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Stormlight Book Four Updates ()
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Brandon Sanderson

All right, so most of you were probably expecting this one to appear sometime today--and here it is. The Previous Update can be found here. As I announced over social media this weekend, I have finished the final draft of Book Four. Rhythm of War is finally done. (Or, rather, my part is done. At least for the prose text of the book. See below.)

I finished the revisions on Saturday, and then today wrote the ketek and the back of the book text. (The in-world text. Tor does the marketing blurb.) The only thing I have left to do is the acknowledgements, plus the ars arcanum. The bulk of the work left to be done will be handled by Peter, my editorial director, who will oversee the copyedit (which is like a really in-depth proofread that also watches for style guide changes and things like in-book continuity) and the proofreads. In addition, Art Director Isaac will be finalizing the artwork done by himself and his artists. (Including Ben, who now works for us full time. He usually drops by the comments to say hi.)

Peter/Isaac's work will take several months to complete, and then the book will be sent separately to the US, UK, and Australian printers for English Language distribution. Excitingly, for the first time, we're hoping to do a simultaneous Spanish launch for the book, and my Spanish publisher has been putting a lot of extra effort into trying to make this happen. So if you live in Spain, and meet my team over there--translator, editor, etc--buy them a drink. They've been putting in some heroic work to try to get this beast of a novel ready in time.

I can't promise timelines for other foreign language editions; but if the Spanish experiment works, we will approach some of our other publishers to suggest trying the same thing with them.

Other random updates of note. The tour seems likely to go digital at this point because of the virus. We'll keep you in the loop. (This will likely include the release party.) Goal is to ship huge cases of books for me to sign so we can get them to partner bookstores for a signed launch, with talks/readings done digitally. Don't consider this an official confirmation of that yet, though. Tor is the one working it out, and we'll need to wait for them to figure out the details.

The kickstarter has been...well, a little crazy. We're in the process of adding new stretch goals; if you didn't see today's update over there, it has a poll of suggested new stretch goal rewards for you to mull over.

So, what's next for me? This week, I'm doing a quick revision of Songs of the Dead, the book-formely-known-as-death-by-pizza, which I'm writing with Peter Orullian. I plan this to take about a week. After that, I'm going to dive into the kickstarter novella, the official title of which I believe we'll be announcing tomorrow.

After that is done, I owe Skyward 3 to my very patient YA publisher, who has been sitting in the wings waiting for eighteen months or so for me to start it. Wax and Wayne 4 will follow, with my goal being to start it January 1st. Skyward 4 (the final book of that series) will follow starting about a year from now. After that, it will be time (already) for Stormlight 5, final book of this sequence of Stormlight novels. (Whew!) That will mark roughly the halfway point of the cosmere.

Thanks, as always, for your patience as I juggle all of these projects. Also, I'll be doing another livestream this Thursday, where I'll be chatting more about the kickstarter and this book (we keep it non-spoiler, so don't worry.)

I'll be turning off inbox replies to this thread, as usual, so I apologize if I don't see your questions here.

With that, I officially conclude my Book Four updates series. Expect to see me back in around eighteen months, January 2022, when I start updates for Book Five. (I do plan to do updates for Mistborn on that subreddit when I start the fourth Wax and Wayne. So if you're really hungry for more rambling posts about in-progress books, you can visit there.)

As always, thanks for everything. You folks are great. It's been quite the pleasure working on these books for you.

Brandon

General Reddit 2017 ()
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Pagerunner

I was at the Houston signing, and Brandon referred me to you on a few technical questions that I was asking him, since he he was quite "brain dead."

First was what Surges the Bondsmiths have. Based on the ordering in the Ars Arcanum in WoR and OB, they should have Tension. But the application of the shared Surge we saw for both Stonewards and Bondsmiths in OB looks to line up more with Brandon's previous description of Cohesion from the Words of Radiance tour. (https://wob.coppermind.net/events/223/#e6061, although he did identify it as a Willshaper Surge there.) Brandon believed it was an error in the Ars Arcanum, and that Bondsmiths do have Cohesion, but he told me to confirm that with you.

Peter Ahlstrom

What power did you see in the book that Bondsmiths and Stonewards share?

Pagerunner

In Chapter 38:

The Shardbearer pressed his hand against the incline leading up to the Voidbringer, and again the stone seemed to writhe. Steps formed in the rock, as if it were made of wax that could flow and be shaped.

...

"And that Shardbearer I saw? A Herald?"

No. Merely a Stoneward. The Surge that changed the stone is the other you may learn, though it may serve you differently.

Which seems to align with how Brandon has previously described Cohesion in the past, as opposed to Tension.

I assume this Surge is what Dalinar used to repair the temple of Talenel in Chapter 59, but that's not actually essential to the point.

Peter Ahlstrom

I think this has to be an error in the text.

Pagerunner

Sorry, which do you think is the error? The order of Surges in the Ars Arcanum? Or the Stormfather's statement to Dalinar?

