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Bonn Signing ()
#3 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Lirin was impressed by how calm he felt as he checked the child's gums for scurvy. Years of training as a surgeon served him well today. Breathing exercises, intended to keep his hand steady, worked just as well for covering up fugitives as they did for surgery.

"Here," he said to the child's mother, digging from his pocket a small carved carapace chit. "Show this to the woman at the dining pavilion, she will get you some juice for your son. Make certain he drinks it all each morning."

"Very thank you," the woman said in a thick Herdazian accent. She gathered her son close, then looked to Lirin with haunted eyes. "If... if child found-"

"I will make certain you are notified if we hear word of your other children," Lirin promised. "I'm sorry for your loss."

She nodded, wiped her cheeks and carried the child away towards the town. The morning fog obscured most of Hearthstone. On the outside, it looked like a group of dark shadowy lumps, like tumors. Lirin could barely make out the tarps stretched between buildings, offering meager shelter for the many refugees pouring out of Herdaz. Entire streets were closed off this way. The sounds of plates clinking and people talking rose through the fog. Those shanties would never last the storm, of course, but they could be quickly torn down and stowed. There just wasn't enough housing otherwise.

Glancing at the line of those waiting for admittance today, he wondered how many more people the town could hold. Erik and the other men - once guards at Roshone's mansion, now forbidden swords - organized the line and kept anyone from sneaking in town before Lirin saw them. He had persuaded Brightness Abijan that it was essential he see each refugee and judge if they'd be bringing dangerous diseases into the city. In truth, he wanted to intercept those who might need a wound bound or a treatment.

The woman carried her child up to the watchpost just out of town. Here, a group of armed parshmen lifted her hood and compared her face to descriptions that had been sent to them by the Fused. Hesina, Lirin's wife, stood nearby, ready to read the descriptions as required. She was one of the few women in the city who could read, though Brightness Abijan and several of the other parshwomen were quickly learning their lessons.

Parshmen carrying swords, learning to read. Even a year after their awakening, Lirin found the notion odd, but really, what was it to him? In some ways, little had changed, despite the coming of the Everstorm and the awakening of the Parshmen. Their skin was different, but the same old conflicts consumed them as easily as they had the Alethi brightlords. People who had a little taste for power wanted more and they sought it with the sword. Normal people bled and Lirin had to try to put them back together. He turned back to his line of waiting refugees - he still had at least a hundred to give medical assessments to today. And hiding among them was one in particular. In some ways, it was the man who was the author of all this suffering.

The next person in line had lost an arm in battle, but the wound was a few months old at this point and there was nothing that Lirin could do about the extensive scaring. He held up his finger and moved it back and forward before the man's face, watching his eyes track it.

Shock, Lirin thought. "Have you suffered wounds recently you are not telling me about?"

"No wounds," the man whispered, "but brigands, they took my wife, good surgeon. Took her, left me tied up to a tree, just walked off, laughing..."

Bother, mental shock wasn't something Lirin could cut out with a scalpel.

"Once you enter town," Lirin said, "look for tent fourteen and tell the women there I sent you to bed in that place."

The man nodded dully, though his stare was so hollow Lirin wondered if the man had registered the words. Memorizing the man's description - graying hair with a cowlick in the back, three large bulbs on the upper left cheek - Lirin made note to check tent fourteen for him later tonight. It was the place were he had assistants watching for refugees who might turn suicidal. It was, with so many to care for, the best that he could manage.

"On with you," Lirin said, gently pushing the man towards the town. "Tent fourteen, don't forget, I'm sorry for your loss." The man walked off.

"You say it so easily, surgeon," a voice said from behind Lirin.

Lirin stood and turned with surprise, then immediately bowed in respect. Abijan, the new city lord, was a parshwoman with stark white skin and fine red swirls on her cheeks.

"Brightness," he said, "What was that?"

"You told that man," Abijan said, "you were sorry for his loss. You say it so easily to each of them, but you seem to have the compassion of a stone. Do you feel, surgeon, for these people?"

"I feel, Brightness," Lirin said, "but I must be careful not to be overwhelmed by their pains. It's one of the first rules of becoming a surgeon."

"Curious," she said. The parshwoman raised her safehand, which was shrouded in the sleeve of her Havah. "Do you remember setting my arm when I was a child?"

"I do."

"Such a curious memory," she said. "It feels like a dream to me now, that life. I remember pain, confusion, a stern figure bringing me more pain. But now I recognize that you were simply seeking to heal me. So much trouble to go through for a slave child."

"I've never cared whom I heal, Brightness, slave or king.

"I'm sure the fact that Wistiow paid good money for me had nothing to do with it. He of course wanted his investment protected." She narrowed her eyes at Lirin. When she next spoke there was a cadence to her words as if she were speaking the words to a song. "Did you feel for me? The poor confused child slave whose mind had been stolen from her. Did you weep for us, surgeon, and the life we led?"

