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

Questioner

Could Nightblood theoretically be turned into a Hemalurgic spike?

Brandon Sanderson

The problem with that is that Nightblood is already invested, so it depends on your version of ' Hemalurgic spikes'. Piercing someone's body with Invested metal can have weird effects all through the Cosmere, but ripping off a piece of a person's soul using an un-Invested spike to Invest it and create one is different... we're talking about two different things, right. So there's the.... so what is a Hemalurgic spike? For instance if you've got a spike that's Invested and you stick it into a Kandra on Scadrial it will still work as an Invested Hemalurgic spike. Making a new Invested spike by ripping off a person's soul, that's a different process and a little more difficult to accomplish and requires some specialized knowledge.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Kandra Have Spikes

You should be worrying here about the kandra having spikes. After all, just one chapter back, Ruin took control of a pile of koloss and turned them against their allies. He's already done that with the Inquisitors. Only the kandra remain.

Ruin has generally ignored the kandra. He doesn't see them as all that useful. They can't kill people, and they are too thoughtful and quiet to be destructive in the way he wants. He considers them a much inferior creation to the koloss and the Inquisitors.

That doesn't mean he isn't aware of them, though. You are right to be worried.

Superstars Writing Seminar 2018 ()
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MiToRo94 [PENDING REVIEW] (paraphrased)

This is a question about both The Stormlight Archive and the Mistborn series. Does The Thrill have anything to do with zinc, Rioters, or Allomancy in general?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW] (paraphrased)

"They work on very similar principles." Their magic is based on similar ideas, and they do have a lot in common. A specific example would be that, "they both can affect different people to different extents and in slightly different ways. You can see that in how the Thrill affects Dalinar, and how burning zinc affects kandra differently than others on Scadrial. That is because kandra have pierced souls, so Allomancy affects them differently."

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Why the Lord Ruler Created the Kandra as They Are

You may have noticed something in this chapter. TenSoon mentions the food pits that the kandra people cultivate, a mixture of algae and fungus that they grow in holes in the ground. Yes, they can survive on this. No, it doesn't taste very good. However, it doesn't need light to grow.

Humankind couldn't survive on this mixture, unfortunately. However, one thing that is never brought up in the text is something that not even the kandra know. There are several reasons that the Lord Ruler created them as he did. One of those reasons was so that there would be a people who could survive beneath the ground, should the world above be destroyed by the mists. In other words, he created a race of subterranean dwellers to outlast humankind, should that become necessary. He was the one who gave them the Homeland as their inheritance and taught them to begin growing food that would survive underground.

Then, of course, he decided to add the Resolution to their code of law. That was a precaution in case Ruin decided to claim them as his own. A bit self-defeating, true, but the Lord Ruler felt it was better for them to die than to become pawns of his most dangerous enemy.

/r/Fantasy_Bookclub Alloy of Law Q&A ()
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zas678

TenSoon wonders, and I wonder too- How can kandra think and be sentient without brains? Doesn't the body need a physical coordinator to relay between the Physical and Cognitive realm? Or do the spikes do a good enough job with that?

Brandon Sanderson

I imagine kandra having a non-centralized nervous system, with brain power spread through their bodies. Well, non-centralized is probably the wrong way to say it. They have lobes of thought and memory attached to muscles here and there, and don't have a single 'brain.' They certainly have brain-like material, though.

Salt Lake City signing ()
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Questioner

What would happen to a Kandra if you bisected down the middle with half of its blessing ending up on either half?

Brandon Sanderson

That would, like ripping off any other piece of it, it would be very disturbing for the Kandra but they could reabsorb and come back together. They would not be able to function half and half. That would eventually kill them. Basically, they cant like send pieces and do things. They can be ripped apart and heal, but if you ripped them in half that would be killing them.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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Costnungen

The Kandra were my favorite part of the Mistborn series. What was your inspiration for them?

Brandon Sanderson

For the kandra, I started with the idea that a thieving crew would need a good "inside man" type, who could do costumes. None of the powers fit this, but I knew I also wanted to foreshadow Hemalurgy. From there, developing them was an organic process digging deeply into the history and worldbuilding I was doing.

