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Words of Radiance Philadelphia signing ()
#4 Copy

Questioner

Based on what we know currently about ten heartbeats, why does Szeth require ten heartbeats to bring forth his Honorblade?

Brandon Sanderson

Perception is a very important part of how these things all work, and remember the Honorblades work differently from everything else. Everything was based upon them. Why don't you read and find out what's going on there, but remember that the characters's perception is very important.

Questioner

So then that's why at one point Shallan requires ten heartbeats and now she doesn't?

Brandon Sanderson

Right, it's the exact same reason that Kaladin's forehead wounds don't heal. Because he views himself as having those somewhere deep inside of him and he can't heal until that gets away. And it works for the same reason why in Warbreaker when you bring something to life, your intention rather than really what you say is what matters. It's all about perception.

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.

Oathbringer Chicago signing ()
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Questioner

What's this sword's *points at replica of Jezrien's Honorblade* name? Do you have-- have you named Szeth's blade?

Brandon Sanderson

Various people have named the swords various things. I just-- I'm not going to canonize it right now, but it's had many names over the years...

Questioner

Can you give me one of them?

Brandon Sanderson

...I mean-- just "the Assassin's Blade."

Boskone 54 ()
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Steeldancer

The Heralds, back before Honor died, were they directly powered by Honor?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. You’ll find out more about that, but the Shardblades [pretty sure he means Honorblades here] were pieces of Honor’s soul that he gave them and direct access to his essence.

Steeldancer

Like Vin and Elend?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, a little like that. That’s why Honorblades don’t work like Shardblades do, like Radiants do.

Steeldancer

The second part of the question is, what would happen if they were directly powered by Honor and they were holding Nightblood?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO

Words of Radiance Dayton signing ()
#16 Copy

luke.spence (paraphrased)

You mentioned that human can’t bond Honorblades, but Nalan tells Szeth that his bond with his Honorblade has been broken. Can you clear this up?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Humans CAN bond Honorblades. There's a crucial difference between Honorblades and Shardblades. When you drop an Honorblade, it does not disappear, even if it has been bonded. A Shardblade will disappear when dropped.

Words of Radiance San Diego signing ()
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Questioner (paraphrased)

Can someone bond more than one Honorblade?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Honorblade?  You can't bond an Honorblade, though it can be given to you. Shardblades, however, come from a spren bond and it is possible to bond more than one.

Orem Signing ()
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treegrass

How long does it take to summon an Honorblade? Is it ten heartbeats or instant?

Brandon Sanderson

So, Honorblades, as far as anyone knows is ten sec- ten heartbeats. If you were to ask Szeth how long it would take, he would say ten heartbeats.

treegrass

But they're not?

Brandon Sanderson

I am not saying that. I am saying if you ask Szeth, if you ask the current bearer of Jezrien's Blade, they would all say it takes ten heartbeats.

Questioner 2

What about for the Heralds?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO there.

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.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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mooglefrooglian

1) How simple is it to bond an Honorblade? Is it just a matter of willing it? Shardblades need gemstones, but it seems like Honorblades might not even need those.

2) Do you need to be bonded to an Honorblade to Surgebind? Or is just holding it in your hand sufficient?

3) Do you need to be bonded to an Honorblade for it to change your eye color? Or would holding it in your hand be sufficient to do the eye color trick?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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uchoo786

I was wondering, if one were to take an Honorblade to Nalthis (I think that's the Warbreaker planet?), would it function like a minor version of Nightblood?

And could one fuel one of these Shards with other forms of Investiture, not gas-based like Breath and Stormlight, e.g. burning metals?

Brandon Sanderson

Shardblades will not lose or change functionality when taken off of Roshar.

/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.

Dragonsteel Mini-Con 2021 ()
#29 Copy

Questioner

In Rhythm of War, Nightblood broke off a piece of an Honorblade. Could you technically pulverize an Honorblade to the point it wouldn't exist? If so, what would happen?

Brandon Sanderson

You could pulverize an Honorblade to the point that it wouldn't exist. You would basically need to repair it with Investiture, and if you didn't, it would happen, the same thing that happened to Shardplate. You would be making... basically it's changing form. Either you would end up with a bunch of dust made of a God Metal, which you could do stuff with, or you add Investiture and reconstitute it, or you get it to change back into its other states. Those are all possibilities.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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FirstSelector

When Kalak sees the ring of Honorblades in the Prelude, he describes them as "flowing in design, inscribed with glyphs and patterns." However, in the main text we encounter two (presumed) blades - Jezrien's and Talenel's, neither of which were included in Kalak's original accounting. The first is explicitly depicted as being devoid of ornamentation, and the second is ambiguous. Were all ten original Honorblades ornamented and inscribed, and if so, what causes the change?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO

Hal-Con 2012 ()
#34 Copy

Lance Alvein (paraphrased)

Can you confirm if the scene with Taln at the end of Way of Kings is entirely in Hoid's perspective? There was some discussion that it might not be, since Taln's Honorblade was called a Shardblade.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

That entire scene is in Hoid's POV, and the reason for it being called a Shardblade is because Honorblades are Shardblades.

JordanCon 2014 ()
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Questioner

What was the reason for choosing the base form of Shardblades as blades, why not another form? Was it because of the spren?

