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Dawnshard Annotations Reddit Q&A ()
#151 Copy


There's going to be more dawnshard stuff in the rest of the SA right? Like I couldn't bear it if you introduce this cool as hell concept of the literal words of creation, and then I have to wait like 10 years for more dawnshard goodness to show up.

So for the sake of my sanity can you just confirm that it's not gonna be another decade before we hear/see more about them?

Brandon Sanderson

There will be more, but not much more in the first five.

DragonCon 2016 ()
#152 Copy


I wanted to ask-- So you--I think more than almost any other fantasy author--you create universes and then you leave them behind. Entire uni-- I almost feel like you could sit down-- you could have like pages of a physics lecture in each of your universes and you would have equations for how it works. Do you have-- Have you always had these ideas for these various universes with gods and magic systems and things like that, or are you always creating them, sort of as you go? 

Brandon Sanderson

It's yes and no. A lot of the ones you're seeing in the cosmere are things I created at the beginning to be kind of what the cosmere was. But I left some holes intentionally cause I knew I would come up with cool things that I wanted to add, and so I built in that wiggle room, and I'm always coming up with new ones. And there are way more that I want to do than I can write, like the one I keep wanting to find a chance for is--

Do you guys know how Nikola Tesla tried to create wireless energy? I think I've talked about this one. Like, he tried to create wireless energy, and I'm like "What if there were a world where that happened naturally?" Where you had a natural current going, and you could like set your lantern on the ground and it would create a current from the sky to the ground and your light bulb would just turn on. You don't need electricity. And how would-- What if we have giant toads that could shoot out their tongues that would create a current,  and they're like taser tongues? *makes zapping noises* Stuff like this. And so, I started jumping in to looking at electricity and things like this, and current and whatnot, and that's just all back there and I'm like "Aww, someday I need to be able to write this." But there are so many things that I want to write that I just don't have the time for, so it's a yes and no.


So do you have, like, "what if" questions and then you build a universe from there?

Brandon Sanderson

Usually they're "what if" questions, but Sanderson's Zeroth Law--I've got these laws on magic you can look up,  they're named humbly after myself--so Sanderson's Zeroth Law is "Always err on the side of what's awesome". And usually it's less even a "what if?" and it's a "That's so cool, taser toads!" Like if you really want to know the truth of where The Stormlight Archive started, there's all this cool stuff, like part of it was like "What if there was a storm like the storm on Jupiter". And then I eventually changed it to a storm that goes around the planet, something like that, but the real truth was "Magical power armor. YEAH! Magical power armor is cool! Plate mail power armor! Why would you need plate mail power armor?" Y'know, and it starts with the really cool idea. Mistborn started by me drifting in a fog bank at eighty miles per hour in my car and loving how it looked as it drove past and saying "Is there a world where I can imitate this feel, where you look out and it streams by." It's those early visuals or concepts that make me say "Oh yeah, I wanna do that!". That is where my books really come from, and then I layer on top of them the "what ifs?" and trying to build a realistic ecology based around these ideas.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
#153 Copy


So the first one is Kaladin's backstory, the second is Shallan's backstory, who's next?

Brandon Sanderson

I actually haven't been able to decide yet. It's going to be one of the five for the first five books are Kaladin and Shallan and then Dalinar, Szeth, and Eshonai and I can't decide which one matches the next book best. And I'm going to have to write it...


What's the current list for the back five?

Brandon Sanderson

Current list for the back five... Jasnah, Lift, Ash, Renarin, and Taln.

Footnote: Brandon eventually decided to go with Dalinar for Stormlight 3.
Oathbringer Newcastle signing ()
#154 Copy


Time-wise, where do the events of Bands of Mourning happen with respect to Words of Radiance?

Brandon Sanderson

...So, Bands of Mourning, all the Wax & Wayne books take place after Stormlight 5, but I'm not sure if it happens after or before Stormlight 6, It'll have to wait, because there's a time jump between Stormlight 5 and 6 that I haven't exactly defined in the timeline yet.