The idea of the wolfhound kandra appealed to me a great deal before even starting the first book, and was where I targeted my plotting after it struck me.

Calamity Chicago signing ()
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Questioner

If a kandra and a human were to have a baby, what would that baby be like?

Brandon Sanderson

I would say that right now… It would depend... The kandra would have to remain in human form, keep the same body, and then would give birth to a human. If it was a woman [human] with a man [kandra], it wouldn’t be that big of a deal, with a kandra. Does that make sense? Because when the kandra is in human form, they can identically recreate the bodily functions and things if they want to.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Kandra Culture

We get to dig a little bit deeper into the kandra culture here. True Bodies were one of the more interesting things I wanted to discuss in this series, and I'm glad I finally found a chance to show them off.

It makes perfect sense to me that kandra would turn their skeletons into works of art. Some have asked me why they don't do more—take their bodies more to the extreme. But TenSoon addresses that right here, in a way. The kandra are too used to having human shapes; that is what makes sense to them. It's odd how something inherited from a society's oppressors can become an important part of that society's culture.

I worked for a long time to make the kandra culture feel real and interesting. The idea of shape-shifters is not new, particularly changelings who take the place of humans they meet. And so my means of making the kandra distinctive can't come from what they are but who they are. Their culture, their thought processes.

Calamity Seattle signing ()
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Questioner

At the end of Hero of Ages, there’s the--I forget what it’s called, when the kandra all remove their Hemalurgic nails--and then I forget which character wakes up and just sees the blobs everywhere, and then after what everything that happens I don’t really know what happened to the kandra after that.

Brandon Sanderson

They returned their spikes but that left them with holes in their memory.

Questioner

Who did?  The survivors?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, the survivors.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirty-Seven - Part Two

Human Tries to Make a New Koloss

Yes, koloss are people. I assume that many of you guessed this. Then, again, many of you probably didn't. The clues are there, if you care to look—including the fact that small spikes were found in the koloss bodies after the siege of Luthadel. (It's mentioned at the end of book two.)

Unfortunately, the heroes just don't know enough about Hemalurgy to make the connection until this dramatic reveal by Human. There are only three magic systems in this book—all related, all dealing with metal. It's mentioned in book two that koloss, Inquisitors, and—yes, even kandra—are related in some way. All were created by the Lord Ruler during his Ascension.

And all were created from existing material, one might say. There's a little more depth to the kandra, since they're a race that (kind of) breeds true. You'll see as the book progresses. However, all were created through Hemalurgy, and the spikes are very, very important.

Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
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Chaos2651

In the days of the Final Empire, how does one acquire a Kandra Contract? It's not like they can just walk up to their hidden Homeland and ask for their services.

Brandon Sanderson

Same way you would go about hiring an assassin. Secretly, using contacts who have used them before. You have to be in the know and well-connected, either with the upper-class or the underground.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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focoma

We've seen Kandra True Bodies made of crystal, stone, or wood. Can a kandra use a True Body made of metal? If so, what happens if each metal "bone" had a Hemalurgic charge, and each one is touching an appropriate bind point?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. And that would work, better than you think, because Kandra have fluid bind points. But too many spikes can be dangerous to the psyche, even with Ati not messing things up.

Shadows of Self London UK signing ()
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Questioner

How come you don't have any gay, lesbian, or transgender characters in your books?

Brandon Sanderson

I do! This one [Shadows of Self] actually has one. Ranette is lesbian. Let's see, transgender is awkward because I have the kandra who are kind of no-gender and both, that doesn't really count, but it's kind of me testing the waters and seeing whether I can write someone who has fluid gender and not be offensive with it, does that make sense? So keep an eye on what I do with the kandra through the books. The other gay person is Drehy from Bridge 4, he's based on my good friend Ryan Dreher who is gay, and so you will see his husband appear in the series eventually as well, but we really haven't talked about that one yet, there really hasn't been an opportunity, but Ranette we've talked about and it becomes more and more obvious as we talk about it in the books.

JordanCon 2016 ()
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Questioner

In The Emperor's Soul… you indicate sort of the opposite of the kandra in regards to… Soulstamps can be made with bone and are considered the lesser, with crystal is the highest. With kandras, if their true bodies are crystal, they are considered weak. Bones are considered strong.

