wanted to do a chapter like this, one that's just a few sentences in length. (Or even one sentence.) I toyed with it in Mistborn, but never found a good place for it. When I was writing this book, it seemed very appropriate here. Something about the rising tension, the need to include a scene from Lightsong, and the poignancy of having a chapter like this right here—following the previous Siri chapter—worked perfectly in the book.

The reason I'm most sad for making Lightsong's dreams of earlier chapters more violent is that I lose some of the punch of this chapter. Originally, this was the first place he dreamed explicitly of T'Telir burning. Before, there were hints, but he never remembered the actual scene of fire. Then we got here, and it hit with a pow.

But the need to keep the tension up earlier outweighed the need to make this scene unique. I have had troubles in the past with my endings being too overwhelming, particularly when compared to earlier points in the book. So Joshua's constant pushing on this point here was very appropriate. I think the book is stronger, even if this chapter is slightly weaker.

Skyward Houston signing ()
#115 Copy

Questioner

You said thirteen failures, right, with The Way of Kings being the thirteenth?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. My thirteenth.

Questioner

Are there any other [unpublished books] that you had-- that turned into published books?

Brandon Sanderson

Any others that ended up being published? Yes. White Sand, which was my first book, I rewrote as book number seven or eight and I eventually  turned it into a graphic novel. Big chunks of book nine turned into Warbreaker, and books eleven and twelve - one was called The Final Empire and one was called Mistborn. Remember how I told you about two ideas mashing together and what made the story finally work? The best parts of those books turned into a new book, the magic system of one merging with the lore of the other is how it worked out. So, um, I did not publish any of those books as they were written except for Elantris. The Way of Kings I started from scratch when I rewrote it, and Mistborn I started from scratch when I rewrote it. But certainly ideas that were part of that ended up in those books.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#116 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Vasher Shows Her Some Commands with the Rope

I'm sorry it took so long in the book to get to a point where we could start exploring the magic system. I wanted to do it differently from the previous two books I'd written. In Elantris, we didn't get to learn about the magic system until the end. In Mistborn, we got it straight out. Here, I wanted to try putting it into the middle—to have us experience it and see it work before we got a lot of the rules. Plus, there just wasn't a good character to show learning about it until now.

Salt Lake City signing ()
#117 Copy

Questioner

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.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#118 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Vasher Explains the Different Kinds of BioChromatic Entities

This is a scene I'd been waiting to write for almost the entire book. Not just because I wanted to get into the scientific rules for Awakening, but because I wanted to pull a good reversal for Vasher. When he begins talking like this, I hope that the reader responds like Vivenna: Who is this guy?

A lot of readers, my editor included, resisted the term BioChroma. They wanted me to simply use Breath, as they thought BioChroma was just too scientific sounding. I like this concept, however. I want people to read the book and think it sounds scientific. My novels, my magic systems, have a kind of "hard magic" sense to them. I want there to be an edge of science to them, a feeling that people are studying them and trying to learn about them using the scientific method.

Vasher's explanations here are dead on. He's got a lot of good information, and he has a handle on what he doesn't understand. That alone should be a big clue about who he is. The fact that he never has to trim his beard is another one.

Words of Radiance Omaha signing ()
#119 Copy

Questioner

If I were to start reading your books, which you would recommend I start with?

Brandon Sanderson

Normally, I recommend that people either start with a book called Mistborn or a book called Warbreaker.  Warbreaker is a standalone.  It has a little more romance to it and it's a little lighter. Mistborn is a little more action oriented and a little more plot focused.  So it just depends what you're interested in.  

Oathbringer San Francisco signing ()
#123 Copy

Questioner

Had you planned to write... the whole Cosmere when you initially started?

Brandon Sanderson

So, I wrote Elantris, had a bunch of the ideas. I started planning right then, and it has evolved a lot since. A lot of Elantris kind of got retrofitted into the things I came up with over the next four or five years... By the time I did Mistborn, I had most of this in mind, but it changes so much, even while I'm writing it. 

