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Goodreads WoK Fantasy Book Club Q&A ()
#201 Copy

Louise

Did spren lose their memories and personalities because of the loss of their attached radiants? But retain a basic attraction to things associated with the radiants they bonded to previously?

Brandon Sanderson

Not all types of spren bonded to Radiants. You will find out more about this in the future. However, if you're speaking specifically of spren that were bonded to Radiants, then yes, you're on the right track.

Oathbringer Portland signing ()
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Questioner

I want to ask you a question about Pattern. Could you speak to anything about where your idea for...

Brandon Sanderson

I wanted different spren to look drastically different. And, as I was building-- Like, I wanted a lot of the spren of a lot of the Orders of Knights Radiant to kind of have an internal, natural conflict. Like, that's one of the division lines between a spren that's not sapient, and spren that is. For instance, Windrunner, honorspren, right? Honor is about rigidity in a lot of ways, and Syl is the embodiment of a lot of the opposite of that. And Pattern, who is so interested in lies, is a mathematical fractal-- a mathematical equation. This sort of thing, like naming the inkspren Ivory is just-- I want that internal, natural contrast to be part of them. And Pattern, I really wanted a spren that wasn't just another ball of light. 'Cause Syl is basically a ball of light. And a lot of the others are basically balls of light. And I'm like, I need something that's different, I want something that looks different, that feels different. That's where I went.

Skyward release party ()
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Questioner

There are honorspren and cultivationspren on Roshar. The other spren that are tied to orders of Knights Radiant, do they have any relationships with any other Shards?

Brandon Sanderson

They are all going to be a mix of the Shards on Roshar. Some weight a little further one direction or the other. They are not off-world Shards. Good question.

Orem signing 2014 ()
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Questioner (paraphrased)

How do spren choose what human they'll bond with?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Well, it depends on the spren type. There's some spren that choose on their own, while there's other spren where it's done by committee. Wyndle, Lift's spren was placed with Lift by a committee. It's a culture difference. Some are free-spirited, others more organized.

Skyward San Francisco signing ()
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Questioner

Will we be finding out more about the Ryshadium?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, but it's one of those things we're gonna find out in little bits here and there. I mean, I think I've told people they are animals that have managed to form a spren bond, which has given them more-than-animal intelligence. It is the symbiosis there that is letting them. So if they did not have the spren bond, they wouldn't be--

Skyward Houston signing ()
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Questioner

What's the relationship between spren and seons?

Brandon Sanderson

They are the same thing from different magics.

Questioner

Okay, exact same thing from different magics?

Brandon Sanderson

"Exact," may be a little too strict, but yeah.

Questioner

So a seon can be transferred to another person, right?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

Can a spren?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Oathbringer San Diego signing ()
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Questioner

So we know that spren come about through interactions? Could there be other things that situation could create?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

'Cause a read about the *inaudible*

Brandon Sanderson

Um, same thing, yes.

Questioner

I was wondering if *inaudible* spren were created by *inaudible*?

Brandon Sanderson

This is possible.

Skyward release party ()
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OrangeJedi

In a previous question you said that when Pattern talks he makes vibrations in the air that can be picked up by a recorder. When Syl talks to just Kaladin, and is only appearing to just Kaladin, could that audio be recorded?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO.

Oathbringer San Diego signing ()
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Questioner

*inaudible* find yourself foreshadowing in any of your books.

Brandon Sanderson

All the time. Like, the thing I love to do the most.

Questioner

Anything you found that we haven't found yet?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, yeah. But they can't really find it yet because the foreshadowing is for books way in the future. One thing I've mentioned that you can keep an eye on is the shapes the spren sometimes take, sometimes unconsciously, is related to certain connections that are going on.

Salt Lake City ComicCon 2017 ()
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Questioner

What's the relationship between the Knights Radiant and their opposite gender spren? Is that important or not?

Brandon Sanderson

Ah it is slightly important.

Questioner

I have to RAFO it though?

Brandon Sanderson

It's more important narratively than it is in the world. It happens more often but it doesn't mean anything when it doesn't happen, does that makes sense? So it's slightly important, partialy it's a narrative trick. I want to keep some gender balance and it's a lot easier to play off someone different than yourself, and things like that so I naturally do that. It doesn't necessarily mean anything when I don't. It depends on the personality of the spren.

