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Oathbringer London signing ()
#204 Copy

Questioner

Does Wit have another name apart from Wit?

Brandon Sanderson

Wit has many other names. Cephandrius is him.

Questioner

What's his real name?

Brandon Sanderson

He does... have a real name, but he would argue that they're all real names.

Overlord Jebus

What's one that isn't Cephandrius or Midius?

Brandon Sanderson

Hoid. *laughter* Topaz.

Aurimus

When he says he's named after a rock that's a reference to Topaz?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes that's referencing the topaz. And the other thing that he references with... When he says he's named after words on a page that is not breaking the fourth wall... It's not even winking at it. Nope... It's quite literal. Yes, that is quite literal.

Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
#206 Copy

Questioner

Hoid. Does he show up in Sixth of the Dusk?

Brandon Sanderson

Hoid is not in Sixth of the Dusk. I kind of made the little rule to myself that I should not just try to shoehorn him in to everything. On a thing like Sixth of the Dusk, there's no reason for him to be there. In fact, it would be really hard for him to get there. Even harder. So, he's not in Shadows for Silence either.

Barnes & Noble B-Fest 2016 ()
#208 Copy

Questioner

I have a question about the cosmere, and Hoid specifically. The way that he is worldhopping, is he using Cognitive and *inaudible* Realms?

Brandon Sanderson

The times you have seen him worldhop, it has involved shardpools, or perpendicularities, as we call them. He is using primarily the Cognitive Realm.

Questioner

Because, from what I understood from Secret History, that he's going through the shardpool, from the Cognitive to the normal Realm.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, he's traveling through the Cognitive Realm, and then jumping back to the Physical one, once he's where he wants to go.

Questioner

So, I'm guessing what's going on, though, is that he's travelling between planets using the Cognitive and coming out from the shardpool to the Physical Realm?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, that is exactly right.

Brandon's Blog 2010 ()
#210 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

I started writing my first novel when I was fifteen years old. I didn’t have a computer; I had an old, electric typewriter. It would remember your file on a disc, but it was really just a printer with an attached bare-bones word processor. (It had a tiny LCD screen at the top that could display three lines at a time. You could scroll through and edit bit by bit, then you hit print and it would type out the document.)

The book was terrible. It was essentially a hybrid of Tad Williams and Dragonlance, though at the time I felt it was totally new and original. It did have a wizard who threw fireballs with smiley faces on the front, though, so that’s kind of cool. At its core were two stories. One vital one was the tale of a wise king who was murdered by assassins, forcing his younger brother to take up the mantle and lead the kingdom while trying to find/protect the king’s son and rightful heir. The other was about a young man named Rick, originally blamed for the murder.

I still have some of these pages. (Not the entire book, unfortunately.) I used to hide them behind a picture on the wall of my room so that nobody would find them. I was so anxious about letting people read my writing, and was—for some reason—paranoid my family would find the pages and read them, then make fun of them.

Over the years, many ideas proliferated and matured in my mind. I began writing books in earnest (I never finished that one I started as a teenager.) I grew as a writer, and discovered how to make my works less derivative. Most of my ideas from my teenage self died out, and rightly so. Others evolved. My maturing sensibilities as both a reader and a writer changed how I saw the world, and some stories stood the test of both time and internal criticism, becoming stronger for the conflict.

Rick became Jerick, hero of the book now known as Dragonsteel. (It was my honor’s thesis in college, and will someday be rewritten and published. For now, the only copy available is through interlibrary loan, though it appears to have vanished.) Jared, the man who lost his brother and had to lead in his stead, protecting his nephew, slowly evolved into a man named Dalinar, one of the primary protagonists of The Way of Kings. Some of you may be curious to know that the character many now call Hoid also appeared in that ancient book of mine.

These two epics—Dragonsteel and The Way of Kings—have shaped a lot of my passions and writing goals over the last two decades. For example, in my last year of college I took an introductory illustration class to try my hand at drawing. My final project was a portfolio piece of sketches of plants and animals from Roshar, as even then I was hoping to someday be able to publish The Way of Kings with copious in-world illustrations of Roshar and its life. (At that time, I was planning to have an illustrated appendix, though I eventually decided to spread the pages through the book.) Fortunately, I was able to hire artists to do the work in this book instead of forcing you to look at what I came up with . . .