Questioner

So, like, when you had Warbreaker, it was--

Brandon Sanderson

Warbreaker, I wrote as a prequel to Stormlight. I had already written Stormlight One by that point, but I didn't like it, so I wrote about Kaladin's swordmaster, who was in the first book in that version.

Orem signing ()
#124 Copy

Questioner

Warbreaker, you were talking about a sequel. Is that for sure?

Brandon Sanderson

It is a for sure thing. It's not a direct sequel, meaning some of the characters will be in it, other ones won't. I need to get Nightblood into a certain place.

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

MarlonRand

Also, how did the experiment with Warbreaker turn out, and are you planning to do this with any other things you write?

Brandon Sanderson

It's so hard to tell, sales-wise, how it helped or hurt. I don't, honestly, think it hurt—and I think it could only have helped, as more and more WoT readers turned their eyes on me and were able to grab a book to read for free. I do plan to do it again in the future, most likely with the Warbreaker sequel.

Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
#127 Copy

Questioner

With Warbreaker and Stormlight Archive, Vasher and Zahel. How does that transition occur?

Brandon Sanderson

He went to Roshar because he knew ahead of time, that you could get Stormlight, and how easy it was. So he made his way there because he was tired of sucking people's souls to stay alive.

Questioner

How did he know?

Brandon Sanderson

He, as part of a group of scholars, stumbled upon the nature of worldhopping long ago.

Questioner

Could he be the same group of scholars as Jasnah?

Brandon Sanderson

No, it's a group of scholars on Nalthis who were studying magic, Investiture, and stumbled upon the means by which you transition into the Cognitive Realm. So, he actually had experience with Shardblades before, and that was part of how he built... well, he was part of it, but really...

Questioner

So, is Nightblood kind of like a Shardblade? Is a Shardblade?

Brandon Sanderson

Nightblood is an attempt to make a Shardblade using a different magic. And it turned out poorly.

Questioner

Speaking of Nightblood, how did that transition from Nalthis?

Brandon Sanderson

I have not answered that yet. Eventually, you will find out how they ended up on Roshar.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#128 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Vivenna and Vasher Watch the Vote

With this chapter, I wanted to bring together another focus chapter, a bookend—so to speak—with the one earlier in the book where everyone came to the court when Siri was first shown off. If you recall, that was the first time Vivenna saw Vasher, and also the first time we had all of the viewpoint characters together in one location.

Now we're back, kind of. Siri is here in this chapter, but she's pulled away before she can make it all the way to the arena. It's the best I could do, under the circumstances, as I knew I needed to launch us into the "Brandon Avalanche" after this chapter. That meant Siri getting taken captive.

Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
#129 Copy

ckannan90

I have a cosmere question. At the end of Words of Radiance, Szeth receives Nightblood. The wiki told me it was a sword from Warbreaker, but I didn't realize how significant it was till I read the book. This, to me, seems like the first major cosmere crossover. All the other crossovers so far seem to have just been cameos (Hoid tells stories, or there are mysterious people hunting somebody, etc). I will RAFO, but it does seem like Szeth getting the sword means Nightblood will play a not-insignificant role in Stormlight 3. Does this mean the cosmere books are going to converge more going forward? Specifically, would someone need to have read Warbreaker to understand Oathbringer? Till now your different cosmere series have been readable in any order (and I didn't read them in publication order). Similarly, Mistborn: Secret History seems to be a prerequisite for at least the next Mistborn book.

Brandon Sanderson

One thing you have to remember is that in my cosmere outline, Warbreaker was a prequel to The Way of Kings, explaining Vasher's backstory. So I consider them more closely connected than some other things. But you could consider this the first major crossover.

Nightblood will be re-introduced, so those who haven't read Warbreaker will be brought up to speed.

Thoughtsunthought

Wow. Cool to see this.

