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Stormlight Three Update #5 ()
#1 Copy

Iceblade44

So White Sand [than Elantris] is earlier... Then how the heck old is Kriss then? Will we ever get an answer as to why every worldhopper is flipin immortal?

Brandon Sanderson

There is some time-dialation going on. I'll explain it eventually; we're almost to the point where I can start talking about that. Suffice it to say that there's a mix of both actual slowing of the aging process and relative time going on, depending on the individual. Very few are actually immortal.

Faera

Implying that some are actually immortal? :D

Brandon Sanderson

Depends on which definition of immortal you mean.

Doesn't age, but can be killed by conventional means. (You've seen some of these in the cosmere, but I'll leave you to discuss who.)

Heals from wounds, but still ages. (Knights Radiant with Stormlight are like this.)

Reborn when killed. (The Heralds.)

Doesn't age and can heal, but dependent upon magic to stay this way, and so have distinct weakness to be exploited. (The Lord Ruler, among others.)

Hive beings who are constantly losing individual members, but maintaining a persistent personality spread across all of them, immortal in that as long as too much of the hive isn't wiped out, the personality can persist. (The sleepless.)

Bits of sapient magic, eternal and endless, though the personality can be "destroyed" in specific ways. (Seons. Spren. Nightblood. Cognitive Shadows, like a certain character from Scadrial.)

Shards (Really just a supercharged version of the previous category.)

And then, of course, there's Hoid. I'm not going to say which category, if any, he's in.

Some of these blend together--the Heralds, for example, are technically a variety of cognitive shadow. I'm not saying each of these categories above are distinct, intended to be the end-all definitions. They're off the cuff groupings I made to explain a point: immortality is a theme of the cosmere works--which, at their core, are experiments on what happens when men are given the power of deity.

Shagomir

Heals from wounds, but still ages.

Would Bloodmaker Ferrings exist in this category as well? If not, what about someone compounding Gold?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, you are correct.

Shagomir

As a Bloodmaker ages what keeps them from healing the damage and carrying on as a very old, but very healthy person? Do they come to a point where they can't store enough health to stave off the aches, pains, diseases, and other things that come with old age?

This makes sense for traditional Feruchemy as it is end-neutral, so storing health becomes a zero sum game - eventually, you're going to get sick and you're not going to be able to overcome it with your natural healing ability no matter how much you manipulate it with a goldmind.

...Unless you've got a supply of Identity-less goldminds lying around. Would a Bloodmaker with a sufficient source of identity-less goldminds (or the ability to compound, thus bypassing the end-neutral part of Feruchemy) eventually just die from being too old?

Brandon Sanderson

Basically, yes. They can heal their body to match their spiritual ideal, but some things (like some genetic diseases, and age-related illnesses) are seen as part of the ideal. Depends on several factors.

Bands of Mourning release party ()
#2 Copy

little wilson

How many Shards are whole at the time of [Shadows of Self]?

Brandon Sanderson

How many Shards are whole at the time of Shadows? I'm just going to RAFO that because-- because I don't want to do math right now.

Bystander

More than half or less than half?

Brandon Sanderson

At the time of Shadows? How many Shards--

zas678

Or about half?

Brandon Sanderson

Ha! *long pause* *really high and stretched out* Half-ish?

zas678

Half-ish?

Brandon Sanderson

Half-ish. It depends.

zas678

Give or take?

Brandon Sanderson

Give or take. Like it de-- Are there now only 15? Like what's the number? ...So-- I'm not going to-- I'm not going to--

zas678

RAFO.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, RAFO.

17th Shard Forum Q&A ()
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ROSHtafARian

We're aware by now of eight of the sixteen Shards (Devotion, Dominion, Ruin, Preservation, Endowment, Honor, Odium and Cultivation) and seven of the ten core Shardworlds (the Dragonsteel world, Roshar, Scadrial, Nalthis, Sel, the White Sand world and The Silence Divine world). Given that you now how we love to obsessively speculate based on only the tiniest of information, and also given that it seems an endless source of amusement to you that we do, would you perhaps like to tease us with a smidgen of information about one of the remaining eight Shards or the three remaining Shardworlds?

