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Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
#1 Copy

Questioner

I'm gonna take a stab at Kaladin's fourth oath. Is it, "I will not feel bad about slaughtering my enemies?"

Brandon Sanderson

*RAFO card*

...You know I'm not going to answer that. But I tell you what, it's been recorded by the fan sites, everything I say, so if you're right you're on record. But I'm not going to tell you.

Skyward Seattle signing ()
#3 Copy

coltonx9

What would Elhokar's Fifth Truth be?

Brandon Sanderson

...Oh, Elhokar's last Truth? He would have had to have been on a long journey before he could even get to that. It would probably be-- I'm going to RAFO that now, because I think it would tell you too much about the way I'm thinking for the way the Truths work. I could probably tell you that now, but I will choose not to. Let's just say it would involve kind of a journey that starts kind of-- negative is the wrong term. Being more aware of himself and then coming to a deeper awareness of himself that is perhaps not-- that leaves him in a good place.

coltonx9

Could you tell me what his First Truth would have been?

Brandon Sanderson

It would have been to admit the thing that he knows, which is that he's a bad king.

Arcanum Unbounded Hoboken signing ()
#4 Copy

AndrewHB

I wondered if I could follow up to that Machiavelli question. Would Elsecallers be a-- one of those other, uh-- one of those...

Brandon Sanderson

So, yeah. Elsecallers are fairly compatible. Like, Elsecallers feel like the journey is... the journey is the entire species, right? And that the journey is the destination. *inaudible*

General Reddit 2018 ()
#5 Copy

lupicorn

I had a question about what it means to swear the Ideal of Law. Several fans have told me it means to define the law, in the Nixon, "when the president does it, that means it is not illegal," sort of way. I interpret it as becoming the embodiment of the law such that they can't willingly violate any law without breaking their oaths.

Do either of these interpretations hit the mark? Nale seems to follow the law more so than most and that doesn't just seem like a personal preference.

Brandon Sanderson

I would say that both of these interpretations could work for a given Skybreaker, which is why there is disagreement among the order itself. Perception is a big part of the oaths.

I wouldn't want to squish this discussion by offering too much on one side or the other, as this is exactly where I want the conversation to be going right now.

DragonCon 2016 ()
#6 Copy

Questioner

I have a question about progression of powers for the Knights Radiant. So we see with Kaladin that it seems that there's a definitive border to the Ideals and how you gain them, I guess? It would be hard to touch on the third without having learned the second. Would that-- Is that the same for all of the Orders? Like the Willshapers are much more varied and individualistic, could they go through a different order and if so would that affect how they express their Surgebinding?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, the Oaths are very individualized. In fact you'll get a lot more of this as you see different people, even within the same Order, swearing Oaths. And you'll see how it works, even with a given Order there is individuality to them. So I'm going to give you a RAFO, you can have a card.

The Great American Read: Other Worlds with Brandon Sanderson ()
#8 Copy

Questioner

Kaladin kind of went back on his Oaths in the second book, right?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. He started down that path.

Questioner

How could Shallan or Lightweavers go back on the Truths they make? And did Shallan do any of that in Oathbringer?

Brandon Sanderson

No, the Cryptics-- remember, how the spren is viewing this is very important. The Cryptics have an interesting relationship with truth. Harder to break your Oaths in that direction with a Cryptic. Harder to move forward, also, if you're not facing some of these things and interacting with them in the right way. But, while I can conceive a world that it could happen, it'd be really hard to for a Lightweaver to do some of the stuff. Particularly the ones close to Honor, you're gonna end up with more trouble along those lines, let's say.

Questioner

So then, what happened with the Lightweavers during the Recreance? Did they break their Oaths?

Brandon Sanderson

They did break their Oaths. I mean, breaking your Oaths as in "walking away from the first Oath" will still do it, regardless of what Order you are. You can actively say, "I am breaking my Oaths and walking away." Anyone has that option. But you also are holding the life of a spren in your hand.

Idaho Falls signing ()
#9 Copy

Truthwatcher_17.5

Does the Fourth Ideal of Knights Radiant for Windrunners go something like "I will forgive myself for those I've failed to protect"?

Brandon Sanderson

I will put you on the record for having guessed that, but you won't find the answer until a Windrunner is capable of figuring it out. 

