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General Twitter 2018 ()
#2 Copy

Alvaro Lopez

Why Odium is stronger and worst evil than Ruin?

Brandon Sanderson

One reason is that Ruin had a person in control of it who, for many years, fought against the impulse to destroy--and in the end, channeled it toward entropy and decay, necessary elements of the universe. Odium represents something else entirely.

Shardcast Interview ()
#3 Copy

Ian Weiry Writer

You killed Rayse this book. Could you talk about why you decided to kill him off, and have Taravangian be Odium instead. Was that always part of the plan?

Brandon Sanderson

I always work in a way where I have different options and opportunities. Was it always the thing that I was absolutely going to do? No, I keep myself open on some of these things. 

The reason Rayse needed to go: he had been essentially defeated at the end of Oathbringer, when Dalinar does not go over to him. All of his rage, and everything he's trying to do cannot make that happen. He's defeated, at least in a philosophical sense. Now you can bring a defeated enemy back to be a threat again. You can find a new way to make them a threat, but I knew - in this book - Kaladin was not going to fall to him either. But once you've had two books in a row with the characters machinations not - things stymied by the heroes. I needed a different villain at that point.

And I also think that [al]though a lot of deep into the cosmere people are interested in the original Shards and getting their stories, for the average reader Taravangian is a much more identifiable villain. And I've been building him from book one to be not just really scary, but a philosophical opposite to Dalinar. These are all the reasons this book needed to go the way it did.

It has benefits and costs. The cost is Odium stops being the evil you don't know. The evil you don't know is a very powerful force in fantasy literature. The evil you do know does different things. And I lose that evil you don't know though you still have a bit of it, because the power of Odium - the Shard itself - I wouldn't say has volition completely, but it's still there and its a thing. It is constrained by Taravangian and directed by Taravangian, but it's the rage of a deity separated from its morals should be a scary thing. In the hands of someone who is essentially a fallible mortal, should be an even more scary thing. Rayse had gotten to the point where I no longer felt - if I was going to write the books the way I did. This basically became inevitable when I swapped and made Dalinar's book book three. [host reactions: OHhh sure!] I knew something big needed to shift, but fortunately I had several options. There is a version of The Stormlight Archive, where this doesn't happen. I think it's a worse version, but until something is written no matter how much something is in the outline, it's not canon even to me. I like to be willing to reassess what I'm doing.

Talking the other direction, the foreshadowing I put in the books the more I foreshadow, the more I do, the more that locks in what I need to do going forward, because I don't want to undermine that foreshadowing. 

There's a longwinded perhaps a little wishy washy answer to you. I can tell you why I made the decision, but I can't - the outlines are these things that are really organic, because I'm always working on them, and will often have lots of division points, these are different places it can go - because of the way I write characters.

I'm sure this will cause contention. But I did not decide in the original outline, who Shallan would end up with, or who anyone would end up with. I write character relationships as I feel they are appropriate on the page, and I revise the outline to match from that how things are feeling and how it's going. I know there are some shippers out there who are like 'that means there was a version of the ship I wanted, and you didn't do it. It was the nefarious beta readers who forced you not to! [Chaos denies] It was ?Calin's fault!' [hosts laugh]. I'm sure you've heard that before. I don't want to fuel that because these decisions are made not necessarily based on beta reader feedback. These decisions are made based on me giving life to the characters, and feeling where I feel they would legitimately they would go. And rebuilding my outline to match.

While I outline a lot more than my contemporaries, I am not a slave to the outline. I will change major things such as moving Dalinar's flashback sequences to book three which had ramifications all down the line. Or deciding I need to do more with Eshonai and Venli earlier in the series, which had other ramifications to their viewpoints later on because I feel it makes the best story.

Idaho Falls signing ()
#4 Copy

Valhalla (paraphrased)

Did Odium Splinter all the Shards for the same reason?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

No. Some Shards he Splintered because he feared the Shard itself, and some Shards he targeted because he feared the Vessel. He was working his way down his list in order of the Shards and Vessels he felt would be most dangerous to his plans until he got stuck on Roshar.

General Reddit 2016 ()
#5 Copy

faragorn

When I asked you during a signing about how Rayse took down the other shards, you RAFOd it. Was that because it will be explicitly covered at some point in the series, or more because the subject will affect things later (possibly vaguely answering my question) and you dont want the info to get out too early?

And can you give anything on when it might be touched on? Front five, back five, book five?

Brandon Sanderson

There are a ton of reasons, and you've touched on several. It will be touched on increasingly going forward, but I'm not going to say when (firmly) it will be discussed in depth.

General Reddit 2013 ()
#8 Copy

Autarchk

If I can ask a question, I just read the Mistborn trilogy and, were Preservation and Ruin two different shards or a single one with their power split somehow? If they were two shards, does that mean a single person can hold more than one, since Harmony apparently holds both now?

Brandon Sanderson

They were two shards.

Yes, one entity can hold more than one. Remember that holding a shard changes you, over time. Rayse knows this, and prefers to leave behind destroyed rivals as opposed to taking their power and potentially being overwhelmed by it.

Nepene

I have a question, if you are willing. Would Ruin be more compatible with Rayse, would he pick up that shard had he visited Scadrial and shattered him? All the shards we have seen that he has shattered seem rather different in intent than him- Honor, Cultivation, Love, Dominion. But Ruin seems more in line with Odium. Rayse has ruined the days of quite a few people.

Brandon Sanderson

Technically, Ruin would be most compatible with Cultivation. Ruin's 'theme' so to speak is that all things must age and pass. An embodiment of entropy. That power, separated from the whole and being held by a person who did not have the willpower to resist its transformation of him, led to something very dangerous. But it was not evil. None of the sixteen technically are, though you may have read that Hoid has specific beef with Rayse. Whether you think of Odium as evil depends upon how much you agree with Hoid's particular view.

That said, Ruin would have been one of the 'safer' of the sixteen for Rayse to take, if he'd been about that. Odium is by its nature selfish, however, and the combination of it and Rayse makes for an entity that fears an additional power would destroy it and make it into something else.

General Reddit 2021 ()
#10 Copy

Oversleep

Two characters who I believe Brandon absolutely butchered in terms of what their setup was and what happened to them.

[...]

Amaram. Suddenly, completely out of left field, Amaram has been talking to Odium, betrayed all he worked and believed in, sides with Odium... And becomes inhuman monster nobody will lose any sleep over getting rid of. Seriously, what the hell? 

Rayse. Similar complaint of setting someone up for one thing then just conveniently cutting out: Rayse. He's been set up, multiple times, in multiple books, by multiple characters, as the Big Bad (or at least close to it).

[...]

And after all that build up of Rayse and what he turned out to be... How am I supposed to believe Taravangian, the newest of the Vessels, is going to be any threat at all?

Brandon Sanderson

While I kind of agree on Amaram, I don't on Rayse--but it's useful for me to read this sort of thing.

The goal with Amaram was to finally let him be the monster on the outside he was on the inside--and so the sequence felt thematically right to me in outlining and writing. Since the publication, though, I've walked back this opinion somewhat. While the sequence works as intended, it's not quite right, and if I were doing the book over I'd try something different.

Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
#12 Copy

Questioner

Does Rayse have a personal... or did he have a personal relationship with the other [Vessels] before the Shattering?

Brandon Sanderson

Some of them, yes.

Questioner

So he doesn't personally know them all?

Brandon Sanderson

He knows them all, but "having a relationship with" is different. They were all in the same place.

Questioner

He knows who they are but he doesn't necessarily interact with them?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. Not necessarily. They weren't part of a homogenous group before this happened.