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/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#2 Copy

WeiryWriter

Could you explain a little more about Cognitive shadows? When you first mentioned the name and gave the examples of Kelsier and the Shades from Threnody you kind of gave the impression that they were kind of like ghosts. But this past December at the Orem signing you mentioned that the Stormfather and the mist were also Cognitive shadows. The first makes sense to me, I had an [entire theory about that (although I argued he was specifically Tanavast’s and not Honor’s). The second however really doesn’t make sense to me, unless it was actually the mist spirit that is the shadow and that got missed in the report (it wasn’t verbatim), but even still Preservation is still alive at that point so how can he have a “ghost”? (Unless him sacrificing his mind to form Ruin’s prison counts as “death” in this situation?)

Brandon Sanderson

On the first question, I did not say the mists themselves were a cognitive shadow. That must have been a misunderstanding. The Stormfather totally is, though. Cognitive shadows are basically ghosts, which can take a lot of different forms in the Cosmere, but follow general rules.

WeiryWriter

Is the mist /spirit/ a Cognitive shadow then?

Brandon Sanderson

The mist spirit is a little more complicated than that. That was actually Leras, kind of. He was in the process of dying. But other things are involved there that, unfortunately, must be RAFOd.

Shadows of Self Chicago signing ()
#5 Copy

Kurkistan

If you're on Threnody and you get Withered by a shade, are you better off burning Allomantic aluminum, or tapping Feruchemical gold?

*laughter*

[clarification on the question]

Brandon Sanderson

They would both work pretty well. I would say if you burned aluminum, that would kind of have the effect that you are wanting it to have, which is the effect-- negating and sucking out, so it's probably safer. But the gold would work, too.

Kurkistan

So would it be fair to describe withering as a kind of cancerous Forging-

Brandon Sanderson

Sure.

Kurkistan

That just kind of slowly takes over your soul?

Brandon Sanderson

Sure.

General Reddit 2017 ()
#8 Copy

namer98

I just finished the audiobook this morning, and in the setting are rules about how to not provoke shades of the dead. The rules are in order of least to most severe:

  • Don't run
  • Don't kindle a flame
  • Don't draw blood

The post script talks about how these rules were based on shabbos as presented in the Torah. It was just interesting to see a non-Jewish author (In this case, Mormon) base something off of Judaism.

Brandon Sanderson

:) Thanks for the thread.

The Double Eye from the Stormlight books (inside front cover illustration of the magic in the hardcover of book one) has some roots in the Tree of Life also, and if you look at Alethi, you'll find some Hebrew poking through now and then.

namer98

I read all of your books as audio books because they are all so well narrated, especially the Wax and Wayne series.

I will have to keep a better ear out for the Alethi.

Brandon Sanderson

It can be easy to miss, as I play with it a little first, fitting it to Alethi. But Moash came from Moshe, for example.

MuslinBagger

Is that a hint of things to come? Is Moash like Moses or something? He is, isn't he?

Brandon Sanderson

Sorry. It doesn't mean anything other than "My editor is named Moshe, and I've always liked how the name sounds."

PM_ME_LEGAL_PAPERS

Speaking of which, there's a Lighteyes named Yonatan (a very Jewish name) that Wit insults in...I think it was Way of Kings. Is that based off of someone you know as well?

Brandon Sanderson

That is indeed. (Look again at what he's wearing.)

That's based off of my editor's nephew, who was included as a wedding gift.

Worldbuilders AMA ()
#11 Copy

danimalod

I also just finished Shadows of Self and was thinking about what would happen if a kandra tried to eat a shade. If they don't have bones, it probably can't happen I guess. But maybe a shade that was a kandra could be pretty frightening.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, a kandra couldn't eat a Shade. And how scary the shade kandra would be depends entirely on the kandra, I'd figure...

Words of Radiance San Francisco signing ()
#13 Copy

Questioner

If Kelsier's [Cognitive Shadow] or a Seon went to the Forests of Hell, would they be shades there?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, that is the same thing. Now, you can see that there-- the people on that planet; their Investiture; the lack of Shard means that their cognitive shadows react differently.

[...]

In fact, the Cognitive Shadow is also the same thing as the ghost you saw in Mistborn, that was the spirit of Leras is the same thing too.

Worldbuilders AMA ()
#14 Copy

danimalod

I just read Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell and loved it. How did the first shade come to be? Are there shades in other worlds? Do shades have bones?

Brandon Sanderson

Shades are what we call "Cognitive shadows" in the cosmere. They're basically "spren" or "[seons]" created from human souls. (Where investiture--or magical power--keeps a consciousness alive after it has lost its Physical connection.) Yes, shades all once had bodies.

Think of them like petrified souls, where instead of stone replacing the tissue of a corpse, magical power replaced the parts of a soul that connect that soul to the Three Realms.

Oathbringer release party ()
#19 Copy

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

In Secret History, Nazh briefly mentioned that there's requirements or conditions to become a Cognitive Shadow. Can you tell us one of those?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Uh, lots of Investiture. Is one way. As a certain person discovered.

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

If that person were to not have entered Preservation's pool, it still would have given the same result?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

If they had not, they would be gone.

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

I wasn't clear. If they had done a different pool, not Preservation's.

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Oh, if they had been able to Invest themselves heavily, then they could have stuck around, yes. That wasn't Preservation's pool, that was more a function of--dipping themselves, pulling an Achilles inside of a Shardpool when you are dead, turned out to work. It's not the only way, not everyone on... Threnody, for instance, is heavily Invested.