Peter Ahlstrom

The Stormfather's statement.

Peter Ahlstrom

I have verified with Brandon that what the Stormfather said here is wrong and will be corrected in the future.

YouTube Livestream 12 ()
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Brandon Sanderson

I will start writing [Dawnshard] on Monday. I'm almost through with my revision of Songs of the Dead. Takes a lot less time for me to do a revision on that, because basically instead of fixing problems, because I'm co-authoring with Peter Orullian, I get to say, "This is working. Maybe change this to be like this." And give Peter the chance to make the changes. The book is looking really good, this last revision.

I thought a lot about the title for this one, because I wanted to fit with the other two: Edgedancer, and Horneater (which I will write). So I was thinking I need some sort of classic Brandon mashup word. For a while, I was thinking of calling it Wandersail, because Rysn's ship is the Wandersail, but I thought that would be duplicitous because the story has nothing to do with the story Wandersail, from Hoid's stories. And in fact, I'm more and more thinking that I want to do some picture book versions of Hoid's stories that would make nice read-alouds, and I would call one of those Wandersail. So I'm like, this is just a bad title for this book.

So, I thought I would dig into instead one of the things that we were talking about in the book, which is the Dawnshards. So, it is named Dawnshard. For those who are deep lore cosmerenauts and are wondering about the Dawnshards, we are going to talk about them in this novella. So, yes, we will be going to Aimia.

Right now, Rysn, probably Lopen as a secondary viewpoint character is my guess. But I haven't written it yet, so I have to see how the viewpoints work out.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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WeiryWriter

Does hair that is still attached to a person's head get cut if a Shardblade passes through it? If not, if that person had the Royal Locks could they change the color of the hair "below" the cut?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, hair gets cut. It counts as dead in my mind--but not to someone who has the Royal Locks. They could only change below, as you state, and wouldn't get their hair chopped off. (I'm not 100% sure on this, but I Think I've mentioned in Stormlight before that you can cut things like shells on living animals with a Shardblade, but then it doesn't cut the flesh.)

WeiryWriter

With the Royal Locks, the individual would be able to change the color in the bit between the cut and the scalp? (In my original question I had meant "below" to mean the bit between the cut and the end whereas your answer uses it the opposite, I think?)

Brandon Sanderson

Distance between scalp and cut, yes you can change that. Otherwise every time you got a haircut, you wouldn't be able to change the hair. Maybe I don't get your question.

WeiryWriter

So just for clarity's sake is the following correct:

Let's say Siri's hair is two feet long. A shardblade passes through the hair exactly in the middle ("dividing" the hair into two one-foot sections). In your previous answer you said that while usually the shardblade would just sever the hair (leaving only a foot attached to the head) with the Royal locks the entire two feet would remain attached but only the foot on the "head" side of the cut would be able to change color.

Thank you, I just want to make sure there is zero doubt in what is actually going on.

Brandon Sanderson

I did misinterpret your original question. As a shardblade cut is likely to be wider than a piece of hair, I doubt you could cut the royal locks lengthwise.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Tonk Fah Wants to Be the Mean One

Tonk Fah is a sociopath. He doesn't feel an emotional connection to other people, nor does he feel their pain when he hurts them. He tortures and kills animals when it strikes his fancy. There's a dead parrot in the basement of the safe house, which is why Denth keeps Vivenna from going down there. There aren't any bodies of Idrian soldiers down there currently, though Denth has had a few of them killed already. The fact that he has people watching their house, plus Vivenna's mention of her father's soldiers checking Lemex's house first, are tiny clues. They do indeed go there first, and Denth has his people there watching. That's how he catches the Idrian soldiers.

By this point in the story, he's killed about three people who have come looking for Vivenna. The death count will eventually reach several dozen.

When Worlds Collide 2014 ()
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Khyrindor (paraphrased)

Shards can talk to dead people. Are the Tranquiline Halls where everyone in the cosmere goes when they die? Or does each world have its own heaven.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

There is an afterlife that is not heaven that the Shards don't know about, or can't look into. Each world has its own heaven depending on its religions. The real afterlife is different across the cosmere, and the Tranquiline Halls are different.

The Alloy of Law Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Four

Waxillium enters the party with Steris

Alpha and beta readers had an interesting response to Steris. It was almost always passionate, many hated her immediately, some thought she was terribly flat, and others found her to be the most interesting character in the book.

I wasn't intending her to be so divisive, honestly. I'm very fond of her myself, and so I wanted to embed some strong personality quirks to perhaps make use of some day. Now, that's not to say that I will make use of them. I like to give some depth to side characters (such as Spook and Breeze from the original trilogy) so that, if the opportunity presents itself, I'll have something to work with in new viewpoint characters. It's kind of done by instinct these days, and it being there is no promise (unfortunately) that Steris won't end up dead.

However, I very much like that as you learn more about the situation, the way Steris acts becomes more and more understandable. Perhaps not rational, as she’s really only rational in her own head. But she is who she is.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

One final note for this chapter. Bilg. I prefer him dead. (This is the guy Demoux fought at the end of the chapter, with Kelsier's help.)