Well, finally—after two decades of writing—Tor has given me the chance to share The Way of Kings with you. They’ve taken a risk on this book. At every juncture, they agreed to do as I asked, often choosing the more expensive option as it was a better artistic decision. Michael Whelan on the cover. 400K words in length. Almost thirty full page interior illustrations. High-end printing processes in order to make the interior art look crisp and beautiful. A piece of in-world writing on the back cover, rather than a long list of marketing blurbs. Interludes inside the book that added to the length, and printing costs, but which fleshed out the world and the story in ways I’d always dreamed of doing.

This is a massive book. That seems fitting, as it has been two decades in the making for me. Writing this essay, I find myself feeling oddly relieved. Yes, part of me is nervous—more nervous for this book than I have been for any book save The Gathering Storm. But a greater part of me is satisfied.

I finally got it published. Whatever else happens, whatever else comes, I managed to tell this story. The Way of Kings isn’t hidden behind the painting in my room any longer.

Brandon's Blog 2013 ()
#213 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

The origin of The Rithmatist

Six years ago, I was writing a book that I hated.

Now, that's both rare and common for me at the same time. I tire of pretty much every book I work on at some point, usually during the revision process. I push through and get over it. That's what you do as a writer. By the time I'm done with the process, I'm tired of the book—but it's the good kind of tired. The "I worked hard, and now have something awesome to show for it" tired.

Unfortunately, that wasn't happening for this book. Called The Liar of Partinel, every chapter was a chore to write. Though it had started very well, it continued to spiral farther and farther down the drain. I was familiar enough with my own writing by this point to realize the problems with Liar wouldn't work themselves out. The characters were boring, the plot forced. The worldbuilding elements never quite clicked together.

It had been years since I'd had such a bad feeling about a novel. (The last time, in fact, was Mythwalker—my sixth unpublished book—which I abandoned halfway through.) Part of the problem, I suspect, had to do with my expectations. Liar, set in the same world as Dragonsteel, was to be the origin story of Hoid, the character who has appeared in all of my Cosmere novels. (Information here—warning, big spoilers.)

I needed Hoid's story to be epic and awesome. It just wasn't. And so, I ended up "hiding" from that novel and working on something else instead.

The Rithmatist. It started with some drawings and a purely creative week sketching out a world, characters, and magic. That week is the exact sort that turned me into a writer in the first place, and was a distinct contrast to the grind that had been Liar. I abandoned the book and dove into The Rithmatist (then called Scribbler), and wrote a book where everything just came together. It happens sometimes. It just works, and I can't always explain—even to myself—why.

I finished the first draft of the book in the summer of 2007. In the fall, I got the call regarding the Wheel of Time, and my world transformed forever. The Rithmatist, though an awesome book, languished for years because I didn't have the time to devote to it. Doing a tour or contract for another teen book was impossible at that time, and beyond that I couldn't commit to writing any sequels or even doing any revision for the novel.

I did tell Tor about it, though, and they started to get excited. The publisher tried at several times to get me to release it, but I didn't feel the time was right. I couldn't let my attention be divided that far. I was already stretched too thin, and I wanted my attention (and that of my readers) to be on the Wheel of Time.

The month A Memory of Light was done and turned in, however, I called Tor and told them it was time to move forward. I'm pleased to be releasing the book now, when I can give it the attention it deserves.

And hopefully someday I'll be able to fix The Liar of Partinel. (At this point, I'm feeling I need to rewrite it as a first-person narrative, though making that switch is going to cause an entire host of problems.)

Arcanum Unbounded Chicago signing ()
#215 Copy

Questioner

I want to know how Hoid travels between worlds. Or, if you're not going to tell me right now, will we ever find out?

Brandon Sanderson

Hoid has travelled between the worlds by getting in one Shardpool in Shadesmar and coming out a different one. *pause* Okay? So that is one method he has used to travel between the worlds. The worlds are connected through Shadesmar. Um, things that people don't think about as much reflect very minorly in Shadesmar, so when you-- all the-- most of the space between planets is cut out, and there's some weird, twisted geography going on there. So that's basically how he does it, Cognitive Realm.

Skyward release party ()
#218 Copy

the.fulgid

During his conversation with Shallan, Wit said that, "Failure is the mark of a life well lived," and I'm glad that you shared that because this question has been on my mind a lot, and he says, "And in turn the the only way to live without failure is to be of no use to anyone." Is there anything Hoid has failed at that we haven't seen on screen that you would be willing to share?

Brandon Sanderson

There are certain people he thought he was going to be able to help who ended up not surviving.

