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Hal-Con 2012 ()
#1 Copy

Lance Alvein (paraphrased)

You said to not travel to Shadesmar on Sel. Is this a consequence of Odium Splintering Aona and Skai?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

It is indirectly related to the Splintering. There is a clue to why it is dangerous in Way of Kings.

Footnote: The reason it is dangerous to travel in the Cognitive Realm near Sel is that the Dor, the Splintered remains of Devotion and Dominion, resides there and is a storm of uncontrolled Investiture (as the seons and skaze are not numerous enough to act as release valves like the spren of Roshar do for Honor).
Bands of Mourning release party ()
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Questioner

Was the Rose Empire ever under threat from Shu-Dereth? And can you speak a little bit on fitting The Emperor's Soul into a world you'd already created?

Brandon Sanderson

So was the Rose Empire ever in danger from Shu-Dereth and could I speak a little about fitting The Emperor's Soul into a world I'd already written. So when I designed Elantris, I knew where I was going, and I knew a lot about the world. This is how I am in building. So when I wanted to do The Emperor's Soul I already knew where I was going to place it, I knew which magic system I was working toward, and things like that. So it wasn't terribly hard since I already knew what was over there.

The fun about that is that you should go look at the map commissioned, the one Isaac drew, that's done by the Derethi and see how they view the Rose Empire and where they put it on their map. And then you'll eventually get a map of the whole world, and let's just say they don't have a really accurate representation of the world and their place in it. As was very common for a lot of early societies, early European maps are hilarious.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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wackyHair

What's the population of the shardworld's we've seen so far (even in very general terms, like one's much bigger than the others or something)?

Brandon Sanderson

Scadrial is certainly the least populated of the major shard worlds. Then Nalthis, I'd guess, followed by Roshar, and finally Sel--which likely has the largest population. I would have to look closely to see which is bigger between those last two.

Phantine

Does a population of about 100 million during The Final Empire (with 1-2 million in Luthadel), and around 15 million during Alloy of Law (with about 5 million in Elendel) seem right?

Brandon Sanderson

Have to RAFO this for now, for reasons I can't explain without giving spoilers.

Phantine

How about as far as Elend/Wax knows, at the beginning of their respective series?

Brandon Sanderson

Then those numbers, if they're off, are at least close.

faragorn

Interesting that Sel has such a large population, given that the actual numbers of soldiers shown seem to be quite small.

Brandon Sanderson

Let's just say that Opelon has an inflated opinion of its own size in relation to the rest of the world.

Footnote: The RAFO about the Scadrian population may be due to the existence of the Southerners, which had not been revealed as of this time.
Shadows of Self release party ()
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Chaos

How accurate would you say the northern continent on the Sycla map is? Is it horribly inaccurate?

Isaac Stewart

This map has severe deficiencies, especially in the northwest.

Chaos

Is there any reason why the cities seem to be on the borders?

Isaac Stewart

Seem to be where?

Chaos

On the borders, or coastline, like literally all of them.

Isaac Stewart

So Brandon can tell me if I'm wrong on this, but normally at the level of technology we're at in this world you've got to have cities near water. That's really what it is. Early cities are almost always near a source of water.

Chaos

And so the rivers are just the borders?

Isaac Stewart

Yeah. I mean we have the rivers that come in through the border in some places but rivers also are just a great border between places. Especially when there is-- when you're not building bridges over all of them. I will tell you... I won't answer what's going on up here.

Chaos

Is it really this enclosed though? Like it's pretty enclosed?

Isaac Stewart

It's pretty enclosed. This right here is pretty distorted, I will tell you that. And I made it look bigger than it is...

Eric, we will eventually release a more correct map.

Skyward Seattle signing ()
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Questioner

In Elantris, there's the three ways that AonDor's manifested. Through the Aons, through the Dhakor, through the ChaySan. With Emerpror's Soul, there's two major ones that we see with the Forging and Bloodsealing. And also that parallels with, there's one - kind of like, in Mistborn where there's one that's positive, one that's neutral, one that's negative. Where does the third one fit in on the Emperor's Soul side?

Brandon Sanderson

Emperor's Soul, there are way more. It's not a split of the three.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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zotsandcrambles

Shai mocks the Rose Empire's belief that a new sun rises every day for a set number of days. Is the reason Sel is difficult to travel to related to the religious notion that Sel has many MANY suns in their Shadesmaar equivalent?

Brandon Sanderson

Good guess! But no. (Sorry.)

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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zotsandcrambles

I've always wondered why Hoid stole the Moon Scepter from The Rose Empire. He is collecting investiture, so it must be pivotal.