"A surgeon must not weep," Lirin said softly. "A surgeon can not afford to weep."

"Like a stone," she said again, then shock her head. "Have you seen any plaguespren?"

"Diseases aren't caused by spren," Lirin said. "It is spread by contaminated water, improper sanitation, or sometimes the breath of those who bear it."

"Superstition," she said.

"The wisdom of the Heralds," Lirin replied. "We should be careful." Fragments of old manuscripts, translations of translations of translations, spoke of ancient diseases that killed thousands, spreading quickly and persistently. Such things hadn't been recorded in any modern text he had read, but he had heard rumors of something strange on the west. A new plague they were calling it. Details were sparse. In truth, he wasn't sure what to watch for, but Abijan moved on without further complaint to him. Her attendants, a group of elevated parshmen and parshwoman joined her. Though their clothing was of Alethi cuts and fashion, the colors were lighter, more muted than humans might wear. The Fused had explained that the singers in the past eschewed light, bright colors as to not distract from their distinctive skin patterns. Lirin sensed the searched for identity in the way that Abijan and the other parshmen acted. Their accents, their dress, their mannerisms - they were all distinctively Alethi, but they hung on what the Fused said about the lives of their ancestors and tried whenever they could to emulate them. He turned to the next group of refugees - a complete family for once - and though he should have been happy to see that, he couldn't help wondering how difficult it was going to be to feed five children and parents who were flagging from poor nutrition. As he sent them on, a familiar figure moved down the line towards him.

Laral wore a simple servant's dress now, with a gloved hand instead of a sleeve, and she carried a water bucket. Ostensibly, she was seeing that nobody in line was thirsty. She didn't walk like a servant though. There was a certain determination about the young woman that no forced subservience could smother. The end of the world itself seemed about as bothersome to her as a poor harvest once had. She paused by Lirin, offering him a drink, ladled it to a fresh cup rather than taking straight from the bucket, as he insisted.

"He is three down," Laral whispered to Lirin, as he sipped. <Laral grabbed him.>

"Shorter than I expected him to be," Laral noted. "He is supposed to be a great general, leader of the Herdezian resistance. Looks more like a traveling merchant than he does a soldier."

"Genius comes in all shapes, Laral," Lirin said, waving for another drink. More to give him an excuse to keep talking.

"Still," she said, then fell silent as Durnash passed by, a tall parshmen with swirled black and red skin a sword on his back. Once he was well on his way she continued softly, "I'm honestly surprised at you, Lirin. Not even once have you suggested that we turn this man in. He'd be executed. You think him a criminal, though, don't you?"

"Criminal? I'm not sure, but he bears a terrible responsibility. He perpetuated a war against an overwhelming enemy force, he threw away the lives of his men in a hopeless battle."

"Some would call that heroism."

"Heroism is a myth you tell idealistic young men to persuade them to go bleed for you," Lirin said. "It got my son killed and my other son taken from me. You can keep your heroism, and give me back the lives of those wasted on foolish conflicts."

Prague Signing ()
#4 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

The next were going to have all the Spren from Shadesmar like-

Paleo

All the Radiant spren.

Brandon Sanderson

All the Radiant spren, you know well nine of the Orders we're going to get all nine in. 

Isaac Stewart

We're going to do yeah, we talked about the tenth. 

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, we're probably not going to do the tenth.

Isaac Stewart

We're going to have to wait until after the book is done to decide.

Brandon Sanderson

But they'll be nine of them at least. They're looking very cool, I'm very pleased with how those are. They're very like these natural history illustrations and so.

Isaac Stewart

They do look nice.

/r/fantasy AMA 2017 ()
#5 Copy

sv15249

You said, there will be a timeskip between two parts of Stormlight. But will we have more timeskips between five books of each part? For example, between book 3 and book 4, or 4 and 5. Or between 6 and 7? I ask this, because in first Mistborn trilogy we had year long timeskips between each book. Wonder, will we have it in SA?

Brandon Sanderson

Plan is for book four to take place a year after book three, so there will be some smaller timeskips too--but the biggest is between five and six.

General Reddit 2018 ()
#9 Copy

Fiechair

Is Eshonai really going to be the flashback character for book 4? Don't you mean Venli?

Brandon Sanderson

No, it is Eshonai. (And has always been planned to be Eshonai.) As the series progressed, I knew I wanted to do some unusual things with the flashbacks to keep them all from repeating the same themes and format. My hope is to craft something that is very interesting in the way that it both informs what Venli is doing in the future, and expands upon who Eshonai was in the past.

Prague Signing ()
#10 Copy

Questioner

Is the Stormlight Archive 4 release looking good, is it going to release next year?

