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#1

Argent

Can somebody travel to the Spiritual Realm, the same as the Cognitive?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, but it's a very different experience. It is possible… You may have seen people do it...

Argent

As in you're not sure, or you're being obnoxiously vague?

Brandon Sanderson

No...

Questioner #1

As in, you probably have but he's having trouble remembering it.

Brandon Sanderson

No no no... For instance, Elend burning atium and duralumin pulled most of him into the Spiritual Realm.

Argent

Oh, that's what happens there.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. He kind of got yanked into- You also have seen people Ascend with the powers and dip into the Spiritual Realm for a little bit.

Argent

So, Vin?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. But they could be on both, or either, or both at the same time. But you have seen Vin stick into the Spiritual Realm. And it happened to Sazed/Harmony...

Questioner #2

Oh! So is that where the gods live? Kinda?

Brandon Sanderson

Most of the bulk of the Shard's energy of being is contained in the Spiritual Realm, yes. Except for one notable exception!

Questioner #2

The <mists? mistwraith?>?

Brandon Sanderson

No.

Footnote: We now know that the "one notable exception" Brandon refers to at the end is the Dor, which is mostly contained in the Cognitive Realm.
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#3

Skaiiwalker (paraphrased)

What does Investiture look like in the Spiritual Realm?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Er, I haven't said anything about that yet.

Skaiiwalker (paraphrased)

But is it important?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yes, it's important.

Skaiiwalker (paraphrased)

Could you say that it looks anything like mist?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Well you could say that it looks anything like mist. *smiles teasingly*

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#4

Chaos2651

Is there a rationale to how Hemalurgic powers are distributed? I tried to look for a system, but they seem rather randomly distributed. For example, the spike which steals Allomantic powers for a particular quadrant is not always in one particular spot.

Brandon Sanderson

That is correct, it's not always in one particular spot. None of them are. I used as my model on this magic system the concept of acupuncture and pressure points. Placing a Hemalurgic spike is a very delicate and specific art. Imagine there being a different overlay on a human body, like a new network of nerves, representing lines, points, and 'veins' of the soul's spiritual makeup.

What is happening with Hemalurgy, essentially, is that you're driving a spike through a specific point on a person's body and ripping off a piece of their soul. It sticks to the spike on the Spiritual Realm. Then, you place that spike on someone else in a specific place (not exactly the same place, but on the right spiritual pressure point) and 'hot wire' the spirit to give it Hemalurgy or Feruchemy. It's like you're fooling the spiritual DNA, creating a work-around. Or, in some cases, changing the spirit to look like something else, which has the immediate effect of distorting the body and transforming it into a new creature.

Hemalurgy is a very brutal way of making changes like this, though, so it often has monstrous effects. (Like with the koloss.) And in most cases, it leaves a kind of 'hole' in the spirit's natural defenses, which is how Ruin was able to touch the souls of Hemalurgists directly.

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#7

Questioner

Well you answered my question about Allomancers being able to burn metals in other realms. Is that because the Shards are sort of…  My impression from the book was that the Shards were, in the Mistborn books, specifically in that area but is it because the universe is formed across all of them that that is why the metals...

Brandon Sanderson

So, most of the magics are not region-dependent, because the Spiritual Realm-- in the Spiritual Realm space doesn’t exist.  All things are the same distance from one another.

Questioner

Okay, so when Kelsier is in the-- Which Realm is he in?

Brandon Sanderson

He’s in the Cognitive Realm.

Questioner

Is he seeing people from other worlds or is he--

Brandon Sanderson

No, he meets some people who are traveling but Cognitive Realm is location dependent.  He is on the Cognitive Realm on Scadrial and the people he runs into there-- until he kind of travels off into space, which is where he finds the fortress.

Questioner

So even though he’s tied to Scadrial could he go to the Cognitive Realm of other worlds?

Brandon Sanderson

He would have trouble getting to another planet, being a Cognitive shadow like he was.

Questioner

So is there some particular thing that somebody would need to have to be able to move between the realms?

