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DragonCon 2019 ()
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Solfor (paraphrased)

So the Iriali, their religion, the whole the One breaking themselves into the many to experience the universe. You also have Autonomy breaking themselves into many avatars. So I was wondering is Autonomy connected to the Iriali in any meaningful way.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

So are the Iriali connected to Autonomy in a meaningful way? 

I'd say no. I mean they're slightly connected, but in a meaningful way, no, they're not connected.

Autonomy did not start the Iriali religion.

Orem signing ()
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Evi, in Oathbringer, she uses strange idioms and you mentioned you wanna be on the lookout for people who use strange idioms... Is Evi native to Roshar?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes... Her people are related to the Iri, who are not native to Roshar. But she is not Iriali herself. And all the Iriali, they are native to Roshar, people who are born now, even if their people aren't. So Evi-- You can say, right, like, no humans are native to Roshar. But, yes, she was born on Roshar.


...Would she might have some of the same blood in her that Vivenna and Siri would have?

Brandon Sanderson

Viviena and Siri... Oh, from... Ah, I'll RAFO that.

JordanCon 2018 ()
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How many waves of human populations have migrated to Roshar? So I'm thinking the Ashynites coming from Ashyn, right? Was that just the only humans that ever came as a population?

Brandon Sanderson

It depends on if you count the Iriali?


That's specifically the one I'm thinking of.

Brandon Sanderson

They came in a separate migration.


Not from Ashyn?

Brandon Sanderson

Not from Ashyn.


From whatever the Third Land was.

Oathbringer London signing ()
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Is the Iri religion based on knowledge of the [Shattering], anything like that?

Brandon Sanderson

Kind of, yes.


But they don't know it?

Brandon Sanderson

They don't know it, yeah. I would say yes, there are echoes of it. There are more recent events that they don't even quite remember that are more influential.

Dawnshard Annotations Reddit Q&A ()
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So now that we know at least one group of Rosharans are aware of the Sleepless (the Horneaters), are there other Rosharans who know of them as well?

By which I mean - have the existence of the Sleepless influenced Irialian religion and the belief in the One?

Brandon Sanderson

There have been Iriali who know about the Sleepless, though the Iriali religion predates their arrival on Roshar. (That said, it has evolved during their time here.)


So the idea of the One - a single entity breaking down into smaller, constituent parts in order to gain diverse and varied experiences - predates the Iriali's contact with the Sleepless?

And now that I think more about this theme of a single entity breaking down (splintering/fracturing?) into smaller parts... could the belief in the One and the Many be influenced by the fracturing of Adonalsium? Or is this general theme just a coincidence?

Brandon Sanderson

The general theme is not a coincidence, but the Iriali having this philosophy predates me bringing the Sleepless into the Cosmere from another science fiction book I'd written during my early unpublished years.

Arcanum Unbounded Chicago signing ()
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I’ve been fixating on this mass exodus. The Iriali, the Iri people, are they the people of the mass exodus? Or-- I've always wanted it to be the people of Threnody.

Brandon Sanderson

The Iriali are not native to Roshar.


Okay, that's... what I've always assumed.

Brandon Sanderson

There is stuff going on on Threnody too, it shares some similarities.

General Reddit 2019 ()
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Considering inside the hardcover Words of Radiance is a giant, extremely high quality, official art of [Shallan], and she totally looks like the northern european stereotype. We might need /u/mistborn for this, because sometimes even official artwork is a mess [with regards to ethnicity].

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, I've had a tough time pushing to get the images to work like I want. (Oathbringer's cover was more successful here.) The problem is that a lot of artists work from models, and it's hard to find appropriate models.

I've let Shallan slide because I know that if the films get made, she's likely to be cast with a Caucasian actress--and am more ready to make a fight over Kaladin, Jasnah, and Dalinar. So I don't particularly mind if people see Shallan as white, for various reasons--the main one being the one that's been brought up in this thread, I believe. The fact that Vedens, Alethi, and Horneaters aren't real Earth races--and can't really be cast with them. Shallan, having all three bloods intermixed, makes for a difficult description--particularly since I know the average reader is going to peg her as Irish in complexion because of the hair.

I would say that it's all right to imagine the characters however you would like, as it's your version of the story in your head. The Whelan art in book two is how I think most people will imagine her, and I'm fine with that--I wish I'd been able to get Kaladin looking a little more right on the book two cover, though I was successful with Jasnah on book three.


How would you cast Adolin? He's always been one I struggled to pinpoint too due to his blond hair and his mixed heritage. Blond hair and blue eyes do bring in given imagery which seems to clash with the Alethi racial identity. Or at least, it does to me as a reader. So how would you approach it while remaining faithful to your work?

