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OdysseyCon 2016 ()
#1 Copy

Blightsong (paraphrased)

Is it normal for people to become Connected to an area after being there for a bit, like with Kel and wherever he was when he found the Ire, or is something special going on?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

It is normal for a cognitive shadow to get stuck to places, because they exist through investiture it is normal for them to get tied to an area. Kelsier was still in Scadrial when he found the Ire. This happened with Odium and the two shards on Roshar, Preservation to Ruin, and the Heralds.

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.  

Skyward Anchorage signing ()
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Questioner

Do the Heralds know about Aons? I am asking specifically about Shalash. Shao, Ale, Ashe. Transformation, Beauty, Illumination.

Brandon Sanderson

Let's say that some of them do and some of them don't. The question is "do the Heralds know about Aons?" How cosmere-aware are the Heralds? It depends on the Herald.

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.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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Extesian

I'm loathed to ask two questions but this is a clarification - it was reported way back that you confirmed that the ardent in the Palanaeum is Pailiah. Are you willing to confirm?

Brandon Sanderson

There is a Herald in close proximity to Taravangian, but she's not anyone in his immediate inner circle seen commonly on screen.

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 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. 

Skyward San Francisco signing ()
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Questioner

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

Brandon Sanderson

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.

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."
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*. 

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!

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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18th_Shard

Does a Herald using an Honorblade consume the same "dangerous" amounts of Stormlight?

Brandon Sanderson

Honorblades are less efficient; this doesn't change when a Herald uses them. (But they have other advantages.)

uchoo786

Are Honorblades closer in power to Nightblood than they are to Shardblades made from Spren?

Brandon Sanderson

Hard to say. They're all similar, but at the same time, very different. And in a way, Nightblood is what you might call a "Third Generation" blade.

uchoo786

Ah gotcha. And in this analogy, Honorblades would be 1st gen and Sprenblades would be 2nd gen?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

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. 

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-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.

/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. :(

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.

Skyward release party ()
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Questioner

On Roshar, if a Herald were to die, to not-really-come-back die, would it possible for someone to take up the mantle of that Herald?

Brandon Sanderson

You're gonna need to read and find out, because this is the first time that happened was at the end of Oathbringer.

Questioner

Because he is dead--

Brandon Sanderson

He is dead dead.

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.

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.

Stormlight Three Update #6 ()
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Khyrindor

You've said that Returned count as Cognitive shadows "stapled" back into their bodies, and that the Heralds are at least similar. Would I be right in assuming that Elantrians could be considered as Cognitive Shadows as well, or am I barking up the wrong tree?

Brandon Sanderson

Elantrians are something different. They don't actually "die" to be created.

Recognize that the term cognitive shadow is an in-cosmere theory, which I'm not going to comment on as the creator of the setting. The theory is this:

Investiture seeks sapience. It looks for someone to control it or, in some instances, spontaneously adopts personality.

A mind (cognitive aspect of a person) can become infused with Investiture. This acts a little like minerals with petrified wood, replacing the mind and personality with investiture.

When the actual person dies, this investiture imprint remains behind. A copy of the soul, but not the actual soul.

Others disagree with this, and think the soul itself persists. Still others reject the theory in its entirety.

linkhyrule5

Huh.

... Kandra are almost literally stapled to their bodies with Hemalurgy - would they count as such, to the in-setting scholars?

Brandon Sanderson

No, they wouldn't. They are beings who have had their souls twisted by Hemalurgy--the soul never left, it's just been messed up. Someone else who has a soul stapled to a body with Hemalurgy would count though.

Words of Radiance Washington, DC signing ()
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Rybal

Can the Heralds Surgebind without their [Honor]Blades, and if not are they under the same restrictions the Radiants are?

Brandon Sanderson

[...] I will say that the Heralds without their Blades are incapable of the powers you are familiar with. It doesn't mean there aren't other things they can do, but they are incapable of the powers you are familiar with throughout the book.

Skyward Chicago signing ()
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Questioner

How do the Heralds come back? As Cognitive Shadows, how do they a physical body?

Brandon Sanderson

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

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

Brandon Sanderson

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

Questioner

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

Brandon Sanderson

Maybe. Maybe. You shall see.

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.)

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.

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.

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.

Salt Lake City signing ()
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Questioner

Is that theory correct where, like, the Heralds are basically, like, reversed now. Kind of going against their thing or...

Questioner 2

*laughs* He won't tell us. 

Questioner 1

I know, I know. That was my question, which I knew you wouldn't *inaudible*.

Questioner 2

I just wanna know more what Szeth and the stone is?

Brandon Sanderson

You get-- you get a RAFO card. There you go.

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 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.

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.