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Skyward Houston signing ()
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Questioner

What's Kaladin's last name?

Brandon Sanderson

Kaladin doesn't have a last name because, in Alethkar, your last name is your House name. He is vacillating on what his House name would be, everyone just calls him Kaladin Stormblessed. There's a realistic expectation that if he wanted to be a Kholin, he could be a Kholin, if he wanted to adopt that as his own House name instead of having a different one.

But right now he's just called Kaladin Stormblessed.

JordanCon 2018 ()
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Lightshaper_ (paraphrased)

What are the official colors of the Alethi Highprinces?

Karen Ahlstrom (paraphrased)

(From the internal Dragonsteel wiki)

  • Dalinar: blue & white
  • Sadeas: deep/forest green & white
  • Bathab: N/A
  • Hatham: green shirt with a darker green scarf?
  • Roion: green & gold
  • Aladar: black with maroon stripes
  • Ruthar: red & blue
  • Sebarial: deep gold on black
  • Thanadal: red & brown
  • Vamah: brown & gray
Shadows of Self Portland signing ()
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Questioner

Do you have a preference for Windstance when writing the Stomrlight Arhcive, it feels like that one comes up the most.

Brandon Sanderson

The people that I'm writing tend to like it. It is very Alethi. The Windrunners and things like that are connected with the Alethi people. Its disproportionately represented by all of the Alethi.

General Reddit 2017 ()
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Shagomir

Here's the best I can do at what each of the dahns includes, without spoilers. Stuff in italics is unconfirmed but is reasonable to guess based on the information we have from the books and Brandon.

  • 1st Dahn: The King and the King's direct heir.
  • 2nd Dahn: Highprinces, their direct heirs, and the King's direct heir*.
  • 3rd Dahn: Generals?, Highlords, and the non-inheriting children of 1st and 2nd dahn lighteyes.
  • 4th Dahn: Battalionlords, Citylords, Shardbearers, and other mid-ranked nobles.
  • 5th Dahn: Companylords?, along with lower-ranked nobles.
  • 6th Dahn: Captainlords, along with the lowest-ranked nobles and landholders?
  • 7th Dahn: Lower-ranking landless officers, along with higher-ranking (or very wealthy) landless lighteyes?
  • 8th Dahn: Soldiers, along with high-ranking (or moderately wealthy) landless lighteyes?
  • 9th Dahn: Landless lighteyes with some wealth, like merchants and master craftsmen.
  • 10th Dahn: "Tenners", essentially any lighteyes who has to work for a living.

Brandon Sanderson

I'm very impressed by this list. You did a great job. Note that only the king is first Dahn under the Alethi system, however. His heir is second, until crowned. Sixth Dahn, as you've identified, is the "landed" cutoff--if you have land, even a little, you're at least Sixth Dahn.

If you were of a specific dahn (say, seventh) but were elevated by something unusual (say, you got appointed to an appointment that would raise you above this) your children will often be elevated to a rank just beneath you. So, for instance, if a tenner got a shard, he'd immediately be elevated to fourth, and his family would likely be elevated to fifth.

The only thing I'd offer a warning on is that sometimes, people shortcut "Captainlord" to just "Captain" which drives Peter crazy, and so it can be hard to pick out rank from title.

Oudeis16

That's interesting... so, is the dahn system new since Alethkar was unified? Or was it modified once they got a king? Or was it always this way, and there just used to not be someone at the 1st Dahn?

Brandon Sanderson

Kings existed in other places, and had existed in Alethkar before. (Dahn is a Vorin cultural ideal, not just Alethi.) So the system is not new, but for many years, the Alethi refused to accept a king. (Following the division of the kingdom among the Sunmaker's sons.)

Oudeis16

Oooooooh... fascinating. So, this implies that before Gavilar unified Alethkar, King Taravangian and the King of Jah Keved would both have been First Dahn, while the highest-ranked ten people in Alethkar were only Second Dahn. Interesting. In the interests of adding a few more names to the list of "known people of the First Dahn" on the Coppermind, would you be willing to confirm if King Taravangian (let's say at the start of the Way of Kings to avoid spoilers) was First Dahn?