17th Shard Forum Q&A ()
#155 Copy


And I saw on facebook about the discussion about the name of the second book. This is more like a request, please, keep the name of it being The Book Of Endless Pages. That title is awesome! Oh and another suggestion, please, keep making huge books! Now, after reading your books, I expect books to be at least 600 pages, so you can see I get disappointed quite often lol

Brandon Sanderson

I will keep the books, in this series at least, long. It's what the story demands. As for does have a certain charm, but I worry that it just feels wrong to too many people. Three out of four laugh when I mention it. That doesn't bode well...

JordanCon 2014 ()
#156 Copy


Are we going to see any chapters that are expressly Hoid now that he is becoming more and more important?

Brandon Sanderson

You have seen two. Are you going to see more? Yes. I would say that if you look at the structure of the first two Stormlight books, you will find several themes and those themes are likely to be repeated in future books. And Hoid does like having the last word. *laughter*

General Reddit 2017 ()
#157 Copy


Here are the lists of things that I've noticed could be reasons why certain Herald images get chosen. I also picked up on alot of this stuff because the folks over at Tor have done a WoR re-read and have a dedicated "Heraldic Symbolism" subsection they devote for each chapter. They speculate as to why the specific herald(s) were chosen. Specifically Alice Arneson (one of the re-readers) has seemingly done some good research into this, so I'll give her credit for a lot of this.

I mostly listed these out for my own reference as I've been meaning to do so (since I usually keep them in my head when figuring this out when reading).

  1. Herald themselves (mentioned, talked about, or actually has an appearance)
  2. Some object associated with a herald (example: A specific herald's honorblade)
  3. Member of Order (ex: Kaladin=Windrunners=Jezrien)
  4. Characters portraying divine attribute behavior (example: Loving and Healing)
  5. Characters portraying the inverse of divine attribute behavior (example: Hating and Destroying)
  6. Herald of <concept> - things associated with that concept. Known examples: 1) Shalash: Herald of Beauty 2) Nalan: Herald of Justice 3) Jezrien: Herald of Kings 4) Taln: Herald of War 5) Ishar: Herald of Luck

  7. Roles associated with a herald Known Examples: 1)Chana: Guards 2)Taln: Soldiers/war 3)Ishar: Ardents/religion 4)Vedel: Physicians

  8. Essences ( ): Essence, body focus, Soulcasting properties...(this one is a stretch as I've never really could pinpoint this well enough)

  9. Jester/Masked face (as mentioned in other posts on this thread). This can be tied to chapters with Wit them or tied to concepts related to him, the biggest one (I think) being storytelling.

How'd I do? :)

Note: I loved the "Four Lifetimes" chapter's heraldic symbolism in Oathbringer (I'm a little over halfway through the book), but I thought that was great showing the different roles/lives Kaladin has filled: Surgeon (Vedel), Soldier (Taln), Guard (Chana), and Leader/Windrunner (Jezrien). Bravo.

Peter Ahlstrom

How did you do? Pretty much a home run. There's only one thing you're missing, which you may have implied, and that's the gemstones. Also, there's a little bit more to #5 that will be explored further later in the series.

Your "Four Lifetimes" analysis is spot-on. Congratulations.

Arched Doorway Interview ()
#158 Copy

Rebecca Lovatt

How much time do you spend during the initial planning stages of writing your novel, developing your magic systems and going through the laws and such?

Brandon Sanderson

It really depends on the book. For Steelheart, I didn't need very much. On that I'm using a superhero-themed story, and all I really needed to know was: How did people start getting their powers? How are their weaknesses developed? How are these things interrelated? From there I can just look at each power set and say, "Okay, this person has this power set."

You don't have to extrapolate quite as far with superheroes. At the same time, they are very limited magics that only work within a certain small realm, so the reason you don't have to do as much extrapolation is because there isn't as much to do. In that case, it was the matter of a week.

With something like The Stormlight Archive, it was a matter of months or years of working on the magic systems. It really varies.

Words of Radiance San Francisco signing ()
#160 Copy


Are you going to write any chapter from the point of view of a spren?

