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/r/fantasy AMA 2011 ()
#301 Copy

sandersonfan

Why are the people of Roshar so much more aware of the Cosmere? They seem to know more than any other world you've written to date.

Brandon Sanderson

I believe the people of whom you are speaking are mostly not native to Roshar. On another side, however, it is the first planet we've seen with three Shards, and it is the furthest along in the timeline. One final thing is that they had some very unique experiences early in the planet's history. It involves the Heralds, and various items I think would be spoilers right now.

West Jordan signing ()
#302 Copy

Questioner

Is there any iconography planned for the [Ten] Heralds?

Brandon Sanderson

Like in what specific way?

Questioner

Images of them as the *inaudible*?

Brandon Sanderson

There's already some in the book. Front cover. Look at the corners.

Maybe eventually. The thing is, the Heralds are... they're mythological figures of lore. So what you'll see are things like that. Those are actually large representations of them in the archways.

Questioner

I remember reading about statues.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, there are statues, and so maybe eventually you will get some drawings from Shallan regarding things like that. We'll see. It's a good question, though.

Fantasy Faction Interview ()
#303 Copy

Marc Aplin

Okay, the next question we have (I think this one you might have answered before) but have we met all the main point-of-view characters yet? Or, if not, what percentage are we talking?

Brandon Sanderson

You have met almost all of them. Let me do a count... Let's see. The main characters in the book are (in the series) Kaladin, and Dalinar, Adolin, Jasnah, Shallan, and Navani, whom you all met in this book and most of them had viewpoints. Szeth, Taravangian, and Taln. And one of the other Heralds; I'm not going to tell you who that is. But I think you've met...you have, I'm sure, met that person; I know which scene they're in. And so, I think you've met them all, basically. Taln is the person who shows up in the epilogue.

General Reddit 2011 ()
#304 Copy

gunslingers

The number 10 seems to be a recurring theme in this world. Are the "ten fools" the antithesis of the ten orders of the knights radiant?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, ten is a number of mythological import in the world. The Ten Fools are, essentially, the opposites of the Ten Heralds--who each represented an ideal. (Those ideals were later adopted by the orders of Knights Radiant, so yes, there is a connection--but there's a step between them.)

Tor.com Q&A with Brandon Sanderson ()
#305 Copy

Oscar816

I saw an interview of you talking about Way of Kings before it came out/before I read it. In the interview you mentioned the ten knights and each book will focus/be about one of the knights. After reading book one I can honestly say, I have no idea which Knight was supposed to be in book one. Is this by design? Or did I miss the point?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm not sure what the question means. Do you mean the Heralds? Or the ten orders of the Knights Radiant? The symbol stamped into the front of the first hardcover represents the Windrunners because of Kaladin's awakening as a Windrunner. Also because of Szeth, but mostly because of Kaladin.

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

Louise

Which one will you focused more in the future, the Heralds or Radiants? Will you dig deeper into each of Heralds story and some of Radiants?

Brandon Sanderson

I feel that I should probably RAFO this one. We are going to delve into the Radiants as orders a lot. But the Radiants as individuals? Depends on what you mean. Kaladin is well on the path toward becoming one of them, though he's not one yet, as Teft is quick to point out. So if you mean focusing on actual Knights Radiant, we'll have to see if anyone actually manages to become one.The Heralds are integral to the entire story, which is why the Prelude focuses on them. Since someone showed up at the end of the book claiming to be one of them, I think you can obviously expect some attention to be drawn there. Who each of the Heralds are and what their natures were is important.

Towers of Midnight Cambridge signing ()
#309 Copy

Quantumplation (paraphrased)

I just started NaNoWriMo this year.  Have you ever written something for NaNoWriMo?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

I had an idea for a story that I wanted to write for NaNoWriMo, but I don't know if I'll have time.  It's basically a superhero story, but where only villains get super powers, and the heroes are normal.

