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Figment chat ()
#2 Copy

Questioner

In transitioning from Merin to Kaladin, was there any plot sacrifices that were particularly difficult for [you]?

Brandon Sanderson

No. I had been disappointed enough in the way that Merin turned out in the original draft of The Way of Kings, that transitioning to someone more vibrant and more interesting in Kaladin really didn’t feel like a sacrifice to me.

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.

Oathbringer Edinburgh signing ()
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Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

Who is the greatest warrior in the cosmere? I think it's Kaladin?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Well, define "warrior" versus "soldier" versus--

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

Who could win at an all-out fight? Even with powers taken away, I think he could still take on a lot of the other warriors.

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

A question. Are they on a battlefield? 'Cause Kelsier just murders him in his sleep.

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

Battlefield.

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

The actual soldier, battlefield, is probably Kaladin. Problem is, you could put Dalinar in his prime. And they're both pretty good. But, Kaladin is a true soldier.

Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
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Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

Are both of Kaladin's maternal grandparents darkeyes?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

No. Good question. I think you're the first one to pull that out of me.

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

There's one question, or two questions in [the signing line], that I know are driving your brains crazy, that are not as clear-cut in my answers as you might assume they are. One is about Kaladin's mother.

Brandon's Blog 2014 ()
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Brandon Sanderson

What Is Altered Perceptions?

This anthology will collect "altered" versions of published stories—deleted scenes, alternate endings, original concept chapters, and that sort of thing.

For it, I'm letting people see—for the first time—a large chunk of the original version of The Way of Kings, which I wrote in 2002–2003. This version is very different, and involves a different course in life for Kaladin as a character—all due to a simple decision he makes one way in this book, but a completely different way in the published novel.

These chapters are quite fun, as I consider what happened in The Way of Kings Prime (as I now call it) to be an "alternate reality" version of the events in the published books. The characters are almost all exactly the same people, but their backstories are different, and that has transformed who they are and how they react to the world around them. Roshar is similar, yet wildly different, as this was before I brought in the spren as a major world element.

Skyward Houston signing ()
#10 Copy

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

How tall is Kaladin?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Kaladin I think is 6' 4"? But I'm not 100% sure how the equivalent, like he is 6' 4" to Rosharans, which may actually put him several inches taller to the 6' 4", like the feet on Roshar are not exactly the same as feet here.

Words of Radiance Washington, DC signing ()
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Questioner

Kaladin is a lot younger than his knowledge and training levels are... *inaudible*

Brandon Sanderson

It just depends, he's led-- you have to keep two things in mind, he's led a very hard life, which aged him experience-wise differently, and also Roshar years are longer than ours, so when they say in this book [that] he's 19, he's not actually 19, he's more like-- I can't remember the exact equation, but he's actually 23, or something like that. So do keep that in mind.

The Way of Kings Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

This chapter in particular was a challenge to write. My experience with Sazed in The Hero of Ages warned me that a character deep in depression can be a difficult and dangerous thing to write. Depression is a serious challenge for real people—and therefore also for characters. Additionally, it pushes a character not to act.

Inactive characters are boring, and though I wanted to start Kaladin in a difficult place, I didn't want him to be inactive. So how did I go about making scenes of a depressed fallen hero locked in a cage interesting and active? The final result might not seem like much in the scope of the entire novel, but these chapters are some of the ones I'm the most proud of. I feel I get Kaladin and his character across solidly while having him actually do things—try to save the other slave, rip up the map, etc.

Syl, obviously, is a big part of why these scenes work. She is so different from the rest of what's happening, and she has such stark progress as a character, that I think she "saves" these chapters.

You might be interested to know, then, that she was actually developed for a completely different book in the cosmere. I often speak about how books come together when different ideas work better together than they ever did separate. Kaladin and Syl are an excellent example of this. He didn't work in The Way of Kings Prime, and her book just wasn't going anywhere. Put them together, and magic happened. (Literally and figuratively.)

Stormlight Three Update #5 ()
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geoffw35

You have Jasnah give such a good argument for the atheist point of view that I thought, well Brandon is probably an atheist (as I am). Then I started watching your writing class videos. Oops! In one of them you say that you feel you can successfully draw an atheist character. I certainly agree. ;-) Jasnah does seem to lack compassion to some degree, but I insist that religion is not necessary for one to be compassionate. You draw characters wonderfully!

Brandon Sanderson

Kaladin is agnostic, which most people miss in these discussions, and is the series argument for a compassionate non-believer. Dalinar is a liberal theist, and Navani an orthodox theist.

