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Shadows of Self release party ()
#1 Copy

clyguy

Someone else brought up the point, can blood be Awakened?

Brandon Sanderson

Anything can be Awakened.

clyguy

If you make a human-shaped mold and you poured blood into it and you Awakened it, would you have a Terminator T-1000 style blood-golem that could recombine?

Brandon Sanderson

Um, heh, well Awakening liquid is possible but I don't think it would work the way you want it to.

Questioner 2

If you had enough of a cloud in one place, could you Awaken a cloud?

Brandon Sanderson

Um, you could Awaken anything. It's probably not going to work the way you want it to. There is a reason why they Awaken the things that they do. For instance if you want to make a transforming golem, you would be much better off with something thicker.

Words of Radiance Los Angeles signing ()
#2 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

<Eelyell> was awakened by the whispering of the dead child who followed him.

“Death and die. Death and die.” The girl’s words were often gibberish, though usually he could make out a few of them. Tonight, what she said felt eerie. It made the whispering in the darkness send a shiver up his spine.

<Eelyell> sat up in his cot, realizing that he had fallen asleep in his uniform again, and looked across the darkened room, seeking out the child. There, she hid in the shadows beside the wooden bin that held his canes. Small, maybe four years old, she had long straight blonde hair that hung down by her face, ears peeking out like rocks in the sand.

She met his eyes, “Death and die,” she whispered. It would be nice when that particular Echo passed.

<Eelyell> rose, tugging at his crumpled jacket, still enough of a soldier to feel ashamed at its state. His father would have had <Eelyell>’s head if he’d seen such a uniform. Climbing from bed <Eelyell> took the cane beside it for support, then walked out onto the balcony. He put his back to the dead child; she was a figment, an Echo, or a side-effect from an Incubation he’d done a few years back. It was so long ago that he was losing hope that the Echo would ever fade. He might be stuck with this hallucination, for good.

He stepped out onto the balcony, using the cane by habit though he was currently strong enough that he didn’t need it to walk. He was recovering from his Incubation two months back. The grind from that one had finally worn off. In fact he was probably too strong; he’d been getting too much sleep lately, he'd been eating too well. He needed to maintain a certain level of physical weakness so he could be open to Incubations, assuming he wanted to remain effective in his duties. And he did want to remain effective, for his own reasons, if not for the Corps themselves.

Outside on the balcony, the sky burned. It smoldered high above, deep red lines, the color of a serpent’s tongue, glowing like rips in the air. The magma cast a warm red light across the city of <Suigmaat>. As always the air smelled faintly of smoke, though he only noticed it when he was first stepping out of the building into the open air. He knew logically that the burning place he saw above was actually the ground. He knew <Suigmaat> flew in the air, a city reversed, one of the few bastions of life left in the burning land. <Eelyell> was the one who was upside-down, as were all of the city’s inhabitants. It didn’t feel that way to him; he’d lived here too long. Upward was towards the burning ground and the land, downward was toward the sky and the sun. Things he never saw except on the rare occasion when he was called upon to visit the farms and orchards on the city’s sunward side.

<Eelyell> stood for a time, holding to the cast-iron railing, staring up at swathes of burning ground high above. Molten rivers, a land destroyed. A warning flag, raised to them all. Omnipresent. Undeniable. The city itself slept beneath that scarlet glare, bathed in red. Sleeping.

“Death and die,” The girl whispered from behind. She’d crawled out onto the balcony and now crouched there, looking up at the air.

<Eelyell> glanced at her, “<Kareem’s> gaze, you’re a creepy one,” he whispered, “What must I do to be rid of you?”

“Death and die,” she whispered

He tapped his finger on the railing, then strode back into his quarters, splashed some water on his face, and checked the sword blade of his walking cane. Seconds later, he was out the door.

The offices of the Corps did not look as a police station should. A police station was supposed to be a box-like thing, stable and functional, designed to indicate to all who visited that this was not a place where nonsense was permitted. Those ornamented columns, etched with the silver serpents of <Mokdeelor>, those golden doors, those soldiers with ridiculous feathered helms. Those were not the symbols of efficient law-keeping. They were quite the opposite.

<Eelyell> walked up the steps and approached the guards, who were at least armed with functional halberds and two flintlock pistols at their belts. They saluted him by raising fists to their sides. As an Incubator, he outranked everyone in this building, except of course the ones who actually mattered. <Eelyell> felt a moment of lightheadedness at the top of the steps and was forced to stop, gripping the railing and leaning on his cane. So he wasn’t completely well. Good. Neither guard stepped to help him. Weakness was expected of Incubators, one of the marks of their station. And being near one of them at the wrong time could be dangerous. One need only look upward at the burning land to be reminded of how dangerous.

With his head cleared, he continued up the steps, cane clicking, and passed the men without returning their salute. He stopped just inside the building, however, coming alert. Motion. Lesser watchmen calling to one another in a large room, aides carrying stacks of paper. Reddened eyes and yawns accompanied both groups. Many of these people had been called up unexpectedly, despite the early hour.

“<Eelyell>?” A woman rushed up to him through the bustle. <Cual> wore the yellow and blue uniform of an Incubator, like his own but better fitting and far better kept. “You look like ash, man,” she said, “Are you still on a grind?”

<Eelyell> looked back at the hall, noticing the motion of the bodies. Nobody was going into the weapons locker, though riot gear had been set out at the side. Large metal shields and larg swords cordoned in rubber from trees on the sunward side. They were getting ready for something, but he didn’t know what yet. A prophecy, he guessed.

“I still can’t believe they called you up,” <Cual> said, “You deserve some relaxation after--”

“I will visit <Patseepa>,” <Eelyell> striding, striding through the room, leaving <Cual> behind. He tried not to let himself be carried away in the chaos. The event that he'd been waiting for would come eventually, but this might not be it. <Patseepa> made prophesies with some frequency; that was why the Corps maintained her, and why she carried her terrible burden.

