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Stormlight Three Update #6 ()
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Argent

When you say that the Returned are Cognitive Shadows, are they shadows of the people they were pre-death? In other words, is Lightsong Llarimar's Cognitive Shadow stapled to his body with a Divine Breath?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, they are. (The evidence in the books is Lightsong obtaining some of the memories his pre-death soul had.)

Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
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Jeremy_Carroll

How could Vasher become Drab, since he would have to give up his Big Breath to do so?

Brandon Sanderson

The Divine Breath can be hid. Essentially, you have to view yourself NOT as a god at all, using a very specific bit of mental gymnastics. As a Returned, your body changes based on how you see yourself. (This, by the way, is an indication that Lightsong was more pleased with himself than he ever let on.)

You don't lose your Divine Breath, but it does go into hiding, making you look like a normal person. But you're still Returned, and are consuming a Breath at one a week. If you give away your other Breaths, you retain this hidden one, but your body will still consume its own spirit if left to do so. So you still need a Breath a week to survive, and will die the week you don't get one.

I left this as an intentional place to explore the magic in the sequel, which I had planned to be writing (and posting on my website) by the time Warbreaker was out in stores. The WoT has diverted me, and so I feel bad, since this ends up being a confusing question that a number of readers have had. The hints toward how this is working are very difficult to find. (The biggest one is probably in the opening, where Vasher thinks about how he could reach the Fifth Heightening instantly, if he wanted to.)

Firefight Chicago signing ()
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Argent

Can a Returned like Lightsong go to Roshar and form a bond with a spren?

Brandon Sanderson

Investiture interferes with other Investiture.

Argent

And they have a lot of it.

Brandon Sanderson

And they have a lot of it. That is not-- It's not completely-- For instance you can Push on Invested metal, but it's hard. There's a resistance, the more Invested the harder-- So a bond for instance-- forming a bond-- It's, yeah-- It can be done--

I mean Sazed took two of the powers up, right? But I kind of imagine what he did as a nuclear reaction. Where breaking an atom is hard, unless you are in the middle of a sun. And he was in the middle of the sun. At that point--

Argent

There was a lot of stuff going on around him that facilitated.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, definitely. But when you've got that much power you'll-- In other words if there is a lot of power going around, these things become easier.

Argent

So, possible but difficult is--

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Words of Radiance Seattle signing ()
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Arbron

So how long has "Zahel the swordmaster" been slumming it on Roshar? I mean I don't know who that is obviously.

Brandon Sanderson

Zahel the swordmaster has been on Roshar for a long while at this point. There's something on Roshar that's very easy for him to get that's very hard in other places. And so, yeah.

Arbron

So he retains his previous abilities?

Brandon Sanderson

He was actually in the first draft in 2002. But yes there's something in Roshar that makes it better for him to be there.

Skyward San Diego signing ()
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Questioner

How many diamond chips does Zahel require to survive?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO. We will actually be releasing this pretty soon. But I actually have used my prerogative as a famous author to force some others to actually do the number crunching and the math of it. And so we will have a straight up unit measurement for you of various things coming up pretty soon. Once the number crunchers are done, you will know.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Forty-Seven

Calmseer

Calmseer was indeed a spectacularly good Returned—the last of the old guard, so to speak. She Returned, in fact, in order to save the life of her daughter. She of course forgot this once she got back.

She did complain about not being able to do enough for people, though she had that personality even before Returning. She was the self-sacrificing type who took care of those around her and always had a kindly attitude. She died from an illness she caught while caring for the sick family who lived next door to her. (They'd lost their father to the same illness, and while all eventually recovered, Calmseer herself came down with their disease and passed away from it.)

She didn't give up her Breath because of what Lightsong assumes, that she felt so guilty for not being able to do more for people. Instead, she saw her daughter come through the petitions line. The woman was brought by her husband, who felt he had no other option. His wife had the same disease Calmseer had. She remembered, at that moment, why she had come back—indeed, she remembered her entire life (that's common for Returned the moment before they give up their Breath)—and gave away her life to heal her daughter.

FanX 2021 ()
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Steeldancer

This is hypothetical, it probably wouldn't actually happen. If a Knight Radiant goes to Nalthis, dies, gets Returned...

