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Words of Radiance Washington, DC signing ()
#251 Copy

Rybal

Can the Heralds Surgebind without their [Honor]Blades, and if not are they under the same restrictions the Radiants are?

Brandon Sanderson

[...] I will say that the Heralds without their Blades are incapable of the powers you are familiar with. It doesn't mean there aren't other things they can do, but they are incapable of the powers you are familiar with throughout the book.

Words of Radiance Dayton signing ()
#252 Copy

luke.spence (paraphrased)

What caused a Desolation to end? Was it just the defeat of Odium's forces? Because the Desolations start when the Heralds break under torture.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Because the Heralds can no longer be in existence. There is a certain period of time that they can be there, and after that, if they're there, they will start a new one. So the Heralds do need to leave for a Desolation to end

darkanimereal1 (paraphrased)

Oh. So they've got a time limit.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

They do. Otherwise the Desolation will start again. What they discovered is not all of them have to. As long as one remains, the Desolation will not start again.

luke.spence (paraphrased)

So, by the nine leaving, did that actually break the Oathpact for them? Did it change the cycle of Desolations?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

They have not completely broken the Oathpact, despite what they may think.

Words of Radiance Dayton signing ()
#254 Copy

luke.spence (paraphrased)

Are the Heralds actually aware that Taln is back?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Are the Heralds aware that Taln is back? Uh, you're implying that this person actually is Taln. *smiles* Which is not guaranteed. It's not guaranteed. However, the return of the Voidbringers does indeed indicate to them, in their mind, that he would have returned.

darkanimereal1 (paraphrased)

So they assume because the Voidbringers are returning--

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Because the Voidbringers are returning, would be a clue to them that Taln has returned.

Words of Radiance Omaha signing ()
#258 Copy

Questioner

In Words of Radiance and The Way of Kings, was there something important about the stone and the herald <in> the *inaudible* <scene> that has to do kind of with the stone, and maybe Tien giving him rocks?  Am I reading too much into that?  

Brandon Sanderson

Some of that is reading too much into it and some of it is real. I'm not going to tell you what is what. But the st-. . . there is definitely something about that.  

General Reddit 2014 ()
#260 Copy

sectoidfodder

I've wondered whether the portraits in chapter headings have some deeper significance.

Some of them correspond well to the contents of the chapters...

  • "The Four" is the first chapter to have four different portraits - Jezrien, Ash, Ishar, and Pailiah, representing the Radiant orders that Kaladin, Shallan, Dalinar, and Renarin belong to, respectively.

  • Vedel's portrait appears before Ym's and Lift's interludes (this suggests that Ym's other power was abrasion, just like Lift).

  • Battar's portrait for Jasnah's pov prologue; Battar's and Wit's portraits for the epilogue where Jasnah and Wit are the only characters.

Most others just seem random/unrelated:

  • Kaladin's earliest chapters in WoK were headed by Taln's portrait.

  • Eshonai's and Szeth's interludes have a variety of different Herald portraits, seemingly at random.

  • Taln's own interlude features Wit and Chach, of all things.

Peter Ahlstrom

The correspondence can be from any column on the essences table in the Ars Arcanum, or a few columns that are not on the publicly revealed table.

Phantine

Is there a row for when Hoid's portrait will show up?

Peter Ahlstrom

They are not actually portraits of those characters. But there's not a row for the Masked Man.

Words of Radiance Seattle signing ()
#261 Copy

Questioner

Are the Unmade the analogs to Heralds?

Brandon Sanderson

There is certainly something similar going on there. Be aware that it's not a one-to-one correlation, that they're not exactly the same. For instance: Many of the- the Unmade are referenced by Taravangian in this, and he uses a phrase for them, and that is correct, that's what they are.

Footnote: In the epigraph for WoR 81 the Diagram says "The Unmade are a deviation, a flair, a conundrum that may not be worth your time. You cannot help but think of them. They are fascinating. Many are mindless. Like the spren of human emotions, only much more nasty. I do believe a few can think, however."
Words of Radiance Seattle signing ()
#262 Copy

Questioner

Safehands: Where did, that-- like why? Is there like a cultural *inaudible*?

Brandon Sanderson

There is a culture-- Now the actual answer to that is because different cultures have really different mores, and if you go around our world you will find places where, for instance, showing the bottom of your foot-- where the bottom of your foot is offensive, or where showing certain parts of your anatomy is not offensive that it is here. And that is very common, it's part of what it means to be human.