Oathbringer London signing ()
#221 Copy

yurisses

Can you tell us a little bit about what Hoid was up to in Terris in The Well of Ascension?

Brandon Sanderson

He was hunting for the Well of Ascension.

yurisses

In the new continuity, he already knew where the Well was, because he used it to come back to--

Brandon Sanderson

Right, we changed the continuity, didn't we. Yeah. Oh boy. We came up with an explanation of this, because when we wrote the book-- Yeah, why don't you send me an email on that one. Now that I have the conversation with Peter, he brought that one up when I finally got around to Secret History. That was one of our big casualties. What did I come up with? I think he was just really, really-- I will have to-- because I canonzied it to Peter. We're gonna have to go to Peter and say "What's in the wiki now?" Yeah, that was one of the big casualties, and the fact that I couldn't get Kelsier to one of the places where I had left foreshadowing for him to speak in someone's head, and I can't remember what that one was, either.

yurisses

Oh, that one was Sazed, you said it was his imagination.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, I had to make that his imagination. Because I just couldn't get people where they needed to go. This is the problem with writing an outline, then writing a book, and then writing another book so many years later. Certain things, we just can't work into the continuity. Write us an email, we'll get you the official continuity for that one. Because Peter did nail me down when we were working on the book.

Peter Ahlstrom

After Hoid got the bead during the scene in Secret History, he went north to Terris to do research on possibly acquiring Feruchemy. While he’s there, all hell breaks loose, and he ends up embroiled in helping the Terris people.

Warsaw signing ()
#226 Copy

Questioner

<Did the man Lift met is Hoid>?

Brandon Sanderson

It is Hoid.

In book three, right? In book three.

Oh *inaudible* Lift? *inaudible* No, that's not Hoid. So she references having talked to him but it's not someone she meets in this. In the beginning, she mentions him but he's not specifically in this. Right? Sorry, I thought you meant *inaudible*.

Questioner

*Inaudible*.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, of course, that makes sense. But yes, so, she met him - but she talks about him, she didn't - it's not him on the street.

(From my notes:

In Edgedancer, Lift references talking to Hoid but he doesn’t show up himself there. She met him, she talks about him but he doesn't appear in Edgedancer.)

Oathbringer London signing ()
#228 Copy

kalamitous_emoashions

With Hoid, we know that he's got some sort of Lightweaving, Yolen magic. If we're gonna hypothetically say that he bonds with the Cryptic, at the end of Oathbringer. Talking about resonance between magic systems, what are we going to see if he tried the two together? Would they be separate? Or would they form some sort of resonance magic system?

Brandon Sanderson

So, I'm gonna go ahead and RAFO that.

Arcanum Unbounded Chicago signing ()
#229 Copy

Dragon13

Does Hoid have any relations other than his parents?

Brandon Sanderson

Hoid have any-- like direct blood relatives?

Dragon13

Yeah.

Brandon Sanderson

Okay. In the book, when I wrote it before, he did not. Dragonsteel isn’t 100% canon anymore so that will possibly change, but he did not, and there are none in my mind right now, so he's an only child as I have right now. It's unlikely to change, but I do have to asterisk that one because I haven't written Dragonsteel yet... Oh no, he had a little brother! He did have a little brother. Even in the original.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#230 Copy

i_do_stuff

Hoid likes to be in interesting places. What was so interesting about the Yomen/Joshin wedding that he had to be there?

Brandon Sanderson

In that case, he went to congratulate friends. Not everything is about large-scale cosmere problems.

WeiryWriter

Is there anything you are willing to say about how he befriended them?

Brandon Sanderson

Afraid not.

Footnote: The characters are a shout-out to two of the 17th Shard admins, Josh and Mi'chelle, who had just been married in real life.
Sources: Reddit
Arcanum Unbounded Seattle signing ()
#234 Copy

Question

Other than his home planet, what's Hoid's favorite planet in the cosmere?

Brandon Sanderson

He probably would pick Scadrial. Hoid likes his creature comforts. Scadrial is the nicest place to live right now. Now there are other places that are easier to get Investiture, which is very nice, but if you actually want to go to a restaurant, your options are limited. They've got some on Nalthis, but you want to get a nice restaurant, go to Scadrial. You want a car service, Scadrial. And if he sits around long enough, he'll have instant noodles.

Words of Radiance Chicago signing ()
#240 Copy

Questioner

The prevailing theory on the 17th Shard is that [Hoid] worldhops using Shadesmar. I was wondering if you were willing to confirm or deny that?

