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Ad Astra 2017 ()
#2 Copy

Questioner

The soulcasters. They have, like, the effect on people-- like she's turning into smoke, those guys who turn into stone...  So do-- since-- do Shardblades, that are not from Radiants, have an affect on the people?

Brandon Sanderson

Uh, like, you're talking like Honorblades?

Questioner

Uh, oh, no no, sorry, sorry. Not held by--okay, because I know the guys who are Radiants--Not, I mean no, sorry. But just I said not from Radiants when I mean not held by Radiants--

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, oh, oh, I get what you say. So do they have a similar affect? No, they do not. Good question.

Words of Radiance Dayton signing ()
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luke.spence (paraphrased)

You mentioned that human can’t bond Honorblades, but Nalan tells Szeth that his bond with his Honorblade has been broken. Can you clear this up?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Humans CAN bond Honorblades. There's a crucial difference between Honorblades and Shardblades. When you drop an Honorblade, it does not disappear, even if it has been bonded. A Shardblade will disappear when dropped.

/r/fantasy AMA 2013 ()
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Kurkistan

Does a limb that has been "severed" by a Shardblade have any Hemalurgic bindpoints? If the same limb was then cut off more conventionally, would a Bloodmaker ferring be able to grow it back?

Brandon Sanderson

A severed Shardblade limb needs repair to the soul before it would function again. A Bloodmaker would be able to heal it without needing to grow it back.

Words of Radiance Philadelphia signing ()
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Rit

So, my question is glowing Shardplate and retractable helmets. Is that a similar origin of the Shardblades—

Brandon Sanderson

There's a similarity, but they are also very different.

Rit

Yeah, I noticed they do seem like advanced fabrials, because Adolin just keeps going on and on about how they're all interchangeable and they all feel comfortable after a while, and it doesn't have the same kind of thing with the Shardblades.

Brandon Sanderson

No, it doesn't. Though a Shardblade, used for a long time, will change shape slightly.

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.

Bonn Signing ()
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Questioner

Since you have basically established that spren are at least to some extent alive, how is it possible for a Shardblade to not cut right through a living weapon, like Syl for example.

Brandon Sanderson

What you are seeing is: when they are pulling through into the Physical Realm they are creating something that is not 100% physical, not 100% metal, it's like an amalgamation of the two. And that is doing something very special that then prevents other things from cutting through it. It's specifically the way that it's happening. You could make this happen with other things too.

Another big part of it is the amount of Investiture. If something is highly Invested it's going to stop a Shardblade too, because the Investiture is gonna kinda bounce off of each other. It's theoretical, for instance, you could make a Hemalurgic spike that would stop a Shardblade...

So, Invest something highly and it will stop a Shardblade almost always. But, you can cut souls; they are highly Invested also. So you need something in the Physical Realm that is pulling power through from the other Realms.

Rhythm of War Preview Q&As ()
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zhbidg

Related to Kaladin's abilities and their application to medicine, is a Shard-scalpel possible, or does a Sylblade of any kind have to do the whole burning-eyes deadened-limbs thing that Shardblades do?

(actually, I bet this is going to be addressed in the book, unless my memories of lore are insufficient and this is a silly question that is already answered if I look closely enough.)

Brandon Sanderson

It's not a silly question--and while it's not answered in the books, the topic (or at least ones similar to it) is discussed. So I'll RAFO for now.

Salt Lake City ComicCon 2017 ()
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Questioner

I'm curious. Are any of those rare metals from Mistborn on any other world?

Brandon Sanderson

So, not those exact metals, unless they've been taken off-world. But there are other metals like them that you could find.

Questioner

So they could have Allomantic lore?

Brandon Sanderson

They theoretically could...

Let's just say it's not a coincidence that you find Investiture manifesting as metal on other places. Such as Shardblades, as well.

Shadows of Self release party ()
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Questioner

So could somebody using maybe a duralumin Push or Pull, or just a strong Allomancer, take control of a Shardblade?

Brandon Sanderson

The more heavily Invested something is, the most-- the more <release?> other forms of Investiture? But as we have proof in Mistborn you can Push and Pull on metalminds, you can Push and Pull on even a spike that’s inside of somebody. If you have the strength. So it's kind of pushing against the strength of the Investiture.

Firefight release party ()
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Questioner

The dead shardblades, could you possibly get Stormlight into them to reawaken them?

Brandon Sanderson

Dead shardblade could you pump enough Stormlight into them? That alone would not be enough.

