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/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#1 Copy

Thadamin

How important are bonds like the Nahel Bond and a seon bond in the Cosmere?

Brandon Sanderson

I'd say very important.

Thadamin

Is this kind of bond relatively common or is what seons, spren, and Nightblood do little more rare among Splinters. I'm specifically talking about the act of making bonds not a giving of magic powers really, that appearing to be function of Roshar. Also regarding your post about Stormlight 3 I am personally okay with 2000 pages if need be so make the chapters as long as you want.:)

Brandon Sanderson

The bonding is basically the same mechanic, regardless of the world, just with different flavoring. Roshar isn't the only place where the bond gives powers; it's a matter of what's stuffed into the soul, and how.

Orem signing 2014 ()
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Questioner (paraphrased)

How do spren choose what human they'll bond with?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Well, it depends on the spren type. There's some spren that choose on their own, while there's other spren where it's done by committee. Wyndle, Lift's spren was placed with Lift by a committee. It's a culture difference. Some are free-spirited, others more organized.

Oathbringer Leeds signing ()
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Questioner 1

Do all Soulcasters risk turning into the element or is it only those using the device?

Brandon Sanderson

All Soulcasters have an affinity but the ones using the device are locked down much more than the Soulcasters who are Knights Radiant.

Questioner 1

So they are protected from being turned into--

Brandon Sanderson

Oh no they-- I wouldn't say protected... *clarificaiton* Protected is the wrong term but that event, the savanthood and how it affects them and things like that is much less pronounced if you are a [Knight].

Questioner 1

Or is that counteracted by the healing as well?

Brandon Sanderson

Healing doesn't have to do with it because-- in cosmere terms there's nothing wrong with your body, your spirit is actually drifting, and so it's not hurting you physically by what's happening with the magics. So it's not the healing but if you have an active bond with a spren it takes a little different path. Let's just say, in simple terms--

Questioner 1

You are not losing body parts to smoke.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, you are not using body parts to smoke. 

Questioner 1

What timeframe does it happen for the normal Soulcasters then?

Brandon Sanderson

For normal Soulcasters? It takes-- I mean, you've seen it happening in the books. We are talking [about] a process of years even decades, depending on the person. It happens to some--

Questioner 2

Depending on how often they Soulcast?

Brandon Sanderson

It depends on how often they Soulcast, and it depends on the person. 

Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
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Questioner

When you get, like, bonded with a spren-- the type of spren that is bonded to you, it depends on your personality and beliefs, right?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, mmhmm. The spren kind of choose, but they-- It's not a hundred percent choice. More like if they're drawn to it, things like that. So who you are, what your beliefs are, what your kind of moral code is can influence what type of spren you would get.

Arcanum Unbounded Hoboken signing ()
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yulerule (Paraphrased)

I also asked about the connection between the spren and Surgebinder, such that the spren turns into what the Surgebinder wants. Like in Edgedancer, [Wyndle] turns into a bar of metal and into a Shardfork. Wyndle himself isn't "in tune" with Lift, so his turning into something that she needs with no prior warning...

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, they actually mix. When the bonding is happening, what's happening is that the gaps in the souls are being filled with the spren's <essence>. And they are actually melding into one 

yulerule

*inaudible*

Brandon Sanderson

And they are actually melding into one individual *inaudible*.

yulerule

<And the minds are separate?>

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, mhm.

Skyward Houston signing ()
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Questioner

In the reading that you did, the Nahel bond, has it changed?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. So, spren were added, and things like that. What he had would still be called a Nahel bond. A Nahel bond in the original definition means bond to divinity, but that's come to encompass a lot more in the cosmere, any time you're bonding with-- the bond between a soul and Investiture. But in the original version, it was more only with a Shard of Adonalsium or something like that.

General Twitter 2018 ()
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Jack Eaton

Can Hemalurgy steal a Nahel bond? And if so, would that bond be unbreakable for as long as the spike was implanted.

Brandon Sanderson

This is a very dangerous and frightening thing in the cosmere, but it is possible--and the implications of it are something I intend to cover eventually in the books.

Words of Radiance Chicago signing ()
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Questioner

The Nahel bond, what determines whether you get a Cryptic or an honorspren?

Brandon Sanderson

The spren themselves.

Questioner

So it doesn't have to do with the Orders of the Knights Radiant?

Brandon Sanderson

If you match, you have to attract the spren, the same way you attract emotionspren, you have to attract the right spren for the Order.

Skyward Seattle signing ()
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Questioner 1

Can people not from Roshar bond with spren and get the Shardplate and whatnot?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO. Well, okay. You don't need me to RAFO on that. You have seen someone not from Roshar bond a spren. You have seen that much happen.