It was difficult not to feel tense, however, in the room's frenzy. Nearby, a scribe turned and accidentally knocked over an hourglass, smashing it to the floor and spraying sand across it. He spared it a glance; sand always drew his attention. But he otherwise ignored it, focusing on a set of doors at the back of the room. This must have been an alarming prophecy indeed to cause such a fuss. The guards at these doors were even more flowery, with feathers on their shields after an old-fashioned style almost no one used any longer. The murals might depict men in simple wraps and women in nothing above the waist but necklaces. Those days had long ago passed, centuries before <Eelyell's> times. The <Moknee> people were as modern a one as he'd ever known. His own brownish-tan skin and dark hair blended in here well enough that he could have passed for <Moknee> himself, assuming he didn’t open his mouth. That was something he'd been better at when he'd been younger.

These guards let him pass too, and no scribes or watchmen beset the hallway beyond. Only Incubators were allowed in here. Unfortunately, while they presented a more solemn group, it was no less unruly in its own right. Some two dozen of them clumped together at the other end of the darkened hallway, like a clot of hair clogging a drain. <Eelyell> strode forward, passing doors on either side set with glass. The small, well-lit rooms showed in the glass that they weren’t exactly cells, just like their occupants weren’t exactly prisoners. They just couldn’t leave. With the hallway dark and the rooms lit, each window glowed, like they looked into other worlds. Other worlds inhabited by the sick.

It was hard to think of it that way anymore, after so long in this land. The people in those rooms weren't simply ill; they were Lay Incubators. Their job was to live in those little rooms, bearing their afflictions until they started to recover. Whereupon another individual could be brought in to catch their malady and take their place, ensuring the Incubation itself didn’t vanish. It was good money, assuming you didn’t mind the discomfort, which could range from the sniffles to deadly fevers, depending on the Incubation you agreed to receive. And of course there were... other benefits. In one room he passed, the occupant, a young man, hovered in the air reading a book; and in another, an elderly woman tapped on a cup, idly changing the color of its liquid inside with each tap. In <Suigmaat>, indeed upon on this entire land, every disease also granted a special capacity. That ability lasted as long as the ailment did. Many of these blessings were minor, while others were grand. Some few were very, very dangerous. And hence the existence of the Incubators themselves.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#3 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Seventy

The Reason for the Mistsickness

So, it finally comes out. I wonder at this numbers plot, as I think many readers will glaze over it and ignore it. I think others will read into it and figure out what it means very quickly, then feel that the reveal here isn't much of a revelation. Hopefully I'll get a majority in the middle who read the clues, don't know what they mean, but are happily surprised when it comes together. That's a difficult line to walk sometimes.

What is going on here is that the mists are awakening the Allomantic potential inside of people. It's very rough on a person for that to come out, and can cause death. Preservation set this all up before he gave his consciousness to imprison Ruin, so it's not a perfect system. It's like a machine left behind by its creator. The catalyst is the return of the power to the Well of Ascension. As soon as that power becomes full, it sets the mists to begin Snapping those who have the potential for Allomancy buried within them.

Many of these people won't be very strong Allomancers. Their abilities were buried too deeply to have come out without the mists' intervention. Others will have a more typical level of power; they might have Snapped earlier, had they gone through enough anguish to bring the power out.

My idea on this is that Allomantic potential is a little like a supersaturated solution. You can suspend a great deal of something like sugar in a liquid when it is hot, then cool it down and the sugar remains suspended. Drop one bit of sugar in there as a catalyst, however, and the rest will fall out as a precipitate.

Allomancy is the same. It's in there, but it takes a reaction—in this case, physical anguish—to trigger it and bring it out. That's because the Allomantic power comes from the extra bit of Preservation inside of humans, that same extra bit that gives us free will. This bit is trapped between the opposing forces of Preservation and Ruin, and to come out and allow it the power to access metals and draw forth energy, it needs to fight its way through the piece of Ruin that is also there inside.

As has been established, Ruin's control over creatures—and, indeed, an Allomancer's control over them—grows weaker when that creature is going through some extreme emotions. (Like the koloss blood frenzy.) This has to do with the relationship between the Cognitive Realm, the Physical Realm, and the Spiritual Realm—of which I don't have time to speak right now.

Suffice it to say that there are people who have Snapped because of intense joy or other emotions. It just doesn't happen as frequently and is more difficult to control.

Words of Radiance Philadelphia signing ()
#4 Copy

Rhandric

How many magic systems are there on Roshar?

Brandon Sanderson

It depends on your definition. Is Windrunning its own magic system, or is it a division of a larger magic system? Are the ten different Surges each their own magic system, or...it's really how...

Rhandric

If you assume the surges are considered one.

Brandon Sanderson

Well then you would have Surgebinding, and the Old Magic, those are two at least, and there are things that are not explained in those at all, and how do you count creating fabrials? Is that a science and not a magic? Is that its own magic system?

Questioner 2

It's a science, because anyone can do it.

Brandon Sanderson

So Awakening is not a magic, then? Awakening's a science? Because anyone can Awaken if they just get the breath.

Rhandric

That's one thing that stood out to me in your magic systems, because in all your other magic systems that we've seen so far there has to be some form of snapping to occur, and that's unique...

Brandon Sanderson

Not all of them because, um, let's see...

Questioner 3

BioChroma doesn't.

Brandon Sanderson

BioChroma does not requires snapping.

Rhandric

Actually wait, is there an active magic system on Threnody?

Brandon Sanderson

Threnody has a non Shard-based...it depends on what you call magic. Do spirits coming back to life count as magic? It's science to them, but it's goofy science.

Arcanum Unbounded Chicago signing ()
#5 Copy

Questioner

So we know that you can't just have someone-- If someone were to do something similar to Hoid, he can't just pop and go "Oh look, I can now do Allomancy or I can now do Surgebinding". What about Breath? If someone could somebody get Breath-- Maybe not *audio obscured* Could they still get the benefits of--

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, good question... Yes you can, actually. Breath is-- Once it is given to you, it is being keyed to you. Your Identity. So that transfer makes it yours to use however you want.

