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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.

Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
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greaterbookwyrm

What happens when you cut a kandra with a Shardblade?

Brandon Sanderson

So a kandra is going to react basically the same way, in that the Shardblade's going to be hitting at the soul and severing it and things like that. They are not immune to Shardblades. But because they have mutable shapes, there will be a little bit of weirdness involved in that. You'll get to see that happen eventually.

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.

Oathbringer Portland signing ()
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Questioner

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

Brandon Sanderson

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.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Eleven

OreSeur

If I ever do any short stories in the Mistborn world, one I would like to write would be from OreSeur's viewpoint near the end of the events of book one.

He was a complex individual, a true kandra in many ways—but also a rebel. It was no accident that he was assigned to Kelsier's team, who were planning to overthrow the empire. OreSeur was one of the only kandra willing to take that Contract, and he came out of a long retirement in the Homeland to accept it.

His motivations were his own, and I'd like to explore them. What would a kandra think, joining a movement to overthrow the Father of his own religion? What would he think when that movement actually succeeded? How would he react to, then, being assigned to care for the woman who had held the spear that killed the Lord Ruler?

Many of the Third Generation, TenSoon and OreSeur included, weren't as devout in their dedication to the Lord Ruler as many others. OreSeur himself had seen what the Lord Ruler had done to the world and the people in it. And yet, fighting against the man who was revered by his people in such a holy light?

Anyway, it would make for a good story. I can't tell it here, unfortunately, but maybe somewhere else I will.

Eventually, I'll explain why the kandra think that they are of Preservation, when the other races are of Ruin. We'll get to that, don't worry. Just watch for it in the text of the book.

JordanCon 2016 ()
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Questioner

If a kandra where to get the bones of a Dakhor monk, would they get the Dakhor monk's abilities?

Brandon Sanderson

If a kandra got a hold of the bones of a Dahkor monk, yeah, would they get the abilities… It would take more than just the bones, but that would be a big part of it.

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.

YouTube Spoiler Stream 4 ()
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Questioner

Hey Brandon, did TenSoon become more loyal to Vin because he was in a dog's body and started to adopt the loyalty of a dog?

Brandon Sanderson

Nope, I did not work that into it. There are certain things that the body, like getting scratches and things like that, he did start to adopt some of that sort of thing. I kind of explain this to myself as, the way everyone's treating you does affect your self image, but also getting into another body and realizing, "Hey, it kind of feels okay to get scratched on the head." That's not something that's as socially acceptable among humans. In some situations it is, but when you're in the dog's body, it's like "I can just enjoy this," and enjoy the perks. He ended up really liking a lot of things about being in a dog's body, and they were just a good fit for him. But I wouldn't say there's any sort of Spiritual, "dogs are loyal, therefore TenSoon is loyal" thing.

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.
Skyward Seattle signing ()
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Questioner

In the past, you've said that kandra have size limitations. They can't just lop off a chunk and make a squirrel or anything like that. If a kandra was in full human form, somehow consumed and absorbed an aviar, kept it fully attached to their shoulder, it wouldn't be able to fly off but it was still attached to them, they're one contiguous body, could they get the abilities of that aviar?

Brandon Sanderson

No, good question. They would have to-- They're just replicating the body, they're not replicating the soul.

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. . . .

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.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

The Resolution

TenSoon and the other kandra resist Ruin and are able to pull the spikes from their shoulders. There are a couple of reasons why they can do this.

The power that Allomancers have to take control of them is the same power Ruin has. That control is exerted in the form of mental pressure through emotional Allomancy. As can be seen from Marsh's viewpoint, it is more than simply forcing the body to act as Ruin wishes. The extreme pressure on emotions changes the very way the mind thinks, tricking it into doing exactly what Ruin wants. The flaw in Hemalurgists leaves them open to this kind of manipulation.

Kandra, who only have two spikes, are far more difficult to control than koloss or Inquisitors. Vin is able to control TenSoon with ease in book two, but that's partially because he wanted her to do so. He would have been able to resist her. If she'd continued to push, she could have broken him, but it would have taken time.

Even Ruin's pressure wasn't enough to take control immediately. The kandra had a few moments during which they could overcome him and maintain their free will. Beyond that, they were in a cavern surrounded by metal ore in the walls, making it very difficult for Ruin to see what was going on and interfering with his ability to control them.

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.

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.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Kandra Blessings

The Blessings are still a little confusing, I fear. Originally I designed a Blessing as a single bit of metal in each kandra's shoulder. Eventually, however, I realized that I needed to change this for magic system cohesion reasons. I changed it to be two bits of metal, one in each shoulder. So, each kandra has one Blessing, but that Blessing consists of two bits of metal.

Each kandra only gets one Blessing from among the different types. There will be more on this in the book later, of course.

YouTube Livestream 11 ()
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Questioner

Will you ever consider writing a TenSoon or kandra book or series?