Questioner 2

We know for sure that Hoid is a Lightweaver.

Questioner 1

Do we know that?

Brandon Sanderson

Hoid has bonded a spren.

Stormlight Three Update #3 ()
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fangorn

So, if a bonded human were to decide for whatever reason that he/she wanted to retire from being a Radiant, is it possible to do that or is the Nahel bond a lifetime gig?

For example, say Kaladin felt he could no longer uphold the requirements of being bonded to Syl, or eventually he just got old or worn out.

Brandon Sanderson

Retiring from the bond is possible under mechanics I haven't talked about yet in the series.

Skyward Denver signing ()
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Questioner

[If someone were] born like Vin, could they bond a spren, before they're even cognizant? 'Cause it's about being broken, right? So, I don't know if it's the same brokenness that Vin had from just being born.

Brandon Sanderson

Different spren will view this differently, and different people view the way that the Nahel bond works differently. So, Vin would certainly have been of interest to a number of spren.

RoW Release Party ()
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Questioner

Can a Radiant join multiple Orders?

Brandon Sanderson

This was not done in the past.

Questioner

Or become a squire of a different Order?

Brandon Sanderson

It is actually not impossible for this to happen; it simply was not done.

Questioner

If Dalinar became a Lighweaver squire or had the Lightweaver Honorblade, could he create the Roshar map himself?

Brandon Sanderson

This is going to depend on factors. It is possible, but highly implausible, following another highly implausible set of circumstances that would actually allow him to actually do that. (Though getting the Honorblade would not be as difficult.)

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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Phantine

So you said how stuff is stuffed into the soul changes what a bond can give. Is that like the difference between a Spren bonding a Person and and maybe Hemalurgy forcing a bond or is it more like the difference with how Parshendi form bonds with Spren?

I guess a better way to say that is would the bond be different if a human created the bond with a Spren not a Spren Bonding with a human?

Brandon Sanderson

These things are all important parts of the system, and I'm curious to see where fans go in exploring the possibilities and theories related to it.

...

RAFO

OdysseyCon 2016 ()
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Questioner

So there are some forms of Investiture that some people can access regardless: like BioChromatic Breath, but there are some that are not like Allomancy—and there are a few exceptions of course—but are there other ways besides [hemalurgic] spikes that you can access investiture from different worlds?

Brandon Sanderson

Like if an Elantrian went to-

Brandon Sanderson

If you can blank your Identity and create the right Connection you can have it happen.

Questioner

If an Elantrian showed up on Roshar, they wouldn't bond with a spren?

Brandon Sanderson

They can bond with a spren, the spren is up to the spren's choice. The spren can bond with whoever they choose to bond with.

Skyward release party ()
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Ethour

Would an Aviar be capable of a spren bond?

Brandon Sanderson

What they do is the same thing, by cosmere terms. It is not as powerful; because of that it is easier to shift between people. What you gain is not as strong, but you also gain flexibility. But it would be, cosmerologically, considered the same thing.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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Miss_Silver

First on Nahel bonds and a bit of a darker question. We know from Syl that if their bonded person is killed in some way, the spren does not die like they do when one breaks their Oaths. However, would Oaths count as being broken if the Radiant committed suicide? Were there any Radiants during the Recreance who did in an effort to spare their spren?

Brandon Sanderson

This would be an individual case basis, but I would say that the baseline is no--this alone wouldn't count as breaking the oaths, but getting around the issue of that specific event wouldn't work.

Starsight Release Party ()
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Questioner

I'm sensing a subtle metaphor between all of the Radiants, where it seems like their lives have caused them to be pressurized gems and now they get the cut from their Oaths. 

Brandon Sanderson

Nice job. Yeah.

Questioner

They're holding Stormlight better when they do that, right?

Brandon Sanderson

They are indeed.

YouTube Livestream 23 ()
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Tom Goldthwait

At any point in the Rosharan history, was it possible to form a Nahel bond without swearing oaths?

Brandon Sanderson

"Nahel bond" is the phrase used for a bond between a spren and a being from the Physical Realm. That is the definition of it. So the answer to that is yes; it's currently possible right now. It's how greatshells exist and grow to the size they do. It's how Ryshadium exist. Those are Nahel bonds also.

What you're asking is if a sapient spren, a spren and a sapient individual, forming what we currently call the Radiant bond, which has access to much greater power; was that possible without swearing oaths? Yes and no. The formalization of the oaths and the Orders aligned with certain spren did take a little bit of time to come together. It was possible to form a Nahel bond before that, but it was not a Radiant bond accessing the levels of powers that are currently possible. So it's another one of these "yes and no" answers, if that makes any sense.