Brandon Sanderson

I actually think Adolin could be somewhat easier than others.

When we make the movies, I'll probably suggest that we make anyone from Shin, Iri, or Rira (all along the coast there) look Caucasian. The books can handle a lot more of a learning curve, I feel, than the films--and we won't have things like the Interludes to jump over to Iri to explore their culture. So a race of strange, golden-skinned and haired people who ALSO aren't native to Roshar (different from the Caucasians in Shinovar) might just be too odd.

The Rirans, which Adolin comes from, are already a mixed ethnicity themselves--not even Iriali, so it's fine to make them Caucasian. So Adolin could be cast white, if they really want to. Basically, I'm expecting it to be a bit of a fight to get them to cast four of the leads (Kaladin/Dalinar/Jasnah/Navani) as Asian actors. Maybe I'll be wrong, but from what I've heard from actors in Hollywood, directors and studios are hesitant about not being able to cast known names in big roes. (Ignoring the fact that's hard for Asian American actors to become big names if they aren't ever given big roles...)

So, I can imagine allowing them to go with someone Caucasian for Adolin and Shallan, in exchange for pushing the rest of the cast to be how I'd like.

In a perfect world, though, I'd want someone like Dave Bautista for Dalinar--and someone like Alex Landi for Adolin. (Note that I'm not a casting director myself, so I have no idea who could act the role the right way--I'm just judging based on what I've seen of them in the past.)


How would you differentiate the "weird" Caucasian Shin eyes from the others in that case?

Would you go for Alita Battle Angel eyes or something to make the Shin distinctive?

Brandon Sanderson

No, I wouldn't do that. In this theoretical land, the Iriali and those around them would also have Shin eyes. That's basically how it is in the text right now. (Drehy, from Bridge Four, for example isn't Shin--but he's mentioned as looking like a person from "Western Roshar" which means Caucasian to them.)


Why do people think Szeth's eyes are creepy and "child-like" if Caucasian eyes are more prevalent on Roshar than being a uniquely Shin characteristic? I read it as the eyes being an exotic and strange Shin thing, just like their animals and plants.

Brandon Sanderson

They are exotic and strange. A pure-blooded Shin is a rare sight, and the way I have it now, even westerners like Drehy are mixed breeds. Even then, someone like them would not be something you see often. But at the same time, it might not be as rare as you think. Like encountering an American when in Japan. Something that happens regularly, but they still stand out. And many people from the rural parts of Alethkar would never have seen one.

General Reddit 2019 ()
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So ever since I read your various tantalizing tit-bits about the Iriali being not native to Roshar, I've been incredibly curious about this especially considering that the other humans of Roshar all originate from a different singular source, Ashyn (unless there were more migrations that I'm forgetting). Are we going to get more info on this in the near future? Is there anything, even a tiny crumb, that you could possibly drop for us now?

Brandon Sanderson

The Iriali story is one you should expect to be continued during the space age of the cosmere, not in current storylines.


What about characters who are interested with cosmology in current storylines? Like Dalinar who certainly wants to seek answers about the universe. Do you plan to write more of it in future novels of current series or this is a stuff for future series with defferent set of characters?

Brandon Sanderson

The further we move in the Cosmere, the more these stories will become relevant. We're moving from the world of them just being cameos into the world of them being small (but important) sub-plots. They will evolve from there.

General Reddit 2016 ()
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How about the Iriali and Alethi mix we have going on with Adolin and Renarin? Where would this put them within the chibi figures? I have always had a hard time trying to figure out how they would look like due to their mix ethnicity. I have ideas... of course, but I'd be great to have confirmation.

Brandon Sanderson

They're gong to have lighter skin, but skin tone isn't something Alethi pay much attention to. Hair and eye color is what draws their attention. Dalinar and Kaladin will be darker than Adolin and Renarin, though none of them would look Caucasian to us. Of course, Caucasians have varied skin tone as well, so it's hard to say specifically what they'd look like. (As a note, Renarin/Adolin are a Riran/Alethi mix--not exactly Iriali/Alethi, as there's some slightly different genetics going on there.)


Oh I thought Riran and Iriali were the same... Where did I go wrong?

Brandon Sanderson

I can't say much without giving spoilers, but there are small differences.


Would be cool if you ever got the chance to sit down with a sketch artist to put out images of your visualization of how some of these characters look.

Brandon Sanderson

It would be fun, though I've done this (in a small way) with Ben McSweeny, who does a lot of art for my books. I have semi-official character sketches I use for my own descriptive purposes, but I don't consider them close enough in some ways to be canon, so we don't release them or put them in the books. That said, some of them might be floating around on the internet--I'm not sure.