Brandon Sanderson

Will I ever write any chapters from the viewpoint of a spren.

It's likely that I eventually will but it will probably be an interlude. The Stormlight Archive is about ten characters at its essence, and none of them are a spren. You've met all of them I believe and each of them will have a book with a flashback sequence in it, which is another thing I'm doing to make sure each book has an identity.

Epic fantasy I also feel part of the problem is when later books stop having an identity because the story kind of blurs together for the writer. My goal is if I have a good solid flashback sequence for each of these characters to give an arc it'll help me keep each book distinct, which I feel is very important.

If you ask me later I'll tell you who some of those are. In three of the first five I've been very upfront with who they are. I don't talk about the back five very often because I don't want the focus to be on those yet.

Skyward San Diego signing ()
#165 Copy


Are we going to see any other viewpoints from the Heralds?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, you will see-- I mean, Taln and Ash are both main characters, right? But you should see other viewpoints of other Heralds as we progress. The ones that survive long enough to get viewpoints.


Are they gonna be viewpoints in this current timeline?

Brandon Sanderson

You will see more in this current timeline. I know specifically several that are going to be interludish sort of things coming up.

Calamity release party ()
#166 Copy


You do the [Stormlight Archive chapter header] arches too right?

Isaac Stewart

I did do the arches as well, yeah.


Is there like a pattern <though>? 'Cause I'm trying to find a consistent one. Like certain characters or...

Isaac Stewart

You know, the pattern to those is... Peter reads the chapter and then he decides which faces to put on the chapter heading.


So it isn't just like whose point of view it's from it could be...

Isaac Stewart

It can be-- It can be more thematic. I'm not sure of all of the things that Peter takes into consideration. That would be a good question to ask him sometime.

Orem signing ()
#167 Copy


How frustrating is it that you have to wait so long and do so many things first before you can tell the Hoid story.

Brandon Sanderson

How frustrating is it that I have to wait so long to do things before I do the Hoid story, which is one of the big ones that I want to tell. It's not as frustrating as you think. Because, if you sat me down and said "You can only write one of these, Hoid story or Stormlight." I would pick Stormlight every time. Stormlight is a-- in my opinion, Stormlight is a stronger story over all. And Hoid's really interesting, and it's going to be a really cool thing for me to write. But I'm more excited for Stormlight 8, 9 and 10 than I am-- Though I'll be very excited when I get to write the Hoid ones because they're going to be cool things.

Like Stormlight is the thing that I plotted out to be the big opus. It's more frustrated that there's only one of me, despite what the internet says.  I don't got any clones, or any Sanderbots to do all this.  So I have more ideas than I can write books about. That's kind of the-- The biggest frustrating in my life is that I can only do so much. But that's been a frustration since I was unpublished. I always had more stories I wanted to write than I could.  So it's all about story triage for me.

One thing I've learned to do is to write novellas or work on graphic novels. Because the actual word count that I need for a novella like Emperor's Soul or for a graphic novel like White Sand, is a fraction of what a big novel takes. And so I get this cool thing with a graphic novel where I can write something I just finished an outline and script for a new graphic novel, that we're not going to release until after White Sand's done. But now that White Sand 3 is moving along and the writing portion of that is done, and we're just working on the art, I came up with something else. And instead of taking 18 months like a Stormlight book takes, it took me, like, a month. And so that's a way I can get a story ready and can release it to people without having to spend 18 months on something.

Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
#169 Copy


Is each book in this series a focus on a particular character? Did I read that somewhere?

Brandon Sanderson

Each one has a flashback sequence dedicated to a certain character, and a plot that has something to do with the flashback sequence. I do this to help differentiate them, and we sometimes call it "their" book--but that's a little of a misnomer, as the main plot may not revolve around the flashback sequence. It will simply relate to it.


Ah right. It was Kaladin then Shallan, next is Dalinar? Or is it Szeth?

Brandon Sanderson

This one is Dalinar most likely. Then (probably) Eshonai, then Szeth. Unless I swap those two.

Back five are Lift, Renarin, Ash, Taln, Jasnah. Not necessarily in that order. (Though that is the planned order right now.)

