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Words of Radiance Chicago signing ()
#301 Copy

Questioner

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

Brandon Sanderson

Hoid is not a Shard.

Questioner

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

Brandon Sanderson

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

Questioner

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

Brandon Sanderson

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

Miscellaneous 2017 ()
#304 Copy

Dan Wells

This is actually an idea we came up with on the cruise last year was to do an episode about all the things that we have tried to make work and couldn't; the novels that we abandoned halfway through or the short stories that just never came together. And we thought it would be a really fun way to end this year in kind of a backhanded, inspirational way to say, look, we're all successful at this and we still screw up all the time.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. And it's not just what we do when we were trying to break in, not those old trunk novels. It still happens every year. Let's take each, our biggest one, like the thing we got the most involved in, or the one that was most tragic to us that we couldn't make work and talk about it. And I'll just go ahead and start.

Brandon Sanderson

I - right before I got the call for the Wheel of Time, which changed my life dramatically - I had finished the Mistborn series, I'd finished Warbreaker and Elantris, and next I thought, I'm going to jump back in the shared universe of my Cosmere and write the prequel series that started it all, where everything came from. This is the backstory of the character known as Hoid, who is a fan favorite. And I'm like, I'm going to do this trilogy, or more books. It's going to be super awesome. It's going to just be the greatest thing ever. And I actually finished the whole book and it was a disaster. It was a train wreck of a book. The character, for the first time - it's like this whole problem you have when you have a really engaging side character that you try to make a main character - didn't work at all as a main character, at least as the personality I had for them way back when. The plot was boring. The setting just was even more boring, which is saying a lot for me. I tried to pull and incorporate some different elements from books that I had tried before and none of them meshed. And so it felt like five books with a bad character and no plot. It was a huge, just terrible thing.

Howard Tayler

Did it have a good magic system?

Brandon Sanderson

The magic system was weak.

Here's the thing. It had a really good magic system from another world that I ported into this world that didn't jive. And the one that was from this world never meshed well with that. And so the magic system was really weak in that it was doing cool things, but in complete contrast to the tone of the novel. Dan may have read some of it, Liar of Partinel.

Dan Wells

Uh, no.

Brandon Sanderson

OK. The writing group which just kind of baffled by this. I actually tried -speaking of what we did last week - I actually started with the clichéd scene of someone being hung and then flashing back to show how they got there - like it had so many problems with it.

Dan Wells

72 hours earlier.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. Yeah, it was, exactly. It was one of those things. Exactly one of those things. Like "I'm going to to try this tool. Oh, this tool is not a tool," right? Like some tools you try and you're like, "Oh, that's a cool tool that doesn't deserve its reputation." Some of them you try and you're like, "This is so..."

Dan Wells

There's a reason everyone makes fun of this one. Wow.

So I kind of want to ask questions about how bad it was.

Specifically with Hoid.

Because that's what fascinates me about this. He was, he is a fan favorite and he's always the side character, you know.

He's the one who's sits off and makes goofy comments and, you know, maybe appears once and then leaves. What did you do when you attempted to make him a main character? Like what was your process there?

Brandon Sanderson

So I knew the biggest chance for failure on this was, you know, taking him a bit, having be too wacky through the course, right? It's the Minion movie thing, which worked for my kids, but for a lot of people are like "These side characters that add flavor to a larger story, when you make the whole story about them, are super annoying." I'm like, I can't have him be super annoying! Well, that's OK. It's you know, when he was young, when you're seeing him in the books, he's hundreds and hundreds years old. He was young, and so I will take that part out. But I did this weird dual identity thing with him, where he was like pretending to be someone else for a big chunk of the book because it had a really cool twist when I did the whole reveal. But then that meant I had to characterize him as somebody you grew too emotionally invested in somebody to...at the end you're like, "Surprise! In the next book you'll get to know who he really is." Which was part of it. And the person I was having him be was bland on purpose because it was like trying to hide and pretend to... Oh, man! There were so many problems with this character, like it was trying to be too clever, leaving out the cleverness that had made him a fan favorite on purpose. Right? So it's a different kind of cleverness. And it just did not work. Didn't work at all.

