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/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#2 Share

Phantine

Are any of your novels simultaneous (or nearly simultaneous) with each other? Like, for instance, does Alloy of Law happen when Vasher is hanging out with Vivennia?

Brandon Sanderson

None of them are exactly simultaneous yet.

JordanCon 2016 ()
#4 Share

Questioner

Are we ever going to get an official Cosmere timeline?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, we will eventually. We're really close to being able to release it, I'm not sure when we will. Um, the real trick is-- Like now that we're locking down White Sand, that's kind of like the last wild card because the novel version wasn't canon. So it's like where do we make sure this is, and stuff like that. So yeah we should be, once White Sand is out I think, everything we can lock down. The trick is, like if I release it there are certain-- like where is Sixth of the Dusk exactly? It's not something I want because that's got spoilers.

Questioner

..It is actually canon that Era Two [of Mistborn]takes place between the first half and the second half of [The Stormlight Archive]?

Brandon Sanderson

Well I haven't written the second half of Stormlight so that--

Questioner

But does it take place after the first half?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes it takes place sometime after the first half, but it depends on how long I break and things like that, whether they overlap, maybe it takes place after 7, maybe it takes place after 5, maybe it takes place after-- Like we'll see when I get there how many years, because the timing on those is a little more tight.

Questioner

So they're more interweaved with those, those are closer to the same time period.

Brandon Sanderson

They are much closer to the same time period than other things, which is why I have to be dodgy on those ones, mostly just because they are on a similar timeline.
Stormlight Three Update #5 ()
#5 Share

Yata

If I may ask another thing, did you decide what come earlier in the Cosmere's Timeline between Elantris and White Sand ?

Brandon Sanderson

White Sand is earlier. I was pretty sure on this, but I wanted to be able to glance at the timeline and make sure I hadn't made any changes. (And I haven't.) It's pretty solidly locked into that place because of certain events around the cosmere, so you can assume it won't change.

Calamity release party ()
#7 Share

Zas678

How long before-- How long either before modern day or before the Heirocracy was the Recreance?

Brandon Sanderson

Um...

Zas678

Like 200 years-ish? 100 years-ish?

Brandon Sanderson

Okay, Recreance to Heirocracy is what you're asking? 

Zas678

Yes. Or to modern day, I don't care.

Brandon Sanderson

Uh, so Recreance to Heirocracy... Heirocracy is in recent memory. Recreance is not.

Zas678

Okay. So that's probably like a 500 year difference. Something like that.

Brandon Sanderson

Uh, yeah, or more. Heirocracy though is recent-ish memory.

Calamity release party ()
#8 Share

Zas678

Did Vasher visit Roshar before the Recreance? Because he had-- *Brandon mumbles question* Because he had to see Shardblades, and... presumably live ones.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah... I'll RAFO that. I'll RAFO that. It is an assumption that he had... He doesn't necessarily have to have seen alive ones. He could have heard records of them.

Zas678

Okay. Because I've tried to make out a timeline, to be like, "Okay, if this is here..."

Brandon Sanderson

Kara has a timeline-- Not Kara-- Karen has a timeline in hand. But I would have to look at it to give you exact dates, but yeah.

Zas678

Okay. So you didn't have to see...

Brandon Sanderson

He did not have to see.

Stormlight Three Update #5 ()
#10 Share

Yata

What is the event showed in the books, that are earlier in the Cosmere's Timeline ? (just to understand if WoK's prologue is before or after Elantris's event)

Brandon Sanderson

I believe WoK prologue is before everything else you've seen. Some of the Dalinar flashbacks show scenes pretty early as well.

White Sand vol.1 release party ()
#13 Share

Questioner

I've also heard rumor that there's a chronology? <On the cosmere?>

Brandon Sanderson

On my computer, yes.

Questioner

No, that was going to be in [Arcanum Unbounded] or *inaudible*.

Brandon Sanderson

No, not a chronology. Not a timeline. I've been preparing one that eventually I'm going to release. But I don't think I'm *inaudible*. I did consider it, but...

Boskone 54 ()
#14 Share

Questioner

[The events of the Mistborn trilogy, obviously the … of people hopping worlds] Where does that happen in reference to the events of Stormlight?

Brandon Sanderson

The further we get along, the closer the series are happening together. Stormlight is centuries from Mistborn, but new Mistborn and Stormlight are happening closer together. And the further I go the closer these things will get together in time, because that’s when we have really starting to have people influence one another, and things like that. White Sand, which is actually the first one we’ve released chronologically, is really pretty far back. Elantris and Mistborn, we’re getting closer and closer together.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#15 Share

potterhead42

On Scadrial, humans were created as a result of the deal between Preservation and Ruin. But what about the rest of the humans on the other worlds of the Cosmere?