Brandon Sanderson

A body is helpful. Depends on what their ties are and things like that.  Not always, but yeah.

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#8

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

There's a lot of situations where people hear voices or see visions, stuff like that. What would be the effect, if somebody had something like mental condition like schizophrenia or multiple personality? Because you talk about-- Because a lot of the magic is about their will, you know?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Schizophrenia in the cosmere is going to-- So, anytime you're seeing the future, and things like that, you're kinda glimpsing into the Spiritual Realm. That's why it happens so often, because the magic systems are the way they work, are coming down from the Spiritual Realm. Schizophrenia will make you more open to that, so you are more likely to actually see the future. But you won't be able to tell it from the things your mind is making up, which is gonna be really dangerous.

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

So, what if you had, like, one personality wanna do one thing, and another one trying to do something else, would it cancel each other out?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Not necessarily. I mean, we're going a little that direction with Shallan, anyway. You'll see.

/r/books AMA 2015 () Copy
#10

psychomanexe

I think that in the Spiritual realm a person's spiritweb sort of manifests as a collection of "nodes" which are the Forms of their body/mind/subconscious, and these nodes are connected by "lines" which are interactions between the pure Forms. These lines are what actually make up the person's character, how the body is "supposed" to be (barring accidents/disease, basically what magical healing attempts to restore the body to), as well as what interactions with investiture the person can use (what magic systems they have access to)

Am I completely off base here or should I keep thinking about this?

Brandon Sanderson

This is a good line to be thinking along.

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#13

Questioner

My theory currently on spiritwebs is that they are-- when they exist on the Spiritual Realm a person exists as nodes connected between concepts, Physical makeup, and whatnot, that’s what makes up your Spiritual DNA.

Brandon Sanderson

Mmhmm.

Questioner

Is there a different set of nodes for each person or do they all kind of share?

Brandon Sanderson

You're kind of imagining it the wrong way, each person is a node.

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#15

Questioner

Mistborn travels to Roshar, what does he or she use to get Invested?

Brandon Sanderson

*pause* So. *pause* I think I've talked about this before on the 17th Shard, but I'm not 100% sure and so I don't want to anything right now, not knowing what I've said. But you can look it up. You can ask Peter. Hey Peter, have I talked about someone using-- Have I ever in an interview before talked about using metals... A Mistborn travels to Roshar and uses the metals there?

Peter Ahlstrom

I think that you have said that they could do it.

Brandon Sanderson

I said it.  Okay, so the thing about the metals you have to understand is the metals are a key, the metals are not magical themselves, except for specific ones. If I've already said that I can tell you, go to Roshar and you could use the metals that are there to power your Allomancy because the difference is in your soul and you're actually drawing directly from Preservation. Remember that on the Spiritual Realm, this is the big tidbit--they're listening. On the Spiritual Realm time, distance, and space are irrelevant. It's a place where time and space are compounded in one. So anything that exists on the Spiritual Realm, space doesn't matter for it.

/r/fantasy AMA 2013 () Copy
#18

Nepene

You've mentioned several philosophical concepts used in the writing of your books, like Jung's collective unconsciousness, Plato's cave. Could you expand a bit on your use of those in your books, and whether you think it is necessary to use philosophy to make a good fantasy world?

Brandon Sanderson

I don't think it's necessary at all. The writer's own fascinations--whatever they are--can add to the writing experience. But yes, some philosophical ideas worked into my fiction. Plato's theory of the forms has always fascinated, and so the idea of a physical/cognitive/spiritual realm is certainly a product of this. Human perception of ideals has a lot to do with the cognitive realm, and a true ideal has a lot to do with the spiritual realm.

As for more examples, they're spread through my fiction. Spinoza is in there a lot, and Jung has a lot to do with the idea of spiritual connectivity (and how the Parshendi can all sing the same songs.)

Nepene

Not completely sure where Spinoaza comes in. I guess the shards are part of the natural world and have no personality without a human wielder.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes on Spinoza there, and also the idea of God being in everything, and everything of one substance. Unifying laws. Those sorts of things. (Less his determinism, though.)