Is it possible that the Moon Scepter is connected directly to Dominion and Devotion's investiture (maybe via the moon-rocks?). If you have the Moon Scepter, you can get around the pesky proximity problem of the magic system(s)?

Brandon Sanderson

I'll talk about this eventually, but it IS related to the proximity problem--just not in the way you're assuming.

Steelheart Portland signing ()
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Joshstormblessed (paraphrased)

I've noticed that in both Elantris and Roshar there are specific shapes to the cities and in both instances there are chasms. Is there a connection between the two worlds?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Oooo:) Yes there is definitely a connection there. As you know all of these worlds are part of a universe and my magic systems share basic rules. So you'll see similarities.

Joshstormblessed (paraphrased)

And the chasms?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

*smiles mischievously*

JordanCon 2018 ()
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Questioner

Exactly how turbulent is the Cognitive Realm around Sel? Khriss seems to think it's rather difficult [to travel] but how difficult would it be for Hoid to get through?

Brandon Sanderson

How difficult would it be to get through to Sel, how difficult would it be for Hoid. I would say straining his resources and capacity. It is difficult for him. So take that as you will. But it is worth his effort and he has done it numerous times.

General Reddit 2013 ()
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sufficientlyadvanced

It says that it's dangerous to travel to Shadesmar on Sel. Why?

Brandon Sanderson

It has to do with the Dor and the lack of an entity controlling much of the power Odium left in his wake on Sel.

Phantine

Woah, that's interesting. I had no idea Odium left little bits of his power on Sel... I guess it kinda makes sense for evil monks to be powered by pure hate, though.

Brandon Sanderson

Odium did not leave his power behind, one should note. He left several other powers which are now, to a large extent, mindless...

Windrunner

If you wouldn't mind answering, does Roshar have a similar problem, with Honor being Splintered?

Brandon Sanderson

No, Roshar does not have the same problem. There are some differences going on. (One reason being that the spren are far more extensive on Roshar, and provide something of a "release valve." The seons and the skaze on Sel are not numerous enough to fulfill a similar function. Though, of course, that's only one part of the puzzle. Raw power is dangerous.

It's one reason everyone should be thankful Kelsier was around on Scadrial.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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A_Dunyain

This is just a stab based on perceived hints, but is Yolen the most "Earth-like" planet in the Cosmere?

Brandon Sanderson

Scadrial is, actually. Sel isn't too far off either. Yolen has some strangeness to it. Two competing ecologies, and some strange geography. But I have wavered on how to convey all of this, so none of it is set in stone yet.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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vanahian

We know that Bavadin has several 'avatars' allocated at some Shardworlds, major and minor, over the cosmere...is Austre from Nalthis one of them? Is the Wyrn of the Fjordell Empire or Jaddeth one of them?

Or if we recall what the followers of Shu Dereth believes that 'Jaddeth rewards devotion in his followers, as well as ambition' + something you said some time ago about the ramifications of Ambition demise... Is the Wyrn or Jaddeth Himself connected with Ambition?

Brandon Sanderson

You can expect things on Sel to be either Dominion or Devotion. People can be ambitious--even Shards--and reward ambition even if they're not specifically tied to the Shard of Ambition.

Firefight release party ()
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Questioner

So someone, I can't remember who it was, told me you said something about the pools in Elantris being related to worldhopping.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

Is that right?

Brandon Sanderson

That is correct.

Questioner

So when the Elantrians go in the pool do they die or do they go to a different world?

Brandon Sanderson

Well you're making those mutually exclusive.

Questioner

Oh so it can do more than one thing--

Brandon Sanderson

One thing you gotta remember is in Elantris Shadesmar, the place that we call Shadesmar, is full of a raging, powerful source of energy called the Dor. It's very, very dangerous. Nobody goes there. So, just keep that in mind.

A Memory of Light Milford Signing ()
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Viper (paraphrased)

Aons look like Arelon; soulstamps look like MaiPon. Aons get weaker when you get further from Arelon, right? That's not just cause Elantris acts like a focus?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

That's right, it's based on distance. That's why there are no stamped objects in Elantris.

Viper (paraphrased)

So do soulstamps get weaker further from MaiPon? If you left Sel via Shadesmar and went to another planet, would the soulstamp stop working?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

That's correct.

Viper (paraphrased)

Could soulstamps be carved that used Arelon as a base form instead of MaiPon?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

That's very interesting, isn't it?