Questioner

So you could Awaken?

Brandon Sanderson

You could Awaken. If you-- If you were to somehow make it there, you would be able to Awaken. It's the easiest of magic systems to get the magic from, and then to manipulate. Because it has keyed into it Identity.

Questioner

*audio obscured*

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, you can take Breath onto another world. In fact, you've seen characters do this.

Questioner

*audio obscured*

Brandon Sanderson

It would work, yes.

Questioner

*audio obscured*

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, it would work the same way.

The only magic that is location-dependent--  The ones who aren't interested in this, just hum to yourself, okay? *laughter* You don't need to know any of this stuff to enjoy the books, okay? I write them so that you could just-- each series can be read independently, and enjoyed. There is behind the scenes stuff, and if you want to dig, it goes pretty deep.

So on Sel, we have AonDor. AonDor is based on the fact that the Dor, which is an amalgamation of Dominion and Devotion, has been pressed together and stuffed into the Cognitive Realm by Odium who didn't want it to gain sentience, as Investiture will do if it is left alone. It will either seek someone to be its Vessel or it will gain sentience. He pressed it in there; he pressed it together, which creates the violent reaction, because those two intents are opposed. And that is the foundation of the magic. Because it's stuck in the Cognitive Realm rather than the Spiritual Realm (the Spiritual Realm is location-independent; Cognitive Realm is location-dependent), it makes the magic on Sel only work in close proximity to what is keyed through there to the location they're keyed to. This has to do with Identity and Connection. Mostly Connection. So that means you can't do AonDor on another planet, but you can do other magics works anywhere, because they're drawing the magics specifically through either the place, or they're end-neutral, like Breath is, and you don't need any extra power.

Shadows of Self Lansing signing ()
#6 Copy

Questioner

Say you have a Feruchemist who pours Identity into a metalmind. Then subsequently loses that mind, and then is later Awakened? Would that mind retain the personality of--

*Everyone laughs, Scottish man says "it's 11 o'clock at night, give the man a break!"*

Brandon Sanderson

Okay, so they store Identity—which I haven't told you what it does--

Questioner

Yep. We don't know.

Brandon Sanderson

And then you Awaken it, and then you want to know if it has the personality of the person?

Questioner

Yeah, or if it's able to communicate in any way.

Brandon Sanderson

Um, if-- how much Awakened is it? Is it Nightblood-level Awakened? Or is it just regular Awakened?

Questioner

Sure let's say Nightblood-level.

Brandon Sanderson

Nightblood-level. So it's-- so the Investiture has been granted sapience. And it's got Investiture from somebody else stuffed in it. I can foresee a scenario where that has an influence, but it's not going to be the personality of the person who stuffed it in. I can see some circumstances where they can-- where the Investiture of the object can make use of that in some way, but...

Oh boy, that was a weird one.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#7 Copy

Oudeis16

If Bob the Awakener Awakened fifty straw men to dance around, then died, then Returned as FormerBob the Appropriately Named, would FormerBob be able to reclaim the Breath from the straw men in the normal fashion (once he learned the "Your Breath to Mine" Command)?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. He has enough of his original Identity, and the spiritual connection would remain.

sonofstannis

What if he instead were reincarnated as a lifeless? Is there a way he could reclaim it then?

Brandon Sanderson

Lifeless have someone else's investiture replacing their own. (As opposed to Returned, who are augmented.) Depends on how much of them is left, and if they can achieve sapience again, but I'd say this is unlikely.

WeiryWriter

What if the Lifeless is Awakened with their own Breath? (i.e. they gave it away right before they died and the person they gave it to then used it in the Awakening)

Brandon Sanderson

This has happened already in the world, and it does help.

-Nayrb

Did this happen "on screen"?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO.

Calamity release party ()
#8 Copy

Questioner

So is it possible to Awaken a Shardblade? That's the question-- that's my question for you.

Brandon Sanderson

Um... With the magic system of Awakening, you mean?

Questioner

Yeah.

Brandon Sanderson

So, all forms of Investiture strongly resist other forms of Investiture.

Questioner

Makes sense.

Brandon Sanderson

*brief interruption* Nightblood is essentially an Awakened... Trying to do that.

Questioner

'Cause he shows up in Words of Radiance, right?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. So, it-- let's just say it'd be very, very hard. Because it's like saying, "Can-- I want to turn on a lightbulb that's been turned on." Yes, you can... maybe... I don't know what that even means. It's already Invested. It's already Awakened.

Calamity Philadelphia signing ()
#9 Copy

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.

JordanCon 2016 ()
#10 Copy

Questioner

In Awakening an object when you give it the sort of Command like, go get the keys, or something. How does that object perceive the world around it? Since it doesn't have standard human senses, how does it see? How does it touch?

Brandon Sanderson

It is not--

Moderator

Repeat the question.

Brandon Sanderson

Oh… go ahead.

Moderator

The question was, how do Awakened objects actually perceive the world.

Brandon Sanderson

…The closest correlation you have to this is how Inquisitors see.

Questioner

Okay, following up on that say, someone who has-- say someone with bronze who-- a bronze Misting managed to somehow get access to Breath and Awaken would he then be able to tell that object "Hey I sense this Allomancer over there, can you find it".

Brandon Sanderson

That is not outside the realm of possibility.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
#11 Copy

Kurkistan

Could a Feruchemist manipulate their identity such that they could make a metalmind that anyone could tap?

Brandon Sanderson

Ah... RAFO.

Kurkistan

Okay; could they manipulate their identity such that they could pull Breaths out of something that somebody else Awakened?

Brandon Sanderson

Ah... ahahah, Awakened, oh yeah... That one's going to be harder, but you're thinking along-- You're thinking with portals. *smiles* Do you know what that means.

Kurkistan

Yes, I know what it means--

Brandon Sanderson

You're starting to think with portals.

