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Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
#1 Copy

Zas678

What is the X in Aon Mea? Is it one of the Shard-pools?

Brandon Sanderson

Afraid not. Aon Mea references the expanded region within which the "Elantris Effect" will create Elantrians. The X is fertile valley with a high density of life, a place with a lot of cognitive activity. (Cognitive as defined by Realmatic Theory includes the 'thoughts' of all things that exist, not just human beings. The more complex the life form, the stronger its presence on the Cognitive Realm.)

Orem signing 2014 ()
#3 Copy

mail-mi (paraphrased)

Could you spike Elantrian-ness? Like, could you Hemalurgically spike Elantrian-ness?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Theoretically, yes.

mail-mi (paraphrased)

Could you out of a Reod Elantrian? The zombie ones?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Um, yes you could.

mail-mi (paraphrased)

You could?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

So what you would be spiking there is their Connection to...to the planet, first. That's gonna be the big important thing. So you're going to overwrite your Connection. Um, and then you're going to....it's going to be a complicated process because you're going to have to spike the actual ability to have been transformed, that's gonna be harder.

mail-mi (paraphrased)

Okay.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Does that make sense?

mail-mi (paraphrased)

Yeah, so it's gonna take two spikes.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

It's gonna take two spikes.

mail-mi (paraphrased)

Alright.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

And you gonna have to get the right Connection to the right place. Let's say you spike somebody from MaiPon, and then you spike an Elantrian, you're not going to be able to use it, you're not connected to the right area.

Shadows of Self release party ()
#5 Copy

Nethseäar

If you were to Hemalurgically give a fallen Elantrian Feruchemic gold, would they be able to store Health?

Brandon Sanderson

A fallen Elantrian store Health-- And you gave them a Hemalurgic spike-- That’s a good question, I would think-- *long pause* You know I think they would not be able to, that’s an excellent question.

Nethseäar

Would it suddenly store up the moment they were restored?

Brandon Sanderson

No, it would not suddenly recover everything. Unless you wanted to channel-- You could do some goofy things but it would kinda ruin their connection to the Dor. But I don’t think it would suddenly-- Y’know. You might be able to do something where you steal it away from them, that could possibly happen. If they were spiked while they were full Elantrian you could probably get more out of them than your average person.

Arcanum Unbounded Hoboken signing ()
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Questioner

I started reading Elantris. The question is... Okay, I remember they were saying, the Elantrians, "Oh my gosh, we're hurt!" You know the hurt doesn't go away. But when they said <the Hoed who wander>, like when people get burned, like an Elantrian, does their soul sort of hang around the air as a spirit of sheer pain, I remember that. Was that just a theory, or...?

Brandon Sanderson

That's just a theory. Good question. Yeah, no.

Questioner

Okay, thank God. That was really horrible.

Brandon Sanderson

Nope, nope, no. They will use... In Secret History you see what happens. That happens on all of the worlds. Even <with an Elantrian>.

Bands of Mourning release party ()
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Questioner

When Galladon appears in Way of Kings why is his skin not silvery?

Brandon Sanderson

When Galladon appears in The Way of Kings why is his skin not silvery. That's a RAFO but there is a good reason for it.

Footnote: Brandon has previously answered this. It has to do with Galladon's distance from the Dor, his skin no longer glows for the same reason something fluorescent will cease glowing when removed from a black light.
Shadows of Self San Jose signing ()
#8 Copy

Questioner

In Elantris, so, if the people are dead they don't have any pulse, right? 

Brandon Sanderson

They do not have a pulse.

Questioner

So, wouldn't all the blood just go straight to their legs?

