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Bonn Signing ()
#1 Copy

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. Q&A with Brandon Sanderson ()
#2 Copy

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

General Reddit 2016 ()
#5 Copy


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.

Bands of Mourning release party ()
#7 Copy


Of all the characters you've written which one has the most of you in them?

Brandon Sanderson

Of all the characters I've written which has the most of me in them. Boy, y'know every character is a bit of me and every character's got something that's very unlike me. Um, I really have trouble answering that. People have asked it of me before. Some days I think it's Jasnah, some days I think I'm arrogant to assume it's Jasnah. Any character I would mention it would feel like the things I like about them are the things I wish I would have, if that makes sense? I don't know if there's any one that is really just me. My mother reads the Alcatraz books and says that's me. *laughter* She really does. Like she loves those books because she says "No that's you". When I have no inhibitions and I'm not trying to be self important I just do stupid things like in the Alcatraz books so maybe Alcatraz?

Stormlight Three Update #2 ()
#8 Copy


I was just wondering if any of your characters from Cosmere is interested in same-sex relationships, romantically speaking. Jasnah perhaps?

Brandon Sanderson

There are some, but I have left main character relationship issues to be discussed until characters have progressed further in their stories. Jasnah, in particular, is complicated.

Manchester signing ()
#9 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

A WARNING FROM BRANDON: This scene gives major spoilers for Words of Radiance. Please don’t continue unless you’ve finished that book. This is a very short sequence of Jasnah’s backstory I’ve been reading at signings. It’s not a polished draft. I often read very rough (and potentially continuity-error filled) sequences at signings as a special treat to people who attend. This scene is even rougher than most—first draft, and shouldn’t be taken as canon quite yet, as I haven’t firmed up or fixed all the terminology or Shadesmar interactions.

Brandon Sanderson

Jasnah Kholin opened her eyes and gasped, fingers rigid, clawing at the obsidian ground. A knife in her chest! She could feel it grinding on her bones as it slipped between two ribs, glancing off her sternum. She spasmed, rolling into a ball, quivering.


No. She could not lay prone. She fought to her knees, but then found herself raking her fingers across the ground, trembling, heaving breaths in and out. Moving—even breathing—was perversely difficult, not because of pain or incapacity, but because of the overwhelming sense of tension. It made her shake, made her made her want to run, fight, do anything she could to not die.

She shouted, stumbling to her feet, and spun about, hand on her chest.

Wet blood. Her blood. A dress cut with a single knife hole.

“Jasnah.” A figure all in black. A landscape of obsidian ground reflecting a bizarre sky and a sun that did not change locations.

She darted her head from side to side, taking in everything but registering very little of it.

Storms. She could sense that knife again, sliding into her flesh. She felt that same helplessness, that same panic—emotions which had accompanied the knife’s fall. She remembered the darkness consuming her, her hearing fading, the end.

She closed her eyes and shivered, trying to banish the memories. Yet the effort of trying to do so only seemed to solidify them.

She knew that she would remember dying for as long as it took the darkness to claim her again.

“You did well,” Ivory said. “Well, Jasnah.”

“The knife,” she whispered, opening her eyes, angry at how her voice trembled, “the knife was unexpected.” She breathed in and out, trying to calm herself. That puffed out the last of her Stormlight, which she had drawn in at the last possible moment, then used like a lash to pull herself into this place. It had kept her alive, healed her.

Ivory said that while a person held enough Stormlight, only a crushing blow to the head itself would kill. She’d believed him, but storms that hadn’t made it any easier to lay there before the knife. Who would have expected them to stab her? Shouldn’t they have assumed that a blow to the head would be enough to—

Wait. Shallan!

“We have to go back,” Jasnah said, spinning. “Ivory, where is the junction?”

“It is not.”

She was able to locate the ship with ease. In Shadesmar, land and sea were reversed, so she stood on solid ground—but in the Physical Realm, Shallan and the sailors would still be in their ship. They manifest here as lights, similar to candle flames, and Jasnah thought of them as the representation of the person’s soul—despite Ivory telling her that was an extreme simplification.

They spotted the air around her, standing up on deck. That solitary flame would be Shallan herself. Many smaller lights darted beneath the ground—faintly visible through the obsidian. Fish and other sea life.

Nerves still taut, Jasnah searched around for the junction: a faint warping of the air that marked the place of her passage into Shadesmar. She could use it return to the ship, to…

One of the lights up above winked out.

Jasnah froze. “They’re being executed. Ivory! The junction.”

