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Idaho Falls signing ()
#252 Copy

Questioner

What happened to Rand? He's not dead?

Brandon Sanderson

So Robert Jordan wrote everything from Rand stumbling out of Shayol Ghul until the ending, with the exception of the Perrin scenes, which I added to that epilogue. Harriet says--his wife--says he sat laughing to himself as he wrote the scene with the pipe, but he did not tell her what it means.

Questioner

Pipe?

Brandon Sanderson

The pipe where he-- he lit the pipe just by thinking about it. 

Questioner

That's also something-- he's using the Tel'aran'rhiod power to light it in the real world?

Brandon Sanderson

I do not know. Now, I have my theories. I think that because Rand touched the Pattern directly, when he was doing what he was doing, that he now has influence over the Pattern. 

Questioner

So he can change and manipulate things? But he's-

Brandon Sanderson

That's what I think, but Robert Jordan didn't say, and he did write those scenes himself before he passed away. So, I wrote the actual Last Battle-

Questioner

All of it? That was so epic.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. So he took over-- where he left was right when Rand stumbles out. The Last Battle chunk before that was me. He wrote Mat in the Tower of Ghenjei... He wrote most of Egwene in The Gathering Storm, and then little snippets of Egwene all the way through. Perrin was almost one hundred percent me; he didn't leave much on Perrin. With Rand, he wrote little chunks here and there...

So I do not know. Now, I can tell you that there in the notes that when the balefire streams, when they crossed, intertwined [Rand's] soul with Moridin's soul. And one thing that his assistant said is that the [soul] that wanted to live found the body that was going to live, and the [soul] that wanted to die found the body that was dying. And that's what happened.

Questioner

They swapped bodies because he had this thing-- Why didn't he go in and say "hey everybody?" ...He didn't want to be with his family and friends anymore?

Brandon Sanderson

I think he probably came back-- He just needed a break. I'm pretty sure that he eventually let them know, but he just needed a little time. So, but I don't know for sure.

Questioner

I thought it was super cool, going in, the chase between Slayer and Perrin.

Brandon Sanderson

I had a lot of fun with that scene.

Questioner

...Also, you told me last time I saw you, that Tel'aran'rhiod is basically-- Is that kind of where you got the idea of the parallel universe in the other books?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, Shadesmar. Shadesmar you can tie directly back to my love of Tel'aran'rhiod. It's kind of mixed with that in my love of some ancient Greek philosophy things that are not that important, but yeah.

General Reddit 2020 ()
#254 Copy

MoriWillow

So I was looking back through the scene where Shallan and gang is hunting the Midnight Essence and they come across that room covered in art, and I noticed something.

Shallan says there are murals that depict 10 kinds of spren and guesses they're for each Order. There's just one small issue. There's 12 Radiant spren. The Bondsmiths have 3 unique spren.

The passage in question with the relevant portion bolded.

Gorgeous, intricate pictures of the Heralds---made of thousands of tiles---adorned the ceiling, each in a circular panel.

The art on the walls was more enigmatic. A solitary figure hovering above the ground before a large blue disc, arms stretched to the side as if to embrace it. Depictions of the Almighty in his traditional form as a cloud bursting with energy and light. A woman in the shape of a tree, hands spreading toward the sky and becoming branches. Who would have thought to find pagan symbols in the home of the Knights Radiant?

Other murals depicted shapes that reminded her of Pattern, windspren...ten kinds of spren. One for each Order?

So what do y'all think? Is there a representation of just one of the Bondsmith spren? Is it an abstract representstion of the idea of a Bondsmith spren? Is this a writing error and there was supposed to be 9, with the glowing cloud, tree woman, and figure in front of a circle intended to be the Bondsmith spren? Perhaps the Bondsmiths were supposed to be unrepresented?

Brandon Sanderson

If you were to see this picture, the painting of the three spren to make Bondsmiths were made to make it visually clear they're the same kind of spren--and they KIND OF are.

The three you note above are not depicting the three spren of the Bondsmiths. One is depicting a perpendicularity, and the other two depicting Honor and Cultivation. These aren't the Bondsmith spren, but distinct and separate pieces of art.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#255 Copy

marnsvi

The visions that have Dalinar and Renarin are very different. This is related to the type of their spren ? One related to Cultivation who allows to see the future and other related to Honor who allows to see the past ?

Brandon Sanderson

Afraid this is a RAFO.

Alcatraz Annotations ()
#257 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Dedication

This book is for my father.

It’s a tough call, to match all the people you want to honor with the right books. My mother got my first book, which was a good match for her because it was very easily appreciated by people who don’t read fantasy and sf. And, of course, she’s my mother–she deserved the first book.

Next, I went for my grandmothers. I’m afraid that matching a book to my maternal grandmother was pretty much impossible. She’s not a fantasy reader, and though she loves me and reads my books out of solidarity, I know that she doesn’t really get them. My paternal grandmother, on the other hand, is pretty much insane (in a good way), and she loves fantasy novels.

The next book, however, needed to go to my father. I think this one is a good match for him. The boy in this book, Alcatraz, is about the same age that I was when I discovered fantasy novels–and the kid on the cover actually looks a lot like I did when I was that age. It’s a fun match, and the Brandon of that age owes a lot to his father.

My father spoils people outrageously. That’s just one of his things. He takes care of us, and gives us what we need–and more. In my case, that was books. He fed my addiction, making sure I was always supplied with things to read. And, because of that, I ended up becoming a novelist.

So thanks, Dad.

Words of Radiance Portland signing ()
#258 Copy

Swamp-Spirit

How do you-- Like both Shallan and Kaladin obviously haven't had good lives, but like-- How do you write these really tragic backstories without them feeling kind of gratuitous or forced?

Brandon Sanderson

Good question... This is really about the whole idea of making sure you are avoiding melodrama... And melodrama-- the defining aspect of a melodrama is a story in which each character only exhibits only one emotional state. A great example of this done poorly is--despite me liking a lot about it--there was a show called Lost... So there's a character whose son gets kidnapped, and from that moment on the only thing he cares about or talks about is the loss of his son. And it's a very tragic thing for him. Losing your son, I can imagine how tragic that would be, and yet this character became so defined by that one attribute that it turned into melodrama for him. The rest of the characters will be standing around saying "Alright we need to do this thing, these guys are over there with guns, they are going to take us down. What do we do?" And they're like "We should do this." "We should do this." and this guy is like "My son!" They're like "We know you want your son back but--" "My son!" "What do you want for dinner?" "My son is gone! How can I eat dinner?!?". And so having a character exhibit only one emotional state is always going to feel like you just set-- It's going to ruin the character, whatever that is.