One of my "concerns" is that eventually the cosmere stuff will overwhelm the individual series arcs.

Kinda like the Marvel Avengers movies, whilst they are great on their own, they lose some of the individuality that an Iron Man movie might have. If the overall story adds characters then you may end up with a Captain America: Civil War movie which whilst was amazing. Wasn't really a Captain America movie and would lose so much to someone who had only seen Capt America movies.

That being said I totally trust your judgement on this, I say concerns but I don't mean in a bad way.

That being said is any book flagged for an Avengers style "battle for the cosmere"?

Brandon Sanderson

I do have some plans for mixing later on, though I'll be very forthright about when those books come out. Meaning, so long as I'm not talking about these things as the main focus of a series, you don't have to worry about it taking them over. Conversely, you can be very excited when it does happen, as those stories will be very clear about what they're attempting to do.

One thing I do try to warn people is that the cosmere isn't an "Avengers" style concept--the goal here isn't to collect a variety of heroes from a variety of worlds and then throw them at a problem. It's more of a, "What if you could watch the world of something like Star Trek develop, by seeing individual engaging stories from various planets, then slowly watching them merge into a larger universe."

While some characters will, obviously, continue on through the series, and the Vessels of the Shards will be very important, the focus of the greater cosmere storyline is the cultures, the magic, and the evolution of the planets, while the individual stories are about the people who live on them during turning-points in their history.

Manchester signing ()
#130 Copy

BlackYeti

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.

BlackYeti

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.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#131 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Fifty-Two

Lightsong Gathers His Finery in His Palace

Is there a lesson in all of this, as Lightsong accuses Llarimar of teaching? Perhaps. The value of something is indeed in how you treat it. All of the riches in the world could be piled in one place, and they would be unimportant unless you ascribed value to them. I think this is one of the reasons Lightsong has been so flippant all of his life as a god. Before Returning, the things he valued were far more intangible. People, his life's work, intellectual freedom—all these things were taken from him, then replaced with gold and baubles. To him, they're inferior replacements, and he can't help but chafe—unknowingly—at his confines.

I wanted a chance for Llarimar to take off his hat and be just a friend for a time. His belief system is complex, since he knew Lightsong ahead of time. He sees the divine mantle, but he also sees the man.

The man who was his younger brother, the daring and gregarious one, the one who didn't always do what he was supposed to. One of the subtle twists of this book is that Llarimar and Lightsong's relationship is supposed to be a parallel of Vivenna and Siri's. They were closer than those two ever were, and as both were middle-aged, they interacted differently. But Lightsong (or Stennimar as he was then known) never married. He liked traveling too much, and enjoyed his bachelor lifestyle. Llarimar was the one who always did what he should, but he also always admired his brother for his sense of adventure, his proactiveness, and his simple kindness toward other people.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#132 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Siri Is Locked Up, and Her Guards Change

Just a quick reminder here of what's going on with Siri. I worry about her next few sequences looking too "damsel in distress." I tried to counteract this in several places, which I'll mention. Still, I had a problem here. Once things turn to combat and fighting, there is very little that Siri can do. She's not Vin—she can't approach things the same way.

However, since Elend got to play damsel in distress fairly often in the Mistborn books, I think I've earned the right to put a female protagonist into that role here. It's appropriate to the plot, and I don't think it could have worked any other way.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#133 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Siri Is Rescued

And here we have a big scene that a lot of readers have been waiting for. I apologize for making Siri need to be rescued like this, but I felt it was appropriate to the story. It's because of her teaching the God King and helping him become the man he is that he's able to do this.

Remember that the Seventh Heightening (I think that's the one) grants a person Instinctive Awakening, meaning that once you reach that Heightening, you don't need any practice to learn to Awaken. Your Commands are obeyed instinctively. This doesn't mean that everything you try will work, but that you can make most basic Commands (grab things, that sort) work without having to try. In fact, figuring out most of the more complicated, previously unknown Commands requires a person to be of the Seventh Heightening.