“A junction is not, Jasnah,” Ivory repeated. He stood with hands clasped behind his back, wearing a sharp—yet somehow alien—suit, all black. Here in Shadesmar, it was easier to distinguish the mother-of-pearl sheen to his skin, like the colors made by oil on water.

“Not?” Jasnah said, trying to parse his meaning. She’d missed his explanation the first time. Despite their years together, his language constructions still baffled her on occasion. “But there’s always a junction…”

“Only when a piece of you is there,” Ivory said. “Today, that is not. You are here, Jasnah. I am…sorry.”

“You brought me all the way into Shadesmar,” she asked. “Now?

He bowed his head.

For years she’d been trying to get him to bring her into his world. Though she could peek into Shadesmar on her own—and even slip one foot in, so to speak—entering fully required Ivory’s help. How had it happened? The academic wanted to record her experiences and tease out the process, so that perhaps she could replicate it. She’d used Stormlight, hadn’t she? An outpouring of it, thrust into Shadesmar. A lash which had pulling her, like gravitation from a distant place, unseen…

Memories of what happened mixed with the terror of those last minutes. She shoved both emotions and memories aside. How could she help the people on the ship? Jasnah stepped up to the light, hovering before her, lifting a hand to cup one. Shallan, she assumed, though she could not be certain. Ivory said that there wasn’t always a direct correlation between objects their manifestation in Shadesmar.

She couldn’t touch the soul before her, not completely. Its natural power repelled her hand, as if she were trying to push two pieces of magnetized stone against one another.

A sudden screech broke Shadesmar’s silence.

Jasnah jumped, spinning. It sounded a trumping beast, only overlaid by the sounds of glass breaking. The terrible noise drove a shiver up her spine. It sounded like it had come from someplace nearby.

Ivory gasped. He leaped forward, grabbing Jasnah by the arm. “We must go.”

“What is that?” Jasnah asked.

“Grinder,” Ivory said. “You call them painspren.”

“Painspren are harmless.”

“On your side, harmless. Here, harmmore. Very harmmore. Come.” He yanked on her arm.


The ship’s crew would die because of her. Storms! She had not thought that the Ghostbloods would be so bold. But what to do? She felt like a child here, newborn. Years of study had told her so little. Could she do anything to those souls above her? She couldn’t even distinguish which were the assassins and which were the crew.

The screech sounded again, coming closer. Jasnah looked up, growing tense. This place was so alien, with ridges and mountains of pure black obsidian, a landscape that was perpetually dim. Small beads of glass rolled about her feet—representations of inanimate objects in the physical realm.


She fished among them, and these she could identify immediately by touch. Three plates from the galley, one bead each. A trunk holding clothing.

Several of her books.

Her hand hesitated. Oh storms, this was a disaster. Why hadn’t she prepared better? Her contingency plan in case of an assassination attempt had been to play dead, using faint amounts of stormlight from gems sewn into her hem to stay alive. But she’d foolishly expected assassins to appear in the night, strike her down, then flee. She’d not prepared for a mutiny, an assassination led by a member of the crew.

They would murder everyone on board.

“Jasnah!” Ivory said, sounding more desperate. “We must not be in this place! Emotions from the ship draw them!”

She dropped the spheres representing her books and ran her fingers through the other spheres, seeking… there. Ropes—the bonds tying the sailors as they were executed. She found a group of them and seized the spheres.

She drew in the last of her Stormlight, a few gemstones’ worth. So little.

The landscape reacted immediately. Beads on the ground nearby shivered and rolled toward her, seeking the stormlight. The calls of the painspren intensified. It was even closer now. Ivory breathed in sharply, and high above, several long ribbons of smoke descended out of the clouds and began to circle about her.

Stormlight was precious here. It was power, currency, even—perhaps—life. Without it, she’d be defenseless.

“Can I use this Light to return?” she asked him.

“Here?” He shook his head. “No. We must find a stable junction. Honor’s Perpendicularity, perhaps, though it is very distant. But Jasnah, the grinders will soon be!”

Jasnah gripped the beads in her hand.

“You,” she command, “will change.”

“I am a rope,” one of them said. “I am—”

You will change.

The ropes shivered, transforming—one by one—into smoke in the physical realm.

Stormlight Three Update #1 ()
#12 Copy


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.


I'm having trouble locating Ash. No direct matches on, 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.


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.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
#15 Copy


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.


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.


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.


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 ()
#16 Copy


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.