So a tragic backstory-- People joke about Batman. When Batman is written poorly it's always about "My father's d-- My parents are dead" and when he's working well that's an aspect that influence things he does but it's not the only thing about him. And so that would be my warning to you. You can do all of these sorts of things but make the character's not about-- You know we are in part defined by things like this but as real people we are not about the bad things that have happened to us, we are about so much more. And make that the case, alright?

Skyward release party ()
#259 Copy

Questioner

Do you have any updates on the Dark One TV series?

Brandon Sanderson

It's got an interesting history. Dark One is one I've been working on for a long time, and I actually wrote out a big pitch for it when I pitched Apocalypse Guard to Random House, and I said, "Here's one of the other ideas I'm gonna write someday." They're like, "Woo. We'll keep this in our binder." And that binder made its way to their TV department, who read the pitch and was like, "We have to have this!" and came to me and said "Can we buy this?" I'm like, "Well, I haven't written the books yet." They're like, "We don't care. We want this pitch." And the pitch, the idea is that a young man in our world, a knight shows up to assassinate him, and he finds out that there's kind of a Narnia-esque fantasy world that his father visited when he was a kid and screwed up, and they are super mad. And they have prophecies that this kid is gonna be the next Dark One, and so they're gonna assassinate him before the whole epic-fantasy-thing can happen, and the Dark One tries to conquer the world. They're just gonna take him out first. And so it's kind of this twisting the story on its head idea. And it's a really fun pitch.

So they bought it from me. I expanded it to a 30-page outline, sent it to them. I can't tell you who they got, but they've got somebody very big attached to it, which I'm very excited about, someone who I was excited about that my assistant Peter just about fell over dead when he heard the person attached. And we should be flying out to do pitches to studios and places early part of next year. We wanted to be doing it now, but I have a book launch, and they want me there with them.

It's going really well. It's been a wonderful experience. I'm very hopeful with that, I think it will be a very interesting story if it happens.

Oathbringer Portland signing ()
#260 Copy

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.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#261 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

From my journal, written the day I finished this chapter (I sometimes keep a chapter journal for purposes of doing annotations later on.)

MBFE Twenty-Six: pewter draggingFinished 5-11-04

The first half of this chapter came quickly, especially after I switched it to Vin's viewpoint. She's come to dominate the story far more than Kelsier, which is good–that's what I'd hoped would happen. Now, it's much easier to write in her viewpoint than Kelsier's, since she has more internal struggles and, I think, more depth.

Things got tough once I got back to the caves. I knew I wanted Kelsier to have a kind of soul-searching period of thought, followed by the return of Mennis. The problem is, I wasn't exactly sure how much I wanted him to self-doubt. He isn't really the type to second-guess himself, so I didn't want him to brood for too long. Also, I didn't want his discussion of Mennis to go into the things I need to discuss in the next chapter–namely, the reasons the plan hasn't failed just because the army is dead.

The second half didn't start to work until I made Mennis more of a conversation-antagonist, having him advise that Kelsier just give up. This was kind of his function in chapter one as well, so I'm not certain why I didn't figure out his place in this chapter more quickly. In a rewrite, I think I'll strengthen this idea little more. It's good to pile on the "you can't succeed" sections of the book, so that when the rebellion finally does happen, it's all the more sweet because of the overwhelming sense of the odds.

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

Bahador

I really like the dialogs between Jasnah and Shallan, covering atheism, god, blind faith, etc.

Are you going to expand on these philosophical topics? Will it play a larger part in the plot?

I really enjoyed these moments and hope to see more of them

Brandon Sanderson

I'm glad you liked them. These questions are very important to Shallan and Jasnah and to an extent other characters such as Dalinar, so you will indeed see much more of this. I wouldn't include it if it weren't very important to the characters. And what's important to the characters has a strong influence on what's important to the plot.If what happens at the end of Part Five with Dalinar is to be believed, then there is a very interesting theological conundrum to this world. Something claiming to be God claims also that it has been killed. Which then in some ways leaves someone who is atheist right, and yet at the same time wrong. When Jasnah and Dalinar meet, you can expect some discussion of what it means to be atheist if there was a God and God is now dead. Or will she say that obviously wasn't God? Those circles of thought are very fascinating to me and to the characters.

Alloy of Law 17th Shard Q&A ()
#265 Copy

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

If you are Smoked, you can't Seek.

KChan (paraphrased)

[Brandon] told me that because burning copper creates an Allomantic dead zone, so to speak, everything inside it is effectively silenced. This prevents pulses from reaching Seekers who are outside the cloud, but it also prevents anyone inside the cloud from receiving any pulses whatsoever. The reason Vin could do this is because of her earring.

JordanCon 2018 ()
#268 Copy

Questioner

The second set of The Stormlight Archive. Is that the same characters? Or different ones, like you did with Mistborn?

Brandon Sanderson

They are same characters, but we're gonna see a few main characters fade to being secondary characters. The ones that survive. And we're gonna see a few minor characters fade to be-- The structure of The Stormlight Archive is: one flashback sequence per book, and a focus on one of the Orders of Knights Radiant per book, and I've already announced who these all are, though I have secrets that pertain to them. Our next two books are Eshonai and Szeth. But, of course, Eshonai is dead. We're gonna see flashbacks from her viewpoint that inform our "now," but I haven't promised that these characters all live. Does that makes sense?

But our back five are Lift, when she's grown up. It'll be about ten years later. I haven't gotten the exact date yet.

Questioner

Is she alive, or a grown-up ghost?

Brandon Sanderson

...If she survives! *laughter* It will be Lift, Renarin, Taln, Ash, and Jasnah. So, yes, your main characters-- some of them are main characters. People who aren't on that list will still-- some of them will have big chunks of the stories. Just like you will notice that there's a big chunk of Kaladin in Book 4, even though it's Eshonai's book. So, that will happen. But I'm not making any promises about who survives and who doesn't.

What I really also wanna do is, like-- The big epic fantasy series. I have an advantage over Robert Jordan in that I've read Robert Jordan. And I can see the structure of this, and say, "What can I do to create the structure of a big epic that will have a lot of the things I love about a big epic but avoid some of the potential pitfalls." And I feel that one of those is beginnings, middles, and ends are really hard the longer you go in a series. And if I bring it to five, and then I take a break. And those five tell a story. And then I certainly am gonna leave some things that we start up in the next one, and do the second sequence of five. It's just kind of how the structure of The Stormlight Archive works for me.

A given book, I usually plot as three novels. And I will do this outline of three novels, and this becomes one volume of The Stormlight Archive. Well, each of those novels has Act One, Act Two, Act Three. And then all of those combine into the thick ones that you get, and then five of those combine into an arc. And then the two books of five combine into their own arc. So, hopefully it'll all work out. When I first pitched this to my editor back in 2003, his response was, "Wow, you're ambitious!" And he was a little frightened when I gave him Stormlight. And then, in 2004, I pitched the whole 9-book Mistborn thing that is somehow now... 13. But, yeah, so. We'll see.

