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/r/fantasy AMA 2013 ()
#2 Copy

Phantine

Are there any magic systems in the cosmere that aren't shard based?

Brandon Sanderson

This depends on definitions. The effects of Adonalsium permeate everything, and Adonalsium is also the source of the Shards. It is possible to find a magic that isn't DIRECTLY powered by a specific shard, however, though most of these would have been set up before the shattering and would be much smaller in scope than things like Allomancy and Surgebinding.

Words of Radiance Omaha signing ()
#3 Copy

Questioner

When Hoid is talking to Dalinar he seems to expect that Dalinar may have heard of Adonalsium.

Brandon Sanderson

Adonalsium.  Yes.

Questioner

Why is that?  Why would he think that Dalinar would have knowledge about that?

Brandon Sanderson

He thought that Dalinar was part of some of the secret societies on Roshar, and he had thought his way into thinking Dalinar was part of them and that was how Dalinar was knowing certain things he was knowing.  Which he really wasn't, he was getting from the storms and things like this, but he thought that Gavilar had confided things in Dalinar and that Dalinar would know more about this.  And so he was kind of testing to see, and he was wrong.  

Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
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Overlord Jebus

Does Investiture seek/spawn intelligence because it used to be Adonalsium, or did Adonalsium come to exist because Investiture seeks intelligence?

Brandon Sanderson

That's a chicken and egg question, isn't it? You will find both theories espoused by people in the know. What are we calling them now? Cosmerenauts? That's what they said on Reddit. I would say cosmere arcanists, people like Khriss.

Shadows of Self Edinburgh UK signing ()
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Questioner

In the first three Mistborn books, and Elantris and Warbreaker, you focus a lot on sort of gods and religion, is there a particular reason for that?

Brandon Sanderson

Why do I focus on gods and religion in my books. Well there's a couple of reasons. The main one is the kind of overarching story of the cosmere, which all my books are connected, there is some divine force named Adonalsium that was broken apart long ago and the scions of that-- people who have that power are showing up and causing problems and things on planets. So that's kind of the hidden epic behind the scenes, and so because of that religion is a very big part of what happens there.

I'm also a religious person. For those who don't know, I'm Mormon, I'm LDS. And so religion is important to me and whatever I'm fascinated by works it's way into my books. Now I'm generally the type of writer who doesn't feel like I should go into a book with a theme, I should explore what the characters are passionate and let the theme manifest naturally. And so I do that a lot, I don't go in saying "Oh I'm going to teach people this" I say "Who is this character, what are they passionate about" But the things I'm interested in you see. That's why you end up with stories about a god who doesn't believe in his own religion, from Warbreaker. Or you end up with these different things, with Kelsier founding a religion to use it, or having people with different types of faith. And I really think that part of the point of fiction is to, for me, to explore different ideas from different angles and try to just tackle them. And so you'll see me coming back to some of the same concepts again and again, because I want to try them from a new angle, see how this person thinks, see how this character deals with it. Because that's just really interesting to me.

Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
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Questioner

Shards. We started with fairly obvious ones, magic wise. Trying to keep this spoiler free, so: Ruin, Preservation, this kind of thing. Then we get the weird ones. Why do we have Shards that can only exist in the mind of a sentient creature? ...Like the concept of Honor can only be done when it's carried out, essentially, by a sentient creature.

Brandon Sanderson

So when I split Adonalsium I said, "I'm going to take aspects of Adonalsium's nature." And this involves personality to me. So the Shattering of Adonalsium was primal forces attached to certain aspects of personality. And so I view every one of them this way. And when I wrote Mistborn we had Ruin and Preservation. They are the primal forces of entropy and whatever you call the opposite, staying-the-same-ism-y. Like, you've got these two contrasts, between things changing and things not changing. And then humans do have a part, there's a personality. Ruin is a charged term for something that actually is the way that life exists. And Preservation is a charged term for stasis, for staying the same. And those are the personality aspects, and the way they are viewed by people and by the entity that was Adonalsium.

So I view this for all of them. Like, Honor is the sense of being bound by rules, even when those rules, you wouldn't have to be bound by. And there's this sense that that is noble, that's the honor aspect to it, but there's also something not honorable about Honor if taken from the other direction. So a lot of them do kind of have this both-- cultural component, I would say, that is trying to represent something that is also natural. And not all of them are gonna have a 100% balance between those two things, I would say, because there's only so many fundamental laws of the universe that I can ascribe personalities to in that way. 