Brandon Sanderson

Traditionally, the monarchs of city-states (like Kharbranth, Bavland, and at some points Silnasen) do not claim the first dahn. There have been leaders of New Natanan who have, same with Herdaz. Depends on how much they want to aggravate the Alethi.

Unification era, there'd be two people of the first dahn: The queen of Thaylenah and the king of Jah Keved. Non-vorin monarchs in the west would be treated like first dahn, sometimes, depending on the situation.

Oudeis16

Did we know that Thaylenah is currently ruled by a Queen, or is this a small tidbit you have just given us?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm not sure if I've mentioned it or not, honestly. Queen Fen. You'll get to meet her soon. Note that Thaylenah is kind of a plutocracy, with merchant councils holding a lot of power, which changes its dynamic a little when compared to Alethi or Jah Keved.

Shagomir

I see you may have sneakily included an explanation for the 4th/5th dahn thing I noticed in a certain father-daughter duo. I promise not to read too much into it....

Brandon Sanderson

Note that getting a Shardblade isn't the only reason someone could be elevated, and isn't the only reason why children might not be the same dahn as their parent. Most of it has to do with titles, and who inherits, and that sort of thing. The answer is probably more boring than you're hoping.

xland44

Not sure if this is entering RAFO territory, but are highprince candidates (that is, people who can be elevated to highprince status if the post is empty) only people from the 3rd dahn? Or can a 4th dahn also be elevated to highprince, for example?

Brandon Sanderson

Highprince is a tricky one, as the definition of "highprince" is a person who can convince others to call him by the title. I guess that's the same for all of them, but as highprinces tend to be near the top of the pecking order, it's more about military than anything else.

Gavilar was 4th dahn before becoming highprince, for example. His branch of the Kholin family wasn't considered a prime contender for the highprince throne--until he took it for himself.

Enasor

His branch of the Kholin family? Does this imply there are other branches of the Kholin family? Meaning, there are other Kholins elsewhere?

Brandon Sanderson

Well, not as many as there once were...

uchoo786

So if I'm understanding this correctly, before Gavilar's branch of the Kholin family started their conquest of Alethkar they conquered Kholinar?

Brandon Sanderson

Yup. (There's some minor mention of this in Book Three, I believe.)

General Reddit 2016 ()
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reddidaccount1

In Sanderson's most recent lecture (50:25 in) to his BYU Writing Class, he mentions that Alethkar natives resemble Asians. This came as a bit of a surprise to me, especially since I always imagined the Shin as the "Asians" of that world.

Brandon Sanderson

It's a little more complicated than I might have made it seem. Alethkar natives other than the Shin have the epicanthic fold, but the Alethi wouldn't look strictly Asian to you--they'd look like a race that you can't define, as we don't have them on earth. I use half-Asian/half-arab or half-asian/half-Polynesian models as my guide some of the time, but Alethi are going to have a tanner skin than some of those.

Some Horneaters might look Caucasian to you--but then, most will not. They'll seem like something alien, and not all of them have light skin; they tend to walk a spectrum between pale and coppery. Reshi and Herdazians will look closest to something like an indigenous Bolivian.

Shin would look the closest to Caucasian to you, but again, they're not an Earth ethnicity. So you might not be able to place them either.

A lot of the fanart has done a good job with this, and if you search through it, it might help you get an idea.

Barnes & Noble B-Fest 2016 ()
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Questioner

I've been recently introduced to you as an author, and I heard "lighteyed" and "darkeyed." What is that?

Brandon Sanderson

So, in The Stormlight Archive, their ethnic divisions in one of the cultures is by eye color. It traces back to when there was an ancient magic that eye color was related to, and in the modern culture, if you have lighteyes (like you), that's nobility. If you have Darkeyes (like you), you are not noble, you are... you know. So, instead of dividing by skin color or by nationality, they are much more interested in eye color. But that's only one of the cultures, that's a big important one.

Stuttgart signing ()
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Questioner (paraphrased)

Who did the Crownlands historically belong to before there was a king and what purpose do they serve now?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

At the moment the Crownlands are the property of the king and work for him, to earn money or to give them away to a lord. Before Gavilar, they belonged to some princedom.

