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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

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.

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".

Miscellaneous 2021 ()
#8 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.

Starsight Release Party ()
#9 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.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#10 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 ()
#12 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 ()
#14 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.

Words of Radiance Portland signing ()
#15 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.