Now if you want to trace back in Rosharan time, there is actually a moment that you can point at and say "this is where it started" and it started right after the Recreance where all these Shardblades and Shardplate were suddenly out there everywhere, and certain people in power wanted to make sure that half the population didn't have access to them, and so they started emphasizing a certain philosophy book that had been written by a woman that said "feminine arts were one-handed, masculine arts were two-handed".

And because of this it became culturally ingrained, which then-- basically it was a misogynistic ploy to keep the women from having the Shardblades, and then in that a certain movement of the women seized writing, and that's when men stopped writing. It's kind of a reciprocation on it. But that's kind of where it went, but it's become much bigger than that, if that makes any sense.

Questioner

What do you do if you safehand is your dominant hand?

Brandon Sanderson

If you are darkeyed it's not a problem, you just wear a glove. If you are lighteyed then you learn to write with your non-dominant hand, which is a problem.

Footnote: The book here is likely Arts and Majesty, referenced in WoR 25
Words of Radiance Seattle signing ()
#267 Copy

AhoyMatey (paraphrased)

Are the Parshendi at the village the only Parshendi there are? Besides for the Parshmen...

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

The Parshendi as a people were all at Narak. Barring any scouts and things like that. That doesn’t mean that there might not be any other Parshmen out there that have bonded spren, but they would not have been part of this nation – any more than if you found another human that they may not necessarily be American.

Words of Radiance Seattle signing ()
#269 Copy

Questioner (paraphrased)

How do you pick names?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

It really varies based on the book. I'm often picking a linguistic paradigm. Alethi - there are two separate paradigms because I like linguistics to be messy. Usually based on symmetry being holy, so they'd pick names one letter off from symmetrical to avoid hubris.  Also suffix - like Kaladin is Kalak (Herald) + din which is a suffix, all of them mean things, like the old Hebrew names have "born of" or "comes through". Stick that on and drop the last letter. Dalinar, Elhokar, all of those have suffixes - nar, kar.  In Mistborn, I didn't want linguistics to be your focus, for in that I picked a simpler naming paradigm - I lifted linguistics from the real world. Central Dominance is French. The Germanic area, we have Elend and Straff, and then we have Spanish on the other area. I just kind of took Earth cultures and appropriated them. That's an easier way to do it, because Mistborn is kind of an earth analogue. But Roshar is very different. Mistborn I didn't want you to think of the difference, which is why I gave everyone nicknames that are easy to say.

Words of Radiance Portland signing ()
#272 Copy

Swamp-Spirit

We have a lot of Renarin questions just because he is a character we both care a lot about, just another what could you-- give us a tidbit about Renarin's relationship with Bridge Four?

Brandon Sanderson

I can tell you this, here's a good tidbit. You know the books are about ten characters. Renarin's one of them. But Renarin, you know the first five, he's not one of. So Renarin is one of the main characters for the back five, which are focused more on the Heralds, and he is one of the characters with the flashbacks there. So Renarin, you are not going to get everything you want about him until the back five books. So just keep that in mind.

Swamp-Spirit

I can live with that.

Words of Radiance Portland signing ()
#273 Copy

Kogiopsis

Finally, what point, usually, is society at when a Desolation comes? Because Taln was prepared to introduce them to bronze...

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Kogiopsis

...and Alethi society is so far beyond that.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. Historically a lot of the-- What would happen with the Desolations would destroy all civilization and then the Heralds would leave, and leave people basically in the Stone Age again. And they came back numerous times and found humankind still in the Stone Age, after having left. And so they are prepared-- Sometimes they would come back and they would already be in the Bronze Age or-- and things like that and get them beyond that but frequently they had to be ready, the Heralds learned they had to be ready to try and bring humankind forward several thousand years worth of technology in a year.

Words of Radiance San Diego signing ()
#274 Copy

Leinton (paraphrased)

I also asked him about capitalization. 

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

He talked about how in modern English, capitalization is boring and doesn’t happen often enough, referring back to the Victorian era where they would just capitalize Important Words. 

Leinton (paraphrased)

I asked him about parshmen vs Parshendi. 

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

He said that the Parshendi were a nation.

