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Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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DammyJerry

Does Dalinar know about Adonalsium? Stormfather dropped the term during one of their talks, so did he tell Dalinar the whole story of Shattering and Shards? Also, does he understand what exactly he did when summoned perpendicularity or not? Does he understand what’s going on with him now (that he’s connected with Honor’s remnants)? Does he even know what “Shard” means?

I guess, the question is “How cosmere-aware Dalinar is?”

Brandon Sanderson

As of Oathbringer, Dalinar isn't specifically aware of the larger cosmere story--though he would have numerous "Aha" moments if it were explained to him, as pieces of what he does know would fall into place. The Stormfather isn't particularly interested in the larger story, however, and that's one reason.

Jasnah is a different story...

YouTube Livestream 32 ()
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Questioner

Which Cosmere character would dominate the world fastest, and why is it Jasnah?

Brandon Sanderson

Jasnah's a good choice. Why would it be Jasnah? If Jasnah decided it needed to be done… Jasnah is most self aware of her own moral philosophy and why she makes the choices she does, and because of that she is able to act decisively, because she has already considered the conundrum and the moral dilemma of the item ahead of time. Which gives her just ex... She doesn't need to second guess herself at the level that, for instance, Dalinar spends a lot of time second guessing himself, Jasnah does not. She does spend a lot of time upfront making her decision about what will happen in certain circumstances if she has to decide.

Shadows of Self San Jose signing ()
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Questioner

My question is about Jasnah, and why she tried to assassinate Elhokar’s wife?

Brandon Sanderson

Well, you’re going to need to get to know Elhokar’s wife a little better before you get an answer for that. But understand that Jasnah is very deliberate in her choices, and protecting her family is one of her most important personal mandates.

Skyward Houston signing ()
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Questioner

When Jasnah says she should've opened a pit, does she mean a chasm or a kind of Androl, Wheel of Time, kind of thing? 

Brandon Sanderson

Androl, Wheel of Time, what do you mean by that?

Questioner

When he opens a gateway? What does she mean by pit?

Brandon Sanderson

Ha. *evil smirk* I'll RAFO that right now.

Calamity Chicago signing ()
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Rachael

When she [Shallan] Soulcasts, does she physically go?  Or does she just think?

Brandon Sanderson

She transitions into the Cognitive Realm… Yeah she transitions but she’s not a hundred percent there…

Rachael

Then does Jasnah’s… does she work the same way?

Brandon Sanderson

She goes completely over.  That’s one of the differences between their magics. Shallan could get there if she wanted to, she hasn’t so far completely transitioned.

Argent

Even during regular Soulcasting, for both of them?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh for regular Soulcasting Jasnah doesn’t either.

Argent

‘Cause we were talking about the scene with the ship and Shallan. So would an outside observer see her shift over or—

Brandon Sanderson

The outside observer would see weirdness happening for sure.

Words of Radiance Philadelphia signing ()
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Questioner

What Jasnah did, in the first book, with Shallan in the alleyway and what happened at the end of this book... between Adolin and the other character [Sadeas]. Would you put them on the same level? Or would you say that what Adolin did was maybe a little bit darker?

Brandon Sanderson

I would say that what Adolin did was less dark, personally... It just depends on your perspective, but personally I say what Adolin did was something that needed to be done and no one else was capable of doing.

Questioner

Would you say that it's going to have any ramifications for him down the line? With how it was handled?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh it's definitely—how it's handled, definitely there are ramifications, lots of ramifications. And there are certain characters who would think that what he did is totally, totally, totally wrong.

Manchester signing ()
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Brandon Sanderson

This Jasnah sequence I might release in-between books as just a short little thing, like we did with Mitosis and Emperor's Soul, just to tide people over. It is something that I felt I needed to write so that I knew what Jasnah was doing, because these kinds of events are important to character development and things like this. It didn't belong in Book Two, for obvious reasons. There had to be that question. So I have this, and it's not 100% complete, in fact it's a pretty rough draft. But I feel I can't write Book Three until I know exactly what Jasnah went through.

YouTube Livestream 35 ()
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Questioner

In your most recent Stormlight book, there was a character that came out as ace. Could you talk though that?