Brandon Sanderson

You know, I worked out a few things on this. In order to make what I was doing work I didn’t want to zombify them too much, and so I would give them like a blood pump, like a pulse of the heart, very softly, like every couple of minutes or something like that, and remember they’re being sustained directly by the magic so I was able to fudge some of the stuff. There’s some other things that would happen, like the gas would cause them to expand and... I didn’t want to do that, I didn’t want them to go all the way to zombie, and so I made some basic metabolic processes happen, but more magically caused than physically.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#9 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Three - Part One

Similarities Between Warbreaker and Elantris

And finally, we arrive at my personal favorite character in the book. Lightsong the Bold, the god who doesn't believe in his own religion.

I had the idea for Lightsong a number of years ago. My first book, Elantris, dealt with the concept of men who were made gods. However, in that book, we never actually get to see men living as gods. The gods have lost their powers and have been locked away.

This time I wanted to tell a different story, a story about what it is like to live as a member of a pantheon of deities. Yet I didn't want them to be too powerful. Or even powerful at all.

I realize that there is some resonance here with Elantris. I hope that the concepts don't seem too much alike. What I wanted to do with this story was look at some of the same ideas in Elantris, but turn them about completely. Instead of dealing with gods who had fallen, I wanted to look at gods at the height of their political power. Instead of dealing with people who were ridiculously powerful, I wanted gods who were more about prophecy and wisdom.

I made it so that the Returned couldn't remember their old lives as a way to distinguish them from the Elantrians. However, I can't help the fact that the ideas had the same (yet opposite) seed. But I'm confident that there's plenty of room in the idea to explore it in a different direction, and I think this book comes out feeling very much its own novel.

Oathbringer San Francisco signing ()
#11 Copy

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

In Elantris, you have this array of people who are essentially gods, immortal, but they appear with absurdly high frequency. How come they basically don't take over the planet?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

...There are a couple reasons for this. One is that magic on Sel is very strongly tied to location, and was even back when the Elantrians were at the height of their power. So, this is a big part of it, location-based magic. Meaning, the further you get from Elantris, the less powerful your magic was, and the Elantrians really didn't like going places where they were not super-powerful. And so this is certainly part of it, and I explored this idea in Warbreaker, where the people who happen to be gods are really aggressive and kind of slowly conquering outward and things like that. It felt right for me in Elantris to be doing it that way.

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

Why can't they just increase their numbers. Because their numbers increase over time?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

...The number of Elantrians had certain thresholds and upper limits, that I haven't described in the books yet.

Shadows of Self Lansing signing ()
#12 Copy

Blaze1616

Does being an Elantrian, when it first happens to you do you get rushed with the feelings that Szeth describes holding stormlight is like? Or Vin describes holding the Mists?

Brandon Sanderson

No, you get different.

Blaze1616

No, it feels different.

Blaze1616

So it feels completely different?

Brandon Sanderson

You definitely get an emotion, but it is not those same emotions.

White Sand vol.1 Orem signing ()
#13 Copy

Questioner

I recently reread Elantris and I came to an interesting conclusion: that the seons are similar to the spren.

Brandon Sanderson

They are.

Questioner

And are they Servitude, broken pieces of Servitude.

Brandon Sanderson

So, they are actually broken pieces of Devotion, which is a similar concept, but yes.

Questioner

And then the Elantrians are based off of Dominion then?

Brandon Sanderson

Dominion are the skaze. They are referenced briefly.

Questioner

Then Hoid talks to them, or--

Brandon Sanderson

Hrathen references the skaze in his thoughts. I show a skaze I believe in the extra bonus scene, don't I?

Questioner

Where Hoid is going to jump into the well?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, there is a skaze there, that's a skaze.

Questioner

...I'm assuming then, we can look forward to the skaze!

Brandon Sanderson

You can look forward to the skaze being involved in things, definitely .

Barnes & Noble B-Fest 2016 ()
#14 Copy

Questioner

If an Elantrian were aroused when he was taken by the Shaod, what would happen, and what would happen if a pregnant woman was taken by the Shaod.

Brandon Sanderson

I would say that the baby would enter the same suspended transformation. As for the first question, why don't we RANFO.