This power grew out of me wanting the upper Heightenings to do some very dramatic things. I do worry that this scene is a little deus ex machina. That keeps me from liking it quite as much as the Lightsong climax or the Denth/Vasher climax. But I feel that a story needs a great variety of climactic moments—some internal character moments, some external skill moments, some great twists, some expected payoffs, some big reveals, and some dramatic rescues. This chapter and the next take a shot at trying to cover a lot of those different types.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#134 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Lightsong Attacks

And we discover that Lightsong is no good with the sword. I toyed with making him able to use it, but I felt it was too much of a cut corner. Knowing who he was before he died, he'd not have needed to know the sword. Beyond that, I felt it would have been too expected. Lightsong himself built it up so much that I feel it would have been a boring plot twist to have him able to use the sword. Beyond that, it would have been just too convenient.

Reversals. I wanted to reverse what you assume about him, and to reverse how this scene would have probably played out in a lot of fantasy stories. Once again, I'm not reversing just to reverse. I'm reversing because it's appropriate for the characters, setting, and plot—and then finally because it's more interesting this way.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#136 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Treledees Takes Siri

At this point, you're supposed to be confused at whose motivations are what. I'm not sure what you'll be thinking of the priests at this point in the story. Suffice it to say that Denth's men were in control of Siri's chamber, but he left them once he got Vasher. While he's been torturing Vasher, however, Treledees and his forces seized Siri's room back and killed the guards out front. Now they've pulled her away.

Tonk Fah wasn't there, as you'll soon discover. He's guarding the door to the room where Vasher and Denth are. He's just outside, and he has orders not to let Denth get interrupted. When things get out of hand in the palace, however, he goes in to inform Denth of what's going on. We'll see him there in just a little bit.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#137 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Vivenna and Denth Visit the Corpses in the D'Denir Garden

That these deaths happened in this place is a coincidence. Yes, Vasher killed these men because he knew they were connected with Denth. However, he didn't do it in the garden because that was where Vivenna had been the day before. That just happened. (The garden is a popular meeting place after hours for clandestine operations. All Vasher had to do was throw in Nightblood and let him do what he does. To Vasher, that's often all the justification he needs. If the sword can make them kill each other, then they were guilty.)

It was important to have this scene here, however, to reinforce the tension between Denth and Vasher. I also wanted a good chance for Vasher to watch Vivenna. She notices him, but doesn't point him out to Denth—she's too afraid of Denth making a scene, and she just wants to get away from Vasher.

Firefight release party ()
#138 Copy

Questioner

I was just wondering if you were going to continue the mirroring as the Elantris and Warbreaker series continue...

Brandon Sanderson

They are probably not going to continue that way. There will be some things, like there will be some tonal things. Part of the reason I wrote Warbreaker was this idea that I'm like "I wrote this whole book about the city of the gods but I didn't actually get to deal with people living as gods". So I came back to the topic because of that reason but the second one is probably going to be a little bit more like my unpublished book Aether of Night. I'm going to fold in some of those ideas.

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Brandon Sanderson

Vivenna Suits Up and Leaves

Vivenna is in a similar position to Siri here in these last chapters. Things are getting so dangerous that both women (well, and Lightsong too) are rather out of their elements. However, I knew that I had to have them both involved. It would be incredibly frustrating to read an entire book focused on two characters, then have them get pushed around for the entire climax.

So during my outlining, I made certain to build the story in such a way that they could be useful, even if they're very much out of their elements. I feel this makes the story more tense in a lot of ways, since they're forced to deal with things for which they're completely unprepared.

Here, we have Vivenna sorting through her own emotions and finding enough determination left to go out and do something. This is an important moment for her, even though she doesn't realize it. This is the moment where she takes her first real step toward becoming her new self.

Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
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Aurimus

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.

ebilutionist

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.