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#20

Kurkistan

Are flamespren, are they all doing their own thing, or is there some Ideal of "Fire" sitting in the Spiritual Realm that they're all based on?

Brandon Sanderson

Each spren is based on the Ideal of Fire.

Kurkistan

And is that sitting in the Spiritual Realm?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, we're using sort of a Platonic Ideal, and that concept is in force, so *sounds hesitant* "yes", but [spren] are manifestations of it.

Kurkistan

So these Ideals in the Spiritual Realm: Divine Breath, does that heal by accessing some Ideal of Human Health: so a guy who had never had a tongue and doesn't know how to speak all the sudden has a tongue and can speak?

Brandon Sanderson

You are... *LONG pause* You are, um, on the right track.

Kurkistan

Okay.

Brandon Sanderson

Because the Breath is... eh. How can I explain this? You are, yeah... So... So each Breath is a shade of diety, right?

Kurkistan

Yeah.

Brandon Sanderson

And each Breath incorporates into it this sort of idea of being endowed by the deity Endowment, correct?

Kurkistan

Yes.

Brandon Sanderson

And so each Breath you hold brings you one step closer to becoming like that, and so what you're saying is... is "yes", kind of true, yes.

Kurkistan

But it's like within the Breath, not sitting off by itself-

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, yes yes exactly.

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#21

Ironeyes

So, uh, we know that the charcoal creatures are afraid of coins.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Ironeyes

So are the white chalk creatures, which I think are called Shadowblazes…

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Ironeyes

Are they also afraid of coins?

Brandon Sanderson

Are they also afraid of coins? To a much lesser extent. Um, I can give you guys some backstory on this. What’s going on here is that the place these things come from, um, linear structure and things like this are frightening to them, like they come from a non-linear location. Time does not move linearly where they come from. When they come into this world, structure and linear time progression, is bizarre to them. And there are some who have embraced it, and been like, “This is cool and different!” and there are others that are still terrified of it, as a representation of what is so alien from the world they came from. So that’s why we’ve got this whole clocks, and even structure, as a metaphor for, um, something that is terrifying to them.

Uh, Rithmatist started in the Cosmere. The magic shares a lot of its roots, then, in Cosmere magic worldbuilding. I split if off because I wrote the whole first book with it being in the Cosmere. I split it off, saying “No, I don’t want Earth to be in the Cosmere.” Even an alternate version of Earth. It just raises too many questions about the nature of Earth being involved in this. I want the Cosmere to be its own dwarf galaxy of which not even a dimension of Earth is involved. And when I made that decision, I broke Rithmatist off. That’s the only one I had written that didn’t belong, but it still has, so, it means that the magic is going to feel very familiar to you, uh, it’s going to feel like the magic of a, um, of the Cosmere. And Cosmere magic is based around, usually, human beings making a symbiotic bond with an entity made out of the magic. This is, kind of, one of the origins of Cosmere magic, and Rithmatist has, therefore, its roots in that. I’ve done some things since I’ve split it off in the outlines to distinguish it, but it’s going to have the same roots. So you’ll notice some things like that, that are similar.

Questioner

Uh, before you split The Rithmatist from the Cosmere, did the Shadowblazes come from the Cognitive realm?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. Yeah, the Shadowblazes were in the Cognitive realm, they’re--you know, well, they’re more Spiritual realm. They were Spiritual realm, sorry. They were Spiritual realm entities that got pulled in, uh, to the Physical realm. And the Spiritual realm has no time, um, it exists independent of time and location, all times and all places are one, and so, uh, when something that’s from the Spiritual realm got pulled into the Physical realm, it was like, “This is so weird!” Um, and there are very few things in the Cosmere that exist only on the Spiritual realm, which was a really fun thing I could do with this book, was show that. Cause most things exist on all three realms. Um, so, yeah. So, yeah, I mean if you’ve got, if you’re a Cosmere, uh, theologian--not theologian, magic, uh, what do you call it? Uh, they call that, uh, I have a word for it in-world. But anyway, if you’re a realmatic theorist, you can kind of pick out how the Spiritual realm beings were related, originally, to the realmatic theory.