Brandon's Blog 2010 ()
#270 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.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
#272 Copy

Questioner

My question has to do with the color of Shallan's eyes currently, because we've noticed over the books that Kaladin's eyes, as he's continued to use his Surge, changed to lighter and lighter blue. Whereas one could argue that Shallan is farther in her Ideals than Kaladin is, yet her eyes have not changed at all.

Brandon Sanderson

Right, 'cause they were already light.

Questioner

'Cause they were already light? So it only affects lightness or darkness in the eyes, not necessarily any other color?

Brandon Sanderson

It's not like it is-- It's not like it's saying "Light minus 50%".

Questioner

It's not like Honor is blue and--

Brandon Sanderson

No. It is not. It is just kind of the way that the changes the Stormlight is making the body and certain people are already descended from people who had repeated, over time, changes by the body which stopped physically... That's not to say that all lighteyes that's where they came from. There are some that are natural mutations.

Oathbringer release party ()
#273 Copy

Questioner

Have you ever read a book that has made you cried? Or made you so frustrated that you wanted to throw the book?

Brandon Sanderson

It's not that hard to make me emotional in a book. I'm normally a very even-keeled guy, but a really great story told really well can really get to me. It's part of why I wanted to be a writer. I've got a very even temperament. I wake up most days, just kinda feeling the same I did the day before. So, if there's, like, bipolar or things like this, I'm like the opposite. I'm, like, if you vary, like, people vary from a 0 and a 100, I'm, like, at a 75 all the time. Which can be really cool, except when everyone else is, like, super excited, and they all go to, like, 90 and 100, and I'm like, "Yay? That's cool. I'm happy too!" But a good story, that gets me, right? That can really get me. So, a lot of my favorite stories-- Anne McCaffrey was really good at doing this for me. But Terry Pratchett, right? They're comedies? If I mention that I like something, it's probably stirred powerful emotions in me.

What have I wanted to throw across the room? I'm sorry, I know that some of you really like this, but-- and I'm sure they're really good books if you're in the right mindset, but-- this is gonna date me a little. There was a sequel series to the Willow movie, which was written. And Chris Claremont is a great writer, right? I think this is the X-Men Chris Claremont. I don't blame Chris. [George] Lucas was involved. Strike that from the record. But I loved Willow. When I was a kid, I'm like, "A fantasy movie that doesn't suck! Yes! Nothing against you Beastmaster, but, you know, a fantasy movie that doesn't suck, and Warwick Davis was awesome, I love that movie!" And then the books came out, and in the first one, you're like, "Yeah, all those people you loved? They're dead." That's how, like, the prologue goes! And the character whose life they saved in the movie, and things like that--spoilers, it's been like thirty years--is, like, a spoiled brat, and everyone's personality changed. That's probably the book I'm the most, like, throw-against-the-wall-ish. I'm like, "No, don't kill all my favorite characters!" Here's a clue for ya: if people love a whole bunch of stuff, don't start the sequel with, "Yeah, all that stuff you loved? We're just gonna..." Don't Aliens 3 your movie. Don't do that to your books. It's okay to have loss, but don't have all the people you love die in between stories. Bad idea.

State of the Sanderson 2019 ()
#274 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Part Five: Updates on Minor Projects

For many of these little projects, you may want to glance back at previous State of the Sanderson documents to see what they even are, as this is pretty long already and I don’t want to keep making the same pitch every year. So really, take note if a specific idea interested you, but don’t worry if you’re confused and you don’t get many details here on these.

The Reckoners, Legion

Both are completed. Though I’ve had enough people asking after them that we’re toying with doing some audio-original novellas set in these worlds. For example, one of my big goals for Legion was to get it made into a television series. While that could still happen, as it’s under option by a production company, I’ve been thinking that maybe I could do something like that on my own—as an audio series. We could create a sequence of episodes written by a writer’s room with me as the “showrunner.” I could see doing something like this with the Reckoners to continue that story, for those who want to know what happens next.

If we can get these off the ground, I’ll let you know. Also, if you like The Original, please let me know—as that will influence me in doing similar projects with Legion and the Reckoners.

STATUS: Completed, but cool things could still happen.

Adamant

No change from last year. This space opera series of novellas is in limbo until I find the right time to work on them. It will happen eventually.

STATUS: No movement.

Starburner/Soulburner

Something’s happening here, but it’s hush-hush for now.

The Apocalypse Guard

Well, this book got weirder—as expected with Dan and me working together on something. It’s moved to the back burner, as even Dan’s revision wasn’t enough to get it where we want it to be. So this one is entering limbo for now.

STATUS: No motion for months now, might be dead.

Other Projects

Untitled Threnody Novel, Sixth of the Dusk sequel, another story with Shai, and The Silence Divine persist as “maybe” stories that someday I might write. They are joined by a Secret Standalone Cosmere Book, that wacky YA Cosmere Book with Magic Kites, Untitled First of the Sun YA novel (not involving Sixth), and a few others as Cosmere novels that might someday make it to the front burner. (Once Skyward is done, I think it would be good to do a YA book in the Cosmere, so I’ve begun working on possible ideas.) Aether of Night also is still hanging around, maybe needing a novel. So we’ll see. I’ll talk a little more about the Cosmere in a future section, after we get to the film stuff.

If I write a novella to go with the Stormlight Kickstarter, it has about an equal chance of being Wandersail (a Rysn novella), Horneater (a Rock novella), or a sequel to Sixth of the Dusk (which is tricky because it reveals maybe a little too much about Space Age Cosmere politics).

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#275 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

You know, I always talk about how I like happy endings. And yet, everyone always complains that I'm too brutal in places. Here is a good example.

Kelsier dies. Yes, he's really dead. Yet, his death isn't truly that sad to me. He accomplished a lot, and died facing down the Lord Ruler himself. It's not a sad death.

Honestly, you should have seen it coming. I worried about doing this, actually, since it seemed a little too expected. The mentor figure always ends up getting killed. I nearly didn't do it simply for that reason. However, I eventually decided that a good story is more important, sometimes, than avoiding the expected. Once in a while, you just have to do what feels right, even if that feeling leads you into areas that others have tread. Hopefully, I take it in my own direction. (See the next chapter.)

Boskone 54 ()
#278 Copy

Ironeyes

What kind of qualities attract an inkspren?

Brandon Sanderson

Inkspren do not like how variable humans are. It’s a thing out of honor, and they like people who are logical and willing to think about their lives and not react as much by instinct.