Oathbringer Portland signing ()
#17 Copy


For Jasnah, it seems like maybe a couple times it's been hinted that maybe she prefers women *inaudible*

Brandon Sanderson

Let's just have you Read on And Find Out on that one. There is-- Her book isn't 'til, like-- at the earliest, Book Eight. So, we've got a long ways to go before we're digging into Jasnah some more.

General Reddit 2017 ()
#18 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

I've watched this conversation with interest, and wasn't planning to step in, as it's exactly the sort of thread that's generally better without me. Author intervention can derail a good discussion.

But after considering, I decided I did want to talk about this topic a little. There are two things going on here. One is the mistake I made with Jasnah in Words, which I've mentioned before. One is a larger discussion, relevant to the cosmere.

Warning, WALL OF TEXT. This is me we're talking about.

You see, Jasnah wasn't originally meant to be a fake-out. Jasnah originally was going to go with Shallan to the Shattered Plains--but she was really messing up the outline, diverting attention from Shallan's character arc and pointing it toward Shallan/Jasnah conflicts instead.

My biggest breakthrough when outlining the book in detail was the realization that the book would work so much better if things I'd planned to do with Jasnah in it were diverted to later books. When that came together, WORDS really started working. Hence her jaunt into Shadesmar. I initially wrote the scenes with it being pretty clear to the reader that she was forced to escape--and it was super suspicious that there was no body.

In drafting, however, early readers didn't like how obvious it was that Jasnah would be coming back. I made a crucial mistake by over-reacting to early feedback. I thought, "Well, I can make that more dramatic!" I employed some tools I've learned quite well, and turned that into a scene where the emotion is higher and the death is more powerful.

HOWEVER, I did this without realizing how it mixed with other plotlines--specifically Szeth's resurrection.

We get into sticky RAFO areas here, but one of the biggest themes of the Cosmere is Rebirth. The very first book (Elantris) starts with a character coming back from the dead. (As I've mentioned before, a big part of the inspiration for Elantris was a zombie story, from the viewpoint of the zombie.) Mistborn begins with Kelsier's rebirth following the Pits, and Warbreaker is about people literally called the Returned. (People who die, then come back as gods.) The Stormlight Archive kicks off with Kaladin's rebirth above the Honor Chasm, and Warbreaker is meant as a little foreshadowing toward the greater arc of the cosmere--that of the Shards of Adonalsium, who are held by ordinary people.

Szeth's rebirth, with his soul incorrectly affixed to his body, is one of the things I've been very excited to explore in The Stormlight Archive--and the mistake with Jasnah was letting her return distract from that.

That said, you're not wrong for disliking this theme--there's no "wrong" when it comes to artistic tastes. And I certainly wish I'd looked at the larger context of what happened when I shifted Jasnah's plot in book two. (Doubling down on "Jasnah is dead" for short term gain was far worse than realizing I should have gone with "Jasnah was forced to jump into Shadesmar, leaving Shallan alone." I consider not seeing that to be the biggest mistake I've made in The Stormlight Archive so far.)

However, the story of the cosmere isn't really about who lives or dies. We established early on that there is an afterlife (or, at least, one of the most powerful beings in the cosmere believes there is--and he tends to be a trustworthy sort.) And multiple books are about people being resurrected. What I'm really interested in is what this does to people. Getting given a second try at life, being reborn as something new. (Or, in some cases, as something worse.) The story of the cosmere is about what you do with the time you have, and the implications of the power of deity being in the hands of ordinary people.

More importantly (at least to me) I've always felt character deaths are actually somewhat narratively limp in stories. Perhaps it's our conditioning from things like Gandalf, Obi-Wan, and even Sherlock Holmes. But readers are always going to keep asking, "are they really dead?" And even if they stay dead, I can always jump back and tell more stories about them. The long cycle of comic books over-using resurrection has, I think, also jaded some of us to the idea of character death--but even without things like that, the reader knows they can always re-read the book. And that fan-fiction of the character living will exist. And that the author could always bring them back at any time. A death should still be a good death, mind you--and an author really shouldn't jerk people around, like I feel I did with Jasnah.

But early on, I realized I'd either have to go one of two directions with the cosmere. Either I had to go with no resurrections ever, stay hard line, and build up death as something really, really important. Or I had to shift the conversation of the books to greater dangers, greater stakes, and (if possible) focus a little more on the journey, not the sudden stop at the end.

