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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.

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.

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 Portland signing ()
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TheKingOfCarrotFlowers (paraphrased)

I asked Brandon whether the Heralds were once mortal

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

He RAFO'd me, which I expected, but he explained that the reason he had to RAFO it was because he doesn't want to build anticipation or expectations about the heralds yet, since they won't really be heavily featured until the 2nd set of 5 books.

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!

San Diego [email protected] 2020 ()
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Questioner

The Heralds seem to be insane in the ways of their Divine Attributes, at least somewhat. Is this because they're Heralds? As Cognitive Shadows, they're subject to people's perception, like how spren are?

Brandon Sanderson

That's a very astute question, and yes, that is influencing them quite a bit. I'm doing something here with the Heralds. Like, I want the Heralds "madnesses," as we call them, to be magical diseases. And the contrast of something like Kaladin's depression, which I'm trying to treat very real-world. I'm trying to treat them as these things that couldn't exist in our world. They're fantastical mental diseases, like we have fantastic physical diseases in Elantris. So I did make them thematic, and I would say part of the reason for that is people's perception of them and their mental state reacting against that. And that should be a theme among all of the Heralds.

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.

ICon 2019 ()
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Questioner

Does Gavilar and Amaram know that Nale and Kalak are the Heralds and that all the other Heralds also...

Brandon Sanderson

That's a spoiler. Can you talk around it?

Questioner

Yeah. So did they know that the people being met, who were they and also if they knew, why'd they still continue on the missions?

Brandon Sanderson

Let's just say that information is not being shared clearly and succinctly between different groups that are interacting in the prologues of the Stormlight books. How about that.  But the cat obviously got out of that particular bag that you're asking about and the ramifications of it are in the first prologue. You'll find out. When this book comes out, your question will get answered pretty clearly so just know that you'll get your answer in about a year.

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. 

General Reddit 2022 ()
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Gilthu

Do you ever get sneaky information from behind the scenes? If so do you ever look through Reddit or the web to see if anyone has posted that theory yet?

Peter Ahlstrom

I love this question. Yes, all the time. And yes.

For example, there is a scene where a Herald appears, and I haven’t found anyone who has posted that they think that person might be a Herald.

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.

OdysseyCon 2016 ()
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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Skyward San Diego signing ()
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Questioner

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

Brandon Sanderson

Only in that version of the story... 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.

/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. :(

YouTube Spoiler Stream 4 ()
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ArgentSun

Prior to the arrival of the Everstorm, what happened to the Heralds who died? Were they immediately sent back to Braize to wait until the rest arrived and started the Isolation, or could they return to Roshar, similarly to how the Fused can return multiple times?

Brandon Sanderson

So, the mechanics of this I've been dodgy on on purpose because I know I'm gonna want some wiggle room in the books when I write them. Right now they can't return. They go, they're done. I have to make sure that works with the magic and with the narrative as I write them, so you can take this as one of those Words of Brandon that the books might contradict, but the original outline has, you die, you're there, you can't go back. But there are various incarnations of this where they were holding the Fused back by doing that, from being reborn, if that makes sense. And that's one of the parts that I'm not 100% sure where I'm going to go with, because when I came up with all this stuff, I wasn't working with the realities of the books, where I was writing the Fused, and things like this. And now that I have, this is very natural to be like, alright, let me do a reset, and make sure that the lore and worldbuilding all is consistent now that I've done five books-- I haven't done the fifth one yet, but you know what I mean. It's one of the reasons I have the break in between, is to give myself a chance to go to my outlines and make sure. Originally they were holding back... you could kill Fused and they wouldn't return, because Heralds were holding them back, the Oathpact was. But that meant when the Heralds died, they couldn't return either, and so the war could actually happen. But the Everstorm and things like that have changed that. Anyway, that's the answer until I write it in the books and get you some canon in the flashbacks of the Heralds we will be writing eventually.

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 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."
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.