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YouTube Spoiler Stream 2 ()
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Amber Burningham

Would someone with a strong moral compass such as Kaladin and Dalinar consider Wit's alignment moral?

Brandon Sanderson

Dalinar is more likely to understand than Kaladin, because Dalinar's been in positions. Kaladin is less likely to, but it depends on what aspects of what Hoid's doing you're taking about.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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Does Dalinar know about Adonalsium? Stormfather dropped the term during one of their talks, so did he tell Dalinar the whole story of Shattering and Shards? Also, does he understand what exactly he did when summoned perpendicularity or not? Does he understand what’s going on with him now (that he’s connected with Honor’s remnants)? Does he even know what “Shard” means?

I guess, the question is “How cosmere-aware Dalinar is?”

Brandon Sanderson

As of Oathbringer, Dalinar isn't specifically aware of the larger cosmere story--though he would have numerous "Aha" moments if it were explained to him, as pieces of what he does know would fall into place. The Stormfather isn't particularly interested in the larger story, however, and that's one reason.

Jasnah is a different story...

Skyward Seattle signing ()
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Why didn't we get to see Dalinar meet Gallant in Oathbringer in the flashbacks? I was so disappointed...

Brandon Sanderson

I planned that for a different flashback... I intentionally didn't put that one in, because it didn't fit the rest of the narrative that I was telling. But I will do that eventually.


Is it after he arrives at the Shattered Plains?

Brandon Sanderson

I will RAFO that for now, because I'd have to go look exactly at the timeline where I'm slipping it in.


But it's around that time?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, it's more recent than most of the things that you're reading about... Let's say, the person that Dalinar has been through most of his life would not end up with him... I will get into it. I realize that that was a hole that is not in the story, and it's an intentional one. But I eventually worked in the flashbacks with Kaladin in the last book, I found a little extra place for them. I'll try to find some of those for Dalinar.

JordanCon 2016 ()
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Is the reason Dalinar rejects the Thrill because he has a connection to Honor through his visions from the Stormfather?

Brandon Sanderson

…Is the reason that Dalinar rejects the Thrill because he has a connection to the Stormfather through his visions?



Brandon Sanderson

The answer is yes, this is parti-- this is in play. Though you could say the two of them have a si-- The reason he has a connection to the Stormfather also influences the reason that he rejects the Thrill, so it may be more correlation than causation, but there's at least a little causation as well.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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Dalinar is my absolute favorite character in any book now. During previous AMA someone asked you about character’s mental health and you wrote that Dalinar has had PTSD, alcoholism and “a few other things”. Can you explain what these “other things” are?

Brandon Sanderson

All right, so with Dalinar, I wouldn't suggest looking for some broad categorization--like, I think there would be an instinct by some people to diagnose him with Antisocial PD during his youth. He certainly has some hallmarks (the lack of empathy, the aggression, and the and willingness to put responsibility for his actions onto someone else.)

But I think more, with Dalinar, it wasn't some grand schema to diagnose--but a lot of little problems, like most of us have, that were unhealthy ways of seeing the world. Some of this relates to his mix of jealousy/devotion related to his brother, both of which emotions were unhealthy at times. But also his bloodlust in combat, which wasn't just the Thrill--but a real enjoyment of fighting, and a willingness to ignore consequences to others for that.

These are still all issues he has, though he's worked through many--but the knowledge that losing control was so bad for him in the past has led him to what I'd call his current biggest challenge, which is the need to be in control at all times. (To the point that he doesn't completely trust others to see something get done, despite what he claims.)

Salt Lake City Comic-Con 2014 ()
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Who is your favorite character you've written, if you had to pick one?

Brandon Sanderson

That's a hard question, I can't pick a favorite character. Dalinar is what I normally say, just because I've been working on him the longest. Honestly, I don't know. It's whoever I'm working on at the time.


Dalinar is a good character, I like Kaladin a lot too.

