When Jasnah Soulcasts stuff from a distance, is that something she can only do because she's a Radiant? And if so, how does that work?
RAFO. Here's a RAFO card.
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When Jasnah Soulcasts stuff from a distance, is that something she can only do because she's a Radiant? And if so, how does that work?
RAFO. Here's a RAFO card.
Can you tell me why Jasnah wanted to potentially assassinate her sister-in-law, the queen?
She felt that the queen was seeking to usurp power, for one thing, and was reckless for another. And so Jasnah was worried about the safety of the throne.
At the danger of getting a RAFO, I have to ask: will we find out more about [the origins of] (and I quote the source) the " kind of leather bandolier and a backpack"?
That will be answered pretty soon.
Has Jasnah come up with her armor? Because there's a part where they say that geometric shapes were kind of disappearing and it wasn't like someone changing like they normally would.
I will RAFO that for now.
Jasnah's name. What was the origin for it?
Jasnah's name predates most of the language work that I did. It comes from ancient, kind of Semetic 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--
"Jasna" in Polish actually means "bright."
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.
I want to #AskBrandon if Jasnah’s second Surge is Electromagnetism or Light?
Great question! It is not one of those.
Is Jasnah's return similar to Kelsier's?
No. Good question.
Jasnah and Khriss seem like they would be super good friends or girlfriends, and I was wondering if there was any possibility of that?
Yes, I think that they would get along.
I was just wondering if any of your characters from Cosmere is interested in same-sex relationships, romantically speaking. Jasnah perhaps?
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.
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.
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…?
Umm… he would've been there… but I don't have an answer for that, mostly because I haven't considered it.
Are there differences in pronunciation between the different worlds in the cosmere?
Do you have any record of that?
So, it depends on the culture and things like that, what it's going to be like. You can kind of bet in Mistborn it's going to be French, if it's from the Central Dominance. So they'll say "Kelsi-ay" and "De-MOH" but where Elend's from is a lot more Germanic so "EE-lend" "STRAHFF" and stuff like that. The other worlds are all going to have their different things. In Roshar you are going to get some of the "YAS-nah kHo-LIN" it's going to be a little more Semitic in its language family.
How well would Jasnah and Khriss get along?
Uhhhm, I would say that they would get along well, like scholars from different disciplines, meaning with respect for the other's discipline.
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?
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.
What were you dissatisfied with in WoR?
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.
<Does Jasnah know about Adonalsium?>
No, she is not specifically cosmere-aware.
Are any secondary The Way of Kings characters likely to become more major in the next book?
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
Is Jasnah ever going to find true love?
I'm not going to answer that.
Jasnah's role in Oathbringer won't be major, but won't be a minor one either; she will eventually reunite with the main cast.
So, in the last battle, Jasnah has some pretty interesting armor. Does she already have her Shardplate?
Will Jasnah's sisters show up in the present day arc?
Jasnah sisters… Oh… OH! The other… Veristitalians. Um… yes. You will actually meet two more Veristitalians in the next book!
How was Jasnah able to teleport into the [Cognitive] Realm when she didn't seem to have any Stormlight in her in Words of Radiance?
She had enough.
She had enough.
And is it just teleportation-- *interrupted*
Let's say... Jasnah's figured out some things that other's haven't figured out, for one thing. *brief interruption* And, let's say that. But also, there's a little scene from it I wrote from her viewpoint just to know what was happening that's never going in the books. If you Google "Jasnah deleted scene Words of Radiance" you can read it. It talks about how she did what she did.
So that is out there. Just-- It was my reference for writing the scene. But-- One of her powers is called Elsecalling, which is basically popping in and out of Shadesmar more easily. It's hard for everyone else to do that.
My other question is, so when Shallan was on the land she was in the sea in SHadesmar.
Is it exactly opposite?
Yeah, it's mirrored... Um... It's mirrored, yeah.
So any land is on sea. So she would have actually landed on land on the ocean.
Yeah... so... yes...
She kind of *inaudible*
Well that's, no for Jasnah that's... *interrupted*
Oh yeah yeah, Jasnah... In that scene where you see? She pops out in Shadesmar on the land.
So, was the scene at the end right as soon as that happened?
What the-- no, no, no. She spent months trying to get back out.
Oh, because she doesn't have the power to get back out.
Much harder to get back out.
