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Alloy of Law 17th Shard Q&A ()
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Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Shards and Shard intents: Holding a Shard is a contest of willpower against the Shard that, over time, is very hard to resist.

Shards affect you over time, but your mind will not leave a permanent effect on the Shard. A holder's [Vessel's] personality, however, does get to filter the Shard's intent, so to speak. However, if that holder [Vessel] no longer held that Shard, the Shard will not continue to be filtered by that person.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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You've mentioned that a person's personality eventually erodes and is replaced by the will of the shard they hold. Besides Harmony, are there any Shards holders that are still actively and significantly defying the intent of their shard?

Brandon Sanderson



Is Harmony ([Sazed], for instance) actively trying to fight against it's shard intent?

Brandon Sanderson

Its intent(s) match Sazed very well, actually, and he has the philosophy that these natural powers are best minded and not dominated. So while he pushes back against the inaction holding both of them has caused, he appreciates and understands the need for both. I'd say he has less "push back" than some others.

Oathbringer London signing ()
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We know Ati chose how Ruin was interpreted, in that he was a card-cackling maniac. Could someone so differently interpret a Shard as to change its name to be something different? Could someone pick up the Shard of Ruin and think I'm the Shard of Change? Or could someone pick up the Shard of Honor and think--

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

*hesitantly* Yes. To an extent. The interpretation, what you call a thing-- I think it would be arguable either way in-world, regardless of what they call themselves. There are those who would say the core intent is still there and you can't shift it that far, and others would argue you can shift it far enough to change the definition to a synonym. You see evidence of someone claiming this in the books. I'm not gonna confirm or deny for you whether that is actually a thing or not.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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Is the act of taking up a shard parallel to the act of Awakening? In broad strokes awakening gives a piece of a soul for power along with a purpose or compulsion. So, say, when someone takes up Ruin, are they operating on the same principle, taking a fragment of Adolnasium's 'soul' along with the command "ruin things"?

Brandon Sanderson

You could make this parallel, and argue it to many of the cosmere-aware scholars in the books, and they'd find themselves nodding.

Salt Lake City ComicCon 2017 ()
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I was just wondering if a Shard's intent can change over time without changing holders?

Brandon Sanderson

Without changing holders? The holder can have a slight effect on how the-- a big effect on how the intent is interpreted, but what the intent is stays the same. So it's gonna be filtered. The way it manifests can change, and you'll see that happening, but it is the same intent. When it was broken off, it took a certain thing with it.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Vin Asks Ruin about Preservation

After this scene, perhaps you can see why I wanted so badly to spend some time with Vin and Ruin talking while she was imprisoned. I felt this was important enough that I was willing to stretch plausibility a tad to make it possible. (The spoiler in the chapter 54 annotation explains what I mean by that.)

The discussion of morality here is an important one, as I wanted Ruin and Preservation to represent forces, not moral poles. This is vital for various reasons in the underlying cosmology. If they represented poles, then that implied there could only be two like them. But, as they represent opposites, that leaves more room.

Preservation did betray Ruin. This brings us onto the shaky ground of the morality of lying to achieve a greater good. If as much were at stake as is here—the end of an entire world—then perhaps you'd betray someone too. (I love fantasy. Where else can you talk about the end of the world as a consequence of a betrayal and have it be literal?)

Ruin's consciousness—separate from his power—isn't a particularly nice being. But you can't much blame him, as there's very little that is left of the mind that once was. The force of Ruin has pretty well molded the mind to fit with the force's intent.