Footnote: NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month; This obviously became Steelheart, but I can't remember if he mentioned the name at the time.
Direct submission by Quantumplation
17th Shard Interview ()
#310 Copy

17th Shard

You've told us that you took the idea of the Shattered Plains from Dragonsteel into Way of Kings and reading Way of Kings it's hard to imagine the book without them. What did Roshar look like without them? Can you walk us through the process of moving that concept from that series to this one?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, it looked pretty much like it looks in the books, but Way of Kings Prime takes place mostly in Kholinar and in a location that has not yet been talked about in the books.

Ah…it took place in another location, how about that?

One of the big things with this book is, as I was saying, that I think I started [Way of Kings Prime] in the wrong place. I moved some things back in time and some things forward in time. For instance, if you ever read Way of Kings Prime, the prologue to Way of Kings Prime is now the epilogue to The Ways of Kings. You know, the thing that happens in the epilogue with the thumping on the door and the arrival of a certain individual? That scene is now from Wit's viewpoint which it wasn't before. Pull Wit out of that scene and you'll get almost exactly [what happened] in the [original] prologue. So, the timing has been changed around a lot.

As I was playing with this book I found that, like I said, one of the big things I had a problem with was that I felt that Kaladin had taken the easy route when he needed to take the hard route. I was really looking for a good plot cycle. I needed something to pull this book together. I had characters but I didn't have a plot and I've mentioned before that sometimes things come [to me] in different orders. In this book world and character came to me, in fact character came to me first, world came second and then I was building the plot around it. I knew the plot of the entire epic and the entire series but I needed a much stronger plot for book one. Because of the various things that are happening I wanted to deal with a war.

So I was planning a war away from Alethkar, and I'm trying to decide what I'm going to do with this war. Meanwhile I have Inkthinker, Ben McSweeney, doing concept art for me to use in my pitch to Tom Doherty at Tor and he says, "Hey, I just drew up this sketch of some creature that lives at the bottom of a chasm, what do you think?" And he showed me this.

I told him that we were looking for kind of above water coral reef formations, and he sends me this brain coral, which is essentially the Shattered Plains with a big monster living at the bottom and I'm like, "Wow!" I actually did a book where this was essentially the setting. I looked at that, and that's actually what made me say, "Wait a minute, could I transpose this and would the Shattered Plains actually make more sense on Roshar than they ever did on Yolen?" I started playing with that concept and I absolutely fell in love with the idea. Unfortunately for Dragonsteel, that was the only really good plot cycle from that book.

So, I ripped it out of that book and I put it here, and that means it brought with it a few side characters who no longer live on Yolen because they now live on Roshar. Rock is one of them, though he's been changed. When he came along the Horneaters were born; they had not been in the books before. For those who have read Dragonsteel, he was Ke'Chan in that book. I couldn't bring that culture because that culture is extremely vital to [Dragonsteel]. I can bring a plot cycle or a little region, and there's certain things you can pull out of a book without ruining the soul of what the book is. I couldn't take the Ke'Chan out of Dragonsteel; they're just part of what that book is and so Rock had to change nationalities. I had to build him his own nationality, a new culture essentially just for him. And yeah, it worked wonderfully.

Someday I'll let you have that art, and if you remind me to ask Peter you can probably post it with the interview. As you can just see it's not the way that it ended up being because it looks different from how the Shattered Plains turned out, but it was the spark that made me say, "Let's move this over."

Pat's Fantasy Hotlist Interview ()
#311 Copy

Patrick

The settings of your novels often seem to be something quite different. It seems the majority of fantasy are basically earth with magic and maybe some cool animals to go along. The Way of Kings just feels different (and the Mistborn books for that matter)—harsher, darker, almost like what we would like call a wasteland. How and why did you create the world The Way of Kings in this way? The landscape of the Shattered Plains is especially unusual and evocative. Was it inspired by the landscape of the American Midwest?

Brandon Sanderson

The Southwest, particularly. My visits to places like Arches National Park, relatively close to where I live right now, certainly influenced me. More than that—and I've said this in numerous interviews before—I'm a fantasy reader foremost. Before I was a writer I was a reader, and I'm still a reader. As a reader, I grew a little bit annoyed with the generic setting that seemed to recur a lot in fantasy. I won't speak poorly of writers who used it very well—there are certain writers who used it extremely well—and yet a lot of other writers seemed to just take for granted that that's what you did. Which is not the way that I feel it should be done. I think that the genre could go many places it hasn't been before.

