Will you ever go into more detail about the dead original shardholders? I'd love to know what kind of people Tanavast, Ati, and Leras were.
They will all be characters in the Dragonsteel series.
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Do you think you will ever include dragons in your books?
Dragonsteel, a series I’ll do someday, has Dragons in it. Hint: This world/series is very important to Hoid..
When will we see a book that basically revolves around the concept of the Cosmere and the shard-travelers? Basically, a book revolving around people like Hoid who can jump from shard to shard.
Third Mistborn Trilogy involves a lot of this. I MIGHT do some parallel stories showing more of what Hoid has been up to. He is a primary viewpoint protagonist of Dragonsteel, but that happens before all of the other books.
I was wondering whether any of the Vessels are blood related?
Aside from the romantic relationship between Honor and Cultivation I'm not sure that we know anything about the relationships that others have with each other within the group of 16, and it would be interesting to know.
I'm saving most of this for Dragonsteel, I'm afraid. So RAFO.
When is Dragonsteel coming out?
Dragonsteel is a looong way off. I have to finish Stormlight, and the next Mistborn trilogy after this one first.
Why does Bastille say they're speaking Melerandian in book 1 and Nalhallan from book 2 on?
When I originally wrote Alcatraz Versus The Evil Librarians, I put that in there partially as a throwaway joke. Melerand is one of the main kingdoms in Dragonsteel, and I thought it would be amusing for them to be speaking that language somehow filtered into this world. By the end of the book I decided that Alcatraz could not be anywhere in the same continuity as Dragonsteel and that I was probably wrong for including that. Though there are other jokes in there relating to my other books—it's much like the scene where Quentin speaks in Spook's dialect. Those were just jokes, inside references to my other books.
Remember that Alcatraz was written as a writing experiment, not as something that I was intending to publish. As the series grew more serious to me, meaning that I developed what I actually wanted to happen—which with me usually happens as I write book two of a series, when I sit down and build an arc for the entire series—I "realified" Alcatraz's world a little bit, if that makes sense, made it its own substantial thing. So at that point it wasn't appropriate for them to be speaking Melerandian anymore.
I started writing my first novel when I was fifteen years old. I didn’t have a computer; I had an old, electric typewriter. It would remember your file on a disc, but it was really just a printer with an attached bare-bones word processor. (It had a tiny LCD screen at the top that could display three lines at a time. You could scroll through and edit bit by bit, then you hit print and it would type out the document.)
The book was terrible. It was essentially a hybrid of Tad Williams and Dragonlance, though at the time I felt it was totally new and original. It did have a wizard who threw fireballs with smiley faces on the front, though, so that’s kind of cool. At its core were two stories. One vital one was the tale of a wise king who was murdered by assassins, forcing his younger brother to take up the mantle and lead the kingdom while trying to find/protect the king’s son and rightful heir. The other was about a young man named Rick, originally blamed for the murder.
I still have some of these pages. (Not the entire book, unfortunately.) I used to hide them behind a picture on the wall of my room so that nobody would find them. I was so anxious about letting people read my writing, and was—for some reason—paranoid my family would find the pages and read them, then make fun of them.
Over the years, many ideas proliferated and matured in my mind. I began writing books in earnest (I never finished that one I started as a teenager.) I grew as a writer, and discovered how to make my works less derivative. Most of my ideas from my teenage self died out, and rightly so. Others evolved. My maturing sensibilities as both a reader and a writer changed how I saw the world, and some stories stood the test of both time and internal criticism, becoming stronger for the conflict.
Rick became Jerick, hero of the book now known as Dragonsteel. (It was my honor’s thesis in college, and will someday be rewritten and published. For now, the only copy available is through interlibrary loan, though it appears to have vanished.) Jared, the man who lost his brother and had to lead in his stead, protecting his nephew, slowly evolved into a man named Dalinar, one of the primary protagonists of The Way of Kings. Some of you may be curious to know that the character many now call Hoid also appeared in that ancient book of mine.
These two epics—Dragonsteel and The Way of Kings—have shaped a lot of my passions and writing goals over the last two decades. For example, in my last year of college I took an introductory illustration class to try my hand at drawing. My final project was a portfolio piece of sketches of plants and animals from Roshar, as even then I was hoping to someday be able to publish The Way of Kings with copious in-world illustrations of Roshar and its life. (At that time, I was planning to have an illustrated appendix, though I eventually decided to spread the pages through the book.) Fortunately, I was able to hire artists to do the work in this book instead of forcing you to look at what I came up with . . .
