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Words of Radiance Dayton signing ()
#2 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.

Legion Release Party ()
#3 Copy

R'Shara [PENDING REVIEW]

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

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Oh, so how many Desolations were there, total?

R'Shara [PENDING REVIEW]

Between the Oathpact and Aharietiam?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Not as many as people say there are.

R'Shara [PENDING REVIEW]

More than fifty, less than fifty?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

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 [PENDING REVIEW]

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

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

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

Idaho Falls Signing ()
#5 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".

/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 ()
#9 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.

Firefight release party ()
#11 Copy

Questioner

<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.

Words of Radiance Portland signing ()
#12 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.