You could find a Nahel bond... In fact, many would call the bond between the singers and the spren that give them forms Nahel bonds. It may not fit fully into the categorization that most people would use it for, but you could kinda call that the same thing.

Oathbringer Chicago signing ()
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Questioner

So, if you could take, whether capture or talk into a Radiant spren from Roshar that was no longer bonded to a Radiant, from Roshar to Nalthis, could you bond that spren to an awakened object? Could you take a spren from Roshar and either force it to or talk it into bonding an awakened object on Nalthis? 

Brandon Sanderson

Oh boy. That'd be really hard. 

Words of Radiance Philadelphia signing ()
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Questioner

We were talking that it's kind of a shame that Dalinar doesn't have his own "real" spren. I think it's an upgrade, is there a way I should think of this? Is it a cool thing or a bad thing?

Brandon Sanderson

This is a very cool thing, but it's also a very dangerous thing.

Questioner

Well [the Stormfather] controls the highstorms ... follow-up question: if he dies, does that affect the spren?

Brandon Sanderson

Dying, as long as the oaths are not broken, does not affect the spren in a very terrible way. There are effects.

Dark Talent release party ()
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Djarskublar (paraphrased)

So I could be wrong, but a Hemalurgic spike, when you use it and become a savant it does damage to your Spiritweb, right?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yes Hemalurgy always hurts you.

Djarskublar (paraphrased)

So say you go to Roshar and you give somebody a Hemalurgic spike for some Allomantic power, don't care what, and you use it to become a savant. Does that qualify them as 'broken' enough to become a Radiant? As long as they are also following the Ideals to attract a spren.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

So becoming a Radiant is a spectrum of terminologies. It... probably, but you would have to find a Radiant who would, or a spren who would be willing to touch that, okay? It's going to drive them back.

Djarskublar (paraphrased)

So would it also affect your probability of becoming an Elantrian?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yeah it would affect your ability to become anything else, yes.

Djarskublar (paraphrased)

Okay, so would it be a positive effect, negative effect...? Because I was like, it gives you cracks in your Spiritweb.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

It does give you cracks in your Spiritweb.

Djarskublar (paraphrased)

So it's easier for Investiture to get in. Does it make it easier for other Investitures to get in?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

It would make it... yes. It's going to drive spren away. So what it's really going to make easier for, there, is spren and Investiture that doesn't care.

Djarskublar (paraphrased)

Okay, so Investiture doesn't care but spren do.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Investiture might care depending on if it's part of a Shard-- if it has intent and things like this.

Djarskublar (paraphrased)

So it might let Stormlight in easier than a Breath, type thing.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

I'm saying it might let Odium in easier than Syl. Because Syl would care, and Odium would not care.

Djarskublar (paraphrased)

Okay cool.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Alright, so it could be a really bad thing, is what I'm trying to say to you.

Djarskublar (paraphrased)

Yeah that's cool. I just want to know more about gold too. Gold Allomancy too. Because Miles was doing some funky stuff.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Miles was doing some funky stuff.

EuroCon 2016 ()
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Questioner

Hi. I have two questions about the Cosmere. The first one is if a Radiant can have a bond with two spren, and the other one is if Truthwatcher spren are related directly with Cultivation or the Nightwatcher?

Brandon Sanderson

Okay, so RAFO on if a Knight Radiant can have two spren. But the second question was, "Are spren of Cultivation?" One more time?

Questioner

If the spren of the Truthwatchers are related directly with Cultivation or the Nightwatcher? Or both?

Brandon Sanderson

So, most of the sapient spren that form the Orders of Knights Radiant are related to a mixture of Honor and Cultivation. Some lean one direction much more than the other, and the spren of the Truthwatchers leans toward Cultivation.

GollanczFest London ()
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Havoc (paraphrased)

In Way of Kings, Shallan is being chased by Cryptics. She begins to summon her Shardblade, stops and then Soulcasts for the first time. We know from Words of Radiance that it's her bond to Pattern, her Shardblade that allows her to Soulcast. So my question is, if Shallan had not begun to summon her Blade, would she have been able to Soulcast?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

She would not have been able to. Good question! Wow. No one has ever asked me that before.

JordanCon 2016 ()
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PallonianFire

If a Shard were to heal the cracks in someone's spiritweb, like Sazed did with Spook, and that person who was getting healed has a Nahel bond, would that break the bond?

Brandon Sanderson

No, because the Nahel bond is already filling in those cracks, so you would have to rip it off to put something else in there.

