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Stormlight Three Update #5 ()
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Iceblade44

So White Sand [then Elantris] is earlier... Then how the heck old is Khriss then? Will we ever get an answer as to why every worldhopper is flippin' immortal?

Brandon Sanderson

There is some time-dilation going on. I'll explain it eventually; we're almost to the point where I can start talking about that. Suffice it to say that there's a mix of both actual slowing of the aging process and relative time going on, depending on the individual. Very few are actually immortal.

Faera

Implying that some are actually immortal? :D

Brandon Sanderson

Depends on which definition of immortal you mean.

Doesn't age, but can be killed by conventional means. (You've seen some of these in the cosmere, but I'll leave you to discuss who.)

Heals from wounds, but still ages. (Knights Radiant with Stormlight are like this.)

Reborn when killed. (The Heralds.)

Doesn't age and can heal, but dependent upon magic to stay this way, and so have distinct weakness to be exploited. (The Lord Ruler, among others.)

Hive beings who are constantly losing individual members, but maintaining a persistent personality spread across all of them, immortal in that as long as too much of the hive isn't wiped out, the personality can persist. (The Sleepless.)

Bits of sapient magic, eternal and endless, though the personality can be "destroyed" in specific ways. (Seons. Spren. Nightblood. Cognitive Shadows, like a certain character from Scadrial.)

Shards (Really just a supercharged version of the previous category.)

And then, of course, there's Hoid. I'm not going to say which category, if any, he's in.

Some of these blend together--the Heralds, for example, are technically a variety of Cognitive Shadow. I'm not saying each of these categories above are distinct, intended to be the end-all definitions. They're off the cuff groupings I made to explain a point: immortality is a theme of the cosmere works--which, at their core, are experiments on what happens when men are given the power of deity.

Shagomir

Heals from wounds, but still ages.

Would Bloodmaker Ferrings exist in this category as well? If not, what about someone Compounding Gold?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, you are correct.

Shagomir

As a Bloodmaker ages, what keeps them from healing the damage and carrying on as a very old, but very healthy person? Do they come to a point where they can't store enough health to stave off the aches, pains, diseases, and other things that come with old age?

This makes sense for traditional Feruchemy as it is end-neutral, so storing health becomes a zero sum game - eventually, you're going to get sick and you're not going to be able to overcome it with your natural healing ability no matter how much you manipulate it with a goldmind.

...Unless you've got a supply of Identity-less goldminds lying around. Would a Bloodmaker with a sufficient source of Identity-less goldminds (or the ability to compound, thus bypassing the end-neutral part of Feruchemy) eventually just die from being too old?

Brandon Sanderson

Basically, yes. They can heal their body to match their spiritual ideal, but some things (like some genetic diseases, and age-related illnesses) are seen as part of the ideal. Depends on several factors.

Skyward Chicago signing ()
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Questioner

Do the Heralds know about AonDor?

Brandon Sanderson

I would say, conceptually, a few of them do, but not in specific detail.

Questioner

'Cause Ash's name is a combination of Transformation, Beauty, and Light. I didn't know if that was a coincidence, or--

Brandon Sanderson

There are some non-coincidences in the linguistics that people have started to pick up on, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the people who have those names know about the origins of their names.

Starsight Release Party ()
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Questioner

I have a bit of a problem with the first Desolation timeline. I'm wondering how old were the Heralds when they became Heralds.

Brandon Sanderson

The age that you would see them as when you met them. They basically are the age they look. When they became Heralds, they are the age that they appeared.

Questioner

So they were like in their younger middle age?

Brandon Sanderson

Some of them. I mean Ishar is older.

Questioner

So that means that the entire timeline of the first Desolation happened within a single lifetime?

Brandon Sanderson

A lot of the ancient chronologies are wrong and you won't get the actual answers until the Heralds themselves explain it in their flashback sequences in the back five. 

Questioner

You've said that the Heralds came over from Ashyn. 

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

Okay. How old were they then?

Brandon Sanderson

Younger than they were when they became Heralds.

YouTube Livestream 22 ()
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Brandon Sanderson

And they're kind of just for me. Because they're the paintings of the Heralds, which are characters that I know and have been telling stories in my head about for twenty years. But you don't know 'em very well. (You know Nale a little bit.) But most of the Heralds, you're like, "Who are these people? Why do you have these awesome pictures of people that aren't in the books?" Well, that's because they will be in the books, and they are the people that I wanted paintings of. Selfish.

JordanCon 2018 ()
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Questioner

I noticed in Oathbringer the scene where Ash shows up as the washerwoman. Her description reminded me a lot of Khriss. Did Khriss have any personal relationships with Heralds? 

