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Brandon's Blog 2015 ()
#1 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

As I was developing the Cosmere, I knew I wanted a few threads to span the entire mega-sequence, which was going to cover thousands of years. For this reason, I built into the outline a couple of "core" series.

One of these is the Stormlight Archive, where we have the Heralds who span ages, and which I eventually decided to break into two distinct arcs. Other series touch on the idea of long-standing characters. Dragonsteel, for example, will be kind of a bookend series. We'll get novels on Hoid's origins, then jump all the way to the end and get novels from his viewpoint late in the entire Cosmere sequence.

With Mistborn, I wanted to do something different. For aesthetic reasons, I wanted a fantasy world that changed, that grew updated and modernized. One of my personal mandates as a lover of the epic fantasy genre is to try to take what has been done before and push the stories in directions I think the genre hasn't looked at often enough.

I pitched Mistorn as a series of trilogies, which many of you probably already know. Each series was to cover a different era in the world (Scadrial), and each was to be about different characters—starting with an epic fantasy trilogy, expanding eventually into a space opera science fiction series. The magic would be the common thread here, rather than specific characters.

There was a greater purpose to this, more than just wanting a fantasy world that modernized. The point was to actually show the passage of time in the universe, and to make you, the reader, feel the weight of that passage.

Some of the Cosmere characters, like Hoid, are functionally immortal—in that, at least, they don't age and are rather difficult to kill. I felt that when readers approached a grand epic where none of the characters changed, the experience would be lacking something. I could tell you things were changing, but if there were always the same characters, it wouldn't feel like the universe was aging.

I think you get this problem already in some big epic series. (More on that below.) Here, I wanted the Cosmere to evoke a sense of moving through eras. There will be some continuing threads. (A few characters from Mistborn will be weaved through the entire thing.) However, to make this all work, I decided I needed to do something daring—I needed to reboot the Mistborn world periodically with new characters and new settings.

So how does Shadows of Self fit into this entire framework? Well, The Alloy of Law was (kind of) an accident. It wasn't planned to be part of the original sequence of Mistborn sub-series, but it's also an excellent example of why you shouldn't feel too married to an outline.

As I was working on Stormlight, I realized that it was going to be a long time (perhaps ten years) between The Hero of Ages and my ability to get back to the Mistborn world to do the first of the "second" series. I sat down to write a short story as a means of offering a stop-gap, but was disappointed with it.

That's when I took a step back and asked myself how I really wanted to approach all of this. What I decided upon was that I wanted a new Mistborn series that acted as a counterpoint to Stormlight. Something for Mistborn fans that pulled out some of the core concepts of the series (Allomantic action, heist stories) and mashed them with another genre—as opposed to epic fantasy—to produce something that would be faster-paced than Stormlight, and also tighter in focus.

That way, I could alternate big epics and tight, action character stories. I could keep Mistborn alive in people's minds while I labored on Stormlight.

The Alloy of Law was the result, an experiment in a second-era Mistborn series between the first two planned trilogies. The first book wasn't truly accidental, then, nor did it come from a short story. (I've seen both reported, and have tacitly perpetuated the idea, as it's easier than explaining the entire process.) I chose early 20th century because it's a time period I find fascinating, and was intrigued by the idea of the little-city lawman pulled into big-city politics.

Alloy wasn't an accident, but it was an experiment. I wasn't certain how readers would respond to not only a soft reboot like this, but also one that changed tone (from epic to focused). Was it too much?

The results have been fantastic, I'm happy to report. The Alloy of Law is consistently the bestselling book in my backlists, barring the original trilogy or Stormlight books. Fan reaction in person was enthusiastic.

So I sat down and plotted a proper trilogy with Wax and Wayne. That trilogy starts with Shadows of Self. It connects to The Alloy of Law directly, but is more intentional in where it is taking the characters, pointed toward a three-book arc.

