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DrogaKrolow.pl interview ()
#1 Copy

DrogaKrolow

OK, I’ve got a question about AonDor.

Brandon Sanderson

Ok.

DrogaKrolow

So it's a lot like functional programing.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

DrogaKrolow

And my question is: could you write a higher-level language of programming with that?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

DrogaKrolow

Oh...

Brandon Sanderson

Mmhmm. But. Only an Elantrian could make it, like, work, right? Not compile but could execute the function. They would have to type it out and execute it. Like if you were just-- Even if you just gave it to them, they would have to retype it and go. But yes, you could.

DrogaKrolow

Couldn't you like-- Is there an Aon for define, definition? So like you could go and define some really long sequence of Aons and then assign it to a simple shape.

Brandon Sanderson

Right.

DrogaKrolow

Then draw the symbol, and would it work?

Brandon Sanderson

Right right, object-oriented. This is realistically plausible, you would have to write all this stuff and call the function and have this constantly in a state of kinetic Investiture. But that is reasonable. I mean it's not so far off from things they actually did with much fewer-- much fewer lines of code, if you wish, in the past. It's what Elantris itself was.

Oathbringer San Francisco signing ()
#3 Copy

FirstSelector [PENDING REVIEW]

So, do you have a name, like an in-world name for a large magical construction, like the things that picks Elantrians?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

That was why I invented the term "fabrial." It will become widespread eventually, as the term for meaning, kind of, magic-type devices in the cosmere. That's not what you call it right now, but you can start calling them all fabrials.

FirstSelector [PENDING REVIEW]

But what about something that isn't, like-- I always imagined that Aona left, like, a device, a magical device running--

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

I will have to RAFO that.

Worldbuilders AMA ()
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Argent

The updated Elantris map (from the anniversary edition) includes a city map, and the interior of Elantris looks awfully like Aon Ela. Was it indeed designed so the streets for Ela, and if so - does this merely augment/support the giant Aon Rao, or does it have a separate effect?

Brandon Sanderson

This was designed this way! It is separate from the shape of the city itself.

Argent

But does it have an actual effect, or is it just aesthetic?

Brandon Sanderson

It doesn't have an effect at the moment. It might once have.

OdysseyCon 2016 ()
#5 Copy

Questioner (paraphrased)

In Elantris it talks about how the wood and stone in the city is rotten and crumbling. Why does this happen?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

This is because when objects become Invested for long periods of time their Spiritweb changes to accommodate the investiture. When the investiture was pulled up off the stuff in Elantris its Spiritweb was severely damaged so it showed that in the physical realm. This happened with the Lord Ruler when the Bands of Mourning were ripped out of him.

Elantris Annotations ()
#6 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Forty

Originally, I had the steps leading up to Elantris from the outside be a construction put there by the people of Kae. I knew I wanted a large number of scenes on the wall–it is such a dominant visual feature of the book that I thought it would make a good stage for scenes. However, I quickly realized that it would be the people of Kae–not the Elantrians–who controlled the wall. The Elantris City Guard grew from this idea, as did the set of steps constructed on the outside, leading up.

As I worked more and more on the book, however, I came to realize that the pre-Reod Elantrians wouldn't have needed a city wall for protection.

Obviously, to those who've read more, there is a good Aon-based reason for the wall. However, there is more to it than that, as well.

The wall of the city is a symbol–it's part of the city's majesty. As such, it made more and more sense that there would be plenty of ways to get up on top of it.

When we got the cover art back from Stephen, we were amazed by its beauty. A few things, however, didn't quite mesh with the text. One of these was the set of steps–they were so ornate, so beautiful, that it didn't fit that they would have been designed by the people of Kae. At that point, things kind of fell together, and I realized that there was no reason why the Elantrians themselves wouldn't have put a large staircase outside the city leading up to the wall.

And so, in the final rewrite of the book (the ninth draft) I changed the staircase, and the general feel of the wall, to give the proper sense to the reader. The staircase was placed by the Elantrians as a means of getting up on top the wall. The wall itself became less a fortification, and more a wonder–like the Eiffel Tower. It is there to be climbed and experienced.