Brandon Sanderson

I'll RAFO that. Khriss has been around for a while, and the Heralds have been around for a while. 

Salt Lake City Comic-Con 2014 ()
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Newan

I asked a question at the panel, I asked if the person you refuse to say who he is, I was trying to talk about Taln.

Brandon Sanderson

Oh!

Newan

Not Hoid.

Brandon Sanderson

So what about Taln?

Newan

Is there anything you'll tell us about him?

Brandon Sanderson

What do you want to know? Ask me a specific question.

Newan

Is he Rosharan?

Brandon Sanderson

Is he Rosharan? Taln is Rosharan.

Newan

*inaudible*

Brandon Sanderson

Define Rosharan, how about that?

Newan

Native to Roshar.

Brandon Sanderson

That I have to RAFO.

Nowan

Are the Heralds...

Brandon Sanderson

The Heralds are from the same place that Taln is from.

Arcanum Unbounded Hoboken signing ()
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CCQ

I just read Edgedancer. I was just wondering... Did Ishar deceive Nalan on purpose or was he just wrong-- he had wrong information?

Brandon Sanderson

All the Heralds are insane.

CCQ

Okay.

Brandon Sanderson

It manifests in different ways. Do not trust anything any Herald says. Ever.

CCQ

Okay.

Brandon Sanderson

Nale trusts Ishar too much.

CCQ

Okay, but so did he do it on purpose, or...?

Brandon Sanderson

Um... So "on purpose" is a difficult thing when you're referring to someone with the psychology that Ishar has.

CCQ

Did he know what it was-- that it was a lie?

Brandon Sanderson

*sighs* Alright, I'll RAFO that until I get to him, but the answer is kind of a yes and a no. Okay? So there is part of him that knows and there is part of him that doesn't want to believe it. And yet the things he's been doing lately in Roshar are done because he knows what's coming.

Arcanum Unbounded Chicago signing ()
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Questioner

Have we seen cameos of Heralds on other Shardworlds?

Brandon Sanderson

The Heralds are tied to the system by the magic that permeates them. They could not leave.

Questioner

I thought I saw someone but I guess not.

Brandon Sanderson

It’s part of the magic. Some would call them Cognitive Shadows, right? Whether they are or not. "Cognitive Shadow" is a very ambiguous term in the cosmere. It means, basically your soul-- It's the same thing with petrification, right? Investiture replaced your soul, and permeated your soul, and your soul continues to exist, but... you are usually Invested with something, that's tied, and you're basically like pure Investiture then. You're tied to the thing you're Connected to. Most of the things that you're gonna see with that, travelling is going to be very difficult, unless you know how to do it. You have seen people do it.

Questioner

Who?

Brandon Sanderson

Vasher

Brandon Sanderson

Vasher... You have seen people do it. But anyone who's got-- yeah.

Words of Radiance Omaha signing ()
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Questioner

In Words of Radiance and The Way of Kings, was there something important about the stone and the herald <in> the *inaudible* <scene> that has to do kind of with the stone, and maybe Tien giving him rocks?  Am I reading too much into that?  

Brandon Sanderson

Some of that is reading too much into it and some of it is real. I'm not going to tell you what is what. But the st-. . . there is definitely something about that.  

Oathbringer release party ()
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Questioner

Does the Almighty and the Heralds have anything to do with the bigger cosmere gods and deities?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

The Heralds, as well?

Brandon Sanderson

...Not as much, but a little bit. They do. 

Questioner

Does that mean that the Almighty is able to worldhop as well?

Brandon Sanderson

Well, the Almighty is Honor, and he is one of the Shards of Adonalsium, so he didn't originate on Roshar.

Oathbringer Chicago signing ()
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Questioner

So, what we see at the end, with the Unmade, and it seems like Jezrien, getting trapped in gems. Is that basically possible, because, they have been, particularly in the case of the Heralds, infused with so much Investiture that they're basically being trapped in the gems instead of Stormlight?

Brandon Sanderson

They're not human anymore, yeah. 

Arcanum Unbounded Hoboken signing ()
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Questioner 1

Are we gonna hear what happened after the Heralds gave up their oath and *inaudible*

Brandon Sanderson

You will-- you will see more of that.

Questioner 2

Is there uh-- is there gonna be more side characters like Taln? Where they kind of like *inaudible*

Brandon Sanderson

Um, Taln and Ash--two of the Heralds--are main characters in the second five books, so that's where you're going to see *inaudible*. 

General Reddit 2017 ()
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[Discussion of Nale, and the legality of his actions.]

Brandon Sanderson

He takes whatever steps he can to go through proper channels. He would argue that he's doing what /u/bonly says he is. But remember, he is insane, and his perception of the world is untrustworthy.