Brandon's Blog 2015 ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Words of Radiance Tweak

Moving on to Words of Radiance, as we were entering typo fixes for the paperback of this book, I made changes to a few lines near the end. This isn't anywhere near as extensive as the changes in Elantris, but once again I figure I should be up-front about what I did and why I did it.

This part is going to have some spoilers for the book, so if you haven't read it, please stop right here. I'll put a number of blank lines here to prevent accidental spoilers. Scroll down if you've finished the book.

So, in Words of Radiance, I think the scene I worked on the longest both in my head and on the page was the final confrontation between Kaladin and Szeth.

There was something I wanted to do, and took a stab at it in the text, then backed off because I couldn't make it work. It was important to me that Kaladin refuse to kill Szeth at the end. Kaladin is about protection, not vengeance, and once he realized that Szeth really just wanted to be killed, I wanted Kaladin to hesitate.

It didn't end up working, and I moved on to a new version and submitted it. But this itched at me, and by the time the book was released, I felt I'd made the wrong choice for that scene. So I've taken this chance to roll it back to the previous idea, and written it in a new way, which I like much better.

The events are the same, except for that moment. Szeth is now killed by the storm instead of by Kaladin, which I think is more thematically appropriate.

The question this raises is about Szeth being stabbed by a Shardblade, then being resuscitated. I'm sad to lose this sequence, as it's an important plot point for the series that dead Shardblades cannot heal the soul, while living ones can. I'm going to have to work this into a later book, though I think it's something we can sacrifice here for the stronger scene of character for Kaladin and Szeth.

Shadows of Self release party ()
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Questioner

Who's Tarah?

Brandon Sanderson

*long pause* Why do you want to know?  ...Tell me why you want to know.

Questioner

Because she's important to Kaladin and Kaladin's important to me?

Brandon Sanderson

Okay, that's a decent answer. She-- um. Ehhhh. She was someone Kaladin cared for deeply in a romantic way.

Oathbringer Newcastle signing ()
#16 Copy

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

So, Kaladin met Hoid a long long time ago, and Hoid gave him a very important flute that he has not learned how to play. Is he ever going to put the time in to get good at that? Or is that just something we're going to have to wait for?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

You'll have to wait for. Kaladin has a lot of things on his mind. He sure could use something to keep him from stressing out, but you're just gonna have to wait and see if Kaladin understands the reason he was given a flute, or not.

Calamity release party ()
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Questioner

How hard was it for you to write Kaladin *inaudible* end of the second book?

Brandon Sanderson

It was pretty hard. Knowing people whom I love, who have depression, when they are in a depressive funk. And knowing I had to get that across accurately, but try not to make people hate him too much? It was a challenge.

Arcanum Unbounded Chicago signing ()
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Questioner

If Kaladin and Dalinar were Magic cards, what color do you think they’d be?

Brandon Sanderson

Dalinar now is mono-White. He was mono-Red in his youth, inching toward Black-Red, but I would just call him mono-Red in his youth. Kaladin I would probably call Blue-White in Magic terms because they like things that fly and that have to do with the wind. So he would get the elemental Blue and personality White. Maybe a tinge of Red, but probably-- I would make a Blue-White Kaladin.

Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
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Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

Why is Kaladin so proficient--like naturally born to wield a spear. Is that a weapon he likes or is it a destiny for him?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

So destiny is a strong term. I would say he has natural aptitude, but no more so than a normal person who has a natural aptitude for something. But the way the Spiritual Realm works in the cosmere and the way Connection works, there were certain things that were happening to Kaladin before they happened.

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

*inaudible* Time and space.

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

It's like Syl says in one of the books. "You didn't know me then, but I knew you then. Even though we hadn't met yet, I still knew you." You see some weird Connection things too. And these are mostly just for fun sort of cosmere connections. Like when you see Syl take on the look of Shallan standing on the beach. There's gonna be a connection there. It's forming, it doesn't exist yet, but all things are one in the Spiritual Realm, and we're just kinda seeing echoes of that. It's not meant to be destiny, it's more meant to be, "Hey there's little connections happening".

I would not say Kaladin is any more naturally gifted in that than your average professional sports player is naturally gifted in what they do.

Words of Radiance Seattle signing ()
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Questioner

So you mentioned that Kaladin gets sad during the Weeping. Is that due to lack of stormlight or maybe seasonal affective disorder?

Brandon Sanderson

It is mostly due to seasonal affective disorder. Now, you know, there are other things going on and whatnot, but yes he has strong seasonal affective disorder.

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

Questioner

Kelsier vs. Kaladin, who wins?

