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Prague Signing ()
#1 Copy


Then I was wondering about the Dysian Aimians or the Sleepless. Do they reproduce at all, and if so how does it work? Like is it that one... is it asexual if they do?

Brandon Sanderson

So they reproduce, yes. But reproduction for them has a variety of terms. They can breed specific cremlings for specific purposes over time if they want to. They can also exchange cremlings if they need to, in order to improve their genetic diversity. Creating a new one is a different experience but yes. In fact, they... I've written sections, not for the books yet but where I talk about them developing and over evolving one of their cremlings to do something new.


Okay. If they do reproduce does it require two of them or is it more like they breed enough and then they split one off.

Brandon Sanderson

That's a RAFO for now, but the individual's consciousness is an interesting thing for them.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#2 Copy


You said earlier that Parshendi are primarily asexual, does that extend to all Listeners -- parshmen, and those descended from Listeners, like Horneaters and Herdazians -- or is it just the Parshendi?

Brandon Sanderson

Most Listener forms are asexual, but several forms are different, including slaveform. Horneaters and Herdazians are not, as a rule, though there are higher instances of asexuality among them.


I was actually wondering about how Parshmen would reproduce if they are only in slaveform? I thought one had to be in mateform in order to reproduce?

Also, could Horneaters and Herdazians change forms as well?

Brandon Sanderson

For the first, mateform is not the only form capable of producing--any more than warform is the only one capable of swinging a sword. The forms are specializations.

For the second, RAFO.

FanX 2018 ()
#3 Copy


My friends and I had this debate when we were playing the Mistborn Adventure Game. So when a kandra imitates a human, do they replicate the organs perfectly?

Brandon Sanderson

Usually, yes. But there are kandra that do not, by intention, do that.


Does that include the reproductive organs?

Brandon Sanderson



So theoretically if a kandra were to copulate with a human while pretending to be a human, would it create another human?

Brandon Sanderson

It would. And I think I've been consistent on that. So, I have to do things like this because I didn't want a blood test to be able to determine who was a kandra and who wasn't, because that's your go-to way to find a shapeshifter. So I think I had to imitate entirely. But boy, would it imitate the genetic code... *sounds of thought and frustration*


That's the question we have.

Brandon Sanderson

You know, I don't know that they they were human...I'm going to go ahead and back pedal and RAFO on that. I haven't decided 100% yet...I know you can't tell with a bloodtest, but if you look at the DNA, would you be able to tell it's a kandra? And I'm kinda thinking you probably would be able to. 


So then, following that they wouldn't be able to reproduce.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, they wouldn't be able to reproduce in that case. I'm gonna go--jury's out. And I have to really make a call on this. I'm going to say, "Yes," right now, that they are doing this down to the cellular level, a copy, but I may have to backpedal on that when I get to future Mistborn books, when I really look at it, what it would take, to do that. It's an unofficial yes, with a RAFO attached to it.

Hero of Ages Q&A - Time Waster's Guide ()
#5 Copy


I am curious if any changes were made to the story after you got A Memory of Light or after the Name of the Windwas published? The style hasn't changed, but the story seemed to flow much better this time around.

Brandon Sanderson

Actually, no. This one was finished off back before I knew anything of A Memory of Light or before I'd read Name of the Wind. Hopefully, the smoothing is a result of me trying to work out kinks in my storytelling ability. I'm learning to distance out my climax chapters, for instance. (I think I've I'd have written this book years ago, I'd have tried to overlay Spook's climactic sequence with the ending ones, for instance, which would have been a mistake.)

Also, of the three books, I worked the hardest on this one. Choosing that ending—even though I'd planned it for some time—was very difficult. I knew that it would anger some readers. I also knew that it was the right ending for the series.

I'm glad it worked for you.


I have to admit, I am one of those angered. I will be so glad when this cliché of killing off the heroes will finally pass. I escape to fantasy for the happy ending. If I wanted to be depressed I'd grab a 3-dollar bottle of Mad Dog 20/20 and drink it all and contemplate my mundane life. I can't spend much time reflecting on the book because of the mental picture of Vin and Elend dead in a field keeps popping up instead. They didn't even get a chance to reproduce.

Now outside of the horrible ending (which wasn't surprising in the least because it is so common to kill the heroes) I enjoyed them. I absolutely cannot wait to read your books written 10 years from now. You can definitely pick up the improvement in transitions and character development in each book I've read from you. I'm quite often reminded of David Eddings although I'm sure plenty would disagree. And while Eddings isn't one of my favorite writers to be at his level (to me) so early in your career leads me to believe great things will be coming.

I would like to ask you one thing to consider when writing endings. Fantasy is an escape, please don't ruin it with such depressing endings. When you have had the opportunity to look upon your dead wife in her coffin, reading about others dying isn't fun at all. It is absolutely terrible. Happily ever after.