Brandon Sanderson

Ha. If I give you this, what will you speculate on in the future? :) I hate to do this, but I'm going to RAFO that one for now. Sorry.

Calamity release party ()
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Little Wilson

You mentioned that half(-ish) Shards are whole at-- during Shadows of Self. Is that counting Splinters?

Brandon Sanderson

Okay, one more time.

Little Wilson

You mentioned that half-- like I think it was at the Bands of Mourning release party-- you said that "half-ish Shards are whole" during Shadows of Self.

Brandon Sanderson

"Half-ish Shards are whole?"

Little Wilson

Yeah, you didn't want to do the math, because it was-- *interrupted*

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, I get it. You're saying-- Okay, so I'm sorry. I'm trying to think of Shards that are half-powered. That's not what you're saying. Half of the existing Shards. 

Little Wilson

Yes, yes.

Brandon Sanderson

Okay, got it. Yeah.

Little Wilson

And does that-- is that counting Splinters? Splintered Shards?

Brandon Sanderson

Um, no. I mean, a-- Splintered is one of the ways that they are not considered whole.

Zas678

Like completely Splintered as in Dominion and Devotion.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. That's what-- That's the opposite of whole.

Zas678

But having a Splinter, like Endowment...

Little Wilson

Because I-- I was kind of going with "Shattered" <and> "Splintered". So Shattered would be kind of what I was going with Devotion and Dominion. 

Brandon Sanderson

Okay.

Little Wilson

And then Splintered would be more like... You mentioned that Honor kind of Splintered himself off to create the spren before--

Isaac Stewart

Oh, and that's mentioned isn't it?

Brandon Sanderson

Right, but you've got to keep in mind that-- um... So in Scadrial, Ruin and Preservation did the same thing. Their bodies are part of the world. They-- if their exist-- like, the things on the Spiritual Realm don't matter where they are in relation to each other and things like this. All those <piece> spren are still Honor, when he was alive. Does that make sense? Like, yes those are little Splinters of Honor, but they are still Honor. It's not like he's diminished, because his whole essence is the world, right? There is no diminishing that. And so that thing is we're talking about the fracturing of the mind and the killing of the Shard. That's the distinction between whole and not whole as I was making it for you there.

Arcanum Unbounded Chicago signing ()
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Argent

Which is a nice segue to Shards Investing into Shardworlds, that I've been meaning to ask. So is it kind of a passive-- The more a Shard stays on a world--

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Argent

--the Investiture kind of seeps--

Brandon Sanderson

It does. Once you've got a Perpendicularity, you are starting-- That's trouble for going other places. But you've gotta remember, going other places means multiple things to someone actually holding a Shard. They can exist in the Spiritual Realm, where all things are one. And they can even kind of comprehend it...

Argent

Can a Shard choose to just instantly invest in a place?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, they just need to start making some stuff.

Steelheart Chicago signing ()
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Argent (paraphrased)

Feruchemy is the "balance" between Ruin and Preservation. Would any combination of Shards create a "balance" magic, so to speak, or are only certain Shards compatible?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Feruchemy ended up being a balance system, because of how polar Ruin and Preservation were. Any world with at least two Shards will result in a similar phenomenon. 

Argent (paraphrased)

Like Roshar?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Like Roshar. There is something like that going on there.

JordanCon 2016 ()
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Questioner

Was the other god in Scadrial, Trell or whatnot, they're kind of mentioning him, does that imply there other really powerful beings out there outside of the Shards?

Brandon Sanderson

There are possibly really powerful beings, but… how should we say… *long pause* I mean, there are those who would call Hoid a very powerful being, who exist outside Shards, but if you're talking deific level things in the cosmere, they're all related to the Shards… Or demigod level.

Manchester signing ()
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Questioner

I was reading the first book-- The Way of Kings, there is a scene-- no a Letter. Is that scene-- the person who is sending the Letter says that the Shards in Elantris are broken-- sorry they're, like, [Splintered], and they can’t be used again. How is that so, because if there was Adonalsium which Shattered and people took the Shards.