Brandon Sanderson

It could happen.

Steeldancer

Would they retain their spren bond?

Brandon Sanderson

Probably not, would be my guess. I've never had that question before, but I'm gonna say no.

Words of Radiance Portland signing ()
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Kogiopsis

Since Returned come back as kind of an idealized form of themselves, if somebody was transgender in their original life would they Return as the sex they had been assigned the first time or the gender they identified as?

Brandon Sanderson

I would think that a transgendered person could definitely come back as how they identify. Perception is very important in these sorts of things. It would really depend on the person, but yes.

Bands of Mourning release party ()
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Questioner

Are Returned the same person-- like is a Returned the same person they were before they were alive or-- 'Cause it says in the book that it is a Shard that Awakens the body so is it the consciousness-- Well not the Shard--

Brandon Sanderson

It is the same soul.

Questioner

The same soul.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah.

Questioner

I was wondering if it was the consciousness of the Splinter.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah.

#tweettheauthor 2009 ()
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Graendal

A question that's been on my mind for a while. If Returned can't have children, how are Siri and Vivenna descended from one?

Brandon Sanderson

Excellent question. One I have to RAFO. When I was writing WRBRKR, I was planning on two books.

I seeded two questions to be answered in the next book. One was the origin of the royal family..

The second was how Vasher was able to survive while hiding his divine Breath. I will answer these questions.

Eventually. (It has to do with restoring Breath and life to the child while still in the womb.).

Goodreads Fantasy Book Discussion Warbreaker Q&A ()
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Gordon

The paintings (I think there were at least two, right?) that remind Lightsong of his dreams and the Manywar etc. Is the Artist someone we know? If not, will we eventually meet him/her in a later book? Does the artist hope to affect Lightsong this way, or is it just some guy giving abstract art to his God?

Jared

Is the artist that painted those paintings Hoid?

Brandon Sanderson

Hoid did not make the paintings. The goal of those paintings—and this is spoilery, by the way—the paintings are actually what the text implies that they are. They are abstract paintings which Lightsong, having a touch of the divine, is able to see and read into things that aren't necessarily there.

Beyond that, art is a magical thing in the world of WARBREAKER. When an artist creates a work of art, part of the artist's soul ends up in the artwork. Someone who has many breaths and who's Returned like Lightsong has the inherent ability to see into the art and perceive that. So Lightsong can interpret correctly an abstract piece, based on what the artist is trying to convey, in a way that a normal person couldn't.

I was not trying to make the artists anyone specifically important. In the case of those paintings, they are wonderful artists—I think they are two separate artists, if I'm thinking of the two paintings that you're indicating. As Lightsong has a splinter of divine nature inside him, he is able to interpret the paintings—to foresee, using them, and to see into the soul of the person who made them.

Skyward San Francisco signing ()
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Mr Fancy

The Returned. When they come back, they appear really attractive. Is that based on their own idea of what's attractive, or society?

Brandon Sanderson

It is going to be society. But they are definitely having an influence over it, so let me say both in that case... Yeah, there could be a short, bald one. That is totally viable, but it's maybe what the person views as a societal ideal, how about that, an easier way to explain that.

Salt Lake City ComicCon 2017 ()
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Questioner

Vasher is called the first Returned. Was he actually the first?

Brandon Sanderson

He is not the very first person to Return. The lore surrounding Vasher and the first Returned and things like that is not strict on the world. Meaning, it's been many, many years.

Footnote: The questioner appears to have conflated Vo, the First Returned, with Vasher.
DragonCon 2016 ()
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Trae

On the planet of Nalthis, the Warbreaker planet, is the method with which people are chosen as Returned an autonomous system that is not governed by intelligent entity?

Brandon Sanderson

No, good question. *laughter* I was hoping for one of those.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Forty-Four

Siri and Susebron Talk about How the Next God King is Created

Siri's impulse here—that the next God King might not really be the son of the current one—is a good one. She's actually right, though there are a lot of other things in this conversation she's wrong about.

It is possible for a Returned to have a child. Vo, the First Returned, did it. The God King isn't special in that he can do it; any of the Returned could, but it requires some special knowledge that—I'm afraid—I'll have to keep secret until the sequel. Suffice it to say that the priests know how it is done.