One thing I wish I'd done was nudge Michael Whalen to push his Kaladin on the cover of Words of Radiance a little further to be a little more ethnically Alethi--as I think it would help people's visualizations of him. But the one we ended up with is already the third version of Kaladin he did for that painting, and each one was increasingly better--I felt bad pushing him further.

As a side note, I've always loved this fanart for Rock. I don't know if there's a more on-target picture of one of my characters out there:

Oathbringer release party ()
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The respect for lighteyes seems to come from Radiants and their-- Is there a reason that the Makabaki and Iriali don't seem to care as much.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. That will become a little more evident as the books progress.

/r/fantasy AMA 2017 ()
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What is the origin of the name Kaladin?

My wife and I recently had our first child and that's what we named him. Just curious if there's any story behind the name.

Brandon Sanderson

I use Arabic in some of the creation of Alethi names, and Kaled (or Khaled) was the root I started playing with to come up with a new name for Kaladin, as I didn't like the one I'd used in 2002. I'd already designed Kalak after this, the Herald, and wanted a common name version of this.

When I arrived at Kaladin, it sounded right to me--likely because of the similarity to Paladin, as others noted below.


So if Kaladin's name is derived from Khaled, is it fair to assume that the Alethi language sounds similar to Arabic?

Brandon Sanderson

Alethi has some Hebrew to it too. I used Semitic language roots for the Dawnchant, which had a huge influence on Rosharan languages. While there are a few oddballs rules, and some linguistics that stand on their own, both major language groups on Roshar (the Azish family and the Vorin family) would probably sound very Arabic to you.

For example, the Alethi Kh is a voiceless velar fricative. The Azish kk or q sound is a voiceless uvular, sometimes stop, sometimes an affricate. Sometimes a uvular ejective.

No, I can't make those sounds on demand. Peter can, though. It's helpful to have a linguist on my team.

Shin is its own language, as is Iriali.


What can't Peter do? He seems to be an expert on everything!

Brandon Sanderson

He is amazing. But, in this case, he was a linguistics major in college. So there's a little extra amazingness from him in these areas.

Arcanum Unbounded Seattle signing ()
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Her name, Lift, is it literally like 'lift', the sound, or is it translated from Rosharan, like the word lift?

Brandon Sanderson

It is translated from Rosharan.


Is it a nickname?

Brandon Sanderson

So, I'll RAFO that. But that is actually, it's whatever in Rosharan...not in Reshi, whatever in Reshi...and Reshi is the Iriali language family, so...

YouTube Spoiler Stream 3 ()
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With so many worldhoppers, how is it that knowledge of the Cosmere is so uncommon? Are worldhoppers sworn to secrecy about this?

Brandon Sanderson

Not most of them. 

Adam Horne

But not uncommon maybe?

Brandon Sanderson

No, I mean the Seventeenth Shard's not supposed to intervene, so there are some that are not supposed to. The majority of them, no. But at the same time, yes, the Horneaters know about them because that's where the perpendicularity is. How many people travel to the Horneater Peaks? And yes, in most large cities on Roshar you will find a handful of worldhoppers. But what are you going to say? "Yeah, I'm from another planet!" and they're like, "What's a planet?" Yes, Jasnah and people, scholars would be able to be like, "Wow, this in mind-blowing!" Other people are like, "Oh, is that over the mountains? I've never been over there." It's not this thing that is going to spread as much until—I think until there's mass communication and there is mass literacy and understanding. To place yourself in the context, you can say, "I'm from the stars," and they'll be like, "Yeah, so are we! We came from the Tranquilline Halls! You see all these Iriali over there? They came from another land as well." To them it's mystical. They don't put together this in the same way that I think that... I think that if you went back in time to medieval era and you said, "I'm from beyond the stars!" they'd be like, "Okay. That's as weird as being from over there on the spice route. I've never been to the next village, I can't conceptualize being from the stars". They'll either just think you're weird or that won't be as mindblowing as it would be to people once they have education and mass communication. Which is why I think things during Era Two of Mistborn—that at that point things are spreading, people are understanding. It's starting to be a thing, and to them it is kind of mind-blowing. But to your average person in Bavland, they'd be like, "Okay. Sounds good. Where's my food?"

Patchwork Human

Who would believe you?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. Who would believe you, who who understands what you're saying would believe you, and who else would have the context to understand? I just don't think that it's as big a thing as you think and also I think that in the era before mass communication, the numbers of people that are worldhoppers, even if they are in the hundreds or even thousands, is so small compared to the size of a planet like Roshar in populations that it just is not going to spread in the way that you think it will.

Secret Project #1 Reveal and Livestream ()
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The cups that Charlie sends to Tress. Should we be reading into the descriptions of those cups and thinking about where they may have come from? Is it safe to assume they have come from elsewhere in the cosmere?