Brandon Sanderson

Why was the base form of Shardblades chosen to as blades, as swords? It is because the Shardblades were devised... They were devised as imitations of the Honorblades, which were created and given to the Heralds. And so since the original pattern was the Honorblades, they were built to feel like the Honorblades.

FAQFriday 2017 ()
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Questioner

Why didn't Dalinar get the powers of a Stoneward when he bonded Taln's [Honorblade]?

Brandon Sanderson

Some readers have already figured this out, so I don't think I'm engaging in too large a spoiler to dig into this one here.

There are several oddities going on here. The most important one relevant to this question is the Blade in question. If you compare the descriptions of the sword described in the epilogue of The Way of Kings to the one that traveled with the madman (allegedly Taln, the Herald) to the Shattered Plains, you'll find they are different.

The one that the characters obtained in Words of Radiance is NOT an Honorblade. It's an ordinary Shardblade (as ordinary as one of those can be called.) I'm not going to say specifically what happened to the Blade Taln arrived with at Kholinar, but I will say that it IS a different weapon from the one in Words of Radiance.

The other issue here is the somewhat lesser question of whether this character is actually Taln, the Herald, or not. Some characters in-world don't believe that it is, though his viewpoint in Words of Radiance strongly implies otherwise. This isn't specifically relevant to the conversation for reasons I'll talk about below--but it is tangentially related. Because in the cosmere, Intent is important to many of the types of magic. It's theoretically possible to hold an Honorblade and not realize what its powers are, and therefore be unable to access them.

As an aside, this character was actually the primary protagonist of the version of The Way of Kings I wrote in 2002. A man who woke up, with lingering memories of madness, and claimed to be a Herald when nobody believed him--as he couldn't manifest any powers, seemed to have lost his sword, and lore said the Heralds weren't coming back anyway.

When I wrote the new version of The Way of Kings in 2009 or so, one goal was to focus the storyline. I'd included so many characters in the 2002 version that none of them progressed very far in their arcs, creating a strong setting and interesting characters--but a bad book. During the new version, I decided that this character would be moved to the later books, and I'd explore him there.

In the 2002 version, the text was very dodgy on whether or not Taln was a Herald. Confronting the fact that he might be crazy was a major arc and theme of the book--however, as I've worked on the new version, I've realized that it would be dangerous to be too vague on this. Stringing people along with the question for a book or two is one thing, waiting until book six or eight to do a character's arc, and leaving the question of whether they're a Herald or not all that time, seemed unfair.

So the text is going to be making manifest fairly quickly who this person is. You'll have confirmations long before we dig into his viewpoint in the later books.

So, a recap:

1) The swords WERE swapped somehow.

2) Someone could hold an Honorblade and not realize they had access to powers.

3) This character may or may not actually be a Herald--but the text is going to make the answer clear, and I'm not trying to trick you.

Stormlight Three Update #3 ()
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ascensionprops

My other question is related to the Honorblades (and is most likely a RAFO for sure). Talenel's blade at the end of Way of Kings is described spike-like. We've seen that the magic systems are similar (especially with investiture) across the different cosmere worlds, even though they have different things that make the magic happen (Stormlight vs Breath etc). With this similarity, do the Honorblades imbue similar effects? I mean, the blade is not of Ruin (or is it? lol), but as a spike, does it imbue similar powers to Hemalurgy - without the obvious need to be stabbed with it heh?

Brandon Sanderson

The reference is intentional, as a call-back, but it is not the same mechanic. Remember, Szeth's blade is an Honorblade, and doesn't look like a spike. There is some similarity here, but it's minor.

Words of Radiance Philadelphia signing ()
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Questioner

I'm guessing it's a RAFO, but why do Honorblades work the way they do?

Brandon Sanderson

Honorblades were crafted before Shardblades existed...

Questioner

So they were crafted.

Brandon Sanderson

They were crafted before Shardblades existed, and all Shardblades that exist came about as certain individuals trying to find out how to copy Honorblades.

Questioner

So would it be fair to say that Honorblades are analagous to fabrials in some sense? Trap spren in a crystal yada yada Stormlight power?

Brandon Sanderson

There is an analogy there, that I think would pass the SAT's rigor for analogies.

Starsight Release Party ()
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Aradanftw

Let's say you wanted to be the Mistborn equivalent of a Surgebinder, having all ten Surges, would the best way to do that to bond at least five Honorblades or can you bond more than one spren?

Brandon Sanderson

You could bond five Honorblades. That'd be the easiest way by far. Because convincing multiple spren to bond you is going to be really tough, so by far the easiest way is just to get... you'd actually need all ten Honor... No, you'd need five Honorblades for the five... Yeah.

Aradanftw

You'd have to get the right ones.

Brandon Sanderson

You'd have to get the right ones and then you'd have all ten. 

Aradanftw

And then, there's nothing wrong with bonding five individual Blades? You don't have to have five arms?

Brandon Sanderson

You do not have to have five arms. You could bond five Blades if you wanted to.

Aradanftw

Really cool. Thank you.

Brandon Sanderson

Particularly Honorblades. 

Aradanftw

They're special.

Brandon Sanderson

Mhm.