Brandon Sanderson

It's split. Some predate the shattering; others were created. The humans that existed before were always a model, which is why they're so similar to one another.

Brandon's Blog 2017 ()
#16 Share

Karen Ahlstrom

I knew I’d have to deal with it sometime, and it finally caught up with me today. My Master Cosmere Timeline spreadsheet has far too many relative dates, and not enough absolutes.

Roshar’s date system

The biggest reason I have put it off is that the date system Brandon made up is both supremely logical and at the same time totally crazy. A year has five hundred days, but there’s also a thousand-day cycle with different highstorms around the new year. In each year there are ten months of fifty days each. The months are broken into ten five-day weeks. The date indicates what year, month, week of the month, and day of the week it is and looks like this: 1173.8.4.3. It is impossible for me to do the math in my head to decide what the date would be 37 days ago, so I don’t use the dates in my reckoning, and only calculate them as an afterthought. This dating system is also a hassle because two weeks in our world is almost three weeks there, and a month there is almost two of ours, and when writing Brandon doesn’t even pretend to pay attention to those differences.

Day numbers in The Way of Kings

But then we have to talk about my relative date system. The timeline of The Way of Kings is a mess. The story for Shallan starts more than 100 days earlier than Dalinar’s storyline. And Kaladin is roughly 50 days different from that. So for that book I had to pick a day when I knew there was crossover between the viewpoints and work forward and back from there. So a date in The Way of Kings might be marked on my spreadsheet as D 23 or K -57.

Day numbers in Words of Radiance and Oathbringer

For Words of Radiance I started over at day 1 for that book. Those numbers count up until the new year which is day 71. Oathbringer starts just after the new year, so I used the day of the year for my book-specific day number. Of course switching systems at the start of each book made it hard for me to calculate just how many days there were between events in WOR and OB. So I put in another column which indicated a relative number of days counting before and after the arbitrary date of the end of WOR.

Flashback dates

The next problem I dealt with were the line items that say something like “five years ago” for their date. With more than a year of onscreen time from the first chapters of The Way of Kings to the end of Oathbringer, it’s really necessary to note that it’s five years before what event with a solid date. Once I have a date to assign to it, I also have to decide how exact the date is. When I come back three years from now I will need to know whether this date is firm, or if it would be okay to put it three or four months on either side.

Putting it all together

When Peter found an error in the spreadsheet one day, I decided to match a serial number to each date after the year 1160 (which makes for easy calculating), and make that my absolute day number from here until forever (though I’ll probably still make a book relative date, since it’s a useful way to talk about things with the rest of the team). To find the Roshar dates from the serial numbers I made another spreadsheet with a vlookup table for the dates and serial numbers, then translated all the dates from the three books into that single new system (finding several more errors as I went).

White Sand vol.1 release party ()
#17 Share

Questioner 1

Timeline-wise will Warbreaker 2 come before Stormlight Archive or is it after?

Brandon Sanderson

Before the end of the Stormlight?

Questioner 1

So Warbreaker 2 would it take place before the start of...

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, before. Yeah, Warbreaker 2 chronologically is pre-Stormlight. Before Stormlight 1, yeah.

Questioner 1

Pre-Stormlight. Okay.

Questioner 2

I'm excited for that.

Brandon Sanderson

In fact, chronologically I think it's the exact book before Stormlight 1. I don't think there's anything in between there.

Questioner 1

Will the book say why Nightblood's on [Roshar]...

Brandon Sanderson

It will at least hint at it. I mean the book is called Nightblood. If it doesn't I'll write a bridge novella to kind of do that.

Questioner 1

Bridge the gap?

Brandon Sanderson

Bridge the gap. Because the story-- I'm not sure if I can work in everything. Because the story isn't about Nightblood leaving. It's about-- yeah.

Questioner 1

Yeah, it's not about that. It's just kind of like a... how did that transition happen.

Brandon Sanderson

I mean, yeah. Vasher's cosmere-aware, and so the more you talk to him the more some of this stuff will come out.

Ancient 17S Q&A ()
#18 Share

Chaos (paraphrased)

Could you tell us a chronology of the Shardworlds thus far? Like, did Warbreaker happen after Mistborn or before, things like that. Personally, I was under the impression you said Mistborn was a sequel to Elantris, but Mi'ch and Josh disagree.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

He wasn't positive on where Warbreaker went, but Elantris is first and MB is after it.

