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Starsight Release Party ()
#3 Copy

Questioner

I have a bit of a problem with the first Desolation timeline. I'm wondering how old were the Heralds when they became Heralds.

Brandon Sanderson

The age that you would see them as when you met them. They basically are the age they look. When they became Heralds, they are the age that they appeared.

Questioner

So they were like in their younger middle age?

Brandon Sanderson

Some of them. I mean Ishar is older.

Questioner

So that means that the entire timeline of the first Desolation happened within a single lifetime?

Brandon Sanderson

A lot of the ancient chronologies are wrong and you won't get the actual answers until the Heralds themselves explain it in their flashback sequences in the back five. 

Questioner

You've said that the Heralds came over from Ashyn. 

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

Okay. How old were they then?

Brandon Sanderson

Younger than they were when they became Heralds.

Miscellaneous 2021 ()
#4 Copy

Questioner: (paraphrased)

In the past we have seen that shards that break oaths are made vulnerable by that. And in Mistborn Era 1, we see that the reason that Preservation was able to be killed was that he tried to shelter humanity against Ruin even though his agreement said that Ruin would be allowed to destroy them eventually. Did Honor have an agreement with Odium or the singers about a potential ceasefire between Desolations that was broken by the binding of Ba-Ado-Mishram or other actions taken by humans between Desolations?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

RAFO, but I will say that there was not much of a continuatuion to the fighting after a Desolation. It is similar to if you look at stone age and even modern stone age people. Most of them didn't truly understand war and if they did then they almost never thought to exterminate everyone on the other side. So I don't think that it's likely given how far towards societal destruction they were pushed by each desolation.

Legion Release Party ()
#6 Copy

R'Shara

How many times did a Herald break and let the Fused return to Roshar?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, so how many Desolations were there, total?

R'Shara

Between the Oathpact and Aharietiam?

Brandon Sanderson

Not as many as people say there are.

R'Shara

More than fifty, less than fifty?

Brandon Sanderson

I would guess offhand more than fifteen, but not much more. That's the sort of thing I just have to look at the timeline on. You're catching me flat-footed on that one. I would have to go look. Not as many as they think, but more than fifteen.

R'Shara

More than fifteen? Okay, because I actually asked more than fifty.

Brandon Sanderson

Oh you asked more than fifty. More than fifteen, less than fifty.

Firefight release party ()
#7 Copy

Shadow Guardian

<At one point it says> that there were 99 Desolations before the Final Desolation, in the Prelude. Was there actually 99?

Brandon Sanderson

Nope, there were not actually 99. That is a mythological relic. Like the 40 days and 40 nights may well be a metaphor for "a lot" ...Good question.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#8 Copy

chocolatechoux

Hello Mr. Sanderson. This is probably too late but I just wanted to ask what ends a desolation? Is it mainly about winning the battles or is the fighting just about holding out and buying time for something else?

Brandon Sanderson

It involves the departure of the Heralds.

Stormlight Three Update #6 ()
#11 Copy

Telen

How would a Desolation look like on another Shardworld? Would it look different or just more or less similar?

Brandon Sanderson

The term "Desolation" isn't really a cosmere-wide term. It's a Rosharan word for a specific type of event that happens there--and so I have no context for what it would mean no other worlds.

Words of Radiance Portland signing ()
#13 Copy

Kogiopsis

Finally, what point, usually, is society at when a Desolation comes? Because Taln was prepared to introduce them to bronze...

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Kogiopsis

...and Alethi society is so far beyond that.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. Historically a lot of the-- What would happen with the Desolations would destroy all civilization and then the Heralds would leave, and leave people basically in the Stone Age again. And they came back numerous times and found humankind still in the Stone Age, after having left. And so they are prepared-- Sometimes they would come back and they would already be in the Bronze Age or-- and things like that and get them beyond that but frequently they had to be ready, the Heralds learned they had to be ready to try and bring humankind forward several thousand years worth of technology in a year.

Words of Radiance Dayton signing ()
#16 Copy

luke.spence (paraphrased)

What caused a Desolation to end? Was it just the defeat of Odium's forces? Because the Desolations start when the Heralds break under torture.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Because the Heralds can no longer be in existence. There is a certain period of time that they can be there, and after that, if they're there, they will start a new one. So the Heralds do need to leave for a Desolation to end

darkanimereal1 (paraphrased)

Oh. So they've got a time limit.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

They do. Otherwise the Desolation will start again. What they discovered is not all of them have to. As long as one remains, the Desolation will not start again.

luke.spence (paraphrased)

So, by the nine leaving, did that actually break the Oathpact for them? Did it change the cycle of Desolations?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

They have not completely broken the Oathpact, despite what they may think.

Idaho Falls Signing ()
#18 Copy

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".

YouTube Spoiler Stream 4 ()
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ArgentSun

Prior to the arrival of the Everstorm, what happened to the Heralds who died? Were they immediately sent back to Braize to wait until the rest arrived and started the Isolation, or could they return to Roshar, similarly to how the Fused can return multiple times?

Brandon Sanderson

So, the mechanics of this I've been dodgy on on purpose because I know I'm gonna want some wiggle room in the books when I write them. Right now they can't return. They go, they're done. I have to make sure that works with the magic and with the narrative as I write them, so you can take this as one of those Words of Brandon that the books might contradict, but the original outline has, you die, you're there, you can't go back. But there are various incarnations of this where they were holding the Fused back by doing that, from being reborn, if that makes sense. And that's one of the parts that I'm not 100% sure where I'm going to go with, because when I came up with all this stuff, I wasn't working with the realities of the books, where I was writing the Fused, and things like this. And now that I have, this is very natural to be like, alright, let me do a reset, and make sure that the lore and worldbuilding all is consistent now that I've done five books-- I haven't done the fifth one yet, but you know what I mean. It's one of the reasons I have the break in between, is to give myself a chance to go to my outlines and make sure. Originally they were holding back... you could kill Fused and they wouldn't return, because Heralds were holding them back, the Oathpact was. But that meant when the Heralds died, they couldn't return either, and so the war could actually happen. But the Everstorm and things like that have changed that. Anyway, that's the answer until I write it in the books and get you some canon in the flashbacks of the Heralds we will be writing eventually.