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YouTube Spoiler Stream 2 ()
#1 Copy

Amber Burningham

Would someone with a strong moral compass such as Kaladin and Dalinar consider Wit's alignment moral?

Brandon Sanderson

Dalinar is more likely to understand than Kaladin, because Dalinar's been in positions. Kaladin is less likely to, but it depends on what aspects of what Hoid's doing you're taking about.

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 Comic-Con 2014 ()
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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.

Arcanum Unbounded Chicago signing ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Alright we're going to read now. This is a short passage, but it is a flashback from Kaladin. Probably not what you expected. This book will mostly have Dalinar flashbacks, but Kaladin I plan to do multiple books where I sneak flashbacks in. They're short. Like I said they're only a few pages, but they fill in wholes in Kaladin's backstory. He doesn't get all of them in this book, but through the series you'll get glimpses of Kaladin's past. And this is one of them.

Barnes & Noble B-Fest 2016 ()
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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."

Warsaw signing ()
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Questioner

How many bridge runs did Kaladin make in the Way of Kings?

Brandon Sanderson

How many what? Bridge runs, oh boy. Fewer than he thought, but still a lot. Several dozen. He would have said hundreds but it wasn’t hundreds.

Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
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Questioner

Are both of Kaladin's maternal... grandparents darkeyes?

Brandon Sanderson

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

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.

Words of Radiance Philadelphia signing ()
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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.

YouTube Livestream 16 ()
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Questioner

How would Adolin fare against the greats like Lan, Rand, Galad, and how would Kaladin and his spear fare against Mat?

Brandon Sanderson

It’s really hard to say this, because what are different characters’ skill levels and things? For instance, I generally count Lan as the strongest and the best. My [Wheel of Time] books that I wrote show that. I think Lan would beat Adolin. You just can’t replace the twenty years of intense practice that Lan has, and the wisdom, no matter how talented of a rookie you are -- even though Adolin is not a rookie. I think Lan could go toe-to-toe with anyone non-immortal in the cosmere, because a lot of the cosmere people have an advantage, right? Taln has spent 4,000 years practicing with weapons. Granted, he spent a bunch of that time being tortured as well, but you know. He has many lifetimes behind him, and has been able to be killed making mistakes and never make those mistakes again. That is a leg up on someone like Lan or like Adolin that is just of a supernatural level. And so, while I think Lan would beat any swordsman in a fair fight from the Cosmere, I would count anyone who has a greatly expanded lifespan as an unfair fight. Like, I don’t think Lan would be able to stand against the better duelists among the Heralds or even against Vasher. Vasher’s got multiple lifetimes of practicing with the sword.

How would Kaladin do against Mat? It depends, Mat’s luck is a very big wildcard, and how is the luck on Mat’s side and how is karma working in Mat’s favor or against him in that given moment? That’s part of what makes Mat fun. So Kaladin is a soldier, again, not a duelist. Kaladin is really good with a spear, but his training is in war, his training is to be a battlefield captain. What even is Mat? Mat has been trained by fate itself with weapons, which is just really hard to play. Let’s call that a tie, edge probably to Kaladin.

Lan beats Adolin or basically any duelist but you put him up against the Heralds and he has a much harder time.

Salt Lake City Comic-Con 2014 ()
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Questioner

Did you do the same thing with Kaladin's depression?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes I did but that one is a little closer to home, [several people in Brandon's life have depression].

Questioner

I have depression as well, it's pretty inspiring to me.

Brandon Sanderson

I had never seen a hero who had depression and I was like "I need to do a real, legitimate that it's not about their depression, they just have it" Does that make sense? Like whenever I read a book it is all about them having depression. And I'm like "No, your life is not about you having depression, your life-- that is part of your life but--" So it was very important to me that I get that one right.

Questioner

I just, yeah I just find your book so inspiring so I just really appreciate you doing all this for us.

Skyward Denver signing ()
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LadyKnightRadiant

Kaladin not ever feeling the Thrill. Is there a reason for that?

Brandon Sanderson

There is a reason for that... What do you think?

LadyKnightRadiant

I think it's because he's too good and too pure for this world.