When I approached writing the Stormlight Archive—when I approached creating Roshar—I very consciously said, "I want to create something that feels new to me." I'm not the only one who does this, and I'm certainly not the one who does it best, but I wanted a world that was not medieval Europe. At all. I wanted a world that was its own thing. I started with the highstorms and went from there. To a person of our world, Roshar probably does look barren like a wasteland. But to the people living there, it's not a barren wasteland. This is a lush world full of life. It's just that what we equate with lush and full of life is not how that world defines it. In Roshar, a rock wall can be a lush, vibrant, and fertile place. It may look like a wasteland to us, but we're seeing through the eyes of someone who's used to Earth's flora and fauna. I've also said before in interviews that science fiction is very good at giving us new things. I don't see why fantasy shouldn't be as good at doing the same. Perhaps even better. So that's what was driving me to do what I did.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#312 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Fantasy Stereotypes

Sazed makes an interesting note. "There is a kandra who fits in with his people as poorly as I do with my own," he thinks. Why is it that I tend to create a culture, then build characters who are in direct opposition to the way that the rest of their people act? I think there are a couple of reasons.

First off, as I've said, I feel that characters are driven by conflict. The person who is a perfect example of what his people revere just doesn't have as much conflict as the person who is in opposition to his own social mores. A Terrisman rebel, a kandra with wanderlust, a Dula who is depressed—these types of people just seem more interesting to me.

In addition, fantasy has a reputation for defining an entire culture based on a single individual. If you meet a dwarf, then you know how all dwarves act because each and every dwarf is just like this dwarf. It's common in fantasy books to let race or nationality be the same as personality. I react against this, and so intentionally create characters who don't fit in with their own people as a means of showing that any culture can create a multitude of different types of people.

I have to be careful not to let this be a crutch, of course.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#313 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Architectural and Character Cameos

Many of the High Noble keeps I described in the first book are real buildings. Keep Venture, for instance, is based on the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. Well, Keep Orielle here is based on the LDS Salt Lake Temple, only with more stained glass. Go read the description again (I think it's in this chapter) and maybe you'll be able to see it.

Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
#314 Copy

Nadine

I found this on a blog posted July 2008. Does it have any relationship to reality?

...No matter your race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation or belief system, you will find something to love in The Way of Kings. There were pirates, ninjas, monkeys, fireworks, grand journeys, infidels dragged through streets by dragons and a fair amount of buckles swashed. There were ladies romanced, men romanced, sheep romanced and one scene where even two mice get it on. And if you can forgive an inordinate amount of abuse aimed at Canadians, this just may be the book for you. Be forewarned, however, if you can't abide graphic depictions of sexual content that would make Laurell K. Hamilton blush and cover her naughty bits, you might want to skip this book...

...The way Brandon Sanderson breathes life into this story is inspirational. The characters, the storyline, the magic—seemingly woven (as only Brandon can) from sheer nothingness. One of my favorite parts of the book is where the Wizard Ooflar divides one rather simple system of magic into five complex subsets, each with its own arcane history and labyrinthine steps. Who would have thought the apprentice Pemberly could put an entire village to sleep by tapping out a quadrille in her clogs? Although it would seem implausible, somehow his magical system works, especially the dance-off. I also enjoyed the ten-day feast in section two, chapter 85. I don't know if I'll ever forget the scene in which we see King Horag the Midleth eating live grunthyean orbs. (gag) I loved this book and can't wait for the sequel...

Brandon Sanderson

Ha. These are some of the amusing fake reviews for Kings that readers have been posting on Amazon. For some reason, Amazon put up a page for this book years and years ago, when I got my first contract. Somehow, they heard I was working on a book called The Way of Kings, and jumped the gun in adding a page for it, even though I was still working on the book. (I've been planning, writing, and wrestling with this story for some ten years now.)

