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Firefight Chicago signing ()
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Questioner

You said in an earlier interview that the glittery things in Elantris...

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, seons.

Questioner

I believe that you said that the seons on Roshar would bond similarly--

Brandon Sanderson

Yes

Questioner

Would that work in the opposite direction?

Brandon Sanderson

Meaning what? Someone from Roshar could they bond a seon? Oh, would spren bond-- Yes that could happen.
OdysseyCon 2016 ()
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Blightsong

Can honorspren, or any other type of Knight Radiant spren, be evil despite their relationship to Tanavast or Cultivation?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, because I don't call the Shards good and evil. There are no good and evil Shards in my opinion, like and so, what's evil and what's not evil- you can totally have spren that are of Honor that you would consider evil. They have free will; they are much more strictly limited in that free will than we are, because of their nature as spren. It's very hard for most spren to ever break an oath or to lie. That's just like- as manifestations of laws of nature makes it very hard for that to happen, but they can be cruel.

Ben McSweeney AMA ()
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Arithered

What is your conception of how spren would appear to the average person? Do they have a solid physicality of some kind or are they more ethereal/ghostlike?

Ben McSweeney

Back during the pitch I did illustrate a few spren ideas for Brandon, but my understanding of them has expanded greatly since then. There's a lot I don't know, but I think I've got the basic idea down.

I see them as looking like they're made of Stormlight, sorta like many common sci-fi "holograms". I don't think any spren have physically solid forms unless the manifest fully, and the only examples we've seen of that so far are Blades.

In terms of their appearance, the text descriptions are always the first place I look. Never contradict the text, it's the common basis for all our interpretations.

Chris King interview ()
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Chris King

Why can Rock see Syl?

Brandon Sanderson

Ooh, good question, why do you think Rock can see Syl?

Chris King

My personal theory here is because his people have such a strong belief and reverence in them it allows him to see them for that reason because his strong belief creates some sort of cognitive or spiritual pressure which allows them...

Brandon Sanderson

He would agree with that philosophy. I would say, usually when something like that happens there is also something physiological going on.

Salt Lake City signing ()
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Questioner

Why does the Shardbearer-- when they are dueling with Adolin and Renarin-- Why does the Shardbearer freak out when Kaladin grabs the sword? The <Shardbearer> like... He screams, and he's like, "I didn't kill you", and ran away.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

Why does he do that?

Brandon Sanderson

Because when Kaladin was there, and they were touching it, they actually heard the spren that was inside of it. Right? Because when an--

Questioner

So it wasn't Syl that he heard, it was the sword.

Brandon Sanderson

It was the sword's spren... that Kaladin was touching it. When the Knight Radiant touches it-- You can see when other Knights Radiant pick up swords, they can hear the screaming.

Skyward Denver signing ()
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Alpharho

The metal of Shardblades. Cultivationspren versus honorspren, for example. Are they different metals?

Brandon Sanderson

No, but good question.

Alpharho

Are all orders the same alloy, essentially?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. There's a little asterisk on there, but not in the way you're asking... You could call those all the same alloy. Because the mixture to different spren is different, I think that you could argue that each one is its own alloy.

Alpharho

So, different proportions of tanavastium?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, but it doesn't quite work that way with these magics, right? I'm going to say that's up to the individual cosmerologist who is in the world, the arcanist, defining it. You would be able to find enough differences to legitimately call them different alloys if you wanted to.

Alpharho

Would you say different ratios of the same two metals?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. They are not going to have a third one in them, if that's what you're asking. But it doesn't quite work that way. Like, if you were going to take brass, you could measure the exact percentage. In this case, it is a thing; it's not like you could divide it up and split them apart, because they are a thing. And that thing would be called one thing.

Alpharho

But you won't say what that thing is called?

Brandon Sanderson

No, I won't say what that thing is called. But I think you and the 17th Sharders and folks that are dividing them would prefer to call them ten different things, and I think their nomenclature would be relevant.

Warsaw signing ()
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Questioner

*inaudible*

Brandon Sanderson

Yes that is common.

 

Questioner

*inaudible*

Brandon Sanderson

 Will there be a what spren?