Brandon Sanderson

It is safe to assume they have come from the planet. And though there are things to read in about them, they are related only to this book, the only one that has real cosmereological significance is the Iriali cup. So, don't be trying too hard on these to be like, "This means this!" They are for this book's narrative.

General Reddit 2016 ()
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Since you mention languages on Roshar, are there any languages that are completely unrelated to any other on the planet?

Brandon Sanderson

Our basic language families are:

Vorin: Alethi, Veden, Herdazian, and more distantly Thaylen. Nathan is close to dead, but shares a root, and Karbranthian is basically a dialect. Other minor languages like Bav are in here.

Makabaki: Azish is king here, and most the languages around split off this. There are around thirty of these.

Dawnate: A varied language family with distant roots in the dawnchant. Shin, parshendi, Horneater. They share grammar, but they diverged long enough ago that the vocabulary is very different.

Iri: Iriali, Reshi, Purelake dialects, Riran, and some surrounding languages.

Aimian: These two are lumped together, but are very different. Probably what you were looking for.

That isn't counting spren languages, of course. I might have missed something. Typing on my phone without my wiki handy.

Shardcast Interview ()
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Every day in Kasitor, Cusicesh emerges from the bay at 7:46 in the morning. If the Iriali started practicing daylight savings time, would Cusicesh emerge at the old 7:46 or the new? Would it make a difference if all of Roshar was changing?

Brandon Sanderson

They would not change their time based on the clocks being changed.

General Reddit 2017 ()
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How is homosexuality regarded across the cosmere?

I know one member of Bridge 4, though I forget who, is gay, but I'm asking more in the sense of legality, societal view, etc.


It would probably depend on the planet and culture involved. Roshar has many varied cultures and probably has multiple different acceptance levels. Scadrial is much more progressive and really only has two cultures so it's more likely that most if not all of the world accepts it. Maybe this is something you could ask [Brandon] at a signing or during an AMA.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, this varies widely based on the planet, and even culture, TimAnEnchanter.

Roshar, for instance, has a lot of different perspectives on homosexuality. In Iri, the more religious segment (who believe that life is about new experiences) would approve, while the more rigid modern, secular society has outlawed it.

In Azir, you'd find something like existed in middle-ages India. (Some societies there had this curious system where a gay man would be given "social reassignment" so that he was treated like a woman, dressed like one, and had relations with men--even if he wasn't actually transsexual.)

Vorin culture is concerned with oaths. Extra-marital sexuality is strictly forbidden, but homosexuality is regarded the same by most as heterosexual relationships. If the proper oaths are spoken, then the Almighty approves. (This usually means marriage, but there are certain official forms of other relationships that would allow it also.)

There are actually a couple of scenes in Book Three talking about it, for those who are interested, as the family and romantic relationships of the bridgemen are becoming a larger part of the story. (Still a small part, I should note, for space limitations.)

On Scadrial, it's going to fall between Pathian lines (each individual decides for themselves) and Survivorist lines (you follow church hierarchy, which forbids it.)

Don't even get me started on Bavadin's religions.


What reasons do Survivorists use to rationalize heterosexuality? Thank you so much for these tidbits it's really interesting to hear more about this stuff from you. It would be great to see some of this canonized, maybe in an interlude, or random background discussion somewhere. Thank you again for your books! Also very interested in hearing why secular Iriali have decided to 'regress' on that.

Brandon Sanderson

Survivorism calls it unnatural, and not conducive to the survival of the species. More than that, though, Survivorism has become very conservative and slow to change. What early thinkers had to say is regarded very strictly in the religion. Back during the early days of the new era, repopulating the basin was of prime concern, and this became a big part of what led to moral codes in Survivorism.

Dawnshard Annotations Reddit Q&A ()
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There seems to be a concentration of “aliens” in the west of Roshar, with both the Sleepless and the Iriali being non-Rosharan, possibly the Siah Aimians too (though I have my own headcanon about them); and of course the Ashynite humans arrived somewhere in the west too, probably in or near Shinovar. Is this a coincidence? It seems reasonable to me that in the past, Honor’s perpendicularity was somewhere in the region and at least some of these groups used it to arrive on Roshar.

Brandon Sanderson

Not a coincidence. Having multiple perpendicularities on the land, mixed with easy-to-access investiture, mixed with a vibrant shadesmar side with actual cultures and cities all make Roshar a tempting destination. The amount of investiture flying around (literally) also makes the place a little easier to find in Shadesmar than other destinations might be.

There's also the fact that it wasn't created post-shattering, like Scadrial was. There's just been more time to get to it.