They are looking more - the scholar is the perfect example, but a soldier who is very thoughtful and is not just rushing into battle could be chosen as well.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#279 Copy

GenericMastermindAnt

Do both 'The Path' and Kelsier's religion have actual gods? I remember Sazed talking about Kelsier and Vin in whatever afterlife exists, but are Kel and Vin also proper gods or just dead hero mistborn?

Brandon Sanderson

This is discussed in the next books.

Basically, you can look at it like Hinduism and Buddhism. Hinduism has gods, and many Buddhists don't deny those gods exist, but they follow a different path. Obviously, the doctrines and practices are not the same as those two religions, but the relationship is somewhat similar.

It does get complicated in that Harmony doesn't particularly want to be worshiped, but people want to worship him anyway, and find ways to sidestep into religion. Survivorists worship the Survivor, but don't QUITE treat him like God.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#280 Copy

mooglefrooglian

You've previously mentioned that someone bonded to a Seon would get some benefits if they went to Roshar , basically that it would be treated sort of like a Nahel bond. This implies to me that something about Roshar likes to give powers from bonds. (Hi there, Honor...)

Should this be taken to mean that spren-bond based Surgebinding won't work off-world, as it's a benefit Roshar gives from having a bond? Or would it be more specific, and mean that some of the passive benefits Radiants get (visions, Windrunner squire strengths) would be lost, but Surgebinding retained?

Mainly I'm interested in whether or not we can reach maximum Jasnah levels and have the possibility of her appearing in non-SA books. I don't think she'd be much into worldhopping if she couldn't get back with the Travel Surge...

Brandon Sanderson

Surgebinding will work off-world.

Alcatraz Annotations ()
#281 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Seventeen

I didn't take the opportunity to point out anything at the beginning of this chapter.

This editorial–the one I put in the middle of the chapter, rather than at the beginning–was one of those inspired directly by readers. A lot of the fan mail I get mentions that a reader was kept up late by one of my books. I always take this as a compliment, and I’m pretty sure it’s usually intended as one. People want me to know that my book was good enough for them to lose sleep over, and after all, I consider the opportunity cost of sleep to be far greater than the mere cost of money spent on a book.

So, it’s a real honor. How do I respond? By making fun of people who end up reading Alcatraz late at night. 🙂 I sincerely hope that people run across this chapter early in the morning and think, “Ah! I can’t believe it!” Not only will it be really funny, but it might give a more personal connection to the book. I wrote this in my basement years before you ended up reading it, but if I can guess a little bit of what you’re feeling and doing, it brings the book closer to you.

My editor, by the way, didn’t really like the “Whoever put in that last cliffhanger” aside. (She liked a lot of the humor, by the way. I only point out the ones that she suggested cutting.) I kept it, even though it’s a bit of an awkward joke. Mostly, I wanted to give you a hint of how I was feeling as I wrote this. I was, indeed, staying up far later than I should have, working on one more chapter before I went to sleep. I thought that readers might appreciate knowing this.

Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
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Questioner

Given Sanderson's Laws about limitations...

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

What would you say are any spiritual, cognitive, and or physical limitations to a Returned's healing ability?

Brandon Sanderson

That they can do it once.

Questioner

That they can do it once, and that's it?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, right? The Returned get one heal and then they die. That's a pretty big limitation. Like you have to choose really well. However, what they can heal is bounded by cosmere limitations on healing, but it is a supercharged version.

Questioner

Okay. Could you define more cosmere limitations on healing?

Brandon Sanderson

Cosmere limitations on healing can be affected by your own perception.

Questioner

Okay. Cognitive stuff.

Brandon Sanderson

Cognitive stuff. And so there's a part of that, and... But that's really-- cognitive interferes. And if your spirit is gone? Right? Cosmere healing, you know, if your spirit is passed on you just get a dead body even though you've healed it.

Questioner

So potentially Vasher, having a much greater cosmere knowledge than others could potentially have a much greater usage of that healing than regular--

Brandon Sanderson

Well the healing-- What I mean by that is yourself. You impose limits. So the person being healed can impose some limits on the healing working. It doesn't happen as often as I'm making it sound. But, you know-- why Kaladin's scars have not healed, right? So Kaladin being hit by a Returned would still not heal his scars. He's got a major hangup about those scars.

Footnote: The questioner seems to have been asking about cosmere healing in general for Returned, but Brandon focused on their ability to give up their Divine Breath to heal somebody else.
Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Kelsier gets to have some last words in this chapter. He earned them, I think. I'm sorry to keep the truth of kandra from you so long, as I've said before. However, I needed to leave the explanation off so that the reader could experience the revelation with Vin here. Even if you'd already figured out what Renoux was, then I think this scene is more powerful by having the revelations happen like they did.

Anyway, Kelsier is among my personal favorite characters, if only for his depth. He is a complicated, multi-faceted man who managed to scam not only the entire empire, but his own crew at the same time. I felt I had to give him some last words, if only through a letter, so that the reader could bid him a proper farewell. In addition, I wanted him to pass that flower on to Vin–symbolically charging her with Mare's dream, now that Kelsier himself is dead.

Brandon's Blog 2004 ()
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Brandon Sanderson

The next segment from my Tor proposal talks about a book some of you may have heard of: THE WAY OF KINGS. Originally, this was going to be the second book I published, but I’ve decided to put it off in favor of MISTBORN. The reasons are explained below.

This decision was met with a great deal of disappointment by some of the manuscript’s fans, but I really think it’s best for my career right now to delay KINGS. It’s a magnificent story, but it needs some more time before it’s ready for the general public.

—————

THE WAY OF KINGS (Book one of the Oathshards Series.)

KINGS was the book I was working on when Moshe first called me to buy ELANTRIS. While we were in contract negotiations, he asked to read a bit of my current work. I sent him KINGS, and he decided he wanted to purchase it as well. I don’t think, however, that he knew what he was getting into.

The OATHSHARDS is a massive war epic centering around ten angelic beings who have been driven insane—each in a slightly different way—by millennia spent protecting, fighting for, and dying for mankind. The first book, THE WAY OF KINGS, follows six separate viewpoint characters (one of them an immortal) during a time when the three peninsulas are thrown into a massive war. It is an intensive character piece coming in at over 300,000 words, and can be quite brutal with its characters.

It still does the things I do well—it has several original magic systems (though magic isn’t a focus in the first book.) It has a very interesting setting (which is one of its strong points) and has an array of interesting characters from all walks of life. (One a young peasant soldier, one a middle-aged sister to the king, one a battle-hardened nobleman general, one an honor-bound assassin serving an evil master, one a young lady-in-waiting, and the final one being an immortal protector of mankind who is slowly breaking beneath the pressure of his station.) The central theme of the book is that of leadership, and each of the six viewpoint characters are defined in one way or another by how they lead others.