Dan Wells

Do you think that if you were to write that book today, you could make it work?

Brandon Sanderson

I have completely scrapped that, and what actually changed my opinion on how to do this was Name of the Wind. It needs to be him in the future, flashing back and talking about himself because people will have already bonded to who he is in the future. And it needs to be a memoir. It needs to be...the Assassin's Apprentice is a better example of what this needs to be, because Robin Hobb does such a great job of showing you that contrast between what someone is now and what they've become. And so I need to do something like this. This is now my feel on it. If I then can set in his own voice, I can have these, you know, this first person where we're really, really fun in Hoid's voice for all, and then he fades into the story when he's telling a story, he's not nearly as, you know, he doesn't try to zing you every minute, he tries to tell the story well. That's who he is. And so he will tell the story well. And then we can pop out occasionally and get, you know, it's like Bilbo from The Hobbit.

Brandon Sanderson

So we'll see if I can write it. But that's my plan right now. And there is my true confession of failure. There've been other ones since, but that's the one that hurt, hit me the most. I actually wrote The Rithmatist as I was supposed to go into the sequel to this and start outlining it, and I'm just like "I can't, this book is so bad." And I wrote The Rithmatist without telling any one of my editors I sent that in instead of Liar of Partinel.

JordanCon 2014 ()
#309 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Hoid waxes poetic on the idea that the more people expect, the more difficult it becomes for the artist. This is more the critic in me having noticed that my own expectations for a piece play dramatically into how much I enjoy it. Some of my best experiences at the cinema have been films where I had no idea what to expect. The Sixth Sense was like this for me. I had never heard of the film, my friends dragged me to it, they said it's a horror and I said "I'm not sure if I want to watch a slasher pic, but I think it's going to be terrible but whatever." And I watched it and it was a great movie and I came out of it saying, "Wow, I did not expect that." And yet something like The Dark Knight Returns, which is a fantastic film, well done. Yet the second film was so good that I went into the third film and it wasn't quite as good as the second film and I came out and said, "Eh." Where it is a great film and yet my expectations-- It's unfair to the artist but it is the way I think a lot of us work. That our expectations do play a lot into how our experience is for the story. A lot of things when I go into things like that, I'm not trying to let the author speak so much as I'm trying to say what would someone who analyzes art like a critic in my analyzes art what would be an observation they would make. Hoid is not me and he does not voice necessarily my personal opinions, but he is an artist and a critic and so he notices some of the things I notice.  

FanX 2018 ()
#313 Copy

Stormlightning

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

Brandon Sanderson

He would have.

Stormlightning

Tell me more!

Brandon Sanderson

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

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

Stormlightning

Even though he had some sort of Lightweaving?

Brandon Sanderson

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

Shadows of Self release party ()
#315 Copy

Questioner

Are you not really willing to comment much on Hoid, should I leave that alone?

Brandon Sanderson

You can ask, but you're generally not going to get much on Hoid.

Questioner

Is his longevity tied to any particular Shard?

Brandon Sanderson

Hoid's?

Questioner

Yes.

Brandon Sanderson

I would say no.

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

ChimeraRuin

In [The Hero of Ages], what spooked Vin off from meeting Hoid? (My theory is Ruin's infulence, because he didn't want Hoid interfering(sub question that just occured to me. Was Ruin aware of Hoid on Scadrial?)

And

What would Hoid have told her if they had talked?

Brandon Sanderson

Ha. Well, by this point Hoid had been to the Well--getting there just before Vin--and had retrieved something from it. That should have been enough to get him to leave the planet entirely, but he got involved in events. (He tends to do that.) It's pie in the sky, but I would someday like to do parallel novel to the Mistborn series with Hoid in the background like they did in the second(?) back to the future move. I don't know that I'll ever be able to do it, but we shall see. I would answer this question there.