Questioner

So you would have to find someone to re-swear with oaths?

Brandon Sanderson

There is something broken on the Spiritual Realm because of the broken oath and simple Stormlight will not fix that.

Questioner

So say--

Brandon Sanderson

If the person were still alive and could re-swear the oath then yes.

Questioner

[...] the Spiritual Realm?

Brandon Sanderson

It is not outside the realm of reason but it would be very very very difficult.

Oathbringer Houston signing ()
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Questioner

So, when a Shardbearer, they get caught off guard, or, like, they're trying to throw their Shardblade, you know that it <quickly poofs> But yet, they can give it someone else, and it doesn't poof. I was just wondering how that works.

Brandon Sanderson

Mental control. It's kind of in-- it's a control thing. Some people-- I mean, you have to practice it, and things like that.

Questioner

So, it takes some kind of mental control to give to someone and allow them to use it?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

But it's something they have to practice at, it's not just a--

Brandon Sanderson

Mmhmm.

Words of Radiance San Diego signing ()
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Questioner (paraphrased)

What about Kaladin getting sliced with the Shardblade and then being able to rejuvenate?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

That is a clue for what is going on with Szeth and his understanding of Shardblades and the Shardblade he has.

Questioner (paraphrased)

Which is an Honorblade, right?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

I can't say, but Szeth says in Book One you can't heal a Shardblade wound with Stormlight. There are other very big but subtle discrepancies between what Szeth does and what Kaladin does.

General Twitter 2017 ()
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Yata

Hi, the community has a [question], we have two WoBs: Shardblades can cut aluminum and Shardblades can't cut it. Which one is true?

Brandon Sanderson (Part 1/Part 2/Part 3)

Hm. Yes, I wondered last night if I'd ever answered this before. Truth is, the answer is contentious at Team Sanderson.

I've been pushing for one answer, but Peter (whom I trust) is pushing back. We will see what ends up in the books as canon.

Problem with magic like I do is sometimes you have to wait for the scientific consensus... :) Err on "no" for now.

Peter Ahlstrom (Part 1/Part 2/Part 3)

Oh, I think aluminum would stop Shardblades from magical cutting. But if it's too thin like foil, a sword...

...would cut it anyway. What I'm arguing is that something else that Shardblades don't cut doesn't need...

...to necessarily be made of aluminum, for various reasons.

Yata

For example Invested objects (metalmind,spike,etc) or polestones (from some SA's Quote) ?

Peter Ahlstrom

RAFO

Bands of Mourning release party ()
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Questioner

Could you use steel or iron to Push or Pull off Shardblades or Shardplate?

Brandon Sanderson

Anything that's Invested resists, the more Invested it is the more it resists.

Questioner

Okay, so you could technically--

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

--if it was not charged?

Brandon Sanderson

Well-- Certain objects just have more Investiture and are more purely of the Investiture. A Shardblade's going to be really hard, but it's possible, it's just going to be really, really hard. Even more hard than an absolutely full Feruchemical metalmind because the Shardblade is being created directly out of the Investiture, it's basically all Investiture, it's not a metal that is Invested. It's going to be real hard.

Hal-Con 2012 ()
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Lance Alvein (paraphrased)

Can you confirm if the scene with Taln at the end of Way of Kings is entirely in Hoid's perspective? There was some discussion that it might not be, since Taln's Honorblade was called a Shardblade.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

That entire scene is in Hoid's POV, and the reason for it being called a Shardblade is because Honorblades are Shardblades.

Salt Lake City signing ()
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Questioner

Why does the Shardbearer-- when they are dueling with Adolin and Renarin-- Why does the Shardbearer freak out when Kaladin grabs the sword? The <Shardbearer> like... He screams, and he's like, "I didn't kill you", and ran away.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

Why does he do that?

Brandon Sanderson

Because when Kaladin was there, and they were touching it, they actually heard the spren that was inside of it. Right? Because when an--

Questioner

So it wasn't Syl that he heard, it was the sword.

Brandon Sanderson

It was the sword's spren... that Kaladin was touching it. When the Knight Radiant touches it-- You can see when other Knights Radiant pick up swords, they can hear the screaming.

Orem signing 2014 ()
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mail-mi (paraphrased)

What would a Shardblade do to [a "zombie" Elantrian]?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Um, a Shardblade would...oh boy. A Shardblade...a Shardblade would still be dangerous to them, um, the trick is, um, the Shardblade's gonna treat them half alive, half dead. So, it probably would be kind of a flicker, so it depends on when you hit them. It might cut the arm off.

mail-mi (paraphrased)

It might cut the arm off...