Stuttgart signing ()
#10 Copy

Krios (paraphrased)

At the end of Oathbringer, Kaladin says that the Oaths are about perception. So, what would happen when a crazy person bonds a crazy spren? Is there a hard limit to what the Oaths allow or could they just go on a John Wick style rampage?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Perception will get you a very long way, like Nightblood proves. So you can go beyond the Oaths, but there will be a hard limit. Although it will be hard to find a such fitting pair of human and spren.

JordanCon 2016 ()
#11 Copy

Questioner

The next tattoo I'm going to get will be the Oaths from the Windrunners, because they are a huge part of my life. And I was just wondering if you'd be able to give me one of them? There's two more, right?

Brandon Sanderson

There are more Oaths.

Questioner

Or if you could tell me which books they're going to come out in, so I can plan on--

Brandon Sanderson

So that's a huge spoiler, and they're recording me right now. So I can, maybe, if you promise you're not going to share this on the internet... So I can give you Oath #3. That'll be it for a while

Questioner

Okay, that's fine. I appreciate it...

Brandon Sanderson

That's the wording as I have it in my head right now. I might not use the exact words, but that's okay because the Oaths are concepts and each person who speaks them will speak them slightly differently. Like you will see in future books people speaking Oaths you have seen before, they'll be slightly reworded to match their personality. But that's the concept. You might be able to see that it's a very important thing.

Words of Radiance Philadelphia signing ()
#12 Copy

Questioner

When does a person become a Surgebinder? Cause Kaladin talks about when he was a child, talked about it being a familiar feeling, and Shallan obviously was younger. Or is it when they speak the Words?

Brandon Sanderson

The bond starts forming before the Words are spoken, but if the words are never spoken that bond will eventually evaporate and get broken. But the bond will start forming before. Just like an emotion attracts a spren, acting in the way that the spren you would eventually bond will start drawing them toward you and that will start to create that bond.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#13 Copy

Stormstoyou

The Third Bondsmith Ideal that Dalinar swears in the end of Oathbringer. About taking responsibilities and becoming a better man. Is it the basic Ideal for ALL Bondsmith or this is Dalinar’s personal interpretation of the Ideal?

Brandon Sanderson

This is Dalinar's personal interpretation, but ideals for a given order do have similar themes person to person.

When Worlds Collide 2014 ()
#14 Copy

Jeremy (paraphrased)

Is the order of the Ideals fixed? E.g. does Kaladin have to say the Windrunner Ideals in a specific order, or are they situation-specific?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yes, the sequence is fixed. The oaths for each order are essentially a progression of understanding of the kind of person that each Order of Knights Radiant is trying to produce. The specific wording of each Ideal is not fixed, but the overall idea of each Ideal, and the order in which they are spoken, is.

Oathbringer release party ()
#17 Copy

Questioner

As far as the Oaths go, for Orders of the Knights Radiant that have Oaths that are, like, set, like Windrunners and Bondsmiths, do they have to be spoken in a specific order, or is it just as the--

Brandon Sanderson

They have to be spoken in a specific order. But the Oath can vary depending on the individual's own interpretation and feeling about it.

Oathbringer Chicago signing ()
#18 Copy

Questioner

From what we've seen so far, most of the Ideals of the Orders of the Knights Radiant have been in line with the Divine Attributes ascribed to them. Did the Divine Attributes come from the Ideals of the Knights Radiant? 

Brandon Sanderson

These two are heavily interconnected. And the Divine Attributes, like the Double Eye at the front, are more philosophy than they are strict, you know part of-- Rather than capital-T Truth revealed. And so a lot of social structures were built out of the things going on. So the answer is yes. Not 100% yes, but certainly those sorts of things are extrapolations that people were making, as opposed to core concepts of the magic. 

Arcanum Unbounded Hoboken signing ()
#19 Copy

AndrewHB (paraphrased)

Is Niccolò Machiavelli's political theory--the ends justify the means--incompatible with the Knights Radiant's First Oath?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

No. Although many of the Orders of Knights Radiant would find Machiavelli's theory, that the ends justify the means, incompatible with additional oaths and/or values of that Order, there are some Orders who could accept a Machiavellian. (Brandon said that the Skybreakers are where a Machiavellian could find a home.)

