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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.

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.

A Memory of Light Milford Signing ()
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Viper (paraphrased)

At one point someone [on 17th Shard] asked you if seons were Shards of--

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Aona.

Viper (paraphrased)

Devotion ... yeah Aona, and you said that was close. My question is: are the Aons at the HEART of the Seons Shards of Devotion?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

No, but close.

Viper (paraphrased)

But... I was sure... the floating Aon at the heart, that's not a Shard...

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

*taking pity* You're close but a word is wrong. You're using the wrong terminology.

Viper (paraphrased)

SPLINTER. Are the Aons at the heart of Seons SPLINTERS of Aona?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yes.

Arcanum Unbounded Seattle signing ()
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Questioner

Seons are Splinters?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. Splinters of Devotion.

Questioner

Um, Splintered...Honor is the *inaudible*...the stormwall...

Brandon Sanderson

The Stormfather?

Questioner

The Stormfather.

Brandon Sanderson

The Stormfather is technically a Splinter of Honor, but it was an intentional Splinter, that Honor did himself.

Questioner

Does he have another Splinter?

Brandon Sanderson

So, all of the honorspren are Splinters of Honor, but this is a different situation because he actually did this intentionally.

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. 

Goodreads Fantasy Book Discussion Warbreaker Q&A ()
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Skyler

If a Returned gives away his/her breath they die right? So why doesn't Vasher die after he gives his to Denth?

Brandon Sanderson

They will die the moment they run out of Breath to harvest. Once a week their body needs a Breath in order to survive. Each Returned has one single superpowered breath. Imagine it as one breath that propels them up through the Heightenings, but it is only a single Breath. It's what we speak of in Shard world terminology as a Splinter. And when the seventh day comes, if a Returned does not have another breath for his body to consume to keep him alive, his body will actually eat his divine breath and kill him. So they don't die immediately after they get rid of the Breath, they're sort of put into a state of limbo where if they don't find more Breath by the time that their feast day comes, then they will die. (Vasher did not give his Returned Breath to Denth, just a number of normal breaths.)

Goodreads Fantasy Book Discussion Warbreaker Q&A ()
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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.

Steelheart Seattle signing ()
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Questioner (paraphrased)

Please explain what you will about Shards and Splintering and Slivers.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

An event happened long ago which destroyed something called Adonalsium into 16 pieces. And 16 people took up that power.

Questioner (paraphrased)

People?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

I call all intelligent species people. If someone takes up the power and lets go of it, it has the effect much like a balloon that's been stretched and then the air is let out. I call that a Sliver; based off of the Lord Ruler calling himself the "Sliver of Infinity". The Lord Ruler is someone who held the power and then released it. And so, current Slivers are the Lord Ruler, Kelsier, and there may be others around who at one point held the power and let go of it. A Splinter is a term used by certain people in the cosmere for power of Adonalsium which has no person caring for it, no... no person holding it, which has attained self-awareness.

Questioner (paraphrased)

So is that like the mists and the Well? Are they...

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

They are not, because they have not attained self-awareness. But, the Seons are self-aware. So, any piece, for instance there were some spren on Roshar before Honor and Cultivation got there. Those were already Splinters of Adonalsium where he had left power which attained sentience on its own. So, it can be intentional is what I am saying, does that make sense? You have seen other splinters.

Questioner (paraphrased)

Are the highstorms related to the splintering of Honor?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

The highstorms are more related to the mist from Mistborn which terminology we have not discussed yet. You have seen splinters quite a bit on various planets.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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ParadoxicalWims

Could the Heralds be considered the splinters or would it be the Honourblades they once held? Or perhaps are they something else entirely?

Brandon Sanderson

That's a RAFO, more because I don't want to dig into the nature of the Heralds until the second five books, and would rather not have people's eyes on them too much right now.

Vericon 2011 ()
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Puck (paraphrased)

How is a Splinter different from a Sliver?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Let me see... You have met splinters in Elantris, Warbreaker, and in Way of Kings. You have not met them in Mistborn.

Puck (paraphrased)

I feel like we know that. So, qualitatively, what's the difference?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Qualitatively, they're reverses of one another. A Sliver is a human intelligence who has held the power and released it. A Splinter has never been human.

Puck (paraphrased)

But it derives from a Shard's power.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yes. That's not it completely, but there's at least something to think about.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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focoma

Are the Essences strictly just a Roshar thing, or are they also connected to the manifestations of Investiture on other Shardworlds? For example, is the Essence of Foil in any way connected to the Metallic Arts of Scadrial?

Brandon Sanderson

The idea that things exist on three realms is not unique to Roshar.

That those things are self-aware is a Rosharan thing, though other places in the cosmere have similar beliefs.

Calamity Chicago signing ()
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Argent

About the Returned, they don’t quite fit the other Splinters, their Breath rather, because it’s the Divine Breath that’s a splinter, right?

Brandon Sanderson

Ehhhhhhh…. Ehhhhhhh....

Argent

Okay, that was vague.

Brandon Sanderson

Not a 100% correlation there.

Argent

So in that case it’s not entirely fair to say that the Returned are like vessels for--

Brandon Sanderson

No… Well, more vessels than the people that are in [T’Telir…]

So, Endowment is in control of what’s happening, right?

Argent

The giving of Breaths.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. So what you’ve got to remember-- and this is something that people keep mistaking is-- something like a spren is still part of the god, right?  And it’s not that different from the fact that the rock has a part of the body in it, and that everything is kind of made—Like in Mistborn world in particular, everything is made out of their essence. And so, the breath are similar, but it’s less that-- they’re not autonomous in most cases and it’s more like-- it’s like a hybrid of what’s happening in Mistborn where everybody’s got a bit of Preservation in them. Everyone’s got a bit of Endowment in them.

Argent

Innate investiture.

Brandon Sanderson

Innate investiture that they are born with.

Argent

I was looking to Divine Breath, more specifically.

Brandon Sanderson

Oh Divine breath! …Divine Breath is its own special thing, and it’s more like what happened with the Honorblades, in that the god is pouring a bit of its investiture, infusing the magic.

Salt Lake City Comic-Con 2014 ()
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Newan

So we know a Shardholder who used up his mind to imprison another Shard.

Brandon Sanderson

Okay, yes.

Newan

Can a Splinter use up its mind?

Brandon Sanderson

Something that small probably will not be able to accomplish the same thing.

Newan

Okay. But it could...

Brandon Sanderson

There is possibility that it could for something smaller.