Well, finally—after two decades of writing—Tor has given me the chance to share The Way of Kings with you. They’ve taken a risk on this book. At every juncture, they agreed to do as I asked, often choosing the more expensive option as it was a better artistic decision. Michael Whelan on the cover. 400K words in length. Almost thirty full page interior illustrations. High-end printing processes in order to make the interior art look crisp and beautiful. A piece of in-world writing on the back cover, rather than a long list of marketing blurbs. Interludes inside the book that added to the length, and printing costs, but which fleshed out the world and the story in ways I’d always dreamed of doing.
This is a massive book. That seems fitting, as it has been two decades in the making for me. Writing this essay, I find myself feeling oddly relieved. Yes, part of me is nervous—more nervous for this book than I have been for any book save The Gathering Storm. But a greater part of me is satisfied.
I finally got it published. Whatever else happens, whatever else comes, I managed to tell this story. The Way of Kings isn’t hidden behind the painting in my room any longer.
Adonalsium was 'killed' and split by the 16 who would eventually become shards, so that means there was an original holder of the power, and could their name have been Adonal?
This is a good question...that will be covered in the Dragonsteel series, when I get to it. (Sorry.)
Can you clarify what the structure you are planning on, is going to be for Dragonsteel is? Like for some reason I have it in my head that it's seven?
Yeah it was originally, way back when, seven. I've-- Right now I've cut so much out of that and stuck it in other books, I'm only at three. So we'll see.
In a lot of your books there are, like, things that make them seem like they might be connected...
Okay, "in a lot of my books there are things that make them seem like they might be connected." *crowd laughs* What's that?
Is there going to be a crossover?
"Is there gonna be a crossover?" So for those who don't know, my books-- my epic fantasies are all connected. There's a hidden epic happening behind the scenes. There will be someday that I will do crossovers, but I am not doing it right now. The focus right now-- I don't want people to like read the books and be like, "I am so lost." I don't you to feel like you have to read my whole body of work to appreciate what's going on in one of them. So while there will be cameos, and sometimes they will be moderately relevant to the plot, it's only gonna remain mostly cameos for the moment, until I do a series which is upfront going to be, "Here's the big crossover. You have to know all eight magic systems or you're gonna go crazy."
As I was developing the Cosmere, I knew I wanted a few threads to span the entire mega-sequence, which was going to cover thousands of years. For this reason, I built into the outline a couple of "core" series.
One of these is the Stormlight Archive, where we have the Heralds who span ages, and which I eventually decided to break into two distinct arcs. Other series touch on the idea of long-standing characters. Dragonsteel, for example, will be kind of a bookend series. We'll get novels on Hoid's origins, then jump all the way to the end and get novels from his viewpoint late in the entire Cosmere sequence.
With Mistborn, I wanted to do something different. For aesthetic reasons, I wanted a fantasy world that changed, that grew updated and modernized. One of my personal mandates as a lover of the epic fantasy genre is to try to take what has been done before and push the stories in directions I think the genre hasn't looked at often enough.
I pitched Mistorn as a series of trilogies, which many of you probably already know. Each series was to cover a different era in the world (Scadrial), and each was to be about different characters—starting with an epic fantasy trilogy, expanding eventually into a space opera science fiction series. The magic would be the common thread here, rather than specific characters.
There was a greater purpose to this, more than just wanting a fantasy world that modernized. The point was to actually show the passage of time in the universe, and to make you, the reader, feel the weight of that passage.
Some of the Cosmere characters, like Hoid, are functionally immortal—in that, at least, they don't age and are rather difficult to kill. I felt that when readers approached a grand epic where none of the characters changed, the experience would be lacking something. I could tell you things were changing, but if there were always the same characters, it wouldn't feel like the universe was aging.
I think you get this problem already in some big epic series. (More on that below.) Here, I wanted the Cosmere to evoke a sense of moving through eras. There will be some continuing threads. (A few characters from Mistborn will be weaved through the entire thing.) However, to make this all work, I decided I needed to do something daring—I needed to reboot the Mistborn world periodically with new characters and new settings.
So how does Shadows of Self fit into this entire framework? Well, The Alloy of Law was (kind of) an accident. It wasn't planned to be part of the original sequence of Mistborn sub-series, but it's also an excellent example of why you shouldn't feel too married to an outline.
As I was working on Stormlight, I realized that it was going to be a long time (perhaps ten years) between The Hero of Ages and my ability to get back to the Mistborn world to do the first of the "second" series. I sat down to write a short story as a means of offering a stop-gap, but was disappointed with it.
That's when I took a step back and asked myself how I really wanted to approach all of this. What I decided upon was that I wanted a new Mistborn series that acted as a counterpoint to Stormlight. Something for Mistborn fans that pulled out some of the core concepts of the series (Allomantic action, heist stories) and mashed them with another genre—as opposed to epic fantasy—to produce something that would be faster-paced than Stormlight, and also tighter in focus.