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Questioner

I was wondering what the Alethi, what kind of music they listen to?

Brandon Sanderson

They're gonna like stuff that sounds stuffy and snooty to you. So, the kind of equivalent would be a soft string quartet in our world. Granted, it's a little different there, but that'll-- Not much percussion. There is a time where they like a nice battle hymn, or something like that, you could get some equivalent of brass.

Salt Lake City signing ()
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Questioner

What are Oldbloods?

Brandon Sanderson

Oldbloods? Oldbloods are the, um... Lon-- Years ago, Alethkar was ruled by a different group of people. A different, like, dynasty. And it's been overturned, and it's been a long enough time that they're not really a threat. But to acknowledge them, and Oldblood-- they wear the tattoo. It means, "We are-- We used to rule this place." And so, it's just-- It's a lineage of people and a dynasty that used to be the kings of Alethkar.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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Titan_Arum

In TWoK, Dalinar mentions that back home Reshi border encroachments grow increasingly bold...according to the map of Roshar, no Reshi islands are directly adjacent to Alethkar. Is this encroachment simply due to Tai-na migrating into Alethi waters and skirmishing with Alethi boats? Or are the Reshi actually sending raiding parties to the mainland?

Brandon Sanderson

The Alethi have a long history of skirmishing with the Reshi islands just to the north and northeast of Alethkar. (And at various points, they've just considered Herdaz to be an Alethi province.) The fertile fishing up there makes for some coveted seas.

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Questioner

What's the penalty for killing a highprince, like Adolin did to Sadeas?

Brandon Sanderson

Official law is kind of confusing, because before the unification of Alethkar back into a kingdom, killing a highprince was like killing the monarch of another country. So if you did it on the field of battle it's fine. If you assassinate them it's considered a bad-- a mark of dishonor. But, what's gonna happen? I mean, your own people are gonna probably be like, "Okay, you killed the other highprince. You shouldn't have done that." But, you know... the enemy... *laughing* But now that there's a kingdom, those sort of laws are different. So it's going to cause a legal conundrum. Does that make sense?

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Personification

Was there a similar things like the ten Highprinces were like-- What were the different roles that each Highprince could hold?

Brandon Sanderson

The Highprinces were more like warlords fighting for and squabbling for land, they were not good at anything like that. So they were more like warlords.

Personification

But the Highprince roles though?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, the Highprince of? Yeah. They did have the official things like that and when it was working, way back in the day, you could probably align them-- I don't even know if you could align those to Radiants--

Personification

I wasn't saying the order of the Knights Radiant, I was saying just like, what role did they have?

Brandon Sanderson

Well, they would be pretty official, but if you're going back in the day, to where it actually worked, then they would have distinct roles that they would fulfill, and they would kind of be like-- Imagine the cabinet of a country.

Personification

I was wondering if I could have some specifics on the names.

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, I can't do that right now. I might be able to dig that out of the notes, but I've remained flexible on some of those things because I don't want to name them all, specifically.

Firefight San Francisco signing ()
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Questioner

What kind of embroidery is it [on Alethi women's clothing]? Is it like flowers, patterns?

Brandon Sanderson

No no, it is a lot of things but the Alethi's don't do the flower thing as much... It's not really an Alethi thing, floral patterns. So you are seeing a lot of designs and hatchings. They may look a little Arabic to you. Or the glyphs and things like that you will see worked in but very stylized.

General Reddit 2016 ()
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Phantine

Do rebellious Alethi teens ever mix together red wine and yellow wine so they can be all 'see parents, I'm just drinking orange, that's nonalcoholic'.

Brandon Sanderson

There aren't as strong a set of taboos on underage drinking in Alethi society as there are in ours. I'd imagine that what you say has happened, but wouldn't be too common.

BookCon 2018 ()
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Questioner

If a Thaylen and Alethi had a child, how would their eyebrows look?

Brandon Sanderson

Their eyebrows would probably have streaks of white. You would just see the kind of hybridization how bushy and long their eyebrows got. The color would breed kind of half-way true.