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

And it might just leave it dead.

General Reddit 2016 ()
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Aurimus

Has Brandon said that the Shardblades are based off of the swords from Soulcalibur/Final Fantasy. (You know, those stupidly huge swords?) Or are they just normal swords when it comes to the shape and size etc?

Ben McSweeney

Shardblades come in many shapes and sizes, but are often larger than normal swords, in order to fight larger-than-normal enemies.

Not always, though. Szeth's Blade, for instance, was about the size of a scimitar.

There is no single source or work from which the inspiration was drawn. It's a refection of a common trope, instead. Isaac and I created a few dozen silhouettes, and Brandon chose the ones he liked best, and we've been extrapolating from there ever since.

Oathbringer Edinburgh signing ()
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Questioner

You know the sparring guards, for the Shardblade training, the guards they put on the Shardblades. Are they made of aluminum?

Brandon Sanderson

So, they are not. Peter will not let me make them made out of aluminum. He's my continuity editor, he keeps me honest. I tried to get them to be aluminum, but there are reasons why they can't be. So we had to make them their own weird little thing, unfortunately. But you could make a sheath out of aluminum for a Shardblade that would work.

He keeps me honest, so it's good, but I did try to fit them in that way.

General Reddit 2020 ()
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CiberneitorGamer

Would it be possible to break a Shardblade?

If one breaks, what happens to the spren? Could this somehow kill the spren/Nahel bond?

Can it be reforged?

What happens to the Investiture stored inside of the sword?

Could a living spren regenerate the lost part?

What could cause this breaking?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO

MisCon 2018 ()
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Glamdring804

Szeth has an afterglow because his soul is lagging behind his body slightly.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Glamdring804

So if he was moving fast enough, could a Shardblade pass through his physical body and not cut the soul?

Brandon Sanderson

Ummm, that sounds like the sort of thing-- I'm going to say, the soul is more stretchy, so I don't think that's possible. But you could do some weird things where you're cutting the soul and not the body.

JordanCon 2014 ()
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Questioner

What was the reason for choosing the base form of Shardblades as blades, why not another form? Was it because of the spren?

Brandon Sanderson

Why was the base form of Shardblades chosen to as blades, as swords? It is because the Shardblades were devised... They were devised as imitations of the Honorblades, which were created and given to the Heralds. And so since the original pattern was the Honorblades, they were built to feel like the Honorblades.

A Memory of Light Los Angeles Signing ()
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Questioner (paraphrased)

Why do the Shardblades in The Stormlight Archive have the effect on flesh (human tissue) that they do?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

He originally wrote the scene in the prologue with the assassin Szeth using a traditional sword, but it was so bloody and gruesome that Brandon was actually disgusted. He had to find a way to avoid that and so he came up with a new way for the swords to behave.

Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
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MarlonRand

Is there any information about Way of Kings that you can give us at this time?

Brandon Sanderson

I've wanted to do a long epic for a while. I guess that's what comes from reading Jordan and the others while growing up. And so, way back in the late 90's—when I was experimenting with my style—I started working on ideas for a longer form series. I knew the real trick for me would be to do it in a way that it didn't feel stale after just a few books; there needed to be enough to the world, the magic, and the plot arcs that I (and hopefully readers) would keep interested in the series for such a long time.

What it gives me (the thing that I want in doing a longer epic) is the chance to grow characters across a larger number of books. Dig into their pasts, explore what makes them think the way they do, in ways that even a trilogy cannot. In Kings, I don't want to do a longer 'saga' style series, with each book having a new set of characters. I want this to be one overarching story.

One of the things that has itched at me for long time in my fantasy reading is the sense of loss that so many fantasy series have. I'm not complaining, mind you—I love these books. But it seems like a theme in a large number of fantasy books is the disappearance of magic and wonder from the world. In Tolkien, the Elves are leaving. In Jordan, technology is growing and perhaps beginning an age where it will overshadow magic. It's very present in Brooks, where the fantasy world is becoming our world. Even Eddings seemed to have it, with a sense that sorcerers are less common, and with things like the only Dragons dying, the gods leaving.

I've wanted to do a series, then, where the magic isn't going away—it's coming back. Where the world is becoming a more wondrous place. Where new races aren't vanishing, they're being discovered.

Obviously, I'm not the first to approach a fantasy this way. Maybe I'm reading too much into the other books, seeing something that isn't there. But the return of magic is one of the main concepts that is driving me.