That way, I could alternate big epics and tight, action character stories. I could keep Mistborn alive in people's minds while I labored on Stormlight.
The Alloy of Law was the result, an experiment in a second-era Mistborn series between the first two planned trilogies. The first book wasn't truly accidental, then, nor did it come from a short story. (I've seen both reported, and have tacitly perpetuated the idea, as it's easier than explaining the entire process.) I chose early 20th century because it's a time period I find fascinating, and was intrigued by the idea of the little-city lawman pulled into big-city politics.
Alloy wasn't an accident, but it was an experiment. I wasn't certain how readers would respond to not only a soft reboot like this, but also one that changed tone (from epic to focused). Was it too much?
The results have been fantastic, I'm happy to report. The Alloy of Law is consistently the bestselling book in my backlists, barring the original trilogy or Stormlight books. Fan reaction in person was enthusiastic.
So I sat down and plotted a proper trilogy with Wax and Wayne. That trilogy starts with Shadows of Self. It connects to The Alloy of Law directly, but is more intentional in where it is taking the characters, pointed toward a three-book arc.
You can see why this is sometimes hard to explain. What is Shadows of Self? It's the start of a trilogy within a series that comes after a one-off with the same characters that was in turn a sequel to an original trilogy with different characters.
Projects in Development
Dragonsteel/Liar of Partinel
This is Hoid's origin story, a prequel to the entire Cosmere. The time is not right. It's going to happen eventually, but I feel that I shouldn't dig into this until Stormlight is completely done. (All ten books.) So don't hold your breath on this one.
Status: Loooong way off
On that note, the book that you were just talking about earlier I read that it was supposed to be Hoid’s origin story?
Yeah, it was Hoid’s origin story, yeah. I will re-write it eventually. One of the problems with it, about halfway through I felt this should really have been a first person book all along and it wasn’t. So that was part of the big reason it wasn’t working. It needs to be his voice telling a story as opposed to the way I was doing it and that is going to involve a major re-write.
My question is about Yolen. If, or when, you chose to write Hoid's origin story, do you plan to keep the same plots in Yolen? Where the moss is taking over the planet?
So I need to give you some back history to this one... My epic fantasy books, this is all of them but not Steelheart and not The Rithmatist, so the epic fantasy, are all connected, if you weren't aware. They all have little ties between characters, and there's a character named Hoid who's shown up in all of the books basically; he's the same person. When I was earlier in my career, before I published, I tried writing his origin story and I failed. The book wasn't very good, and I tried it again later, after I was published, and I failed again. It still wasn't very good. And this still happens to me. Sometimes I try things out and they just don't work. So the question am I going to try it; when I go back to it will it be the same story? The core part of it will be the same. There are certain events that Hoid has talked about in the books that are published that I will make sure are still relevant, but the story continues to evolve in my head. So I will have to decide eventually what things I want to do and what I don't. I think it will change from what I originally planned, but the soul should be the same. The core should still be the same. It will be very different from Dragonsteel, though, which was the one I wrote in 1998, because that had Bridge Four in it, and I moved them to The Stormlight Archive. So most of that book is gone, and it ended up in The Stormlight Archive, so who knows what will go-- It'll be very different from that.
So the other thing I don't understand is in Hero of Ages when Harmony dies. How they became--
Harmony didn't die, you mean--
Yes, you're talking about the person who was holding the power of Preservation.
Yeah, how did those people become that in the first place?
That is a book I'm going to write eventually called Dragonsteel, that deals with how that came about.
When did you develop your idea to have multiple series playing out on different planets? How many separate stories do you plan to tell in said universe, and will your Dragonsteel books be the last?
I started doing this early in my career before I got published, when I felt that writing sequels was not a good use of my time. Just look at the hypothetical; if I'm trying to get published and I write three books in the same, if an editor rejects book one, he or she is not going to want to see book two. But if an editor rejects book one but is optimistic about my writing, I can send them a book from another series and they can look at that.
During my unpublished days I wrote thirteen books, only one of which was a sequel. So I had twelve new worlds, or at least twelve new books—some of them were reexaminations of worlds. But I wanted to be writing big epics. This is what I always wanted to do; something like the Wheel of Time. So I began plotting a large, massive series where all these books were connected, so I could kind of "stealth" have a large series without the editors knowing I was sending them books from the same series. It was mostly just a thing for me, to help me do the writing I wanted to be doing. And then when publication came I continued to do that, and told the story behind the story.