Questioner

*inaudible*

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, yeah yeah yeah. So most of the spren are involved in either-- are kind of involved in all three. And so it's mostly Honor and Cultivation. But some lean one direction or the other: you'll see that lifespren will pop up more commonly around Wyndle then they will around <Sylphrena>.

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?)

Calamity Seattle signing ()
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Questioner

What can you tell me about where spren come from?

Brandon Sanderson

Spren come from where everything in the world of Roshar comes from.  The are a natural part of life there.  They come from the same place rocks and the wind and all of that...

Barnes & Noble B-Fest 2016 ()
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Questioner

*inaudible* with the spren, like, with the *inaudible* would it have infinite ink?

Brandon Sanderson

The way it works in my head canon right now, which I haven't written it so if it changes, no. The other thing is getting complex systems is going to be harder for a lot of Spren. There are legends that reference that they were able to do bows in the past, which includes a string. Everyone is like "but they're not metal, how does that work." Complex structures, even the mechanics of a pen is not something that we have proof that they could even do. If they did do it, they wouldn't have infinite ink, you would fill them up with ink.

Oathbringer release party ()
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Questioner 1

So, spren can just manifest themselves to different people. Can they choose whether or not to manifest themselves to other spren? Does it depend on the kind of spren?

Brandon Sanderson

So, depends on the kind of spren. You'll get some hints of that in the third book. Or you probably have already, if you read the preview chapters.

Questioner 2

I read the preview chapters, but, like, the way Syl acted, is that, like, something that she's able to hide from them?

Brandon Sanderson

She was not able to hide from that spren.

JordanCon 2018 ()
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Questioner

Do the spren that we know of as the Cryptics exist before Honor and Cultivation came to Roshar?

Brandon Sanderson

Ah, good question! No. Cryptics would be one of the forms of spren that were a later creation. Creation is the wrong term, but yeah. 

Billy Todd, Moderator

Later development? Evolution?

Brandon Sanderson

All of the sapient spren are later developments. 

Billy Todd, Moderator

Are they evolved from the earlier spren?

Brandon

Evolution doesn't work the same way on the spren, right? The spren were created more than evolved, I would say.

Billy Todd, Moderator

Maybe cultivated?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, cultivated. *laughter*

Oathbringer release party ()
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Mason Wheeler

So, because the world is flat in Shadesmar, if there's a place where you can't cross, so if a Radiant was on a ship, they'd have trouble getting across, because their spren would be stuck behind that line of discontinuity. Is the Origin of Storms located on that line?

Brandon Sanderson

No, good question.

Shadows of Self Chicago signing ()
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Dragon13

Syl identifies herself as an honorspren.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Dragon13

Would Wyndle identify himself as a cultivation spren?

Brandon Sanderson

He would definitely... Yes. I think you could say that he would.

Dragon13

By the same logic, would a voidspren follow the same naming convention, so to speak?

Brandon Sanderson

Here's the thing. Certain spren have decided that they are the most pure forms of Honor, or that they are the most pure form of whatever, where all of them are kind of... Syl's got a good argument for what she is. But there are other spren that would be like "well, I'm an honorspren too, I'm just this variety of honorspren." Does that make sense? Syl's like "I'm an American!" and I'm like "I'm an Nebraskan!" Yes, you're an American. I'm an American too. It's kind of similar to that. But she would be the most pure... many would view her as the purest form. Wyndle would view himself as the purest form of a Cultivationspren.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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mooglefrooglian

Shallan explains the theory that all spren can be divided into two categories (emotions and forces). Jasnah then links these to Cultivation and Honor, and also notes that voidspren are of Odium.

Is this theory maybe a little incomplete? Is there a third category of spren for "sensationspren" like painspren (which don't seem to involve emotions or forces)?

Brandon Sanderson

In Vorin thought, those would be emotions, but that doesn't mean that the scholars who think about these things are right.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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RenegadeShroom

So, I'm sure you're familiar with the phrase 'sick burn' and what it means. Assuming for a moment that it became a phrase on Roshar that fell into widespread use for a long enough time, could the phrase become strongly associated enough with the idea of fire that it actually has an effect on when flamespren can manifest? Could insulting someone harshly enough draw flamespren?