Kurkistan

I'm thinking with portals, okay, thank you.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. In other words you're wrapping your head around the way that the magic system is working, so.

Argent

That's so excellent.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
#12 Copy

Questioner

I noticed in a lot of your cosmere books, like for example Elantris or Mistborn, they have something to do with some sort of subject matter or school or something. For example the Steelpush and Ironpulling in Mistborn is based on physics.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

If you push too hard it's based on...

Brandon Sanderson

Vector physics, yes.

Questioner

And then like Warbreaker is just like math, adding Breaths together. Did you intend that?

Brandon Sanderson

Not necessarily. I read a lot and I like science and I like philosophy and I like and things like this. And those spark most of my ideas. So yes in a term but I'm not like "Let's do this subject".

I would say Warbreaker, the big part of Warbreaker is the idea of sympathetic magic. Which is the idea that like affects like, which is a very common type of magic throughout all cultures on the planet, on our planet. When people believe in magic they believe in sympathetic magic. A voodoo doll is sympathetic magic. And that's where the idea came from.

Questioner

So in Elantris, which is different and then--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah that's basically fantasy programming, is where that one came from.

Questioner

And then there is The Stormlight Archive, which basically violates all the laws of physics by just saying everything comes from spren.

Brandon Sanderson

Well no they still have arguments on that, are spren attracted to these things or do they cause them.

Questioner

Yeah that's kind of weird...

Brandon Sanderson

Stormlight Archive was based on the fundamental forces, if you want go read on physics google fundamental forces.

Oathbringer Portland signing ()
#13 Copy

Hoiditthroughthegrapevine

Could an Awakened toupee be commanded to act like real hair?

Brandon Sanderson

...Totally! Absolutely, yes!

Questioner

Would it be convincing?

Brandon Sanderson

Would it be convincing? Yeah, I think that it would be. It depends.

Questioner

It depends on the number of Breaths?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, it depends on factors, but I totally think that could be very convincing. Yes, yes, yes.

Questioner

Could it also be given enough Breath to Command "Protect me?"

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, it could. That would be really weird. But yes.

General Reddit 2019 ()
#14 Copy

Ilkhan2016

Breath and Stormlight are both forms of Investiture. AFAIK you can power any of the magic systems from any form of Investiture. Zahel is on Roshar, I believe, primarily due to how easy Investiture (Stormlight) is to come across.

AFAIK the form of Investiture doesn't change anything about the abilities. For example, Szeth was sucked out of Stormlight when he drew Nightblood; and Azure used Stormlight to Awaken in Shadesmar.

/u/mistborn is that right?

Brandon Sanderson

A lot of this depends on the Investiture and the magic in question. Azure was legit using Breaths, for example--ones she'd brought with her. But Szeth was able to feed Stormlight to Nightblood, much as Vasher uses Stormlight to keep himself alive.

To Awaken with Stormlight, the easiest thing to do would be to first change Stormlight into Breaths--something that Azure doesn't know how to do. (Admittedly, Hoid doesn't either, so it's not like it's a simple thing to achieve.) You could also theoretically use some magical (or mechanical) means to power your Awakening with a different form of Investiture.

Extesian

This is very interesting. Is it possible then in the Cosmere for the 'intent' (spin or however described) of Investiture to be changed? And I mean within reasonable limits (not the powers of six shards or any of that). Can a Shard effectively grow in power in a place (e.g. toward an avatar) through another Shard's Investiture being changed (not just corrupted)? Or is it just making one type ('intent' - you should canonize a word for this :D) of Investiture mimic the properties of another?

Brandon Sanderson

Most of the ways of accomplishing what you're talking about would involve either 1) fooling/overwriting your spiritual makeup somehow. (This is what Hemalurgy does, for example.) 2) Refining the power somehow into a more pure form.

But there are a lot of variables. The way magic from Nalthis works, for example, the system is just looking for any available Investiture to power itself--and so basically anything will do, regardless of the source. This includes consuming your own soul, in some cases...

You'll see terminology coming along eventually that facilitates talking about all of this. I'm not yet decided on some of it.

Celestial_Blu3

How many Breaths does [Azure] have by her final appearance in OB?

Brandon Sanderson

That's a RAFO, I'm afraid.

Holiday signing ()
#15 Copy

zas678

If an Awakener went to Roshar and bled color from a gem, would this gem still hold Stormlight?

Brandon Sanderson

If an Awakener bled-- No it would-- Oh wait yes it would because a colorless gem could still hold Stormlight. It just would not have--

zas678

Would not have the properties of the original color.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, the color is integral to what's going on because molecularly some of these gems are the same except for the different coloring. The coloring is kind of what--

zas678

What defines what magic.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. It has to with fabrials and some of the effects, and that relates directly to the spren and what spren-- anyway.

Bands of Mourning release party ()
#16 Copy

Questioner

If an Awakener were to go to Roshar and were to bleed the color from a gem would that gem still be able to store Stormlight?

Brandon Sanderson

Bleed the color from a gem… Um ye-ye-ye-yeah. This would interfere with its function on Roshar. It would probably still be able to hold Stormlight…

Questioner

Might not be able to be used for Soulcasting?

Brandon Sanderson

Yea-- It's going to… You know what no it would just change it. It would just bleed the color from it and turn it into a dusty quartz or something like that. That's probably what it would end up with, a dusty quartz. Because the molecular structure doesn't matter as much as the color for Roshar. So yeah you would probably still be able to hold Stormlight because a diamond can but I don't know, quartz might cut it. You'd probably end up with something that's not going to work so well.

Questioner

What about a fabrial that needs a specific--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah a specific-- A ruby wouldn't work any more, and it would let go whatever is captured inside.

Ad Astra 2017 ()
#17 Copy

Questioner

Is there any other magic types on the Warbreaker world?

Brandon Sanderson

There are different manipulations and manifestations of Breath.

Questioner

Okay.