Brandon Sanderson

There are those who believe you could put the pieces back together and their are those who believe you can't, and shouldn't.

Questioner

You shouldn't put them back--

Brandon Sanderson

There are some who believe that.

Questioner

So will they be able to put it back together?

Brandon Sanderson

Well there are some who believe it is possible. *laughter*

Congratulations, you win a RAFO card!  RAFO is something Robert Jordan would say, that means Read And Find Out and I print out little cards so at least you get something. That means "I'm sorry I can't answer your question but I'm really not that sorry otherwise I would answer it"

Steelheart Chicago signing ()
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Argent (paraphrased)

Ruin and Preservation were often represented in the Mistborn trilogy in terms of black and white. Is this imagery limited to that series, or do other Shards also have an associated hue?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

This (Ruin & Preservation's colors) was because of the specific world and their perception of the world and themselves. Essentially, because of the dynamics of the interplay between Ruin and Preservation, they "chose" to view themselves as black and white respectively, so that's how they were represented. Also, because the only two Shards on Scadrial, and their natures were opposites, after the long period of time they spent on the same planet, they kind of "polarized." If similar thing happened on another world, similar coloring effect could happen.

Shadows of Self Chicago signing ()
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Questioner

If another Shard came to Scadrial, would that be enough to create a metal like atium, or...?

Brandon Sanderson

If another Shard just came to visit, probably not.

Questioner

If they brought a spren or--

Brandon Sanderson

If they came and completely Invested the world, then things might start happening. But there's some special circumstances, remember. Ruin and Preservation created that planet. Specifically. And so there's some goofy things that happened because of that. For instance Roshar was not made by Honor, Cultivation, or Odium. That's one of the big differences about what's going on there.

General Reddit 2018 ()
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ReadAndFindOut

In 2014, Brandon said First of the Sun - the planet in Sixth of the Dusk - is a minor Shardworld, in that it does not have a Shard present (https://wob.coppermind.net/events/103-salt-lake-city-comic-con-2014/#e1010). However, we've now gotten a WoB saying that Patji - the Father island - IS a Shard (https://wob.coppermind.net/events/256-oathbringer-london-signing/#e8606). Patji was a Shard, but isn't during SotD? Or did we finally get confirmation on that elusive "Survival Shard"? What do you guys think?

Brandon Sanderson

I stand by them. Though, as always, quotes and WoBs at signings aren't always as deliberately thought out as I'd like them to be. Answering questions on the fly can be challenging, and my phrasing can be bad in retrospect.

But no shard was in residence on First of the Sun during the events of that story. The investiture on that planet is residue, normal investiture from Adonalsium. Everything happening there could happen with or without a shard present. Indeed, I would say that no shard was ever "in residence" on First of the Sun.

The being called Patji still exists, and is a shard of Adonalsium. Shards in the past have been interested in First of the Sun, and have meddled in small ways there. (Like they have on a lot of shardworlds.)

Note that I might have been a little misleading in the first quote by bringing up Threnody, which is a real corner case in the cosmere because of uncommon events there.

That said, I'm sure that every story I write about a planet will bring up the quirks and unusual interactions of the magic there, because that's kind of what I do. (First of the Sun has its own oddities, as mentioned in Arcanum Unbounded.) Every planet is likely to end up as a corner case in some way, just like every person is distinctive in their own way, and never fully fits expectations.

I still consider one of the major dividing lines between "major" and "minor" shardworlds (other than Shard residence) to be in strength of access to the magic, and control over it. I intend the minor shard worlds to involve interactions with the magic as setting--coming back to spren, you could have a minor shardworld with people who use, befriend, even bond spren. (Or the local equivalent--Seon, Aviar, etc.) But you'd never see power on the level of the city of Elantris, the actions of a Bondsmith, or even the broad power suite of a mistborn.

But, as ever, the cosmere is a work in progress. The needs of telling a great story trump things I've said about what I'm planning. (I do try as much as I can to avoid having two texts contradict one another. And when they do, that's often a lapse on my part.)