I originally plotted an arc of around 36 books. The total has varied between 32 and 36; 32 would work better for the nature of the universe, but the question is whether I can fit everything into 32 books. I won't say whether Dragonsteel will be the last or not.
What is your favorite original Shardholder?
My favorite original Shardholder?
I don't knoooowwww...
Are they all that bad of people?
No no, they're not bad-- they're not all bad people. Many of them are-- you know the trick is I'm gonna have to really write them, as their personalities. Because right now they're really just concepts, and I haven't written very many of them. And so... I'm very fond of Bavadin, but I can't say.
I was curious if in the future Mistborn models you were gonna get into the history of the dichotomy between Preservation and Ruin.
Yes. With the history-- maybe not in future Mistborn novels, but in some novels you will find out their history and who they are.
Is Dragonsteel still planned to be the bookends for the cosmere (2 eras)?
Yes, but not exactly how you think. It will make sense when I do it, but the final Mistborn series will be the actual end--Dragonsteel will link to it, though.
Is it still the plan to write Dragonsteel last?
Next-to-last. Mistborn final Era will be... yeah, Mistborn 4 will be last.
It seems to be more apparent that different abilities are granted depending on the design of one's spiritweb. Is the design of a spiritweb, and the abilities it grants, limited to a specific Shardworld or are the designs universal across the cosmere? For example could someone from Roshar go to Scadrial and have Hemalurgy done on them and have it work?
Yeah, yeah, some of the magics are more regionally-locked than others. Hemalurgy will work on any planet. But, for instance, you'll notice that Elantrians have trouble even going to the next nation over. There's a specific reason for that. Most of the magics transcend location.
My question, in regards to Dragonsteel, is: Is there a possibility that somebody with the ability of microkinesis can see the spiritweb and alter it according to their will?
This is, this is totally possible. But you have to remember this is pre-Shattering of Adonalsium. Dragonsteel is the story of the Shattering of Adonalsium... the whole book is before, the whole series... So there are lots of things going on there that are-- like you will-- yeah. But it’s not canon yet.
I've heard somewhere that you already have a backstory for Hoid written, but you're waiting to release it as it would reveal too much about the Cosmere universe... is this true?
Yes, this is true.
Do you ever plan on bringing different realms together?
Yes I do.
Do you have a plan for a central work that would connect the different parts of the Cosmere together (Similar to what The Dark Tower does for Stephen King's books)? Maybe Stormlight or the [third] Mistborn trilogy?
Yes, but it is not on a world you have seen.
If you had to guess right now, what year would you think Dragonsteel will come out?
It will be the book after Stormlight 10 is the way it is planned right now. So, add those up, we’ve got seven more Stormlights, four more Mistborn, two Elantris, and one Warbreaker. After all those, and I generally do one a year, so add all that up. So 7... 11... 12 years and then I will write it, probably, is what it looks like? 11... no 13... 14 years.
This totally doesn't really matter and will probably change in the time it takes you to get to them but are Liar of Partinel and Lightweaver of Rens still planned as a semi-separate sub/prequel-series to Dragonsteel, or would they be included in that 3-5 book estimate?
They're included in the 3-5 book estimate. Dragonsteel's outline is kind of still in pieces, as I chopped out so much but dumped in a whole bunch more, so I'm not 100% sure on what length it will be.
Potential Cosmere Stories List
Here are things that at one point I've had in the works, and probably someday plan to do, in the 'osmere:
We know the Shattering was done on purpose. Is it having broken up into intents the only way that it could have shattered, or could it have actually shattered into like sixteen pieces pieces that all have the sixteen intents.
I'm going to RAFO this, because this is not a book i will write for many years and I do not want to start giving spoilers about it.
This story (the story of the shattering of Adonalsium, as told by Hoid) is next-to-last in my sequence of cosmere novels (though it's first chronologically). So don't expect it until Stormlight 10 is done.
Status: A long way off. Though it might still beat that one book by that other author.
As you (probably) know/remember, I'm really interested in the early parts of your creation process. The ideas basically. What was the first idea that created Zahel in WoK prime? What came first, Zahel or Nightblood and what were they like originally? Was it through them that you came up with the idea of worldhoppers or did you just want another worldhopper to appear to show that Hoid wasn't the only one?
The idea was actually writing Kaladin's swordmaster in TWOK Prime. By then, worldhoppers were already quite well established. (I'd written Elantris in 99, along with Dragonsteel to be a prequel to the entire cycle. That was followed by White Sand and Aether of Night in 2000 or so--and Aether has the first on-screen appearance of a Shard.)
Kings Prime was 2002-2003, and I wanted Kaladin's swordmaster Vasher to have an interesting backstory. That was the origin of the idea for a worldhopper who was very interested in Shardblades. From there, wanting to do a sympathetic magic, and (years later) my editor suggesting a world more "colorful" drove me to try out Warbreaker itself.