Brandon Sanderson

They are gonna be much closer than, like, the Selish magic systems and things like that.

Questioner

Okay.

Brandon Sanderson

So, the deviation is much smaller, but it does manifest in slightly different ways-- Kind of a thing.

TheHunter

Have we seen any?

Brandon Sanderson

Ahh! RAFO!

A Memory of Light Dayton Signing ()
#18 Copy

NutiketAiel (paraphrased)

If a native of Sel or another Shardworld traveled to Nalthis, would they be a drab?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

No, they would not be a drab. But, no one would be able to take their Breath.

NutiketAiel (paraphrased)

If such a person died on Nalthis, could they Return?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

No, they cannot Return.

NutiketAiel (paraphrased)

If such a person received breath, could they use BioChroma?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yes

Shadows of Self release party ()
#20 Copy

Questioner

So the lighteyes that get Soulcast into stone, can they be Awakened?

Brandon Sanderson

*pause* So… Yes, but their soul is gone. When they get Soulcast into stone it is only the corpse, so yes they could.

Questioner

Would it be a lifeless or a-- Would it be like Awakening something inorganic or would them once being alive help?

Brandon Sanderson

The fact that they were once alive will help. There's a Spiritual Connection that still exists on the Spiritual Realm and that is going to help. But you're not going to get the person back. The fact that it is the exact form of a person is going to be really helpful. It would be a lot easier to Awaken that than it would be to Awaken other stone.

JordanCon 2016 ()
#21 Copy

Questioner

With Awakening, given that you know the correct command word, could you potentially give anything to the other person, using Awakening?

Brandon Sanderson

Using Awakening, it has to be related to the fundamental aspects of Investiture.

Bystander

Which are…?

Questioner

How would we find what those are?

Brandon Sanderson

…How would you find what those are? Spend a lot of time researching the cosmere, have some conversations with Khriss, and come up with some theories! …There's a bunch of them written in the books and indicated, so yes.

Arcanum Unbounded Seattle signing ()
#22 Copy

Lhyonnaes (paraphrased)

Alright, thanks. Last question for me tonight - so, when a Hemalurgic spike steals something, then it's storing Investiture in it, yeah? So could you - could you do something with that Investiture? Like... say I'm on Nalthis, and just theoretically, I use a Hemalurgic spike to steal a lot of Breath - can I use that Investiture to Awaken something? Could I Awaken the spike?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

That... you'd need a lot of Investiture to Awaken a spike.

Lhyonnaes (paraphrased)

Because it's already charged up with something else?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yeah.

Skyward Atlanta signing ()
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Questioner

Could a skilled Awakener Awaken a gemheart?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, but you got to remember, some of these things like metal and gemstones and things do not Awaken well, how about that... Technically yes, it may not do the thing that you want it to do.

Questioner

But it'll do a thing?

Brandon Sanderson

It'll do a thing.

Words of Radiance Dayton signing ()
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Pechvarry (paraphrased)

What happens when non-Nalthians come to Nalthis.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

They cannot use their own soul to Awaken but could do so with obtained Breath.

Pechvarry (paraphrased)

So anyone could start Awakening once they received Breaths?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

You would probably have to jump through some hoops to Awaken (talks about systems needing rigged up to work on different planets), but anyone can benefit from a Breath. Essentially said "it's not that easy!"

Skyward San Francisco signing ()
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xnkvbo

If an Awakener with Perfect Invocation turns something white, can they or another Awakener then use the white thing back to gray, back to white.

Brandon Sanderson

I actually thought about this. My answer ended up being a no.

xnkvbo

Can you give a little explanation why?

Brandon Sanderson

I will delve into it more as I delve into the nature of color and why it's relevant to multiple magics in the cosmere. So it's a RAFO.

Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
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mathota123

Also what would happen if I had a LOT of Breath and tried to Awaken something that was still alive...?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO on the second question. You could say that Investing someone with your Breath, however, IS Awakening them.

crocsandcargos

Are Commands unique to Endowment and those with Breath, or do other Shards have an equivalent or similar power / ability? The girl Vasher rescues, his statements to Denth, and your quote above seem to point that Commands can be used on living entities for some purposes... I've always wondered if there was more to Dalinar referring to "unite them" as a 'phantom command'. If other Shards use commands or something similar it could also explain the mechanism of the Nightwatcher's boon/curse related to Dalinar's memory loss.

Brandon Sanderson

Intent is one of the components of the Magic, as you'll see frequently. These things are related.

Teen Author Boot Camp ()
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Lindel (paraphrased)

There's that trick with Feruchemy that lets you make metalminds that others can tap. Could you do something similar with Self-Awakening?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Oh yeah, there are all sorts of tricks that you can do. You could use other peoples Breaths, make it seem like you don't have any Breath-

Lindel (paraphrased)

Awaken an object so that others could access its Breaths?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yes.

Oathbringer release party ()
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Questioner

Could there be a colorblind Awakener and-- would they be able to do anything or--

Brandon Sanderson

It would be a harder life for them. It would be a more serious disability there than it is here but it is not completely ending their opportunity.

Questioner

...Once they get to the certain amount of Breaths or whatever, would that reverse the colorblindness? 

Brandon Sanderson

Not necessarily. But it might have some interesting effects.

Skyward release party ()
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Questioner

Can a coppermind be Awakened?

Brandon Sanderson

This is possible.

Questioner

With the memories already in it?

Brandon Sanderson

This is going to be harder because those memories are going to be keyed to someone else, who, by nature, would not be the individual that it was made into. You would have to key those memories to who the metalmind was becoming. There would be an extra step in there; It wouldn't just naturally be that way. We're talking wild, wild, these are possible, but far out, stuff. Possible, but there is an extra step in there.

Boskone 54 ()
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ccstat

Nalthis has 5-centric numerology.

Brandon Sanderson

Okay.

ccstat

Do regular humans count as the 5th type of biochromatic entity?

Brandon Sanderson

[laughs] Um, I will RAFO that, not for any real good reason, but for a mini-good reason.