Well, that and enormous swords and magical power armor.

Calamity Chicago signing ()
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Questioner

Shardblades, they sever <limbs? people’s?> connection to the Spiritual Realm. So, that being said,  they cut inanimate matter like a regular sword but inanimate matter is projected into the Cognitive Realm.  So does inanimate matter have a Connection to the Spiritual Realm? In the same way living things do?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, but it doesn’t have the same thing going on.

Brandon's Blog 2015 ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Words of Radiance Tweak

Moving on to Words of Radiance, as we were entering typo fixes for the paperback of this book, I made changes to a few lines near the end. This isn't anywhere near as extensive as the changes in Elantris, but once again I figure I should be up-front about what I did and why I did it.

This part is going to have some spoilers for the book, so if you haven't read it, please stop right here. I'll put a number of blank lines here to prevent accidental spoilers. Scroll down if you've finished the book.

So, in Words of Radiance, I think the scene I worked on the longest both in my head and on the page was the final confrontation between Kaladin and Szeth.

There was something I wanted to do, and took a stab at it in the text, then backed off because I couldn't make it work. It was important to me that Kaladin refuse to kill Szeth at the end. Kaladin is about protection, not vengeance, and once he realized that Szeth really just wanted to be killed, I wanted Kaladin to hesitate.

It didn't end up working, and I moved on to a new version and submitted it. But this itched at me, and by the time the book was released, I felt I'd made the wrong choice for that scene. So I've taken this chance to roll it back to the previous idea, and written it in a new way, which I like much better.

The events are the same, except for that moment. Szeth is now killed by the storm instead of by Kaladin, which I think is more thematically appropriate.

The question this raises is about Szeth being stabbed by a Shardblade, then being resuscitated. I'm sad to lose this sequence, as it's an important plot point for the series that dead Shardblades cannot heal the soul, while living ones can. I'm going to have to work this into a later book, though I think it's something we can sacrifice here for the stronger scene of character for Kaladin and Szeth.

Starsight Release Party ()
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Questioner

If a Mistborn were to burn a piece of a Shardblade, what would happen?

Brandon Sanderson

This would be hard to make happen, but it would be possible. A Shardblade is going to act as, basically, an alloy of the god metal of Honor and so  what would it do? RAFO, but it is possible and it would do something. It would not be inert. It would be Allomanticaly viable.

Holiday signing ()
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Questioner

So we know that Nightblood was created by people who had some knowledge of Shardblades.

Brandon Sanderson

Mmhmm.

Questioner

But we also know that Nightblood consumes Breaths when it's used.

Brandon Sanderson

Yep.

Questioner

So do Shardblades require that kind of energy? It doesn't seem like they--

Brandon Sanderson

No.

Questioner

So why are they different?

Brandon Sanderson

Because they were made with different magic systems, by different people, and different styles.

Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
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arichards117

When someone is "killed" by a Shardblade, their soul is understood to be severed. What do Vorin practitioners believe happens to the soul if it is severed? Does this mean that the soul cannot go to the Tranquiline Halls? If this is the case, why are Shardbearers/Blades so revered rather than feared or hated?

Brandon Sanderson

Vorin belief doesn't take being killed by a Shardblade as destroying the soul, likely because of Knight Radiant traditions.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
#50 Copy

Questioner

I know at the end of Words of Radiance Syl shows she can turn into different forms, not just a sword. Why do they not... Or why do none of the other past Radiants really show that they have done that. Because normally in the flashbacks they are shown just being swords.

Brandon Sanderson

So the Shardblades came from spren seeing the Honorblades, which were created for mankind, and being like "I can do that". That is what they were imitating.

Questioner

So that's what they wanted...

Brandon Sanderson

No, that's how they see themselves and how they are seen. They can change into other things...

Questioner

They just never...

Brandon Sanderson

But when you let go of one it's going to become a sword again.

Questioner

Oh, I just meant in all the visions they were always portrayed as swords. Was that just for...

Brandon Sanderson

That's cultural, like this is... One thing that is interesting is you are going to see that the new Radiants don't have... I mean the Radiants you have seen almost all of them are after thousands of years of Radiants and Orders and you have certain things that you do.

So the writing reason was I didn't want to give away...

Questioner

That's what I was going to ask.

Brandon Sanderson

There is a writing reason behind it. I didn't want to do that and give too much away. I already worried that having Syl shift shapes as often as she did through the first book was going to be a big clue to people and I wanted to hold off on giving away too much.