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Bands of Mourning release party ()
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Questioner

Was the Rose Empire ever under threat from Shu-Dereth? And can you speak a little bit on fitting The Emperor's Soul into a world you'd already created?

Brandon Sanderson

So was the Rose Empire ever in danger from Shu-Dereth and could I speak a little about fitting The Emperor's Soul into a world I'd already written. So when I designed Elantris, I knew where I was going, and I knew a lot about the world. This is how I am in building. So when I wanted to do The Emperor's Soul I already knew where I was going to place it, I knew which magic system I was working toward, and things like that. So it wasn't terribly hard since I already knew what was over there.

The fun about that is that you should go look at the map commissioned, the one Isaac drew, that's done by the Derethi and see how they view the Rose Empire and where they put it on their map. And then you'll eventually get a map of the whole world, and let's just say they don't have a really accurate representation of the world and their place in it. As was very common for a lot of early societies, early European maps are hilarious.

Hal-Con 2012 ()
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Lance Alvein (paraphrased)

How was the Fjordell Empire not aware of the existence of the Rose Empire during the time of Elantris?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

The connection between the two will be explained in future Elantris books, but a quick answer is this:

Fjorden was aware of the Rose Empire, but doesn't consider the location to be holy, so they didn't really care that much about it. There is also no easy natural way to travel between the two. If you remember, Shai did run into the Fjordell ambassador.

Shadows of Self Chicago signing ()
#3 Share

Questioner

[Does] the expansion of Jaddeth’s empire have more to do with greed and hunger for power, or the innate nature of Dominion?

Brandon Sanderson

Both. I would say both. The innate nature of Dominion probably caused the greed and hunger for power.

Questioner

What would you say percentage-wise?

Brandon Sanderson

Well, one caused the other. It definitely started with Dominion. The Skaze are pretty thirsty for power.

Elantris Annotations ()
#4 Share

Brandon Sanderson

When I was designing this book, I knew I wanted a religious antagonist. Actually, the idea for the Derethi religion was one of the very fist conceptual seeds for this novel. I've always been curious about the relationship between the Catholic church and the Roman empire. While Rome itself has declined greatly in power, the church that grew within it–almost as a side-effect–has become one of the dominant forces in the world. I wondered what would happen if an empire decided to do something like this intentionally.

The early Derethi leaders, then, were a group who realized the problems with the Old Fjordell Empire. It collapsed upon itself because of bureaucratic problems. The Old Empire was faced with rebellions and wars, and never managed to become stable. The Derethi founders realized the power of religion. They decided that if they could get the nations of the East to believe in a single religion–with that religion centered in Fjorden–they would have power equal to, or even greater than, the power of the Old Empire. At the same time, they wouldn’t have to worry about rebellion–or even bureaucracy. The people of the other nations would govern themselves, but would give devotion, loyalty, and money to Fjorden.

So, these men appropriated the teachings of Shu-Dereth and mixed them with some mythology from the Fjordell Old Empire. The resulting hybridization, added to the Fjordell martial work ethic, created an aggressive, intense religion–yet one that was "constructed" with a logical purpose in mind. The Fjordell priests spent the next few centuries converting and building their power base. The result was the New Empire–an empire without governments or armies, yet far more powerful than the Old Empire ever was.

Elantris Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Okay, now, I know you're going to laugh at me here. However, I suppose you deserve to know the whole story of this book. After all, I told you about the whole "Adonis" thing.

Well, the thing is, the first version of the book included about two pages of poetry from Wyrn the King. I think every prose writer goes through a stage where we think, for some reason, that we have a talent for poetry. It's doubly bad in fantasy, where we've all read Tolkien, and felt like adding poems, songs, and the like to our stories.

The thing is, most of us aren't very good at it. Wyrn the King was a narrative alliterative poem patterned after Beowulf, and it was TERRIBLE. I might be masochistic enough to post it in the "deleted scenes" section of the website. I'm honestly not sure yet. (Actually, I wrote the poem as a college assignment. I wiggled out of doing something research-oriented by somehow convincing my teacher that I deserved to do a creative project instead. When I finished, I felt a little bit obliged to stick it in my current book, as I'd told my teacher I would. Sorry, Dr. Thursby, but. . .uh. . .it didn't make the final cut.)

Anyway, there was a point behind sticking the poem in the text, even if I completely overshadowed it by including so many lines of poetry. This section is really all we get in the book itself about Fjorden's past. As I've explained in the annotations, Fjorden switched to Shu-Dereth to do its conquering, relying on religion rather than armies. When they did so, they went back and rewrote many of their great classics. (Orwell would be proud of them.)

This is actually based on some events in our world. Some scholars think that Beowulf underwent similar revision, the monks who copied and translated it adding Christian symbolism to the text. After all, no great artist could possibly have been a true pagan. Everyone knows that Aristotle was a Christian–and he died before Christ was even born!