Brandon Sanderson

Kaladin has really worked out well. It's interesting because Kaladin-- the first time I wrote The Way of Kings, in 2002-- did not work and I had to rip him out and try a completely different personality and things for him. So it's cool to see it finally working.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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Will we be finding out what Dalinar's wife's name was, or has her name been similarly wiped from the flashbacks like Dalinar's mind?

Brandon Sanderson

I feel I should RAFO questions about the flashbacks, except to say that I wouldn't jump into them without understanding what readers want to see--and either fulfilling that, or subverting it in the name of the story. (The latter happening very rarely.)

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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I was wondering about origins and meaning of Dalinar's name. It's a shame we know name meanings of minor characters like Oroden, but don't know about our main character. How you came out with Dalinar's name and what does it means in-world?

Brandon Sanderson

Dalinar is actually a chicken-egg thing. I had his name way before I had the linguistics of Roshar, and it was always just the RIGHT name for me. I built a lot of the naming conventions around the fact that I liked the name.

17th Shard Forum Q&A ()
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As Dalinar gave his Shardblade to Highprince Sadeas, was his motivation only to free the Brigdemen as "Thank you" for the help? Or did he already plan to build a team from soldiers who are loyal only to him?

Brandon Sanderson

He certainly saw the side benefits. However, his primary motive was to make a statement. Not just as a thank you, but as a way of proclaiming to all of the Alethi "What we have been doing is wrong. This wealth is not worth the lives of men."

Stormlight Three Update #5 ()
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You have Jasnah give such a good argument for the atheist point of view that I thought, well Brandon is probably an atheist (as I am). Then I started watching your writing class videos. Oops! In one of them you say that you feel you can successfully draw an atheist character. I certainly agree. ;-) Jasnah does seem to lack compassion to some degree, but I insist that religion is not necessary for one to be compassionate. You draw characters wonderfully!

Brandon Sanderson

Kaladin is agnostic, which most people miss in these discussions, and is the series argument for a compassionate non-believer. Dalinar is a liberal theist, and Navani an orthodox theist.

Salt Lake City ComicCon 2017 ()
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In the battle of the Tower, Eshonai is fighting Dalinar, Dalinar removes his helm, and she recognizes him. She acts like she wants to speak with him. Possibly to negotiate. If Kaladin hadn't shown up and saved him, what would have happened?

Brandon Sanderson

There's a chance they would have worked it out. Not a really good one, but there's a chance.

Oathbringer Glasgow signing ()
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In that one long rejection of Odium, how many Oaths did Dalinar swear before merging the Realms? And is "I am Unity" the fifth.

Brandon Sanderson

No, that is not an Oath. He swore one ideal in that experience.


Okay. How many Oaths is he on?

Brandon Sanderson

The number you think. So, he should have just finished three, right? Or maybe four. I'll have to go look. It's the number that you think it is. I'm not being sneaky on you. There's nothing sneaky there. He doesn't get armor, so I can't remember where he is... He should be at three. "Life before death." "I will unite instead of divide." "I will stand up each time I fall." Yeah, so he's done three.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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In Oathbringer Cultivation calls Dalinar Son of Honor and Son of Odium. Why? Does he Connected to both Shards and technically can be a Vessel for Odium.

Also, why Cultivation says it'd be good for her to have a part of Dalinar inside of her? Is it important?

Brandon Sanderson

This is partially RAFO territory, but let's just say that Cultivation takes the long view on someone--and to her, Dalinar represents both the the best and worst of both Honor and Odium.

General Reddit 2015 ()
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I was just listening to Darn Carlin's Hardcore History podcast and Dan Carlin was talking about Genghis Khan's habit of seeing the potential in anyone, even an enemy. He was specifically going over the story of Jebe, a soldier who shot Genghis Khan in the neck and was recruited by the Khan because of his skill. This, at least to me, bears a striking resemblance to the final scene in the first flashback of [Oathbringer]. [Brandon] can you confirm or deny my suspicions that this scene was directly inspired by the real life event?

Brandon Sanderson

Yup, that's where it came from! I read a history of Genghis a number of years back, and loved this story, which was included there (though said to be just a legend.) Since I based old-school Dalinar on Subutai, a Mongolian general, I thought that this would be a perfect inclusion.