Brandon Sanderson

It's looking pretty good. It depends, I wrote a little bit, worked on it here in Prague. I have to get a couple extra days snuck in, we'll see. You're going to have to watch, it will come down right to the last few days I think so we'll see. It's still possible, it's looking good but I can't promise.

The Great American Read: Other Worlds with Brandon Sanderson ()
#12 Copy

Questioner 1

In The Stormlight Archive, do we ever find out how the Assassin in White, how he gets the sword?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, that should be next book.

Questioner 2

And does it intertwine any more with Warbreaker?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh... that you're gonna have to wait a little while for. You're talking about Nightblood. I thought you were talking about the Honorblade. Next book will explain how he got the Honorblade. How he ends up with Nightblood, really how Nightblood got onto the planet, is gonna take a little while. I will work it in. But it's gonna take a while.

Questioner 2

Does that sword have a character arc, because it feels--

Brandon Sanderson

The sword is important and relevant to multiple series.

Questioner 2

It's getting better.

Brandon Sanderson

He has learned some things in the intervening years. He learns real slowly.

State of the Sanderson 2017 ()
#13 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Updates on Main Projects

Stormlight

It's time to take a little breather. I've begun working on the outline for book four, which is kind of a mess right now because of things I've been moving around between books as I write. My goal this year for Stormlight will be to have rock-solid outlines for books four and five done by December 2018.

My current projection is that I'll spend half of my time writing Stormlight, and half of it doing other things. (I spoke last year about just how big an undertaking a Stormlight book is–and why I can't write them back to back.) I realize that many of you would prefer to have only Stormlight, but that would drive me insane–and drive the series into the ground.

I think this is a realistic schedule. So, I'm giving myself 2018 to work on Skyward (hopefully a trilogy) and other projects. Then on January 1st, 2019, I go back to Stormlight refreshed and excited to be back in Roshar, and I write on book four until it's done. (With a 2020 or 2021 release, depending on how the writing goes.) I do hope to find time for a novella, like Edgedancer, that we can put out between books. This one is tentatively called Wandersail.

For those who don't know, The Stormlight Archive is a ten-book series composed of two five-book arcs.

Status: Writing outline for book four.

Prague Signing ()
#14 Copy

Questioner

How behind on word goal are you right now?

Brandon Sanderson

I have like 28 working days left before the end of the year and I would have to write 5,000 words a day of each of those so I'm somewhat behind. I'm about right now somewhere around 15,000 words behind. When I get back from this tour I'll be somewhere around 35,000 words behind so I'll have to try to catch that up. We'll see, we'll see if I do it.

General Reddit 2017 ()
#15 Copy

Peter Ahlstrom

The first three [Stormlight] books are a continuous narrative, but it's now looking like there will be an in-world gap between books 3 and 4, similar to the year that was skipped between each book in the Mistborn trilogy.

Drathus

Even with that, isn't the plan for SA for it to be two related five-book arcs with more of a major gap in between?

Peter Ahlstrom

Yep. Previously I thought that would be the only timeline gap, but Brandon has leaned more toward this new gap while writing Oathbringer.

Starsight Release Party ()
#16 Copy

Questioner

Do we have a tentative working title for Stormlight Four?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, it's called Rhythm of War, most likely. But I have to work that in as an in-world book. And if it doesn't work, then... And I have the place that I'm going to work it in, but when I get there, if it doesn't work, then I'm gonna have to go back to the drawing board. Which is why I haven't said for sure that that's what it is, yet.

Idaho Falls signing ()
#17 Copy

Questioner

With the Stormlight Archive, when you created this, do you know everything? Do you know the end of the book at the beginning?

Brandon Sanderson

I do, but... You have to be willing to change as you go, as the characters mature and you mature. For instance, Adolin wasn't gonna be a main character in the original outline. And as I developed the first book, I realized I needed another perspective of somebody who could offer perspective on the things that were happening. That was Adolin's perspective. So I brought him in as a main character. So that wasn't in the original outline.

And for instance, the ending of Book 2, with Kaladin, was actually originally the ending of Book 3. So I ended up switching those around. So things like this happen.

Books 4 and 5, my dividing line, where those two divide, is not really strict right now, and so one of the things I'm doing in outlining is saying, "Let's make sure Book 4 feels like a book, rather than half of a book that Book 5 ends."

FanX 2018 ()
#19 Copy

Questioner

So...all the 3 Way of Kings books begin from a different person's perspective in the past. Who're you doing next time?

Brandon Sanderson

Let me see...so Gavilar is last, so he's not fourth. I think it's Navani, but I'm not 100% sure. Yes, I think it's Navani, but I will have to look at what I've got in my notes. The 4th one's been the wild card. I always went with Szeth first and Gavilar last.