I do have to give my standard disclaimer. Someone getting a flashback sequence does not indicate they survive until that book. I'm fully willing to flashback to a character who died in an earlier volume. So that isn't as much of a spoiler as it seems.

And Taln is defined as "The man who thinks of himself as the Herald Taln, and whose viewpoint we got briefly in Words of Radiance."

/r/fantasy AMA 2017 ()
#171 Copy


There isn't anything story specific I'd want to ask, I wish to discover by reading. I was wondering if Stormlight Archive books are going to get a special edition limited prints from Subterranean Press, like some of your other work?

Brandon Sanderson

Our plan is to do tenth anniversary books of all of the cosmere novels, though right now I plan to put the four Wax and Wayne books into two volumes. (So, sell them as two-in-one.) Likewise, it's possible that the Stormlight books will be better as two volumes each, sold in a slip case together, so that you don't risk ruining bindings by reading them.

Words of Radiance Dayton signing ()
#173 Copy

darkanimereal1 (paraphrased)

I basically asked how long he thinks it will take him to write future Stormlight books, since [The Way of Kings] took 6 months to write and [Words of Radiance] took 18 months to write.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

My anticipation is that Stormlight should take about 12 months to write. It went in six months the first time because I had written the book already once. And so being able to start over from scratch, I had done it all once, so it was really like, even though I really wrote every word new, it was like doing a second draft. Words of Radiance took so long because I had to lurch out of the Wheel of Time mindset. I hadn’t written this book before, I had written the other one, and I was so steeped in the Wheel of Time doing two books that it took a lot more to pull me out. And I would start on it and would end up getting distracted by some other project like one of the novellas or I'd start on it and then I'd go back and do a revision on Steelheart and then I'd start on it. Eventually I managed to start on it and stay in it, but it took that extra six months of spinning my heels before I really dug into the book. And so, I would say that I'm hoping 12 months. I might be able to do them faster, maybe nine months. I don't know. They are big complicated books to write, and you can't really do these on the speed that you can do other things. It doesn't scale. If I can write a novella that's 20k words and I can write that oftentimes in a week, that doesn't mean that when I'm working on Words of Radiance I can do twenty thousand words a week, because it's just a lot harder to get everything connected. The longer you go, the longer it winds up taking per word.

YouTube Livestream 10 ()
#174 Copy


How intertwined are the two halves of The Stormlight Archive? Will you need to read the first half to know what's happening in the second half? If you read the first half, will you need to read the second half to get that sense that the story has come to an end?

Brandon Sanderson

I've never done something like this before. They are less intertwined than, say, Mistborn Two and Three. But maybe equivalent intertwined to Mistborn, as Mistborn is intertwined to Mistborn Two and Three, if that makes sense. It depends. Maybe even a little less than that, actually.

I think that you are going to want to view them as one big series of ten books. And we are going to come to an ending, and there will be some very satisfying things about it. But it's definitely going to be a promise there is more to come. I've never done anything quite like this. Less final than Mistborn Three, certainly.

So, I don't know. I didn't think anyone would read the Wax and Wayne books without reading the first ones, but I get emails all the time from people who started with those because those are the ones that appealed to them. I think you could start with Book Six of The Stormlight Archive, and it wouldn't feel strange. I think it would be harder to stop with Book Five, if that makes sense. Of those two options. But it's all gonna depend on your personal preferences, and things like that.

It's an excellent question. Plus, I haven't written the fifth book yet, and that's gonna inform a lot. These things change and morph as I'm going; every one of them does. So, who knows. I can explain better after Book Five is done.

Stormlight Three Update #5 ()
#176 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

In book one, a main character was absent from several parts. (Dalinar and Shallan alternated.) Same with Words of Radiance, where Dalinar skipped two parts, I believe.

Note that this is an absence of viewpoints from the character, not necessarily an absence of the character entirely.

The main characters of the first part of the Stormlight are Shallan, Kaladin, and Dalinar. Two more flashback character (Eshonai and Szeth) can be considered important characters without as many viewpoints, though in the above outline, I'd have listed them as tertiary characters in terms of number of viewpoints.