The problem is, they aren't always able to get this to work. Sometimes, they have to do what Siri guessed—replace the God King with an infant Returned. Infant Returns happen very infrequently. It's more rare than an adult Returning, so there is something sound to the Hallandren reasoning that you have to do something heroic in order to Return. (That's not true, but it is more sound a doctrine than Siri thinks it is.)

The God King's priests take an infant Returning as a sign that it's time to change God Kings. At that point, they choose a wife for the God King and hope that she'll be able to conceive the next God King. They'd much, much rather that the God King be the literal child of the previous God King. (Susebron wasn't, however. And his mother was indeed his mother, a poor merchant's wife from far northern Hallandren.)

Now, an infant has indeed Returned. The priests see this as a major vindication of their faith, as they made the wedding contract with Idris twenty years ago and now, just when the marriage was to happen, an infant Returned. The problem is, now they've got to push Siri to get pregnant, because they're on a deadline. They don't want to have to replace the God King with this infant; they'd rather use his own child. Hence the push for her to have a child.

But if she doesn't, they'll go with plan B. Note that there's not, in fact, any danger to her either way, no matter what Bluefingers says. She and Susebron, following the change in power, would have been taken to one of the isles in the middle of the Inner Sea and kept in a lavish lifestyle as long as they lived.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Vivenna and Siri Reunite; Vasher Shows Off His Returned Breath

I believe that this is the first time in the book that Vivenna and Siri talk to each other. (Weird, eh?) I knew I couldn't make their reunion very effusive, since they're both Idrians, and Siri has learned to control herself. Plus, the situation is very tense. (And beyond that, despite Vivenna's coming to rescue her sister, the two were never terribly close. They were sisters, but separated by five years or so.)

This chapter focuses on other things, primarily the changes in the God King's personality and the revelations about Vasher. For the first, I hope they are plausible. Remember, the God King has grown a lot with Siri's help. Beyond that, he's been trained to look regal and act like a king, even if he's not had any practice talking like one. I think he works well here, projecting more confidence and nobility than he really feels, speaking in ways that don't make him sound too stupid, yet still betraying an innocence.

The bigger surprise is Vasher's revelation about his nature. I almost didn't put this in the book, instead intending to hint at it and save it for the second book. The reason for this is that I knew it would be confusing.

The big question is, if Vasher is Returned, why can he give away his Breaths and Awaken things without killing himself?

The answer is simple, in many ways, but I'm not sure if I have the groundwork for it properly laid in the book. (Which is why I hesitated in explaining it.) Remember when Denth said that Awakening was all or nothing? Well, he lied. (I think you've figured this out now.) A very skilled Awakener can give away only part of their Breath. It depends on their Command visualizations. So Vasher needs to always give away everything except for that one Returned Breath that keeps him alive. As long as he has that one Breath (which he's learned to suppress and hide), he can stay alive.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Siri Enters and Sees Returned

Just a little note here. Returned live for eight days without a Breath, though the week is seven days long in this world. Why? Well, I figured that they'd need an extra day as leeway. On day seven, they start to grow weak and sluggish. If they don't consume a Breath, their body will consume their own on the eighth day of their life, and they'll die again.

In some parts of this world, Returned aren't worshipped, but instead seen as something akin to vampires. They draw in Breath to survive, and need a supply of people to feed off of. They tend to wear black, since it's the most powerful color for draining to Awaken things.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
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Kurkistan

So, could you give us some examples of how the ideals that spren represent work in other magic systems, like we have Forging where you get plausibility, or Returned how they're beautiful or any other systems?

Brandon Sanderson

Okay, one more time on that.

Kurkistan

Okay, so you know the ideals the spren are manifestations--

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Kurkistan

How-- Do those have impacts on other magic systems?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, yes, in the same way the Returned- that's the exact same system at work there.

Kurkistan

Is it the same reason why the Lord Ruler has to die of old age, and why you can't heal yourself into being an octopus or something?

Brandon Sanderson

Um... Yes, that is all connected in the exact same way.

Kurkistan

Okay, so it's all like these highfalutin Spiritual ideals?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Kurkistan

And are there like, median Cognitive ideals that gradually kind of influence these, or--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, they transcend between the three. I mean the original concept for the Three Realms is Platonic philosophy.