Miscellaneous 2014 ()
#276 Copy

Peter Ahlstrom

Come on, guys, there are major major reasons Roshar can't possibly be a moon and one of the moons a gas giant. Think about it.

digitalbusker

Nobody ever remarks on how one of the "moons" takes up a quarter of the visible sky?

Peter Ahlstrom

Each moon is in the sky only once per day and moves across the sky in a couple to a few hours. What does that tell us about their orbits?

Could a gas giant be far enough away to look like a small moon, yet have this rapid of an apparent motion? (The answer is NO.)

Kurkistan

That they're really fast/close, I would think. Perhaps unusually so...  

Peter Ahlstrom

You may not be aware, but Mars's moon Phobos orbits in less than 8 hours, and gets less than 6,000 km from Mars's surface.

Kurkistan

Curses! Foiled again by SCIENCE!!!

Okay, so the orbits aren't magically augmented.

Still, that leaves us some information. The three moons are likely captured asteroids, then, rather than having split off from Roshar during its formation, Luna-style. Three captured asteroids at the same time in relatively stable, seemingly very close orbits... Anything significant in that, science people?

Peter Ahlstrom

I expect the moons were put in their current orbits artificially, but by whom or what I do not know. On astronomical terms, these are not stable orbits, but astronomical terms means millions of years. A few thousand or even a few hundred thousand years are no problem.

By the way, I minored in astronomy while at the university, for expressly science fictional purposes.

Leiyan

Were the moons also artificially created, or were they originally formed naturally?

Peter Ahlstrom

I don't know.

Steelheart Seattle signing ()
#279 Copy

Questioner (paraphrased)

Was Odium able to Splinter Honor because the Heralds abandoned the Oathpact?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Good question. Um, their abandonment of the Oathpact is related... but mostly tangentially. If I was pinned down on that, I would say no.

Questioner (paraphrased)

Is there any of the Oathpact still functioning because of Taln's continued participation?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yes, indeed.

Steelheart Seattle signing ()
#282 Copy

Questioner (paraphrased)

Is the Palanaeum named for Palah?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yes. In fact, it was named based on—it was Greek in our world—the Athenaeum? It was based off of that.

Questioner (paraphrased)

Did we see Palah?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

I believe every one of the Heralds is mentioned or shown somewhere in the first book.

Questioner (paraphrased)

Someone was wondering whether the old woman who was wandering around the Palanaeum was her.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

That is a very good guess. I won't say specifically, because some of them are intended to be more obvious and some of them are intended to be red herrings. So, that was a very good guess.

Steelheart Portland signing ()
#283 Copy

Mysty (paraphrased)

Is Baxil's Mistress destroying statues of the Herald Shalash?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yes. Actually in the prologue her statue is missing because Baxil's mistress came through.

Mysty (paraphrased)

Is Baxil's mistress Shalash?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

I'm not going to answer that.

Steelheart Chicago signing ()
#285 Copy

Maximus (paraphrased)

None of the Heralds mention or address the Almighty in the opening scene of [The Way of Kings]; it's a little strange, considering they are his champions. Have they seen or spoken to the Almighty?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yes, the Heralds have spoken with the Almighty. They also feel that what has been done to them is partially his fault. They are all broken in some way and aren't really honorable anymore.

Maximus (paraphrased)

Was that how and why the deal with Odium showed up?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

RAFO.

Steelheart release party ()
#286 Copy

Questioner

You mentioned you were going to break up the Stormlight Archive into two sets of five books. So, how is that going to work? Are you going to change stories, with different characters?

Brandon Sanderson

Characters from the first will appear in the second five, the ones who survive. The first five is Kaladin/Dalinar/Shallan's story. The back five is Jasnah, Taln, and the story of the Heralds, and things like that. And that's how I've broken it up in my head.

The break point will make for an obvious break point, where you could almost say I'm starting a new series when I start the next one.

Steelheart release party ()
#287 Copy

Questioner

At the end of The Way of Kings, was Wit the actual Herald or was it somebody else *inaudible*

Brandon Sanderson

The Herald's the guy who collapsed to the ground all shaggy-haired holding a Shardblade. He claimed to be Talenel, who is the one they talked about in the Prelude. Whether or not he actually is is yet to be seen.

Questioner

Did he just collapse or did he form out of the air?

Brandon Sanderson

No, he walked up and fell down.

WorldCon 2013 /r/Fantasy Flash AMA ()
#288 Copy

Questioner

How are you seeing the internet impact the industry?