General Twitter 2011 ()
#19 Share

mistlepro

my question was Aona/Skai Shards shattering the event we saw the aftermath of in Elantris? Or a further final apocalypse?

Brandon Sanderson

The events in Elantris happened many years before The Way of Kings. That’s all I’ve said for now.

mistlepro

But I thought the monks of Dakhor and the ChayShin(?) were all AonDor related? The energy familiars are related to Skai?

Brandon Sanderson

What the Dakhor did accessed the Dor, but it was not AonDor—they weren’t using Aons, but different symbols.

Barnes & Noble B-Fest 2016 ()
#22 Share

Questioner

How does time work in the Cosmere? Or a better question to ask: are any of the books happening at the same time in the Cosmere?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm gonna have to look at the timeline. Most of them do not happen concurrently. Mostly they have been at distinct points. But the closer we get to modern and future era Mistborn world, the more overlap there is between them, just kind of by necessity 'cause they eventually start ramming together. So, the further we get in the Cosmere, the more likely things are overlapping.

So, I don't know that we've had anything actually overlap yet, in fact I'm pretty sure that we haven't, unless you count some of the short fiction might overlap. But even then, I don't think anything big overlaps, but it will start happening soon.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#23 Share

Brandon Sanderson

Spook's Timeline

One of the problems with Spook's sequences is that I had to break the chapters timewise longer than I'd wanted to. Originally, these latest three or four Spook chapters happened in the course of a week's time. However, when I added them into the rest of the book, I realized I had to space them out a lot farther because of the things happening in Vin and Elend's timeline.

So it's a little bit awkward. Three chapters ago, Spook heard men mention the rumors Durn was spreading about him. Then we had two chapters dealing with Sazed and Breeze's arrival. Only now can Spook finally track down Durn and demand to know about the rumors he was spreading.

It would have made much more sense to have had Spook find a way to do this earlier, but I just couldn't work it in until now. The “count the skulls” thing is coming up too; I haven't forgotten it. Unfortunately, it suffered from this same issue.

Worldbuilders AMA ()
#26 Share

Xluxaeternax

Is the chronology through the whole cosmere fairly linear, or are there some Interstellar-relativity timey-wimey stuff at play?

Brandon Sanderson

Relativity is in play for sure, but I am not allowing time travel into the past in the cosmere. So while you might find places that move at slower/faster speeds, and while foreseeing future timelines is in play for sure, nobody will not be pulling serious time travel shenanigans.

Firefight San Francisco signing ()
#28 Share

Questioner

How far ahead in the timeline is Sixth of Dusk?

Brandon Sanderson

Pretty far.

Questioner

Kind of a general...

Brandon Sanderson

Most people that I’m writing about now are all dead.

Questioner

Is it up into the third trilogy of Mistborn?

Brandon Sanderson

It is that era, yes.

Questioner

Sweet! That’s what I thought.

Brandon Sanderson

It might be a little bit before that trilogy, but it’s that era.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
#29 Share

Questioner

I'm 66 in a couple months and I want to make sure I live long enough to read the whole Stormlight--

Brandon Sanderson

Alright.

Questioner

Am I going to?

Brandon Sanderson

You'll definitely make it through the first five. The thing about it is I'll break in the middle, but the first five come to a natural climax, and then there's an in-world break of 15 years. Not 15 years away for us but an in-world break. And then I'll do another trilogy. I think you'll make it through them all. I think you'll easily make it, you look very hale and healthy.
General Twitter 2011 ()
#31 Share

mistlepro

regarding “bumps” in TWoK, did the events referred to in the Part 2 bumps already occur in your other novels?

Brandon Sanderson

So far, the books have been chronological. Alloy of Law is a little out of order, happening before KINGS.

Oathbringer release party ()
#33 Share

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

Dalinar's visions are the memories of Honor, correct?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Yes. Yes, they are things specifically created by Honor...

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

Does that mean that the Recreance happened before Honor's death... since Dalinar sees it?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Yes. But Honor's death, like Preservation's death, is a protracted event.