Brandon Sanderson

Ehhh… I'm gonna stop you right there, just because that's gonna depend on the kandra, and their age, and how they feel about it. There are plenty of kandra, I think MeLaan would argue against that and be like "No! Non-bone true bodies are way better! Look, I can take my hands off and stab people with the swords underneath. This is super better!" Whereas TenSoon would be like, "That's not…" It's a little bit like when I was in Korea, and people are like "Things made out of concrete just feel worse! It's bad for the kibun to always be surrounded by concrete. Wood is better for you." I… think there are people who would disagree with that, I think there are people who would totally agree with that.

Questioner

My question. If you were to combine a Soulstamp of a crystal, with a kandra true body of a crystal, would they have additional powers that could compete with regards to Mistborn. If it compounds?

Brandon Sanderson

Alright, so if you took the crystal that they're making Soulstamps out of and you gave it to a kandra, and they used it for bones, generally the kandra are not drawing any sort of extra Investiture or power from the bones, they're making-- they're using. That's-- Though TenSoon would argue that I'm wrong. *general laughter*

Barnes & Noble B-Fest 2016 ()
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Questioner

Can Kandra blessings be any spikes or just the four.

Brandon Sanderson

They were created specifically to do what they do.

Questioner

So you couldn't have a Kandra with, for instance, Allomantic powers?

Brandon Sanderson

I wouldn't go that far, I will say the Kandra spikes are specifically created to do what they do and the Kandra don't know how to make ones that do other things.

Barnes & Noble B-Fest 2016 ()
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Questioner

With the hemalurgy, I was a bit confused on how it worked on people and how it worked for kandra, there was the blessings, and one brought them more stability of mind or something. So what is different for kandra than it is for other people?

Brandon Sanderson

The things that are building kandra have ripped off different pieces of souls. Rather than stealing someone else's Allomancy, most of those were just created with regular people. The same way that a koloss... you don't need an Allomancer to make a koloss. You just take a regular person, you rip off a piece of their soul, and you staple it to someone else's, and basically screw up their Spiritual DNA, and you have a koloss. But stapling on someone's Allomancy requires an Allomancer.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

The First Generation Arrive

The First Generation are different from the other generations. Other kandra were born from mistwraiths that had bred true, becoming their own species. The Firsts, however, were humans who were changed directly into kandra. They aren't as good at holding their bodies together as creatures who were born first as mistwraiths. Someone like TenSoon carries with him a heritage of intuition and instinct gained by his previous life as a mistwraith.

The Firsts don't have that. They haven't practiced taking new bodies—in fact, only a couple of them have ever even done such a thing. They've spent their lives in the Homeland and don't know how to use their powers. The skin droops from their bones, and they look—and feel—old, something that doesn't happen to other kandra.

Here, oddly, is the first climax of the TenSoon chapters. He's not there to see it, but his words are what finally convinced the Firsts to come down from their alcoves and face the truth that the end has come.

Also, Moshe, I still think those should be podiums rather than lecterns.

Hero of Ages Q&A - Time Waster's Guide ()
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Agate

I can guess two possible options for the Kandra.

1. God Sazed endowed the gift of presence on the now mistwraiths.

2. Some of the Kandra survived in the cave with the Terrisman and people of the city, along with the small mistwraiths, these are re-born with the spikes they pulled out during the resolution.

I can imagine too that some Kandra on assignment may have hidden in the shelters with the rest of humanity.

Brandon Sanderson

The Kandra.

Yes, they live. The people were smart enough, eventually, to replace their spikes. (And there were a couple who were on assignment who made it to storage caches.)

However, there will likely never be any more of them, since Hemalurgy is required to make them. They are now some of the few people who can communicate directly with Sazed, who—like Ruin—can whisper to people most easily when they are connected to him via spikes. With some speculation, you can probably guess what kind of roles the Kandra will end up playing in future books.

Kaimipono

On a broader level, is hemalurgy officially dead, then? Or is it still extant in some Ruin-free (but still messy) form? (If it's gone, is there any imbalance since Preservation's magic power is kept and Ruin's isn't?)