So I find Honor very interesting, but I find Autonomy a very interesting one for the exact same reason. What does autonomy mean? We attach a lot to it, but what is the actual, if you get rid of the charged terms, what does it mean? And this is where you end up with things like Odium claiming "I am all emotion." Rather than-- But then there's a charged term for it that is associated with this Shard. I'm not going to tell you whether he's right or not, but he has an argument. 

Calamity Chicago signing ()
#15 Copy

Eric

In Secret History we learn the 16 Shards that Shattered Adonalsium. Was that done [on behalf of the anti-Adonalsium force]?

Brandon Sanderson

You’re focusing too much on this idea of an anti-Adonalsium. It—the original question I believe that was asked me was “is there a force that is opposed to Adonalsium” and it left me a lot of wiggle room. In other words, the people who killed Adonalsium, you could say were a force, any person who opposed Adonalsium... What they were trying to get was a “devil” but to do that you must assume Adonalsium was a more Christian-style God, and I haven’t confirmed any of that.

Shadows of Self London UK signing ()
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Questioner

Could you have a good conversation with Adonalsium, back in the day?  

Brandon Sanderson

Back in the day? I actually have to RAFO that because I actually haven't said whether Adonalsium was a force or an individual. So it is an excellent question, no one has asked me that before, but it's not one I can answer.  

Questioner

That was a bit of a sneaky one, because it seems like it would be an easy one to answer, but it gives away too much  

Brandon Sanderson

It does.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#23 Copy

stormlightfan70

We know it has been stated that adonalsium could have been shattered into 16 different intents. We also know there is a force out there opposing adanalsium. Did it shatter into those 16 intents because it believed that was the best way to defend against this said force?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO.

Salt Lake City signing ()
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Chaos

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

Brandon Sanderson

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

Words of Radiance Philadelphia signing ()
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Sweetness

Since the evil on Threnody isn't a Shard, can you tell us anything about its nature? Is it an actual being, and is it related to Adonalsium?

Brandon Sanderson

Everything is related, in the Cosmere, to Adonalsium. Most of the magic you're seeing is a just a natural outgrowth of Cosmere-related magic, you're seeing Cognitive Shadows. The Evil is similarly related.

JordanCon 2018 ()
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Questioner

I know that with Harmony, he has difficulty interacting because he holds two Shards. Did Adonalsium, since he had all these other personality traits, also have issues directly interfering? 

Brandon Sanderson

A RAFO! Good question. I've never been asked that question before.

JordanCon 2018 ()
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Billy Todd

How closely does Adonalsium map to the gnostic demiurge?

Brandon Sanderson

A little bit.

Billy Todd

So, not completely? I'm not completely off?

Brandon Sanderson

That's not off at all. 

Billy Todd

So, not the urge, but the demiurge. 

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, well I'll have to go read to make sure what I'm talking about then. Your answer is: I will go read and make sure I know. I thought I knew what I was talking about.

Billy Todd

So, there's the creator, which is the urge, which is the creator of the Universe. *large hand gesture* The demiurge is actually God. The demiurge is the one that creates [its] universe, *small hand gesture inside larger gesture* and entities living within the universe need knowledge of that which is beyond what the demiurge has created.

Brandon Sanderson

Okay, that matches pretty well.

Oathbringer Houston signing ()
#32 Copy

Paladin Brewer

Was it necessary that Adonalsium split into sixteen Shards, or was it happenstance?

Brandon Sanderson

I will RAFO that one.

Paladin Brewer

Would the number or intents have been different, if there were more or less people?

Brandon Sanderson

That's all wrapped up in that RAFO. Let's say it's conceivable that the split could have happened in different ways.

Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
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Melhay

Is Adonalsium going to be mentioned by name in Warbreaker and The Way of Kings or is he going to be an underlining "God"(I don't know what to call him yet) idea? I am curious now, so I will have to keep my eyes open for him.

Brandon Sanderson

Adonalsium (Ahy-doe-Nahl-see-um) will be mentioned by name again. Ruin and Preservation were what have been called Shards of Adonalsium. (The Voice from Warbreaker is another Shard.)

Melhay

Is this "character" a common link between your books for religion or magical or maybe even both?

Brandon Sanderson

Adonalsium has to do with the Cosmere, which is the word Realmatic philosophers use to refer to the greater universe of the Shardworlds. It's hard to separate religion, magic, science, and society in most of these worlds. So "both" is a good guess.

Melhay

I was curious because he just seemed to appear and nothing further on him/it. Thank you for mentioning that he is in these two other books, I will have to look for hints of him.

Brandon Sanderson

The word Adonalsium (or, well, the miss-spelling of it) appears in only one of the books. Other clues and links between the books can be found as well. (Some people on my forums have spotted some of them. Others have gone unspotted so far.)