Brandon Sanderson

I could see doing a novella. Will there be a full series? There are way too many full-series things that need to happen already in the Cosmere. Chances that you get kandra viewpoints in upcoming books or that you get a novella, is much higher than an actual book series. That said, there's also the experiment we're planning to do; we're having Isaac write some Cosmere stuff. It's gonna start as graphic novels and things like that. Isaac has been in this from the very beginning, and he's one of the few people I would trust to do Cosmere stuff. Maybe Isaac will do this.

Isaac Stewart

You asked the question, and I wrote a note down here. Because we're playing with Mistborn stuff. Knowing what people are interested in seeing might spur something cool.

Brandon Sanderson

I got a really cool kandra character that I'm waiting to slot into a book eventually that's going to be a lot of fun when I can find a spot for him.

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.

BookCon 2018 ()
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Questioner

What was your inspiration for kandra?

Brandon Sanderson

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.

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.

/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.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Eighty - Part Two

Sazed Sees Mistwraiths

I worry that I didn't get to show mistwraiths very much in this book. It's not that big of an issue—they're only a minor world feature, and are only tangentially important. Still, they're a part of the kandra past and culture, and I want readers to understand what they are and what they have to do with the kandra life cycle.

Remember, all of the kandra save for the First Generation were born first as mistwraiths. That race of creatures breeds true, and has only a fifty-year lifespan. They die off, but birth new members. Taking one of those new members and adding spikes to them, however, awakens them and brings them sentience. They're part human, just like the koloss who remember having once been human.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

The Blessing of Stability

It's mentioned in this chapter, and in the preceding chapter's epigraph, where the epigraph author notes that it is "rarely used." There's a simple, rational reason why you never see this one getting used in the book.

I added the Blessing of Stability after the fact.

You see, I realized that I needed at least one more Blessing to fit with what I'd built for Hemalurgy. I needed another mental power to complete the set of four. Two are the basic physical powers from Allomancy and Feruchemy: strength and fortitude from one, increased power of the senses in another. However, for Allomancy and Feruchemy, the mental powers deviate from one another. So I wanted the same thing to happen here. Hence the Blessing of Presence—which makes the mind more stable.

But after writing the book, I realized I needed a forth. The Blessing of Stability was born, and I wrote it in in a few places just to make token note of it. I like the concept for the power—that of making one emotionally stable—and am kind of glad I don't show anyone using it. I can show it off better in a later book.

JordanCon 2016 ()
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Questioner

This became a question, I thought this had been answered, but kandra can't produce kandra children.

Brandon Sanderson

Well, yes they can. You get them some spikes.

Questioner

Can the kandra produce human children with consumed parts?

Brandon Sanderson

You know, I saw a big thread about this on Reddit and chose not to participate, despite being asked to.

Questioner

I thought she said that you did, so…

Brandon Sanderson

I gave vague and unuseful answers, and so I'm going to give the same to you. RAFO.

Salt Lake City signing ()
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Questioner

So Kandra that just bones. Obviously they need that physically but is there a Cognitive and Spiritual purpose to the bones too?

Brandon Sanderson

Uh, no the bones are just there for the muscles to pull against.

Questioner

So they don't need it, some spiritual link for the bones to...

Brandon Sanderson

No, good question.

Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
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Melhay

In Mistborn #3 Hero of Ages: It isn't mentioned where all the Steel Inquisitors, Kandra, and Koloss went in the end. Do you feel that they were removed from the world and Sazed took all the lost souls to his better place?

Brandon Sanderson

Marsh survived. (He'll show up in the Mistborn sequel series.) The Kandra were restored, and have taken a vow to live only in animal bodies. There will never be any more of them, but they are functionally immortal. So you'll see them again. The Koloss who were in the cavern at the time survived, and were changed to become a race that breeds true, rather than Hemalurgic monsters. More below.

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

TenSoon Declares That Vin Is the Lord Ruler's Successor

I think TenSoon's argument here is a good one. If the Seconds had stopped to give it some real thought, they might have decided that he was right. Without the Lord Ruler, their religion and society were destined to degenerate into chaos. But if they'd picked Vin to follow instead, the Seconds could have perhaps kept it all going.

However, that would have felt too much like a relinquishment of power. In truth, some of them were pleased at the fall of the Lord Ruler, for it removed the great force ruling over them. His death left them, in essence, free. Without the First Contract, they could govern themselves, particularly now that mankind had forgotten how to control kandra by using Allomancy.

TenSoon spoiled that last part, of course. Perhaps you can see why they're so determined to punish him.

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.

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

How are there kandra and koloss? Kandra especially, since they did their "mass suicide" thing at the end of the original trilogy.

Brandon Sanderson

The nice thing about the kandra for me in the narrative was that, though removing their spikes turns them feral, you can always stick those spikes back in. TenSoon feared that this was the end of his people, and it could have been, if those spikes hadn't gone back in quickly. As it was, there were costs. Time spent without spikes causes a kandra's memories to deteriorate, and some that were left a relatively long time were essentially reborn as new people. But the race survived, even if it is unlikely that their numbers will be added to.

Brandon Sanderson

Did TenSoon survive, then (as the TenSoon who experienced growth under Vin)?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, though he did lose some things.