Brandon Sanderson

One thing it's really changed is allowing authors to have a lot more direct interaction with fans, which is wonderful because we are directly supported by readers. Even though there are editors and people, there are very few middlemen even in fantasy, even in writing. To the point that, when you interact with me, what I mean is you're interacting with the content creator directly, which is fun. It's awesome. It allows me to actually get feedback from fans, to talk to fans, to thank the people who are supporting me. And like I said, there's very few layers between, but in the old days there was that buffer. You know, people used to send letters to the publisher, and then the publisher would send to the author, right? And granted, the publisher's not opening them and stuff. It's not like there's a big buffer there, but it's taking time, and there's just that step. And that step has vanished, which I like.

It is changing publishing. It's democratizing publishing. I really think this is a good thing for particularly our genre, where you will have a lot of things in sci-fi/fantasy that are not even the mainstream of sci-fi and fantasy. And sci-fi/fantasy alone is already not the mainstream. So when you go a couple niches down, you can find these things that a certain core audience would love, but it's very hard to market nationally. And this helps a lot more variety come into the genre. And that whole connecting directly with fans helps with people building a brand and breaking in, even if they aren't going traditional. The whole self-publishing has been a great boon, I think, specifically to science fiction and fantasy, in helping to add variety.

Ebooks mean that when I write 400,000 word novels, I don't have to apologize quite so much. Because people can buy it in ebook, and I say it weighs the same amount. So there is that. Otherwise, there are so many things changing.

Rithmatist Denver signing ()
#290 Copy

Kogiopsis (paraphrased)

How much control do you  have over the Words of Radiance cover?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Some. By dint of being fairly well-known in the industry. But I'm really fond of Whelan's work and more likely to pick a direction from concept sketches than push Whelan somewhere entirely new.

Kogiopsis (paraphrased)

Could you, for instance, hold firm for epicanthic folds on Rosharan characters?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Probably yes, but most of Whelan's cover work has been figures in the distance for now so that isn't likely to be an issue.

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

Lightflame

You've confirmed that several Heralds have appeared or been mentioned in the modern (non-prelude, non-vision) parts of The Way of Kings. Have any members of the Knights Radiant (the one from the days of Urithiru, not near-Radiants like Kaladin) appeared in the modern parts of The Way of Kings? And if you have to RAFO me, could you give me a hint about the Heralds?

Brandon Sanderson

I can answer that--no, no Radiants from those days have appeared on screen in [The Way of Kings].

Alcatraz Annotations ()
#295 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Setting

Where is this book happening? If you’ve wondered this, you’re not alone–and you’re also not going to get an answer.

One of the reasons I write epic fantasy is because I have complete control over my settings. I know where things are and what they look like, and I’m the ultimate expert on the details. But when you write in this world, you can get one little thing wrong, and then end up having all kinds of complaints from readers who get distracted because you describe a real library the wrong way.

Plus, I like it when you can put yourself into the story. You can imagine this happening pretty much anywhere–I’ve even allowed foreign publishers to change Alcatraz’s national identity, if they want. Doesn’t matter to me. This story happens in “our world,” and that’s all the detail I wanted to give.

Alloy of Law Los Angeles signing ()
#298 Copy

Questioner

Was the Almighty still alive when the Heralds packed it in, and did the Radiants pack it in in direct response to what the Heralds did?

Brandon Sanderson

The Radiants did NOT abandon their post as a response to the Heralds. The Radiants abandoned it for some other reason which will become evident eventually. The Almighty was still around when the Heralds did their thing.

Alloy of Law release party ()
#299 Copy

Questioner

Have you ever done NaNoWriMo [National Novel Writing Month], and would you?

Brandon Sanderson

I did it several times before I got published [But he never actually did it; see the link at the bottom for more info]. Way of Kings, I wrote during NaNoWriMo, a big portion of it. I actually wrote the NaNoWriMo pep talk this year, they asked me to, and so you’ll get an email from me in your inbox.

Usually, I can’t do NaNoWriMo officially because I’m in the middle of a book, and I can’t stop a book and write another one, I will eventually be able to do that, but the Wheel of Time, and other things have been so busy lately that my schedule doesn’t allow me to in November stop writing. And I’m usually touring in November, almost always. And that’s really tough for getting 50,000 words. If you haven’t done NaNoWriMo, it’s awesome.