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YouTube Live Fan Mail Opening 1 ()
#1 Copy

Questioner

The violet eye color in The Way of Kings. We got to know that Dunny had violet eyes and Sigzil said the color wasn't native to Alethkar. Navani also has violet eyes, Jasnah too, and Tanalan from The Rift. So, is Navani or her family line not Alethi? And is there more to this specific eye color than we know so far?

Brandon Sanderson

There's a little bit more there that I will talk about eventually. You should not look at Navani and be like, "Oh, they're not native" in that I designed the Alethi as a race of conquerors who also--like I said before, one of the inspirations for the Alethi were the Mongols and particularly how the Mongols ruled after they had their empire. They were perfectly willing to incorporate anybody. The Romans did this too, "If you want to be part of our empire, great. If you're not gonna rebel, great. We will, to an extent, respect your religions and your ways and if you're willing to integrate then we're not gonna treat you terribly."

The Alethi have this history of being one of the, in that way, most multi-ethnic cultures on Roshar. Now, the sad thing is, the reason some of those ethnicities are there is due to brutal conquest and treatment of the world. But regardless, the Alethi have--most of them have no kind of pureblood sort of perspective, they don't care. They don't care what you look like, they care about whether you act like as part of their culture, whether you're integrated.

Emily Sanderson

As long as you have light colored eyes.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, well, they'll still accept you as Alethi.

Emily Sanderson

That's true. You just don't get to be the ruling class.

Brandon Sanderson

You just don't get to be highborn. So, this is just a hint much like you will see the Alethi have a very varied skin tone, they have lots of varied hair colors. You know, you're going to see mostly the kind of traditional Alethi black, but you know, there are multiple main characters in the series [where] that is not their hair color despite being considered one hundred percent Alethi. They would not look at Adolin and say he's half-not-Alethi, he's all Alethi even though one of his parents was raised in a different culture, he's one hundred percent an Alethi. And that's just how they look at things. So that's how you'd read into that, though there is a little bit to the eye color that maybe I'll get into some day.

Shadows of Self San Jose signing ()
#4 Copy

Questioner

I almost have a little bit of trouble understanding the difference between the Lighteyed and the darker...How did you come up with it?

Brandon Sanderson

I wanted to have some kind of racism in the books that was removed from the racism we have in our world, so I could talk about it in a more isolated way related to the books; and so, having it based on eye color made sense because the Voidbringers have these glowing red eyes and the Heralds have these bright eyes. So, this idea of eye color being related to your level of nobility, which is not true, but it entered the culture and became the form of racism and prejudice that they use.

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

Questioner

I've been recently introduced to you as an author, and I heard "lighteyed" and "darkeyed." What is that?

Brandon Sanderson

So, in The Stormlight Archive, their ethnic divisions in one of the cultures is by eye color. It traces back to when there was an ancient magic that eye color was related to, and in the modern culture, if you have lighteyes (like you), that's nobility. If you have Darkeyes (like you), you are not noble, you are... you know. So, instead of dividing by skin color or by nationality, they are much more interested in eye color. But that's only one of the cultures, that's a big important one.

Skyward Seattle signing ()
#7 Copy

Questioner

The lighteyes-- Do their eyes actually glow or is it just blue or green?

Brandon Sanderson

No. It's a very pale blue or green though. You can tell pretty easily looking at them who's lighteyed and who's dark. They don't glow. So--

Questioner

It's otherworldly?

Brandon Sanderson

Some of them would look-- You would say otherworldly, but not impossibly. You can find people on Earth who have eyes the shade that they are. Not all of them, right? Because some of them are yellows and things like that that we don't have. But if you looked at them and they were here, you might wonder if they were wearing contacts but it wouldn't be unusual to find out they weren't.