You can see why this is sometimes hard to explain. What is Shadows of Self? It's the start of a trilogy within a series that comes after a one-off with the same characters that was in turn a sequel to an original trilogy with different characters.

MisCon 2018 ()
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Brainless

If you had a chance to go back for Elantris and the early Mistborn books and stuff like that, would you potentially consider adding more crossover characters, because you did put Hoid in all of those, but would you potentially put other smaller things from other planets, like other worldhoppers, in it?

Brandon Sanderson

So, the cheeky answer to this is, I've read The Monkey's Paw, and I've read enough science fiction stories to know that if someone says "Do you want to change this thing about your past?" that you say "No." Because depending on the writer you are either going to end up in a horror story, or you are going to have to learn some lesson about how important you are, or your family is, and then it will all be a dream, so no, I wouldn't.

But really the answer is no, I wouldn't change. I like the fact that the cosmere has a very light touch on those early books. I like it in part because I feel like people who are just getting into my fiction, I don't want them to feel like they have to follow everything to enjoy one book. And yeah, I'm adding little bits more into Stormlight, but that's inevitable because so much will take place in Shadesmar, which by it's nature is far more cosmere-aware, and so we're going to have to do more things the further Stormlight gets and the further Mistborn gets, because it will become inevitable. And that's fine, I'm embracing that. The further we go in the cosmere, the more you're going to have to be on board for the idea of the crossovers working. But I don't want the initial books that you get into to have to be like that. I was very intentional with my light touch on those early cosmere books and I wouldn't go back and add more. Even Way of Kings, right? Has what has Hoid and Felt in it, and that's just about it.

Chaos

Felt's in Words of Radiance.

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, is he in Words of Radiance? He's not even in Way of Kings.

Several Questioners

*talking over each other*

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, you saw Galladon, you saw the seventeenth shard. So there's like one scene in the whole book, maybe two, depending, but Hoid isn't even very Hoid-like in that first one. It's the second one where he mentions Adonalsium and stuff—

Several Questioners

*correct the previous statement*

Brandon Sanderson

Is it the first one? It's the first one. It's that party at the thing with Dalinar. So there's two scenes in Way of Kings, and that's very intentional. By the time we get to the second stage Stormlight books, and the fourth stage Mistborn books, you'll just have to be on-board. But by then you're entrenched. If you're reading Stormlight seven, then the Stormlight series is already longer than everything else, so you might as well just've read everything else.

Calamity Seattle signing ()
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Questioner

So, one of the things I know, you have your own universe that you've produced, and it's fantastic. what's the series you're gonna create or have created that's the cornerstone, that will have the largest impact on the universe.

Brandon Sanderson

I would say Mistborn going all the way through is probably the most impact. Stormlight is gonna have a decent one, so is the Elantris world.

Questioner

Is there gonna be a union book or series?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, the final Mistborn series.

/r/fantasy AMA 2011 ()
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Renian

When will we see a book that basically revolves around the concept of the Cosmere and the shard-travelers? Basically, a book revolving around people like Hoid who can jump from shard to shard.

Brandon Sanderson

Third Mistborn Trilogy involves a lot of this. I MIGHT do some parallel stories showing more of what Hoid has been up to. He is a primary viewpoint protagonist of Dragonsteel, but that happens before all of the other books.

Firefight San Francisco signing ()
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Questioner

How far ahead in the timeline is Sixth of Dusk?

Brandon Sanderson

Pretty far.

Questioner

Can I have a general--

Brandon Sanderson

Most people that I'm writing about now are dead.

Questioner

Is it up into the third trilogy of Mistborn?

Brandon Sanderson

It is that era, yes.

Questioner

Sweet! That's what I thought.

Brandon Sanderson

It might be a little bit before that trilogy, but it's that era.

Stuttgart signing ()
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Sorana (paraphrased)

Do you have any tips regarding drawing the symbols/glyphs?

Isaac (paraphrased)

I always have to copy them myself. I did design a handscript of the Allomantic symbols. You might get to see them later.