Kurkistan

So it goes up *makes absurd reverse-waterfall hand gesture*

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, it goes up and it comes back down. A lot of the Cognitive is-- So like, the Cognitive has a bigger effect on how you can heal and things like that. Does that make sense?

Kurkistan

Yeah.

Brandon Sanderson

But the power to heal is a actually a Spiritual thing.

Kurkistan

So it's like the Spiritual says "I want to be like this" and the Cognitive is like "Okay I'll try really hard to be like that, but I have a limit."

Brandon Sanderson

Right. Right. Filtered through how you see yourself, yeah.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Notice how he grows in size here when he isn't paying attention. That's his Returned nature beginning to manifest, much like Vivenna's hair reacts to her emotions, because of the moment of great passion from him during the fight.

In this chapter, we also get the first hints that children and animals like Vasher. That's another hint about his nature—though a very, very subtle one, since I haven't talked about how animals and children all like Returned. They can sense the divine Breath within him, and it comforts them.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Denth's Speed

Yes, Denth is inhumanly fast. He's a Returned, after all, and has all of the physical enhancements that come with that. Even when he's chosen not to manifest most of them, he's still got an edge, just like Vasher does.

How do they hide that they're Returned? Well, it comes down to mastery of their ability to change their appearance. They can't shape-shift entirely; they can just alter some things about their appearance. They can change their weight, their hair color, and things like that at will. Vasher doesn't do this often, but Denth has been known to use it as a disguise. The problem, after you do this once and someone realizes it, your nature becomes very suspect.

They have learned to suppress their divine Breath. This allows them to hide, but they must be careful never to give away all of their Breath. Denth has been a Drab before—he's not completely lying—but never for longer than a few days. And his divine Breath is always there, suppressed. So he doesn't know what it's like to be a true Drab, which is why in this chapter he says he doesn't think it changes you that much. He's never felt it.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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Enfeathered

Assuming that the events of the first Mistborn book took place on Nalthis instead, and especially considering the circumstances of Kelsier's passing and the events afterwards, would he have Returned?

Brandon Sanderson

That's a very interesting question. Endowment can be somewhat...erratic. I don't know, honestly. I'd have to think about it.

Oathbringer Houston signing ()
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Questioner

I wanted to ask about the Returned and the Fused. I haven't gotten all the way through [Oathbringer]... With the Spiritual Realm, is it very similar for how they don't return, versus the Returned coming back and the Fused staying?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, there is a similarity there, for sure.

Questioner

Is it related at all... So, a thunderclast. Is it similar to Awakening?

Brandon Sanderson

Kinda, but a little further out. You'll figure out-- that one's explained pretty well in [Oathrbinger].

Warbreaker Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Other Notes

Yes, there are Returned in Idris. There are Returned everywhere in this world that there are people. (The name of this world is Nalthis, by the way. Mistborn takes place on a world called Scadrial, and Elantris on a world known as Sel. See the fun things you learn by reading annotations?)

I'd like someday to do a sequel to Warbreaker, in part because I want to show off all of the different ways people in Nalthis deal with the Returned. They're treated in very strange ways some places. For instance, just across the mountains there's a kingdom where when someone dies in a way that might be heroic, the corpse is immediately purchased by a nobleman hoping to hit the jackpot and get a Returned. You see, since Returned can heal people, keeping one around to act as an emergency insurance plan to restore your health is a great idea.

Salt Lake ComicCon FanX 2016 ()
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Questioner

This is about certain people from Nalthis... living on Roshar and how they are living on Roshar. Could they also do that on Scadrial?

Brandon Sanderson

Scadrial would be a lot harder because getting the Investiture out of things on Scadrial is tough, there are ways you could do it but it would be much more difficult.

Questioner

Does that have to do with the Investiture being more directed?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, it's more the genetic component is a big part of it. The directed component-- In Roshar its just flowing around all over the place. For instance, if he could get to a Shardpool he could feed off that, but then he's at the Shardpool and that's kind of dangerous and things. Roshar is really the easiest place in the cosmere for him to consistently get this sort of stuff. Taldain would not be bad either, that's the White Sand world but it is inaccessible currently in the cosmere

Stormlight Three Update #6 ()
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Oudeis16

Do Idrians Return with a "purpose" they can reasonably complete in a week? From the book and annotations, purposes that we saw tended to be long-term goals. Does Endowment realize this, and only send back Idrians with tasks that can reasonably be accomplished in their shorter lifespans?