Elantris Annotations ()
#7 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Weak Aons

Elantris is like a massive power conduit. It focuses the Dor, strengthening its power (or, rather, the power of the Aons to release it) in Arelon. This far away from Elantris, however, the Aons are about as powerful as they were before Raoden fixed Elantris.

If you consider it, it makes logical sense that the Aons would be tied to Elantris and Arelon, yet would work without them. The Aons had to exist before Elantris–otherwise, the original Elantrians wouldn't have known the shape to make the city. Their study of AonDor taught them a method for amplifying Aon power.

Elantris Annotations ()
#9 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

The Spirit of Elantris (Part Two)

So, my only worry about the climax here is that it's a little hard to visualize. Because I never quite got the map to look like I wanted it too, it's hard to see what Raoden is doing in this chapter. Essentially, he adds the chasm line to the Aon Rao that Elantris and its outer cities form. Because Elantris was an Aon, it stopped working just like all of the other Aons did when the Reod occurred. I've established several times in the book that the medium an Elantrian draws in–whether it be mud, the air, or in this case dirt–doesn't matter. The form of the Aon is the important part. By putting a line in the proper place, Raoden creates a gate that allows the Dor to flow into Elantris and resume its intended purpose.

This is the scene that made me want to write this book. It, along with the one I talked about in the last chapter, formed a climax that I just itched and squirmed to write. (That's always a good sign, by the way.) The central visual image of this book is that of the silvery light exploding from the ground around Raoden, then running around the city. Storytelling-wise, this is the one scene I wish I could do cinematically rather than in text.

Salt Lake City ComicCon 2017 ()
#11 Copy

Brightlord Maelstrom

When a Dakhor monk leaves his homeland do his bones still give him his abilities? Is it only the creation that's location-dependent or is it also the ability that's location-dependent?

Brandon Sanderson

The further you get away, the weaker the power the bones will give you will get. It's way better than Elantris at bringing the power with you. That's where it is in the notes right now, I have not written the second book, I could totally change that.

Elantris Annotations ()
#12 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

I mention the Outer Cities here with the beggars. Actually, the main reason I put them in was to give myself another excuse to mention the Outer Cities. Throughout the books progress, I've been worried that people wouldn't understand the ending climax. In order to get what is going on with Aon Rao, they need to understand the geography of the cities around Elantris. Hopefully, I describe it well enough that it comes off.

Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
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Questioner

Was Elantris built before or after the prologue of Way of Kings

Brandon Sanderson

*Pauses* Go to my notes and find out. I would have to actually specifically look that one up. My instinct says.....oh boy.

Questioner

Yeah, because they're both really old.

Brandon Sanderson

They're really old. They're both really old. I want to say that the prologue is older, but I don't know for sure, because I know things on Roshar are older. But, the prologue happens late in things on Roshar, so it's still old. So I'm gonna go with, I think this but I'd have to actually get the outline and look at the timeline. 

Elantris Annotations ()
#15 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

My explanation for the slime, admittedly, relies a bit heavily on "fantasy writer's license." Usually, I resist overdoing things like this. (I.e., simply explaining away events in the world with magical answers.) Though there is a slight logic to Raoden's explanation, it isn't something that would have been intuitive to a reader, given the facts of the novel. That makes it a weak plotting element. However, the slime explanation isn't part of any real plot resolution, so I decided to throw it in. Its place as an interesting world element, rather than a climax, gives me a few more liberties, I think.

Steelheart Portland signing ()
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Joshstormblessed (paraphrased)

I've noticed that in both Elantris and Roshar there are specific shapes to the cities and in both instances there are chasms. Is there a connection between the two worlds?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Oooo:) Yes there is definitely a connection there. As you know all of these worlds are part of a universe and my magic systems share basic rules. So you'll see similarities.