DragonCon 2019 ()
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tallakahath

So, on Nalthis, in the Warbreaker universe, when the color's pulled out of something, is that a physical or chemical change or is that a perceptual change?

Brandon Sanderson

It is actually a physical change, but the spirit of the thing is changing, and it's filtering through to the Physical Realm.

tallakahath

So, if I do that on a carrot, I can break beta carotin? If I do that on a piece of metal, I can reduce it and charge my battery that way?

Brandon Sanderson

Potentially, yeah! Yeah, that would work, you're changing it's Spiritual nature.

Holiday signing ()
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little wilson

Can a Shardblade-killed body be turned into a Lifeless?

Brandon Sanderson

Can a Shardblade-killed body be turned into a Lifeless.  Yeees, it can be re-Invested. Yes.

little wilson

Are there any side-effects to doing so?

Brandon Sanderson

Uhhh, there would be side-effects. I won't tell you what they are. They would be minor, minor, mostly inconsequential side-effects.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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vandar10

Could someone with enough Breaths use part of them to heal himself without the help of a Returned?? Could the God King have healed himself without Lightsong with enough knowledge?

Brandon Sanderson

The nature of the Warbreaker magic is tied to the shard of Endowment, which is about giving. There are, therefore, things you cannot do for yourself.

RobotAztec

For healing can Big Breaths heal only one person at a time or can you heal a bunch of people at once?(as long as they are not yourself)?

Brandon Sanderson

Legends say you can heal many.

Words of Radiance Philadelphia signing ()
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Questioner

Based on what we know currently about ten heartbeats, why does Szeth require ten heartbeats to bring forth his Honorblade?

Brandon Sanderson

Perception is a very important part of how these things all work, and remember the Honorblades work differently from everything else. Everything was based upon them. Why don't you read and find out what's going on there, but remember that the characters's perception is very important.

Questioner

So then that's why at one point Shallan requires ten heartbeats and now she doesn't?

Brandon Sanderson

Right, it's the exact same reason that Kaladin's forehead wounds don't heal. Because he views himself as having those somewhere deep inside of him and he can't heal until that gets away. And it works for the same reason why in Warbreaker when you bring something to life, your intention rather than really what you say is what matters. It's all about perception.

JordanCon 2018 ()
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yulerule

Can you Forge liquids, like-- Does that go into Bloodsealing, can you change their blood type?

Brandon Sanderson

OK, can you use Forgery to, say, change someone's blood type? Yes. Can you Forge liquids? A little harder to stamp liquids, so this kind of comes down to, can you--

yulerule

Like, if you have a glass of water and you put salt in the water can you Forge it or make it and make it--

Brandon Sanderson

This is possible, but it requires a few little workarounds. Obviously you can do it because you Forge somebody, and they're mostly liquid.

yulerule

But you're putting in on a hard surface.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, in the same way that you would with thr liquid you would probably--

yulerule

Touch some ice?

Brandon Sanderson

No, you would probably take the cup, and make it part of the whole, and if you can-- Remember in the cosmere, it depends on how you view a thing. Is it a whole? Do you view this as a cup of water, or do you view it as a cup and the water? Do you view a person as a vessel and the blood inside them, or together as a person? And that perception really affects your magic. So it's possible, for instance, to Forge a cup of water, Forging just the cup is easier than Forging just the water.

Words of Radiance Philadelphia signing ()
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EHyde

I was curious about the dye in Hallandren, the Tears of Edgli. So, that can be used to make a whole bunch of different colors, right? Does the flower come in different colors? Or is that something in the dye process, or-?

Brandon Sanderson

The flower comes in different colors.

EHyde

And it dyes all fiber types the same?

Brandon Sanderson

It does not dye all fiber types the same.

EHyde

In theory, if they had synthetic fibers would it work on them?

Brandon Sanderson

I would say yes.

EHyde

Is it more fuel-efficient for Awakening?

Brandon Sanderson

Is what more-?

EHyde

Like, color used in Awakening-?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. Those dyes are very effective for Awakening.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Twenty-One

Vasher Awakens His Clothing, Then Leaps off the Palace

One of the subtle, yet drastic, changes to Awakening that happened in this story came during the middle drafts. Originally, the Command was part of the process of Awakening—but wasn't as important as I eventually made it. I had intended for very difficult things to be accomplished through the use of very long and intricate Commands. However, as I wrote the first draft, I felt this was bulky. What it meant that was if you wanted to use a powerful Awakening in battle, you'd have to stop and spout several paragraphs of instructions. It really cut down on the tension of the battle sequences. (And Awakening was already slower than I preferred, with the need for all of the steps—Breathing, finding color, then Commanding.)

So during revisions, I changed this. Instead of requiring a lengthy Command to create a powerful Awakening, the strength and skill of the Awakener is instead determined by their ability to visualize what they want the Command to do. The Command is a focus, the spoken words an important part of the process, but the real trick is getting the right mental picture.

This way, someone can practice a lot, and still use simple Commands—like "grab things"—yet have them do very powerful things. It also allows me to have Commands be easier to learn and use, yet still require skill to master.

17th Shard Forum Q&A ()
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Kurkistan

Do Breaths inherently possess the ability to interpret and carry out commands, or does the Awakener need to impart that decision making ability on Awakened objects?

If the Awakener does need to impart the decision-making ability, then does Awakening consist of an Awakener copying a portion of his/her Cognitive aspect (as determined by his/her visualization and verbal Command) onto the Cognitive aspect of the object being Awakened, with Breath then providing the "juice" for the object to actually follow its Command: powering both physical motion and "cogitation" based upon the copied Cognitive aspect?

If so, is that copying what drains color?

Brandon Sanderson

You're very close here.