Brandon Sanderson

This is not a spoiler. I feel like this is there in the text, even though I wasn't 100% sure where I was going or how to pull it off. I think I was laying the groundwork for this character, and I was not completely sold, let's be perfectly honest. The members of the ace community who are fans were suggesting that this was how I was writing the character, and I did not want to canonize it until I had the right scene from this character's eyes to make it work. When I really sat down to do this, I tried the character several ways, and this is the way that felt right to me. I've often said that, until I write from a character's viewpoint, that I don't really know. And I had done viewpoints from this character before; at least one, maybe a couple. But I hadn't talked about their sexuality at all. And I explore the world through the eyes of my characters. And this was an exploration that really worked and kind of helped me understand the world and people in the way that I really like characters to do for me. That's part of why I did it. And I was holding off on talking about this character's sexuality until the right moment, and then I tried multiple different things, and this is the one that just really sang to me. People encouraged me to try it, and I'm glad that they did, because once I did, they were right, and it worked real well. So, thank you to members of the ace community who are fans of the books. I feel like the character locked into place better for me once I understood enough to try writing this way.

Footnote: The character in question was Jasnah, who was revealed to be asexual during Rhythm of War
Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
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Questioner

Anything about Jasnah.

Brandon Sanderson

Jasnah, I would say, is the character who changed the least between the draft I wrote in 2002 and the final version. I always knew who she was and how she was going to turn out, and she stayed really consistent. So I'm really excited, particularly for the back five, which will have more of a focus on her. I've started to tease in some viewpoints, but you'll really get to know her starting in like books six, seven.

17th Shard Forum Q&A ()
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Yamato

How did you portray Jasnah's atheism so well? As a staunch atheist myself, I think you did an absolutely brilliant job. Honestly, It made me happy that a religious person was trying to understand my mindset. Anyway, who did you ask to get such accurate ideas of atheist thought?

Brandon Sanderson

I found some really good atheist forums. Not the 'hate on religion' type atheist forums, but the kind with some serious depth. People asking one another about morality, talking about how they felt when people reacted to them being an atheist, and expressing their philosophy. I gained a great deal of respect for them during these readings.

From there, I went and chatted with some atheists I know to gauge if I had a good handle on things. It was important that I get this right, as it's different enough from my own worldview that if it went wrong, it would have gone VERY wrong and I'd have ended up with something insulting.

YouTube Livestream 9 ()
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Questioner

Who bullies whom: Jasnah or Cadsuane?

Brandon Sanderson

I would like to think that Jasnah and Cadsuane would very quickly determine that they should have mutual respect for one another and keep to their own spheres. They would meet, they would turn around, and they would walk the other way from each other and go on bullying other people.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
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Questioner

You know how usually you read a good book and it will change your perspective on some aspect of life, do you ever finish writing a book yourself and-- From your own writings do you ever "Ah I've never..."

Brandon Sanderson

It's usually the research I do. Like when I'm like "I need to get in the mindset of this type of person" and I go read about it. I see the world in a different way after I become immersed in that.

Questioner

So what character have you written that was the hardest to imagine or get into?

Brandon Sanderson

Jasnah was very hard originally, and that took a lot of research into the mindset of people who think differently from myself. In The Wheel of Time books Aviendha and Tuon are both very different cultures so getting into those.

Questioner

How was it writing Mat? Was it pretty easy or--

Brandon Sanderson

No, Mat blindsided me. Mat I thought would be easy because Perrin and Rand were and I grew up with Mat, Perrin, and Rand, right? But the thing is Mat is a really hard character to write, meaning actual-- you look at him, he says one thing, he does a second thing, but he thinks a third thing. And so there is a lot of contrast to him and I just started writing him naturally and I wasn't getting all of that contrast because I was like "Oh I know who Mat is. Mat's my--" But he was saying the things that he never said, if that makes sense? I got his actions right but I flipped what he said and what he thought. It was actually really hard to get him down.

Questioner

You mean how he would say that he was going to avoid trouble and then run straight into it?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, it's like "I'm going to avoid trouble", he runs into trouble, and he's thinking all the way about something completely separate, and then something else leaves his mouth.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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The__Good__Doctor

Hi Brandon! I wanted to talk about the revised ending of Words of Radiance.

So, it looks like Kaladin won't be actually delivering the killing blow to Szeth any more. I think that Kaladin was entirely justified in doing this, since it was a fight to the death, and Kaladin was protecting not only Dalinar but his entire squad below. Kaladin even seems surprised when he lands the blow, expecting Szeth to block it like he had been doing the entire fight. The killing was not done in vengeance or with malice, unlike what Adolin does later. Having the storm kill Szeth seems like an anti-climatic way to end the scene, since it takes away Szeth's decision to die by the sword, and means we no longer have an example of why the spren Shardblades don't immediately kill people.