KINGS has a lot going for it. It’s the kind of story that people remember—it has a grand scope, meaningful characters, and an expansive plot that would have to cover at least five books. However, I don’t know that it’s the best thing for my career right now. The book needs a lot of work before it could be published—at its current length, it would have to be cut into two pieces or slashed by a third in order to work. I also have to do some serious revisions to the plot. I like how all of the characters work, but I worry that the book is too slow (even for me) at the beginning as I establish six viewpoints and six separate plots. I need to find a way to combine some of the plotting so that several viewpoints can work on the same problems.

I think this series could really make an impact on the genre. However, it would take far more work than MISTBORN to get to a publishable level. Perhaps it would be best for me to publish a few books like MISTBORN or ELANTRIS before I do something this ambitious.

Idaho Falls signing ()
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Brandon Sanderson

What do I like to do besides write? Excellent question.

My nerd hobby is Magic: The Gathering. So, I go to extreme lengths to foil out my cube, and things like that. I used to have a lot more time for things like this than I do now. And that's mostly having a family, right? As you grow up and put on your big-boy pants, you're like: I have three children, I'm gonna spend discretionary time on things that they enjoy. Which means I end up playing Roblox way more than I end up playing Dark Souls these days. But as they get older, I'm hoping they will enjoy some of the things I like, as I spend time doing the things that they like, as well. I actually have a pretty healthy work/life balance. I'm fortunate in that my job, I can do anywhere, at any time of the day. What I usually do is, I get up at noon. (Because I'm a writer. I'm not an insurance salesman, I'm a writer. This is just one perk to the job.) I get up at noon. I work from about noon until five. Then I shower, get ready for the day, hang out with my family from about 5:30 until 8:30, 9:00. And then I'll usually go back to work at about 10:00, somewhere around there, and I'll work from about 10:00 until 2:00.

I found that, for my writing... Writers are all very different, right? I like two four-hour blocks. By the end of about four hours of work, I'm brain dead. The words are just not flowing as well anymore. And if I take a break and go to a second block later on, I'm way more effective as a writer. I have the benefit of having no commute. So I can do things like this. All through college, what I would do is, I actually worked a graveyard shift at a hotel in Provo. And I would go to work at 11:00. And it's Provo, so nobody's there after 11:00. You're a really sketchy person in Provo if you're staying up 'til 10:30. So from about midnight until 5:00 or 6:00, I could write every night. And that's how I put myself through school, was working there. But these days, you know, I try to make time. I used to work Saturdays, and I don't anymore unless there's something like [a convention]. I take Saturdays off. I have a pretty decent balance. The only time where it gets a little unbalanced is if I have a big tour. And those can be pretty grueling. I would much rather have this problem than not, right? My first signings, you can find pictures of me with my grandma here at the Iona Falls Barnes & Noble, where I was sitting in the front, and there were five people there who were all related to me, and that was our book signing! And now I will go to... often, book signings start at 6:00 PM, and get done at 2:00 AM if I'm in Portland, or Seattle, or one of the big cities like that. So, you do that six days a week, in a different city every day, and it can get a little exhausted. So I don't love that part of it. I like the signings. I just don't like the twentieth signing, if that makes sense.

Let me give a little bit of advice here. If there are those of you who are writers out here, there are two things that maybe to keep your life in balance I would recommend. The number one cause of breakups and divorce among my writer friends is that their spouse feels like the writer's ignoring them. It's very easy to do. As a writer, it's very easy to... it's one of these jobs, there are a lot of them like this. Being a schoolteacher is like this. You don't leave your job behind. Your job is always there with you; there's always a little bit more you can do. And because of that, it tends to consume everything if you let it. And you can be out to dinner with your spouse, but you're thinking about your book. You can be driving somewhere and giving only noncommittal responses, because you're thinking about the book. On the other side, if you happen to be the spouse of a writer, the number one thing you can do is jealously guard their writing time. For a lot of writers, a small interruption can mean... To you, it's like, "Oh, I need to ask this question for thirty seconds." But if that breaks the writer's concentration for twenty minutes, because they're spun in to the work, they're really into it, they get interrupted at just the wrong time, it can be a big interruption. So, the balance I suggest is to make a deal. Writer, when you're there with your spouse and your family, be there with your spouse and family. And then make the deal that, when the writing happens, they're gonna try to guard that door and protect you from being interrupted.

A Memory of Light Birmingham Signing ()
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Questioner (paraphrased)

In at least two of the books that I know of, a god is either dead or attacked in some form or fashion. Is there any reason for that?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yes, there is an ongoing theme there, and it's primarily because there is an overarching story behind the story. The books are all in the same universe. And there is a character that's the same in all of the books. In Way of Kings it's Wit. He's actually in all of them.

Salt Lake City ComicCon 2017 ()
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Lurcher

I have a question on the recording, since that's mine. To clarify, we need to send it to Peter? The transcripts, or the audio?

Brandon Sanderson

The transcripts.

Lurcher

Of all three days?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. Only the things you're going to post, they're gonna cut out almost all of this. Run it by him. There's a question I'm trying to remember where I flubbed yesterday. I can't even remember what the question was. A lot of times, you're sitting here, and you're just, like, brain dead as people are coming through, and they say something and you're like "Yeah, uh-huh."' And then, you're like, "Wait, no. That's not even the question they asked." I'm pretty sure I got the important words right, but send it through him. It's a practice that I want to get in the habit of doing.

And he sometimes will have all these things all in the notes, so he gets them, and can add them to make sure they're in the notes, for continuity and stuff.

/r/fantasy AMA 2017 ()
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Adontis

I've always wondered, how do you determine where the line between "Word of Brandon" and "Read and Find Out" is? Has it ever caused issues where you've said something, but later that thing changed when it went into a book making your first statement now false?

Thanks so much for writing as much as you do, I'm looking forward to all your upcoming books, keep up the great work!

Brandon Sanderson

Boy, this one is an art, not a science.

I've several times said something that I later decided to change in a book. I've always got this idea in the back of my head that the books are canon, and things I say at signing aren't 100% canon. This is part because of a habit I have of falling back on things I decided years ago, then revised in notes after I realized they didn't work. My off-the-cuff instinct is still to go with what I had in my head for years, even when it's no longer canon.

An example of this are Shardblades. In the first draft of TWoK in 2002, I had the mechanics of the weapons work in a specific way. (If you wanted to steal one from someone, you knock off the bonding gemstone, and it breaks the bond.) I later decided it was more dramatic if you couldn't steal a Shardblade that way--you had to kill the person or force them to relinquish the bond. It worked far better.

But in Oathbringer, Peter had to remind me of that change, as I just kind of nonchalantly wrote into a scene a comment about knocking off a gemstone to steal a Shardblade. These things leak back in, as you might expect for a series I've been working on for some twenty years now--with lore being revised all along.

So...short answer...yes, I've contradicted myself a number of times. I try very, very hard to let the books be the canon however. So you can default to them.