PallonianFire

So it wouldn't really be-- the Shard wouldn't be able to heal--

Brandon Sanderson

Well, the Shard-- Like, here's the thing we have to get at with this, what we're getting at, which is the question of, for instance, is Kaladin's depression a flaw in him that needs to be healed? And that is a question for philosophers. There are certainly people, cosmere and outside the cosmere, that say "Yes, this needs to be healed" and things like this. But what about somebody who's-- say, someone who is autistic, and their mind just works in a different way, and this way allows a certain bond to happen that couldn't otherwise happen? Is that a flaw, or is that-- is it a bug or a feature, to speak in coding terms? Is what's up with Kaladin a bug or a feature? I know that my wife would probably get rid of her depression if she could, but it's also been fundamental in how she sees the world and who she is, would that change her into a different person? And things like this. So, I want you when you discuss this, to be very careful about treating mental illness as a flaw as opposed to an aspect of a human personality that allows certain different things to happen. Does that make sense? *applause*

PallonianFire

The way I was sort of thinking, was, could Odium say, "Oh, I'm just going to fix this" and then you can't Surgebind anymore?

Brandon Sanderson

Right, right, yeah. If he-- if there w-- that is possible, but it would be hard to do without the consent of the person, but that is possible… You can fix somebody in a way that they didn't want to be fixed, and it would ruin things.

Stormlight Three Update #3 ()
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twixttwists

What would happen to Syl, say, if Kaladin dies? Can she transfer the bond to someone else?

Brandon Sanderson

So long as Kaladin did not forsake his oaths, Syl would be traumatized (as one might imagine) but be capable of forming another bond.

twixttwists

Good to know she can form another bond. I'm guessing she'll be a little more mindless in the interim, though? 

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, without a strong tie to the Physical realm, she would have trouble thinking here if she pulled through to exist here.

Words of Radiance Philadelphia signing ()
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Questioner

When does a person become a Surgebinder? Cause Kaladin talks about when he was a child, talked about it being a familiar feeling, and Shallan obviously was younger. Or is it when they speak the Words?

Brandon Sanderson

The bond starts forming before the Words are spoken, but if the words are never spoken that bond will eventually evaporate and get broken. But the bond will start forming before. Just like an emotion attracts a spren, acting in the way that the spren you would eventually bond will start drawing them toward you and that will start to create that bond.

Words of Radiance Houston signing ()
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Questioner (paraphrased)

How about the other way around? Can a Parshendi bond a Knights Radiant spren?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Historically, the Parshendi were not made Knights Radiant, or the parshmen weren't.

Questioner (paraphrased)

Can they become squires maybe?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Historically they did not, but it's not impossible.

General Reddit 2016 ()
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PG_Wednesday

[WoB compilation about spren]

Brandon Sanderson

Hmm. With a casual glance, I see at least one here that I might have been fixated on a question that wasn't actually being asked. I do this occasionally, particularly at signings, where we're going so fast and I think someone is asking something that they're not.

In regards to there being spren bonds before the Last Desolation--there obviously were. (We see Knights Radiant in Dalinar flashbacks that are before the Last Desolation.) I think I was trying to talk my way around a different question, without giving RAFO answers, that I'm not going to get into now.

Another sketchy one on this list is regarding whether the spren call the nightwatcher Mother or if they're calling cultivation Mother. I don't think the text of the books actually implies either way, despite what I said. (Unless I'm forgetting something.) For those in the know, with the Nightwatcher being an analogue of the Stormfather, that implication is there--but I don't want to confirm it either way. You'll get more on the Nightwatcher and Cultivation, and their relationship, in the books.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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Argent

How old would you say somebody has to be in order to attract a spren (with bonding intentions)? I can't imagine infants performing anything remarkable enough, but what about, say, 5-6 year olds? I could easily imagine them being selfless and protecting in their own little way - does this mean we can have children who can barely speak well Lashing their breakfast to the ceiling?

Brandon Sanderson

Someone like Lift is near the lower threshold, though it does depend on the spren in question.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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Extesian

Simple, harmless, totally non-contro one. Can a spren unilaterally sever a Nahel bond (i.e. where the Radiant doesn't agree and hasn't technically, according to spren and Radiant, broken an oath)?

Brandon Sanderson

Yup, no controversy here at all.

This is possible. But I'm not going to go into the mechanics.

Skyward Chicago signing ()
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Questioner

Why is it called a Nahel bond?

Brandon Sanderson

That is a word in Rosharan. I'm not sure what it meant in 2002, but it basically just means "the bond to divinity." I'm not sure what the 2002 version of the linguistics played out as. I actually just called it Nahel in the original draft. I added "bond" in as I prepared this [Way of Kings Prime excerpt] for reading so it would make more sense to people.