Idaho Falls signing ()
#318 Copy

Valhalla

So, you talked about a weapon made by the enemies of Adonalsium, and you said it doesn't exist in it's original form. Do any remnants of it still exist in the Physical Realm?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Valhalla

Have we seen any of those remnants on-screen?

Brandon Sanderson

*pause* RAFO.

In current continuity (and people would know this), Hoid's immortality comes from this. People who have read Dragonsteel know that.

BookCon 2018 ()
#321 Copy

Questioner

Are we ever going to get Hoid's story?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

Does... <Roial?> make it to one of the other books?

Brandon Sanderson

I-- That-- I have to RAFO that... Hoid's backstory is coming. It's going to be a while, but you're going to get it.

A Memory of Light Birmingham Signing ()
#322 Copy

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.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#323 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Hoid the Storyteller Tells Us the History of Hallandren

This whole scene came about because I wanted an interesting way to delve into the history. Siri needed to hear it, and I felt that many readers would want to know it. However, that threatened to put me into the realm of the dreaded infodump.

And so, I brought in the big guns. This cameo is so obvious (or, at least, someday it will be) that I almost didn't use the name Hoid for the character, as I felt it would be too obvious. The first draft had him using another of his favorite pseudonyms. However, in the end, I decided that too many people would be confused (or at least even more confused) if I didn't use the same name. So here it is. And if you have no idea what I'm talking about . . . well, let's just say that there's a lot more to this random appearance than you might think.

Anyway, I love this storytelling method, and I worry that Hoid here steals the show. However, he's very good at what he does, and I think it makes for a very engaging scene that gets us the information we need without boring us out of our skulls.

Is everything he says here true? No. There are some approximations and some guesses. However, all things considered, it's pretty accurate. All of the large bits are true.

Skyward release party ()
#324 Copy

the.fulgid

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

Brandon Sanderson

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

Starsight Release Party ()
#325 Copy

Questioner

Has Hoid ever died before?

Brandon Sanderson

Define died. He has had his head chopped off. It just, like, didn't work.

Questioner

Didn't work?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. He actually ends the book Dragonsteel - that's unpublished - being beheaded. That event happened, although that book didn't happen as the book was written.

Oathbringer London signing ()
#326 Copy

yurisses

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

Brandon Sanderson

He was hunting for the Well of Ascension.

yurisses

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

Brandon Sanderson

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

yurisses

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

Brandon Sanderson

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

Peter Ahlstrom

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

Skyward Atlanta signing ()
#329 Copy

Questioner

Previously, you told me that Hoid loves bacon. Is there any other thing that you can tell me about Hoid that we won't be able to RAFO?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh man, I'm running out of stuff to tell you about Hoid that I can't RAFO because I get asked this enough that I forget what I've told people and what I haven't. I'm particularly fond of his monologue for the fourth book. So, be looking forward to that. It's a little different than the others.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#330 Copy

i_am_a_watermelon1

I've heard somewhere that you already have a backstory for Hoid written, but you're waiting to release it as it would reveal too much about the Cosmere universe... is this true?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, this is true.

i_am_a_watermelon1

Do you ever plan on bringing different realms together?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes I do.

Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
#331 Copy

Argent

Recently, at DragonCon, you talked briefly about detecting worldhoppers by examining their speech, and you mentioned Hoid using "coin" on Roshar, where there are no coins. Which overlapped with a question I had been meaning to ask - why would the people around him hear "coin" instead of "sphere"? Is this magical translation (something to do with Connection) malfunctioning for some reason? Or is the use of such out-of-context words solely for the benefit of the Cosmere-aware reader?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, this has to do with magical translation. It's a quirk of trying to say something in the language, and the magic mixing up your intent. Someone who actually learns the local language wouldn't make this mistake.

Argent

Can I just make sure I understand your reply real quick? Are you saying that if Hoid, or someone with the same magical translation, were to learn a bit of Alethi language and culture, get more used to spheres being used as currency, then the magic would stop using "coin" and replace it with sphere? Or, in a sci-fi world, maybe "credit"?