Here is his first appearance in TWOK Prime. Note, none of the names are changed in this, so you get Kaladin and Adolin's original names, among others.
After a few moments, one of the monks noticed him watching. The man paused, regarding Merin with the eyes of a warrior. "Shouldn't you be practicing with the other lords, traveler?"
Merin shrugged. "I don't really fit in with them, holy one."
"Your clothing says that you should," the monk said, nodding to Merin's fine seasilk outfit.
The monk raised an eyebrow questioningly. He was an older man, perhaps the same age as Merin's father, and had a strong build beneath his monk's clothing. He was almost completely bald, save for a bit of hair on the sides of his head, and even that was beginning to gray.
"It's nothing, holy one," Merin said. "I'm just a little bit tired of hearing about clothing."
"Maybe this will take your mind off of it," the monk said, tossing him a practice sword. "And don't call me ‘holy one.'"
Merin caught the sword, looking down at it blankly. Then he yelped in surprise, dropping his Shardblade and raising the practice sword awkwardly as the monk stepped forward in a dueling stance. Merin wasn't certain how to respond--all of his training in the army had focused on working within his squad, using his shield to protect his companions and his spear to harry the opponent. He'd rarely been forced to fight solitarily.
The monk came in with a few testing swings, and Merin tried his best to mimic the man's stance. He knew enough not to engage the first few blows--they were meant to throw Merin off-balance and leave him open for a strike. He retreated across the cool sand, shuffling backward and trying not to fall for the monk's feints. Even still, the man's first serious strike took Merin completely by surprise. The blow took Merin on the shoulder--it was delivered lightly, but it stung anyway.
"Your instincts are good," the monk said, returning to his stance. "But your swordsmanship is atrocious."
"That's kind of why I'm here," Merin said, trying another stance. This time he managed to dodge the first blow, though the backhand caught him on the thigh. He grunted in pain.
"Your Blade is unbonded," the monk said. "And you resist moving to the sides, as if you expect there to be someone standing beside you. You were a spearman?"
"Yes," Merin said.
The monk stepped back, lowering his blade and resting the tip in the sand. "You must have done something incredibly brave to earn yourself a Blade, little spearman."
"Either that, or I was just lucky," Merin replied.
The monk smiled, then nodded toward the center of the courtyard. "Your friend is looking for you."
Merin turned to see Aredor waving for him. Merin nodded thankfully to the monk and returned the practice sword, then picked up his Shardblade and jogged across the sands toward Aredor. Standing with Dalenar's son was a group of elderly, important-looking monks.
"Merin," Aredor began, "these are the monastery masters. Each of them is an expert at several dueling forms, and they'll be able to train you in the one that fits you best. Masters Bendahkha and Lhanan are currently accepting new students. You can train with either one of them, though you'll need to pay the standard hundred-ishmark tribute to the monastery out of your monthly stipend."
Merin regarded the two monks Aredor had indicated. Both looked very distinguished, almost uncomfortably so. They regarded Merin with the lofty expressions of men who had spent their entire lives practicing their art, and who had risen to the highest of their talents. They stood like kings in their monasteries--not condescending, but daunting nonetheless.
Merin glanced to the side, a sudden impression taking him. "Holy ones, I am honored by your offer, but I feel a little overwhelmed. Could you tell me, is the monk I just sparred with accepting students at the moment?"
The masters frowned. "You mean Vasher?" one of them asked. "Why do you wish to train with him?"
"I. . .I'm not certain," Merin confessed.
Is the payment to a devotary while training under an ardent still canonical? And given that Vasher had a reputation for being a bad duelist in Warbreaker, exactly how good is he with a blade? Is it just a case of Nalthian swordmasters being better or did Vasher learn from his experiences?
It's been a while.
And Vasher isn't as bad as the text implies.
One other question, what is the name of the planet that Elantris is on?
Way of Kings: Roshar
White Sand: Taldain
There are others, but I haven't talked much about those yet, so I'll leave them off for now.
In regards to the title of Dragonsteel, is Adonalsium a dragon?
No, good question though, excellent question. But they do live on the planet.
I’ve been fortunate enough to read White Sand and Aether of Night and I enjoyed them very much. Will they ever be published? I also managed to read Dragonsteel and I enjoyed that too.
White Sand will definitely eventually be published. Aether of Night, not so sure on, because Aether is two halves of two books that didn't fit together. The two pieces didn't mesh. White Sand is part of the sequence and will be done. Dragonsteel is part of the sequence and will be done, but it will be very different now that the Shattered Plains have been used in Way of Kings.