The actual tertiary characters are Jasnah, Adolin, Navani, and a few that I can't mention as it will be spoilers. These get significant screen time, but only have viewpoints here and there in the first five books. Jasnah, as I've said, grows more important in the back five. Others do as well.

The Great American Read: Other Worlds with Brandon Sanderson ()
#178 Copy


In the second series of Stormlight Archive, are they going to be about the same characters?

Brandon Sanderson

That's an excellent question. So when I sat down to build The Stormlight Archive, there were a couple of things that I learned from The Wheel of Time. One was that the further an epic fantasy series goes, the more important it is that you have a structure to the series. It's very easy for the books to start blending into one another, and it's also very easy to let side characters take over books. This is very natural for us as writers, particularly in a big epic fantasy, and I felt that when I approached The Stormlight Archive there are a couple of things I did. One is that I said "All right, I'm going to confine all my side characters to these things called interludes, where I can just go crazy and do whatever I want, but they have to be like, isolated in their own containment unit called the interludes to prevent me from turning from the books just going in all directions at once."

The other thing I said is, "Each book is going to be about an order of Knights Radiant, and it's going to have a flashback sequence directly tied to that order." So that when you say "All right, which book is book three," you're like, "Oh, that's Dalinar's book, that's the Bondsmith book." All of the characters are in all of the books, but each book has kind of its own soul and theme that helps me as a writer structure where I'm going to release information, and what it's going to be about. And so when I set down this, I said said "I'm going to pick 10 characters, 10 orders (and they are not always going to be exactly what you expect), but I'm going to build each book to have a theme based around those things."

The first five were Dalinar, Kaladin, Shallan, Eshonai and Szeth. So those are the five books you are going to get in the first arc. And the second arc is Lift, Renarin, Ash, Taln and Jasnah, right. Now, all the characters from the first five will be in all those books, and some of them will still be main characters. You can expect it, like it is one series. All the ones that survive *crowd groans* no spoilers. But you can expect in the back five, people that you are expecting that are main characters now will still be main characters, and you will have a lot of space dedicated to them still, but the flashback sequences, and the themes of the book, will focus on those five. And so it hopefully will help it all have a structure and a feeling. 

Between book 5 and book 6, in-world, there will be a time jump of about 10 years, so just be expecting that. But I can't say anything more without getting into spoilers, so I won't. But that's what you can expect.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#179 Copy


Stormlight has a lot of parallelism with Mistborn, but with protagonists who are now on the other side of the slave revolt. In particular, there's a very strong through line going from Kelsier to Miles to Moash, with characters attempting to overthrown a corrupt system being treated differently by the narrative in each case.

How much of this inversion is intentional? I know Warbreaker had a lot of deliberate parallels to Mistborn.

Brandon Sanderson

This is pretty intentional. I like to approach things from different sides, and I knew Stormlight was about the establishment, while Mistborn about the revolutionary. I like to try to show both sides of things like this, when I can.

London signing ()
#180 Copy

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

For the first 5 SA books he's heavily outlined them. For the last 5 SA books he has outlines for the main climax scenes. For the flashback characters for the last 5 books he's not settled on which ones or order but current plan is for Taln, Ash (aka Shalash), Lift, Jasnah and Renarin.

He also specifically stated that for one of the flashback characters that they would be already dead (sounded like definitely dead not maybe dead).

Travis Gafford Interview ()
#185 Copy

Mark Zimmerman

One of the things I'm most excited about with this book [Rhythm of War] has been what you described as being a foundational scene that you got to write that you've been thinking of forever. In the Cosmere and in your writing, has there been anything that you've done on that level? You have huge reveals and awesome scenes all over the place, but has there been one that's been cooking for so long and then you finally got to put it on the page? Or is this the first time you got to do that?

Brandon Sanderson

No, the first one of these was Kaladin taking the Shardblade at the end of Words of Radiance. That was the first really big one that I had been planning for a long time. Even stretches back to some things in Way of Kings Prime that I never got to write, because I never wrote the second book of that series. So that is one of those moments that just have been planned forever.