Brandon Sanderson

I woud be fine having him do it, though I think killing a foe who has given up was against this thematic plot. But what pushed me over the edge to change was the sense that I was pulling too many fast ones on the reader with people coming back to life. I wanted it clear to readers that Szeth was not dead, so this scene wasn't a fake out, which would weaken Jasnah's arrival later.

Dancingedge

Um, Mr. Sanderson, I don't mean to be disrespectful as you probably have the scene better in your head than I do but how is a man without Stormlight falling from a very large hight, while in the middle of two Highstorms coliding and throwing entire platoos in the air expected to survive? Maybe I don't have the right persective on this given that I saw both Jasnah (the body disapearing is just as much a give away as it never being shown in my book) and Syl (Pattern outright said Sprens can be revived) coming but unless you severly change the fight scene I don't see how being stabbed actually matters for Szeth survival chances.

Brandon Sanderson

The idea is that the reader didn't see him die, so there's a psychological trigger--one that says "Ah, I didn't see a body. He's probably not dead."

Yes, Szeth totally died from that fall--just as the young man that Lift revived had died from what he suffered. We know that Stormlight can fix the body and bring back the dead, so long as very little time has passed.

The import of the tweak to me is allowing some question in the reader's mind, so that the return is not a betrayal.

The__Good__Doctor

That is a lot more understandable. Having too many reveals at the end could be problematic. I agree that Jasnah coming back felt like pulling a fast one right at the end. However, I think the suprise of Szeth coming back was really well done, especially with the reveal of Nin (Nale, Nalan? This dude is so old he has three names!) at the very end with his special sword friend. I feel like that was the real zinger that should have closed the book.

I was a little underwhelmed with Jasnah coming back, not because I dislike her, but because I thought she was well and truly dead. She died so early in the book that I was completely accepting of her death by the end, and her coming back in a 'gotcha' moment felt a little hollow. Perhaps this could have happened about a hundred pages into the next book? I don't know the entire story like you do, of course, but as a reader it felt like Szeth and his rebirth should have been the final closing image.

Brandon Sanderson

This all came about, if you're curious, during the detailed plotting of the second book. Originally, the outline did not call for Jasnah to leave, but I was having real trouble getting Shallan into a place--emotionally and experience-wise--where she could do the things she needed to do while Jasnah was around. I determined that Jasnah needed to pull a Gandalf, and let her ward alone for a while, and I'm glad I did it--the book is much, much stronger for it. However, the side effects of the last-minute change in the plot required Jasnah's reappearance, which sent a few waves through the book. (Szeth's death and survival being the main one.)

Bonn Signing ()
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Cultivation's Champ

I wonder whether Jasnah has been to the Cognitive Realm of planets other than Roshar?

Brandon Sanderson

She has not, she is not horribly cosmere-aware as of the end of Oathbringer, she is starting to get an inkling. Give her some time and you might be impressed with how quickly she can come up to speed.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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mooglefrooglian

I was re-reading the prologues of WoK and WoR... and it seems like there's something wonky going on with the timelines.

Szeth claims Gavilar left the feast hours before he started doing his work.

Jasnah leaves the feast and finds Gavilar and Tearim. Gavilar mentions he's going to head back into the feast. Jasnah then has an adventure. She sees Ivory(?), speaks with Liss and two strange men, and then, what seems like a very short time later in her PoV hears the results of Szeth starting his job.

There's no way it took her hours to walk down two flights of stairs, briefly "drown", and have two short conversations!

Am I completely off base, or is there something going on here with Jasnah's perception of time?

Brandon Sanderson

It's less that, and more me (as the author) glossing over time passing with quick phrases like "after walking a short time" and the like.

Stormlight Three Update #1 ()
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the-kings-wit

One thing that I'm slightly confused about is who the primary POVs will be for the second set of 5 books in the 10-book series. I've heard a bunch of names being floated around on various online forums--such as Jasnah, Renarin, and Taravangian to name a few--but are any of these confirmed? Any word of Brandon as of yet?

