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Stormlight Three Update #5 ()
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Iceblade44

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

Brandon Sanderson

There is some time-dialation 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.

BookCon 2018 ()
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WindRunner88 [PENDING REVIEW] (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 [PENDING REVIEW] (paraphrased)

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

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.

General Reddit 2011 ()
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gunslingers

The number 10 seems to be a recurring theme in this world. Are the "ten fools" the antithesis of the ten orders of the knights radiant?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, ten is a number of mythological import in the world. The Ten Fools are, essentially, the opposites of the Ten Heralds--who each represented an ideal. (Those ideals were later adopted by the orders of Knights Radiant, so yes, there is a connection--but there's a step between them.)

Orem signing ()
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Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

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 [PENDING REVIEW]

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.

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.

Skyward San Francisco signing ()
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Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

The second set of Stormlight books, [six] through ten, will that *inaudible* be more focused on the Heralds' point of view, is that the idea?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Yeah, so Taln and Ash, who are both Heralds, are going to be main characters, and they'll each get books dedicated to them. The characters who survive the first five will still be main characters as well, but it's gonna turn more on what happened with the Heralds and things like that. The first five are turning more on what happened with the Knights Radiant and then the last five are  more what happened with the Heralds. 'Cause we'll get flashbacks to the time of the Dawnsingers and things like that.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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keleks_breath

1) In their place of torture, are the Heralds able to communicate with each other or with other people/spren outside of that place? E.g. how is Ishar able to maintain his threat of severing the Nahel bond if he is being tortured for hundreds of years? 2)When the Heralds return to Roshar, do they appear like Schwarzenegger in Terminator (nude) or do they appear with the clothing they wore when they signed up for the Oathpact? 3)Are the Honorblades involved in the torture of the Heralds? Again, thank you for taking the time to interact with us fans and readers.

Brandon Sanderson

I have to RAFO questions along the lines of what you're asking. These are things that are relevant to books 6-10, which probably won't even be written for a decade. Talking about them too much now would be counter-productive, I feel. Sorry. :(

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

Are the Heralds...

Brandon Sanderson

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

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.

Oathbringer Houston signing ()
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pfranklin51 [PENDING REVIEW]

Nale mentions that he's the only Herald that ends up joining his Order of Radiants, eventually. Are there any Radiants that joined other Orders?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

No, good question.

Footnote: The questioner meant to ask if any Heralds had joined other Orders. Brandon may or may not have inferred that.
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!

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.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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ParadoxicalWims

Could the Heralds be considered the splinters or would it be the Honourblades they once held? Or perhaps are they something else entirely?

Brandon Sanderson

That's a RAFO, more because I don't want to dig into the nature of the Heralds until the second five books, and would rather not have people's eyes on them too much right now.

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 [PENDING REVIEW]

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

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Yes.

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

The Heralds, as well?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

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

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

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

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

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 [PENDING REVIEW]

So, Nale has the pale patch on his skin. Might be a scar, might be something else. The question I have is, if it's something else, which I'm assuming it is, do all of the Heralds have something like that? 

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

No. Good question. 

Oathbringer Chicago signing ()
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Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

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 [PENDING REVIEW]

They're not human anymore, yeah. 

Steelheart Seattle signing ()
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Questioner (paraphrased)

Is the Palanaeum named for Palah?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yes. In fact, it was named based on—it was Greek in our world—the Athenaeum? It was based off of that.

Questioner (paraphrased)

Did we see Palah?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

I believe every one of the Heralds is mentioned or shown somewhere in the first book.

Questioner (paraphrased)

Someone was wondering whether the old woman who was wandering around the Palanaeum was her.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

That is a very good guess. I won't say specifically, because some of them are intended to be more obvious and some of them are intended to be red herrings. So, that was a very good guess.

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

Are the Heralds actually aware that Taln is back?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Are the Heralds aware that Taln is back? Uh, you're implying that this person actually is Taln. *smiles* Which is not guaranteed. It's not guaranteed. However, the return of the Voidbringers does indeed indicate to them, in their mind, that he would have returned.

darkanimereal1 (paraphrased)

So they assume because the Voidbringers are returning--

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Because the Voidbringers are returning, would be a clue to them that Taln has returned.

Shadows of Self release party ()
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Questioner

The man that gives Nightblood to Szeth at the end of Words of Radiance, I don't understand who he is.

Brandon Sanderson

...Oh Nale, oh you mean Nale. Nale's one of the Heralds.

Questioner

But I thought that those guys left? At the be-- In the prequel, at the beginning of The Way of Kings.

Brandon Sanderson

They abandoned their swords and went about the world, but did not return to the place where they were supposed to go, which was off-world.

Questioner

So they just die?

Brandon Sanderson

They did not die.

Questioner

So they're all still out there?  Somewhere in the cosmere?

Brandon Sanderson

It can be assumed that they are all still out there unless some of them died since then. It was 4,000 years ago.

Questioner

But the one guy that stayed, went crazy because--

Brandon Sanderson

The one guy they abandoned was left in their version of hell, and the rest of them were supposed to return and didn't.

Questioner

Every day?

Brandon Sanderson

Every time they die they're supposed to go back. Or every time the war is over. You are asking good questions, they're questions that will make more sense as the book progresses.

Skyward Chicago signing ()
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Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

How do the Heralds come back? How do they a physical body?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

That system will be explained in the coming books, so that is a RAFO. I'm gonna dig into it pretty deeply. It's relevant for multiple reasons.

In the original version, Taln ended up in someone else, like they would get a body from someone else, which was part of fueling the "Is he crazy, is he not," because people were like, "I recognize this guy!" I don't use that system anymore.

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

That's what I was wondering, because the Fused...

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

They use something kind of more like the Fused in the original draft, it's not that process anymore.

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

Is that gonna give us lead-ins to how it worked with Kelsier?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Maybe. Maybe. You shall see.

Skyward San Diego signing ()
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Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

You mentioned that the Heralds could sense each other's location...

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

In that version of the story, he actually gets his sword and it lets him sense and it leads him, not to the other Heralds, but the other Honorblades. He was mistaken even about that power because they have never separated from them before. And so, he thinks that he's going to find the other Heralds and he just finds their abandoned Blades.

It was very cool in the context of that book. But of course, where the other Honorblades are now is not necessarily a mystery anymore. It doesn't kinda work in the current continuity.

General Reddit 2016 ()
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Ray745

You have stated that each Knights Radiant order gets their own unique ability, for lack of a better word, due to the combination of their surges. For instance, you have stated this ability for the Windrunners is strength of squires. My question - is this due to the Nahel bond, or just inherent in the surges combining. Would a non-Radiant get these abilities from the Honorblades, or would they be out of luck due to no Nahel bond?

Brandon Sanderson

Good question! The unique abilities have more to do with the powers interacting, same as how twinborn will often manifest some odd side effects of the powers interacting. But there are limitations. For example, Jezrien didn't actually have any squires, as none of the Heralds did.