Will there be possibly any books which play on Yolen?
Yeah, the Dragonsteel books will be on Yolen. And it's possible that Yolen will be involved later on
I have a copy of your Dragonsteel master thesis, I haven't read it though. And I was wondering, how you've grown as an author, do you like people to read that or would you rather they wait until you do the better version?
I-- I'm-- That one I don't really like people reading that much because it has an inferior version of Bridge Four that I don't want people to meet. Does that make sense? Like the Bridge Four team--
...And when you re-write it it will be better?
Well Bridge Four won't even be in that book anymore I moved them to Roshar. So you go back and you find the version of Rock that is not quite the right version and you'll find-- Teft is basically the same dude but a lot of the other ones have changed and morphed and they basically won't feel right anymore, if that makes any sense. Feel free to read it, don't feel bad reading it but that's the part that I'm not--
Is that the only part you are worried about? And the rest you are like "It's not my best writing" but--
The rest is not my best writing but whatever. But the Bridge Four stuff, I'm like I did it so much better that it's not even going back and seeing it in rough sketches, it's like if da Vinci had painted a Mona Lisa that was ugly and a different person? You don't want it cemented in their mind that that is what the piece of art is. The rest of it I don't mind so much, I mean the main character his conflict will change dramatically because I pulled that out and gave it to another character in the books. So basically the only thing remaining that is still going to be canon is Hoid and his story, the story what's going with him there is still stuff he would have done...
So something I've noticed in the fantasy genre that I love is that my 2 favorite authors (Sanderson and Rothfuss) don't use the traditional fantasy medieval setting (that I love) of castles, knights, feudalism etc. Now there are plenty of great authors that do (GRRMartin comes to mind as one that does it right), BUT the truth is, a good story eclipses all minor details like setting. An example I always give is that Patrick Rothfuss could write about brushing your teeth and it would make a fascinating read, and Sanderson would make an intriguing plot with amazing characterization throughout the dental hygiene experience. But I digress.
My question (If Brandon would be so kind as to show up, and if not, if anyone has any insight) is why; why doesn't the cosmere have any traditional medieval fantasy settings? Mistborn has keeps, but the society is not the traditional technology and setting of the medieval time period, nor do any of the other worlds given us.
There are both in-world reasons and writing reasons.
The writing reasons are obvious. I grew up on a steady diet of fantasy in a faux-medieval setting. I felt that some of these stories were really good, and enjoyed them--but at the same time, I felt the genre had been there and done that. In some ways, GRRM doing fantasy with the eye of a true medievalist provided a capstone to this era of fantasy.
When I sat down to write, didn't want to write what I was tired of reading. Dragonsteel (which never got published) was bronze age, White Sand was industrial, and Elantris was (kind of) Renaissance. (As you noticed, Mistborn is somewhere around 1820's. I modeled a lot of the society around the fascinating culture/industry of canals as shipping lanes that happened in England right before railroads took over.)
The other big reason, writing wise, is that I feel some of the magics that I enjoy dealing with in my settings need a certain near-industrial mindset to be interesting. The stories I want to tell are about people applying scientific principles to magic--and about the commodification and the economics of magic. Those are early-modern era stories.
The in-world reasoning I have is that on some of these planets, those eras existed--but the books are taking place when the stories of the worlds start smashing into one another. In addition, however, the Shards have an influence on this, because of things they saw happen on their own home planet.
Yes, it's looking like my next series--after Warbreaker, which is looking like it will be a two-book cycle--will be set in the Dragonsteel world. I'm revamping the setting significantly, mashing it together with Aether of Night, which always had a cool magic system but a weaker plot.
I have some sample chapters done, actually. Dragonsteel is now the series name, and the first book will be titled "The Liar of Partinel." (Probably.) The book you all read (now tentatively titled "The Eternal War") will be the third or fourth book in the series, and we will wait that long to introduce Jerick, Ryalla, and Bat'Chor. "Liar" will take place some five hundred years before "The Eternal War."
The following is a complete Brandon Sanderson Bibliography, published and unpublished. Prime indicates an early attempt at a book which was later redone. (Note that when I redo a book like this, it isn't a 'rewrite.' Generally, it's me taking some elements from the setting and writing a whole new book in that setting, using old ideas and mixing them with fresh ones.) Published books are in bold.