/r/fantasy AMA 2017 ()
#40 Copy

ConserveGuy

Hi Brandon I don't know if you will answer, but. Did "earth" ever exist in the cosmere? There seems to be humans on all the planets. so where did humans come from? or even the idea of humans?

Brandon Sanderson

Earth did not exist in the cosmere. Humans existed on Yolen (and other planets) before the shattering of Adonalsium, and it is assumed Adonalsium created them.

From a writing perspective, stepping back, I feel like other book series (like the Wheel of Time, Pern, Shannara) really covered the idea of, "This is Earth and/or earth people in another dimension/after an apocalypse/or far in the future." It's been a common enough theme in fantasy that I felt I wanted not to touch on it. So there are no plans to connect the cosmere to Earth in any way.

General Signed Books 2016 ()
#42 Copy

CosmereQuestioner

The background to my question is this:

It was once stated by Mr Sanderson that "Magic in the cosmere needs a guiding force.  If it doesn't have one, the magic itself will gain sentience."  We also have that things like Nightblood that gained sentience because of crazy amounts of investiture.

My question then is:

"Is the reason that investiture has this tendency to lead to sentience caused by the fact that pre-Shattering Adonalsium had a goal/purpose/intent of bringing sentience to his universe."

(I guess this is in a way a 2 part question, because it assumes that Adonalsium actually HAD the intent of bringing sentience to his cosmere)

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, this is part of the reason.  Good question!

Salt Lake City ComicCon 2017 ()
#44 Copy

Questioner

So, Hoid was there during the Shattering of Adonalsium. Odium is going around, like, destroying other Shards. We know that Hoid is collecting and has pieces of some of the other Shards.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

Since Hoid was there at the original Shattering of Adonalsium. Is there an echo image of the original Adonalsium in Hoid?

Brandon Sanderson

Uh, that's a RAFO. Here's your card. But it is a valid theory.

Questioner

I have a two-parter on that.

Brandon Sanderson

You can ask me the next part, but it is a RAFO.

Questioner

Is his end goal trying to join as many pieces of Adonalsium together to *inaudible*

Brandon Sanderson

Um, that, I will give a "that's a very good guess." And that is what the books seem to indicate is happening.

Bands of Mourning release party ()
#46 Copy

Questioner

Does the word Adonalsium-- In your mind did you get that from the phrase "ad nauseum"?

Brandon Sanderson

No.

Questioner

Because the first few times I heard someone say ad nauseum I was like "Adonalsium? Did someone say Adonalsium?"

Brandon Sanderson

Good question, nope but that's not the origin.

Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
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Nikleas

Since you established that all the worlds you created in your books are linked, any chance to see in the (very) distant future a book/series that delves into this overarching story/universe/rules more directly? Possibly with a crossover of characters from your different stories, specifically characters that became "immortal" or at least achieve a "different" state: Sazed, Kelsier, Raoden. Is that something you would even be interested in doing?

Or will you stick to placing subtle hints in your different books/series about the overall system?

Brandon Sanderson

VERY distant future is correct. I will confirm that I do have stories planned that delve into what is going on behind the scenes. There will be short stories dealing with Hoid, most likely posted to my website.

Some of these stories are novel length, and I can't say what I'll do with them. Perhaps I'll write them out in novel form and release them in bookstores, but I have a feeling that most of my readers would be completely confused by them. So perhaps these will all just be on my website only. (If they are released that way, they'll most likely be free for download and reading.)

The subtle hints will continue until then. Mostly, I want the stories to be enjoyable and self-contained. I don't want anyone to HAVE to know any of the behind the scenes, regarding Hoid, Adonalsium, and the rest. (Yes, there is more.) Those are there for the readers who want to dig, and who want to see the greater story. But I don't want them to overshadow the stories of the books themselves. At least not yet.

Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
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Melhay

In Mistborn: There was mention of a man named Adonalsium. We were wondering if this man may have been Preservation, who "died" before Vin took over. Is that who he was or was he someone else?

Brandon Sanderson

The man who died before Vin took over was named Leras. (I've occasionally written it as Laras. I've said the names in my head for years, but I'm only now writing them down as people ask me on forums.) Leras, like Ati (aka Ruin), were NOT Adonalsium. (Sorry about the typo on that one in Mistborn 3. I wrote it down on the manuscript, and it didn't get put in quite right. We'll get it fixed.)

Adonalsium was something or someone else. You will find out more. There are clues in Warbreaker and The Way of Kings.