Joshstormblessed (paraphrased)

And the chasms?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

*smiles mischievously*

Stormlight Three Update #5 ()
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chalkonthewall

In Elantris did Elantris ever not exist? like before it was built did the Shaod choose people? and if it did was their power the same? I'm mostly asking that if they were to build another Elantris in Teod would Elantrians be just as powerful over there?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, there is a point where Elantrians didn't exist. Excellent question. The rest is a RAFO.

Elantris Annotations ()
#19 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Aons are an interesting part of this book–perhaps my favorite of the world elements. If you think about the system I've set up, you'll realize some things. First, the Aons have to be older than the Aonic language. They're based directly off of the land. So, the lines that make up the characters aren't arbitrary. Perhaps the sounds associated with them are, but the meanings–at least in part–are inherent. The scene with Raoden explaining how the Aon for "Wood" includes circles matching the forests in the land of Arelon indicates that there is a relationship between the Aons and their meanings. In addition, each Aon produces a magical effect, which would have influenced its meaning.

The second interesting fact about the Aons is that only Elantrians can draw them. And Elantrians have to come from the lands near Arelon. Teoish people can be taken, but only if they're in Arelon at the time. Genetically, then, the Teos and the Arelenes must be linked–and evidence seems to indicate that the Arelenes lived in the land first, and the Teos crossed the sea to colonize their peninsula.

Only Elantrians can draw Aons in the air, so someone taken by the Shaod must have developed the writing system. That is part of what makes writing a noble art in Arelon–drawing the Aons would have been associated with Elantrians. Most likely, the early Elantrians (who probably didn't even have Elantris back then) would have had to learn the Aons by trial and error, finding what each one did, and associating its meaning and sound with its effect. The language didn't develop, but was instead "discovered."

There are likely Aons that haven't even been found yet.

Elantris Annotations ()
#20 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Title Page

You'd be surprised how much can be said about the title of this book. Naming books is one of the most frustrating, and most fulfilling, elements of writing. I'm more fortunate than some authors I know–for most of my books, the names came easily. Sometimes, I even came up with the title before I wrote the book. (This has actually only happened once, when thought up the phrase "The Way of Kings," and thought "Man! That would be a great title for a book!")

Elantris has had several titles. During the rough draft phase, I simply called it "SPIRIT." I knew that the main character's name would be based on the character for Spirit, and that would also be the name he took for himself when he was in exile. I never intended this to be the final title for the manuscript, but it was what I named all the files when I was typing the work.

Those of you who've read the book realize the special significance of "Spirit" (or Aon Rao as it eventually became known) to the climax of the story. I'll talk more about this in a bit.

Well, as I was writing the story, I realized I needed a better title. The most obvious choice was to somehow work in the name of the fallen magical city that was the focus of the book. Now, I'm a little embarrassed to admit this, but the city "Elantris" was actually originally named "Adonis." I'm not sure what I was thinking. Sometimes, when you're coming up with a lot of fantastical names, you create words that have a certain, unforeseen connotations or connections. In this case, I wasn't even thinking of the Greek myth. "Ado" was simply the Aon I chose to base the city’s name around, and "Adonis" (Pronounced with a long "A" and a long "O") was the word that came out of that Aon.

So, I named the book The Spirit of Adonis, hoping to play off of Raoden's name.

It was, however, actually a three-fold pun. I included this line–"The Spirit of Adonis" at the climax, when Raoden realizes that the city itself formed an enormous Aon Rao.

I didn't realize what I'd done until my writing group met for the first time, and they said "I like the beginning of the book. I'm having trouble figuring out what this has to do with the Greeks. Is it because the god-like people were so arrogant?"

Then it hit me. Adonis, from Greek mythology, was a beautiful man loved by Aphrodite. The word has become a kind of paradigm for a beautiful–almost perfect–specimen of the male species. And I had unwittingly named my book after him.