Brandon Sanderson

Kelsier is meaner. Kelsier is sneakier. Raw power - I'm not sure, but I'm gonna go with Kelsier. If its on a battlefield, Kelsier doesn't win. If its off the battlefield, Kelsier wins. Kaladin is a soldier. He can fight a war and fight with a team and he can win a battle. Kelsier can sneak into someones house and stab them.

Salt Lake City Comic-Con 2014 ()
#29 Copy

Questioner

Who is your favorite character you've written, if you had to pick one?

Brandon Sanderson

That's a hard question, I can't pick a favorite character. Dalinar is what I normally say, just because I've been working on him the longest. Honestly, I don't know. It's whoever I'm working on at the time.

Questioner

Dalinar is a good character, I like Kaladin a lot too.

Brandon Sanderson

Kaladin has really worked out well. It's interesting because Kaladin-- the first time I wrote The Way of Kings, in 2002-- did not work and I had to rip him out and try a completely different personality and things for him. So it's cool to see it finally working.

FanX 2018 ()
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Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

Is there a reason Kaladin is always talking about the Survivor.

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Yes. The Survivor? No. You're trying to get me to slip up on something; no. He does not know Kelsier, nice try.

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

But are they connected?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Only thematically.

Words of Radiance Dayton signing ()
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darkanimereal1 (paraphrased)

The Weepings--Shallan and Kaladin react very differently to them.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

They do.

darkanimereal1 (paraphrased)

It just seems to me that the Weepings feel very close to Cultivation.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

The primary thing you’re noticing -- and I'm not going to say there's not any magical influence -- but the primary thing you're noticing is that Kaladin has seasonal affective disorder and Shallan likes the rain. That's the primary thing you're noticing. I like the rain--my wife hates it. My wife gets depressed when it rains and I love when it rains.

Oathbringer release party ()
#36 Copy

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

I read the earlier version of The Way of Kings. When did Kaladin get depressed?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

That was when I realized he was the main character and the least-- the least a character, right? And so, it was when I sat down and asked myself, what went wrong with it? And the main thing of the things I came up was that Kaladin wasn't real. And so I started looking at what would make him real. And depression doesn't make more real, but it's an outgrowth of him making the other decision, what happened with his brother, he had PTSD, and all of this stuff. It grew out of that.

Shadows of Self London UK signing ()
#37 Copy

Questioner

I make cocktails, and I want to make cocktails based on the characters, have you got any ideas? Particularly Kaladin and Vin, what would they drink?

Brandon Sanderson

...Kaladin and Vin, ah boy. Vin wants something simple, I mean she's going to want something to relax, so maybe something fruity and simple. Kaladin, he'll want something stiff, right, something hard...

The next one actually has a mixed drinks scene. Fortunately, you'll be happy to know, I went to a bartender friend to get some advice on how to make it work, so... If you make Kaladin's stiff and blue, that might be good because of Alethi blue.

JordanCon 2018 ()
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Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

When Kaladin jumps in to help Adolin, and he's fighting and he says he feels like he can fight with his eyes shut. Is that just Kaladin being cocky? Or is that Investiture related? It reminded me of Atium.

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

There's a little more going on there, but it's not as far as you think.

Bands of Mourning release party ()
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Questioner

We've got Kaladin's name meaning, do we have Shallan's?

Brandon Sanderson

Shallan is-- Her name comes from Shalash, the herald, so it's kind of like naming somebody Christian in a lot of ways. Or naming someone Michael, though Michael has a meaning. Shalash does too but it's so old-- Like-- Yes, it will have a meaning but really what you need to know is "she is named after the Herald Shalash", right? But I'm sure we can dig out what the meaning is because it does have a meaning... I mean Kaladin's has a meaning even though he's named after Kalak.

Steelheart Portland signing ()
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Kogiopsis

Kind of along the same lines, I just want to confirm something. If someone from Earth saw an Alethi, what ethnicity would they assume they were?

Brandon Sanderson

It would-- The model I use are actually for the half-Hawaiian, half-Asians that are kind of common in Hawaii. That's the model I've used; I actually have one of their faces for Kaladin. So it would depend on what your perspective is, you might say-- some people might say Arab, but the model I'm using is kind of more Hawaiian/Asian mix is what you'd get. The only ones that would look Caucasian to you straight-up would probably be the Shin, though if you get someone who has Horneater blood-- The Horneaters might look-- they just-- they're gonna look like bizarre… redhead… things, but they might look Caucasian to you.

swamp-spirit

So would Shallan also be more towards that?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, Shallan has lighter skin. But she still has the epicanthic fold, and so she maybe would look to you like a Caucasian/Asian mix? With red hair? So… Anyway, she would look fairly Caucasian.

swamp-spirit

I will attempt to send you excited fanart.

Kogiopsis

I've been picturing the Alethi as Indian, myself.

