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Leipzig Book Fair ()
#2 Copy

Questioner

I think I am one of the few people who really like Elhokar. He's a king who actually asks a lowly Darkeyes two times how to be a good ruler. What's your opinion on him?

Brandon Sanderson

I think Elhokar is maligned by a lot of people. He was put in a hard situation, inheriting from a really great king and having a really domineering uncle. He is a little arrogant, a little full of himself, but thats natural for his position. And I am very fond of Elhokar.

Oathbringer Glasgow signing ()
#4 Copy

Hoidonalsium

Was Hoid's Cryptic the same one that was meant for Elhokar?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Hoidonalsium

Is there anything more to the Cryptic than Pattern? Like Shallan's Pattern?

Brandon Sanderson

There's more to every individual! But it is not a more powerful Cryptic or anything like that.

BookCon 2018 ()
#6 Copy

Questioner

This book seemed a little sadder, I thought Kaladin would reach the next level.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, he's still got some things to work out. 

Questioner

I was surprised that Elhokar getting killed *inaudible*

Brandon Sanderson

At least, in this draft, it wasn't Dalinar that that killed him like in the original version... That didn't work.

Oathbringer Houston signing ()
#7 Copy

Questioner

What was-- There was something going on in the shadows. 'Cause the King mentioned seeing shadows out of the corner of his eye when Kaladin wasn't around.

Brandon Sanderson

That should be answered in Oathbringer. If it's not, ask me next time and I'll explain, but it is in there.

Oathbringer Portland signing ()
#9 Copy

Questioner

Are there historical figures that were inspirations for Elhokar?

Brandon Sanderson

Dalinar is based very slightly on Subutai, the great Mongol general. Elhokar, no one specific. I thought of him when I was a kid, when I was, like, fourteen, I wanted to do a story about a weak king and his uncle who's a really strong figure, and that interplay, and that's where he came from.

Brandon's Blog 2010 ()
#11 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

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.

FanX Spring 2019 ()
#12 Copy

Questioner

What was your motivation behind-- for killing Elhokar and simultaneously ripping my heart out?

Brandon Sanderson

So, it was-- I never feel like I'm killing characters, I'm letting characters take risks and I'm letting other characters have agency to do the things they're doing in the books. That whole plot cycle was more-- less me killing someone off and more me letting Moash go down the dark path that he have been demanding that he go down.

Questioner

Okay, but you realize half the fandom-- or the whole fandom practically wants him dead now.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, yes. Well, they should! He made a very, very bad decision, and he deserves everything that the fandom is throwing at him.

Skyward Seattle signing ()
#13 Copy

coltonx9

What would Elhokar's Fifth Truth be?

Brandon Sanderson

...Oh, Elhokar's last Truth? He would have had to have been on a long journey before he could even get to that. It would probably be-- I'm going to RAFO that now, because I think it would tell you too much about the way I'm thinking for the way the Truths work. I could probably tell you that now, but I will choose not to. Let's just say it would involve kind of a journey that starts kind of-- negative is the wrong term. Being more aware of himself and then coming to a deeper awareness of himself that is perhaps not-- that leaves him in a good place.

coltonx9

Could you tell me what his First Truth would have been?

Brandon Sanderson

It would have been to admit the thing that he knows, which is that he's a bad king.

Tor.com The Way of Kings Re-Read Interview ()
#15 Copy

cyddenid

How well do Elhokar and Jasnah get on?

Brandon Sanderson

Fine, I would say. This is a bit of a spoiler for the end of Words of Radiance, but you will eventually see that they're the sort of siblings who are both used to doing their own thing and getting their own way. They've both learned to stay out of one another's business. That said, Elhokar is also used to being surrounded by domineering people of various sorts. So having a domineering sister is really nothing different to him.

Stuttgart signing ()
#17 Copy

Questioner (paraphrased)

What idea sparked Stormlight for you?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

The very first seed for everything was a man who's brother to a king. The king gets assassinated and the nephew becomes a bad king. How he copes with that is what I started thinking about. We all have somebody in our family. That became Dalinar and Elhokar in The Stormlight Archive.

Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
#18 Copy

Zantis

Was Elhokar going to be a Windrunner squire or was he going to be a different Order?

Brandon Sanderson

He was actually going to be a Lightweaver.

Zantis

Interesting.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. And some interesting story with him because--here's a little tidbit for you... In the original draft that I wrote in 2002 I pushed him far enough that Dalinar had to kill him. It came to blows. And I never quite liked how that turned out, so in the 2010 version we had a different path for Elhokar. But he's been doomed from a long time ago, poor guy.

JordanCon 2018 ()
#20 Copy

Mrs. Jofwu

If you had to characterize in a few sentences, as adults, what the relationship was like between Jasnah and Elhokar...

Brandon Sanderson

...As adults. Their relationship is that of a fond-but-unyielding sister and an earnest-but-insecure brother.

Mrs. Jofwu

So they were affectionate?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, I would say they were affectionate. Not as much as, maybe, some other siblings. Like, you can look at Renarin and Adolin and see genuine affection. With Jasnah and Elhokar, it is almost-- there's definitely some affection, but there's almost more of an allegiance. Like, they're both dealing with certain pressures upon them, and their lives were very much consumed by these pressures, and they had that in common. But, I mean,  Jasnah's not a hugger anyway, if that makes sense?

Mrs. Jofwu

There was no jealousy between them?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, there was definitely jealousy on Elhokar's part. Definitely, the insecurity there. But Jasnah, was-- I mean, she was a little bit aware of it, but you know how she is, right?

Mrs. Jofwu

I didn't know if that contributed to why she removed herself from the Shattered Plains.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, a little bit. I mean, her quest was more important to her than any of that. But, you know. Let my brother not live in as many shadows. Because he had a lot of shadows that he had to live in. And she was one of them, certainly. That would've been a consideration to Jasnah. But if had been right to stay, for her quest, she would have.