Brandon Sanderson

If he was thinking about saying sphere, he'd say sphere with the magic.

If he accidentally said coin, through the magic, it would try to translate it into coin.

If he learned the language, there's little chance he'd make this mistake. It's a natural feature of learning another language--you tend to imitate those around you. It's still possible he'd make the mistake, but from my experience with second language acquisition, you don't accidentally say words in your native language expecting them to make sense in the new language.

Argent

But wouldn't this require, in his case, the Alethi language to have a word for "coin"? I thought what's happening is that he is saying "coin" (because it's more natural to him), and his magic - not knowing how to translate a word that doesn't exist in Alethi, just sends it across verbatim. Like how he used the word "dog" once, even though the Alethi can't have a word for it.

Brandon Sanderson

That's exactly what is happening--it's sending across the word verbatim.

Argent

Ah, so when you say that is he had said "sphere" in his own language, instead of "coin" (which would be weird to him, because he doesn't think of spheres as currency), then the translation would be fine. Not that he could say "coin" and have the magic interpret his intent and turn into "sphere".

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, to an extent. Remember, this is magical means through connection--not exact translation. But this is a short version of what is happening.

Torrieltar

*in response to Brandon's original answer* Is that how translated puns work, then? Based on your intent?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, that has something to do with it. Though being aware that you're using the magic, and how it works, helps. For example, Hoid (very experienced with this sort of thing) can manipulate the magic and get a feel for what will work and what won't. It's a strange thing, because in most cases, you're actually SPEAKING the language, not speaking your own and having it translated. The magic pretends you were born and grew up in that place.

So you can speak in puns, and riddles, and so forth. However, there's latency from where you actually grew up that causes a kind of "blip" when you try to force through something that just doesn't translate. If you just let the magic do its thing, you'll naturally use idioms from the world you're in. But if you lock on to one from your past, it causes a kind of disharmony in the magic--reminding your spirit web that you don't actually speak the language. It will spit out a transliteration or verbatim phrase in this case.

You will rarely see Hoid having the trouble that Vasher does in using the language and magic, as Vasher doesn't really care. But you will still see even the most expert slip up now and then.

There's an extra layer on this that I don't focus too much on, in that the books themselves are in translation--so when Hoid's using a pun, he's filtering his intent to pun through the magic, into Alethi, creating a local pun that works in the language--then that is in turn translated to one that works in our language.

Firefight release party ()
#334 Copy

Questioner

I have a copy of your Dragonsteel master thesis, I haven't read it though.  And I was wondering, how you've grown as an author, do you like people to read that or would you rather they wait until you do the better version?

Brandon Sanderson

I-- I'm-- That one I don't really like people reading that much because it has an inferior version of Bridge Four that I don't want people to meet. Does that make sense? Like the Bridge Four team--

Questioner

...And when you re-write it it will be better?

Brandon Sanderson

Well Bridge Four won't even be in that book anymore I moved them to Roshar. So you go back and you find the version of Rock that is not quite the right version and you'll find-- Teft is basically the same dude but a lot of the other ones have changed and morphed and they basically won't feel right anymore, if that makes any sense. Feel free to read it, don't feel bad reading it but that's the part that I'm not--

Questioner

Is that the only part you are worried about? And the rest you are like "It's not my best writing" but--

Brandon Sanderson

The rest is not my best writing but whatever. But the Bridge Four stuff, I'm like I did it so much better that it's not even going back and seeing it in rough sketches, it's like if da Vinci had painted a Mona Lisa that was ugly and a different person? You don't want it cemented in their mind that that is what the piece of art is. The rest of it I don't mind so much, I mean the main character his conflict will change dramatically because I pulled that out and gave it to another character in the books. So basically the only thing remaining that is still going to be canon is Hoid and his story, the story what's going with him there is still stuff he would have done...