Most of these are Stormlight or Dragonsteel. Because Mistborn did not have as long of a cooking phase. So while there's cool moments in it, it's not like I spent ten years planning them. I spent, like, two years planning them. And so the ones for... there's one in Words of Radiance, there's one in this book, and there's one at the end of Book Five. (And there's one in Book Ten, also, but there's a bunch of them in Stormlight, the back five.) In the first five, we've got one in this book. (You'll know when you get to it. I think you'll know when you get to it.) And there's one in the next book that I first thought of and tried playing with an outline of... boy, it was, like, '98 or '99, before I even started Prime. After Five, we'll have a lot to talk about about that moment. But you'll find one in this book.

Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
#186 Copy


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

Brandon Sanderson

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

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

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

Michael Pye

One thing I've noticed around the release of Words of Radiance was you pointing out that The Stormlight Archive is really two series of 5 books each. Was that something you wanted to make clear so as not to be daunting to perspective readers or just more about how the story has developed since you began?

Brandon Sanderson

It's a mixture of both, honestly. I do want to be wary of not being too daunting to readers who are jumping into this thing and have been reading The Wheel of Time. They might think, "The Wheel of Time was 'promised' to be six books and it ended up at fourteen. If you promise six, how long is this one going to be?"

But it's also because I want to start preparing readers for the break that's going to happen at book five. I'm going to stop writing the series for a few years, and then the "back five" (as I'm calling it) will focus on some different characters than the front five. So I have a lot of good reasons to be preparing people for what's going to happen there. Our expectations are a very big part of our enjoyment of all different kinds of entertainment mediums.

Firefight release party ()
#188 Copy


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

Brandon Sanderson

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

Idaho Falls Signing ()
#191 Copy

Shawn M. Halversen (paraphrased)

I asked him about the time between each of the original 99 desolations.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

It turns out that the number 99 in the stories was made up, and that there were much fewer of them. He also then stated that the cosmere runs along a 10,000 year gap and that Roshar falls right into the middle of the timeline. He ended with "That should give you a perspective of the timeline and events of the desolations".

Daily Dragon interview ()
#192 Copy

Daily Dragon

Shallan's sketches in The Way of Kings are terrific additions that enhance the epic feel of the novel. What inspired you to push for these illustrations?

Brandon Sanderson

I wanted to use the form of this novel to try and enhance what epic fantasy can do, and downplay the things that are tough about it. One of the tough things about epic fantasy is the learning curve—how much you have to learn and pay attention to, how many things there are to just know. I felt that occasional illustrations could really help with that. For instance, how Shallan's sketchbook, or uses of multiple maps, could give us a visual component to the book. Pictures really are worth a thousand words. You can have on that page something that shows a creature much better than I can describe it. And so I felt that that would help deemphasize the problem of the learning curve, while at the same time helping to make this world real. Epic fantasy is about immersion, and I wanted to make this world real since that's one of the great things we can do with epic fantasy. We've got the space and the room to just build a completely real world, and I felt that the art would allow me to do that, which is why I decided to do "in world" art.

I didn't want to take this toward a graphic novel. I like graphic novels, but it wasn't appropriate here to do illustrations of the scenes and characters from the books because I don't want to tell you what they look like. I want that to be up to your own imagination. And so we wanted that in-world ephemera feel to it, as though it were some piece of art that you found in the world and included.

I think it goes back to Tolkien. There's a map in The Hobbit, and that map isn't just a random map, which has become almost a cliché of fantasy books and of epic fantasy. "Oh, of course there's a random map in the front!" Well, Tolkien wanted you to think this map was the actual map the characters carried around, and that's why he included it. He wrote his books as if he were the archivist putting them together and translating them and bringing them to you, this wonderful story from another world, and he included the map because the map was there with the notes. That's what I wanted the feel for this ephemera to be. As though whoever has put this book together—done the translation and included pieces of art and maps and things that they found in the world that had been collected during these events—that's what you're getting.