Anyway, readers noticed the page and began having fun with it. None of them have read the book, but that hasn't stopped them from reviewing it. There are even pictures of it, including photoshops of me holding a fake book. Look for it on Amazon. It's rather amusing.

Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
#315 Copy

Nadine

In a recent (May 2009) interview you stated the following:

I found this on a blog posted July 2008. Does it have any relationship to reality?

Q: What do you have planned after you finish Wheel of Time? A: My next series will be The Way of Kings, which is the start of a big epic for me. I've plotted it as ten books. Fantasy writers, we get into this business because we love the big epics. We grow up reading Brooks and Jordan, and we get to the point where we say, "I want to do this myself."

This should tie you up for a good ten years after you finish The Wheel of Time. Does it mean that you are not going to write anymore one- or three-volume epic fantasy novels?

Can you give us some hints as to what The Way of Kings will be about?

Brandon Sanderson

I've told Tor that I want to release Kings on a schedule of two books, followed by one book in another setting, then two more Kings. The series of Kings has been named The Stormlight Archive. (The Way of Kings is the name of the first volume.)

So I should be doing plenty of shorter series in between. We'll see how busy this all keeps me. I think I'd go crazy if I weren't allowed to do new worlds every now and again.

But, then, Kings turned out very, very well. (The first book is complete as of yesterday.) What is it about? Well...I'm struggling to find words to explain it. I could easily give a one or two line pitch on my previous books, but the scope of what I'm trying with this novel is such that it defies my attempts to pin it down.

It happens in a world where hurricane-like storms crash over the land every few days. All of plant life and animal life has had to evolve to deal with this. Plants, for instance, have shells they can withdraw into before a storm. Even trees pull in their leaves and branches. There is no soil, just endless fields of rock.

According to the mythology of the world, mankind used to live in The Tranquiline Halls. Heaven. Well, a group of evil spirits known as the Voidbringers assaulted and captured heaven, casting out God and men. Men took root on Roshar, the world of storms, but the Voidbringers chased them there, trying to push them off of Roshar and into Damnation.

The voidbringers came against man a hundred by a hundred times, trying to destroy them or push them away. To help them cope, the Almighty gave men powerful suits of armor and mystical weapons, known as Shardblades. Led by ten angelic Heralds and ten orders of knights known as Radiants, men resisted the Voidbringers ten thousand times, finally winning and finding peace.

Or so the legends say. Today, the only remnants of those supposed battles are the Shardblades, the possession of which makes a man nearly invincible on the battlefield. The entire world, essentially, is at war with itself—and has been for centuries since the Radiants turned against mankind. Kings strive to win more Shardblades, each secretly wishing to be the one who will finally unite all of mankind under a single throne.

That's the backstory. Probably too much of it. (Sorry.) The book follows a young spearman forced into the army of a Shardbearer, led to war against an enemy he doesn't understand and doesn't really want to fight. It will deal with the truth of what happened deep in mankind's past. Why did the Radiants turn against mankind, and what happened to the magic they used to wield?

I've been working on this book for ten years now. Rather than making it easier to describe and explain, that has made it more daunting. I'm sure I'll get better at it as I revise and as people ask me more often. ;)

JordanCon 2018 ()
#316 Copy

Karen Ahlstrom (paraphrased)

1. Just as highstorms come less frequently around the Weeping, they are more frequent around Midpeace.

2. Following the advent of the Everstorm, the normal highstorm calculations/schedule was found to be thrown off by about four (Rosharan) months.

3. Highstorms move at about 370 miles per hour. The Everstorm moves at about 120 miles per hour. Those are variable of course, and shouldn't be taken as official, definitive numbers.

4. For approximate Everstorm timing calculations we used a cycle of 9.1 (Rosharan) days.

5. Roshar's circumference is about 22110 miles. Again, this shouldn't be taken as an official, definitive number.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#317 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirty - Part One

Keep Venture is actually based on real cathedrals. Actually, visiting a few cathedrals was what that sparked the entire structural theme for the buildings in this book. The main inspiration for Keep Venture was the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. I loved the way it incorporated the huge windows at the sides, inset with pillars, with interesting balconies above for viewing. I took that concept and changed it around a bit, turning the worship hall into a ballroom.