In the original draft of the book, I had Kelsier–through Demoux–kill Bilg in the duel. I thought this was appropriate, and would be the sort of thing that Kelsier would do. In addition, I really wanted to emphasize the ruthless edge that Kelsier has. He is willing to do whatever he has to in order to see that his goals are achieved. It's that conflict–the happy, joking Kelsier mixed with the hard, ruthless rebel leader–that makes him interesting to me.

Joshua was the big complainer on this one. He felt that my books are too optimistic for something THIS harsh to be done by one of the main characters. He felt that readers wouldn't go along with it–indeed, it was one of the main points that my alpha readers brought up. Some liked it, others hated it. The scene did it's job.

Eventually, I went with Joshua's suggestion, however, and left Bilg alive. To me, this kind of castrates the scene. However, I suppose the most important elements still get across, and Kelsier gets to remain less tarnished a hero.

Still, I would have liked the death to remain, if only for the future books. I'll eventually post this scene as a deleted scene from the book.

Brandon's Blog 2019 ()
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Questioner

My commute to work has given me the opportunity to make my way through your youtube lessons and I’m now listening to the writing excuses podcast, so I consider you my favorite professor. I apologies if you have covered this in some form, I may not have listened to that yet.

My question is about flashback scenes. When thinking about where I’m going in my story, I imagine needing to use flashbacks, although I haven’t yet. My question is – what method do you use instead of a flashback? How do you give a sense of what happened and previous info without using a flashback?

Brandon Sanderson

Hey! Good luck with your writing.

That’s a great question, because often you don’t want to use a flashback. You have to be very careful with them, for while they can do some interesting things with narrative, they can also kill story momentum dead.

My favorite way to indicate things that have previously happened without using flashbacks is to make certain your characters act like they have established history together. They will have inside jokes, will make references to the past, and otherwise indicate that they’ve known each other for years. (Where appropriate.)

Likewise, things that happened in the past that you don’t intend to show in a flashback can have a huge effect on society. Think about the 9/11 disaster in America, which many are talking about this month. Could you convey in your story that similar disaster happened, but without going into too much exposition or a flashback? Practice trying it with real-world events, making your characters talk about it naturally. (Without straying into them telling each other information that they’d both obviously know. Like I didn’t need to say to you, “Well, almost twenty years ago there was this terrorist attack on the United States…”)

Practice subtlety like that, and often you won’t need flashbacks. (And it will perhaps teach you when a flashback is more powerful or useful for you to use.)

Fantasy Faction interview ()
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Fantasy Faction

In The Way of Kings, when Shallan zones out and draws a picture of a dead noble at a dinner table, was she drawing her own father after she killed him with her Shardblade?

Brandon Sanderson

Ooh, good question! You will want to read Words of Radiance, where her flashbacks may indeed involve this scene that she drew.

San Diego [email protected] 2020 ()
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Stormlightning

How the heck is Nale's spren still with him? Is his spren as wacky as he is? Or is it dead, and he still carries it around?

Brandon Sanderson

Nale's spren is alive. The highspren... I would say "wacky" is probably a decent term for them. I would blame some of how Nale is acting more on the highspren. Obviously, it's partially being a Herald and all the things he's gone through, but they're all on board for this. So read that as you will.

Well, "all." The ones that are making Radiants of the Order are on board for it. You'll get to see Szeth interact with his just a little bit. There's not a ton of Szeth in this book, but you've got a few chapters. At least one, for sure. And he gets to interact with his spren, and you'll get a better picture of the highspren from that moment.

Stormlight Three Update #5 ()
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Tehdren

For instance, a person's spiritual component knows how old they are.

Wow. Has this been talked about before? This kind of seems like a big tidbit. Now we have some idea of how Hoid changes his age?

Brandon Sanderson

I haven't said if this is a method Hoid uses or not, but it's part of the reason the Lord Ruler turned to dust when he lost his metalminds. (His body tried to match the age his spirit said he was.)

Phantine

If they somehow killed the Lord Ruler in a conventional manner, would he still have turned to dust?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. The metalminds would have stopped being tapped, and the spirit of the matter would probably still have had this strange effect. Not it didn't happen to the bodies of the shard vessels who died.

Phantine

Would koloss spikes turn off when they die too, so dead ones shrivel up like raisins?

Brandon Sanderson

Hemalurgy changes the spirit. So not necessarily.

Arcanum Unbounded San Francisco signing ()
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Necarion

Do Vessels have any flexibility in expressing the intent of a Shard, particularly if the intent is open to many interpretations?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes they do. So, the Vessel's mind and how they perceive is going to have a large influence on how things are expressed and I think all of them have some wiggle room. But there are some deterministic things that are also going to push them.  You know, holding Ruin, Harmony may not go down the same path that happened to Ati.

Necarion

So Sadeas would express Honor differently than Tanavast?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes he would.