State of the Sanderson 2016 ()
#23 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Main Projects

The Stormlight Archive

Book Three is done! Edgedancer is out!

I'll be spending about four months of 2017 doing revisions on Oathbringer, then will have a tour in the fall. (Might manage to get to the UK on that one too.) Things are looking good for Stormlight and Roshar, and not just because we are working on a film. I'm excited for you to read the next installment.

I'm officially adding "Oathbringer (Stormlight 3) third draft" to the progress bar, now that I'm almost done with the second draft. (Most of which was completed during writing the first draft, as I explained above.)

Book Four will probably not be released until 2020—I'll start managing those expectations now, rather than trying to promise 2019 like I thought I might be able to do, once upon a time.

As I always promise, I'll see if I can speed that up. But if you take the year it took to outline Book Three and add eighteen months to actually write it, we're already at 2.5 years—not counting other projects I want to do.

Status: Book Three in revisions, out in 2017.

State of the Sanderson 2017 ()
#24 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Projected Schedule

My projected publication schedule looking forward swaps The Apocalypse Guard out for Skyward and moves the Legion collection into the place of Wax and Wayne 4, reflecting what I actually wrote this year. (Note, these are always very speculative. And Peter is probably already worried about Stormlight 4.)

September 2018: Stephen Leeds/Legion Collection

November 2018: Skyward

Fall 2019: Wax and Wayne 4

Sometime 2019: Skyward 2

Sometime 2020: Stormlight 4

Sometime 2020: Skyward 3

Stormlight Book Four Updates ()
#25 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Hello, all. Time for another update on your book. (See the last update HERE, if you are interested.)

This post WILL have Oathbringer spoilers, and slight spoilers for Book Four. So if you are concerned about those things, here is the no spoiler update: I just passed the 50% mark! The book is looking good so far. Moshe had some very enthusiastic and positive things to say about the first chunk I sent him. I'm still hoping for a Christmas 2020 release.

Now, for slight spoilers. At this point, I've finished the second chunk of the book. This means I've finished viewpoint cluster two, for those who are following along. If you aren't, or if this confuses you, I whipped up a little visualization.

This book, as I've said before, starts with all the characters together--then splits into three groups of viewpoints. The first group is the largest, and the most involved, with five viewpoints characters. Two of these, however, will have only a few viewpoints (and one might just appear in other viewpoints, save for an interlude.) Really, this is the story of three characters, and forms the core arc of the book.

The second viewpoint cluster, which is the one I've now finished, follows two characters on a very involved--but more narrowly focused--plot. The final cluster takes two remaining viewpoint characters, and touches lightly upon what they are doing, without going into quite as much depth as the other two groups.

Now that group two is finished, I have turned my attention to group one--the most difficult of the sequences to write. This should take me a few more months. After that, I'll write group three and the interludes.

One issue I've been having with the book is the flashbacks. I'm not 100% sure they'll work the way I planned them to. In that case, it's possible I will toss them and doing them from Venli's viewpoint instead. I'm excited to write more Eshonai, but there's a real chance that the viewpoints will feel like fluff, as Venli is the one who knew the secrets happening behind the scenes among the Listeners at the time.

This might be a place where I have to kill my darlings and just do what makes the most sense for the narrative, even though the other way (with Eshonai having the flashbacks) always appealed to me from a "this is less expected" angle.

I can't say for certain, and my gut says that--in abstract--more people would enjoy reading about Eshonai as a character, but would find the chapters a little boring and out of place. Venli flashbacks would, instead, be filled with cosmere mysteries and answers that will be more interesting.

We'll see how it goes. I haven't written the flashbacks yet, so we'll need to see about them as I write.

Otherwise, how do we look? Well, my trip to France and Spain really took a bite out of my writing time. We're hovering right at about 30k words behind (with 200k finished of a projected 400k.) 30k behind is roughly one month behind. (We've been about this far behind since I started on the book, as touring delays continue to eat up any progress I make catching up.) Hopefully, September will involve a lot of good writing time, as I don't have any trips planned except for Dragon*Con this weekend.

Of course, come October, it's back on tour. (France and Israel this time.) The goal is still to try to finish by January. Getting halfway took basically five months, however, and there are only four months left in the year. If I don't hit January for finishing, we're likely looking at a spring 2021 release.

As always, thank you for your patience and enthusiasm. Also, as always, I promise that I do consider these goals of when to finish only to be goals--not hardfast rules. I will take the time I need to make the book great, and if it comes down to delaying the book or releasing a novel that isn't ready, we WILL delay.

I will not be sending replies to this thread to my inbox, so there's a good chance I'll miss your comments. If I do, just let me say thank you again!

Brandon

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#26 Copy

Pagerunner

Do you have a working title for Stormlight Four? Have you chosen the interlude character yet?