1) White Sand Prime (My first book, took two + years to write. 1998)
2) Star's End (Science fiction. 1998)
3) Lord Mastrell (Sequel to White Sand Prime. 1999)
4) Knight Life (Fantasy comedy. 1999)
5) The Sixth Incarnation of Pandora (Science fiction. 1999)
6) Elantris (2000. Published by Tor: 2005)
7) Dragonsteel (2000)
8 ) White Sand (2001)
9) Mythwalker (Never finished. 2001)
10) Mistborn Prime (Stole the magic system and title for a later book. 2002)
11) Final Empire Prime (Stole a character, some setting elements, and title for a later book. 2002)
12) The Aether of Night (2002)
13) The Way of Kings (350,000 words. Took a long time. 2003)
14) Mistborn: The Final Empire (2004, Published by Tor 2006)
15) Mistborn: The Well of Ascension (2005. Contracted to Tor for 2006)
16) Alcatraz vs. The Evil Librarians (2005. Contracted to Scholastic for 2006)
17) Mistborn: The Hero of Ages (2006. Contracted to Tor for 2007)
18) Warbreaker (2006. Tentatively to be released by Tor for 2007)
19) Alcatraz vs. The Scrivener's Bones (2006. Contracted by Scholastic for 2008)
20) Dragonsteel: The Liar of Partinel (Unfinished. 2007?)
21) Alcatraz vs. The Knights of Crystallia (Planned. 2007 Contracted by Scholastic for 2009)
22) Nightblood (Planned. 2008)
23) Dragonsteel: The Lightweaver of Rens (Planned. 2008)
24) Alcatraz vs. The Dark Talent (Planned. 2008. Contracted for Scholastic for 2010)
I'm not sure if I got all of those dates right, but the order is correct. I'm finished with all the books up to Dragonsteel, though Mistborn 3, Warbreaker, and Alcatraz 2 are all only in the third draft stage.
You DON'T have to have read the other Dragonsteel to understand this. The other Dragonsteel will never be published. Some of the plots and characters in it, however, will eventually become book three of this series. Not because I'm doing a 'Dragonlance' type thing, but because when I sat down to work on this project, I realized that I'd rather start back in time a few hundred years. In other words, I'm writing the prequels first, if that's possible.
In worldbuilding this, I realized that I missed a big opportunity in Dragonsteel Prime by not dealing with fainlife all that much. It was a powerful world element that got mostly ignored. By writing a book here, where I can slam a city in to the middle of the fain assault--before people learned really how to keep the alien landscape back--I think I'll be able to focus more on the setting.
One thing that always bothered me about Dragonsteel Prime is that it felt rather generic for me. I like more distinctive settings, with more distinctive magics. Yet, Dragonsteel Prime had a fairly standard fantasy world (though one set in the bronze age) with magic that didn't really get used all that much in the first book. The idea here is to add the Aether magic in, which is a 'day-to-day' magic, and to enhance the originality of the setting by using fainlife more. Microkenisis, Realmatic Theory, Cognitive Ripples and Tzai Blows, and all of that will STILL be part of this world. I've simply folded the Aethers in as well, and hopefully I can make it all feel cohesive.
Hoid. Did he have a family, and if he did, does he miss them?
That's a RAFO, because Dragonsteel, the book I'm eventually gonna write, is his backstory.
Can you give us any hint what Hoid is, and if you'll ever tell us his whole story?
You will get the whole story someday. He is a person who turned down what others accepted eagerly.
You like dragons very much, right?
I do like dragons very much.
Well then you don't have dragons in any of your books.
One of my books has dragons. It's the one I wrote but didn't get published and will eventually re-publish, called Dragonsteel. So one of the very first I wrote had dragons, but I don't want to do dragons in every book. So I'm waiting for the book that it is right for.
You’ve been known to say that the fantasy genre is the best genre because you can do anything another genre can do and you can have dragons. And yet, we haven’t had a dragon from you yet. Well we see a Sanderson Dragon anytime before Dragonsteel? I’m assuming Dragonsteel has dragons?
Yes, I smile inwardly as I say that, because I know that--indeed--I don't use a lot of dragons. I do like reading about them, but I haven't found myself eager to put them into my works. I think it's because I've read so many excellent dragon books, I figure, that area of fantasy is being covered by others--and I should try different things.
That said, Dragonsteel has dragons, and so you will eventually see them there. I don't know that I'll do them before.
Hoid's backstory series is still going to be one of the last Cosmere sequences I do, so don't expect this until Stormlight is completely done. (Both sets of five books.)
You've once said that there were three sentient species on Yolen: Human, Dragon and [Sho Del]. We've seen a lot of 'people' on the different planets that were either descended from or intentionally based on humans. Frost is known to be a dragon.
Are any of the non-human species we've seen descended from or based on either Dragons or [Sho Del]?
What colour is Frost's blood? What color is a [Sho Del]'s blood?
RAFO, more because I'm not ready to canonize Dragonsteel facts yet, as opposed because it will be a huge revelation.