Salt Lake City signing ()
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Chaos

So, at the Forbidden Planet signing you said that when Adonalsium was Shattered, all Investiture in the cosmere was associated to one of the Shards... So, what happened with Adonalsium's spren on Roshar? Were those associated to Honor and Cultivation? What happened with them?

Brandon Sanderson

So they were very-- They were already associated to certain parts of Adonalsium and they went with those associations. There's a lot of Cultivation in all of the spren, particularly the natural spren.

OdysseyCon 2016 ()
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Blightsong

Can honorspren, or any other type of Knight Radiant spren, be evil despite their relationship to Tanavast or Cultivation?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, because I don't call the Shards good and evil. There are no good and evil Shards in my opinion, like and so, what's evil and what's not evil- you can totally have spren that are of Honor that you would consider evil. They have free will; they are much more strictly limited in that free will than we are, because of their nature as spren. It's very hard for most spren to ever break an oath or to lie. That's just like- as manifestations of laws of nature makes it very hard for that to happen, but they can be cruel.

Orem signing ()
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Zas

So the number of Shards that have been on Roshar is three, correct?

Brandon Sanderson

Correct.

Zas

People have been thrown by you saying that Odium is not native to Roshar.

Brandon Sanderson

Odium is not native... see that's the thing. Are any of them native? So if you dig the deeper question, are any of them native, ehhh, none of them are native to the planets that you've seen so far. What I probably should've said to be more precise is that Honor and Cultivation were there long before Odium showed up.

Warsaw signing ()
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Questioner

*inaudible*

Brandon Sanderson

Yes that is common.

 

Questioner

*inaudible*

Brandon Sanderson

 Will there be a what spren?

Questioner

*inaudible*

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, yeah yeah yeah. So most of the spren are involved in either-- are kind of involved in all three. And so it's mostly Honor and Cultivation. But some lean one direction or the other: you'll see that lifespren will pop up more commonly around Wyndle then they will around <Sylphrena>.

Holiday signing ()
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Questioner

The cover of, the front cover of any Way of Kings books, there's the little engraving, are those Honorblades?

They are the symbols of the various orders of Knights Radiant stylized as Honor-- as Shardblades.

Questioner

Oh, okay. That makes a lot more sense, because I've seen the symbols on the back...

Brandon Sanderson

*pointing at the book* So it's this symbol right here is the same symbol as this.

Questioner

Right, it's just a little more expanded and stuff down the blade.  Wow.

General Reddit 2018 ()
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BipedSnowman

In theory, could you create weird structures or even alloys [with Forgery]?

Two scenarios: using Forging how you might use Soulcasting, such as turning something into wood, bending and carving it to make a new shape, then breaking the seal so it turns back into the original material without changing shape.

Second: Forging one metal into another, and forming an alloy to reduce operation costs. For example, tungsten has a melting point of about 3.5k C, but it's useful as part of a steel alloy for certain applications. Could you Forge it into, say, zinc, which has a melting point of about 500 C, create the steel, then turn it back into tungsten? Presumably the investiture would adjust the molecular structure so it acts as if it has been alloyed with tungsten originally too, otherwise the same process happening with food could be deadly.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, this is in theory similar to Soulcasting. The difference is that a Forged object, upon "Forgetting" the rewriting to its spiritual nature is going to try to snap back and match what it "thinks" it should be like--which isn't going to lead to as much stability as Soulcasting, where the actual soul is changed. The object is going to try to get back to the way it "should" be, with varying results.

The reason the Lord Ruler aged hyper-quickly is related to this as well.

LTUE 2020 ()
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Questioner

Is there a specific Shard that most of the spren come from?

Brandon Sanderson

Most of the spren are going to be related to a combination of Honor and Cultivation, weighted certain directions for certain types of spren. But the spren are mostly both of them. 

Questioner

Are they considered Splinters?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, you could call spren Splinters if you wanted to. They work in the same way as a Splinter, so yeah.

White Sand vol.1 release party ()
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Questioner

In Memory of Light, how Lan didn't die.

Brandon Sanderson

Mhm.

Questioner

And you were surprised that fewer people were discussing how you could interpret Rand's actions as bending the Pattern to make it that he did not die.

Brandon Sanderson

Mhm.

Questioner

And I'm trying to-- You mentioned that there were certain real world homages that you were trying to make because of this...

Brandon Sanderson

Mhm.

Questioner

I couldn't remember what those were.

Brandon Sanderson

Well, Lazarus.

Questioner

Well, okay. But like something like with K-- like King Arthur or something like that.

Brandon Sanderson

There's-- yes, there are... *interrupted*

Questioner

But I don't remember what that was.

Brandon Sanderson

There are... the Fisher King.