I went with the latter. This isn't going to work for everyone. I'm fully aware of, and prepared for, the fact that things like Szeth coming back will ruin the stories for some readers. And I do admit, I've screwed it up in places. Hopefully, that will teach me better so that I can handle the theme delicately, and with strong narrative purpose behind the choices I make. But do warn you, there WILL be other resurrections in my books. (Though there are none planned for the near future. I took some extra care with the next few books, after feeling that things happening in Words and the Mistborn series in the last few years have hit the theme too hard.) This is a thing that I do, and a thing that I will continue to do. I consider it integral to the story I'm telling. Hopefully, in the future, I'll be able to achieve these acts with the weight and narrative complexity they deserve.

If it helps, I have several built-in rules for this. The first is that actual cosmere resurrections (rather than just fake-outs, like I did with Jasnah) can happen only under certain circumstances, and have a pretty big cost to them. Both will become increasingly obvious through the course of the stories. The other rule is more meta. I generally tell myself that I only get one major fake-out, or one actual resurrection, per character. (And I obviously won't use either one for most characters.) This is more to keep myself from leaning on this narrative device too much, which I worry I'll naturally do, considering that I see this as a major theme of the books.


(Sharders, please don't start asking me at signings who has had their "one death" so far. This is me drawing the curtain back a little on the process, I really don't want it to become an official thing that people focus on. Do feel free to talk about the mechanics of resurrection though--it should be pretty obvious now with Elantris, Warbreaker, Szeth, and a certain someone from Mistborn to use as guides.)

Skyward Houston signing ()
#20 Copy


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?


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

Brandon Sanderson

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

Skyward Denver signing ()
#21 Copy


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.

Calamity Chicago signing ()
#22 Copy


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.

17th Shard Forum Q&A ()
#23 Copy


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.

The Way of Kings Annotations ()
#24 Copy

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.

Starsight Release Party ()
#25 Copy

Questioner 1

My friend and I always argue. He's like, "Amaram and Jasnah are the same age." Are they really?

Brandon Sanderson

Amaram is a little older, I believe, but they are around the same age.

Questioner 2

Like 24ish?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, no. Jasnah's like in her mid to late thirties. Mid thirties. I get it mixed up which one's Earth age and which one's Rosharan age. Whatever I say in there, it's about 10 percent more for our age. But yeah, Jasnah's not...

Questioner 2

She's not a spring chicken.

Brandon Sanderson

She's not a spring chicken. 

Questioner 2

But Amaram's older?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. I think Amaram's like a year or two older, but they're around the same age.

Calamity Chicago signing ()
#27 Copy


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…


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.


Even during regular Soulcasting, for both of them?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh for regular Soulcasting Jasnah doesn’t either.


‘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.

Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
#28 Copy


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.

Brandon's Blog 2010 ()
#29 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

I started writing my first novel when I was fifteen years old. I didn’t have a computer; I had an old, electric typewriter. It would remember your file on a disc, but it was really just a printer with an attached bare-bones word processor. (It had a tiny LCD screen at the top that could display three lines at a time. You could scroll through and edit bit by bit, then you hit print and it would type out the document.)

The book was terrible. It was essentially a hybrid of Tad Williams and Dragonlance, though at the time I felt it was totally new and original. It did have a wizard who threw fireballs with smiley faces on the front, though, so that’s kind of cool. At its core were two stories. One vital one was the tale of a wise king who was murdered by assassins, forcing his younger brother to take up the mantle and lead the kingdom while trying to find/protect the king’s son and rightful heir. The other was about a young man named Rick, originally blamed for the murder.

I still have some of these pages. (Not the entire book, unfortunately.) I used to hide them behind a picture on the wall of my room so that nobody would find them. I was so anxious about letting people read my writing, and was—for some reason—paranoid my family would find the pages and read them, then make fun of them.

Over the years, many ideas proliferated and matured in my mind. I began writing books in earnest (I never finished that one I started as a teenager.) I grew as a writer, and discovered how to make my works less derivative. Most of my ideas from my teenage self died out, and rightly so. Others evolved. My maturing sensibilities as both a reader and a writer changed how I saw the world, and some stories stood the test of both time and internal criticism, becoming stronger for the conflict.

Rick became Jerick, hero of the book now known as Dragonsteel. (It was my honor’s thesis in college, and will someday be rewritten and published. For now, the only copy available is through interlibrary loan, though it appears to have vanished.) Jared, the man who lost his brother and had to lead in his stead, protecting his nephew, slowly evolved into a man named Dalinar, one of the primary protagonists of The Way of Kings. Some of you may be curious to know that the character many now call Hoid also appeared in that ancient book of mine.

