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Stormlight Three Update #5 ()
#1 Copy

Iceblade44

So White Sand [than Elantris] is earlier... Then how the heck old is Kriss then? Will we ever get an answer as to why every worldhopper is flipin immortal?

Brandon Sanderson

There is some time-dialation going on. I'll explain it eventually; we're almost to the point where I can start talking about that. Suffice it to say that there's a mix of both actual slowing of the aging process and relative time going on, depending on the individual. Very few are actually immortal.

Faera

Implying that some are actually immortal? :D

Brandon Sanderson

Depends on which definition of immortal you mean.

Doesn't age, but can be killed by conventional means. (You've seen some of these in the cosmere, but I'll leave you to discuss who.)

Heals from wounds, but still ages. (Knights Radiant with Stormlight are like this.)

Reborn when killed. (The Heralds.)

Doesn't age and can heal, but dependent upon magic to stay this way, and so have distinct weakness to be exploited. (The Lord Ruler, among others.)

Hive beings who are constantly losing individual members, but maintaining a persistent personality spread across all of them, immortal in that as long as too much of the hive isn't wiped out, the personality can persist. (The sleepless.)

Bits of sapient magic, eternal and endless, though the personality can be "destroyed" in specific ways. (Seons. Spren. Nightblood. Cognitive Shadows, like a certain character from Scadrial.)

Shards (Really just a supercharged version of the previous category.)

And then, of course, there's Hoid. I'm not going to say which category, if any, he's in.

Some of these blend together--the Heralds, for example, are technically a variety of cognitive shadow. I'm not saying each of these categories above are distinct, intended to be the end-all definitions. They're off the cuff groupings I made to explain a point: immortality is a theme of the cosmere works--which, at their core, are experiments on what happens when men are given the power of deity.

Shagomir

Heals from wounds, but still ages.

Would Bloodmaker Ferrings exist in this category as well? If not, what about someone compounding Gold?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, you are correct.

Shagomir

As a Bloodmaker ages what keeps them from healing the damage and carrying on as a very old, but very healthy person? Do they come to a point where they can't store enough health to stave off the aches, pains, diseases, and other things that come with old age?

This makes sense for traditional Feruchemy as it is end-neutral, so storing health becomes a zero sum game - eventually, you're going to get sick and you're not going to be able to overcome it with your natural healing ability no matter how much you manipulate it with a goldmind.

...Unless you've got a supply of Identity-less goldminds lying around. Would a Bloodmaker with a sufficient source of identity-less goldminds (or the ability to compound, thus bypassing the end-neutral part of Feruchemy) eventually just die from being too old?

Brandon Sanderson

Basically, yes. They can heal their body to match their spiritual ideal, but some things (like some genetic diseases, and age-related illnesses) are seen as part of the ideal. Depends on several factors.

JordanCon 2016 ()
#2 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

*reading a personalization request* Specifically what Khriss knows about the red haze around Scadrial and if she was trying to clue Wax in on the situation.

I can't tell you what Khriss knows about the red haze. Definitely not. She knows too much and I-- ...I can say "She knows too much".

Arcanum Unbounded Chicago signing ()
#3 Copy

FirstSelector

I read that you had said if you had written Khriss' essay on Nalthis, it would have been more or less that she was talking about the magic, and then mention that there were scholars on this planet that were spitting distance from, like…

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, yeah.

FirstSelector

So, Vasher, and maybe some of the other ones have been off world--

Brandon Sanderson

Shashara has been, yeah.

FirstSelector

...Are they known to the people at Silverlight? Like--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, yeah.

FirstSelector

Like does Khriss know Vasher?

Brandon Sanderson

Know Vasher is a different question than know of Vasher. But they are widely regarded as early cosmere scholars... They are pioneers of this sort of stuff. So yes.

Warsaw signing ()
#6 Copy

Rasarr

Is Khriss on Roshar during The Stormlight Archive?

Brandon Sanderson

Khriss is... RAFO.

Questioner 2

I'll follow up on that: Does that mean she's in Shadesmar?

Brandon Sanderson

Ehhhh... There's some trickiness with answering that.

Bands of Mourning release party ()
#7 Copy

Questioner

This is kind of a shot in the dark but is there anything you want to tell me about whoever writes the Ars Arcanum?

