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/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#1 Copy


You said earlier that Parshendi are primarily asexual, does that extend to all Listeners -- parshmen, and those descended from Listeners, like Horneaters and Herdazians -- or is it just the Parshendi?

Brandon Sanderson

Most Listener forms are asexual, but several forms are different, including slaveform. Horneaters and Herdazians are not, as a rule, though there are higher instances of asexuality among them.


I was actually wondering about how Parshmen would reproduce if they are only in slaveform? I thought one had to be in mateform in order to reproduce?

Also, could Horneaters and Herdazians change forms as well?

Brandon Sanderson

For the first, mateform is not the only form capable of producing--any more than warform is the only one capable of swinging a sword. The forms are specializations.

For the second, RAFO.

General Reddit 2016 ()
#2 Copy


Mr Sanderson, I'm really interested in the languages of SA, especially Unkalaki (Polysynthetic?). Have you actually created full conlangs for these or are they just for naming. You obviously know what you're doing.

Brandon Sanderson

I'm not done yet, but for a few of them, I'm fairly far along. Yes, Unkalaki is polysynthetic, and is the same language family as Parshendi.


how do you create your languages, do you find a language from the real world and base the structure off of that? or do you create it from scratch?

Brandon Sanderson

A little of both. It's hard to create something that doesn't have some roots in something you've seen before, however. (Even if you think that you are.)

Tor Instagram Livestream ()
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Are Parshendi/human hybrids possible?

Brandon Sanderson

They are. In fact, both the Horneaters and the Herdazians are descendants of human/Parshendi, human/listener hybrids. And there's very, very small remnants of it; they are mostly human. But they have a bit of listener heritage, just like a lot of us have some Neanderthal heritage. They, perhaps, have a little bit more in their past.

So, yes, this is possible.

White Sand vol.1 release party ()
#5 Copy


I really like how you have different fingernails. *inaudible* Because I barely noticed, rereading for Stormlight, you've got the He--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. Herdazians. 



Brandon Sanderson

That's because Herdazians are-- have Parshendi blood. Parshmen blood. They're one of the halv-- they're one of the mixed breeds. Horneaters *inaudible* too.


Horneaters, um.. they're not *inaudible* with Parshendi are they?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, they are.


That's where they get the red hair then.

Brandon Sanderson

That's where they get the red hair. And they actually can-- they call them Horneaters because they eat shell, and they actually can metabolize it which humans can't. Yeah. They've actually got, actually-- they've actually got different teeth than humans have.

Shadows of Self Edinburgh UK signing ()
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You've said before that the Horneaters are hybrids, half-human--

Brandon Sanderson

Not really half any more, but yeah.


Are there any other hybrid creatures, would you consider the koloss to be this? Koloss-blooded.

Brandon Sanderson

Not really, I don't consider them, but the Herdazians also have a bit of Parshendi in them.

General Reddit 2016 ()
#8 Copy


In Sanderson's most recent lecture (50:25 in) to his BYU Writing Class, he mentions that Alethkar natives resemble Asians. This came as a bit of a surprise to me, especially since I always imagined the Shin as the "Asians" of that world.

Brandon Sanderson

It's a little more complicated than I might have made it seem. Alethkar natives other than the Shin have the epicanthic fold, but the Alethi wouldn't look strictly Asian to you--they'd look like a race that you can't define, as we don't have them on earth. I use half-Asian/half-arab or half-asian/half-Polynesian models as my guide some of the time, but Alethi are going to have a tanner skin than some of those.

Some Horneaters might look Caucasian to you--but then, most will not. They'll seem like something alien, and not all of them have light skin; they tend to walk a spectrum between pale and coppery. Reshi and Herdazians will look closest to something like an indigenous Bolivian.

Shin would look the closest to Caucasian to you, but again, they're not an Earth ethnicity. So you might not be able to place them either.

A lot of the fanart has done a good job with this, and if you search through it, it might help you get an idea.

Barnes & Noble B-Fest 2016 ()
#9 Copy


How would you pronounce Rock's full name?

Brandon Sanderson

I usually get this wrong. *apprehensively chants the name* I think, but there might be something in there. It actually means... in Horneater you don't have to use a pronoun at the beginning, which is one of the weird things, you usually start with a verb. It means something along the lines of "I saw a beautiful wet stone that no one is paying attention to, but it was really cool because of the water pattern on it." Right, like, that's what his name means, and it kinda just means "Hey, appreciate the beauty of nature." Its kind of a little Horneater, their version of the haiku. The meaning is "Nature is beautiful, don't walk past the beauty of nature and ignore it." But his name actually kinda means "lonely, or forgotten rock". But "I saw a beautiful rock washed by rainwater that everyone is ignoring." Anyway, it doesn't translate all that well, I'm using a bunch of weird Asian and Indo-European language structures for this so it's not real easy to translate to English.

General Reddit 2015 ()
#10 Copy


I was just listening to Darn Carlin's Hardcore History podcast and Dan Carlin was talking about Genghis Khan's habit of seeing the potential in anyone, even an enemy. He was specifically going over the story of Jebe, a soldier who shot Genghis Khan in the neck and was recruited by the Khan because of his skill. This, at least to me, bears a striking resemblance to the final scene in the first flashback of [Oathbringer]. [Brandon] can you confirm or deny my suspicions that this scene was directly inspired by the real life event?