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#24

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. 

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#25

Argent (paraphrased)

Do the Spiritual and Physical Realms have names, like Shadesmar is the Cognitive Realm?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Kind of, but not really. Shadesmar is just a rough translation of "Cognitive Realm" in the language of whoever first found out about it. Other people, planets, and worlds wouldn't call it Shadesmar - they would call it whatever their words for "Cognitive Realm" are. This applies to the Physical and Spiritual as well.

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#26

Blightsong

Would it be harder for Jasnah to Soulcast a Knight Radiant?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

Would it be harder for her to Soulcast a Mistborn?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, investiture resists investiture. It's harder for her to even Soulcast a person than a rock, right?

Questioner

Is a Mistborn invested?

Brandon Sanderson

The Mistborn, how their burning the metal, you're right. They are not specifically invested when they are not burning. When the investiture becomes active, the yes. Before, no, you're right on that.

Blightsong

So Kelsier, he stayed around longer, not because he was invested, but because he had the potential to use investiture?

Brandon Sanderson

Over time using the magic will invest you, on Scadrial. Most of the power is not coming from, on Roshar the power isn't coming from the person either [he cut himself off, so I assume this is how it works on Scadrial even though he didn't finish his thought] so I'm going to have to back up on that one and say, yes, the Mistborn are as invested as a Knight Radiant, because in both cases the majority, bulk, of the power is coming from somewhere else, but there is the spirit web. Investing the wrong term, but you have all these connections in the spiritual realm, so yanking you away from them, or rewriting them is harder.

Questioner

Would they be harder with more Stormlight or metals burning?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, yes. That would increase the difficulty ratio. For instance, wearing Shardplate is gonna be a great barrier, right, and things like that so yea. The problem is like, Invested is the wrong term for that, their Spiritweb is connected in different ways.

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#30

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

How do states of matter affect how things look in the Cognitive and Spiritual Realms?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

So, generally, how people perceive something is very important to the reflection in the Cognitive Realm, and so the physical state of matter is going to be involved in that, but generally, it flows the other direction from the Spiritual Realm.

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

Do the forms of Investiture that we've seen, Stormlight, metals, Shardpools, do the fact that those happen in general the same types of states of matter, all physical, solid, is kinda going to be like metal for Investiture?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Yeah, that is generally the way it will be.

/r/books AMA 2015 () Copy
#32

Wigginns

What would a Hemalurgic spike granting atium do for an Allomancer already able to burn atium? Does it function similarly to bronze, granting enhanced atium-ing? Along this line of thought, would enhancing electrum burning via spike be of any advantage?

Brandon Sanderson

A spike of something you have would enhance your ability, giving your more strength. With atium, more strength makes for a minimal edge--the length you can push out the atium shadows. However, there's a certain breaking point where you kind of crack the whole system, peer straight into the [Spiritual Realm], and kind of have a "It's full of stars" moment.

Electrum could reach this same moment, potentially, though there's more interference to fight through. Extra strength in electrum isn't going to be terribly useful up to that point.

Alsadius

Is that what happened when atium was burned with duralumin?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

/r/books AMA 2015 () Copy
#33

focoma

Is there a quantum of Investiture? Just as how the photon (the quantum of light) is the force carrier particle of electromagnetism, is there a force carrier particle for Investiture, and do you have a name for it? (My follow up question would involve string theory, but I'll leave that one for later.)

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, there is a quantum of Investiture, though it acts very oddly in the cosmere.

True Investiture is a purely Spiritual Realm thing. In the cosmere, there are two alternate planes of existence, with their own specific laws. Some of them, as you've undoubtedly notice, behave similar to ideas in String Theory.

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#34

Gordon

The paintings (I think there were at least two, right?) that remind Lightsong of his dreams and the Manywar etc. Is the Artist someone we know? If not, will we eventually meet him/her in a later book? Does the artist hope to affect Lightsong this way, or is it just some guy giving abstract art to his God?