As for what I answer and what I RAFO...it depends on how much I want to reveal at the moment, if I'm trying to preserve specific surprises, or if I just want people to focus on other things at the moment. Like I said, art and not science.

damenleeturks

In WoR, Navani muses to Dalinar about how the gemstones in the Blades could be the focus that allows the bond with the Blade to exist. If this theory is correct, it would follow that someone could damage that gemstone and thus be able to steal the Blade with it then having no intact bonding mechanism, right?

I guess I'm having trouble seeing how the example you describe isn't possible.

Peter Ahlstrom

The gemstone is needed to create the bond and operate the bond's functions. If you remove the gemstone, the person the sword is bonded to can't summon it or dismiss it to mist. But neither can anyone else. If they eventually pop another gemstone in and try to bond it themselves, they will fail, and the original person can then resummon their Blade. The bond is with the dead spren of the Blade, not with the gemstone. The stone facilitates the bond.

So, you can haul around a de-gemstoned Blade with you all the time and successfully steal it that way. But this makes it very easy to steal back. You'd have to kill the holder of the bond in order to rebond it. Which is no different from usual.

And in general, if you can get close enough to a Shardbearer to steal their Blade, you are also close enough to kill them anyway.

Phantine

So that scene where Dalinar crushes the gemstone and hands the Shardblade over, he's also doing some sort of mystical de-bonding?

Or is it just 'if you WANT to give it up, you gave it up'?

Peter Ahlstrom

Yes, if you want to give it up, you gave it up.

Phantine

If nobody is currently bonded to it, does the attuning still take a week?

Otherwise it seems weird people would figure out putting a gemstone in hilt lets you summon it, since nothing would happen without a week of bonding time.

ricree

Not that weird. One of the books (WoK, I think) mentions that many years passed before the gemstone bonding was discovered. Shardblades were still really valuable, though, and even more vulnerable to theft, so it makes sense that people would have kept them close at hand long enough for the bonding process.

Other than that, all you need is someone to accidentally decorate the blade correctly, which is something that took a long time to happen, but was probably bound to happen eventually considering how key infused gemstones are to the world.

Peter Ahlstrom

Well said.

Miscellaneous 2012 ()
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Brandon Sanderson

"Spoilers," Kelsier said.

"We'll put a warning at the top," Moiraine replied, settling down on the ledge, sparing not a glance for the plunge. "And don't change the topic. I believe that I would win, as you're actually a corpse."

"You're dead too," Kelsier said.

"I got better."

"You did?" Kelsier said, surprised.

"Book Thirteen."

"Damn. I got stuck in Book Ten."

"It's not as bad as people say," Moiraine replied. "Mat's sections are wonderful."

"Well," Kelsier said, "I don't think it matters if you came back. We could just say this is me from the middle of the first Mistborn book. Besides, I think I eventually got better myself."

"Doesn't count. You became a disembodied voice that may or may not have actually been speaking into the mind of a young boy who was probably insane."

"Yes," Kelsier said, "but my series has a long way to go yet. Who knows what could happen? I've heard that some very remarkable things can happen with spikes . . ."

Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
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Questioner

Is there some sort of dead Shardic power on Roshar that is manipulating everyone to be evil and, sort of testy, and stuff like that?

Brandon Sanderson

Do you mean the Thrill?

Questioner

Yes, but not just the thrill. The way that they treat everything like a game.

Brandon Sanderson

That is specific to Alethkar, in that region. That is mostly the fault of the Thrill. Like, if you go to Azir, they don't act the same way.

Questioner

So that's just a cultural thing?

Brandon Sanderson

It's a cultural thing enhanced magically by a certain ancient spren.

Brandon's Blog 2015 ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Words of Radiance Tweak

Moving on to Words of Radiance, as we were entering typo fixes for the paperback of this book, I made changes to a few lines near the end. This isn't anywhere near as extensive as the changes in Elantris, but once again I figure I should be up-front about what I did and why I did it.

This part is going to have some spoilers for the book, so if you haven't read it, please stop right here. I'll put a number of blank lines here to prevent accidental spoilers. Scroll down if you've finished the book.

So, in Words of Radiance, I think the scene I worked on the longest both in my head and on the page was the final confrontation between Kaladin and Szeth.

There was something I wanted to do, and took a stab at it in the text, then backed off because I couldn't make it work. It was important to me that Kaladin refuse to kill Szeth at the end. Kaladin is about protection, not vengeance, and once he realized that Szeth really just wanted to be killed, I wanted Kaladin to hesitate.

It didn't end up working, and I moved on to a new version and submitted it. But this itched at me, and by the time the book was released, I felt I'd made the wrong choice for that scene. So I've taken this chance to roll it back to the previous idea, and written it in a new way, which I like much better.

The events are the same, except for that moment. Szeth is now killed by the storm instead of by Kaladin, which I think is more thematically appropriate.

The question this raises is about Szeth being stabbed by a Shardblade, then being resuscitated. I'm sad to lose this sequence, as it's an important plot point for the series that dead Shardblades cannot heal the soul, while living ones can. I'm going to have to work this into a later book, though I think it's something we can sacrifice here for the stronger scene of character for Kaladin and Szeth.

Idaho Falls signing ()
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Questioner

If you Hemalurgically steal a Shardblade, what <entropy takes place>?

Brandon Sanderson

Like, if you were going to steal someone's Connection to that Shardblade?

Questioner

The bond with the Shardblade.

Brandon Sanderson

The bond with the Shardblade?

Questioner

Would it take longer to summon?

Brandon Sanderson

Well, no, you just wouldn't summon it anymore, the person who got it Hemalurgically would summon it. That would be kind of a wasted use, to get a dead Shardblade. Lot easier ways to do that.

Questioner

I was just wondering if it would take longer to summon if somebody used Hemalurgy to steal it.

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, yeah, there's a little bit of leak to it, so probably.

Questioner

It wouldn't make sense for it to be less sharp.

Brandon Sanderson

No.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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defiantburrito

The Hero of Ages prophecy: For a while it seemed to me that the prophecy was entirely bogus (invented by Ruin as a lure), but it ended up coming true! So my question is, where did the prophecy actually come from? Was it Atium in some form, or something else entirely?

Brandon Sanderson

The religions of Scadrial had a lot of ups and downs. First, you have Ruin and Preservation working together as two gods. Then you have the schism between them, and Preservation betraying Ruin, with Preservation adapting the religion to his own needs and trying to hide in it practices that will keep Ruin imprisoned as long as possible, and then give a chance to defeat him when he escapes. (As Preservation assumes he'll be dead by then.) Finally, you have Ruin corrupting the religions with his influence, trying to figure out what he can twist to his own needs--while missing the hidden layers that Preservation left.