He would claim to be, in the context of this discussion, Lawful Neutral.

Read For Pixels 2018 ()
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Oversleep (as Droga Królów)

Do the Heralds need to consume Investiture in order to stay in their body?

Brandon Sanderson

No. Good question. Excellent question. They're asking if they're like Returned and they need to consume a Breath each week.

BookCon 2018 ()
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WindRunner88 (paraphrased)

So far during The Stormlight Archive we've seen that the spren bond appears to have some distinct advantages (i.e. armor, more efficient Stormlight consumption, access to a variety of weapons) over what Tanavast via the Oathpact provided the Heralds. With the exception of Nale, and the fact that the Heralds had no need for Stormlight, can you please tell me one way in which a Herald had a distinct advantage over a level 5 Radiant of their corresponding  order?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Rebirth. *pause* The Heralds had access to raw levels of power that no Radiant could obtain.

Idaho Falls signing ()
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Questioner

I was wondering about the pictures in the cover of this [Oathbringer]. Are they specific characters in the book, or just art?

Brandon Sanderson

They are the Heralds. I went to some artists and said, "Do me your rendition of something that would be on the Sistine Chapel in-world for the Heralds," so that's four of the ten. So that is what we ended up with.

General Reddit 2020 ()
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CrypticRadiant

Has Nohadon been a Dawnshard in the past? (my guess is maybe he has and now it’s stored inside The Way of Kings, or jumped to Dalinar from there, would explain the Nohadon dream and the warmth he feels and Unite Them)

Bonus second question: is the ardent Pai actually the Herald Paliah? Other than the name similarity, the other ardent remarks on the name being weird, she’s obsessed with showing the world “The Truth” about Aesudan, and the Taravangian interlude in that same block swears by Pali’s mind, which seems a bit suspicious as it’s an uncommon curse.

Brandon

Good question on Nohadon, and a RAFO to boot. :)

Actually, both questions are RAFOs. If you ever meet me in person, be sure to demand a card!

Words of Radiance Seattle signing ()
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Questioner

Are the Unmade the analogs to Heralds?

Brandon Sanderson

There is certainly something similar going on there. Be aware that it's not a one-to-one correlation, that they're not exactly the same. For instance: Many of the- the Unmade are referenced by Taravangian in this, and he uses a phrase for them, and that is correct, that's what they are.

Footnote: In the epigraph for WoR 81 the Diagram says "The Unmade are a deviation, a flair, a conundrum that may not be worth your time. You cannot help but think of them. They are fascinating. Many are mindless. Like the spren of human emotions, only much more nasty. I do believe a few can think, however."
Shadows of Self London UK signing ()
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Cemci

Have we-- I think you mentioned in a previous signing that we'd already met one member of every Order of the Knights Radiant.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, I think you have.

Cemci

My question is, have we met two Edgedancers? And is one of the Dustbringers a viewpoint character?

Brandon Sanderson

One of the Dustbringers is eventually a point-of-view character.

Cemci

Haven't been yet?

Brandon Sanderson

No, not yet, I don't think. But it depends if you count the Heralds as members of their order.

Cemci

I don't.

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, see I would, because they're kind of heads of their Order. If you don't count them you have not met some from every Order.

Cemci

Have we met someone from the Dustbringers?

Brandon Sanderson

Well-- Dustbringers are really complicated. Really complicated. So that's the weird one. Okay? So let's shelve that one. You'll see why it's really weird later on.

General Reddit 2017 ()
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Kabsal

I spot a potential error [in Oathbringer]:

While she spoke of Jezrien and Kelek, she said their names strangely: Yaysi and Kellai.

This line comes from Dalinar's perspective - don't the Alethi use the name Jezrezeh and not Jezrien?

Peter Ahlstrom

The name Jezrien isn't unknown—Sizgil knew it in Way of Kings, even though they don't say Jezrien in the Makabaki lands either. But I'll ask Brandon about this line.

EDIT: We have determined that Dalinar should have said Jezerezeh in this context. So we'll fix this in the ebook and audiobook, and in future reprints.

Oathbringer release party ()
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Questioner

Which is your favorite of the ten fools, and why?

Brandon Sanderson

Uh-- I don't know. I honestly don't know.

Questioner

Can you give me a name of one of them, then?

Brandon Sanderson

That I haven't named yet? Those are in the notes, I have to look those things up. I don't know. We're gonna do a ten fools painting for the next one, maybe. We were gonna do it for this one. I'm not sure who my favorite is. I'd have to sit and think about it, perhaps more time than we have right now. It's going to depend on Isaac's sketches of them and things like that. Maybe, uh, Jezrien's fool. Probably Jezrien's fool.