JordanCon 2016 ()
#34 Share

Questioner

What was the reasoning behind there being many, many years between different stories in the different parts the cosmere, like the huge gap between… Warbreaker and Way of Kings. Like why is--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, why are there some huge gaps in the length of the cosmere. There's-- I want the cosmere to be more than just a little blip of time. The concept for the cosmere was never something, to me, like the Avengers for instance. Which a lot of people kind of view it that way, particularly because the Marvel movies have been so big, and that's good. But it's not like all these concurrent stories with the same characters converging. That's not how I have ever planned it. Now there are certain people who are functionally immortal or close to it that will be involved in things across time, but this is-- I'm telling an epic story, right? And I knew we needed thousands of years between some of the events. For instance, Roshar, we start in the Prelude at 4500 years or whatever before the book starts. It's like, if I didn't have some big gaps, then what are all the stories that are happening in between? It feels illogical and false to me to have all the stories happen in a short time period. Now as certain part of the magic allow more communication and connection, then we will have to, by nature, kind of accelerate some of those things. But I feel like if I spent, you know, ten thousand years or whatever, and only had all the stories happen in the last 50, it would feel really weird. So that’s why.
Tor.com Q&A with Brandon Sanderson ()
#35 Share

Jemaclus

In The Way of Kings, the [epigraphs] indicate that the year is 1174 (or thereabouts). In the Prelude, the date is indicated as 3000 years ago. What mechanism is used to delineate the epochs? Obviously in the Prelude they wouldn't refer to their date as -2174. In other words, what are the B.C./A.D./BCE equivalents for that series?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm going to have to RAFO that

Brandon's Blog 2017 ()
#37 Share

Karen Ahlstrom

I just finished the timeline for Oathbringer, and thought you might like to hear about the process. (Spoiler warning: There may be tidbits of information in this article about the plot of Oathbringer, but I have specifically made up many of the examples I use, so you can’t count on any of it as fact.)

I know that some of you think, “Brandon posted that he had finished writing Oathbringer months ago. Why do we have to wait until November before it’s on the shelf at the bookstore?” This is a natural question. I asked it myself years ago when I heard similar news about a Harry Potter book. The timeline is one small part of the reason, but it will give you a small glimpse of what is going on at a frantic pace here at Dragonsteel trying to get the book ready to go to press.

You may know that I’m Brandon’s continuity editor. I keep records of every character, place, spren, and piece of clothing to name just a few. The next time a person appears, I make sure they have the right eye color and eat the right kind of food. There’s so much more to it than that, but it gives you an idea of the level of detail I try to be on top of.

Another thing I track is the timeline of each book. I have a massive spreadsheet called the Master Cosmere Timeline (I can hear some of you salivating right now, and no, I won’t let you peek at certain corners of it).

In some of Brandon’s books, there are a few main characters who spend most of their time together in the same place. For those books, the timeline is simple. Take The Bands of Mourning for instance. It’s about four days long. Nobody goes off on a side quest. The timeline only takes up 32 lines in the spreadsheet because there are that many chapters. On the other hand, the current spreadsheet for the Stormlight books has over 1100 lines.

Here’s a sample of the timeline spreadsheet. The white columns are the dates, which I have an entirely separate post about. In column F we have an event that happens in the book. Column E tells how long it has been since the last event. Then I have the quote from the book that I used to justify the timing, the chapter the quote appears in, and whether the event happened on the day of the chapter, or sometime in the past or future.

The timeline for Oathbringer starts on day 4 of the new year, and ends on day 100. (Which, for those of you who keep track of such things, makes the date 1174.2.10.5). My day count could change by a day or two here and there, but I’m pretty happy with how I got the different groups of people to all end up in the same place at the same time.

Why bother? Well, sometimes Brandon writes a flashback and someone is looking at a cute baby. It’s important to tell Brandon that this particular kid wasn’t born for another four years. A character might think to themselves, “It’s been a month and a half since I was there,” and though it has been 45 days, a month on Roshar is 50 days long, so it hasn’t even been a single month. Brandon often glosses over those conversions in early drafts.

The most important purpose, though, comes when two groups of characters are apart for some length of time. Let’s take Kaladin and Dalinar in The Way of Kings. Kaladin was running bridges for battles where Dalinar and Sadeas cooperated. Were there the same number of days in Kaladin’s viewpoint between those battles as there were in Dalinar’s viewpoint? The answer is no. I was assigned this job after that book was finished, and as much as we squashed and fudged, there is still a day or two unaccounted for. An interesting tidbit from The Way of Kings‘ timeline is that Kaladin’s timeline has 50 days in it before Dalinar’s starts. Chapter 40, when Kaladin recovers from being strung up in the storm, is the same day as the chasmfiend hunt in Chapter 12.

Going back to Oathbringer, sometimes I’m amazed at the power I have. As I go through the manuscript, I can take a sentence like, “He spent four days recovering,” and simply replace the word four with two. Brandon gives me a general idea of how long he wants things to take, and I tell him what it needs to be to fit. It’s a big responsibility, and sometimes I worry that I’ll mess the whole thing up.