Brandon Sanderson

Is Hemalurgy dead? No, not at all. It, like the other two powers, was not created by Ruin or Preservation, but by the natural state of the world and its interaction with the gods who created it. It still requires the same method of creation, but very few people are aware of how it works.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

MeLaan

It's never fully explained who MeLaan is, so I'll give you the background here. One thing that kandra do is take Contracts serving mankind in exchange for atium. However, there are other jobs that kandra can do back in the Homeland. One of the more prestigious ones includes the training and instruction of a child kandra.

This can take years and years, as kandra grow very slowly. TenSoon was appointed as a "parent" of a single kandra during his lifetime. (Many of the Fifth Generation have been parents dozens of times, but the Thirds are a rebellious group, and it was only after much consideration—and political pressure in the Homeland—that Thirds were given chances.)

MeLaan, then, is kind of TenSoon's adopted daughter. She has something of a hero-worship crush on him, inspired by his gruff style and adventuresome personality. Her idolizing of him borders on a romantic crush, and this makes TenSoon somewhat uncomfortable.

There you go. Now you can astound your friends with Mistborn background trivia.

JordanCon 2016 ()
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Questioner

You recently said that dragons in the cosmere can take the form of humans.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

A kandra from Mistborn can do something very similar. Is there a meaningful connection between what the dragons and kandra can do?

Brandon Sanderson

Noooo, except for on fundamental cosmere rules stuff, but that's-- I would say no, in the same way that if you're like, "Is there any similarity between the way that bats fly and birds fly?" Well, there is some similarity 'cause-- But there is [convergent] evolution and stuff like that.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Oh, and as bonus aside, let me point something out to you. Human and his group of koloss were inside the Homeland when the sun came out, destroying everything on the surface. They were still there when Sazed rearranged the world and fixed things. TenSoon and the kandra were also inside, though they had been turned into mistwraiths. Hum . . . Wonder what happened to them. . . .

BookCon 2018 ()
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Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

What was your inspiration for kandra?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

So, I knew that I wanted to do a shapeshifter, but I worried about the whole-- The first idea was that you take the bones of the person you killed, sort of thing. I worried that that would be too-- I wanted a limitation on that. So I'm like, "Well, what if they can't kill people? Why can't they kill?" and I kind of extrapolated from there. But the first idea was that idea of you can become someone if you can get their bones first.

Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
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NeedsAdjustment

Would a kandra be able to imitate a chasmfiend, given enough time?

Brandon Sanderson

It's not about time, it's about mass. A little one, sure. A full grown one? They'd crush themselves. They'd need to be able to make use of symbiotic spren bonds from Roshar, which isn't just a matter of digesting a body.

Oathbringer release party ()
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Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

How does rewriting the Spiritual aspect work?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

...So, it has ramifications through the other two Realms. It can happen. You've seen it happen.

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

That's what happens with kandra, right?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Yes, to an extent, yes.

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

With the koloss?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Yeah, both of them. Hemalurgy is, like, sticking a piece of someone's spirit to another person's spirit and creating a Frankenstein's monster of spirits.

Oathbringer Portland signing ()
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Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

If a kandra were a Parshendi, would he be able to take the forms?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

The Forms? The actual-- To an extent, yes. To an extent, yes, but part of that is the spren bond. You're not gonna get everything. You could look like one, but there'll be certain things you won't be able to do, even with the Form. You couldn't take a form of power... You could pass.

Oathbringer London signing ()
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yurisses [PENDING REVIEW]

Do kandra count as metalborn?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

I would count them, yes.

yurisses [PENDING REVIEW]

And would Wax count them as metalborn?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

He would not. Probably.

yurisses [PENDING REVIEW]

'Cause he calls VenDell metalborn, and I was wondering if he was testing VenDell in some way or not...

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Yeah... I'll have to go look at what I wrote on that one, as well.

Calamity Houston signing ()
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Cadmium (Written) (paraphrased)

Would it actually be possible for a kandra to "become a rusting bunny?".

Brandon Sanderson (Written) (paraphrased)

Yes, But it would be tough.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

They must keep a certain mass to maintain intelligence and a bunny is very small.