Jared

Is the artist that painted those paintings Hoid?

Brandon Sanderson

Hoid did not make the paintings. The goal of those paintings—and this is spoilery, by the way—the paintings are actually what the text implies that they are. They are abstract paintings which Lightsong, having a touch of the divine, is able to see and read into things that aren't necessarily there.

Beyond that, art is a magical thing in the world of WARBREAKER. When an artist creates a work of art, part of the artist's soul ends up in the artwork. Someone who has many breaths and who's Returned like Lightsong has the inherent ability to see into the art and perceive that. So Lightsong can interpret correctly an abstract piece, based on what the artist is trying to convey, in a way that a normal person couldn't.

I was not trying to make the artists anyone specifically important. In the case of those paintings, they are wonderful artists—I think they are two separate artists, if I'm thinking of the two paintings that you're indicating. As Lightsong has a splinter of divine nature inside him, he is able to interpret the paintings—to foresee, using them, and to see into the soul of the person who made them.

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#37

Blightsong

Is anything magical going on with the screams Szeth hears?

Brandon Sanderson

Uhhh, Szeth's screams. Uhhm, I'm trying to decide how to answer this. It is not, see here's the thing. What we would call magical may not be considered magical in the Cosmere, but it depends on your definition of magic. Would Szeth if he were on our planet and have done those things would he hear those screams, probably not, but would someone else in the Cosmere who had gone through what he had gone through hear those screams, yes.

Blightsong

So it has to do with the spiritual realm?

Brandon Sanderson

Yea, mhmm, yea.

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#38

Questioner

Is there a limit to the amount of useful energy that can be extracted from an end-neutral system? Like Skimmers on a Terris wheel on opposite sides.

Brandon Sanderson

So... Skimmers by making their weight lighter, spinning the thing around, and things and then--

 

Questioner

You got one on opposite sides--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah you could totally do this. In my mind, the way I work this out is that it's no more-- having people do it and things like this-- yeah you could totally do that. The power for making this happen, you are drawing Spiritual energy into the Physical plane can power your motor. It's not power-negative, it's changing forms.

But in realistic terms that would be so much less cost-effective than other methods because Allomancers are expensive, but yeah you could just keep that going.

Questioner

Same with Lifeless? Telling them to push a wheel around?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, the sustenance for life is coming directly from the Spiritual plane. So if you remove that, it wouldn't work. The whole idea from this is that energy is getting recycled back into the Spiritual plane when people are dying and things like that, so...

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#39

RankWeis

I've been thinking about the Parshendi and I guess this is as good a place to ask as any - when the parshendi change, there's an obvious change in the physical realm, and there seems to be a change in the cognitive realm as well. Is there a change in the spiritual realm? I know we haven't dug much into it, but it seems like a change in the spiritual realm is very difficult or impossible - if you could change in the spiritual realm is it really the same 'thing' at the end of the process? Mostly I'm curious about the first question...the second question is more of a philosophical train of thought.

Brandon Sanderson

Things in the spiritual realm do change, but subtly. For instance, a person's spiritual component knows how old they are.

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#40

Ward

When Harmony Ascends, he admits he doesn't have a good view of the Spiritual Realm. Does he develop a better one over time? And are there other Shards that already have a very good view of that?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. But it is still something that is hard to grok, so to speak, in-canon, *inaudible*, hard to understand. But he has a much better understanding, and the other Shards, some of them have a very good understanding. The thing is, the difference between the Spiritual Realm and the Beyond is not something that is immediately obvious.

Ward

So, the Spiritual Realm is not the Beyond?

Brandon Sanderson

No, Spiritual Realm is not the Beyond. There are three Realms of existence. The Beyond, some would say... There are philosophers would would say, the Spiritual Realm and the Beyond are one, that the soul gets sucked into and joins the Investiture. That's the idea of the One. But, most people would say the Beyond is not...