After that, the other keeps were easy. Keep Lekal came from the Luxor in Vegas. Hasting and Elariel I came up with on my own–one because I wanted a tower keep, and the other because I imagined a room with stained glass windows in the ceiling.

TWG Posts ()
#318 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Folks,

I've turned my full attention back to this book, and have done a heavy rewrite of Chapter One, which helped me pound out who Midius is (in my mind at least.)  You can see the effect your comments had.  Here's the new version.  As always, comments are welcome!

Brandon Sanderson

All, here's an experimental change I'm considering for the Theus chapters (and note the new Midius chapter at the bottom of the previous page.) I think this may soften the brutality somewhat, even though it's all still there. It will make for a drastic change in feel for the king as a character, but I'm very tempted to do this instead. Reactions?

NEW CHAPTER TWO BEGINNING

It’s a bad day to kill, Theusa thought. Too cloudy. A man should be able to see the sun when he dies, feel the warmth on his skin one last time.

She marched down the dusty path, crops to her right and left, guards behind her. The men of her personal guard wore woolen cloaks over bronze breastplates. Bronze. So expensive. What farming supplies could she have traded for instead of the valuable metal armor?

And yet, she really had no choice. The armor meant something. Strength. Power. She needed to show both.

Several of the soldiers pulled their cloaks tight against the morning’s spring chill. Theusa herself wore a woolen dress and shawl, the copper crown on her head the only real indication of her station. King. It had been twenty-some years since anyone had dared question her right to that title. In the open, at least.

Her breath puffed in front of her, and she pulled her shawl close. I’m getting old, she thought with annoyance.

Behind her towered the grand city state of Partinel, circled entirely--lake and all--by a rough stone wall reaching some fifteen feet high. The wall had been commissioned, then finished, by Yornes the grand, her father-in-law. She’d married his son, Didarion, in her twenty-third year of life.

Didarion been a short time later. That had been almost thirty years ago, now.

Old indeed, Theusa thought, passing out of the ring of crops. Partinel’s trune ring was one of the largest in the Cluster, but it still provided a relatively small area in which to grow food. They grew right up to the edge of the city wall in a full circle around the city. Running in a loop around them was a narrow, earthen road. Beyond that, a wide patch of carefully-watched and cultivated walnut trees ran around the city. Her people cut down one group of trees every year and planted a new patch. It was a good system, giving them both hardwood for trade and nuts for food. In the Cluster, no land could be wasted.

Because beyond the trees, the land became white. The walnuts stands marked the border, the edge of Partinel’s trune ring and the beginning of fainlands.

Theusa could see the fain forest through a patch of walnut saplings. She paused, looking out at the hostile, bleached landscape. Bone white trees, with colorless undergrowth twisting and creeping around the trunks. White leaves fluttered in the breeze, sometimes passing into the trune ring, dusted with a prickly white fungus.

Skullmoss, the herald of all fain life. Her soldiers and workers gathered the leaves anyway and burned them, though it wasn’t really nessissary. Though eating something fain--animal or plant--was deadly to a human, simple interaction with it was not. Besides, fain life, even the skullmoss, could not live inside of a trune ring.

That’s how it had always been. White trees beyond the border, trune life within. People could go out into the fainlands--there was no real danger, for skullmoss couldn’t corrupt a living creature. Some brave cities even used fain trees for lumber, though Theusa had never dared.

She shivered, turning away from the fain forest and turning to where a group of soldiers--with leather vests and skirts--stood guarding a few huddled people. The prisoners included one man, his wife, and two children. All knelt in the dirt, wearing linen smocks tied with sashes.

The father looked up as Theusa approached, and his eyes widened. Her reputation preceded her. The Bear of Partinel, some called her: a stocky, square-faced woman with graying hair. Theusa walked up to the kneeling father, then bent down on one knee, regarding the man.

The peasant had a face covered in dirt, but his sandaled feet were a dusty white. Skullmoss. Theusa avoided touching the dust, though it should be unable to infect anything within a trune ring. She studied the man for a time, reading the pain and fear in his face. He lowered his eyes beneath the scruitiny.