Elantris Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Seventeen

Of all the books I've written, I think this one hearkens most closely to our own world. Usually, when I develop cultures and languages, I try to stay away form basing them too closely on any one Earth society or race. I'm not certain what made me do things differently in Elantris. It's not just fencing–JinDo, with its obvious links to Asian cultures, is a good example too. And Fjorden's language has some obvious references to Scandinavia. (Dilaf's name comes from Beowulf, actually. I named him after Beowulf's heir, Wilaf.)

Anyway, in this chapter we find two very obvious "borrows" from our world. I've always been fascinated by fencing, though I've never participated myself. The idea of turning swordfighting into a sport intrigues me. In addition, I found the light, formalized dueling appropriate to the tone of this book, so I took the opportunity to write it in. (I do realize, by the way, that Hollywood has done some interesting things to fencing. Most real fencing bouts are much shorter, and far less showy, than what we see depicted. This is pretty much true for any kind of fighting, however. Think what you will, but combat is usually brutal, quick, and really not that exciting to watch.

This kind of fighting is very appropriate in some books. However, I allowed myself the indulgence of doing my fencing scenes a bit more flourish than one would find in real life. It felt right in the context to have the participants spar, parry, and jump about for far longer a time than is realistic. If you need justification, you can assume that in Teod, the rules for fencing are very strict–and so it's very hard to actually score a point on your opponent, forcing the battles to be prolonged.)

The other item of interest in that scene is, of course, Shuden's ChayShan dance. As mentioned above, his culture is pretty obviously borrowed from Asia. In fact, the link is so strong that some readers have trouble imagining his features as anything but Asian. (Note, once again, that this is not the case. The JinDo have dark brown skin. Though, I guess you'll imagine Shuden however you wish.) The ChayShan is a martial art I devised to feel just a bit like Tai Chi–though ChayShan focuses on speeding up the motions and gaining power from them. I've always kind of thought that Tai Chi would look more interesting if it slowly sped up.

General Reddit 2018 ()
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Jamester86

So something I've noticed in the fantasy genre that I love is that my 2 favorite authors (Sanderson and Rothfuss) don't use the traditional fantasy medieval setting (that I love) of castles, knights, feudalism etc. Now there are plenty of great authors that do (GRRMartin comes to mind as one that does it right), BUT the truth is, a good story eclipses all minor details like setting. An example I always give is that Patrick Rothfuss could write about brushing your teeth and it would make a fascinating read, and Sanderson would make an intriguing plot with amazing characterization throughout the dental hygiene experience. But I digress.

My question (If Brandon would be so kind as to show up, and if not, if anyone has any insight) is why; why doesn't the cosmere have any traditional medieval fantasy settings? Mistborn has keeps, but the society is not the traditional technology and setting of the medieval time period, nor do any of the other worlds given us.

Brandon Sanderson

There are both in-world reasons and writing reasons.

The writing reasons are obvious. I grew up on a steady diet of fantasy in a faux-medieval setting. I felt that some of these stories were really good, and enjoyed them--but at the same time, I felt the genre had been there and done that. In some ways, GRRM doing fantasy with the eye of a true medievalist provided a capstone to this era of fantasy.

When I sat down to write, didn't want to write what I was tired of reading. Dragonsteel (which never got published) was bronze age, White Sand was industrial, and Elantris was (kind of) Renaissance. (As you noticed, Mistborn is somewhere around 1820's. I modeled a lot of the society around the fascinating culture/industry of canals as shipping lanes that happened in England right before railroads took over.)

The other big reason, writing wise, is that I feel some of the magics that I enjoy dealing with in my settings need a certain near-industrial mindset to be interesting. The stories I want to tell are about people applying scientific principles to magic--and about the commodification and the economics of magic. Those are early-modern era stories.

The in-world reasoning I have is that on some of these planets, those eras existed--but the books are taking place when the stories of the worlds start smashing into one another. In addition, however, the Shards have an influence on this, because of things they saw happen on their own home planet.

Shadows of Self Lansing signing ()
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Questioner

Are there going to be any more stories set in The Emperor’s Soul time?

Brandon Sanderson

You will probably see Shai again but I can’t promise that I will do another story just about her. That’s in part because The Emperor’s Soul turned out so well, that it feels like one of those things that feels like it should be left alone. It just-- Not everything needs a sequel. And in some ways it was so successful that it’s better not to do one, if that makes sense.

Vericon 2011 ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Inside Puck's copy of Elantris Brandon wrote "Do not go to Shadesmar on this world (really, I'm not kidding)" on the title page, then said "You guys can chew on that for a little while."