The origins of the Mongolian-Dalinar link, by the way, can be traced back to a friend of mine, Bat-ultzi, a Mongolian who went about always claiming to be "The Great descendant of the Great Genghis Khan." He'd throw his shoes at people if they offended him. He was such a character that I got very interested in Mongolian practices and history.

More tidbits. Rock and his culture started Mongolian long, long ago. (98-99 era, when I first wrote him.) As Roshar in general (and the Alethi in specific) became more Asian in look and less Semitic (though they are still a mash-up) I decided to push Rock's people in the direction of a human/parsh hybrid strain. This also was part of moving Rock himself from Yolen to Roshar, following after Dalinar and some other characters, who came earlier during the original Dragonsteel / Stormlight split in the early 2000s.

These changes drove the Horneaters away from Mongolian influences, though I can't say specifically where the Polynesian/Russian mashup came from. I liked how it read, and felt the linguistics supported the accent. These changes, of course, had a domino effect that resulted in the Veden people gaining their occasional red hair and fair skin from Horneater relation, which means Shallan is part parshman--though the relation is distant at this point.

Skyward San Francisco signing ()
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What inspired you to write Dalinar's amnesia and all that? What was your inspiration for that?

Brandon Sanderson

That, all of that, was really just partially narrative necessity. I didn't want to dig into that until I got to the right book, and so I needed the meddling to have pulled a little bit of that back. Plus, the fact that he was an alcoholic let me get away with a little bit of what was going on there. I really liked the intriguing element of someone who had had a piece of their memories ripped away and then was being given it back at the right time, right? That deliberateness of it was really interesting to me. I thought it made for an interesting story hook, when you meet a character and then realize he's had part of his memory excised. It's a bunch of things moving together.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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During the perpendicularity scene in Oathbringer is it safe to say that what Dalinar did is akin to super powered versions of his surges? Tension to make the realms ductile and formable, adhesion to bring them together. I know the specific ability is unique to Dalinar but I'm fairly attached to this rationalization

Brandon Sanderson

I wouldn't immediately shoot down this particular theory. 

Orem Signing ()
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JoyBlu's Friend

Many of my questions have to do with the Dalinar-Adolin relationship because I love families and I find this particular relationship very strained. I wish to know stuff like what Dalinar really feels for Adolin, as I find he treats him more like a tool than a son. Or whether or not we've seen the end of the Adolin murdered Sadeas narrative arc, as no character really had the time to react to it yet.

Brandon Sanderson

You have not seen the end of that arc. Dalinar loves his son but has trouble treating anyone as anything other than tools.

JoyBlu's Friend

What are Brandon's thoughts on the relationship? I'd also die to hear Brandon speak about what to expect for Adolin within book 4 in terms of length, scope—

Brandon Sanderson


JoyBlu's Friend

—as I just wished to give Brandon comment on the fact that some readers were disappointed with the outcome of this narrative arc.

Brandon Sanderson


Words of Radiance Omaha signing ()
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When Hoid is talking to Dalinar he seems to expect that Dalinar may have heard of Adonalsium.

Brandon Sanderson

Adonalsium.  Yes.


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.  

Skyward Chicago signing ()
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This is purely hypothetical, but if Dalinar was to become the Vessel for multiple Shards, would he have had more difficulty with Preservation separately if Harmony was involved? Because that's the only of the Shards I can't see him holding onto particularly well.

Brandon Sanderson

Hmm. I can say yes on that. I think that's a good theory... you phrased [that] very well.

Skype Q&A ()
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Lerasium Mistborn

Dalinar had two non-Stormfather visions. First at the end of Words of Radiance, and second with Nohadon in Oathbringer. I'm curious if these two are related or they come from different sources?

Brandon Sanderson

So, by even answering that, this is one of those questions I tend to RAFO because by answering it I'm implying that your postulations are correct, which I am not even willing to do. It's more of a RAFO in that... let's just say I'm not even willing to confirm the postulations.

YouTube Spoiler Stream 5 ()
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Can you tell us something about Dalinar's parents?