Let's just say I changed that pretty quickly. However, I needed a new name for the city. I played with a number of different combinations of Ado, but somehow ended up trying up different sounds and combinations. Thankfully, I came up with the word "Elantris." As soon as I wrote it down, I knew this was my city. It sounded grand without being overbearing, and it had a mythological feel to it (hearkening slightly to "Atlantis".) I renamed the book "The Spirit of Elantris," and proceeded.</p>

Then came time to send out the manuscript. I had had some comments on the book–people liked "Elantris," but the "spirit of" was less popular. I tried several iterations, and even sent out some query letters calling the book "THE LORDS OF ELANTRIS." That just felt too cliché fantasy for me, however, and I eventually returned to "The Spirit of Elantris."

Finally, the book got sold. At this point, my editor (Moshe Feder) suggested that we shorten the title to simply Elantris. Remembering how other people had been unimpressed with the "spirit of," I agreed. Now that I've seen the cover lettering and worked with it as "Elantris" for some time, I'm very pleased with the change. The new title has more zip, and makes the book sound more majestic. I still get to have a reference to my old title, as Part Three of the book is called "The Spirit of Elantris."

Of course, even this title isn't without its problems. People have trouble spelling it when I say the title, and some think of the car named the "Elantra." At one panel, I even had one person miss-hear me, thinking the name of the book was "The Laundress." That would certainly be a different book...

Leipzig Book Fair ()
#21 Copy

Questioner

You recently compared the Aon Dor to a programming language of some sorts. Could you actually go one step further and build something like a curcuit board?

Brandon Sanderson

The difficultiy with all of that is that you have got to remember that the magic as they understand it right now only works based on Elantrian intention and activation. There were basically these sorts of things, but the switch has to be flipped by an Elantrian. Those things existed in Elantris.

Questioner

It's just that I think that Elantris itself could be some sort of a really big circuit board.

Brandon Sanderson

That may be a little too far for what Elantris is, but there are places in Elantris which are just what you are describing.

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

Questioner

So you said that different Investitures from different worlds can fuel different Investitures, right? Would that mean that you could potentially use Stormlight for Allomancy and/or Feruchemy.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, a little harder with the metallic arts than, for instance, Nightblood is the easiest example. He can just feed on whatever investiture is around.

Questioner

Could he feed on the Dor from...

Brandon Sanderson

He could totally feed on the Dor.

Questioner

Would you need to have a special sheathe to do that or?

Brandon Sanderson

No, what you would have to do for him on Elantris is you would have to open some conduit to the Dor that's persistent, like a light or something, and he will suck through that, he would probably end up sucking the whole aon.

Questioner

Sucking Elantris itself?

Brandon Sanderson

Sucking Elantris itself would work, yeah, but you're gonna be in trouble if he sucks up the whole thing, which is totally possible.

Chris King interview ()
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Chris King

Did seons exist when the Aonic peoples discovered Elantris?

Brandon Sanderson

When the Aonic peoples discovered Elantris, did seons exist-- Okay let me go back to my timeline... It kind of means you have to define what you mean by Aonic. The problem is if you dig back too far in history it's kind of like asking "What's a German?" You know what I mean?

Chris King

Because the Aons are based upon Elantris itself and so they don't become Aonic until they are writing the Aons.

Brandon Sanderson

And Aonic is also-- You are talking about the people and so it's like are the Normans Brits? Or are they Vikings? Or are they Frenchman?

Chris King

Why don't we phrase it as the people of Sel when they discovered Elantris.

Brandon Sanderson

No, no, that's getting, okay-- Let's go ahead and RAFO that one, just because the history of Elantris is very interesting to the cosmere. When people are starting to get an inkling of that.

Chris King

Odium was there once upon a time.

Brandon Sanderson

Yah... And the question of who built Elantris and how they built Elantris. What's going on with the Elantrians back then and things like this. So let's just RAFO that.

Legion Release Party ()
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Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

Was the wall around Elantris soulcast?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Ah, good question! It was not soulcast. Excellent question.

Questioner 2 [PENDING REVIEW]

*Inaudible* find out later, maybe?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Their own magic was involved in the creation of Elantris. The local magic was involved.