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#337 Copy

Pagerunner

Four clues you've given over the years about unknown Shards: 1) One that wants to hide and survive. 2) One that's not on a planet, but not Ambition 3) One that Hoid would have taken 4) One that would have been used for Rithmatist

I'm not looking for a new clue. I'm wondering if there's any overlap between the clues. Are these four separate Shards? If not, which hints apply to the same Shard?

Also, since clue #3 was from before Ambition was revealed, was Hoid going to take Ambition? He certainly is an ambitious individual.

Brandon Sanderson

I'll tell you this--those aren't necessarily four different shards. But I do have to RAFO which one Hoid might have taken.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#339 Copy

V_Spaceman

I was wondering if you could elaborate on a past wob. You said that Hoid and Frost are two of the oldest beings in the Cosmere. Does that include the vessels? Are the original 16 vessels younger than Hoid and Frost?

Brandon Sanderson

In the current outline, Hoid predates the others by a bit--he'd already started aging oddly before the Shattering. But that's not strict canon yet. (You can find evidence of it in Dragonsteel.)

JordanCon 2016 ()
#340 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

*reading a personalization request* In the concept of an unreliable narrator, there is a...scope of unreliability. One can be limited by perspective, another can be unreliable with intent. Could you...examine the second type in the Cosmere? Who would be a good example?

Hoid can be very intentionally misleading. The thing is, there aren't many first person viewpoints in the Cosmere stories so if its ever from someone's actual viewpoint-- Like Kelsier is a little unreliable in his viewpoint in that he doesn't go into his plan, which is technically unreliable narrator and it technically is by intent, but it's more like, he's like "I can't think about this" and stuff, but is also him lying to the reader a little bit. Does that make sense? Kelsier is probably the best example of unreliable narrator.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#341 Copy

link6112

Where would you place Hoid on this scale: http://i.imgur.com/z9fwRP2.jpg

If you have time, where would you place the other characters of your books on this?

Brandon Sanderson

Though I do like the D&D system conceptually--I think it leads to interesting discussions--one of the problems is that by putting a character into it, I would be making a value judgement upon their actions. Here's what I can say: If you asked Hoid himself, he'd probably say he was Neutral Good. The Sixteenth shard would argue that he's Chaotic Neutral. Frost would rationally argue him to be Chaotic Good, but there are those who even claim his motives far too selfish to be anywhere near "good," and probably deem him something akin to Neutral Evil.

WeiryWriter

Sixteenth Shard? Is this just a typo or a really stealthy dispensation of information?

Brandon Sanderson

Sorry. Just a typo.

Footnote: The scale linked is the Dungeons and Dragons alignment chart.
Sources: Reddit
General Reddit 2016 ()
#343 Copy

Only4DNDandCigars

Just wondering, I read the old version and it was great, but will I miss out on continuity if I skip the graphic novel release? Also was Hoid in this novel? I dont remember finding him.

Brandon Sanderson

Hoid is referenced in the novel, but it's like Emperor's Soul or a few of the others, where he's only mentioned. We beefed up his presence for the graphic novel, though he'll equate to still just a cameo, because of certain cosmere timeline issues.

I don't plan to change continuity dramatically from the novel to graphic novel--just tell the same story, better. I hope that people will still read and enjoy it, but I also don't want you feeling left out if you don't get around to it.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
#347 Copy

Questioner

Now the Wit, does he have a spren, is he a Herald, is he one of the older people?

Brandon Sanderson

So, Wit is an immortal who travels between worlds. Who-- His magic is not from Roshar. He is in all the other books, if you look for him. So he's in Warbreaker, he's in all three Mistborn books, he's in-- yeah...

*points to Argent and Kurkistan* These guys can point you to everything, they're from the fansite and they've found out about all kinds of things about him. But he is popping up everywhere.

Warsaw signing ()
#350 Copy

Questioner

<Did the man Lift met is Hoid>?

Brandon Sanderson

It is Hoid.

In book three, right? In book three.

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

Questioner

*Inaudible*.

Brandon Sanderson

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

(From my notes:

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