Brandon Sanderson

That is, I would say-- Let's just say that there are points where Kaladin could have felt the Thrill. But once he had the attention of certain nebulous spren, somebody was watching out for him.

LadyKnightRadiant

That was gonna be my second. I thought "He's probably just too good for it," and then I was like, "It's probably Syl's fault."

Brandon Sanderson

There's a bit of a war inside of Kaladin.

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.

Firefight San Diego signing ()
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Leinton (paraphrased)

So for Kaladin's depression and Stormlight's healing abilities, does Kaladin remain depressed because of his view of himself, or is it a limitation of Stormlight's abilities to heal, or something else?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Disorders like depression are a part of a person's personality, and thus aren't diseases and cannot be cured. He talked a lot about this, and he talked about how a hyper kid annoys people but that doesn't mean there's something wrong.

White Sand vol.1 Orem signing ()
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Questioner

...Really?

Brandon Sanderson

Yup. Most of what you see him doing, Renarin did in the original outline, much more awkwardly.

Questioner

Did you keep him in for longer because he has an important part to play?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. remember, this is the draft I did in 2002, things were very different. Like in that draft Kaladin took the Shardblade and became a Shardbearer and stuff like this, and so it was a very different book, very different themes. I beefed up Adolin's part when I was doing this and eventually he developed into a stronger character. I need Adolin because Adolin is the guy who is not gaining all the magical powers and flying in the air and stuff. I need the guy who is more normal. As normal as the prince of Alethkar can be. I needed him and I really liked where he went after doing that, so.

YouTube Spoiler Stream 1 ()
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Nouf

What does it mean that Kaladin is close to Honor, and how did that factor into him staying conscious while every other Windrunner in the tower didn't?

Brandon Sanderson

The nuts and bolts answer is, Kaladin basically was in a place where he could say the next oath, and should have said the next oath, and indeed knew the next oath, and it was on his tongue, and he refused to. So basically he was as close to being the next level of Knights Radiant as a person could humanly get, because everyone considered him ready except himself. He even knew that he was ready, but by saying it, it would require him to give up something that was precious to him, which is his feeling guilty. A precious part of his identity as he saw it. And he would have to relinquish that. That's the bulk of it.

The other bulk of it is, the level to which Kaladin tries to protect, the level to which Kaladin exemplifies the Ideals of the Windrunners, and indeed of the way that Honor would have all Knights Radiant act, is so over the top, in alignment with the way Honor would like it to be, that it could even be considered unhealthy. Remember, Honor didn't always encourage healthy relationships with things like the power, particularly later in his existence. So either way, Kaladin is just kind of extra aligned with that intent, if that makes any sense.

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.

Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
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Questioner

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

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...

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.

The Great American Read: Other Worlds with Brandon Sanderson ()
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Questioner

Based off of your previous question, the first Kaladin became Adolin?

Brandon Sanderson

Adolin was actually in that book, and so the first Kaladin wasn't even-- 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, it was too-- I was playing the tropes and hitting the nails on the head, but in a way that was not interesting. Adolin and Renarinare both in that book 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 Four isn't in that version of the book, Bridge Four 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.

Calamity Seattle signing ()
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Questioner

Why does everyone know about his [Kaladin] Stormblessed name?  Like Gaz knows about it before he survives the highstorms.  Like how do they know?

Brandon Sanderson

How do they know?  The rumors were already spreading, people started talking about it and things like that.

FanX 2018 ()
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Questioner

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

Brandon Sanderson

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

Questioner

But are they connected?

Brandon Sanderson

Only thematically.

The Way of Kings Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter 10

Kal helps his father work on a young girl's hand

For years I had been wanting to do a full-blown flashback-sequence book. Flashbacks (or non-linear storytelling) can be a powerful narrative device, but they're also dangerous. They can make a book harder to get into (nothing new for this book) and can create frustration in readers who want to be progressing the story and not dwelling in the past.

The payoff, in my estimation, is a stronger piece of art. For example, as Kaladin is slowly being destroyed in the bridges we can show a flashback for contrast. The juxtaposition between the naive Kal wanting to go to war and the harsh realities of the Kaladin from years later suffering in war might be a little heavy-handed, but I feel that if the reader is on board with the character, this will be powerful instead of boring.