Goodreads Fantasy Book Discussion Warbreaker Q&A ()
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DylanHuebner

I was wondering how the animation of the lifeless statues worked, in regard to the use of Susebron's Breath. If they were lifeless, then vasher wouldn't have been able to take his Breath back out of them, nor would susebron have needed such a great deal of breath to revive them—he just would have needed a password. But if they were simply Awakened, no password would have been necessary to animate the statues, just Breath and Command.

It seems like the statues could be neither lifeless nor awakened. Are they unique, because of the use of bone, or am I missing something? The only other explanation I could think of was that they were lifeless, but Susebron's breath wasn't used to activate the statues, he simply had it passed down from vasher, in addition to the statues. If that's the case(and then I've simply been confusing myself with unnecessary, convoluted logic), why was it necessary to keep the breath safe for all these years?

Brandon Sanderson

Wow, there are a lot of questions in there. If you follow the drafts, I think you can see the evolution of what became of the Lifeless army. Originally I had planned for the statues to simply have been placed there so that you could Awaken them—just in my original concepts, before I started the writing—and then that became the army.

I eventually decided that didn't work for various reasons. Number one, as I developed the magic system, Awakening stone doesn't work very well. You've got to have limberness, you've got to have motion to something for it to actually be stronger. So a soldier made out of cloth would be more useful to you than a soldier made out of stone, if you were just Awakening something. At that point, as I was developing this, I went back to the drawing board and said okay, I need to leave him a whole group of really cool Lifeless as the army. But that had problems in that the ichor would not have stayed good long enough. Plus they already had a pretty big Lifeless army, so what was special about this one? Remember, I'm revising concepts like this as the book is going along. You can see where in the story I could see what needed to be there. So I went back to the drawing board again.

I think the original draft of WARBREAKER you can download off my website has them just as statues, though at the time when I was writing that I already knew it would need to change. I was just sticking to my outline because I needed to have the whole thing complete on the page before I could work with it. A lot of times that's how I do things as a writer—I get the rough draft down, and then I begin to sculpt.

I eventually developed essentially what you've just outlined in the first part, before you started worrying if you were too convoluted. I said, well, what if there's a hybrid? What happens if you Awaken bones? Can you create something? The reason that you can't draw the Breath back from a Lifeless is because the Breath clings to it. If the Lifeless were sentient enough, it could give up its own Breath, but you can't take it, just like you can't take a Breath from a person by force. You have to get them to give it up willingly. So it sticks to the Lifeless. A Lifeless is, let's say, 90% of a sentient being. The Breath doesn't manifest in them, because they aren't alive, yet they're almost there. A stone statue brought to life would be way down on the bottom rung.

Is there something in between? That's the advancement I had Vasher discover—what if we build something out of bone, but then encase it in stone to make it strong, and build it in ways that the bone is held together by the force of the Breaths? That's really what you're getting at there, that you need a lot of Breath, a lot of power, to hold all that stone together. There are seams at the joints. What the Breath is doing is clinging there like magical sinew, and it's holding all of that together.

Vasher left the Phantoms Invested with enough Breath to hold them together but not to move. You needed another big, substantial influx of Breath in order to actually make them have motion, to bring them enough strength to move and that sort of thing. So it's kind of a hybrid.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Vasher Awakens the Straw Figure

I love how intricate and delicate Vasher is in creating the straw figure. The little eyebrow is a nice touch, and forming the creature into the shape of a person has a nice resonance with our own world's superstitions.

Voodoo dolls, for instance. This is very common in tribal magics and shamanistic rituals—something in the figure of a person, or the figure of the thing it's supposed to affect, is often seen as being more powerful or more desirable. The same is said for having a drop of blood or a tiny piece of skin, even a piece of hair.

Those two things—making the doll in the shape of a man and using a bit of his own body as a focus—are supposed to create instant resonance in the magic for those reading it. I think it works, too. Unfortunately, there's a problem with this, much like with the colors above. In later chapters, the characters are generally powerful enough with the magic that they don't have to make things in human shape or use pieces of their own body as a focus.

If I were to write a sequel to the book (and I just might—more on this later) I'd want to get back to these two aspects of the magic. Talk about them more, maybe have characters who have smaller quantities of Breath, and so need to use these tricks to make their Awakening more powerful.

Anyway, this little scene threw all kinds of problems into the book. Later on, I had to decide if I wanted to force the characters to always make things into the shape of a person before Awakening them. That proved impossible, it was too limiting on the magic and interfered with action sequences. The same was true for using bits of their own flesh as focuses. It just didn't work.

I toyed with cutting these things from the prologue. (Again, they are artifacts from the short story I wrote, back when Awakening wasn't fully developed yet.) However, I like the resonance they give, and think they add a lot of depth to the magic system.

So I made them optional. They're things that you can do to make your Awakenings require fewer Breaths. That lets me have them for resonance, but not talk about them when I don't need them. I still worry that they set up false expectations for the magic, however.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Idris's Drabness

One thing to realize is that the Idrians' attempts to make their city colorless are more superstition than they are effective. It's much harder to get colors away from an Awakener than the Idrians think. For instance, black is one of the most powerful colors to use for fueling Awakening—but the Idrians don't even consider it a color. Their browns and tans would also work for Awakening.

However, a lot of times, the traditions of a culture don't have much to do with factual reality. The determination to avoid colors grew out of a desire to contrast with Hallandren and their devilish Awakeners. It got taken to the extreme, however, and as the centuries passed, the Idrians grew confused about just what Awakening is and what it can do. Of course, there are some who know—Hallandren isn't that far away. But there's also a lot of rumor and misinformation.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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SydneySedai

Say an awakener wanted to cheat in a card game and strolled in with an awakened hat, which is promply placed on a hat rack behind their opponent.

Assuming the awakener knows the rules of the game, would a command like "be as my eyes and signal when I should fold" let the hat tip someone off, or would they need a more general command like "be as my eyes and signal a flush"?

Brandon Sanderson

This is hard because the skill of the Awakener is a factor, as are other elements that aren't entirely understood. For sake of discussion, I'd say the second one is a whole lot more reasonable.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Origin of Awakening as a Magic System

I never did write out in annotation form an explanation of where Awakening came from. I believe I talked about the origin of the term Awakening, but never the actual powers of the magic.