These two epics—Dragonsteel and The Way of Kings—have shaped a lot of my passions and writing goals over the last two decades. For example, in my last year of college I took an introductory illustration class to try my hand at drawing. My final project was a portfolio piece of sketches of plants and animals from Roshar, as even then I was hoping to someday be able to publish The Way of Kings with copious in-world illustrations of Roshar and its life. (At that time, I was planning to have an illustrated appendix, though I eventually decided to spread the pages through the book.) Fortunately, I was able to hire artists to do the work in this book instead of forcing you to look at what I came up with . . .

Well, finally—after two decades of writing—Tor has given me the chance to share The Way of Kings with you. They’ve taken a risk on this book. At every juncture, they agreed to do as I asked, often choosing the more expensive option as it was a better artistic decision. Michael Whelan on the cover. 400K words in length. Almost thirty full page interior illustrations. High-end printing processes in order to make the interior art look crisp and beautiful. A piece of in-world writing on the back cover, rather than a long list of marketing blurbs. Interludes inside the book that added to the length, and printing costs, but which fleshed out the world and the story in ways I’d always dreamed of doing.

This is a massive book. That seems fitting, as it has been two decades in the making for me. Writing this essay, I find myself feeling oddly relieved. Yes, part of me is nervous—more nervous for this book than I have been for any book save The Gathering Storm. But a greater part of me is satisfied.

I finally got it published. Whatever else happens, whatever else comes, I managed to tell this story. The Way of Kings isn’t hidden behind the painting in my room any longer.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#31 Copy


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.


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.


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.)

Skyward San Diego signing ()
#35 Copy


A question about Jasnah and your relation to Jasnah. She's a Veristitalian... Is that a part of Jasnah that is you, or is that a part of Jasnah that's somebody else?

Brandon Sanderson

The fascination with history and trying to use it to change the present is me. And that is the part of Jasnah that I-- Also, by nature, I'm kind of a Slytherin. And so would Jasnah. That part of me is there. The "do-gooder Slytherin," if that's not an oxymoron.


And does the word Veristitalian come from "veritas"?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. So, in their language, it would not actually be Veristitalian. What I do is, my books, I pretend they're in translation. So when Wit makes a pun, or when you see something that echoes Latin or Greek, the idea is that they are echoing in-world ancient languages that we have chosen, instead of transliterating, to actually translate so it gives the right feeling in English.

Supanova 2017 - Sydney ()
#36 Copy

Darkness (paraphrased)

Was Ivory watching when Shallan was in Jasnah's bathing chamber and that whole swap thing kind of went down… what did he relay to Jasnah…?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Umm… he would've been there… but I don't have an answer for that, mostly because I haven't considered it.

Ad Astra 2017 ()
#39 Copy


Jasnah's name. What was the origin for it?

Brandon Sanderson

Jasnah's name predates most of the language work that I did. It comes from ancient, kind of Semitic languages-- playing around with those. And then her name became one of the ones that I built the language around. Because after I had named her, and written the whole book, I had named her and Dalinar. Kaladin's name changed once I had rebuilt the linguistics. Shallan's name changed once I rebuilt the linguistics. But Dalinar and Jasnah kind of became the origins. But it's ancient-- you know, a blend of Arabic and Hebrew. It's kind of-- yeah.


Because I have an interesting tidbit--

Brandon Sanderson



"Jasna" in Polish actually means "bright."

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, I've been told that! Just-- I went to Poland, like, last-- like a couple of months ago, and they're like, "Did you know this?" I had no idea.

Manchester signing ()
#42 Copy

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.

Dawnshard Annotations Reddit Q&A ()
#43 Copy


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 once in a while, I found alpha/beta readers getting tripped up by the terminology.


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.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#44 Copy


What are your current plans with regards to the Jasnah novella you wrote last summer?

Brandon Sanderson

Jasnah Novella is for my eyes only, unfortunately. It was needed so I could work out mechanics of what was happening, but I don't like releasing it for various reasons.

Footnote: The following scene is from the novella in question:
Sources: Reddit
Orem signing ()
#45 Copy


What was your inspiration for Jasnah?

Brandon Sanderson

I had done several times, when I was designing characters in the cosmere, someone who kind of thought they were an awesome scholar but really wasn't. That's the kind of thing with Sarene and a little bit of the thing with Shallan. They're young people who haven't quite made it there yet, whose opinion of themselves is kind of beyond their actual skill level. Who would be, like, the scholar? Like, the ideal Rosharan societal scholar? And I built Jasnah out of that, and then took her in a way that would allow her to also be in conflict with that at the same time. Always a good source of writing a character. The Way of Kings Re-Read Interview ()
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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.

YouTube Livestream 9 ()
#50 Copy


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.