I often talk about how books grow out of separate ideas that buzz around in my head. One of those ideas was to create a character who was a surgeon in a fantasy world. A person who believed in science during an era where it was slowly seeping through the educated, but who had to fight against the ignorance around him.

Back when Kaladin was called Merin, he didn't work well as a character. He was too much the standard "farmboy who becomes a nobleman" from fantasy genre cliché. I struggled for years with different concepts for him, and it was when I combined him with the idea for this surgeon that things really started rolling. It's interesting, then, that he didn't actually become that surgeon character. In the final draft of the book, that character became his father—not a main character as I'd always intended—and Kaladin became the son of the character I'd developed in my head to take a lead role.

Oathbringer release party ()
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Questioner

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

Brandon Sanderson

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.

Calamity Philadelphia signing ()
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Questioner

At the end of Words it was talking about--I think, Teft was talking about how Bridge 4 was lighting up during the battle. So are they affected by Kaladin?  Or are they going to become...

Brandon Sanderson

So, they are what we call squires right now.

Questioner

Okay, so they are squires.

Brandon Sanderson

So yes.  They are affected by Kaladin, right now.

YouTube Livestream 10 ()
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Dane Brown

Hypothetically, if Kelsier were to meet Kaladin, what would he say?

Brandon Sanderson

Probably "don't be so hard on yourself, kid." That would probably be what Kelsier says. He would do some version of "I've been there, don't be so hard on yourself. You can't fix it all." That's what my gut says.

Kelsier would really like Kaladin. He's the sort of person that Kelsier just... Kelsier loves to see and recognize the people who are just innately good and trying to do good. He's drawn to that because it's not something that is natural to him, if that makes any sense. He can recognize it, though. And it's one of those things that he kind of wants to preserve in the world. And he would really like Kaladin.

Adam Horne

Would Kaladin like Kelsier?

Brandon Sanderson

Probably not. But Kelsier would probably be just fine with that.

Orem Signing ()
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Questioner

I'm going to read you a real quote from Words of Radiance. It's Wit speaking, and he's talking to Kaladin. And he goes, "So you do have some spark of wit in you. It came from Kaladin's mother." So, I think that means that Kaladin is a descendant of Wit.

Questioner 2

And I think it means just literally that he has wit.

Questioner

So, which one do you think is right? Me, or him?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO.

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.

Skyward Chicago signing ()
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Questioner

You've been pretty open about Dalinar being somewhat based off of Genghis Khan.

Brandon Sanderson

Subutai more than Genghis Khan, but yeah.

Questioner

Is Kaladin based off of George Washington?

Brandon Sanderson

Not intentionally. But I can see the parallels as you bring them out. Kaladin was partially based on my reading about... People who have won the Medal of Honor share an interesting characteristic. A strangely statistically high number of them are older brothers. Eldest brothers. Eldest sons. Same with astronauts. And it is that protective instinct that, as an older sibling, you learn, but it can backfire on you as well for various reasons. Kaladin, I was reading a lot about that, so you've got this whole eldest brother superhero complex thing going on.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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Govir

During a reread of The Way of Kings, I noticed Kaladin mentions a light eyes by the name of Katarotam. Will we ever find out more about this light eyes? (For some context, Katarotam is listed along side Roshone and Amaram as a light eyes that Kaladin believes to be corrupt).

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO. (This is possible, but not likely, in a Kaladin flashback.)

Miscellaneous 2021 ()
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Questioner: (paraphrased)

In RoW was see Kaladin telling Syl that he believes that the Recreance took place not as one event such as fever stone keep, but on an individual basis. This has created many discussions in the fandom about how the spren could have been unaware that they would become deadeye's. Is this because it took people years later to discover how to summon and dismiss shards through an ornementation mishap, and deadeye's weren't seen by the other spren in shadesmar until there was no stopping anyone. 

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

The recreance wasn't something that happened over months, more like days. And the decision was made in the heat of the moment by the spren and their knights.

Footnote: I don't have the exact wording unfortunately, but he did say 'days not months' and explained that this was something that he hoped to be totally cleared up by the end of book 5. 
Direct submission by Hexatonix
Calamity release party ()
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Questioner

I was wondering if you know, like, exactly how tall Kaladin is?