Phantine

Were there a lot of Hero of Ages who ascended beyond the ones we directly saw in the books?

Brandon Sanderson

I wouldn't say so.

Idaho Falls signing ()
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Questioner

Have you ever regretted killing off a character, or not killing off a character, in your book series?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. In the middle of Words of Radiance, there is a character who dies, but comes back. And in my original draft, it was very clear. (Wink wink, reader; this character's coming back.) And I think that was actually the version I wanted. Because I felt like, when I did the original draft, and I sent it to beta readers, they're like, "Oh, well this character's obviously gonna come back." And I'm like, "They figured me out!" And I made it hardcore, so they had real worry the character wasn't coming back. But that was not a major moment in the series, it was removing a character so another character could shine. So, I should have just been okay with them knowing that character was coming back, because there are... I feel like I faked out the readers for no big gain. There wasn't really reason to try so hard to fake out readers on that thing. Where there are some legitimate characters where, you know, either, really they're dead and I want people to mourn their deaths. Or there are other characters where their return, I want to be very dramatic. And I feel like you've only got a certain amount of that energy from readers that you can play with them that way. And I shouldn't use it for things where I just want a character out of the way for a while.

The Ten Orders of Knights Radiant ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Lightweaver

I will speak my truth

Lightweaver oaths are an oddity, perhaps because their spren tend to be the oddest among all Radiant spren. Instead of speaking specific words, or even words along a certain theme, Lightweavers speak truths about themselves—things they must admit to themselves in order to progress as people. It is theorized that because Lightweavers live on the line between reality and fiction, it is important for them to be able to separate the real from the lie, and only with the proper ability to do so can they move forward.

Lightweavers are the Radiants most interested in the arts, including all kinds of visual arts and theater. They range widely in personality from the quiet and introspective painter to the outgoing and gregarious stage performer, with everything in between. What unites them tends to be a love of art, though there are some few who are more interested in intrigue, secrets, and espionage. They are the spies of the Knights Radiant and are often untrusted by others (such as the stoic Skybreakers) for their love of subterfuge. They have a reputation for having looser morals than other Orders, but the Lightweavers are quick to point out that their personal values are strong. They just don’t feel they need to match what other more hardline Orders tend to require. They can be vague with oaths, and many say there is far more Cultivation in them than Honor. (Others dispute this, saying that all Orders have an equal mix, despite some spren naming themselves “honorspren.”) Lightweavers tend to be free spirits, and many among their Order see the importance of entertainment, beauty, and art in a person’s life, and strive to make sure that the world doesn’t just live through the Desolations—because mere survival isn’t enough unless there is something to live for.

Planet Comicon ()
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Brandon Sanderson

...vastness of space. Compared to that infinite dark blackness, both planets and starships alike seemed equally insignificant. Meaningless. Except, of course, for the fact that those insignificant starships were doing their best to kill me.

I dodged, spinning my ship and cutting my boosters mid-turn. Once I'd flipped around, I immediately slammed on the booster again, swerving in the other direction in an attempt to lose the three ships tailing me. Fighting in space is way different from fighting in atmosphere. For one thing, your wings are useless. No air means no airflow. No lift, no drag. In space, you don't really fly. You just don't fall.

I executed another spinning boost, heading back toward the main firefight. Unfortunately, maneuvers that had been impressive down in atmosphere were commonplace up here. Fighting in a vacuum these past six months provided a whole new set of skills to master.

"Spensa," a lively masculine voice said from my console. "You remember how you told me to warn you if you were being extra irrational?"

"No," I said with a grunt, dodging to the right. <A destructor> blast from behind swept right over the dome of my cockpit. "I don't believe I said anything of the sort."

"You said-"

"Can we talk about this later?" I dodged again. Scud, those drones were getting better at dogfighting. Or was I losing my touch?

"Technically, it was later right after you spoke," continued the talkative voice. My ship's AI, M-Bot. "But human beings don't actually use that word to mean 'any time chronologically after this moment.' They use it to mean 'some time after now that is more convenient to me.'"

The Krell drones swarmed around us, trying to cut off my escape back toward the main body of the battlefield. "And you think this is a more convenient time?" I demanded.

"Well, why wouldn't it be?"

"Because we're in combat."

"Well, I would think that a life-and-death situation is exactly when you'd like to know if you're being extra irrational."

I could remember with some measure of fondness the days when my starship hadn't talked back to me. That'd been before I'd BLANK, BLANK, BLANK, BLANK, BLANK.

"Spensa," M-Bot said, "You're supposed to be leading these drones back toward the others, remember?" It had been "BLANK, BLANK, BLANK, BLANK, BLANK.

The Krell knew what I was and hated me. The drones tended to target me specifically, and we could use that. We should use that. In today's pre-battle briefing, I'd swayed the rest of the pilots to reluctantly go with my bold plan. I was to get a little out of formation, tempt the enemy drones to swarm me, then lead them back to the rest of the team. My friends could eliminate the drones while they were distracted, focused on me. It was a good plan, and I'd make use of it... eventually. Now, though, I wanted to test something.

I hit my overburn, accelerating away from the enemy ships. M-Bot was faster and more maneuverable than they were, though part of his big advantage had always been his ability to maneuver at high speed in air without ripping himself apart. Out here in vacuum, that wasn't a factor, and the enemy drones did a better job of keeping up. They swarmed after me as I dove toward the planet Detritus. My homeworld was protected by layers of ancient metal platforms, like shells, with gun placements all along them. We were beyond the farthest shell, out in space. After BLANK BLANK BLANK IN THE LAST BOOK, we had started gaining control of those platforms and their guns. Eventually, that shelled gun emplacement should protect our planet from incursions. For now, though, most of those defensive platforms were still autonomous, and could be as dangerous for us as they were for the enemy. The Krell ships swarmed behind me, eager to cut me off from the rest of the battlefield, where my friends were engaging the rest of the drones in a massive brawl. As usual, the Krell ships would seek to isolate me, overwhelm me. That tactic made one fatal assumption. That if I were alone, I'd be less dangerous.

"We're not gonna turn back around and follow the plan, are we?" M-Bot asked. "You're gonna try and fight them on your own?" I didn't respond. "Jorgen is gonna be angry," M-Bot said. "By the way, those drones are trying to chase you along a specific heading, which I'm outlining on your monitor. My analysis projects that they plan an ambush.

"Thanks," I said.

"Just trying to keep you from getting me blown up," M-Bot said. "By the way, if you do get us killed, be forewarned that I intend to haunt you."

"Haunt me? You're a robot. And besides, I'd be dead, too, right?"

"Uh, my robotic ghost would haunt your fleshy one."

"How would that even work?"

"Spensa, ghosts aren't real," he said in an exasperated tone. "Why are you worrying about things like that instead of flying? Honestly, humans get distracted so easily."