Oversleep

Wait.

I'm confused.

So the Investiture on First of the Sun is associated with a Shard or is it residue, normal investiture from Adonalsium?

Cause the question was a follow up (on this) where you revealed that all Investiture in Cosmere got assigned to a Shard even if it wasn't part of a Shard.

And then you said that the one on First of the Sun is directly associated with one of the Shards (and since later you revealed Patji to be an avatar of Autonomy (also, what are avatars and how do they work?)) we took it to mean that at one point Autonomy Invested in First of the Sun.

But now you're saying it didn't?

If there was no Shard ever on First of the Sun but Patji is a Shard/avatar of a Shard then where is Patji, actually?

Could you please clarify all that?

Brandon Sanderson

So the Investiture on First of the Sun is associated with a Shard or is it residue, normal investiture from Adonalsium?"

The reason I have so much trouble answering these questions (and you'll see me struggling to get an answer in the 10-15 seconds I have when someone asks me in a signing line) is because this isn't an either or. Is this computer I'm using matter associated with Earth, the Big Bang, or such-and-such star that went supernova long ago? Well, it's probably all three.

When people ask, "What shard is this investiture associated with" it gets very complicated. Shards influence and tweak certain investiture, giving it a kind of spin or magnetism, but all investiture ever predates the shattering--and in the cosmere matter, energy, and investiture are one thing.

I always imagine investiture having certain states, certain magnetisms if you will, associated with certain aspects of Adonalsium. So it's all "assigned" to a shard--because it's always been associated with that Shard. To investiture, Adonalsium's shattering meant everything and nothing at the same time.

We generally mean the term "Invested" to mean a Shard has taken permanent residence in a location, a kind of base of operations--but at the same time, this is meaningless, since distance has no meaning on the Spiritual Realm, where most Shards are. So imprisonment of a Shard like Ruin or Odium is a crude expression--but the best we have.

Autonomy never "invested" on First of the Sun. But even answering (as someone else asked) if they created an avatar without visiting is a difficult thing to explain--because even explaining how a shard travels (when motion is irrelevant) is difficult to manage. It's a subject that I intend to be up for debate, discussion, and argument by in-world philosophers and arcanists.

You can see why I have such troubles explaining these things at signings--and why I fail when I try to, considering the time limitations and (often) fatigue limitations placed upon me. These are concepts I intend to spend entire, lengthy epic volumes explaining and exploring.

Let's say you were Autonomy, and you have--through expanding and exploring your understanding--found a gathering of investiture that has always been there, you always knew about, but still didn't actually recognize until the moment you considered and explored it. (Because even though your power is infinite, accessing and using that infinity is beyond your reach.) Were you "invested" there? No, no more than you're invested on Roshar, where parts of what were Adonalsium still exist that are associated with you (in the very fabric of mater and existence.) But suddenly, you have a chance to tweak, influence, and do things that were always possible, but which you never could do because you knew, but didn't know, at the same time.

And...I'm already into WAY more than I want to be typing this out right now. If it's confusing, it's because it's practically impossible for me to explain these things in a short span of time.

I'm going to leave it here, understanding that no, I haven't fully explained your question. (I didn't even get into what avatars are, what Patji was, and what happened to Patji the being--and how that relates to Patji the island.) But hopefully this kind of starts to point the right direction, though I probably should have just left this question alone because I bet this post is going to raise more questions than it answers...

Overlord Jebus

You've confused things so much now. We thought we had a pretty good grasp of this whole Patji situation (Autonomy visited the planet at some point, got themselves all Invested and created an avatar which is called Patji by the locals).

Now you're saying no Shard has ever visited there? And that the pool would have existed if no Shard had ever interfered? But that Patji still exists and is a Shard?

Does that mean Autonomy edited First of the Sun from afar without actually going there? And that the pool would have already existed without any intervention? Does this mean it was associated with Autonomy from the beginning? I'm really confused now.