Brandon Sanderson

The person who writes the Ars Arcanum is a character in-world from a book that is been written but has not been published.

Questioner

Is it a book that has been announced?

Brandon Sanderson

It is a book that's been announced, the title is known.

Footnote: The Ars Arcanum are written by Khriss, a character originally from White Sand.
Stormlight Three Update #5 ()
#8 Copy

Phantine

I can't remember if I asked you this before - is there going to be anything like a 'khriss's notes' proto-ars-arcanum for White Sand?

I think it would be neat to see how her style has changed over time.

Brandon Sanderson

I've been thinking about it. We'll see.

emailanimal

Since Khriss is actually from Taldain, does it mean, we are going to get a 100-page encyclopedia? (and please, let the answer be "yes")

Brandon Sanderson

Maybe some day.

Calamity Seattle signing ()
#11 Copy

Questioner

The worldjumpers in [Secret History] are they ones that have shown up in other books? And we just don’t know their names?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, they’re only tangential in the other books.  I think one of them has only shown up on screen once.  The other one’s shown up a couple of times but mostly in certain annotations and things like that.  In the books, like on the maps.

White Sand vol.1 release party ()
#14 Copy

Questioner

Will we get more information like that about planets and stuff like that in the Ars.. *interrupted* ?

Brandon Sanderson

The Arcanum Unbound[ed] is... Yes, the cosmere collection. There will be little essays from Khriss on each of the planets. There will be stuff like that. You're going to have to wait until the science in-world approaches more of our science before I can get into some of the things you would want to know specifically. But, I mean, we are starting to get to an era where they can talk intelligently about these things. So yes, but it's-- Arcanum Unbound[ed] is kind of weird because I had to pick a date for her to be writing these essays, and the date that she wrote the essays is before some of the stories. For instance, Sixth of the Dusk, right? And so for that planet she's just like, "Hey, here's this place that something weird might be happening with. We don't know a lot about it, but it's got this one weird attribute that we're studying." The story hasn't happened yet. So you get a little bit of that. It's not all from the far future, when like Sixth of the Dusk is happening, because otherwise there would be way too many spoilers for what's coming in the future. So yes, there will be lots of cool little tidbits. The essays are meant for people who ask questions like that, and like this one, but I'm not answering everything.

Calamity Chicago signing ()
#15 Copy

Questioner

Does Khriss ever figure out how to get sand [to work] on the Darkside?

Brandon Sanderson

Ohhh, that’s a bit of a spoiler.

Questioner

Essentially her reason to become Cosmere-knowledgeable.

Brandon Sanderson

It is one of her primary motivations for where she has gone, is figuring out how all that worked. But her story I want to leave for her book.

Oathbringer London signing ()
#16 Copy

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

Will you ever make a book based in Shadesmar?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Yes, I will, actually. There's one that I've plotted in Silverlight. Whether I'll be able to write it as a whole book, or whether I'll be able to do it just as a novella I'm not sure yet. But I do actually have a plotted-out story with Khriss as the protagonist in Shadesmar.

/r/Fantasy_Bookclub Alloy of Law Q&A ()
#17 Copy

Ace_of_Face

Who wrote the "Ars Arcanum"? Since the writer obviously had knowledge of the cosmere I assumed that it was you making an editorial note, but then I thought that it could be Hoid (who was suspiciously absent) or Sazed or any Shardbearer... Does that make sense at all?

Brandon Sanderson

The Ars Arcanum is written in-cosmere by someone, but I don't want to saw who yet.

JordanCon 2018 ()
#20 Copy

Ravi [PENDING REVIEW]

Does [Nazh] ever have any arguments with Khriss?

Isaac Stewart [PENDING REVIEW]

All the time.

Ravi [PENDING REVIEW]

But, they're basically best friends anyway right?

Isaac Stewart [PENDING REVIEW]

I don't know about that, I'd have to ask Brandon. But I imagine that they get along pretty well and he feels okay being grumpy around her.

Ravi [PENDING REVIEW]

So it's not like Mythbusters where they're only friends on TV but not actually friends in real life?

Isaac Stewart [PENDING REVIEW]

I would imagine it's not like that.

