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/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#4 Copy

stormlightfan70

We know it has been stated that adonalsium could have been shattered into 16 different intents. We also know there is a force out there opposing adanalsium. Did it shatter into those 16 intents because it believed that was the best way to defend against this said force?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO.

Ancient 17S Q&A ()
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Chaos (paraphrased)

Will Sazed eventually go mad trying to hold two Shard's power at the same time (being pushed to two different Purposes simultaneously for millennia)? Why hasn't anyone else tried this trick before in the Cosmere?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

No. Since they're so opposite they work together to create a whole. However, after a LONG time it would change him as a person.

Oathbringer Houston signing ()
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Questioner

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

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

So is he dead?

Brandon Sanderson

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

Stormlight Three Update #5 ()
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Iceblade44

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

Brandon Sanderson

There is some time-dilation 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.

Holiday signing ()
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Questioner

Do other Shards have [intents?] like Honor with the Heralds and [Odium] with the Unmade?

Brandon Sanderson

Do others have things like that?

Questioner

Yeah.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, there are other things like that.

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.

Starsight Release Party ()
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Questioner

If Nightblood was to attack one [a Shard] and decided it was evil, could he destroy enough of that Shard to seriously weaken it compared to other Shards or not really?

Brandon Sanderson

I mean it would be such a drop in the bucket. To actually weaken the Shard. Like, there is so much out there. This would be hard to do. I won't completely nix it, but let's just say there's a lot that Nightblood would have to...

Bands of Mourning release party ()
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Questioner

Do the Shards move-- Other than Odium do the Shards move around and have we seen-- Or have Shards moved to worlds after the events that we have read about?

Brandon Sanderson

Do Shards other than-- Do Shards move around? The answer is yes, there are several of them. Have Shards moved around after the events you've read about? Yes, there are Shards that have moved around after that.

Questioner

That have moved to the worlds we've read about?

Brandon Sanderson

That's a RAFO. I'm not going to tell you whether they've moved to the planets you've read about or not.

DrogaKrolow.pl interview ()
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DrogaKrolow

What happened with the Shard that just drifts in the space, the one that wants to hide and survive?

Brandon Sanderson

What about that Shard? They want to hide and survive.

DrogaKrolow

Huh, something more?

Brandon Sanderson

I think I will RAFO that for right now.

Footnote: The questioner seems to be conflating two separate Shards in his question. There is the Shard that wants to hide and survive and another that is not on a planet.
Skyward Seattle signing ()
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RandyD

Can a Shard just--like, say someone is using their magic system--can they stop the power from them being able to use it?

Brandon Sanderson

No, that's a bit like stopping the laws of physics. So, while they can circumvent laws of physics and things like that, but if you wanted to stop someone from using magic, smiting them would be the efficient way of making that happen, if you are capable of it in the system.

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.

Tel Aviv Signing ()
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Questioner

I wanted to know why in The Stormlight Archive and Mistborn, all the gods were named after human traits?

Brandon Sanderson

So this is... all the books are connected. So a long time ago, the premise is, a being... god named Adonalsium was split into 16 pieces, and so the various "aspects" of god, and those aspects are now the gods of all of these things. So there were two in the Elantris world, there's one in the Warbreaker world. Mostly Mistborn and Stormlight is where you'll find out about them.

Questioner

Preservation, and... I remember Hatred [Odium] in Stormlight.

Brandon Sanderson

Yep, Preservation and Ruin. And on Sel, it was Dominion and Devotion, or Love and Conquest were the two.

Questioner

So all of them are connected?

Brandon Sanderson

Yep.

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.

Goodreads WoK Fantasy Book Club Q&A ()
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T.T

Barring the Almighty, did we seen a Shardholder (like Sazed) in this book?"

Brandon Sanderson

I think "Shardholder" would get confusing alongside "Shardbearer." Basically, in the Cosmere's terms, when someone holds a Shard of Adonalsium, I call that person a Shard of Adonalsium. They are imbued with the power of that Shard, but they also become the Shard. Fans can use whatever terminology they wish, but this is how I term it.You did at least see the direct effects of two of the Shards of Adonalsium, but I won't say whether or not you actually saw a Shard of Adonalsium.