Brandon Sanderson

Hoid has indeed gotten between worlds before through Shadesmar.

Questioner

And would you be willing to give us a hint as to how he does that?

Brandon Sanderson

There are hints in the books. There is a hint in the very first cosmere book I released [Elantris]. [...] Which I thought was a huge hint, but so far I haven't seen anyone talking about it.

Argent

Really?

Brandon Sanderson

Mmhmm. [...] I thought that once people started figuring the Cosmere, they would see the massive in-your-face hint I put in that book, but so far, as far as I know, no one has. *brief conversation about Brandon's tendency to drop sneaky hints and how he likes doing that* Now, the one [hint] about the map [of Roshar], that one I don't think is obvious. I know people have been trying to figure it out. It's something fun once you figure it out, but it's not something huge and obvious. The Elantris once was, like, enormously "HIIINT!"

Skyward Chicago signing ()
#241 Copy

Dragon13

When Hoid met Kaladin, he said he came chasing an old acquaintance, ended up spending most of his time hiding from him instead. Is he referring to Rayse or Odium? Or someone else.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. Not the someone else. He was referring to Odium.

Skyward release party ()
#245 Copy

Questioner

After Stormlight, Wit was far and away my favorite characters. One of my friends came to me and heard I really liked Wit, and he's like, "Oh yeah. His name is Hoid, he's a worldhopper, he's in a ton of cosmere books. So I went and read a bunch of the other cosmere related books. Why's he so different? Like, in Mistborn, he shows up as a beggar/informant for half a page?

Brandon Sanderson

So there's a couple reasons for this. One is, there are certain books where he is a character and other books where I'm just writing him as a cameo. Most of the books I'm just doing a cameo for him. Stormlight's where you see the most of him until he gets his own book.

The other reason was, at the beginning, I wasn't sure how much people would be interested in behind-the-scenes stuff, and so I was very sparing with it in the early books. You won't see a lot of him until Warbreaker, and even then he's only in a chapter. Even in Wax and Wayne books, you only see glimpses of him. There will be other books he'll be a bigger part in, but if you like Wit, Stormlight's your jam.

Words of Radiance Chicago signing ()
#246 Copy

Questioner

Since Hoid is the Horneater god, are there, or at least implied, would other Shards--

Brandon Sanderson

Hoid is not a Shard.

Questioner

Or other Shards that are related to Hoid, since they are in the same time period. Would they also be Horneater gods?

Brandon Sanderson

I think that the Horneaters might interpret things very differently from their reality, as they are viewing certain things happening--

Questioner

So would they originally be from Roshar, or would they have travelled from somewhere else?

Brandon Sanderson

That's a RAFO, it depends on the person. Hoid is not originally from Roshar.

Firefight Atlanta signing ()
#248 Copy

Questioner

When you do get around to giving us Hoid's story is it going to be like Ender's Shadow type of thing where you're filling in the gaps?

Brandon Sanderson

You know I know that stuff, but I don't plan to do it that way. I plan to do his backstory more as his own story because while I really like Ender's Shadow, most of the things like that I haven't enjoyed as much. Plus, it would take me books and books and books to do it. We'll see. I haven't closed the door on that idea, but I'm not planning on it right now. There are parallel things like that I am planning to write, but it's not Hoid.

Firefight San Francisco signing ()
#249 Copy

Questioner

My brother and I have been debating about Hoid and how he got his abilities. We have a couple theories. One of them is Hemalurgy. The other has to do with the portals into the worlds themselves, because the birds in Sixth of Dusk--

Brandon Sanderson

Ok, he doesn't have Hemalurgy right now. He has powers that predate the Shattering of Adonalsium. Not all of his powers predate, but he does have powers that predate.

Questioner

Ok, so I was wrong on both counts then. Am I wrong on both counts?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm not saying that, I'm saying that he does have powers that predate but he has also gained powers since.

FanX 2018 ()
#250 Copy

Stormlightning

If Hoid could have picked to join any order of the Knights Radiant, regardless of the Oaths he had to swear, just the powers, would he have picked Lightweaver?

Brandon Sanderson

He would have.

Stormlightning

Tell me more!

Brandon Sanderson

Lightweaving matches him very well, he's quite familiar with it and experienced with it. He's very good at using it and he likes it.

It's the fulfillment of a long, long quest of his to finally get full access to Lightweaving.

Stormlightning

Even though he had some sort of Lightweaving?

Brandon Sanderson

He did have some sort of, yes. He's a very very happy Hoid.