Arcanum Unbounded Hoboken signing ()
#28 Copy

Questioner

Is Khriss a reliable narrator?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, Khriss is reliable. She doesn't know everything, so there are some things that she doesn't quite get right. But she usually will acknowledge, "I'm not sure about this." Okay?

Questioner

Okay, cool.

Brandon Sanderson

You can trust Khriss as much as you can trust most experts in their field.

General Reddit 2016 ()
#31 Copy

faragorn

I dont recall hearing about this anthology until recently. Did Brandon need a break from writing S3 and so [Arcanum Unbounded] was put in the schedule?

Peter Ahlstrom

This was put on the schedule when it was determined that Stormlight 3 wouldn't come out until next year. Brandon has been wanting to do something like this for a while, so we went for it.

The book is not just reprinting stuff you've already read. Aside from the new Lift novella (at 40,000 words it's actually a mini-novel), each story has a new full-page illustration and a postscript by Brandon. Each world section of the book has a planetary system map and an essay about the system written by Khriss, who writes the Ars Arcanum section at the end of the books.

A Memory of Light Dayton Signing ()
#32 Copy

Questioner

All of the females in your books seem to be very independent, strong women; do you believe that you write them that way from your perspective, or is that your experience, or...?

Brandon Sanderson

There's a couple of things behind that. The first is that my mother graduated first in her class in Accounting in a year where she was the only woman in the entire Accounting department. That was in an era where that wasn't something that a lot of women did, and so I've had quite the role model in my life. But beyond that, it's kind of an interesting story. I discovered fantasy with a book I mentioned earlier, Dragonsbane. Wheel of Time was my *inaudible*, but I discovered Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly, and my teacher got me to read this, and I came back to my teacher, and said, "People write books about dragons?" She's like, "Yeah, there's a lot of books about dragons; go read them."

And so I went to the card catalog, which we had back then in the Stone Age [laughter], and I flipped to the next title in the card catalog, and it was Dragonflight by Anne McCaffery. And so I'm like, "Well, this has dragons; maybe this is good." And it was fantastic! If you've ever read Dragonflight, it's amazing! So I read through all of those in the school library, and I'm like, "Well, what else is there?" The next title in line was Dragon Prince by Melanie Rawn, and so I read through all of those, which are also fantastic books, and one of the best magic systems in fantasy, in Melanie Rawn's Sunrunner books.

And so I got done with those, and at that point, a friend came to me, who'd heard I discovered fantasy, and said, "Here, you'll like this book." It was by David Eddings. And I told him, "I don't think guys can write fantasy." [laughter] That was—honest to goodness—that's what I told him. I'm like, "I don't know if I want to read a guy writer; I don't think they can get it down." And so, I did end up reading Eddings, and enjoying Eddings, but my introduction to fantasy was through three women who have at times been called feminist writers—all three of them have worn that mantle—and that's still with me as part of what makes a good fantasy book, and I think that's just an influence.

My very first novel that I tried, which was not ElantrisWhite Sand—the female character turned out really bland, and I was really disappointed in myself, and I thought, "the book is terrible." And it took me a long time to figure out—like, several books of work—what I was doing wrong. And what I was doing wrong, and I find this in a lot of new writers across the spectrum, is I was writing people specifically "the Other"; people who are different from myself, I was putting them in their role, rather than making them a character, right? And this is an easy thing to do—like, you get into the head of your main character. They're often pretty much like you, you can write them, they're full of life, they've got lots of passions, and then, the woman is like the love interest, and the minority is the sidekick, right? Because that's...you know, how you do that. And you stick these people in these roles, and then they only kind of march through their roles, and so while it's not insulting, the characters don't feel alive. It's like one person in a room full of cardboard cut-outs, like "Stereotypes Monthly" magazine. [laughter] And then your main character.

And women are just as bad at doing this as men, just doing the men in that way. And so it's just something, as a writer, you need to practice, is saying, "What would this character be doing if the plot hadn't gotten in their way?" Remember, they think they're the most important character in the story. They're the hero of their own story. What are their passions and desires aside from the plot? And how is this going to make them a real person? And you start asking yourselves questions like that, and suddenly the characters start to come alive, and start to not fill the role. And you ask yourself, "Why can't they be in the role they're in?" And that makes a better character, always, than "Why should they be?"