Brandon Sanderson

I understand your anger. I wrote the ending that felt most appropriate to me for this book and series. I didn't find it depressing at all, personally. But people have reacted this way about every ending I've written.

I won't always do it, I promise. But I have to trust my instincts and write the stories the way they feel right to me. I didn't 'kill off' Vin and Elend in my mind. I simply let them take risks and make the sacrifices they needed to. It wasn't done to avoid cliché or to be part of a cliché, or to be shocking or surprising, or to be interesting or poetic—it was done because that was the story as I saw it.

I will keep this in mind, though. I know it's not what a lot of people want to read. Know that I didn't do it to try to shock you or prove anything. And because of that, if a more traditionally happy ending is something that a story requires, I'll do that—even if it means the people on the other side of the fence from you will point fingers at me for being clichéd in that regard as well.

If it helps, realize that one of the reasons I added the lines in Sazed's note was to let the characters live on for those who wanted them to live on. I ALMOST didn't have Spook even discover the bodies, leaving it more ambiguous.

Ben McSweeney AMA ()
#6 Copy


I got my wife hooked on Sanderson's works recently, especially the Stormlight novels. She absolutely loves Shallan as a character and fell deeper in love with her when she saw your illustration of her... which is now saved as her current desktop wallpaper. So kudos there!

My question to you is this: how much reading into the novels do you do before coming up with an idea of a setting or character to paint? What is your process when deciding the best scene to depict?

Ben McSweeney

The Shallan endpage is mostly Michael Whelan, I assisted some in the layout and design but he's responsible for the finished painting.

I read the full text of the novel while it's still in the draft stages, which is a rare privilege and part of what makes our production a little different than usual. When deciding what subjects to choose for Shallan's pages, I first look for seed that Brandon plants in the text, usually moments where Shallan specifically mentions drawing something. Or I look for subjects that are suitable for her to draw and which she's reasonably likely to see (and have time for) during her travels. Based on that and the conversations I have with Brandon and Isaac, we come up with a list of 6-8 subjects which we then develop further.

Even though Shallan does draw portraits of people, we avoid trying to reproduce those so as to not define the features of various characters too strictly. Instead we focus on plants and animals and hints of the world around her.

Ben McSweeney AMA ()
#7 Copy


I love your work and have been wanting to get Stormlight related tattoos. Is there any way one can commission you into doing an original Shardbearer drawing for tattooing purposes? I love the ones in WoR, and want to get something very similar on my left leg!

Ben McSweeney

Thank you so much!

I'm not sure if I can accept a commission to do something based on the stuff I do officially... maybe if /u/mistborn is down with it?

Most folks just take one of the existing illustrations and have that reproduced. Doing something unique would be a different matter.

Brandon Sanderson

I'm more than okay with this, Ben.

Orem signing ()
#8 Copy


I think there's a flaw in my understanding of Cognitive Shadows. I assume that... they would have more visibility into the Cognitive Realm, like a Herald would be able to see spren more easily, that kind of thing. Is that incorrect?

Brandon Sanderson

That is incorrect. A Cognitive Shadow simply means a copy of the Cognitive side made by a deep amount of Investiture. And everybody has a Cognitive side. Basically it's a fake soul. Or, fake is the wrong term. Fake is the wrong term. Even in-world they don't know if it's really them or not. It is Investiture has replaced the Investiture that is fleeing from them as they die, or enhancing it in some way to keep it around. So some Cognitive Shadows trapped on the Cognitive Realm are going to be-- have a lot of Cognitive-- I mean, they're there, right? But some Cognitive Shadows inhabiting a body in the same way that your mind inhabits your body, the way the cosmere works... So a Herald is going to feel like they are alive just like-- but their soul has been somehow transformed. It's not really transformed, it's been reproduced or copied by an injection of Investiture...

And I'll say for the purpose of the recordings, I haven't canonized any of that terminology that I just used about Cognitive Shadows. I'm just talking about it, I'm not necessarily saying that this is how you are supposed to refer to it. You can refer to it however you want. I've often used the metaphor of how fossils get made. When a fossil is made there is a pattern and it is slowly replaced with another substance that is stronger and more endurant, and has the shape of it, but is it still the bone? When you have a fossil bone is it the dinosaur bone? In most cases no, but yes. It's the ship of Theseus sort of thing again. Is this the bone or is it not? Is this the soul? Is this the person or is it not? That's the same sort of thing is happening with Cognitive Shadows. And it's happening on all three Realms to an extent, though of course the body is not. The body stays. It's happening on two Realms. It's happening Spiritually, mostly Cognitively.