Supanova 2017 - Sydney ()
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Darkness (paraphrased)

What does antiseptic look like in the Cognitive and would it frighten away any rotspren or grinders there?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Mmm… no it would look like a bead unfortunately. You could manifest it, like how you see Kelsier doing with stuff but really… no. Maybe if you got some antiseptic in [into the Cognitive Realm], the rotspren might recognize it but just the soul of it, no.

Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
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carnivorouspickle

If you hadn't had the opportunity to write for MtG, would any of these characters have made it in one form or another into one of your other books, or would they only fit in this setting? If they would have made it into a different story, which one?

Brandon Sanderson

I've wanted to do this story for a number of years, and it was inspired by me asking myself (after my first visit to WoTC a number of years back) what I would do if I were to write a story for them.

I didn't seriously consider doing this in another setting, since the concept of demons and contracts isn't really a Cosmere one--and the first ideas were for Davriel and Miss Highwater. That said, spren bonds have some slight similarities, so it's not impossible.

Firefight release party ()
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Questioner

Where did you get the idea of gloryspren and fearspren showing up when people feel certain emotions?

Brandon Sanderson

So spren in The Way of Kings where did I come up with these ideas for things that physically manifest people's emotions. So I honestly think the earliest seed of this, years and years ago, was reading Perrin in The Wheel of Time where he can smell people's emotion and I thought that having an actual different sense to recognize emotion was so cool I think that is what planted the seed in the back of my brain. The other thing that that is mashing-up with though is kind of Shinto ideas, because I was relying a lot on some Eastern philosophy when I was building Roshar and The Way of Kings. And the Shinto believe that everything has a soul and a spirit, a kami as they call it, and things like this and wanting to expand that into not just the rock but your emotions have a soul and they manifest and things like that. And then I was working in the cosmere and all this stuff but in the end I think it is a mash-up of those two concepts. Wanting a cool way, a different way, a way that changes society that emotions play out mixed with this idea of the kami and the Shinto beliefs.

General Reddit 2016 ()
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Wincompetence

I'd very much like a story, even a short one, from the point of view of a spren.

Specifically a spren that is bound to a surgebinder. Syl, Glys, Pattern, etc. I'd like to see how they go from Shadesmar to crossing over and losing their thought, to slowly regaining it and forming a bond in more than one way with their surgebinder.

Brandon Sanderson

This is a matter of when, not if--but you might have to wait a few books.

Ben McSweeney AMA ()
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Arithered

What is your conception of how spren would appear to the average person? Do they have a solid physicality of some kind or are they more ethereal/ghostlike?

Ben McSweeney

Back during the pitch I did illustrate a few spren ideas for Brandon, but my understanding of them has expanded greatly since then. There's a lot I don't know, but I think I've got the basic idea down.

I see them as looking like they're made of Stormlight, sorta like many common sci-fi "holograms". I don't think any spren have physically solid forms unless the manifest fully, and the only examples we've seen of that so far are Blades.

In terms of their appearance, the text descriptions are always the first place I look. Never contradict the text, it's the common basis for all our interpretations.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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Sharadee

I am going to shamelessly take advantage of the fact that you are still answering questions here (and wow ! thanks for that). It's about the sprens. Isn't it inconvenient in some social situations if sprens can give away people's emotions? For example, if someone is working hard to hide their anger and angersprens appear... Can people have any kind of control over them appearing ?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, it can be inconvenient. And you'll see more about this in future books.

Skyward Denver signing ()
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Questioner 1

Is there conspiracyspren? We have kind of a family joke about that one.

Brandon Sanderson

So, conspiracyspren... Let's just say this. I have purposefully not made spren of certain things that I think would undermine the very purpose of the spren. If that makes sense?

Questioner 2

My question was going to be: What emotion would you never write a spren for?

Brandon Sanderson

Well there are ones that-- I would go with that. Things that undermine the very nature.-- But I wouldn't say never to anything. In the cosmere, particularly on Roshar, if people start to personify something, there's a chance it would become a spren, and that could be anything. The current vogue question to ask me is "will there be memespren..." And my response is always, "If people personify something, then there's a chance that a spren will develop out of it."

Tel Aviv Signing ()
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Questioner

One. Can there be Nahel Bonds with more then ten types of spren because we have ten Orders.