Brandon Sanderson

This is somewhat RAFO territory. (Sorry.)

JordanCon 2018 ()
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Argent

Lightsong's personality is very different than Stennimar's. If the Returned are their previous lives--Cognitive Shadows as you've said before, just stapled with Divine Breath--where do their new personalities come from?

Brandon Sanderson

My argument there is when I was writing him, getting into a kind of writer-thing, this is the person he would have become... My philosophy there was, the way that the Returned happen, and you losing your memories, it comes down to this nature versus nurture thing for me. The personality-- He is the same person, but with certain life experiences removed. Different circumstances. And in his case, that resulted in, let's say, a secondary mode of personality that had never been encouraged before.

Just like how, you put me in the right situation I'm an extrovert, but in a lot of situations I'm an introvert. So you remove a lot of the cultural conditioning and that is who he becomes.

FanX 2021 ()
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Questioner

We want to know if Adolin is the hottest character.

Brandon Sanderson

If Adolin's the hottest character in the entire...?

Questioner

In the cosmere.

Brandon Sanderson

I don't know, Blushweaver's pretty hot. Adolin's pretty hot.

Questioner

I thought you might go with a Returned.

Brandon Sanderson

But the Returned are supernaturally hot, and Adolin is only naturally hot.

Questioner

With a Returned it's almost unfair.

Brandon Sanderson

It is unfair. If you're gonna go without any magical enhancements, Adolin's gonna be up there. He's got personality hotness and physical hotness, so yeah.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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Oudeis16

If Bob the Awakener Awakened fifty straw men to dance around, then died, then Returned as FormerBob the Appropriately Named, would FormerBob be able to reclaim the Breath from the straw men in the normal fashion (once he learned the "Your Breath to Mine" Command)?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. He has enough of his original Identity, and the spiritual connection would remain.

sonofstannis

What if he instead were reincarnated as a lifeless? Is there a way he could reclaim it then?

Brandon Sanderson

Lifeless have someone else's investiture replacing their own. (As opposed to Returned, who are augmented.) Depends on how much of them is left, and if they can achieve sapience again, but I'd say this is unlikely.

WeiryWriter

What if the Lifeless is Awakened with their own Breath? (i.e. they gave it away right before they died and the person they gave it to then used it in the Awakening)

Brandon Sanderson

This has happened already in the world, and it does help.

-Nayrb

Did this happen "on screen"?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO.

Tor.com Q&A with Brandon Sanderson ()
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Locke219

Can Returned have children? If so, who was the first Returned to do so?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm going to have to RAFO that one because it's a big RAFO question for the world. In-world, it is believed both that they cannot and that they can. Mythology speaks of it happening, yet many Returned by their own experiment have not been able to have children.

Footnote: Brandon does confirm in the annotations for Warbreaker that it is possible for Returned to have children, but there are certain requirements that are not currently known.
/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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neart_roimh_laige

First of all, it seems that when Returned give their blessing that requires their life, to do so is to give up all of their BioChroma. Well, there was a time where Vivenna can't sense Vasher because he was a drab. Since that would mean he put all of his BioChroma somewhere and is SPOILER one of the Returned, why isn't he dead?

Also, it seems as if only the royal family has the ability to change their hair color. However, when Vasher kills Denth, his hair flashes through a ton of colors before he dies. What are his ties to the family? Is there something I missed? Will there be another book explaining this?

Brandon Sanderson

I did mention these things in the annotations, as has been pointed out, but boy--it's been a while. I don't remember what I wrote in the annotations and what I didn't.

All Returned are, in a way, "related" to the royal family in their Investiture. (The magic they hold.) Vasher has some specific and powerful control over his own powers, which I didn't go into much in the book. But if you delve into the annotations, you'll get more.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Also, if you look, I've inputted in the last drafts a little hint here of Vasher being a Returned. He says he could have the Fifth Heightening if he wanted it, which is true. He has his Returned Breath suppressed, but if he let it out, he could instantly have the Fifth Heightening. However, he'd be instantly recognizable as Returned the moment he did that. Plus, he couldn't use that Returned Breath for Awakening things.