As I've said, I wanted to do something that had a very "vulgar magic" feel to it. Something gritty, dealing with the forms of people, like voodoo or hedge magics. I wanted to have something that reached back into our cultural unconscious, and something that dealt with necromancy in a new way.

Those are all pieces of the puzzle. Another piece, however, was the desire to do an animation magic—a magic focused around bringing inanimate objects to life on order to serve you. As I've said, it's very tough to come up with completely new powers nobody has written about or used (though I think I've got a few in store for The Way of Kings). However, a good magic system can be crafted from the interpretation of old powers used in new ways with interesting limitations and cultural connections.

I've seen people bring objects to life in books or movies, but I've never seen a formal magic system designed completely around it.

One of the other things I'm always looking for is new ways for people to gain their magical powers. As much as I like Mistborn, the "It's genetic and you're born with it" method of gaining magical abilities is just about the oldest and most commonly used way. It's used so much because it makes sense, and because it's easy to explain. Breath, and its transference, came from my desire to come up with something different—something that had an economic component, something that allowed anyone to become a magic user, but which still had limited resources so that not everyone could be one.

I'm still trying to innovate in this area, but I think my favorite part about Awakening is the concept of Breath and how it's transferred. It turns people into resources for the magic, but in a way I hadn't seen done before.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Vivenna Agrees to Learn Awakening

This has been a long time coming. Sorry to make you wait; in some of my books, I like to use a lot of magic from the start. In others, I like to build out the setting first, letting the characters learn and explore more slowly.

I've long wanted to call a magic system "Awakening," by the way. I tried it out originally in The Way of Kings as the name for the transformation-based magic system in that book. But it never worked. You didn't really "awaken" things. I was just using the term because it sounded good.

So I put it back in the file to be recycled someday. As I began to plan this book, I developed a magic system that could be called Awakening. Bringing objects to life seems to fit that just perfectly. So yes, the word came first—though I'm not sure how much I grew the magic system around that one word, or if I was feeling I wanted to do a "bring objects to life" magic system and realized I could use that great name I'd come up with earlier.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Vivenna Hides Her Breath in a Shawl

This has been possible from the beginning, and if Denth had truly been on her side, he would have admitted that there's a way she could get rid of her Breaths. What she would need to do is Awaken something with a one-Breath Command. There are some. They don't do much, but you can Awaken a very tiny scrap of cloth tied into the shape of a person with a very simple Command. That takes one Breath.

Next, you put the rest of your Breath into another object. Then you get that one Breath back and go hunting for a Drab to give it to. Then you take the rest of your Breath back from the object. From there, you can repeat the process if you want to. Vivenna could get rid of the Breaths one by one.

Of course, Denth didn't want that to happen. He was coveting those Breaths. What he said was intended to sound like an innocent mistake. Many people unfamiliar with Awakening would make that mistake, so if Vivenna learned the truth later, he wouldn't look suspicious.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Vasher casually mentions that the Idrians used to be Awakeners. That's true. Before they left, they were as big into Awakening as anyone else—of course, what he doesn't mention is that Awakening back then was much more new than it is now. It was fresh then, and the Idrians had some very bad experiences with it turning against them. (And what we call Idrians were just one noble house, the Idrian line, those related to the king and his servants.)

Warbreaker Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Vasher Uses Straw Figures to Find the Tunnel

I wanted to bring the straw men back into the book, as I felt I needed to show you—and Vivenna—just how capable Vasher is with Breath. He's leaps and bounds above most people. I think this book gives a skewed perspective, since we don't see any ordinary Awakeners. We see those just learning (Vivenna) and we see one of the greatest masters of the art to ever live (Vasher).

With his practice and years of Awakening, he's able to get Awakened objects to do things that others wouldn't be able to. The straw men are a good example. As for why he apologizes, well, he doesn't even know that himself. I think it's because he realizes that Breath can make something sentient and aware, like Nightblood, and worries that the straw creatures become (even just slightly) more than just mindless automatons.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Vivenna and Siri Reunite; Vasher Shows Off His Returned Breath

I believe that this is the first time in the book that Vivenna and Siri talk to each other. (Weird, eh?) I knew I couldn't make their reunion very effusive, since they're both Idrians, and Siri has learned to control herself. Plus, the situation is very tense. (And beyond that, despite Vivenna's coming to rescue her sister, the two were never terribly close. They were sisters, but separated by five years or so.)

This chapter focuses on other things, primarily the changes in the God King's personality and the revelations about Vasher. For the first, I hope they are plausible. Remember, the God King has grown a lot with Siri's help. Beyond that, he's been trained to look regal and act like a king, even if he's not had any practice talking like one. I think he works well here, projecting more confidence and nobility than he really feels, speaking in ways that don't make him sound too stupid, yet still betraying an innocence.

The bigger surprise is Vasher's revelation about his nature. I almost didn't put this in the book, instead intending to hint at it and save it for the second book. The reason for this is that I knew it would be confusing.

The big question is, if Vasher is Returned, why can he give away his Breaths and Awaken things without killing himself?

The answer is simple, in many ways, but I'm not sure if I have the groundwork for it properly laid in the book. (Which is why I hesitated in explaining it.) Remember when Denth said that Awakening was all or nothing? Well, he lied. (I think you've figured this out now.) A very skilled Awakener can give away only part of their Breath. It depends on their Command visualizations. So Vasher needs to always give away everything except for that one Returned Breath that keeps him alive. As long as he has that one Breath (which he's learned to suppress and hide), he can stay alive.

Skyward Seattle signing ()
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Questioner

Would it be possible to Awaken a microbe, like a bacterium?

Brandon Sanderson

Probably not. I could imagine that happening. Awaken is the wrong term for it. I would say "No, because Awaken is the wrong term for it." But Investiture could potentially create something weird out of that.