Brandon Sanderson

Meaning, are there other possible spren that could form other Orders of Knights Radiant that are not the ten? This is theoretically possible, but that is basically what you could argue is happening to Renarin. So now if you want to say... if you want to throw out the exception of spren who were one of the ten who got changed, then this is theoretically possible but right now currently wouldn't work.

Skyward Chicago signing ()
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Blightsong

You've said that, AI in the cosmere, creating one is kind of like having a child realmatically. Would that extend to most sapient creations?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Blightsong

So could a created spren from a Returned inherit Royal Locks? Within a reasonable possibility?

Brandon Sanderson

*ahhing in a very curious manner* You could make this happen, but I don't think it would happen naturally.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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drabgod

In Words of Radiance we find that Pattern is very literal-minded (at least until Shallan corrupted him), and mathematically-inclined. Even his real name is just a mathematical construct. And his head is a fractal. When I think of Pattern, I think "logic" and "truth", not "art" and "lies".

If all Cryptics are like this, then I wonder why they (and not artistic spren like Wyndle) are the ones attracted to the artistic Lightweavers. Is this just a matter of "opposites attract"? Are spren naturally drawn to people with personal qualities they themselves do not have? I am reminded of the Divine Attributes, and it seems like Shallan has the "Creative" side while Pattern has the "Honest" side. Is that a coincidence?

Brandon Sanderson

These things are not coincidences.

I have some very interesting rationals why certain spren are involved with certain orders. I never wanted it to be so straightforward as, "Oh, you control pressure? Here's a spren dedicated to that power." I feel there is more intricacy, and honesty, to a system that isn't so "on the nose" as we say in writing.

Stormblessed.com interview with Brandon Sanderson ()
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Questioner

Can all spren imprint on someone—like Syl has with Kaladin—or is this ability special to certain types of spren? (I just got a mental picture of a flamespren taking notice of the pyromaniac noble girl from the castle market exercise in your JordanCon talk. Not sure that would end well.)

Brandon Sanderson

It is special to certain types of spren. There you go, a non-RAFO.

Skyward San Francisco signing ()
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Questioner

Are spren able to visit other planets than Roshar?

Brandon Sanderson

So, spren are, because of the nature of their Investiture, connected too strongly to the planet to normally get off. That doesn't mean it couldn't happen, but I will just say, normally no.

Questioner

So the Cognitive Realm, or whatever that sort of like-- is that different on other planets?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. It looks different on each planet, partially based on perception.

Orem Signing ()
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Questioner

Can Hemalurgy be used to steal other...like, the Stormlight...

Brandon Sanderson

It could. It's very complicated, particularly with surgebinding, because the bond with the spren is a voluntary thing. So, you could steal the power, but you would also be stealing the sprenbond which the spren then has autonomy over. So, it might not turn out really well for you. It might not turn out well for anyone involved. Much easier to steal things where there isn't an autonomous being involved in your gaining of the magical powers.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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focoma

Are the Essences strictly just a Roshar thing, or are they also connected to the manifestations of Investiture on other Shardworlds? For example, is the Essence of Foil in any way connected to the Metallic Arts of Scadrial?

Brandon Sanderson

The idea that things exist on three realms is not unique to Roshar.

That those things are self-aware is a Rosharan thing, though other places in the cosmere have similar beliefs.

Goodreads: Ask the Author Q&A ()
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Mandi

In [Words of Radiance] Shallan notes that spren don't appear around dense groups of people, even if emotions are high. Why is that?

Brandon Sanderson

You'll find out more eventually. There are several reasons, but imagine how a creature attracted to a specific color would respond if you dumped every color together in a big mess.

JordanCon 2018 ()
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Argent (paraphrased)

Nazh writes that "spren fishing" is illegal in Ravizadth. What exactly is spren fishing?

Isaac Stewart (paraphrased)

It is the act of forcefully attracting spren in Shadesmar for your own purposes. For example, you know how when Adolin is genuinely afraid there, his fear attracts fearspren naturally? That's okay. But if someone were to engineer situations that would attract certain kinds of spren because they wanted to make use of those spren - for study, or other reasons - that would be "fishing". If spren have formal ethics, this would be unethical.

Argent (paraphrased)

So this has a lot to do with consent? Drawing spren naturally is part of how spren work, but forcing them to come, that's a no-no?

Isaac Stewart (paraphrased)

Pretty much.