General Reddit 2020 ()
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Haverworthy

Just had a question, when a Returned consumes a Breath, is it a property of their body that does so or the Divine Breath itself? It's been contentious in the community. If it's specifically just their body and a hemalurgist were to spike a Divine Breath as indicated was possible here*, would the hemalurgist not need to consume a weekly breath?

*https://wob.coppermind.net/events/364/#e11389

Brandon Sanderson

That's a very interesting question. The thing that requires the Returned to continue gaining investiture is their nature as cognitive shadows--they are dead, and in this case, need a power source to continue persisting in the physical realm. The Divine Breath is part of this. Imagine the Divine Breath as the thing that Infuses their soul, making it persist initially, and then and sticks it to the body. So if you stole it, but you yourself were not in need of being kept alive, I would say that you wouldn't need to be fed a new breath each week to maintain the Divine Breath.

Stormlight Three Update #5 ()
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Jamester86

Would the rate at which a [Nalthian] Returned needs to consume investiture to stay alive (1 breath per week in Nalthis) be the same in a different system? Saaaay in Roshar for example?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, it would be--but they could substitute another kind of investiture without too much difficulty.

Words of Radiance Philadelphia signing ()
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Kurkistan

Are flamespren, are they all doing their own thing, or is there some Ideal of "Fire" sitting in the Spiritual Realm that they're all based on?

Brandon Sanderson

Each spren is based on the Ideal of Fire.

Kurkistan

And is that sitting in the Spiritual Realm?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, we're using sort of a Platonic Ideal, and that concept is in force, so *sounds hesitant* "yes", but [spren] are manifestations of it.

Kurkistan

So these Ideals in the Spiritual Realm: Divine Breath, does that heal by accessing some Ideal of Human Health: so a guy who had never had a tongue and doesn't know how to speak all the sudden has a tongue and can speak?

Brandon Sanderson

You are... *LONG pause* You are, um, on the right track.

Kurkistan

Okay.

Brandon Sanderson

Because the Breath is... eh. How can I explain this? You are, yeah... So... So each Breath is a shade of deity, right?

Kurkistan

Yeah.

Brandon Sanderson

And each Breath incorporates into it this sort of idea of being endowed by the deity Endowment, correct?

Kurkistan

Yes.

Brandon Sanderson

And so each Breath you hold brings you one step closer to becoming like that, and so what you're saying is... is "yes", kind of true, yes.

Kurkistan

But it's like within the Breath, not sitting off by itself-

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, yes yes exactly.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Three - Part One

Similarities Between Warbreaker and Elantris

And finally, we arrive at my personal favorite character in the book. Lightsong the Bold, the god who doesn't believe in his own religion.

I had the idea for Lightsong a number of years ago. My first book, Elantris, dealt with the concept of men who were made gods. However, in that book, we never actually get to see men living as gods. The gods have lost their powers and have been locked away.

This time I wanted to tell a different story, a story about what it is like to live as a member of a pantheon of deities. Yet I didn't want them to be too powerful. Or even powerful at all.

I realize that there is some resonance here with Elantris. I hope that the concepts don't seem too much alike. What I wanted to do with this story was look at some of the same ideas in Elantris, but turn them about completely. Instead of dealing with gods who had fallen, I wanted to look at gods at the height of their political power. Instead of dealing with people who were ridiculously powerful, I wanted gods who were more about prophecy and wisdom.

I made it so that the Returned couldn't remember their old lives as a way to distinguish them from the Elantrians. However, I can't help the fact that the ideas had the same (yet opposite) seed. But I'm confident that there's plenty of room in the idea to explore it in a different direction, and I think this book comes out feeling very much its own novel.

General Twitter 2019 ()
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Questioner

How did Vasher give his Breath to Denth and not die? He's Returned, so if he gives away his Breath, he dies, right?

Brandon Sanderson

Vasher is capable of some things that most other Returned don't live long enough to figure out. We'll go into details in future books, assuming I get to them.