Questioner

Fisher King?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, Google the Fisher King if you want to read about that. There's a lot of him... I mean, there's also Hindu and Muslim symbolism that I cribbed from, so to speak. The thing about Lan is I... if you press me, I would probably say he didn't die. But the parallelism of Rand in book 3 trying to raise from the dead and not being able to, and Rand in the last book with him there--

Questioner

This man *inaudible*.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. Um, you can make the argument that, and you know, we'll never know if he did or didn't. I think it is... I made it intentionally ambiguous. Brandon the reader, you press me, I'll say, "Eh, he probably didn't." But there is parallelism there, and it is intentional.

Calamity Philadelphia signing ()
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Questioner

Is there a correlation, at all, between Awakening steel, a blade, and the revival of spren every time a Shardblade is summoned? I mean, I know Invesiture is Investiture is Invesiture.

Brandon Sanderson

So revival of the spren so--

Questioner

Similar.

Brandon Sanderson

Okay. So, are you talking about a live Shardblade or a dead one, or it doesn’t matter.

Questioner

Like Nightblood.

Brandon Sanderson

Okay.

Questioner

Awakening the steel, like that, Shardblades <are like Awakening metal> and stuff.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. The big difference here is that in one you’re using a physical component, right, and Investing it. In another, a more pure Investiture is passing into the Physical Realm and taking on an embodiment, a shape. Does that make sense? And so, similar but different things. There is a correlation, but it’s not--yeah.

Words of Radiance San Francisco signing ()
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Questioner

If there is only one Shard on [Taldain], are there other Shards in the solar system?

Brandon Sanderson

Ahhh. Now that's a clever question. The answer is "no". One for that solar system. And there's also, um-- we'll stop there.

Questioner 2

There's also what?

Brandon Sanderson

There are other places with only one. It's not uncommon for there to be only one. I've gone to the planets with multiples intentionally because the conflict there is very long. And the ones on the planets without multiples: like for instance in Warbreaker the conflict is not about cosmere-centric things. And you'll see that very commonly on the planets you go to. There's the same sort of things on Elantris. And so when you see me going-- even though there are two there, they're dead. And so, when you see me--

Questioner

The reason I ask is that there have been intimations that in Stormlight Archive a Shard may be on the moon just from things that people have--

[...]

There have been *inaudible* that that may be the case, so I had to ask.

Brandon Sanderson

You guys are awesome, thank you so much.

Skyward Chicago signing ()
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Questioner

You've been pretty open about Dalinar being somewhat based off of Genghis Khan.

Brandon Sanderson

Subutai more than Genghis Khan, but yeah.

Questioner

Is Kaladin based off of George Washington?

Brandon Sanderson

Not intentionally. But I can see the parallels as you bring them out. Kaladin was partially based on my reading about... People who have won the Medal of Honor share an interesting characteristic. A strangely statistically high number of them are older brothers. Eldest brothers. Eldest sons. Same with astronauts. And it is that protective instinct that, as an older sibling, you learn, but it can backfire on you as well for various reasons. Kaladin, I was reading a lot about that, so you've got this whole eldest brother superhero complex thing going on.

Hero of Ages Q&A - Time Waster's Guide ()
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Qarlin

Who were Ruin and Preservation? I mean, when they died, they had bodies, like Vin. And you went as far as to describe their hair color (Red and Black, respectively). Preservation even had a prominent nose. Why describe their dead bodies, if they weren't at one time mortals themselves? They created humans, but were at one time human themselves?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO. (Sorry.)

Dark One Q&A ()
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Questioner

Has Odium interacted with any Shards other than Honor, Cultivation, Dominion, Devotion, Ambition, and Autonomy in a meaningful way post-Ascension. If so, which one?

Brandon Sanderson

Very nice, specific question. RAFO.

Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
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ebilutionist

Ah, so Azir has a larger population density, at least. Cosmere-wise, is Elendel the largest, or could say, T'Telir match it?

Brandon Sanderson

Azir has a large population density. Cosmere-wise, though, Eldendel is by far the largest. Though I don't have strict population numbers on places like Silverlight. (Which, for years, I assumed I'd have to rename--but I think the program Silverlight is dead, so I can go back to calling the city that.)

ebilutionist

And of course, what exactly is Silverlight? I don't think I've ever heard of it before. A Threnodian city?

Brandon Sanderson

Silverlight is mentioned in the Cosmere collection, I believe, in one of the essays. It's a city somewhere in the cosmere, with some relevance you will discover eventually.

Tellingdwar

Is Silverlight the city that exists in the Cognitive Realm, in an area corresponding to deep space in the Physical? And if that's the RAFO I expect it is, will we see an answer in Arcanum Unbounded?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO.

I believe it's referenced in Unbounded, but I can't remember if I cut it or not. (I have been touchy about mentioning the place since Microsoft took the name in 06 or whenever it was.)

This one will remain a mystery for a while.

Words of Radiance Washington, DC signing ()
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Rybal

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

Brandon Sanderson

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

Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
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Aaronator17

I was wondering whether any of the Vessels are blood related?

Aside from the romantic relationship between Honor and Cultivation I'm not sure that we know anything about the relationships that others have with each other within the group of 16, and it would be interesting to know.