Elantris Annotations ()
#15 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, and yes, Elantrians can go unconscious. They can fall asleep, after all. The Elantrian brain is the one organ that continues to work very similarly to the way it did before the Shaod. So, taking a large amount of trauma can make it black out. The Elantrian won't remain unconscious forever–but when he wakes up, the actual physical damage will be there. That's why Raoden loses his sense of balance and everything gets fuzzy.

Orem signing 2014 ()
#16 Copy

mail-mi (paraphrased)

What would a Shardblade do to [a "zombie" Elantrian]?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Um, a Shardblade would...oh boy. A Shardblade...a Shardblade would still be dangerous to them, um, the trick is, um, the Shardblade's gonna treat them half alive, half dead. So, it probably would be kind of a flicker, so it depends on when you hit them. It might cut the arm off.

mail-mi (paraphrased)

It might cut the arm off...

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

And it might just leave it dead.

General Reddit 2017 ()
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Blightsong

Is the bond between an Elantrian and Arelon similar to that of a Knight Radiant and it's spren. You've said that Zombie Elantrians are similar to dead spren, so I was wondering get if ther was a bigger connection there.

Thank you for your time!

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, that is a similar relationship.

Blightsong

Is there a similar ideal system? Are Elantrians transformed because of their character? Maybe their closeness to the culture of Arelon?

Brandon Sanderson

Ah, now you're getting into RAFO territory. Let's just say that you don't have to have a Seon to be made an Elantrian, but in the vast majority of cases, you need a spren to be a Knight Radiant. So there are some differences.

Blightsong

Last question, does this have anything to do with the personification of culture, as Spren are personifications of forces and emotions.

Again, thank you for your time, it's always nice to get a response from you on Reddit.

Brandon Sanderson

To an extent, yes.

GollanczFest London ()
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Questioner (paraphrased)

[Something about whether Elantrians are immortal or long-lived] 

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Elantrians have no physical limitations on their lifespan. The power will sustain them, but it's emotionally and mentally exhausting to be an Elantrian, so as far as immortality goes it's actually harder to be an Elantrian than other forms of immortality that exist in the cosmere.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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Yourigath

Can you access the Dor while on other planets? Can you, I don't know, "tell the Dor" that you are on Roshar using an Aon that doesn't have the base on the map of Sel but in the world of Roshar and use Elantrian magic there? An Aon with an spiral pattern with the right lines, dots, etc... that tells the Dor "I'm here. This is Roshar. And I need your power to do X"

Brandon Sanderson

Great question, and one integral to the workings of cosmere Magic! No, you cannot currently access the Dor anywhere else. The Dor is a big part of why magic on Sel is distinctive.

Yourigath

If an Elantrian worldhops does it returns to a normal human pre-Shaod state? If this Elantrian goes back to Sel it recovers his Elantrian powers or he keeps his pre-Shaod form?

Brandon Sanderson

An Elantrian away from Sel would still be an Elantrian--but many of the visible signs would fade away, much like something florescent that stops glowing when moved away from a Black Light.

White Sand vol.1 release party ()
#21 Copy

Questioner

In Mistborn: Secret History... The Ire--are they Elantrians?

Brandon Sanderson

They are.

Questioner

They are.

Brandon Sanderson

Mhm.

Questioner

And how-- what is their history with Ruin and the other [Vessels]?

Brandon Sanderson

So, these are some very old people, who are cosmere-aware.

Questioner

Are they... that wasn't mine... Do they predate the Elantrian story?

Brandon Sanderson

I haven't answered that, and people have asked it. So I'll RAFO that.

Questioner

Oh, great.

Brandon Sanderson

But let's just say they're very old, and the Shardpool in Elantris, if you go back and read about the lore surrounding it in the book Elantris, you will see that they were aware of what was happening with it before the fall of Elantris.

Questioner

Did they-- were they affected by the cataclysm?

Brandon Sanderson

That is a RAFO!