Brandon Sanderson

Interlude character is Eshonai. I've had several working titles over the years, but one that stuck around a while was The Song of Changes. I'm unlikely to keep this, as it was never meant to be a final title.

Pagerunner

Interludes are Eshonai again? Like in WoR?

Brandon Sanderson

Sorry, I was getting my lines crossed. Flashbacks are Eshonai--the interludes are not something I've announced right now.

General Reddit 2019 ()
#27 Copy

Maoileain

Thank you for the update u/mistborn I always enjoy these and has the title been confirmed as The Rhythm of War?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm 90% sure that will be it, but I will need to finish the book before I'm absolutely certain. It has to work as an in-world text.

Maoileain

Ah, so does it need to be a written text or could it be an oral collection?

Brandon Sanderson

Oral would work in a pinch, but I'd prefer them all to be written works. These books are the "archive" part of the Stormlight Archive, after all. (The word IS intended to have multiple meanings, mind you. This is the most overt one.)

Publishers Weekly Q & A ()
#28 Copy

Michael M. Jones

What's next for you with this series and in general?

Brandon Sanderson

My outline for Skyward calls for four books. The sequel will come out a year from this November. Starting in January, I plan to work on the fourth [book] in The Stormlight Archive, and that'll take about 18 months. I split my time between that series and other projects to prevent myself from getting burned out. When I finish a big epic fantasy, I need something different to get excited about for a while. So I'll jump back into this series after the next Stormlight.

DragonCon 2019 ()
#31 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Of course the Parshendi wanted to play their drums. Of course Gavilar had told them they could. And of course he hadn't thought to warn Navani.

"Have you seen the size of those instruments?" <Hratham> said, running her hands through her black hair. "Where will we put them? We can't..."

"We move to the upper feast hall," Navani said, trying to project a calm demeanor. Everyone else in the kitchen was close to panicking, cooks running one direction or another, pots banging. Gavilar had invited not just the highprinces but their relatives. And every highlord in town. And he wanted a Beggar's Feast. And now... drums?

"We've already set up in the lower hall," <Hratham> said, "I don't have the staff to..."

"There are twice as many soldiers as usual loitering around the palace tonight," Navani said, "We'll have them move the tables." Gavilar never forgot about things like posting extra guards. Projecting strength, making a show of force? He could always be counted on for that. For everything else, he had Navani. 

"Could work, yes," <Hratham> said. "Good to put those louts to work rather than having them underfoot. Alright, deep breaths."

A short palace organizer stumbled away, narrowly avoiding an apprentice cook carrying a large bowl of steaming shellfish. Navani stepped to the side and let the cook pass. The man nodded in thanks. The staff had long since stopped being nervous when she entered their kitchens. She made it clear to them that doing their job sufficiently was superior praise to her than a bow. Fortunately, this staff was the kind of middle ranked lighteyes who understood the need for a little practicality.

They seemed to have things well in hand now, though there had been a scare earlier when three barrels of grain had been discovered with worms in them. A little creative thinking had reminded them that Brightlord Amaram had stores for his men and Navani had been able to pry them out of his grip. For now it seemed that with the extra cooks borrowed from the monastery they might actually be able to feed all the extra people Gavilar had invited.

"I should leave some of the tables set up in the lower hall," she thought, slipping out of the kitchens and into the palace gardens. "Who knows who might show up with an invitation." At the very least she might need to feed some military officers who couldn't be seated in the main feast hall. 

She turned to hike up through the gardens and entered the palace through the side doors. She'd be less... out of the way, and wouldn't have to dodge servants if she went this way. Maybe she could...

Navani slowed. The Kholinar palace was brightly lit tonight, with spheres adorning every hallway and all the garden walkways. By that light, Navani could easily make out Aesudan, her daughter-in-law, Elhokar's wife, standing just near the fountains. The slender woman wore her long hair in a bun, which was lit with gemstones of each shade. All those colors were gaudy together. Navani preferred a few simple stones themed to a color, but it did make Aesudan stand out as she chatted with two elderly ardents. 

Storms bright and brash. Was that <Rushar Kris>, the artist and master artifabrian? When had he gotten into town? Who'd invited him? He was holding a small box with a flower painted on it. Could that be one of his new fabrials? Navani found herself drawn to the group, all her thoughts fleeing her mind. How had he gotten the heating fabrial to work? How had he captured a flamespren? How did he make the temperature vary? She'd seen drawings, but to talk to the master artist himself?

Aesudan saw Navani and then smiled brightly. The joy seemed genuine, which was unusual, at least when she directed it at Navani. Navani tried not to take Aesudan's general sourness to her as a personal affront. It was the prerogative of every woman to feel threatened by her mother-in-law, particularly when the girl was so obviously lacking in talents. Fortunately, Elhokar liked her and she was of a good family. Navani smiled at her and turned, trying to enter the conversation and get a better look at that box. Aesudan, however, took Navani by the arm.