Paleo (paraphrased)

Will the Steel Alphabet change further with the later eras of Mistborn?

Isaac (paraphrased)

Yes, it will. I've already got some designs that look very sci-fi-y.

Oathbringer release party ()
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Questioner

I know Dragonsteel is going to have, like, [Hoid] as a main character in the series, or at least a more prominent character. Is there any other book series that are planned that are gonna have him as a more prominent figure?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

And are those gonna come before or after?

Brandon Sanderson

After.

/r/fantasy AMA 2011 ()
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Quafe

You have, undoubtedly, mastered the fantasy genre. Do you ever see yourself writing science fiction?

I ask because I remember reading two or three years ago on TWG that your plan is to make the second Mistborn trilogy set in a steampunk/industrialized world and the third and final trilogy in a more sci-fi setting. So I'm just wondering if that plan still holds.

Brandon Sanderson

I do plan to do SF in the future. The final Mistborn trilogy will indeed be sf, with a deep understanding of Allomancy and Feruchemy having allowed them to figure out a method of FTL travel. I also have a space opera I've been wanting to write. So far, no time.

ICon 2019 ()
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Questioner

So, yesterday on the metal panel, you talked about how creating aluminum revolutionized our society. So ever since yesterday, I wondered if you one day can see some kind of... like you know, the Empire from Star Wars? Like, a society like that, probably from Scadrial that is made entirely out of aluminum and things of that nature.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, I totally can. Absolutely, I can see that and it's going to be pretty cool, if I can get it all to work.

Barnes & Noble B-Fest 2016 ()
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Questioner

Secret history gave a lot of answers but a lot more questions. Will we get more answers in the next Mistborn book?

Brandon Sanderson

The next Mistborn book will have some answers but not Secret History level answers. It is still mostly focused on Wax and Wayne, Steris and Marasi, and finishing up their stories. By the time we get to third era Mistborn we are gonna start seeing a lot more creep in of some of this stuff. Its really fourth era were gonna see the most. The further we go in the Cosmere the more things will creep in. Mistborn; there be a lot more creeping in than in Way of Kings.

17th Shard Forum Q&A ()
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Arcanist

When will be see the whole Cosmere-concept (Shards, the plans of Hoid) at the level of the books? In the third Mistborn trilogy or earlier? In which books do you plan to finish the "hidden story" which connects all your earlier books?

Brandon Sanderson

Third Mistborn Trilogy will certainly include some of this. We shall see if I do any of Hoid's stories before then.

Barnes & Noble B-Fest 2016 ()
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Questioner

Can we expect a Cosmere Avengers?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes and no. You can expect crossovers between the planets. My goal is not an Avengers-style, one character that you... like, if it were a true Cosmere Avengers it would be like, "Oh, we're going to have this character from this series, this character from this series," that's not what I'm going for. I'm going for more of a clash between the cultures and worlds. There will definitely be characters that you know that end up involved in that. But it's not, I'm not shooting for an Avengers-style thing, I'm shooting for more... It's more like imagine Star Trek, and retrograde back to all of the stories you're telling on the separate planets before they meet each other. Less Avengers, more "We're going to have an intergalactic... thing, going on." These are all of the origins of the cultures and peoples that are going to be involved in that. And since there are some immortals around, you will see people.

/r/fantasy AMA 2017 ()
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quadquapters

I was surprised when I learned just how much more Mistborn you're planning on writing, and was even more surprised when I heard that the Wax and Wayne quadrilogy was only a spin-off and not part of your major plans for the series. But now I've found out you've decided to include those books as a major part of the larger series and instead do 4 different stories within it. Will this mean the next part (which I understood was going to take place in the more or less present) will be further into the future so as to space out each story? And what was the reasoning behind including Wax and Wayne in the main series?

Brandon Sanderson

I changed my opinions on Wax and Wayne after writing the first book, then outlining books 2-4 (which are a kind of "Trilogy" with these characters, when the first book was an experiment.)