Oathbringer release party ()
#20 Copy

Questioner

Would you be able to write the... Second Ideal of the Truthwatchers?

Brandon Sanderson

...It's a RAFO. There's a lot of stuff about the Truthwatchers in [Oathbringer], that's gonna make it complicated to do that, okay? ...Yeah, it's really complicated, and those are things I'm not gonna probably canonize for another couple of books, for reasons that will be very clear by the end of this book.

Oathbringer Glasgow signing ()
#24 Copy

Hoidonalsium

In that one long rejection of Odium, how many Oaths did Dalinar swear before merging the Realms? And is "I am Unity" the fifth.

Brandon Sanderson

No, that is not an Oath. He swore one ideal in that experience.

Hoidonalsium

Okay. How many Oaths is he on?

Brandon Sanderson

The number you think. So, he should have just finished three, right? Or maybe four. I'll have to go look. It's the number that you think it is. I'm not being sneaky on you. There's nothing sneaky there. He doesn't get armor, so I can't remember where he is... He should be at three. "Life before death." "I will unite instead of divide." "I will stand up each time I fall." Yeah, so he's done three.

Oathbringer London signing ()
#25 Copy

Questioner

What do you base the codes on, from The Stormlight books? Do you have anything specific--

Brandon Sanderson

I don't have anything specific. It's kind like a general-- lot's of different things, looking at bushido and knightly code and things like this and just kind of building my own out of it. The words "Life before death" were like one of the first things I thought of for the book and I'm like "I gotta use that. It's going in there." And eventually it grew out of that.

Skyward Chicago signing ()
#26 Copy

Questioner

I noticed that the Third Ideals have a similar theme to them. Is that intentional?

Brandon Sanderson

They do, that is is intentional. They won't all exactly go along those lines, but I'm trying to theme them, as best I can, in groups. So all the First ones, all the Second ones, particularly a lot of the Third ones have a similar--

Questioner

"Those I hate," or "Even those I'd rather not listen to"?

Brandon Sanderson

Watch for more of that, how about that.

Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
#28 Copy

Questioner

Why don't you have to say the words if you're just bonding a Cryptic?

Brandon Sanderson

Every Order's First Oath is the same. Then the Second Oaths for the Cryptics go into truths, but everybody says the First Oath the same regardless of Order. Which should raise the question of--

Questioner

Did Shallan say it when she was a teeny-weeny, like in the cradle?

Brandon Sanderson

That should raise a question. She wasn't teeny-weeny, but it should raise a question there.

OdysseyCon 2016 ()
#32 Copy

Blightsong

Were the ideals of the Knights Radiant consciously chosen, or did they happen naturally?

Brandon Sanderson

*apprehension*. This is one of those vague ones in that yes and no. They are a natural outgrowth of the spren, but the spren are a natural outgrowth of human's perception of natural forces, but the spren are sentient, so I would say it's a little more by instinct than not. For example two Knights Radiant in the same Order might speak the words differently, but the concept is the same. You will see this happen in a future book, where a Windrunner will speak the oaths. It's a slightly different take on the same concept. Some are moreso, like Shallan's oaths are very individualized truths, so.

Firefight Miami signing ()
#33 Copy

Questioner

I can't really remember very well, but I think only Kaladin really says Radiant Oaths in the books, at least. So, for Shallan to have as many powers as she does, has she already said one of the ideals, and we just don't know?

Brandon Sanderson

...You have her glyph whisper one. And you have seen Dalinar say one. So, most of them say them. Shallan's Order, they admit truths. Their Oaths are a very different sort of thing.

Questioner

'Cause I know, I did read that, but I was wondering-- it said somewhere else that all the Knights Radiant have to say the First Ideal.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, they do have to do that.

Questioner

So, she has said that.

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, yeah, she has said that. That is somewhere in her past.

Questioner

Which, presumably, we'll find out about some other point in time?

Brandon Sanderson

Possibly. I think that can be inferred.

Orem signing ()
#34 Copy

Questioner

I do have a question about the Fourth Ideal of the Windrunners--

Brandon Sanderson

Mmhmm?

Questioner

Does it have something to do with either killing or allowing people to die in order to protect others?

Brandon Sanderson

*RAFO card*

Bystander

Aw, RAFO. *laughs*