“Everyone has a place, young man,” she finally said.

The outsider glanced back up.

“The people of this city,” Theusa continued, “they belong here. They work these crops, hauling water from the stormsea to the troughs. Their fathers bled to build and defend that wall. They were born here. They will die here. They are mine.”

“I can work, lady,” the man whispered. “I can grow food, build walls, and fight.”

Theusa shook her head. “That’s not your place, I’m afraid. Our men wait upon drawn lots for the right to work the fields and gain a little extra for their families. There is no room for you. You know this.”

“Please,” the man said. He tried to move forward, but one of the soldiers had his hand on the man’s shoulder, holding him down.

Theusa stood. Jend, faithful as always, waited at the head of her soldiers. He handed Theusa a small sack. She judged the weight, feeling the kernels of grain through the canvas, then tossed it to the ground before the outsider. The man looked confused.

“Take it,” Theusa said. “Go find a spot of ground that the fainlands have relinquished, try to live there as a chance cropper.”

“The moss is everywhere lately,” the man said. “If clearings open up, they are gone before the next season begins.”

“Then boil the grain and use it to sustain you as you find your way to Rens,” Theusa said. “They take in outsiders. I don’t care. Just take the sack and go.”

The man reached out a careful hand, accepting the grain. His family watched, silent, yet obviously confused. This was the Bear of Partinel? A woman who would give free grain to those who tried to sneak into her city? What of the rumors?

“Thank you, lady,” the man whispered.

Theusa nodded, then looked to Jend. “Kill the woman.”

“Wha--” the outsider got halfway through the word before Jend unsheathed his bronze gladius and rammed it into the stomach of the kneeling outsider woman. She gasped in shock, and her husband screamed, trying to get to her. The guards held him firmly as Jend pulled the sword free, then he cut at the woman’s neck. The weapon got lodged in the vertebrae, and it took him three hacks to get the head free. Even so, the execution was over in just a few heartbeats.

The outsider continued to scream. Theusa stooped down again--just out of the man’s reach--blood trickling across the packed earth in front of her. One of the guards slapped the outsider, interrupting his yells.

“I am sorry to do this,” Theusa said. “Though I doubt you care how I feel. You must understand, however. Everyone has a place. The people of this city, they are mine--and my place is to look after them.”

The outsider hissed curses at her. His children--the boy a young teen, the girl perhaps a few years younger--were sobbing at the sight of their mother’s death.

“You knew the penalty for trying to sneak into my city,” Theusa said softly. “Everyone does. Try it again, and my men will find the rest of your family--wherever you’ve left them--and kill them.”

Then, she stood, leaving the screaming peasant behind to yell himself ragged. Theusa’s personal guards moved behind her as she returned to the corridor through the wheat, Jend cleaning his gladius and sheathing it. Over the tops of the green spring plants, Theusa could see a man waiting for her before the city.

(Edit, cleaned up language.)

Brandon Sanderson

Thanks for the comments, folks.  A new version has been uploaded, mostly making minor tweaks as suggested by db.  Some good points, and the prose needed streamlining.

Dawn:

For some reason, this just feels less brutal to me.  Theusa's language is softer than Theus's had been, and I think more reasonable.  Still brutal, yet somehow it works better for me.  That might just be because I've seen (and written) too many characters that feel like Theus, and changing the character to a female (who's a bit older, and who is arguably the legitimate ruler of the city) makes them feel a lot more exciting to write. 

Gruff, Gritty, Male solder king: Feels overdone.

Gruff, gritty, grandmother king: Not so much.

I know it's more about how well the character is done, and less about whether it's been done before or not.  However, excitement on my part seems to make for a better story over-all.  So, I'm wondering if this character will be more exciting for me this way, or just much more trouble.  (I'll have to think of what to do for the next Theus chapter, for instance.  I really liked the fight there, and I can't really put Theusa in the same role.)

Brandon Sanderson

DavidB

There are, unfortunately, reasons why I have to start the book where I did.  I can't get into it without major spoilers.  You are perfectly right about this chapter lacking a hook, which is why I decided from the get-go that I'd need to start with a scene from the middle of the book, then jump back. 