I spotted the ambush. A small group of Krell drones had placed themselves by a large chunk of metal floating just out of range of the gun emplacements. As I drew close, the ambushing drones emerged and rocketed toward me. I was ready, though. I let my arms relax, let my subconscious mind take over. I sank into myself, entering a kind of trance where I listened, just not with my ears. <Remote drones weren't flying for the Krell> in most situations. They were an expendable way to suppress the humans of Detritus. However, the enormous distances involved in the space battle forced the Krell to rely on instantaneous faster-than-light communication to control their drones. I suspected the pilots were far away. But even if they were on the Krell station, hung out in space near Detritus, the lag rate in communications from here to there would make drones too slow to react in battle, so FTL was necessary. That exposed one major flaw. I could hear their orders.

For some reason I didn't understand, I could listen to the place where FTL communication happened. I called it "Nowhere," another dimension where our rules of physics didn't apply. I could hear into the place, occasionally see into it. Then, <THAT HAPPENED LAST BOOK>. I let my instincts take over, and set my ship in a complex sequence of dodges. My battle-trained reflexes melded with my innate ability to hear the drones' orders. They maneuvered my ship without specific conscious instructions on my part. This ability had been passed down my family line. My ancestor used it to move ancient starfleets around the galaxy. Now, I used to to stay alive.

I reacted before the Krell did, responding to their orders. Somehow, I processed them even faster than the drones could. By the time they attacked, I was already weaving through the destructor blast. I darted among them, then activated my IMP, bringing down the shields of everyone nearby. In my state of focused concentration, I didn't care that the IMP took down my shield, too. It didn't matter.

I launched my light lance, and the rope of energy speared one of the enemy ships, connecting it to my own. I used the difference in our momentums to spin us both around, which put me in position behind the pack of defenseless ships. Blossoms of light and sparks broke the void as I destroyed two of the drones. The remaining Krell scattered like... like villagers before a wolf in one of Gran Gran's stories. The ambush turned chaotic as I picked a pair of ships and gunned for them with destructors, blasting one away as part of my mind tracked the orders being given to the others.

"I never fail to be amazed when you do that," M-Bot said quietly. "You're interpreting data faster than my projections. You seem almost... inhuman."

I gritted my teeth, bracing, and spun my ship, boosting after a straggling Krell drone.

"I mean that as a compliment, by the way," M-Bot said. "Not that there's anything wrong with humans. I find their frail, emotionally unstable, irrational natures quite endearing."

I destroyed that drone and bathed my hull in the light of his fiery demise. I dodged right between the shots of two others. Those Krell drones didn't have pilots on board. A part of me felt sorry for them as they tried to fight back against me. An unstoppable, unknowable force that did not play by the rules that *inaudible* everything else they knew.

"Likely," M-Bot continued, "I regard humans as I do only because I'm programmed to do so. But hey, that's no different from the instinct programming a mother bird to love the twisted, featherless abomination she spawned, right?"

Inhuman. I wove and dodged, firing and destroying. I wasn't perfect. I had overcompensated, and many of my shots missed. But I had a distinct edge. The Krell obviously needed to watch for people like me. Their ships were always on the hunt for humans who flew too well, or responded too quickly. They had tried THAT'S IT FOR A MINUTE, PREVIOUS BOOK.

All this raised a singular, daunting question. What was I?

"I would feel a lot more comfortable," M-Bot said, "if you find a chance to reignite our shield."

"No time," I said. "We need a good thirty seconds without flight control for that."

I had another chance to break toward the main battle, to follow through with the plan we'd outlined. Instead, I spun and hit the overburn, blasting back toward the enemy ships. My grav caps absorbed a large percentage of the g-forces and kept me from suffering too much whiplash. But I still felt pressure flatten me against my sheet, make my skin pull back and my body feel heavy. Under extreme g-forces, I felt like I'd aged a hundred years in a second.

I pushed through and fired at the remaining Krell drones. I strained my strange skills to their limits. The Krell destructor shot grazed the dome of my canopy, so bright it left an afterimage in my eyes.

"Spensa," M-Bot said. "*inaudible* I know you said to keep them distracted, but-"

"Keep them distracted."

"Resigned sigh."

I looped us after an enemy ship. "Did you just say the words 'resigned sigh'?"

"I find human non-linguistic communication to be too easily misinterpreted," he said, "so I'm experimenting with ways to make them more explicit."

"Doesn't that defeat the purpose?"

"Definitely not. Dismissive eye roll."

Destructors flared around me, but I blasted two more drones. As I did, I saw something appear, reflected in the canopy of my cockpit. A handfull of piercing white lights, like eyes, watching me. When I used my abilities too much, something looked at me from Nowhere and saw me. I didn't know what they were. I just called them the Eyes. But I could feel a burning hatred from them, and anger. Somehow, this was all connected. My ability to see into the Nowhere. The Eyes that watched me from that place.

I HAVE TO DO A BIG EDIT HERE, FOR STUFF FROM LAST BOOK.

The Eyes continued to appear, reflected in the canopy, as if it were revealing something that watched me from behind my seat. White lights, but stars, but somehow more aware. Dozens of malevolent glowing dots. And entering their realm, even slightly, they became visible to me. Those Eyes unnerved me. How could I both be fascinated by these powers I had, yet be terrified of them at the same time? It felt like the call of the void you got when standing at the edge of a large cliff in the caverns, knowing you could just throw yourself off into the darkness. One step further...

"Spensa!" M-Bot said. "New ship arriving."

I pulled out of my trance, and the Eyes vanished. M-Bot used the console to highlight what he'd spotted. A new starfighter, almost invisible against the black sky, emerged from where the others had been hiding. Sleek, it was shaped like a disk, and painted the same black as space. It was smaller than normal Krell ships, but it had a larger canopy. These new black ships had only started appearing in the last eight months, in the days leading up to EVENTS AT THE END OF THE LAST BOOK. I couldn't hear the commands the new ship received, because none were being sent to it. Black ships like this one were not remote control. Instead, they carried real alien pilots, usually an enemy ace, the best of their force.

The battle had just gotten more interesting.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#300 Copy

theblackthorne

I find the Shin fascinating. Given their reputation for docility and Szeth's internal monologues, am I right in thinking that the Shin do not feel The Thrill?

If so, is this due to the protection of Cultivation or sheer distance from Nergaoul? And finally, is an awareness or fear of the Thrill the reason for the Shin societal disdain for soldiers or is it primarily to discourage use of the honour blades?

Brandon Sanderson

Distance is the big factor here, though there are cultural reasons for things as well. In addition, being very close to something tied to Honor reduces the effects of things like the Thrill. As for the Shin culture, you'll find a great deal in the next three books, so I'd rather not say much now.