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Brandon Sanderson

Different Viewpoints in the Same Chapter

In the Mistborn books, most of the characters were either involved in the same plotline or separated from one another by distance. I missed being able to do what I did in Elantris, where I would show an event from the perspectives of characters who were involved in very different storylines.

The characters in Warbreaker are a little more focused on the same things, and are tied together by plots, but they're also very separate. (At least at the beginning.) It's fun for me as a writer to be able to show Lightsong, Vivenna, and Siri all attending the same event, but drawing very different experiences from it.

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Brandon Sanderson

Siri Is Taken to the God King, Then Discovers Who Is Really Behind the Attacks

I'm hoping that by this point, readers will be very confused about the nature of this third force that is attacking. I hope it's the good kind of confusion, though.

Let me explain. When I write, I sometimes want to inspire confusion. It helps keep the mysteries of the book shadowed and vague. It helps the reader connect with the characters, who—presumably—are also confused. But there's a danger here in being too confusing. If the readers think that they've missed something, or if they can't follow what is going on at all, then they will just put down the book.

The trick is to make certain to telegraph that the characters are confused as well, as I mentioned above. If the reader knows that they are supposed to be searching for answers, then it will be all right. (As long as it doesn't get prolonged artificially.) If, instead, they get the impression that the author has simply made a mistake and isn't explaining things clearly, they'll react very differently.

Anyway, I hope that you have the first reaction and not the second. The twist of who is really behind everything should come as a shock, but I hope that it's also well foreshadowed. The big clincher is the question that, perhaps, you've been asking this entire book. If the war is going to be so bad for everyone involved, then who could possibly be pushing for it to occur?

I've seeded quite a number of hints about the Pahn Kahl in the book. The first is Vahr and his rebellion, but there are a number of others. The first time that Siri assumes Bluefingers worships the Returned, he purses his lips in annoyance. We've got a lot of little hints like that that the Pahn Kahl are frustrated by their place in the empire. They controlled this land long ago; we discovered that from Hoid's storytelling.

It's well foreshadowed, but I still worry that it will be too surprising to people. This is primarily because I think that readers will just pass over the Pahn Kahl while reading. They're forgettable by design. Easy to ignore, and most of the other characters have trouble remembering that they aren't just Hallandren. They aren't an angry and vocal minority, like the Idrians. They're just there, or at least that's how everyone sees them.

One of my big goals for this book, however, was to have a good reversal for who is the bad guy pulling the strings. It's not the high priest. It's not the crafty god. It's not even the brutal mercenary. It's the simple, quiet scribe. It's one of the biggest conceptual reversals in the book. Hopefully it works for you.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Fifty-Five

Treledees Almost Tells Siri How to Pass On the God King's Breath

We get to see more of Siri taking charge here. In this tense situation, a lot of others would have been reduced to hysterics, but she's come into her own, taking command, trying to get the information she needs.

Treledees lies to her here about two things. First off, he does know how a God King can have a child, but he knows that the secret is also held by a secure group of priests on the islands. He doesn't think letting Siri in on that one for now is a good idea. But he does want to pass on how to get Susebron's Breaths away from him, should it become necessary. He knows that those need to be passed on, even if the God King does have a child. That's the greater secret, but the one that needs to be known to Siri. Those Breaths cannot die with Susebron.

So, anyway, he's lying about the God King not being able to have a child. (Or at least he sidesteps it. He says that the God King can't sire a child, which is true unless certain steps are taken. He also says that he doesn't know how the First Returned bore a child, which is true—he doesn't know for certain if the First Returned used the same method that Treledees knows. He's also sidestepping the fact that he does believe that the blood of the First Returned flows in the veins of the royal Idrian line.)

So why not bring this up in the book? Well, I learned in Elantris that it's easy to overtwist an ending by having too many reveals. This is a very small point, and there is good rationalization for why Treledees doesn't let on what he knows. So I felt it was better to let the story stand as is, without delving into this.