"Mother! I had forgotten completely about our appointment. I'm so fickle sometimes. Terribly sorry Ardent <Kris>, but I must make a hasty exit," Aesudan tugging Navani forcefully back through the gardens toward the kitchens. 

"Thank Kalak you showed up Mother. That man is the most dreadful bore."

"Bore?" Navani said, twisting to look over her shoulder.

"He was talking about gemstones, and another gemstone, and spren, and boxes of spren, and... storms, what a night! You'd think he would understand we have important people to meet. The wives of highprinces, the best generals of the land come to gawk at the wild parshmen. Then I get stuck in the garden talking to ardents! Your son ditched me there, I'll have you know. When I find that boy..."

Navani extricated herself from Aesudan's grip. "Someone should go entertain those ardents. Why are they here?"

"Don't ask me," Aesudan said. "Gavilar wanted them for something, but he made Elhokar entertain them. Poor manners that is, really."

Gavilar had invited one of the world's most prominent artifabrians to visit the palace, and he hadn't even bothered to tell Navani? An anger stirred deep inside her, a fury she kept carefully penned and locked away. That man. That storming man. How could he...

Calm, Navani, the rationalist inside her mind said. Maybe he intends to introduce you to the ardent as a gift. He knows how interested you are in fabrials. Perhaps that was it.

"Brightness!" a voice called from the kitchens. "Brightness Navani, oh please, we have a problem!"

"Aesudan," Navani said, eyes on the ardent who was slowly walking away toward the path to the monastery. She could catch him. She could spare a few minutes. "Could you help the kitchens with whatever they need. I'd like to..."

But Aesudan was already hurrying off towards another group in the gardens, one attended by several powerful highlord generals. Navani took a deep breath, shoving down another stab of annoyance. Aesudan claimed to care about propriety and manners, but she'd butt into a conversation between men without even her husband as an excuse.

"Brightness!" the cook called, waving to her. Navani took one last look at the ardents then set her jaw and hurried back to the kitchen, careful not to catch her skirt on the ornamental shalebark. "What now?"

"Wine", the cook said. "We're out of both the <clavina> and the ruby <bench>."

"How?" Navani said. "We ordered..." She shared a look with the cook and the answer was evident. Dalinar had been at the wine again, it appeared. "I have a private store," Navani said, pulling a notebook from her pocket. She gripped it in her safehand through the sleeves, scribbling a note. "I keep it in the monastery, with Sister <Nama>. Show her this and she'll give you access."

"Thank you Brightness," the cook said, taking the note. Before the man was even out the door, however, Navani spotted the house steward, a white-bearded man with too many rings on his fingers, standing in the stairwell up to the palace proper. He was fidgeting with the rings on his hand.

"What is it?" she asked, striding over.

"Guests have started to arrive, Brightness, including Highlord Vamah, who was promised an audience with the King regarding the border disputes. You know the one..."

"...about the misdrawn maps, yes," Navani said, sighing. "And my husband?"

"Vanished, Brightness," the steward said. "He was seen with Brightlord Amaram and some of those... uncommon figures." That was the term that palace staff used for Gavilar's new friends, the ones who seemed to arrive without warning or announcement, and rarely gave their names.

Navani ground her teeth, thinking through the places Gavilar might have gotten himself to. There were a few rooms he tended to use. He would probably be angry if she interrupted him. Well, good. He should be seeing to his duties rather than just assuming she'd handle it all. Unfortunately, at the moment, she... well, she would have to handle it. Brightlord Vamah couldn't be left waiting.

She let the anxious steward lead her up to the grand entryway where guards were being entertained with music, drinks and poetry while the feast was being prepared. Others were going with master-servants to view the Parshendi, the night's true novelty. It wasn't every day that the King of Alethkar signed a treaty with a group of mysterious parshmen who could talk. 

She dealt with Vamah, offering apologetic words, even going so far as to review the maps herself and write them a judgement. From there, she was stopped from locating Gavilar by a line of needy men and women who had come specifically to get the King's attention, a privilege that was growing more and more difficult these days, unless you were one of the uncommon figures. Navani assured Brightlords their petitions were being heard. She promised to look into injustices. She soothed the crumbled feelings of those who thought a personal invitation from the King would mean they'd actually get to see him. It was emotionally taxing work, but nothing new to her, and fully within the Queen's expected duties.