Their names? Why didn't they show up in Oathbringer flashbacks? What happened to them?

Brandon Sanderson

Dalinar gets along better with his grandparents—or got along with his grandparents than he did with his parents—let's say that. What else can I canonize? I mean, by that time they're not around. You've probably figured that out. Dalinar wasn't too sad about that. Particularly past Dalinar not being the kind of person who—yeah, let's just say that there is stuff in the Alethi family history that has caused part of Jasnah's consternation on the way she regards how families act towards one another—you know, lighteyed families—and her concerns about it.

General Reddit 2017 ()
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Will we get a depiction of Dalinar, aside from the image in Unfettered II? I was slightly disappointed these [Oathbringer endpapers] are depictions of Heralds actually, although having said that, they are gorgeous!

Brandon Sanderson

I'm sure we'll get one eventually. But there's not one in this book.

General Reddit 2020 ()
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Here's my theory, and I want to get it down here so when it turns out to be right I can say "See I called it!"

​Dalinar becomes the new Honor, Lift becomes the new Cultivation. Why? Cultivation touched three people, Dalinar, Taravangian and Lift. She planned for Taravangian to become the new Odium, so I figure the other two are the new Honor and her eventual successor Cultivation. At least this is Cultivation's plan, even if that's not exactly how it ends up happening.

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO indeed.

Starsight Release Party ()
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Was the Blackthorn... Is that a reference to Tad Williams' character Camaris and the sword Thorn that's black?

Brandon Sanderson

Not intentionally but I've read those books.


Do you see the connection?

Brandon Sanderson

I totally see the connection. I mean I've read Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, so totally could be there in the back of my head.

General Reddit 2019 ()
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Is Dalinar based off of Genghis Khan to any extent, and if so did you blend him with other historical figures?

Brandon Sanderson

One inspiration for the Alethi is the Yuan Dynasty, which has Mongolian roots. Because of that, I've included little hints here and there connecting the peoples. I'd imagine Dalinar more as a Subutai than a Genghis, but the episode where he recruits a guy who shot him with an arrow is based off of a piece of folklore that surrounds Genghis, so it's not off base to note the connections there.

White Sand vol.1 release party ()
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Zahel calls Renarin--he says to Renarin-- I'm sorry, about Renarin... *brief interruption*

Brandon Sanderson

So, keep going.


He calls him "the son of the most powerful human on this..." And I was wondering, the word "human", is that referring to Dalinar or is it referring to maybe Dalinar *inaudible/interrupted*

Brandon Sanderson

Good question! It is referring to Dalinar.


It is!? So how would you finish that sentence? "The most powerful human on this..."

Brandon Sanderson


Shadows of Self Newcastle UK signing ()
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I wondered if there's a bit of you in all the characters... and it's characters where they don't have bits of you that you get stuck with writing them, and how you overcome that?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, getting stuck. So characters are the hard one for me to talk about because I plan my worlds in great detail before I start writing, in most cases, and I plan my plots in moderate detail. I plot backward, I start with what I want to have happen for a plot cycle; not necessarily the last scene, but, you know, something like this character learns to use the magic, and I've got the scene where it shows that this is working, and then I list a bunch of bullet points underneath. That's my-- And so if you look at my outline, it's like goal, bullet points, goal, bullet points, goal, bullet points-- that's my whole outline.

My characters, I figure out who they are when the book starts, but I do not outline them in great detail. The reason for this is we find that writers tend to fall into two general camps. We have what we call outline writers, and discover writers. Now, discovery writers, George RR Martin calls them gardeners, they like to discover their story as they go. Stephen King says you never start with an ending in mind because otherwise it ruins the book, he just goes and see what happens. They tend to write character really well. In fact if you're reading a good and you go "Wow these characters all feel really vivid and alive", that's probably a discovery writer. If you're-- On the other hand outliners, or architects as George RR Martin calls them, tend to plan everything out ahead of time and because of this they tend to have spectacular plots. If you've got somebody who's got a great plot, it's a page-turner, the great twist at the ending-- that's most likely going to be an architect, but the flaw of this is they tend to have weaker characters; and the flaw over here is they tend to have weaker plots. Terrible endings are a horrible kind of habit of the discovery writer. 