New York Comic Con 2022 ()
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Questioner

In Dawnshard, we see a mural of Adonalsium being Shattered.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

It’s, like a circle that splits into four parts, and those four parts also split into four parts.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

So I’m wondering if there’s a way to group the Shards in terms of being, or…?

Brandon Sanderson

I would encourage people to be trying to figure this out.

YouTube Spoiler Stream 2 ()
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Crspu

Is there going to be a magic system for every Shard? 

Brandon Sanderson

Uh, yes, whether there'll be books? We get into a problem here... is... what is a magic system, right? 

So for instance like, would you count all of Surgebinding as one magic system, or is it ten magic systems, right? Is Windrunning a separate magic system from Skybreaking. Right, and is it the Surges? Is it that? What do you call a magic system? Is the system of fabrials a magic system, or is it a subset of what's happening on Roshar? And in that case, it's like I delineated it pretty strongly in Mistborn, but in Stormlight, it's like... kind of Surgebinding is kind of Honor and Cultivation, right? And so is there a magic system for each of them or not?

So the answer is yes and no, in that every one of the Shards will inspire really interesting magic systems. But is there a one to one? What do you call a magic system? And beyond that, will I have time to write books about all of these, I don't know. You could even look at Sel. Sel has how many magic systems, is it one? Is it lots? Is Forging a different magic system from AonDor, or is it two aspects of the same magic system and so... It's tricky. 

Oathbringer Houston signing ()
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Pagerunner

The letters in [Oathbringer]. Are they all three from Shards?

Brandon Sanderson

...Yes.

Pagerunner

Is the first one, is that one we know? Is that one we've seen yet?

Brandon Sanderson

They are all ones you have seen.

Pagerunner

They are all ones we have seen.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. Or at least you know.

Pagerunner

Have seen or know of.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah.

YouTube Spoiler Stream 2 ()
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Alex M

What's the difference between avatar and Splinter?

Brandon Sanderson

These are all very weird terms that I'm just using.

*mistakenly answering for Sliver* A Sliver is a person who has held the power of a Shard, and then let go of it. A briefly held time, holding the infinite power of a Shard, but no longer does. So what does that do? That changes your soul, and leaves markers on it. It's a real physiological thing.

An avatar is... a Shard manifesting a semi-autonomous piece of themselves that is still connected to who they are. An avatar, for instance, of Autonomy - depending on how Autonomy creates that avatar - might know, might not know, but they are still an aspect, they are still part of Autonomy. And when you get down to it a part of them knows that, and it's almost a god roleplaying, but in a way that only a Shard, or a lowercase-g god in the Cosmere, can do.

Brandon Sanderson

*realizes that he answered for Sliver earlier, and clarifies*

A Splinter is a piece of a Shard that is fully autonomous, where an avatar is not. So something that is Splintered does not consider itself - and would not be considered by the definitions  - an actual piece of it [the Shard], and has free will. So once it has free will, and/or could develop free will (because some of the Splinters haven't gotten there yet), but is fully cut off from the direct control and self-identity of the Shard, then it is called a Splinter.

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.

Arcanum Unbounded Fort Collins signing ()
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Xyrd (paraphrased)

Was Leras bonded to a being in the Cognitive Realm?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

You mean like a Nahel bond?

Xyrd (paraphrased)

Yes, or a similar mechanism.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Well, you have to remember that Shards interact with the realms in a different way, so...

Xyrd (paraphrased)

Well, I more mean before Leras became a Vessel.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Anything before then is RAFO.

Words of Radiance San Francisco signing ()
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Questioner

If there is only one Shard on [Taldain], are there other Shards in the solar system?

Brandon Sanderson

Ahhh. Now that's a clever question. The answer is "no". One for that solar system. And there's also, um-- we'll stop there.

Questioner 2

There's also what?