Oathbringer release party ()
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Questioner

Is there a limit to what the spren can become, like we've seen them become a blade or a spear or a shield, can they become, like-- I've heard hints of a bow and arrow. Can they become a sword and a shield or just one main thing?

Brandon Sanderson

Um, it is more expansive than people guess it is, but it is limited.

Brandon's Blog 2014 ()
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Brandon Sanderson

What Is Altered Perceptions?

This anthology will collect "altered" versions of published stories—deleted scenes, alternate endings, original concept chapters, and that sort of thing.

For it, I'm letting people see—for the first time—a large chunk of the original version of The Way of Kings, which I wrote in 2002–2003. This version is very different, and involves a different course in life for Kaladin as a character—all due to a simple decision he makes one way in this book, but a completely different way in the published novel.

These chapters are quite fun, as I consider what happened in The Way of Kings Prime (as I now call it) to be an "alternate reality" version of the events in the published books. The characters are almost all exactly the same people, but their backstories are different, and that has transformed who they are and how they react to the world around them. Roshar is similar, yet wildly different, as this was before I brought in the spren as a major world element.

Shadows of Self Lansing signing ()
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Questioner

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

Brandon Sanderson

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

Skyward Denver signing ()
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Alpharho

The metal of Shardblades. Cultivationspren versus honorspren, for example. Are they different metals?

Brandon Sanderson

No, but good question.

Alpharho

Are all orders the same alloy, essentially?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. There's a little asterisk on there, but not in the way you're asking... You could call those all the same alloy. Because the mixture to different spren is different, I think that you could argue that each one is its own alloy.

Alpharho

So, different proportions of tanavastium?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, but it doesn't quite work that way with these magics, right? I'm going to say that's up to the individual cosmerologist who is in the world, the arcanist, defining it. You would be able to find enough differences to legitimately call them different alloys if you wanted to.

Alpharho

Would you say different ratios of the same two metals?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. They are not going to have a third one in them, if that's what you're asking. But it doesn't quite work that way. Like, if you were going to take brass, you could measure the exact percentage. In this case, it is a thing; it's not like you could divide it up and split them apart, because they are a thing. And that thing would be called one thing.

Alpharho

But you won't say what that thing is called?

Brandon Sanderson

No, I won't say what that thing is called. But I think you and the 17th Sharders and folks that are dividing them would prefer to call them ten different things, and I think their nomenclature would be relevant.

White Sand vol.1 Orem signing ()
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Questioner

I recently reread Elantris and I came to an interesting conclusion: that the seons are similar to the spren.

Brandon Sanderson

They are.

Questioner

And are they Servitude, broken pieces of Servitude.

Brandon Sanderson

So, they are actually broken pieces of Devotion, which is a similar concept, but yes.

Questioner

And then the Elantrians are based off of Dominion then?

Brandon Sanderson

Dominion are the skaze. They are referenced briefly.

Questioner

Then Hoid talks to them, or--

Brandon Sanderson

Hrathen references the skaze in his thoughts. I show a skaze I believe in the extra bonus scene, don't I?

Questioner

Where Hoid is going to jump into the well?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, there is a skaze there, that's a skaze.

Questioner

...I'm assuming then, we can look forward to the skaze!

Brandon Sanderson

You can look forward to the skaze being involved in things, definitely .

White Sand vol.1 Orem signing ()
#250 Copy

Questioner

So, the fan page wanted to know. Would it be possible for Hemalurgy to steal a living Shardblade? That was the top voted question.

Brandon Sanderson

Ok, so you're bonded to a Shardblade. You get spiked, then they spike off the bond so that the Shardblade is bonded to someone else.

Questioner

I assume so...

Brandon Sanderson

But can they do it with a living Shardblade? You can definitely do it with a dead Shardblade because its just stealing the Connection. With a living Shardblade, yes you could do that 'though the spren could break the bond at will.

Questioner

So the spren would survive? That was the second-- the corollary--

Brandon Sanderson

Ehhh. Would the spren survive? The spren would survive as long as the oaths were--

Questioner

Intact?

Brandon Sanderson

--the person didn't break the oaths. But you could theoretically steal the bond, break the oaths, and kill the spren. If you wanted to. Its a very convoluted to kill a spren, they are easier to kill than that, but yes. You could do that. That is a viable but twisted route that you can do. You would end up with a dead spren and a Shardblade, so there is that. But there are easier ways to accomplish that...