So, this chapter should be considered the SECOND, and not the one that introduces Midius's character. 

My goal is to try some new things with this book.  Who knows if it will work, but they will present narrative challenges for me, because even when we flash back, we're starting in the middle of a story, with Hoid already dead.

Brandon Sanderson

I'll admit, I'm really torn on this one.  I can't quite decide which way to go.  The thing is, I've been thinking about the characters so much that they're both--Theus and Theusa--now formed in my head.  I know their motivations and their feelings, but I can only use one of them.  

With Theus I gain the ability to have he, himself fight.  I can show him with his family, which could really round out his character.  Yet, I worry that he's too similar to other characters I've written.  (Cett and Straff both come to mind from the Mistborn trilogy, though neither of them are as rounded, as well as Iadon from Elantris.  I've done a lot of brutal rulers.)   

With Thesua, I lose the two things I mentioned above.  I couldn't soften her by showing a spouse and children, and while she'd still have a daughter, I don't see the child being as much of an influence on reader opinion.  And, there would be less action in the book by a slight amount as Theusa will not be a warrior, and will have to rely on Jend to do her combat.   

However, I gain a tad of originality.  (How many tyrant grandmother city-state rulers are there in fiction?  Have to be fewer than men like Theus.)  I also gain some subtlety--Theusa's rule would be much more tenuous, because of her gender, and there would be a lot of politics working against her.   

Both would play off of Yunmi very well, if for different reasons.  Midius's interactions lean slightly toward me liking Theus, but not a huge amount.   

I keep going back and forth on this one.  So, I'll put off the decision until tomorrow and write a Yunmi chapter instead.  Huzzah!

Brandon Sanderson

After much playing with the plot and wrangling, I've decided to go with the male version of the character.  The new Midius chapter is here to stay, however.

I'll just have to do the old grandma tyrant king in some other book. 

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#319 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Twenty-Five - Part Two

I hope the timeframe of the various armies, with Vin and Kelsier running the distances, work all right. This is one of the toughest parts about writing fantasy for me, as I mentioned last time. I don't have a really good concept of distance, and getting things moving at the right speeds on a national level, so they intersect at the right places. . . yeah. Tough.

I had to, for instance, decide how quickly a person pewter dragging could run, and how that compared to someone marching in an army, and how that compared to someone taking a canal boat. If you can do that math and get back to me, well, it's too late. I already put it in the book. So, I hope I did it right.

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Hrathen's deal with Eventeo here is the final piece of his most brilliant plan in the book. He milked those two vials of poison for a whole lot. He managed to regain his own faith, defeat Dilaf, turn himself into a hero, and get Eventeo's promise all with a few clever political twists. After he's pulled off a few tricks like this, three months suddenly doesn't seem like an unrealistic amount of time to convert a nation. (Or, at least, convert its nobility–which, as Hrathen has pointed out, is the same thing.)

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When I was designing this book, I knew I wanted a religious antagonist. Actually, the idea for the Derethi religion was one of the very fist conceptual seeds for this novel. I've always been curious about the relationship between the Catholic church and the Roman empire. While Rome itself has declined greatly in power, the church that grew within it–almost as a side-effect–has become one of the dominant forces in the world. I wondered what would happen if an empire decided to do something like this intentionally.

The early Derethi leaders, then, were a group who realized the problems with the Old Fjordell Empire. It collapsed upon itself because of bureaucratic problems. The Old Empire was faced with rebellions and wars, and never managed to become stable. The Derethi founders realized the power of religion. They decided that if they could get the nations of the East to believe in a single religion–with that religion centered in Fjorden–they would have power equal to, or even greater than, the power of the Old Empire. At the same time, they wouldn’t have to worry about rebellion–or even bureaucracy. The people of the other nations would govern themselves, but would give devotion, loyalty, and money to Fjorden.