I realized that the next era (which is still 1980's level technology) would work way better with some foundations in the W&W era. I'm very pleased what this did to Era Three, as it now is (1980s), because of the foundations in Era Two.

And yes, the next series will each go further into the future.

Salt Lake City Comic-Con 2014 ()
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Questioner

How many of the Mistborn do you plan on writing still?

Brandon Sanderson

Mistborn, when I pitched it to my editor, I pitched it as a spectrum running from an epic fantasy series eventually arriving at a space opera, with Allomancers on spaceships. So we have several hundred more years of history. So right now I'm doing a few more Wax and Wayne books, the Alloy of Law era. Then we will jump forward, I've got a modern trilogy that's going to be like 1980's level technology. And then maybe near-future and then full-blown science fiction space opera.

Starsight Release Party ()
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Questioner

I was just going to ask if we're going to hear any more from First of the Sun.

Brandon Sanderson

I actually started writing a sequel story but it gives a lot away about Era 4 of Mistborn. I'm like, "I don't know if I can do this."

Questioner

So we'll just wait a little bit.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. We'll see if Peter thinks I'm giving away too many things. Like I don't want to give away endings of like the Stormlight Archive in the short story and so I have to be careful about those things.

/r/fantasy AMA 2017 ()
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CoffeeArchives

Starting with the Cosmere, and now with Apocalypse Guard, it's clear that you love shared universes. If all of your works were in the same universe, what would be the most fun crossover to write?

Brandon Sanderson

Hmmm... It's probably the cosmere all-world mashup I'm actually planning to do in the future.

Shadows of Self San Francisco signing ()
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Questioner

The whole Cosmere thing, is there an end to it, and do you have a specific year in mind for when that will be?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, there is an end. Here’s what has to be happen before I finish it. We have to do another two Mistborn trilogies, The Stormlight Archive, at least three Dragonsteel novels. That’s the soonest I can do. I’ll probably have to do a few more Elantris and Warbreaker, but that’s the minimum. Because the third Mistborn trilogy is where we bring things to a head.

Words of Radiance San Diego signing ()
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Questioner (paraphrased)

When are we first getting a look at the cosmere coming together?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

The third Mistborn trilogy is going to involve--it's the first one I planned to do a lot with. I doubt I will do much in the second Mistborn trilogy, more than I probably have done [so far]. It's fun for me, so I'll keep including things in. You'll notice that Hoid is a bigger part of the Stormlight than previous ones, but I still don't want it to come to the forefront quite yet.

Words of Radiance release party ()
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Questioner

I was wonder when all the continuity will come together?

Brandon Sanderson

You'll see it coming together all through the series. But the series that's really important for that is the third Mistborn trilogy.

So when I pitched Mistborn to my editor. This was years ago, almost ten years ago now. I sent him Elantris. It sat on his desk for eighteen months. He finally read it, called me the next day, and is like, "I need to buy this!" I'm like, "Great, finally." This was the early days, when I was trying to break in. He said, "What else do you have?" And I sent him The Way of Kings. And then he called me terrified. Because, if you don't know the story, The Way of Kings was the book that I wrote after I just assumed no one was ever going to publish me. I was sending out books and getting rejected. My thirteenth novel (I had written thirteen unpublished books), and I'm like, "No one's gonna publish me. They're telling me my books are too long. I'm gonna write one that's even longer. That has all this screwy stuff. And it's gonna be, like, my opus. And it's gonna be my 'Too bad for you guys you'll never publish this.'" And then someone wanted to buy my books. And I'm like, "Oh, great." And so I sent them Way of Kings, and he was just like, "What do we do with it? This is awesome, but I can't publish this by a new author." Because, if you look at The Way of Kings, the endpages, those cost a lot of money per copy to print. The nice paper we use so you can see the artwork costs a lot of money as well. Every copy costs a little bit extra. And that really cuts into the publisher's profit. And so they need to be printing a lot of copies for it to justify itself. That's basic economics, right? So, for a new author, either I had to decide to cut it and not include all this artwork, or I had to do something else.