Brandon Sanderson

Unlikely, because when people say "sick burn" fire doesn't appear in their imagination--they're not personifying fire. Just like the name Smith doesn't bring to mind a blacksmith unless one thinks about it specifically, sick burn has taken on its own meaning.

General Reddit 2018 ()
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wiresegal

In OB, you explained that the Singers have four sexes. I was wondering... Can the Singers have genders other than those four, like humans? Even as simple as just not going with male, female, or malen/femalen. Could a transgender Singer use their ability to shift forms to change their biological reality? And, finally, could a Spren be non-binary, if it wasn't personified in a typical male/female way?

Brandon Sanderson

In the cosmere as a whole, a person's perception of themselves has a lot of power over both their Spiritual and Physical forms. It is possible, with Investiture, to change their biology to match Cognitive perceptions--and while this could be easier for some races (like the Singers) it's not outside plausibility for any race.

There are non-binary spren, actually--and you should be meeting one important one quite soon in the books.

Starsight Release Party ()
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Questioner

Why are there no spren in the prelude chapters for Way of Kings?

Brandon Sanderson

No specific reason. There's nothing happening there. Mostly, what happens is I write the initial write-through without very many spren and then they have Karen go through and say, "this would be a good place." Just kind of like special effects for a movie. It might just be that I've already released those and read those so much she doesn't want to add as many.

Writing for Charity Conference ()
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Zas678 (paraphrased)

There is a debate on what to call Shallan's Symbols, so we don't have such an ambiguous term for it .

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

The Symbolhead?

Zas678 (paraphrased)

Yeah, the Symbolhead, Shallanspren.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

*laughter*

Zas678 (paraphrased)

We don't really know what to call them.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Do I want to canonize this yet?

Zas678 (paraphrased)

You don't have to canonize it yet.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

I don't know if I want to canonize it yet. But I will say this. They are spren, that should be pretty obvious. They are the spren connected to what Shallan is capable of doing. But I don’t know if I want to canonize it yet. Truthspren is as good a name as any, and I would suggest you use that until further notice.

JordanCon 2016 ()
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Questioner

When it comes to the epic-level spren on Roshar, like the Nightwatcher and the Stormfather-- Is the number of epic-level spren equal to the number of Bondsmiths that you can have on Roshar?

Brandon Sanderson

Hmm, is the number of epic-level spren related to the number of Bondsmiths you have? Well, I've said there's a maximum of three. And there are three Shards involved in Roshar. I'm not gonna tell you if that's a coincidence or not. Sorry.

White Sand vol.1 Orem signing ()
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Questioner

I recently reread Elantris and I came to an interesting conclusion: that the seons are similar to the spren.

Brandon Sanderson

They are.

Questioner

And are they Servitude, broken pieces of Servitude.

Brandon Sanderson

So, they are actually broken pieces of Devotion, which is a similar concept, but yes.

Questioner

And then the Elantrians are based off of Dominion then?

Brandon Sanderson

Dominion are the skaze. They are referenced briefly.

Questioner

Then Hoid talks to them, or--

Brandon Sanderson

Hrathen references the skaze in his thoughts. I show a skaze I believe in the extra bonus scene, don't I?

Questioner

Where Hoid is going to jump into the well?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, there is a skaze there, that's a skaze.

Questioner

...I'm assuming then, we can look forward to the skaze!

Brandon Sanderson

You can look forward to the skaze being involved in things, definitely .

Oathbringer Portland signing ()
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Questioner

I want to ask you a question about Pattern. Could you speak to anything about where your idea for...

Brandon Sanderson

I wanted different spren to look drastically different. And, as I was building-- Like, I wanted a lot of the spren of a lot of the Orders of Knights Radiant to kind of have an internal, natural conflict. Like, that's one of the division lines between a spren that's not sapient, and spren that is. For instance, Windrunner, honorspren, right? Honor is about rigidity in a lot of ways, and Syl is the embodiment of a lot of the opposite of that. And Pattern, who is so interested in lies, is a mathematical fractal-- a mathematical equation. This sort of thing, like naming the inkspren Ivory is just-- I want that internal, natural contrast to be part of them. And Pattern, I really wanted a spren that wasn't just another ball of light. 'Cause Syl is basically a ball of light. And a lot of the others are basically balls of light. And I'm like, I need something that's different, I want something that looks different, that feels different. That's where I went.