Flop roles, too, if you find yourself falling into this, you say, "Okay, I've stuck—" You know, Robert Jordan kind of did this. The natural thing to do is to put the wise old man into the mentor—you know, the Obi Wan Kenobi, the Gandalf—role, and instead, Robert Jordan put a woman in that role, with Moiraine, and took the wise old man and made him a juggler. [laughter] And these two...you know, and suddenly by forcing these both into different roles, you've got... they're much more interesting characters. And you know, Thom is named after Merlin; he could have very easily been in that role, and instead he wasn't. And so, it made even the first Wheel of Time book so much better by making characters not be the standard stereotypical roles that you would expect for them to be in. So, there you go.

Also, stay away from tokenism. If you force yourself to put two people in from the same culture in your book, that will force you to make them more realistic as characters, because if you only put one in, you can be like, "All right, their whole race and culture is defined by this person." And putting in multiples can help you to say, "Look, now they can't both just be defined by that." Anyway, I went off on a long diatribe about that; I'm sorry.

Words of Radiance Omaha signing ()
#34 Copy

Kythis

Does Khriss owe Nazh a new coat?

Brandon Sanderson

Is what?

Kythis

Is Khriss owe Nazh a new coat?  That little picture in there where it says 'you owe me a new coat'.  I'm wondering if that's Khriss who owes the coat.  Not going to tell me on that one either?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm gonna stay closed mouthed on Khriss.  

Manchester signing ()
#35 Copy

ChocolateRob

There’s a character again that you've talked about in other signings-- That character has more information than Hoid about the cosmere. How does she have more information than Hoid?

Brandon Sanderson

Well, she is a very detail oriented person and takes the time to research very deeply into things. Where Hoid will often research enough as he needs to know to sound really smart and get what he wants. It is a matter of depth, if that makes sense.

ChocolateRob

Have we seen her?

Brandon Sanderson

Uhh, I don't know if you've seen her or not. I'm sure I slipped her in somewhere but I'm not sure... I think I may have, but I can't guarantee it.

JordanCon 2016 ()
#37 Copy

Wetlander

As of Secret History, is Khriss working with the Seventeenth Shard at that time?

Brandon Sanderson

Khriss works with anybody who is interested in the information that she has. She is a--

Wetlander

Freelancer?

Brandon Sanderson

No, not a freelancer, really, she is a-- She'd get along with Edward Snowden, right? She is-- For the good of the cosmere, in her opinion, she is providing this information. She thinks that it'll be useful for everyone. So if the Seventeenth Shard comes to her and says "We want to know this" and she knows it, she will tell them. If Hoid comes to her and says "I want to know this", she would tell him. So Khriss will work with anyone who she thinks their motives are for the good of the cosmere in general.

Bystander

Not strictly a mercenary?

Brandon Sanderson

No, not a mercenary, she's kind of a freedom of information type person.

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

Questioner

So, I heard you talk about cameos, are there any other cameos besides Hoid and Nightblood in the books?

Brandon Sanderson

So, Galladon from Elantris, Baon from White Sand, and Captain Demoux all show up in Way of Kings. They're the Purelake scene. Let's see... the character of Felt is a worldhopper, you see him in a couple of books. Watch out for him. Khriss is in a couple of the books, she's the one who writes the Ars Arcanums. Nazh is in a couple of the books, Khriss's assistant. Vasher is in the book. They're all over the place.

Calamity release party ()
#43 Copy

Questioner

I was wondering, like, are we gonna... From the Secret History...

Brandon Sanderson

Uh-huh.

Questioner

The people he met with... Are they the ones from Bands of Mourning, and Are we gonna see them anymore?

Brandon Sanderson

Which people? Nazh and Khriss?

Questioner

Yes.

Brandon Sanderson

Uh, Nazh-- Khriss is in Bands of Mourning. Nazh is referenced in many of the books. He's been in-- uh-- he's been in a lot of them... Just briefly, or annotating maps or things like that.

Questioner

Okay. So are we gonna see them more kind of like Hoid in the future?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, they're-- they are Hoid-esque. Khriss is the one who's been writing all the Ars Arcanum from the beginning, so...