Cadmium (paraphrased)

But obviously being a Harvey sized bunny is totally doable.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yeah... Good movie reference.
Barnes & Noble B-Fest 2016 ()
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Questioner

What's the difference between a spike prepared for a Koloss and a spike prepared for a Mistwraith or Kandra? What side effects might occur from... [?]... Koloss spikes?

Brandon Sanderson

It's the pieces of the soul that are being ripped off and the amount of the soul that's being ripped off. That's a big part of it. What side effects would there be? You would probably not get something as intelligent.

Questioner

What's the difference in how you prepare those spikes?

Brandon Sanderson

The Koloss spikes, you've seen how their done. The Kandra spikes were prepared by the Lord Ruler. He gave them to them, and so we don't know what he did, at least in canon.

Questioner 2

That means that we kind of screwed up the role playing.

Brandon Sanderson

You can totally do- I imagine all the role playing happening in a slightly different alternate universe, where there are slight variations and differences.

But yeah, there are no- Kandra spikes are prepared and given by the Lord Ruler, they didn't even know how to make them themselves. I mean they had an inkling of what went on, but they didn't know.

Calamity release party ()
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Zas678

About Bands of Mourning... Marasi finds ReLuur's missing spike, and she describes it as pewter... Which is not one of the four metals conventionally used in kandra blessings...

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Zas678

...and is used to steal Feruchemical abilities. Was Marasi just mistaken, or is something going on there.

Brandon Sanderson

That you will eventually find out.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Seventy-Five

The Second Generation Seizes Control

This chapter is another indication of my attempt to space out the climaxes in my books. We've had the big Vin fight with the Inquisitors; now I'm going to back off from things just a tad so that the reader has time to catch his or her breath. That isn't to say that the next few chapters aren't going to be more quickly paced than ones from the middle of the book; I just hope that they're not quite as breakneck as similar chapters from Elantris or some of my other books with overwhelming endings.

I had fun with these sections because I was able to make good on some tensions and interactions that were going on since the first TenSoon chapters. TenSoon himself isn't here, but we are paid off for the time we spent with him getting to know the kandra in the Homeland, as now their interactions with Sazed directly affect the major conflicts in the series.

Some readers worried that the revolt of the Seconds here was a little out of nowhere. I read through again, just in case, and this is one of those situations where I disagreed with the alpha readers. I believe I've fully established that the Seconds enjoy being in charge, and have somewhat let their power go to their heads. We've rarely seen them offer to the Firsts the same reverence they demand from everyone else. Beyond that, they were just embarrassed in front of the kandra people, and the Firsts began to speak of requiring the mass suicide of the entire race.

If that wouldn't encourage a group of aristocrats to revolt, I don't know what would. The Seconds control the police force in the tunnels, and are the ones who truly rule the kandra. It makes sense to me that they'd do what they just did. You know, if I were in their place, I'd probably do the exact same thing. What the Firsts are talking about is very discomforting, and something that should make anyone—whatever their level of faith—sit down and question whether their beliefs really should require such a sacrifice.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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wiresegal

Are most kandra comfortable in any body configuration, or is MeLaan being comfortable in any gendered body an outlier? (i.e. do female kandra usually prefer female bodies, etc). And if this is common among kandra, is it because their long lives lead to introspection and self-examination, or is it just part of the species psychology?

Also, it's mentioned that kandra can "smell" whether another kandra is male or female, biologically. Does a transgender kandra have a different "scent?" What about nonbinary? And if they don't smell different, can they change what they "smell" like? (without using any magic beyond their shapeshifting)

Brandon Sanderson

You find a lot more Kandra like MeLaan in the later generations. Generations who were allowed to develop a stronger, independent Kandra culture separate from always being integrated with human culture. However, I'd say that almost every kandra, by nature of their physiology, spends a good time exploring both genders. I wouldn't call MeLaan an outlier.

Kandra learn very extreme control over their bodies, and can choose which scent to express and which gender (even to other kandra) to present. This includes a neutral scent, or some mix or something new, if they so decide. Remember that a kandra who wants to hide who they are, even from other kandra, is fully capable of doing so. Under current in-world technology, even blood tests would not be able to distinguish a kandra from the form they have decided to take.