Questioner

What's the name of that one?

Brandon Sanderson

I can't remember. Like I said, I have 'em in a list. I have to go look at the notes and look them up every time. I don't use them, like, I just write--

Questioner

Not like the Heralds, that you're using all the time. They're just the ten fools.

Brandon Sanderson

Right, I just use, even when I'm writing, I'm like "Jezrien's Fool," and then I go look up the name of it.

Arcanum Unbounded Hoboken signing ()
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Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

There was a point when the Heralds didn't need to draw Stormlight from gems, although the Stormlight-in-gems predates Honor's arrival.

There was a following conversation about this topic, about how a lot of the elements were there before Honor arrived, but he co-opted them. So, Stormlight were there, but there are big differences now.

Words of Radiance Chicago signing ()
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Argent

Can you confirm the real names of the Heralds for me? I have Jezrien (ˈjɛzɹən), Nale (for Nalan) - is that right?

Brandon Sanderson

Nale (neil) is what-- Nale is, yes, yes.

Argent

Chana [pronounced Shana] or Chana...

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah.

Argent

Vedel.

Brandon Sanderson

Vedel (vəˈdɛl), yeah. Chana (ˈt͡ʃænə) is also called Chanarach (ˈt͡ʃænəɹæt͡ʃ). Either one would be alright.

Argent

Okay, but her birth name...

Brandon Sanderson

Probably-- I think Chanarach is actually her birth name and Chana is the nickname.

Argent

Vedel... Pali, for Pailiah?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, I think Pali (ˈpæli) is the nickname in that case.

Argent

Okay, Ash?

Brandon Sanderson

No, that's a nickname.

Argent

What's the real one?

Brandon Sanderson

Shalash (ʃəˈlɑʃ).

Argent

That's not he just the Vorin...

Brandon Sanderson

No, that one was actually symmetrical.

Argent

Awesome. Battar (bəˈtɑɹ)?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Argent

Kalak?

Brandon Sanderson

Kalak (kəˈlɑk), yes.

Argent

Talenel (tæləˈnɛl), with a nickname Taln (tæln)?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Argent

And Ishar (ɪˈʃɑɹ)?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Orem signing ()
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Questioner

Hypothetically speaking, if some of the main Radiants were to die at the end of book 5, go to Braize and then spend the time in between 5 and 6 there, would they age?

Brandon Sanderson

There are lots of problems with that question. If a Radiant dies, they don't go to Braize. A Herald would, but a Herald is a Cognitive Shadow, so there's inherent problems in there. When you're a Cognitive Shadow, aging is different there, because you're basically a ghost. Even if you've been stapled to a body, it happens weirdly. So there's all kinds of flaws in that question.

Stormlight Three Update #5 ()
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faragorn

You mentioned in a signing that all the heralds are insane. My question is about how they got that way.

Were they insane at the moment they gave up their swords? Was it more from being tortured?

Or, was it a direct consequence of giving up the oathpact?

A third possibility is that being alive for millenia tends to crack you up. Do they even sleep? Not sleeping would really do it.

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO, I'm afraid. We have heralds as main viewpoint characters. I'll let the narrative do the explaining on these questions.

emailanimal

Brandon, what is the rough timeline for us to learn more about the Oathpact? Is this something that will come out when the Heralds become flashback characters in the back five books, or will there be more information in the earlier books?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO, I'm afraid.

Words of Radiance Dayton signing ()
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luke.spence (paraphrased)

What caused a Desolation to end? Was it just the defeat of Odium's forces? Because the Desolations start when the Heralds break under torture.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Because the Heralds can no longer be in existence. There is a certain period of time that they can be there, and after that, if they're there, they will start a new one. So the Heralds do need to leave for a Desolation to end

darkanimereal1 (paraphrased)

Oh. So they've got a time limit.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

They do. Otherwise the Desolation will start again. What they discovered is not all of them have to. As long as one remains, the Desolation will not start again.

luke.spence (paraphrased)

So, by the nine leaving, did that actually break the Oathpact for them? Did it change the cycle of Desolations?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

They have not completely broken the Oathpact, despite what they may think.

JordanCon 2016 ()
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Questioner

Much like in The Wheel of Time where there are false Dragons, are there people on Roshar who are pretending to be Heralds that are not?

Brandon Sanderson

Are there people on Roshar who are-- There are definitely lots of people who have claimed to be Heralds who were not.

Moderator

You said "have." The question was, are there?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm sure there are people around who've-- *laughter* I'm sure you can go to any city in the United States and find someone who claims to be Jesus, right? So yes! Absolutely!