Orem signing 2014 ()
#23 Copy

mail-mi (paraphrased)

Most of my questions are actually about the Reod Elantrians.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Okay.

mail-mi (paraphrased)

So, could they be felt by life sense?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

They would, um...they are in the middle of a transformation. I would say that yes they could be, but you're going to get like a stutter is what I'd guess you would get, it's like you would get a...a flashing.

mail-mi (paraphrased)

Because they're kind of alive, and kind of not alive.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yeah. And so, yeah, you'd just get a flashing sort of....something.

Oathbringer release party ()
#26 Copy

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

If an Elantrian has a child, is that child an Elantrian?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Not necessarily.

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

...Like, two Elantrians have a child, it's possible that it's just a normal human?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

...It is indeed.

Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
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mcase19

Could someone Feruchemically storing connection in an Aonic nation become an Elantrian?

Brandon Sanderson

It's a little tougher than that, but it would be a start. And for some people, it would be enough.

yahasgaruna

Is it tougher because of some inherent difficultly with the selection process of Elantrians? Or because of something to do with using connection?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm getting a few too many 17th Shard style questions on the thread. I'm going to start curtailing them, as waking up to an hour' or two's worth of detailed cosmere questions each day is going to seriously impact my ability to actually write. So I'm going to liberally apply RAFO from here out.

So RAFO. :)

Arcanum Unbounded Seattle signing ()
#28 Copy

Question

If two Elantrians had a baby, would he be an Elantrian too?

Brandon Sanderson

What a good question. The answer is no, actually. There's actually a character in the books who's an Elantrian who did become an Elantrian whose parents were connected to Elantris, but that was seen as something that didn't always happen.

Stormlight Three Update #6 ()
#29 Copy

Khyrindor

You've said that Returned count as Cognitive shadows "stapled" back into their bodies, and that the Heralds are at least similar. Would I be right in assuming that Elantrians could be considered as Cognitive Shadows as well, or am I barking up the wrong tree?

Brandon Sanderson

Elantrians are something different. They don't actually "die" to be created.

Recognize that the term cognitive shadow is an in-cosmere theory, which I'm not going to comment on as the creator of the setting. The theory is this:

Investiture seeks sapience. It looks for someone to control it or, in some instances, spontaneously adopts personality.

A mind (cognitive aspect of a person) can become infused with Investiture. This acts a little like minerals with petrified wood, replacing the mind and personality with investiture.

When the actual person dies, this investiture imprint remains behind. A copy of the soul, but not the actual soul.

Others disagree with this, and think the soul itself persists. Still others reject the theory in its entirety.

linkhyrule5

Huh.

... Kandra are almost literally stapled to their bodies with Hemalurgy - would they count as such, to the in-setting scholars?

Brandon Sanderson

No, they wouldn't. They are beings who have had their souls twisted by Hemalurgy--the soul never left, it's just been messed up. Someone else who has a soul stapled to a body with Hemalurgy would count though.

Elantris Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Ten

Are the Elantrians zombies? I've been asked this question before. The answer is a little bit yes, a little bit no. I very intentionally don't make any references in the story to them being zombie-like, and I certainly don't call them "undead." Both words bring a lot of baggage with them.

No, the Elantrians aren't "zombies." However, they certainly would fit the standard fantasy definition of being "undead." After all, their bodies aren't really alive, but they can think. Still, I resist comparisons to established fantasy traditions. I wanted the Elantrians to be their own genre of creatures. In the world I have created, they are simply "Elantrians." They are people who don't need to eat, whose bodies only function on a marginal level, and whose pains never go away. For the function they fill in the world and the story, I'd rather that they be compared to lepers.

That said, I always have wanted to do a story with a zombie as a main character.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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The_Second_Best

Are Feruchemists the Batman of the Cosmere? They can beat anyone with enough time to prep?

Brandon Sanderson

They are very versatile, but I'd say that Elantrians--on their home turf--could win in that department. They things they could do with enough preparation are even more impressive.