*inaudible* trying to get back out, because she doesn't have any more Stormlight.
Yep. Much harder to get back out than it is to get back in even if you have Stormlight, and she is out of Stormlight, so...
Will Kaladin and Jasnah meet in Book 3? I feel that their interactions would be quite amusing.
And what happened to Taln's Honor Blade after Words of Radiance?
If you had to characterize in a few sentences, as adults, what the relationship was like between Jasnah and Elhokar...?
As adults. Their relationship is that of a fond-but-unyielding sister and a earnest-but-insecure brother.
So they were affectionate?
Yes, I would say they were affectionate. Not as much as, maybe, some other siblings. Like, you can look at Renarin and Adolin and see genuine affection. With Jasnah and Elhokar, it is almost... there's definitely some affection, but there's almost more of an allegiance. Like, they're both dealing with certain pressures upon them, and their lives were very much consumed by their pressures, and they had that in common. But, I mean, Jasnah's not a hugger anyway, if that makes sense?
There was no jealousy between them?
Oh, there was definitely jealousy on Elhokar's part. Definitely, the insecurity there. But Jasnah, was... I mean, she was a little bit aware of it, but... you know how she is, right?
I didn't know if that contributed to why she removed herself from the Shattered Plains.
Yes, a little bit. I mean, her quest was more important to her than any of that. But... you know. Let my brother not live in as many shadows. Because he had a lot of shadows that he had to live in. And she was one of them, certainly. That would've been a consideration to Jasnah. But if had been right to stay, for her quest, she would have.
Are we going to get a Jasnah book?
Lift, Renarin, Ash, Taln, and Jasnah are the back 5. Jasnah is book 8 right now, maybe book 10.
Does Jasnah know that Wit is a worldhopper?
Has Jasnah had any wards before Shallan, or is Shallan the first?
Jasnah has-- See I think she had one other ward, it didn't go well. That was a long time ago.
For Jasnah, it seems like maybe a couple times it's been hinted that maybe she prefers women *inaudible*
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.
Of all the characters you've written which one has the most of you in them?
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?
How do you pronounce Jasnah?
I say Jasnah. But you may say whatever you want.
And then is it Szeth?
The "s" is more silent than the "z" but it is sort of sub-vocalized. Szeth.
I want to know if we're ever gonna get to see Hoid and Jasnah and the journey back at the ends of Words of Radiance, 'cause I was so hyped to read that and then they didn't interact at all.
I will promise you some interaction in book four but I won't promise you a flashback...
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?
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"?
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.
Who bonded with their spren first, out of the new Radiants?
Chronologically, and of the ones we know, Jasnah.
Anything about Jasnah.
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.
Do Axies's and Jasnah's reversed shadows have a common source?
Does it have anything to do with its draw towards Investiture?
*After a pause* It has more to do with Shadesmar than Investiture.
Is Jasnah still alive at the end of the book, since the whole scene where she kind of appears...
Yes, she is.
*photo pause* Why does she take so long to come back?
Because Elsecalling is not precise even if you know what you are doing, which she doesn't.
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..."
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?
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--
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?
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.
For the next Stormlight [book], will there be chapters from Jasnah's perspective?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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?
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.
Would you say that it's going to have any ramifications for him down the line? With how it was handled?
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.
What was your inspiration for Jasnah?
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.
Which character in The Stormlight Archive do you most relate to?
...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.
At the end of the book, Jasnah was chosen to be the next queen?
She will choose to be called a queen and make them do that. So she is queen and it's going to be very fun to write Jasnah the queen.
When she [Shallan] Soulcasts, does she physically go? Or does she just think?
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?
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?
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—
The outside observer would see weirdness happening for sure.
We were wondering whether you could tell us what Jasnah's sexuality is?
The internet wanted to know.
The internet really wants to know.
Jasnah does not want to be defined by her sexuality.
Is Jasnah on the autistic spectrum?
Jasnah is not, good question. I would not say that she is. Though, you know, I'm not the perfect person at giving diagnoses.
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.)
Someone asked if it were hard to write Jasnah, an atheist character, for a devout Christian.
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).
Did Jasnah's body die, and she made a new one?
No, she actually transferred her body to the other side... I actually even wrote the scene where it happened, but I didn't end put it any books... That's what Elsecallers do, is they teleport. That's one of their things.