So, these men appropriated the teachings of Shu-Dereth and mixed them with some mythology from the Fjordell Old Empire. The resulting hybridization, added to the Fjordell martial work ethic, created an aggressive, intense religion–yet one that was "constructed" with a logical purpose in mind. The Fjordell priests spent the next few centuries converting and building their power base. The result was the New Empire–an empire without governments or armies, yet far more powerful than the Old Empire ever was.

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Chapter Six

In this chapter, we first get to see some of the scars that Hrathen is hiding. Part of what makes him such a compelling character, I think, is the fact that he considers, questions, and seriously examines his own motivations. The things he did in Duladel are a serious source of guilt to him, and his determination to do what is right–even if what is "right" to him isn't necessarily what we would consider right–gives him a strength of character and personality that is hard to resist.

He combines with this sincerity an actual force of logic. He's correct in his examination of Arelon. It has serious problems. It has weak leadership, weak military forces, and a weak economy. Hrathen's logical explanations in this chapter of why he feels justified in trying to overthrow the government should sound fairly convincing.

On the other hand, we have his whole "Tyranny in three easy steps" discussion with Dilaf. It's this sense of twisted goodness that rounds out his personality as a villain. He's not just earnest, he's not just logical–he also has an edge of ruthlessness. That's a very dangerous combination in a character.

Speaking of the "I will show you the way to destroy a nation" line, this concept–that line, actually–was one of the first things I came up with in my mind while imagining Hrathen. The way that he logically approaches something that would seem daunting–even impossible–to an outsider is a strong part of what defines who he is. I also really enjoy finding opportunities to show how Hrathen sees the world. Whenever I place him on the Elantris city wall and let him inspect the defensibility of the city, I give a clue as to how he was trained, and how he thinks. I don't believe that Sarene ever pauses to consider just how weakly fortified the city of Kae is–but Hrathen thinks about it on at least three separate occasions.

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Duladen, Jindoeese, Svordish

Duladen is a language purely of tonal convenience. My only rule for this language was to use that which ‘sounded right.’ It seemed wrong, in a way, to force any firm linguistic constructions on the Dulas. In addition, Galladon’s use of Dula slang was to become a major mood element of the book. I didn’t have enough time in the book to develop the language in detail, but I needed its sounds to give atmosphere.

Duladen implies a laid-back, loose culture. Its words flow smoothly, and even have a hint of ridiculousness to our English-accustomed ears. Even the Dula word for Hell, ‘Doloken,’ has a kind of rhythmic nonchalance about it. Ironically, the part of the Dula language I was most unsatisfied with was its lead character’s name. I eventually changed it from “Galerion” to “Galladon” to make it fit better.

JinDo is probably the least original of the languages in the book. It is an unabashed rip-off of Chinese, as can easily be distinguished. I did this with some hesitance. I worried that I had too much of a ‘learning curve’ in the setting of the book already, especially with the strange circumstances Raoden was going to be forced to endure. When it came to the JinDo language and culture, I feared that stuffing too much development into such a minor part of the book would make it unwieldy.

JinDo is most important for the philosophers it spawned, three men who eventually became the religious foundations of the continent. I chose an Oriental culture to mimic in this case because of the mystical way in which most western cultures regard Asian-sounding names. Simply by calling something “JinDo” gave it an instant sense of foreign-ness.

I went, perhaps, too far by making the adjectival reference for the nation ‘Jindoeese.’ I probably should have gone with simply “JinDo” as both noun and adjective. Other than that, I am satisfied with the culture, despite its lack of original sounds.

The final language, Svordish, was almost an afterthought. I wanted to make it a dialect of Fjordell, something I could point out to show that all of the nations beyond the mountains weren’t just one big stereotype. By giving Svorden a minor identity of its own—with a side character and the ‘sv’ pattern of sounds—I hoped to give a bit of roundness to the unseen Fjordell empire.

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Conclusion

That is about it for the languages in Elantris. There are books for which I’ve spent a lot more time on the languages, but there are also books for which I’ve spent far less. Overall, I like how the sounds in this book add to the feel of the various nationalities, though I realize that Aonic names (in particular) are difficult to pronounce at first. If you have your own way of saying them, well that’s just fine. I do the same thing with books I read.