I was thinking about some assumptions I have made. Are you going to write Hoid's series in first person?
I have tried it both ways in test scenes, and am undecided, but leaning toward first person.
When are we going to get Hoid’s book?
Hoid has 6 books, they are the 3 books of Dragonsteel, which are prequels and the last Mistborn trilogy of the nine book arc will have him as a main character. I won't say they're "his" books, but he is one of the primary protagonists.
You think about five books into [The Stormlight Archive], or after this series?
After this series, the middle Mistborn books will happen in-between.
As I’ve posted on my forums, and on my little “book progress” box, my next project after Warbreaker will be a book called Dragonsteel. Since I’m planning five or six books in this series, I want to start it off right.
Are sandlings from white sand an early concept for crustaceans on Roshar, with greatshells being a parallel to deep sandlings?
No, um, the idea for white sand came first, and it was more that I was exploring divergent ecology, but I've been doing that in Dragonsteel and in White Sand and in here with Roshar. I would say that the fact that white sand hadn't been published meant that I could do something's that were similar without worrying about repeating myself, but it's not like I used them specifically as models.
*jokingly* So are we going to get to see little dragons running around in Dragonsteel?
Uh, well, in Dragonsteel the dragons are sapient, so when I write Dragonsteel I will put dragons in there, but the dragons are intelligent and uh, can take human form, but there are actual little dragons.
Wait, they can take human form?
Yes, yes, yup.
Dragonsteel, where in the universe is that going to take place?
It's actually first.
Oh really? So it's like a prequel to everything.
Yes, to the cosmere.
So is it going to do the breaking of the Shards?
This cosmere that you have is gigantic, enormous, and wonderful, by the way. But, it's one of those things... how long has that been kicking around in your head before you started putting it down on paper?
For those who aren't aware, and might just be here having read the Reckoners, all of my epic fantasy books are connected. But they're all connected through little cameos. And I did this before Marvel movies, let's just point that out! They're copying me, I'm sure. I'm sticking to that. But there's little cameos for the various things because there's a story behind the story. I started doing this because I knew, in my career, I was going to have to... just the way I am, I need to jump between worlds to keep myself really interested. But I also like big epics. So it's me trying to have my cake and eat it, too, right? Lots of little things, but a hidden big epic. Right now it's all cameos, you don't have to worry about it, it's never really relevant to the story. Each story is self-contained. And then, if you want more, you can dig into it, and... it goes pretty deep. The guy who bought the Emperor's Soul movie rights was like, "Oh, I hear that this is connected," so he went and started reading. And, like, a few months later, he called us and said, "Uhhh, I just read the whole Cosmere. Uhhh, my brain is breaking." So, you can jump down a rabbit hole with the Cosmere if you want.
So, how long has this been kicking around? I can trace it back to a couple of events in my youth, as a budding writer. First one was, I've talked about this idea that you're the director of the book when you read it. When I was a kid, what I would always do is, I would want to have some sort of... it's hard to explain. I wanted some control over the story, even though it was a book I was reading, I wanted to participate, and so I would always insert a character behind the scenes. Like, in the Anne McCaffrey books, when there's somebody who's a nobody, I'm like, "Actually, this is some secret agent type character," and things like this. And I would always insert these characters into the books. But I would even be like, "Oh, this is the character from this other book, that I'm now reading." I would have my own headcanon, is what you call it, that would be parallel to the book canon, with this story behind the story happening. I also remember really being blown away when Isaac Asimov tied the Robot books and the Foundation books together, and thinking that was one of the coolest things I'd ever seen. Where I'd loved these two book series, and the conclusion to them is interwoven, and at the end of the Foundation books you kind of get a conclusion for the Robot sequence as well. That kind of blew my brain, and I'm like, "I need to do this."
So that's the origin, and that's kind of really the origin of Hoid. He's in the first book that I started writing, in very proto-form. He's kind of the same character who had been hanging out in Anne McCaffrey's books and other people's books as I'd read them. And that was it for a while, until I became a better writer, and then started actually building an epic. So, it's been around for a while. I would say the actual origin of the Cosmere was when I wrote Elantris, and then jumped back and wrote the book called Dragonsteel, which was this next book that I wrote after that, which was the origin of the Cosmere, kind of the prequel to all of it. And then I went and wrote White Sand. And those three together were my beginning. Only Elantris, of them, got published so far, although White Sand does have the graphic novel.
When you were saying you took all the best parts out of Dragonsteel - so you took characters, and you took Bridge Four, - but you said we'll probably see Dragonsteel at some point, what... If you said you've already taken what you think are the best parts of it...
I will probably be moving stuff that was in the second and third book to a [new] first book and writing that one instead.