Brandon Sanderson

I don't believe I said no Shard had visited. I said no Shard was there during the events of the story.

Investiture on First of the Sun predates any shards fiddling with it.

Shards have fiddled with it by the time of the story.

I think fandom might be going down too far a rabbit hole on this one.

Chaos

Are you saying here that Patji is an avatar of Autonomy, or is it a separate Shard and not an avatar of Autonomy?

Brandon Sanderson

When I said Patji was a Shard, I was meaning Automony--but it is not quite that simple.

Take this post to mean "no, you should not be looking toward another Shard for Patji's origins. Autonomy is the one relevant." But Autonomy's relationships with entities like this (not sure entity is the right word, even) is complex. I'm not trying to confuse the issue, though.

Words of Radiance San Francisco signing ()
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Questioner

What is your favorite original Shardholder?

Brandon Sanderson

My favorite original Shardholder?

I don't knoooowwww...

Questioner

Are they all that bad of people?

Brandon Sanderson

No no, they're not bad-- they're not all bad people. Many of them are-- you know the trick is I'm gonna have to really write them, as their personalities. Because right now they're really just concepts, and I haven't written very many of them. And so... I'm very fond of Bavadin, but I can't say.

Hal-Con 2012 ()
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Lance Alvein (paraphrased)

You've said that "The Pits of Hathsin were crafted by Preservation as a place to hide the chunk of Ruin's body that he had stolen away". How does one Shard steal a portion of another Shard and create a Physical outlet for it, like the Pits were for Ruin's power?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

It has to do with clash between the two Shards' power. When pressed, he then said that it was "kind of" like splintering

Skyward San Diego signing ()
#20 Copy

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

I know about Harmony but is it possible for like two Shards to procreate and make a brand new Shard?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

That is a Read And Find Out. Assume I'm not hiding too much from you in that realm, but there will be some fiddly bits as we go further in the cosmere about stuff like that.

Arcanum Unbounded Chicago signing ()
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Argent

Some of the few Shards Rayse Splintered included Ambition, I believe, Dominion, and Devotion.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Argent

And those were all way back, in the history. So, we know that the Shards' personalities overrides the Vessel's personality over time?

Brandon Sanderson

Strongly influence, and depending on the individual, override.

Argent

Okay. So did Rayse choose those Shards because--

Brandon Sanderson

He went after Ambition first, but didn't find Ambition until after going after Devotion and Dominion. But Ambition was number one on his hit list.

Argent

Was it because of the Shard or because of the Vessel? Like did he hate the person?

Brandon Sanderson

In this case it was the Shard, primarily, that drove him--

Argent

Oh, he was maybe afraid the Shard would grow too powerful and take over--

Brandon Sanderson

He was afraid that this Shard that would rival him. And so he's like "This one is number one on the hit list. We're taking down Ambition." But then he got trapped in the Rosharan system.

Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
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Questioner

Do the Shards know each others' weaknesses? Like the metal blindness or anything?

Brandon Sanderson

They are not aware of every specific, but they know generalities.

Questioner

So they know that they do have weaknesses.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah.

Questioner

So would Odium have taken advantage of Honor's weakness to Splinter him?

Brandon Sanderson

You could say that, yeah.

Bands of Mourning release party ()
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Questioner

Would it require a human-type person to have possession of one of the Shards? Would it interact the same way like if a dog were to somehow take it?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, a dog would probably not be able to do it. It's not outsi-- Yeah, a dog wouldn't be able to do it.

Questioner

So there probably wouldn't be some huge dog tearing up the furniture?

Brandon Sanderson

Probably not. No, good question, but nah.

Questioner

So what about other creatures that are intelligent but not human?

Brandon Sanderson

That's possible.

Oathbringer Houston signing ()
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Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

I was wondering if there was a connection between when we meet Preservation in Secret History, and the way he is, and the Stormfather. Like, is he dead yet, in Secret History?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

There is a similarity, but-- Dying for a Shard takes a long time, in a lot of cases. So, it's similar. But the Stormfather is something different, *inaudible* remnants left over after the god died. 