So I said, "I've got this idea," and I pitched him Mistborn. And my idea on Mistborn was that it was going to be a set of three trilogies. An epic fantasy trilogy, a contemporary modern-day trilogy, and a science fiction trilogy set in the same world where the magic had become the means by which space travel happened. And so, I built into the magic systems space travel. Which is another discussion. I won't talk about that one. So, I pitched him this grand epic of nine books. Which the Wax and Wayne books are not part of, by the way. They are just me having fun with the world. So, you will eventually get to the official third Mistborn trilogy, which is a space opera. Science fiction. And then you will start to see a lot of things coming together that have been seeded for a long, long time.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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Tetau

As far as I aware, Skyward is your first attempt to write techno fantasy. Will this new experience be useful for Mistborn 3 and 4, which is supposed to be a sci fi?

Brandon Sanderson

I think it will help a little--but not a ton, as the real challenge to Mistborn Eras three and four is going to be making good on the promises of the earlier trilogies, and using them well. They will need to be more "hard" SF than Skyward, except with made-up science.

Skyward, I could create what I needed from the technology specifically to fit this story. (For the most part.)

/r/fantasy AMA 2017 ()
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Oversleep

I know the Fourth Mistborn Era is to be sci-fi and FTL... but would we get some cyberpunk Scadrial at all? Because from what I gather it sounds like only space faring and travelling to other worlds.

Brandon Sanderson

I've toyed with a cyberpunk era Mistborn. It will depend on how quickly I move getting through the series.

/r/fantasy AMA 2017 ()
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CatGrylls

Have you written/will you write something equivalent to the Silmarillion for the cosmere?

Brandon Sanderson

It's not impossible, but I'm not planning on it currently. There WILL be a prequel series, dealing with the events leading to the shattering of Adonalsium, but will focus mostly on Hoid and not really be equivalent.

baytepp92

Is that planned to be completed/released after the main overall Cosmere story is completed? Or will it lead up to the finale of the main Cosmere stories?

Peter Ahlstrom

It will lead up to the finale.

/r/fantasy AMA 2011 ()
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sandersonfan

I've read that you were thinking of 32-36 books total for the Cosmere, but it seems like the series are going to go beyond that if numbers you've given before are published (e.g. Mistborn being a trilogy of trilogies so 9, Stormlight Archive 10, Warbreaker 2, Dragonsteel 6 or 7, and still White Sand and others to come) so has the estimate of 32 been thrown out the window?

Brandon Sanderson

Eh...I don't know. My original breakdown:

Mistborn 9 Wabreaker 2 Elantris 3 White Sand 3 Stormlight 10 Silence Divine 1 Dragonsteel 7 (A two book and a five book.)

That's the 32, with allowances for a few side stories to get us to 36. There are planets not included in that, however, that I may write stories about. So maybe. But the core cycle is this (in order)

Dragonsteel Mistborn first trilogy Stormlight - Mistborn second trilogy (around the same time.) Mistborn third trilogy.

Everything else is important in their own stories, but as we're talking about the connections between the worlds are considered, this is the prime cosmere cycle.

Firefight Seattle UBooks signing ()
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Questioner

In Sixth of the Dusk, it feels like it's a crossover...

Brandon Sanderson

That is true.

Questioner

So is it a planet that we've seen before, or...

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. Well, you have seen the people they are calling the "Ones Above".

Questioner

And you're not going to tell any more?

Brandon Sanderson

Nope.

Questioner

When will we know?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, fifteen years maybe? Hopefully it won't take me that long, but I only just finished the outlines for Era 3 Mistborn, which is now what we're calling the 1980s, so I haven't even at the moment got the sketches of the sci-fi one, I don't have the outlines and things. So in other words, we aren't to the science fiction era; we're a ways off from that.