Brandon Sanderson

It's possible this will change. But the back five have been planned as Jasnah, Renarin, Lift, Taln, and Ash. Though, once again, this isn't a promise that these people survive. You'll likely see at least one flashback set in the series from a character who has died in a previous book, and then you get to see something they experienced through flashbacks before their death.

faragorn

I'm having trouble locating Ash. No direct matches on coppermind.net, 17th shard forums or google.

Do you mean Ashir from one of the WoK interludes? Or perhaps someone we haven't met yet (at least by name).

Brandon Sanderson

There are a lot of weird things going on with Ash, so what's up with her will be something you'll have to wait on for a long while.

Enasor

But how about the characters we currently love? Are they all gone in the second half??? This is terrible :-(

Brandon Sanderson

No, they will be around. (Well, if they survive.) But the second series will be taking place years later, and their roles may have changed.

Dawnshard Annotations Reddit Q&A ()
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Jarescot

Jasnah is married? I may have misread it, but I'm pretty sure she refers to her husband in the negotiations

Brandon Sanderson

I think you might be mistaking Jasnah and Navani, as Navani refers to her husband (Dalinar) during negotiations. Jasnah doesn't appear on screen, though she does have a few lines via spanreed.

It's a little confusing because by this point, Dalinar and Navani have started using king/queen for themselves in reference to Urithiru as a separate kingdom. Jasnah is queen of Alethkar, but Navani is also Alethi and a queen--but not of Alethkar...so once in a while, I found alpha/beta readers getting tripped up by the terminology.

Phantine

So Dalinar dropped his 'I must never be king' resolution? Kinda weird, that felt like an Oath to me.

Brandon Sanderson

You're referring to young Dalinar realizing that he couldn't want the throne, lest it lead him to turn against his brother? I didn't intend that to be a capital O oath.

For what it's worth, in the months after Oathbringer, he realized that as long as he wasn't putting himself on the same level as the others, they would worry he wanted more. So being named king was a way for him to calm the coalition.

Tor.com Q&A with Brandon Sanderson ()
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Mike Potts

Are any secondary The Way of Kings characters likely to become more major in the next book?

Brandon Sanderson

Jasnah, Navani, and Taln all have expanded parts in the series to come. I won't say specifically in which books, but all three of those characters will have larger roles. Several of the members of Bridge Four have larger roles; they will basically remain secondary characters, but may have expanded viewpoints

Alloy of Law Manchester signing ()
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Tortellini (paraphrased)

Someone asked if it were hard to write Jasnah, an atheist character, for a devout Christian.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Brandon said he read a lot of atheist message boards for inspiration. Also, it sounded like he'd had the character in his head for a while, but hadn't found the right book to put it in—e.g. he said it would make no sense to put an atheist in a world where gods walk around (i.e. Warbreaker).

Tor.com The Way of Kings Re-Read Interview ()
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cyddenid

How well do Elhokar and Jasnah get on?

Brandon Sanderson

Fine, I would say. This is a bit of a spoiler for the end of Words of Radiance, but you will eventually see that they're the sort of siblings who are both used to doing their own thing and getting their own way. They've both learned to stay out of one another's business. That said, Elhokar is also used to being surrounded by domineering people of various sorts. So having a domineering sister is really nothing different to him.

FanX 2021 ()
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Questioner

Jasnah was in Shadesmar for kind of a long time, right?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

Did she go somewhere and get other Investiture?

Brandon Sanderson

She did not manage to get off world. Good question. She's becoming cosmere aware, but really it's through Hoid. Before, she didn't really have very much awareness of that.

Questioner

How did she survive, like getting stuff to eat and stuff?

Brandon Sanderson

You can get it if you know what you're doing in Shadesmar.

Questioner

She's pretty resourceful, right?

Brandon Sanderson

She's pretty resourceful. Most of the time, you're gonna have to trade for it. There's actually caravans that go through Shadesmar. They almost always stop at Roshar to resupply through the Horneater Peaks. So if you know what you're doing, you could trade for food. They have food in a lot of the waystops and the cities and things like that because humans are coming through, and it's a thing they can trade them.

Questioner

A lot of those canned goods, those coming from Scadrial?

Brandon Sanderson

If it's canned, it's coming from Scadrial at this point. Taldain probably has the same technology at that point, but Taldain is closed. So the cans are coming from Scadrial.