Tor Instagram Livestream ()
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Questioner

Can some spren fully form and become human?

Brandon Sanderson

No spren becomes human; they are a different race. And so, no, that is not a thing that happens.

But there is some stuff in Rhythm of War along the lines I think you're asking, that I will not talk about because of spoilers.

Holiday signing ()
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little wilson

Are Ruin and Preservation separate in Sazed or are they fully combined together like can he give one of them, or does he have to give both.

Brandon Sanderson

They are not fully combined. I mean that's not the way this works. He could pull off a piece of one even and make-- stuff like that. That's totally, totally viable. I mean it's basically what happened with the spren. The spren existed before even Honor was destroyed and things like that.

little wilson

So, did the-- my gosh, on Sel-- the Aons-- not the Aons-- the seons did they exist before the Splintering?

Brandon Sanderson

They did not. That's a good question. But they are not the majority of the power. They're just little pieces, they are like the sparks when something gets destroyed. The sparks are not the majority but they are the sparks that were thrown off, if that makes sense?

Oathbringer London signing ()
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MadhavDeval

So, if Dalinar used Spiritual Adhesion to forge a bond between Sja-anat and Honor or Cultivation or whoever, then could Sja-anat corrupt a spren, an Odiumspren back to Honor or Cultivation?

Brandon Sanderson

Maybe. Nyeh...

MadhavDeval

What about the Fused?

Brandon Sanderson

The Fused-- I mean, it's the same kind of thing, they're a Cognitive Shadow. Eh? Eh. I'm gonna give you an "Eh." on that one... I don't know how you write that on the forums.

YouTube Spoiler Stream 3 ()
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asmodeus

We now know that Glys and Tumi were Enlightened, and that has⁠—to some extent⁠—affected Renarin's Oaths and Surges. Could this Enlightenment have only happened one way? In the sense that is every Enlightened mistspren going to be displaying the same changes, or is there room for exploration here?

Brandon Sanderson

Good question and RAFO. I'm glad you're asking that, but I am going to RAFO it.

Oathbringer release party ()
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Questioner

Is there a limit to what the spren can become, like we've seen them become a blade or a spear or a shield, can they become, like-- I've heard hints of a bow and arrow. Can they become a sword and a shield or just one main thing?

Brandon Sanderson

Um, it is more expansive than people guess it is, but it is limited.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
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Questioner

I heard earlier, through people I know, that Syl will eventually develop her memories from before the Recreance. Does that mean any spren that are alive currently have been alive for that long as well? Or are they--

Brandon Sanderson

Not necessarily. Some spren-- The thing about spren is that when does the energy become conscious? So yes they will have all existed before but at what point is consciousness attained. That's kind of their birth. It happens much more rarely than it does on the other-- on the Physical Realm, like regular people and things like that. But there can totally have been spren who have been born since then. And they would count most of the spren that you see as not being alive, well not being born. Not conscious. What's the word for the difference between humans and animals, it's not just sentience, there's another word. Starts with a C. Sapient, you're right it starts with an S.

YouTube Spoiler Stream 1 ()
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Dominic Field

If Kaladin's Shardplate is made of windspren, would the other Orders also have Shardplate made of lesser spren?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes!

Dominic Field

Would Lightweavers have Plate made up of creationspren, for instance?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, they would. You should be able to guess, for the major Orders that we've spent a lot of time with, what their Shardplate is made out of. There have been hints from book one what those are. Theoretically, you should be able to kind of put that together. You're not gonna be able to put it together for some of the Orders, 'cause we just haven't gotten into it as much; we haven't spent enough time with them. But you should be able to start putting this all together in relationship to the Shardplate. At least there's three or four of them that I think I've made very obvious.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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Pagerunner

In [Oathbringer], when they first enter Shadesmar, they see a bunch of spren that are a few inches tall, green or orange. Are those Cognitive manifestations of one or more Dysian Aimians that were in Kholinar?

Brandon Sanderson

No, but good question.