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

So is he dead?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Honor is dead, yes. But, at the same time, the Stormfather is kind of his Cognitive Shadow. So-- what does "dead" mean?

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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darklordreddit

With puts and pieces of the respective pieces of harmony still laying about is Harmony actually skewed in one way or another if slightly and does Sazed's personality circumvent this in any way ?

Brandon Sanderson

Personality can always circumvent the powers--it just gets harder and harder to hold out as centuries pass.

Kraków signing ()
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Questioner

Could you tell me something about Cosmere, that we don't know?

Brandon Sanderson

Oooh boy, that is so hard, people ask this all the time and I keep running out of things... Was there anything I haven't added recently... There are Shards whose Shardpools are not on a planet they currently inhabit. At least one.

Leipzig Book Fair ()
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Questioner

Odium has, as I understand it, something like the meaning of God's divine wrath. How is wrath on its own able to cause such terrible destruction? I  mean, he primarily attacked di-Shardic worlds like Sel and Roshar, so could he just have sowed discord between Shards there to an extent of them actually fighting against each other and then just *inaudible*.

Brandon Sanderson

That is a good theory, that he got them to fight against each other. I won't tell you whether it happened or not, but it is a very valid theory. It's fully within his capacity; that's the sort of thing that he does.

General Reddit 2016 ()
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xolsiion

I'm a big fan of Harmony.

zatanamag

Probably will never happen but I'd love to see him put the smackdown on Odium.

chx_

Paging [Brandon]... what do you think of this theory :) ? Is this your plan? Or are we asking about something which is decade(s) away?

Brandon Sanderson

I find theories like this very interesting, but yes, you're right. This is talking about things very far away. I've said, however, that Odium is wary of Harmony.

zotsandscrambles

It seems like Odium has been attacking shards that share a world for some reason (dom and dev hon and cult). Maybe his exploit against dual sharded worlds would work less well against a dual-wielding shardholder?

Brandon Sanderson

I won't say yes or no to that, but you can imagine that what happened on Scadrial is something he would have preferred never occur.

zotsandscrambles

I'm surprised it didn't occur to anyone to grab two shards to begin with? Pairing Odium with Devotion seems like a good idea.

Did this not occur for a specific reason, or just an oversight on the part of the folks involved?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO

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.

Oathbringer release party ()
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CaptainRyan [PENDING REVIEW]

*written* Could a Shard refuse to "fuel" a magic user? E.g. Could Preservation have refused to "fuel" Ham's pewter? (Please, for the question, assume Preservation is whole and undamaged.)

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

*written* No, but he could have interfered.

*spoken* So, the answer is "no, he couldn't." Like, if you just had the Allomancy going, like--

CaptainRyan [PENDING REVIEW]

They can't shut you off?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

They can't shut you off, but they can interfere with you using it. They could do other things. But, like, the magic, it would be like saying, "I refuse to let gravity work on this person."

CaptainRyan [PENDING REVIEW]

But couldn't a Shard-- Technically, they can control forces--

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

No, they can't, but they can interfere with it, does that make sense? ...Gravity is not gone, but this person is being interfered with and their relationship to these sorts of things.

CaptainRyan [PENDING REVIEW]

Kind of like if I throw your pen in the air, gravity's not gone, but I've interfered with something.

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Yes, exactly. And you can, like, twist the gravity, so it's pointing... But the laws of natures, burning is, like, a law of nature, and things like that. And they can circumvent, and they can twist, and they can bend, but the laws of nature are still the laws of nature.

CaptainRyan [PENDING REVIEW]

They can't just cut it off?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Yeah.

Oathbringer Leeds signing ()
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Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

Do Splinters require proximity to their Shards?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Do they require it for what?

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

Function--

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Function. It's very hard for most Splinters to leave the realm where they were Splintered, but this gets into tricky stuff because the Shard mostly occupies the Spiritual Realm, but what do you mean by the Shard? Because the essence of the Shard is in the Physical Realm, it's all across the cosmere, and things like this. Usually once something is Splintered it is difficult for them to leave that area, so yes.