Brandon Sanderson

Yup, that's where it came from! I read a history of Genghis a number of years back, and loved this story, which was included there (though said to be just a legend.) Since I based old-school Dalinar on Subutai, a Mongolian general, I thought that this would be a perfect inclusion.

The origins of the Mongolian-Dalinar link, by the way, can be traced back to a friend of mine, Bat-ultzi, a Mongolian who went about always claiming to be "The Great descendant of the Great Genghis Khan." He'd throw his shoes at people if they offended him. He was such a character that I got very interested in Mongolian practices and history.

More tidbits. Rock and his culture started Mongolian long, long ago. (98-99 era, when I first wrote him.) As Roshar in general (and the Alethi in specific) became more Asian in look and less Semitic (though they are still a mash-up) I decided to push Rock's people in the direction of a human/parsh hybrid strain. This also was part of moving Rock himself from Yolen to Roshar, following after Dalinar and some other characters, who came earlier during the original Dragonsteel / Stormlight split in the early 2000s.

These changes drove the Horneaters away from Mongolian influences, though I can't say specifically where the Polynesian/Russian mashup came from. I liked how it read, and felt the linguistics supported the accent. These changes, of course, had a domino effect that resulted in the Veden people gaining their occasional red hair and fair skin from Horneater relation, which means Shallan is part parshman--though the relation is distant at this point.

General Reddit 2015 ()
#11 Copy


I didn't realize Horneaters had parshmen blood, didn't even realize that was possible. How closely are humans and parshmen related, do they have a common ancestor? Or is one an artificially created version of the other?

Brandon Sanderson

There was intermixing long ago. Horneaters and Herdazians are both a result. (Signs of this are the stone carapace on Herdazian fingernails and the Horneater extra jaw pieces--in the back of the mouth--for breaking shells.)

Humans and parshmen don't have a common ancestor. And as a side note, both of these strains of humanoids predate the ascension of Honor, Cultivation, and Odium.


Are there Aimian-Human hybrids as well? (Either type of Aimian) If so, are the Thaylen people one of these?

Brandon Sanderson



*via private message*

Some of us believe that you are saying that humans and listeners existed pre-Shattering while some of us believe that you are saying that Horneaters and Herdazians existed pre-Shattering (you have mentioned that humans had been on Roshar since before the Shattering recently). What were you trying to say here?

Brandon Sanderson

Humans (other than those on Yolen) existed pre-Shattering, as did parshmen.

RoW Release Party ()
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What culture inspired the Horneaters?

Brandon Sanderson

I don't usually use a single culture for any of my inspirations. I like to mix a bunch of things together, and some will be real-world cultures and others will not. You can probably pick out the Polynesian influences, as well as the Russian influences; so they're kind of like Siberian Polynesians. But really, the thing that inspired...

The Polynesian part came from the language. I'm fascinated with languages, and one of the cool things about the Hawaiian language in particular (which was the inspiration here) is that because there are so many fewer sounds, the words get extra long. And that's why a lot of the words in Hawaiian are so long compared to some other languages, because they repeat sounds more often, and just by simple math you end up needing longer words. And I like how poetic the Hawaiian language sounds, and things like that. So that's obviously one inspiration.

But a big inspiration for them was the original idea of their myths, the ones that Rock shares and talks about, and their interaction with the spren. I wanted a race, a culture, on Roshar that had both its roots in human culture and in listener culture. Horneaters are human and listener hybrids, like the Herdazians are. And whose cultural roots went back to both cultures and had built something new out of them. So that's the primary inspiration.

YouTube Livestream 14 ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Horneaters are capable [of drinking the Horneater White]. They actually are human-singer hybrids, like the Herdazians, but in a different line. And they have a different physiology. And they actually are not 100% human and are capable of eating and ingesting things that would kill a person.

Isaac Stewart

Can singers?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, singers can drink the Horneater White.

General Reddit 2016 ()
#15 Copy


I've always pictured Rock and the Unkalaki / Horneaters as Pacific Islanders. Are they based on Pacific Islanders despite their red hair?

Brandon Sanderson

Their linguistics and some parts of their culture are based on Pacific Islanders, though their physical characteristics are not.

YouTube Spoiler Stream 1 ()
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James M

According to Cord, Rock drew the Bow of Hours at the dawn of the new millennium. Roshar is at year 1173. Do Horneaters have a different calendar, or is Rock just really really old?

Brandon Sanderson

No, Rock is not really old, that's a different calendar. Rock is not old enough to have drawn that bow 74 years ago.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#17 Copy


Have you included (or do you potentially intend to include) any asexual characters in your published works? Asexual characters don't seem to be very common in fiction, and I'm sure it would be fantastic for people that identify as such to feel in any way represented by one of your characters!

Brandon Sanderson

I originally conceived the asexual nature of most Parshendi (from the Stormlight Archive) forms after reading a very thought-provoking article written by someone asexual. The idea of a primarily asexual race was a fascinating idea to me, and you will see this more in future books.


can somene be born half-parshnedi or maybe even half-spren??

Brandon Sanderson

The Horneaters and the Herdazians are both descendants of Parshendi/human interbreeding.

Spren do not reproduce biologically. As such, the term "half-spren" is basically meaningless. You could argue that the Parshendi, when bonded to spren, are part spren--as are many creatures on Roshar, if they have a spren symbiosis.