Brandon Sanderson

Okay, yeah. Yeah, yeah, like East India? That’s a pretty good picture on them. That would work very well.

Salt Lake City signing ()
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Questioner

So how did Shallan rescue Kaladin when they fell in the chasm?

Brandon Sanderson

She did not. It was actually Syl, but he was in the process of breaking the bond, and so she was able to get some Stormlight to him. But that is what really set it really poorly. Like you can imagine, she-- this bond was really a strain for her to use at that point, so it was her. But doing what she did just about destroyed her, which is why you don't hear from her after that.

Firefight release party ()
#44 Copy

Questioner

Where did you get your inspiration for Kaladin?

Brandon Sanderson

Kaladin came because I was reading about the life of a surgeon in the Medieval age and how it-- how strange it was to be like this person who had one foot in science and one foot not, and that was really interesting to me. And he evolved a lot over time becoming more the hybrid warrior and things like that. But that's where it started, what it was like to live and be a surgeon in a Medieval world.

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

Questioner

How do the characters come to be? I think one of the most interesting, my favorite character is probably Kaladin. How does Kaladin...

Brandon Sanderson

So, Kaladin had an interesting story behind him. I had originally wrote Way of Kings in 2002, and one of the things that didn't work with that draft was that Kaladin's character didn't work. He was called Merin back then. And it's just, personality didn't work. I'd written him too much like a classic apprentice kid on the battlefield who distinguishes himself, it was just too standard of a kind of fantasy storyline. And so I'm like, "Who is this person?" I needed more depth for him, so I added the whole "His father's a surgeon, he's trained as a surgeon" thing. That was one of the first big pillar I added to add more depth to Kaladin, was "All right, he's a surgeon, but he's been forced to go to war." The kind of field medic who also learns he's really good at killing people. That was, like, the first big thing that I got for Kaladin.

The other thing was the big tragedy that happened in his past, followed by the big tragedy involving the Shardblade led me down that path. And the last thing I added was the depression. This was, like, seven years of evolving this character before he actually came together. Characters are hard for me to put a finger on, because I usually write them by instinct. I'll write a chapter from their viewpoint, see how they see the world, step back. And I'll usually throw that chapter away and try it several times until I get the right... soul, cast in the role, if that makes sense. I can talk a lot more about other things, but character is trial and error until someone feels right.

The more distinctive you can make a character's viewpoint, the stronger, I feel, it will come across. When I feel like it's really working for me is when I can write a few paragraphs and say, "No other character that I've ever written could have written those paragraphs, just in how they describe the world."

Words of Radiance Philadelphia signing ()
#48 Copy

Questioner

Kaladin in the second book seemed to be a different Kaladin than at the end of the first book.

Brandon Sanderson

In what way?

Questioner

And he seemed angrier, and my question is, why did you write him that way?

Brandon Sanderson

He has always been angry. In the first book, he is focused on saving his men and now that his men are safe, all of those emotions—if you go look at him from the first nine chapters of Way of Kings, he's that way there, it's when he becomes focused on saving his men he has something to drive him and it kind of subsumes these things, but once they're safe all these things he hasn't dealt with came back out.

Salt Lake City signing ()
#49 Copy

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

Speaking of Rosharan calendar-- So seventeen year old Kaladin, is he the equivalent of a seventeen year old Earthling?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

It's 1.1, I think is what is it. Right, they're 10% older than their accounting system. So no.

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

So Adolin is 27, true?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Yeah.

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

So then a year is obviously a lot more than 1.1 but--

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Well no. The years are 500 days, but they're 20 hour days. Keep that in mind. So when you run the calculations kinda together, you end up with around 1.1.

The Great American Read: Other Worlds with Brandon Sanderson ()
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Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

Based off previous question, the first Kaladin became Adolin?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Adolin was actually in that book, and so the first Kaladin didn't even become Adolin, like the first Kaladin was like, you've read this book before probably. The young peasant boy trains to be a knight, that sort of thing and was just too familiar, I was playing the tropes and hitting the nails on the head, but in a way that was not interesting. Adolin and Renarin basically as the people that they ended up being. Shallan and Kaladin are the people that I basically pulled out and replaced with new characters, because neither of them were working. I'll someday release that book and you can read it and be horrified about this book where really really different things happen, and the characters half feel like themselves and half don't. Bridge 4 isn't in that version of the book, Bridge 4 is actually in Dragonsteel. Which is another book I wrote, which is where Dalinar started too. I wrote 13 books before I sold one. Dragonsteel was number 7 or 8. Half the ideas for the version of The Way of Kings you read came from that and half the ideas came from the original Stormlight Archive.