Footnote: Brandon has confirmed that the reason for this is that the Dor, the Splintered remains of Devotion and Dominion, are located in the Cognitive Realm, which makes the region dangerous to traverse.
Brandon has since asked that people not ask for cosmere hints. He would prefer people to come with specific questions in mind.
Firefight Houston signing ()
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Questioner

I reread Elantris, and I was wondering why there wasn't any mention of the Empire from The Emperor's Soul in it.

Brandon Sanderson

They mention it briefly, they mention countries from there, but they do not have a lot of contact at all. And they kind of view each other in the same way that Europe viewed the Far East, in that "we know there's something over there, but they're nowhere near as cool as we are." Even though the people over there were more populous, in places more advanced and larger than them, they just had no clue. And that's kinda, when I was building it, that's where I went. Like, the JinDo are transplants over, and we have references to MaiPon and we have some things like that, but there's a big mountain range in between, a very large space getting there, the only way you can get through is through some passes near Teod; they don't really even contact over there. Plus, the Empire thinks these people are a bunch of religious nutjobs, so they just stay away.

MisCon 2018 ()
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Questioner

On Sel, in the dialogue from Khriss, the Arcanum Unbounded, she mentions that the Cognitive Realm is especially dangerous because Devotion and Dominion were killed there. Why is it dangerous? Are there bad spren?

Brandon Sanderson

Well it's called the Expanse of the Densities in Roshar for a very good reason.

Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
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Silasary

So Nightblood drains investiture from people. How would it operate on Sel?

Questioner 2

Oh yeah, because the investiture's in the ground, practically.

Brandon Sanderson

...On Sel-- I mean Investiture is in everything, right? So I don't imagine it having a difference on Sel in the Physical Realm from what you normally see.

Shadows of Self Lansing signing ()
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Blaze1616

The Dor: Is it gaseous Investiture or is it something else completely?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh that's a great question. People have not been asking enough about the Dor.

Blaze1616

And if it is gaseous—or not gaseous—is it plasma?

Brandon Sanderson

*Long pause*

You got it. *said definitively*

It's super sup-- not plasm-- yeah, it's super-dense to the point that's it's liquefied and dense-- does that make sense? So it's plasma, basically. It's its own weird thing, so yeah. What you can write is that it's its own weird thing that's kind of plasma-like.

Salt Lake City ComicCon 2017 ()
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Brightlord Maelstrom

When a Dakhor monk leaves his homeland do his bones still give him his abilities? Is it only the creation that's location-dependent or is it also the ability that's location-dependent?

Brandon Sanderson

The further you get away, the weaker the power the bones will give you will get. It's way better than Elantris at bringing the power with you. That's where it is in the notes right now, I have not written the second book, I could totally change that.

Salt Lake City ComicCon 2017 ()
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Brightlord Maelstrom

Forged items. If it's one of those where it's permanent or it's not going to die after a couple of hours, can you move it off-world or would it transform once you moved it too far from its location?

Brandon Sanderson

Forgery requires a constant little stream of power to keep it going so yeah if you moved it off-world the Forgery's going to collapse.

Skyward Seattle signing ()
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The Young Pyromancer

Theoretically, if the Dor-- ifSel became a Shard, would-- The biggest limiter on Shards is the Vessel's mind, would that be more limiting or less limiting?

Brandon Sanderson

...If the Dor were itself to become a Shard combining Devotion and Dominion, and were to pick up a Vessel? Because they're still Shards, they just don't have a Vessel.

The Young Pyromancer

So the land couldn't be Vessel?

Brandon Sanderson

The land itself? Of Arelon or of--

The Young Pyromancer

Of Sel.

Brandon Sanderson

The land of Sel would not count as a Vessel. You would say in terminology right now that Dominion and Devotion do not have Vessels in the same way that other Shards do.

Librarypalooza ()
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Paladin Brewer (paraphrased)

Is Threnody in the same planetary system as Sel?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

[No, they are not]

Peter Ahlstrom (paraphrased)

Folks, I hate to be a killjoy, but I just asked Brandon about this, and he says that he answered that question with "No, they are not."

Brandon says he specifically remembers this question, and he remembers saying that Threnody and Sel were not in the same system.

In any case, Threnody and Sel do not revolve around the same star. (And they're not in a binary system system either, for those trying to salvage something out of this.)

/r/fantasy AMA 2013 ()
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Nepene

In The Emperor's Soul and Elantris the magic systems have very different methods and powers, though both work through symbols. Assuming they adapted the symbols to their local geography could they use each other's methods? Could an Elantrian forge a soulstamp say?

Brandon Sanderson

Birth in a certain location on Sel gives a certain affinity for the local symbols, and their usage. To use the magic of another region, one would need to have a rewritten connection to that area instead.