Navani didn't resent her station. Perhaps some day she'd be able to spend her days tinkering with fabrials and pretending she was a scholar. For now, she had duties. The only thing that truly bothered her was the fact that she shouldn't have to do it alone. She was unsurprised at asking that unexpected guests were indeed still showing up, ones that weren't even on the list an annoyed Gavilar had provided for earlier that day. Vev's Golden Keys! Navani kept her increasing fury under control, painting an amicable face for the arriving guests. She smiled, she laughed, she waved. Using the cheatsheet she kept in her notebook, she asked after families, new births and favorite axehounds. She inquired about trade situations, took notes on which lighteyes seemed to be avoiding others. In short, she acted like a queen.

She always felt like an imposter, and with good reason. She hadn't been born to the station. Gavilar, Navani, Sadeas, Ialai, they'd taken these mantles upon themselves. And however prestigious her ancient lineage, Navani had to work hard to suppress her anxiety that whispered she was really just a girl wearing someone else's clothing. Those insecurities had been stronger lately. Calm calm, no room for that sort of thinking.

She rounded the room and was happy to note that Aesudan had found Elhokar and was chatting with him for once, rather than other men. Elhokar did look happy presiding over the pre-feast gathering in his father's absence. Adolin and Renarin were there in stiff uniforms, the former delighting a small group of young women, the latter looking gangly and awkward as he stood by his brother. 

And there was Dalinar, standing tall. Somehow taller than any man in the room, but with those haunted eyes, simmering with passion. He wasn't drunk yet, but people orbited him, like they might a fire on a cold night, needing to be close, but not daring to step up and face the true heat of his presence. Storms. She complained to her current conversation partners that she was feeling a little faint and, after assuring them that she would be fine, made a brief exit up the steps where she wouldn't feel so warm.

It was probably a bad idea to leave. They were lacking a king, so if the Queen vanished too, questions were bound to arise. But surely everyone could get on without her for a short time. Besides, up here she could check on one of Gavilar's hiding places. He probably had come this direction, away from both the guests and the location of the new feast hall.

Parshendi with their drums passed nearby, speaking a language she did not understand, though one of the young interpreters was with them, so Navani could have asked if she'd wanted. Instead, she twisted her way through the dungeon-like hallways. Why didn't this place have a little more light, a few more windows? She'd brought the matter up with Gavilar but he liked it this way. Gave him more places to hide. 

There, she thought, stopping at an intersection. Voices.

"Being able to bring them back and forth from Braize doesn't mean anything, Gavilar," one of them said. "It's too close to be a relevant distance."

"It was impossible just a few short years ago," said a deep, powerful voice, his. "This is proof. The Connection is not severed, but can be warped to allow for travel. Not yet as far as you'd like, but we must start the journey somewhere."

Navani inched forward, looking around the corner. Yes, there he was, right where she'd expect him to be, in her study, a place she rarely had time to visit but also a place where people weren't likely to search for the King. It was a cozy little room with a nice window, tucked away in a corner of the second floor. He'd left the door cracked and she inched to peer in.

Gavilar Kholin had a big enough presence to fill the room all by himself. He wore a beard, but instead of being unfashionable on him it looked classic, like he was a painting come to life, a representation of old Alethkar. By wearing the beard, someone thought he might start a fashion trend, but nobody else had been able to pull off the look. Others didn't have Gavilar's strong features. Beyond that, there was an aura of distortion around Gavilar. Nothing supernatural or nonsensical. It was that, well, you accepted that Gavilar could do whatever he wanted, in defiance of tradition or logic. For him, it would work out. That was just the way of things.

The King was speaking with two men that Navani vaguely recognized. 'Ambassadors from the West' were what they'd been called, but no kingdom had been given for their home. They were simply among Gavilar's uncommon visitors.

Footnote: This reading is from a draft of the prologue and may change before publication
Stormlight Book Four Updates ()
#34 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Hey, all. Brandon here, back for another update on your book.

January went well, and the outlining process is moving along. I've set the percentage bar perhaps a little higher than it deserves to be, considering that I plan to get the outline for Book Five done as well y the time that hits 100%, but I haven't started it yet. That said, I'm feeling very good at what I've accomplished so far. I've cracked a few tricky problems in the plotting, ones I anticipate being the toughest parts of the outline--which makes me optimistic that I'm further along than the wordcount might indicate.

I did have to stop to do a quick 3.0 revision on Starsight, the sequel to Skyward, which is coming out in November. That's finished as of around 1:00am this morning. I'll be diving back into Stormlight now, though I'm in LA this week doing pitch meetings for Dark One as a television show. (So far so good, but these are very preliminary-type meetings, so don't expect any big announcements anytime soon.)

Plan is to be finished with the outline of Book Four by March 1st. (Tentative title: The Rhythm of War, but I'm not 100% on that yet.) Then I'll dive into the book.