Brandon Sanderson

I'm saving most of this for Dragonsteel, I'm afraid. So RAFO.

Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
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Argent

We know that you can't Lash people in Shardplate, but can you Lash the person inside the Plate? If they had their helm off, for example. At that point Plate should be just dead weight, right? 

Brandon Sanderson

There's a bit of an interference envelope. Wearing plate, the person has this big ball of investiture around them, and so pushing any through it--even by touching a person without a helm--is going to be tough. Easier than with the helm on though, I suppose.

Investiture acts (roughly) like a saturated solution in these cases. Sticking more power into something like a Feruchemical storage or a hyper-invested object like Plate is increasingly hard. The other part is that Investiture tends to interfere with other Investiture, unless there's a familiar resonance. (This is part of what philosophers call Identity.) Slapping your hand through a sand master's stream of sand will cause interference, and make them start to drop. It's not that the sand is supporting them, it's that the investiture holding them up gets scrambled for a moment because of your own investiture.

Investiture pushed toward someone inside a hyper-invested (supersaturated) system like a person in Shardplate is going to get hard push-back.

This is similar to the reason that it's harder to Push on invested coins. Depends on how invested they are, in that case. It's generally not as hard as doing something like Lashing a person in plate. (This is more about the interference than the saturation of investiture.) But the two principles are what I use to guide the physics in these areas.

quietandproud

Can we take that as a hint that the Investiture in the Plates and the Investiture that the Surge of [Adhesion] uses come from different Shards? Or do they interfere because they "belong" to different spren?

Brandon Sanderson

You know, I should have realized this one would bring out the follow up questions. Let's leave it at what I posted for now. This is a deep, deep rabbit hole, and I do need to try to get some more writing done tonight. So...RAFO. (Sorry.)

General Reddit 2020 ()
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Jurble

Dear Mr. Sanderson,

Given the motivation per the books that the Knights believed they were giving up their Surgebinding powers to prevent the destruction of Roshar à la Ashyn, in practical terms how did e.g. Windrunners break their bonds?

Since they believed they were doing the right (honorable) thing wouldn't simply deciding "I'm breaking my oaths for the good of Roshar" not damage the bond (especially if Fifth Ideal Windrunners have [attitude] similar to Nale's comment regarding his bond)? Or can one break the bond by force of will or decision as opposed to betraying oaths in a practical sense?

Brandon Sanderson

There is an explanation to give here, but it would have spoilers for Rhythm of War and Book Five, so I'll RAFO for now. Ask me in about three years and four months.

General Reddit 2020 ()
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Metagross22

Hey Brandon while you’re here and we’re talking about Kal’s relationship with Lyn, we know he’s had at least one romantic relationships in the past being Tarah I was wondering if he was still a Virgin. Were these relationships just romantic? Also how negatively is sex before marriage viewed on roshar and namely vorin culture? I know these topics sometimes can make you uncomfortable but I’m really curious about this part of their culture.

Brandon Sanderson

In these cases, I generally allow it to be vague enough that people can think/assume what they want. However, some of Kal's relationships in the past (including the one with Tarah) progressed to the point that in our world, most people would have been sleeping together.

In Vorin culture, I'd say that they're not as relaxed about such things as most modern cultures are, but aren't as strict as the more religious cultures on Earth are. Alethi are concerned about oaths in specific--what have you promised, and do you keep those promises. So, for example, cheating is a far, far worse offense in their eyes. And opinions and strictness in areas of moral chastity would vary depending on upbringing and personal beliefs. To some, a promise of, "We'll be together until we split" that is kept would be considered honorable--while to others, that would be too lax a treatment of oaths.

Also, lighteyes are expected to be circumspect and maintain an image of certain decorum. But that's something else entirely...

Arcanum Unbounded Hoboken signing ()
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yulerule

I actually had like a really-- theory I was developing the past couple of weeks about Regrowth, and healing, and the Cognitive Realm. Let's take a look at this...

*Written/Paraphrased:* In the cosmere, you have matter, mind, and soul. Obviously, the physical world is most well understood (same as ours) and the spiritual is most mysterious. When anybody dies (going off from info in Secret History) their soul, which was tied to their body, the Connection is broken and the soul/Cognitive Shadow appears in the Cognitive Realm then goes on to the Spiritual. If healing is applied at any moment while the soul/Cognitive Shadow is in the Cognitive Realm, the Connection can be reestablished and that is why Regrowth can heal recently dead. Type of wound Shardblade versus not may determine how fast the Shadow is sucked into the Spiritual Realm. Also amount of Investiture a soul contains. Souls = Investiture, or at least all of them contain some?

Brandon Sanderson

So that's a RAFO. We'll dig into that a little later.

yulerule

Oh, *inaudible*. Am I close?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, you're on the right track.

ICon 2019 ()
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Questioner

So, we know in Mistborn there is this running... you can say, motif about Ruin being associated with the color black and Preservation with the color white, we see a lot of very subtle and a lot of very unsubtle...

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, yes.