The Way of Kings Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Eight

Shallan Rejected Again

I do wonder at reader reaction to these Shallan sequences. Some in the writing group found these scenes too long. They figured it was inevitable that Shallan would end up as Jasnah's ward, and so spending several chapters with Shallan working overtime to secure the position wasn't interesting to them.

I admit this is a potential problem with the sequence. However, I felt it important to show both Shallan's determination and Jasnah's character with these sequences. I needed to show Shallan working very hard for what she wanted. It also gave me several opportunities to show the contrasting timidity/insolence that makes up how I view Shallan as a character.

Oathbringer San Diego signing ()
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Questioner

Which character in The Stormlight Archive do you most relate to?

Brandon Sanderson

...This is a good question, but it's a hard question. Because all of my characters are partially me, and partially not me. Every character... So, in some ways, Jasnah is the most "me" you're gonna get in one of these books, because you've got the very analytical, somewhat ambitious, gregarious person who ignores what everyone tells them is the smart thing to do and does their own thing, and then proves everyone wrong. On the other hand, a fundamental pillar of Jasnah is her atheism, where I am a theist. And so it's like, every character, I can probably go on like that about. Every character's got a chunk of me and a chunk that's deliberately not me.

Skyward Denver signing ()
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Questioner

We're doing a piece of art for a friend that's a crossover between The Stormlight Archive and Harry Potter. How would you sort Dalinar, Kaladin, Jasnah, and Shallan...

Brandon Sanderson

Jasnah's a Slytherin. Hands down, very easy.

Dalinar's would depend on which Dalinar you're talking about. Dalinar is probably going to be Gryffindor either way, would be my guess.

Shallan's a Ravenclaw, straight up.

Kaladin's tough. You could Hufflepuff Kaladin. You could totally Hufflepuff Kaladin. I think that works.

You got one of each in that case.

General Reddit 2016 ()
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cinderwild2323

What were you dissatisfied with in WoR?

Brandon Sanderson

It's twofold. Spoilers follow, obviously.

In the original draft, none of the alpha readers felt that I had 'sold' Jasnah dying to them, and were all like, "Ha. Nice try. No body. She's alive.' So I kicked the assassination scene up a notch, until betas were like, "Stormfather! Jasnah just died!"

That was a mistake, I now believe. (Though this didn't get changed, and won't get changed.) Sometimes, I over-emphasize to myself the importance of surprises and twists. The book is fine if readers suspect Jasnah is still alive--actually, I think it's stronger, because it is more satisfying to be right in that situation, and doesn't detract from Szeth's miraculous survival at the end.

I knew this soon after I'd released the book, but decided it was just too extensive a change to try tweaking.

The other one I did tweak. In the battle at the end between Kaladin and Szeth, I'd toyed with letting the storm take Szeth--him essentially committing suicide--as opposed to him spreading his hands and letting Kaladin kill him. I felt that after the oath Kaladin had just sworn, stabbing a docile opponent unwilling to fight back just didn't jive. This I tweaked, changing the paperback from the hardcover, which has produced mixed results.

Most people agree the change is better, but they also say they'd rather not have the hardcover and paperback have different accounts in it, and would rather I just stick to what we put in the hardcover. It was interesting to try, to see what the response would be like, but it seems that the better option all around is to just wait until I'm certain I don't want to revert any of the revisions or tweak anything new.

Calamity Chicago signing ()
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Questioner

For the next Stormlight [book], will there be chapters from Jasnah's perspective?

Brandon Sanderson

There will be, I believe, at least one chapter from her viewpoint. I could change that but the outline has at least one from her.  It’s dangerous to do too many from her viewpoint because she’s eventually going to be a main viewpoint character, and she has a large chance of taking over a narrative that she’s part of.

General Reddit 2020 ()
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Tim

Hey, I've been thinking about that section in WoK with Jasnah and the "thieves" she killed, and it feels like a setup to me - it's weird that the messages Taravangian sends to the guard are on Jasnah's radar, and Jasnah even says that the situation is odd enough to "suspect that there is more going on".

Was this a Taravangian plot?

Taravangian leaks the information about the "reprimands" he sent to his city watch about these dangerous criminals, and watches to see how Jasnah reacts to it, ideally catcher her using her powers? (Just like how he used that cave-in to test her Soulcasting).

Brandon Sanderson

Taravangian was under the hope that Jasnah would see the world the way he does--with a very strict (even dangerous) level of utilitarianism. He thought about recruiting her to his mission, but decided against it for various reasons.