Of course, there is a hint in the text about it—or at least a question. If they depended only on a Returned child taking Susebron's place, then why were they worried about Siri having sex with Susebron? They didn't need her to sleep with him unless they expected that sex to do something.

I'm sorry to leave this issue a mystery, and I'm even more sorry to not explain how Susebron can give away his Breaths. It's not important to this book, and so I felt that having Treledees give the explanation here would just bog things down. I'd rather wait until a sequel, where I detail the magic system in a more complete form, to give you these explanations.

That leaves us with the cliché of someone who almost passes on information, then dies. As I said, I am sorry to do this. I nearly didn't put it in, but I felt it very important to include something that let you know that the priests did have a way to get those Breaths.

Note that Treledees is not lying about letting Susebron live out his life with Siri in peace. They have allowed previous God Kings to do that, once they had a successor in place.

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Brandon Sanderson

Blushweaver's Death

My editor was uncomfortable with the way this happened—he felt that the motivations for the killers weren't solid enough. I tried to put a little more in, which placated Moshe, but I always felt that they were solid.

Bad guys in books often do stupid things, and it annoys me. They're often not allowed to do the smartest things they could because it would ruin the plot. I wanted them to do the smart thing here, and I felt that the smartest thing was to kill Blushweaver. Just threatening her wouldn't have worked with Lightsong; he refused to take things seriously. A simple threat would have earned them mockery and frustration. So, not knowing that he loved her, they killed Blushweaver to show how serious they were. Then they grabbed Llarimar, not intending to actually kill him, as they knew he was the best bargaining chip against Lightsong they had. (If he hadn't talked, they'd have started cutting off Llarimar's fingers.)

The brutality of that moment of Blushweaver's throat being slit is supposed to be a major reversal in tone for Lightsong's sections. I hope that it worked for you; I think I laid the proper groundwork that this story could have things like that happen in it. I think I justified the motivations of the killers enough.

The games are over.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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platysaur

Well Mr. Sanderson, I finally finished Words of Radiance as well. I thank you for answering previous questions of mine on this thread.

I didn't read Warbreaker but I intend to. That said, if I don't get to it (college is quickly approaching now), will it be a setback? I know that Szeth's sword is now a character from Warbreaker, but I don't want to be at a disadvantage if I can't get to it.

Brandon Sanderson

If you don't read Warbreaker, I doubt you'll be confused. I wrote Warbreaker as a prequel novel (after writing the original draft of The Way of Kings) to give some backstory to side characters I knew where cosmere-aware, but the story should work just fine without having read it.

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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.

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Brandon Sanderson

Lightsong Sneaks into Mercystar's Palace

Here's the other big place where I cheated just a tad and added Lightsong's dreams of the tunnels and the moon as a reason to get him into the right place at the right time. I added this in a later draft; originally, this was one of my big personal problems with the book: the fact that Lightsong got into just the right place at just the right time. It was just too coincidental, and it always bugged me.

I wasn't paying attention to the tools I'd given myself (as I think I mentioned earlier). If I'm going to go to all this trouble to build a magic system that uses prophecy as a major component of its religion, then I might as well use a few of those prophecies as small plot points. I didn't want them to solve any major problems, but letting Lightsong dream of where he has to be brings nice closure to the entire "What's in those tunnels?" plot while at the same time playing into his quest to determine if he really is a god or not.

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Brandon Sanderson

First Line Origins

Of course, this line got a tweak of its own in later drafts. I was fond of this first line, as I'd used it in the original short story with Vancer. However, in that story, he'd been thrown into prison for other reasons. In Warbreaker, I began the book with Vasher getting himself purposefully tossed into prison.

So, in the end, my editor pointed out that the line no longer worked quite right. We had to change it—why would Vasher complain about getting thrown into prison if he had done it to himself on purpose? So, it became "It's funny how many things begin with my getting thrown into prison."