Brandon Sanderson

Um... Kaladin? 6'-4". But you've got to remember... People on Roshar are taller than people here. So like 6'-4" compared to someone else in Roshar. But it's a low gravity, high oxygen environment which means that he's probably more like 6'-8", or something like that. Like you're gonna see... But it-- that's only-- you know, like for instance their year is different than ours too, and things like that. If you just want to imagine him at 6'-4" that's fine.

Boomtron Interview ()
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Lexie

In reading the Way of Kings a very Ben Hur vibe can be felt from Kaladin., was this intentional and what other genres were your inspiration?

Brandon Sanderson

I wouldn’t say that I was specifically shooting for that vibe, certainly I am influenced by all the things around me, I was just looking to tell a really great story, and this is the story that came out. It was Kaladin's story in specific, it was - the genesis of the story was actually the Shattered Plains themselves, the area. I write fantasy and one of the reasons that I write fantasy is I want to tell stories about places that don’t exist, that maybe couldn’t exist in our world and so the geography of the shattered plains is sort of what appealed to me. I’d actually been planning this for many years and extrapolated from there, how would warfare be like in this place and then I extrapolated from there, what are they going to need, what types of troops. And Kaladin as a person was growing separately, and I just wanted the best place to put in- the place of most conflict and it ended up being that.

Plot-wise to be perfectly honest I was looking more at- when I was building this plot- underdog sports narratives. To be perfectly honest, I like to, when I look for inspiration in plotting sequences I like to look far afield to try and take things and pull them into my books so that we aren’t getting some of the same repeated dealings over and over again. But certainly historical works like the ones you mentioned are a big part of my make up as well.

Manchester signing ()
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Questioner

Where do you get your people from? Do you take inspiration from people you know in real life?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, yes I do. Sometimes, sometimes not. As I said, usually the seed that starts a character for me as I grow them is a conflict. For Kaladin it's the conflict between being trained as a surgeon and finding out you are really good at killing people, and how do you deal with that. For some it can be very simple, for Sarene I had a friend who is a woman that is 6 foot 2, or whatever she is, *to the side* How tall is Annie? She's tall. Anway, Annie's tall, and she always complains about how tough it is to be a tall woman. Which is something I never thought of, I'm like "I'm going to use that. I'm going to make use of that in a story," Of course that isn't her whole personality, but that little seed, you drop down and I grow a personality around it as I try someone out... That person I knew, a piece of her turned into a character. For other things, it's just trying and trying and trying untill something works, as I explained before. It is "What has their life done to them", often times it's "What are the passionate about? What do they want? Why can't they have what they want?" Those sorts of things lead me into creating a character

Stormlight Three Update #3 ()
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Moosehead

I'm pretty sure it's a case of me just forgetting that I read such a part, but where in the book does Shallan find out about Kaladin's abilities? I know once Adolin confronts Shallan for the first time about her powers, he then asks if she can fly like 'him (Kaladin)', and she just goes yeah, as if she knew for some time now about Kaladin's abilities.

It's such a small thing but it's been grinding away at me. I know Shallan revealed to Kaladin by summoning her Shardblade over his shoulder in the chasm, but how did Kaladin reveal himself to Shallan?

Brandon Sanderson

If you re-read that scene, I believe she's confused by the question about her being able to fly, as so far as she knows, Radiants don't fly. (She only knows about herself and Jasnah.) She finds out about Kaladin sometime around when most everyone else finds out about him, I believe. I'd have to look back specifically to see if I noted it, but by the end of that battle, everyone will be talking about it and so she will know.

Firefight Atlanta signing ()
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Questioner

So Kaladin, he has a lot of Christ-like qualities being the who protects those who can't protect themselves. When you were writing the character of Kaladin did you ever make a conscious decision to make him a Christ figure or--

Brandon Sanderson

The question is... Kaladin has some Christ-figure feel to him, was that intentional when I was writing the character. Actually it wasn't, there's nothing really intentional about that allusion.  But I can definitely see it. Being Christian myself a lot of what I find heroic is related to my faith. But I very rarely do conscious things like that, mostly-- This is for English majors, "I bet he got it from here" and things like that. So it was not intentional but I can totally see where you are making that connection.