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

And in the system--

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

You see it with the-- I would call most Cognitive Shadows a Splinter in some ways. And you see it when Kelsier tries to leave, right. And spren would have the same trouble, and seons would have the same trouble. But at the same time is that a proximity to the Shard? Kind of. Things get very wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey when you start dealing with the nature of the Spiritual Realm in the cosmere. 

Holiday signing ()
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Questioner

I was noticing that some of the Aons from Elantris, have similar names to the Surges on Roshar. Like there's an Aon for Cohesion, which is a Surge. Does that have anything to do with each other?

Brandon Sanderson

Vaguely, yes.

Questioner

What about the ones with the names of Shards, like Endowment, which is a Shard.

Brandon Sanderson

Mmhmm.

Questioner

Those are related?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

What do they have to do with each other?

Brandon Sanderson

It's a tangential relationship.

Arcanum Unbounded Chicago signing ()
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Questioner

So I've got sort of a Shard-related question. So, the entity that Harmony is, all the other Shards that we've had named so far, are any of them combinations, or are they all--

Brandon Sanderson

Okay, good question. The only one I would count as a combination is the Dor, right? But it isn't even a full Shard. So everything else, single holder only when we talk about it okay? That's an excellent question. Or they've been Splintered completely.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Fifty-Five

Elend Sees the Mist Spirit

Elend really does have a lot of faith in Vin, even if he doesn't worship her. He ascribes an almost supernatural power to her. And, I can kind of see why he would. In these books, Vin's almost less of a character and more a force. Like Ruin and Preservation, in a way.

Regardless, this chapter is about Elend giving up—then finding his hope again. I bring the mist spirit back here for a final appearance, but I wanted to be careful not to have it give too much information to Elend. Not because I don't want the information itself to get out, but because the mist spirit hasn't been a presence in this book, and so I haven't foreshadowed it enough. Therefore, if it simply showed up and gave a bunch of answers, I think that would feel cheap to the reader.

The mist spirit is, as the next epigraph explains, the remnants of Preservation's mind. I don't delve into it too much in this book, even the epigraphs, but Preservation's consciousness is indeed separate from his power. However, his consciousness itself has a limited power. And that is what he used to bind Ruin.

That did not weaken his power, which still protects the world. Instead, it cost him his mind, leaving behind only a faint shadow—like the mists' memory of Preservation, far removed from what he had once been.

That consciousness attached to Preservation—like the one attached to Ruin—is a part of Adonalsium, which will eventually be explained. Suffice it to say that in a pinch, Preservation could draw upon the power of his own mind and use it to imprison Ruin. This was why he was able to pull of the trick, as Ruin wasn't expecting it. He might have anticipated an attack using Preservation's power, but not his mind—not knowing what burning his own mind would do.

That is why Preservation's cage captured Ruin's own mind, but not his power.

FAQFriday 2017 ()
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Questioner

Can holders of Shards give them up voluntarily? If so, what would happen?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, a Vessel for a Shard of Adonalsium can give up their power if they wish.

As for what would happen...well, there are some variables in there. Kind of like the variables in what happens to a bucket of water if you dump it out. Depends on where it falls, how strong the wind is, what the air is like.

Power dropped like this, if left alone, could end up Splintering and turning into something like spren/seons. It could become something more like the Stormfather--a large, self-aware entity. It could become something like the Dor or many of the Unmade--something proto-aware, but not truly an individual. There are other possibilities as well, depending on lots of factors. (Are sapient beings involved? what is being done with the power--is it concentrated in the Spiritual Realm as normal, or is it being pushed somewhere else?)

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Questioner (paraphrased)

So what happens when Shards die?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Well, it depends on how long the Shardholders have held the Shard. After it dies, the shard is often able to continue acting, a kind of "cognitive shadow" of sorts. For example, the mists were able to continue doing what Preservation wished in helping out Vin and Snapping people. With the Stormfather, he is that cognitive shadow, and he's semi-sentient. It's that power, but no one is actually holding it. We also see this on Threnody.