Hero of Ages Q&A - Time Waster's Guide ()
#10 Copy

Andrew The Great

Why can Vin fuel Elend's atium-burning, even though Atium is Ruin's Body and Vin is using Preservation? Or did I misread that and he was just burning atium and had run out of everything else?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, as has been pointed out:

A powerful peace swelled in Elend. His Allomancy flared bright, though he knew the metals inside of him should have burned away. Only atium remained, and the strange power did not—could not—give him this metal. But it didn’t matter. For a moment, he was embraced by something greater. He looked up, toward the sun. (From the text.)

As a note here, the powers granted by all of the metals—even the two divine ones—are not themselves of either Shard. They are simply tools. And so, it's possible that one COULD have found a way to reproduce an ability like atium's while using Preservation's power, but it wouldn't be as natural or as easy as using Preservation to fuel Allomancy.

The means of getting powers—Ruin stealing, Preservation gifting—are related to the Shards, but not the powers themselves.

Orem signing ()
#11 Copy

Mason Wheeler

If Harmony could make it so that koloss can reproduce, why is it he did not do the same thing for the kandra?

Brandon Sanderson

*long pause* I'm not sure how to answer this without straying in directions I don't want to go. It was a conscious choice, I'll tell you that.

Arcanum Unbounded Chicago signing ()
#12 Copy


Sak, Dusk's non-native Aviar. That ability is very, very similar to Allomantic electrum.

Brandon Sanderson

It is!


And his other Aviar is very, very similar to Allomantic copper.

Brandon Sanderson

It is.


Is there a connection between those two, deeper? Or is it--

Brandon Sanderson

will RAFO that. Let's just say it is an intentional reference, but I'm not going to say whether it's a direct connection to Scadrial magic systems or more that fundamental rules of magics can reproduce one another. We have seen multiple instances of Lightweaving, so-- It's one of those two... That at least narrows it down for you.

/r/Fantasy_Bookclub Alloy of Law Q&A ()
#13 Copy


I have my own theory but I thought I should ask, if the koloss reproduce through Hemalurgic spike's how can there be half koloss in Alloy of Law.

Brandon Sanderson

I am holding this answer back for future books, I'm afraid. I have said some things, but the full truth is still subject to debate. I will answer this eventually in the books.

Alloy of Law release party ()
#14 Copy


Does Iron store mass or weight?

Brandon Sanderson

Excellent question. The thing is it really does involve mass, but I’m breaking some physics rules, basically. I have to break a number of physics rules in order to make Magic work in the first place. Those whole laws of Thermodynamics, I’m like “You are my bane!” (laughter) But I try to work within the framework, and I have reasonings built up for myself, and some of them have to be kind of arbitrary. But the thing is, it does store mass if you look at how it interacts, but when a Feruchemist punches someone, you’re not having a mass transference of a 1000 pounds transferring the mass into someone else.

So there are a few little tweaks. You can go talk to Peter, because Peter has the actual math. Oh Peter’s back there. Peter is dressed up as Allomancer Jak from the broadsheet. In fact we’re giving some out broadsheets, aren’t we Peter. So when you come through the line, we’re giving out Broadsheets. Please don’t take fifty—I think we might have enough for everybody. The broadsheets are the newspaper from the Alloy of Law time. It’s an inworld newspaper. It’s actually reproduced in the book in four different pages, and we put it together in one big broadsheet.

So anyway, you can talk with him, he’s got more of the math of it. I explained the concept to Peter and he’s better with the actual math, so he said “We’ll figure it out.”

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#15 Copy


Have you included (or do you potentially intend to include) any asexual characters in your published works? Asexual characters don't seem to be very common in fiction, and I'm sure it would be fantastic for people that identify as such to feel in any way represented by one of your characters!

Brandon Sanderson

I originally conceived the asexual nature of most Parshendi (from the Stormlight Archive) forms after reading a very thought-provoking article written by someone asexual. The idea of a primarily asexual race was a fascinating idea to me, and you will see this more in future books.


can somene be born half-parshnedi or maybe even half-spren??

Brandon Sanderson

The Horneaters and the Herdazians are both descendants of Parshendi/human interbreeding.

Spren do not reproduce biologically. As such, the term "half-spren" is basically meaningless. You could argue that the Parshendi, when bonded to spren, are part spren--as are many creatures on Roshar, if they have a spren symbiosis.

Boskone 54 ()
#18 Copy

Questioner (paraphrased)

Could a Soother prevent a listener from attuning a given rhythm?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

No. A coppercloud could, but I hadn't thought about emotional allomancy interacting. See, the rhythm isn't your emotion and doesn't determine your mood. It is a direct connection to the spiritual realm. So I guess soothing could make it harder just like it makes anything harder, in the same way that driving a car would be harder. [recording starts here] And so, for the same reasons that you can, um, it is possible that a coppercloud can play with it. Not a normal power of a coppercloud, but you’ve seen them do stuff similar.