Brandon Sanderson

There are other places with only one. It's not uncommon for there to be only one. I've gone to the planets with multiples intentionally because the conflict there is very long. And the ones on the planets without multiples: like for instance in Warbreaker the conflict is not about cosmere-centric things. And you'll see that very commonly on the planets you go to. There's the same sort of things on Elantris. And so when you see me going-- even though there are two there, they're dead. And so, when you see me--

Questioner

The reason I ask is that there have been intimations that in Stormlight Archive a Shard may be on the moon just from things that people have--

[...]

There have been *inaudible* that that may be the case, so I had to ask.

Brandon Sanderson

You guys are awesome, thank you so much.

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?)

Words of Radiance Philadelphia signing ()
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Questioner

Did the shattering [Splintering] of Honor happen in the Cognitive Realm, and Ruin in the Physical? *Brandon laughs* The reason I'm wondering is, are spren the expression of the shattering in the Cognitive Realm while Ruin's physical being is an expression of the shattering in the Physical?

Brandon Sanderson

This is an interesting theory that I don't want to completely shoot down, but it is not heading in absolutely correct directions. The shattering of a shard is an event that transcends all three Realms.

Shardcast Interview ()
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WeiryWriter

What made you decide to canonize not one, not two, but FOUR new Shards? A whole quarter of Adonalsium in this book?

Brandon Sanderson

It had been long enough. I had been coy with them long enough. I had worked out enough of the outlines moving forward that I knew what Shards I needed and things like that, and they had gotten locked in enough that I could just do it. And they would mention it. We're getting to the point where if I didn't start mentioning them I'd have to do verbal gymnastics in the stories to not. 

When Harmony is trying actively to figure out what happened, and who they all are, and where they all are. It was time for me to go ahead and stop dribbling that. The reason I was dribbling is there were still a few I was still deciding upon. And now that they're all locked in. There's no reason to hold it back.

I don't hold things back from you guys out of glee. I hold things back because narrative drama, and because things are not locked in yet.

WeiryWriter

So there's still two [Shards] we don't know. Do you have those locked down or are those still...?

Brandon Sanderson

Those are a little more vague, like I haven't picked the words for them. I look for the right word, and sometimes I have the word that's the wrong synonym. Odium in this case would be Hatred. Calling the villain Hatred doesn't work in the same way that calling the villain Odium works. I'm looking for those right words.

When Worlds Collide 2014 ()
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Jeremy (paraphrased)

When Honor speaks of his inability to see the future, he likens it to a shattering window. Is this related to the fact that in the not-too-distant future, he himself will be splintered? Or is it more a matter of Intent; e.g., Cultivation (and Preservation?) is geared toward future development, whereas Honor is geared toward current behavior.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

This is not related to his impending Splintering, it is a matter of differing Intents.

Firefight San Francisco signing ()
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Questioner

Atium and lerasium are their own special ways of Investiture, of using it. Do the other Shards have those, that even within their magic systems are unique just to that one Shard?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

Can you tell me anything about any of that?

Brandon Sanderson

You might see some of them some day? I think, I know you've seen at least one, but people don't know what it is? One person's asked me a question about it, so somebody's figured it out but, yeah, there are things like that in other worlds. Kind of, distilled essence of Shard, yeah.

Arcanum Unbounded Seattle signing ()
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Questioner

How many different non-human immortals are there on Roshar?

Brandon Sanderson

Wow, very specific. Most of the Aimians count. They're both small races, but there are enough of them that there are dozens of each that count as immortal, and they're non-human. The two living Shards, I would say count as non-human immortals, and most spren count as non-human immortals. So there's a ton.

YouTube Livestream 17 ()
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Brandon Sanderson

One of the reasons I've not been firm on what the names of the sixteen Shards are is because I want that flexibility to be able to say "no, this is what the cosmere needs, is a persona like this to have a Shard, and the Shard doing this." By the time Rhythm of War comes out, I think we will have canonized all sixteen or very close to all sixteen. But I wanted to take my time doing that.

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.