Over time I've really tried to kind of mitigate this by letting myself discovery-write my characters to kind of get some more of that living character status, which means I have to have a flowing outline where, once I've started writing my way into the character I will then have to rebuild the outline periodically to match the person they're becoming, which sometimes rips apart that outline quite a bit. The other thing that it requires me to do is I often have to kind of cast characters in a role. Vin is a great example of this, where I actually tried Vin three different times--I posted one of these on my website--with a different personality each time until I got one that would fit the story that I'm telling, and who she was, and I went from there.

And so it's really hard for me to pick out what I do with characters, but if my book is not working it's almost always that a character is not working for me. And this happened with Sazed in book 3 of Mistborn. I wrote this in the annotations, you can go and read it off that. Dalinar, in the original draft of The Way of Kings. When a character is not clicking 100% it is the biggest problem I run into with books, that takes a lot of drafting to figure out what to do. With Dalinar, if you're not familiar with what happened there, is I split him into two people. It always had his son Adolin, but Adolin had not been a viewpoint character, and the problem I was having with Dalinar was that I wanted to present a strong figure for the leader because people though he was going mad, but I also had to have him talk about this madness, and be really worried about it, and so he came on very weak, because everyone thought he was going mad, and he spent all of his time brooding about going mad. When I took the brooding out to his son, and had Dalinar be like "I'm not mad, something's going on, everyone thinks that I'm crazy, but I can deal with this", and had his son go "my dad, who I love, is going crazy", those two characters actually both became more alive, and worked better, than they had with the conflict of "I'm going crazy" being Dalinar's. So, it takes a lot of work to figure these things out sometimes.

Stuttgart signing ()
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Questioner (paraphrased)

What idea sparked Stormlight for you?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

The very first seed for everything was a man who's brother to a king. The king gets assassinated and the nephew becomes a bad king. How he copes with that is what I started thinking about. We all have somebody in our family. That became Dalinar and Elhokar in The Stormlight Archive.

YouTube Livestream 9 ()
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Who would win: Dalinar with his Shards, or Szeth in Stormlight?

Brandon Sanderson

Young Dalinar with his Shards, Dalinar in his prime versus Szeth? I think, long run, Szeth wins. The reason for this being, Stormlight is just an unfair advantage. You take away the Honorblade from Szeth and Dalinar does win. Szeth is good. But Szeth doesn't have experience with Plate nearly as much. He has been trained almost exclusively on Honorblades and Surges. His fighting styles are all built around them. He is an expert at using Surges, but if he doesn't have those, he's got nothing. Dalinar is good at a lot of different fighting styles, has been in war a ton, and even if he didn't have Plate and you put the two of them without powers against each other, Dalinar's probably going to win. But if Szeth has an Honorblade... being able to heal and being able to fly, these are two almost insurmountable advantages in a one-on-one combat.

Dawnshard Annotations Reddit Q&A ()
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Jasnah is married? I may have misread it, but I'm pretty sure she refers to her husband in the negotiations

Brandon Sanderson

I think you might be mistaking Jasnah and Navani, as Navani refers to her husband (Dalinar) during negotiations. Jasnah doesn't appear on screen, though she does have a few lines via spanreed.

It's a little confusing because by this point, Dalinar and Navani have started using king/queen for themselves in reference to Urithiru as a separate kingdom. Jasnah is queen of Alethkar, but Navani is also Alethi and a queen--but not of once in a while, I found alpha/beta readers getting tripped up by the terminology.


So Dalinar dropped his 'I must never be king' resolution? Kinda weird, that felt like an Oath to me.

Brandon Sanderson

You're referring to young Dalinar realizing that he couldn't want the throne, lest it lead him to turn against his brother? I didn't intend that to be a capital O oath.

For what it's worth, in the months after Oathbringer, he realized that as long as he wasn't putting himself on the same level as the others, they would worry he wanted more. So being named king was a way for him to calm the coalition.