Questioner

Is such a motif present in any other books? I think I see it in Stormlight.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, in Stormlight you can see it. So, Ruin is a red-gold... not Ruin, Odium. Odium is a red-gold. Honor is a blue-white and Cultivation is green, obviously. So, those motifs stay, when you... when you see a red or a gold, it's a reddish gold sort of thing, either of those colors, it's going to be Odium.

Questioner

Even when we something we might suspect to be outside influence in other worlds?

Brandon Sanderson

Not necessarily, because red can also mean corrupted Investiture in the Cosmere. So, I would call Odium's real color gold, because you're going to see red when Odium is corrupting other things, so...

Questioner

It's not necessarily on Roshar.

Brandon Sanderson

It's not necessarily Odium. So, you're asking for the invading force on Mistborn, it doesn't necessarily mean Odium because it's red. So red just kind of means corruption. I've talked about that before, so. Not necessarily, not definitive, yeah.

Footnote: When Sanderson said "you're asking about the invading force on Mistborn", the questioner made a guilty "caught red-handed" shrug.
General Reddit 2018 ()
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Mrrobot112

Eshonai is flashback character [for Stormlight Four], but she is dead in the present. So...who will be main protagonists in the main timeline? Hope for Dalinar, Shallan and Kaladin will be as important as they were in first three books)

Brandon Sanderson

Eshonai will still be the flashback character, and Venli will take a larger role to provide counterpart past/present. But, as always, you will find a focus on all five protagonists from this sequence. (I view them as Dalinar, Kaladin, Shallan, Eshonai/Venli, Szeth.)

Mrrobot112

I heard it would be one year time gap (in world) between books 3 and 4, which make me think about structure of the book. Does it mean, something important could happen during this year, and then it will be explained in some form(maybe another set of flashbacks)? If so, it's hard for me to visualize the book structure: main timeline, Eshonai's flashbacks and another set of flashbacks for past year? Seems like a mess. Or it will be like Mistborn era 1 time gaps between each book? Main narrative just continues without getting stuck with one-year break, and nothing important happens off-screen. It will be nice to get some qualification from you, if possible. Cause now I'm a bit confused.

Brandon Sanderson

Right now, I've got it like Mistborn--we're checking back in a year, as I need to give some things time to progress in world. We'll see when I actually write it, though.

Mrrobot112

Thanks! But please, don't do things like Alien 3-movie, if you know what I mean. It's when they did a time gap between two movies and at the beginning of the new movie they told you that your favorite character died during the time gap, deal with it. This is the worst thing ever and a reason I'm always a bit skeptical about time gaps in fiction. Just hate when things like that happen off-screen. Just don't do it with your books, please. At least can you promise you wouldn't? And what do you think about this trope in general?

Brandon Sanderson

I actually want to write an essay about that very trope (I call it the Newt Principle.) You might see it on my website at some point.

Things will happen during the gap, I'm afraid. You might like it, you might not, but I do plan some of the flashbacks in the second half to help cover this time--so you'll see it eventually. If it helps, I'm pretty sure I understand the dangers of the Newt Principle, and how to not fall into that trap.

Words of Radiance Washington, DC signing ()
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Questioner

And I also have a question about the nature of spren being dead. Specifically about whether or not they can resurrected. Because ideas can never really die...

Brandon Sanderson

Ideas can never really die--

Questioner

... Cognitive creatures--

Brandon Sanderson

They are Cognitive creatures. This is theoretically possible but very difficult without the people who originally betrayed their oaths.

Alloy of Law release party ()
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Questioner

When will we see a Hoid book?

Brandon Sanderson

It’ll be a little while. He’s playing around with things in the Stormlight Archive if you couldn’t tell, he’s decided to—Hoid is fiddling with things, more than he usually does. But Hoid as a major part of things doesn’t really show up till the third Mistborn trilogy, which is the outer space Mistborn, the sci-fi Mistborn.

So Hoid is very involved in the third Mistborn trilogy, he’s also very involved in Dragonsteel, which is actually the first book in the sequence, long before Elantris happened. So eventually I will tell that story. You can read a draft of it at the BYU library. It’s the only copy that I know of in existence. It’s almost always checked out. It’s my Honors thesis, and it’s not very good. It really is not very good, but basically it’s involving the ideas that eventually will become Dragonsteel once I write it again. But I stole the Shattered Plains and put them in Roshar instead because the fit better there.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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Bryan Cross

Where do you get your inspiration for the more technology based things such as the starships here [in Skyward] and in Firstborn?

Brandon Sanderson

These ships came from sketches I did with the illustrator, looking for the designs that felt the right for me. I wanted most of them to feel like glass cannons--small, kind of frail seeming, but potentially deadly.

Words of Radiance Philadelphia signing ()
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Questioner

Did the shattering [Splintering] of Honor happen in the Cognitive Realm, and Ruin in the Physical? *Brandon laughs* The reason I'm wondering is, are spren the expression of the shattering in the Cognitive Realm while Ruin's physical being is an expression of the shattering in the Physical?