Oathbringer is the first book in the Stormlight series where I worked with a list of the storms from the start. Peter tried on Words of Radiance, but Brandon wrote what the story needed and expected us to fit the storms in around that (A perfectly reasonable process, even if it makes my job trickier). In Oathbringer though, the Everstorm and highstorm are each on a much stricter schedule. We need such exact timing in some scenes that Peter (with help from beta reader Ross Newberry) made me a calculator to track the hour and minute the storms would hit any given city.

Yet another thing we needed to calculate is travel time. How fast can a Windrunner fly? How many days does it take to march an army from here to there? Kaladin might be able to do a forced march for a week, but what about Shallan or Navani? How long could they manage 30 miles a day?

Hopefully now you can see why we’ve needed months of work to get this far, and will need months more to get it finished in time. At some point, we’re just going to have to call it good and turn the book over to the printer, but even though you think you want to get your hands on it now, it will be a much better read after we have the kinks worked out.

Boskone 54 ()
#39 Share

Questioner

When Sazed moved the planet in the third Mistborn, I know it has it’s own solar system but did it affect the cosmere in any way?

Brandon Sanderson

Not in huge amounts. Technically yes, because you change gravity, but they are lightyears away, so they wouldn’t even notice. I mean, it changed Shadesmar a little bit too, so there were upheavals, but it was not drastic. If what you are looking for is the cause of the earthquake on Sel, then no. The earthquake was years before.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#40 Share

tisces

Do you keep a timeline for your Cosmere books? I'm assuming the events from books such as Elantris and Warbreaker happen before the Stormlight Archives but I'm curious about how much time has passed whether it is months/years/centuries.

Brandon Sanderson

Centuries have passed. I think we're closer to a thousand years covering events you could place on the line, with closer to ten thousand years since inciting incidents.

Shadows of Self Lansing signing ()
#44 Share

Questioner

How do the timelines line up? So they're all in the same universe. But how does Stormlight and--

Brandon Sanderson

They are mostly been chronological, yet Alloy-era is after Stormlight book 5.

Questioner

Okay.

Brandon Sanderson

Otherwise, mostly chronological. White Sand is before most of this happens. So if you ever read that one, it’s a pretty early book.

Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
#45 Share

Shagomir

I'm really, really super interested to see how you approach the calendar for Taldain, given its unique properties and solar system.

Is this something you'd be able to talk about, or will it come up later in the story line for White Sand?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, that one will be fun. I had a blast with a lot of those things during worldbuilding.

I'll at the very least do some short stories set on the world, after the graphic novel(s). So expect information to be forthcoming.

Idaho Falls Signing ()
#47 Share

Shawn M. Halversen (paraphrased)

I asked him about the time between each of the original 99 desolations.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

It turns out that the number 99 in the stories was made up, and that there were much fewer of them. He also then stated that the cosmere runs along a 10,000 year gap and that Roshar falls right into the middle of the timeline. He ended with "That should give you a perspective of the timeline and events of the desolations".

Firefight Seattle UBooks signing ()
#48 Share

Wetlander

How much time elapses between the beginning of the main part of the story [where they start out at the Shattered Plains] and the end of the series?

Brandon Sanderson

And the end of the series? Because the end of the series, um, we have a 15-year gap between [books number] 5 and 6. So, the first five will probably be Wheel of Time-ish, sort of, each one picks up where the last one left off; we have a little more time, maybe, than Wheel of Time, but not terribly much, so it will probably be just a couple of years for the first ones, but then we will jump.

General Twitter 2012 ()
#49 Share

zas678

We have conflicting reports on chronology. Is this link right, or is this link right?

Brandon Sanderson

The second. I revised my placement of KINGS relative to HERO after realizing a behind-the-scenes conflict.

ALLOY had to happen after KINGS for Cosmere reasons. I had two timelines arguing, and in plotting Stormlight 2, I fixed this.

General Reddit 2016 ()
#50 Share

NotOJebus

As the continent was specifically grown by Adonalsium

WHAT????!!!

Brandon Sanderson

Roshar predates the Shattering. I've spoken of this before, haven't I?

NotOJebus

Maybe somewhere before, and obviously most planets existed before the shattering (Planets are pretty old) but I don't think you've ever mentioned Roshar (the continent) being specifically grown by Adonalsium.

Is this a normal thing that Adonalsium did or was Roshar special to him in some way?

A quick search reveals that you have mentioned that Roshar was named Roshar before the Shattering but nothing mentioned about it being grown by Adonalsium. It makes sense though, that shape is obviously not natural.

Brandon Sanderson

There are many things that are unique about Roshar, but it wasn't the only world created in this way.