Brandon Sanderson

This is an interesting theory that I don't want to completely shoot down, but it is not heading in absolutely correct directions. The shattering of a shard is an event that transcends all three Realms.

General Reddit 2020 ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Rhythm of War Chapter 7

Annotation time! So, one of the things I worry about (maybe too much) in an extended series like this is something I'll call Skelletor Syndrome. This is the problem that the protagonists need victories through the course of the series--the text will naturally build to important moments, and while there will be failures, there will also be victories.

The more times an antagonist gets defeated, however, the less of a threat they become in the reader's mind. It's hard to justify to the reader that a villain is still a credible threat after they've been foiled time and time again. (Kylo Ren ran into this problem, for example, in the new Star Wars series.)

Going into the Stormlight Archive, this is why I staggered the threats moving from non-supernatural antagonists (like Sadeas) toward increasingly dangerous threats. This isn't to say that someone like Ialai couldn't be a credible threat without powers. However, I still felt it best to move on from her as a representation of the antagonists in the earlier part of the series, pointing us toward larger (and more cosmere-aware) threats as the conflict of the books expands. I could easily have had an entire book with a major thread about toppling her little empire on the Shattered Plains, but that would have been too backward looking.

So in this book, we're pointing away from the Sadeas/Amaram team toward Odium, some individual fused, and several of the cosmere-aware players (Thaidakar and Restares.) Don't worry if those names aren't clear to you on first read--they've been around for a while, but I haven't delved too much into who they are. This book will do so.

learhpa

> I could easily have had an entire book with a major thread about toppling her little empire on the Shattered Plains, but that would have been too backward looking.

I dunno. I think that could be fun. I'm somewhat imagining a John-Wick-alike character whose job is to take Ialai down and it turning into a surreal action/adventure/spy story.

Brandon Sanderson

I absolutely think this could have worked in a different narrative. But in this book, with so much of the focus moving to the greater war and the invasion, I feel that spending a lot of pages on recovering the Shattered Plains (and dealing with a group in the Sons of Honor that have been repeatedly defeated already) would just feel anticlimactic.

A different style of narrative could have pivoted to political intrigue instead of war epic after the first book or so, and then this sort of plot would have been exciting and dynamic. It's all about scope and the subgenre of your narrative.

Stormlight Three Update #5 ()
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Argent

I've been thinking about possession within the Cosmere - is it possible for beings (dead, alive, or inbetween) to possess other beings in the Cosmere? Allomantic control over spiked creatures, and the existence of the Lifeless are both close to the idea, but neither is quite what I've been trying to imagine. I think I am looking more into whether one being's cognitive (and/or spiritual) aspect can fully replace (temporarily or permanently) another's. I imagine the victim would natively fight this, similarly to how Rashek's spiritual aspect resisted his anti-aging trick, but... is such a thing possible?

Brandon Sanderson

This is possible. (There are places where you've already seen the process either begin, or work partially.)

Oversleep

Are you talking about Ruin/Harmony controlling Hemalurgic Constructs and Odium controlling Voidbringers... or is there something else?

Brandon Sanderson

You will see soon.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Kelsier Speaks

The final thing I'll note on this chapter is that the voice Spook hears after he's pulled out the spike is actually Kelsier. You'll see Kelsier's voice pop up a few more times in the narrative, now that Preservation is dead.

Ever the meddler, Kelsier can't just sit around and let the world end. Preservation's death left a void, and Kelsier has managed to piggyback his spirit just slightly onto Preservation's power. He can't do much, but he can reach out and whisper a few choice words to people. At least until Vin takes the power and shoves him out.

I know I said he wouldn't come back, but . . . well, he's Kelsier. He doesn't listen to what I say. He just does what he wants.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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WeiryWriter

Could you explain a little more about Cognitive Shadows? When you first mentioned the name and gave the examples of Kelsier and the Shades from Threnody you kind of gave the impression that they were kind of like ghosts. But this past December at the Orem signing you mentioned that the Stormfather and the mist were also Cognitive Shadows. The first makes sense to me, I had an [entire theory about that (although I argued he was specifically Tanavast’s and not Honor’s). The second however really doesn’t make sense to me, unless it was actually the mist spirit that is the shadow and that got missed in the report (it wasn’t verbatim), but even still Preservation is still alive at that point so how can he have a “ghost”? (Unless him sacrificing his mind to form Ruin’s prison counts as “death” in this situation?)

Brandon Sanderson

On the first question, I did not say the mists themselves were a Cognitive Shadow. That must have been a misunderstanding. The Stormfather totally is, though. Cognitive Shadows are basically ghosts, which can take a lot of different forms in the Cosmere, but follow general rules.

WeiryWriter

Is the mist /spirit/ a Cognitive Shadow then?

Brandon Sanderson

The mist spirit is a little more complicated than that. That was actually Leras, kind of. He was in the process of dying. But other things are involved there that, unfortunately, must be RAFOd.