Writing a Stormlight book is not an easy or quick process. To finish on time, I'll need to do 40k words a month every month this year--which is a tall order. (My average is around 30k a month, though, so it's not impossible.) That would have the first draft done by January 1st, then give me six months of grueling revisions to finish the final draft by July, which would allow a Christmastime release. This isn't set in stone, though, and if I don't meet this schedule the book could slip into the beginning of 2021.

For now, I'm going to solicit a little help from you. While writing Stormlight 3, I built a specific playlist of some of my favorite epic-fantasy-feeling songs. I've posted it before, but if you missed that, find it here.

You can click on my profile to find the similar playlist I made for Skyward. I have been searching through other playlists people have made on Spotify with the right kind of music so I can build a similar playlist for Stormlight 4, but I thought I'd kick the question to you folks as well.

Do you have any suggestions? What songs in specific (songs are better than artists, as I try to keep my playlists varied with only a couple of songs from any one given artist) do you listen to while reading the Stormlight books? What songs would you suggest to me that I listen to while writing the book? (Other than the Kaladin album, of course.)

Generally, I prefer things that have an epic instrumental feel to them--though I don't mind words here and there. And I get tired of things that sound TOO trailer-esque. (Inception sound. Inception sound. Inception sound.

For reference, my favorite song on the Oathbringer playlist--and the one I play in my head at the climax--is Alive by Phil Lober. Anyway, please suggest things for me to put on my playlist. Songs that are on theme, or even songs you just think are epic for whatever reason. (Though do look through the other two playlists I've made first, to double check the song isn't on one of them. I probably won't put any repeats on this playlist.)

And as a final note, I won't be having replies from this thread sent to my inbox, and I don't know if I'll have time for many specific replies to questions. But I do plan a more involved AMA sometime in the near future, where I can answer questions. I will also hop back on the thread at some point and grab the suggested songs.

Anyway, I'll give you another update when the outline is finished. Until then, Journey before Destination.

State of the Sanderson 2018 ()
#35 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Updates on Main Projects

Stormlight

As you just read about above, I am on track for starting this book on January first. I'll begin with a reread of the first three books, as I find I need a periodic refresher, even on my own novels. This will also be important for helping me really nail down the outlines for books four and five.

As I've worked on the Stormlight series, I've shifted a lot of things around in the outlines. Famously, I swapped Dalinar's book and Szeth's book (making Book Three have Dalinar's flashbacks instead of Szeth's). But along the same lines, I moved a chunk of Book Three into Book Two, and then moved around smaller arcs for Three, Four, and Five.

The Stormlight series has a very odd structure. Each novel is outlined as a trilogy plus a short story collection (the interludes) and is the length of four regular books. This lets me play with narrative in some interesting ways—but it also makes each volume a beast to write. The other superstructure to the series is the spotlight on the ten orders of Radiants, with each book highlighting one of them while also having a flashback sequences for a character tied to one of those orders. If that weren't complicated enough, the series is organized in two major five-book arcs.

What this means is that I need to do some extra work on books four and five, as they together tie off an arc. There are some small plot lines I've been pushing back from book to book as I nail down what each volume will include—but I can't do that with Book Five, as it will be the capstone of this sequence. So I need the outlines to be tight to make certain I get everything into them that needs to be there.

Anyway, that's a long way to say, essentially, I'll start posting updates to the Stormlight subreddit in January, and you can follow along there or on the progress bar we'll post here on my website on January first. I've commissioned a special piece of artwork to be used in Stormlight Four blog posts, which we should be able to reveal next year. (I'm pretty excited about it.) So you have that to look forward to as well!

Note that while I'm optimistic about this being my fall 2020 release, delays could happen if the book doesn't come out smoothly on the first draft. I'll keep you updated with regular posts. A lot will depend on how long the revisions take.

Status: Book Four is my main project for 2019, for an anticipated 2020/2021 release.

Stormlight Book Four Updates ()
#36 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Time for another update on your book, everyone! If you missed the previous update, it can be found right here. This update will get into some nitty-gritty outlining and wordcount details, which some of you might find boring. (Just a fair warning.)

Since the second update, I've indeed started into the book full-time. However, you might have noticed a little delay in the progress bar ticking up. This is because at the end of February (just before going to Hawaii) I decided that Starsight (Skyward Two) needed some more work.

I requested that the publisher push that book back a couple of months (it's now scheduled for first week in December) as I did a medium-sized overhaul based on some decisions I'd made after reading the beta reader comments. I'm pleased to say that revision went really well, and Starsight is in excellent shape. It did put me a little behind on Stormlight Four, I'm afraid. Looking at my tracking spreadsheet (which I used to gauge how I'm moving along) when I started into Stormlight four first part of April, I was about 45k words behind. I'm moving at a good speed, and am about 42k words behind now, with about 15k words finished.

This is merely a way of marking guideposts; I don't intend rush the story in order to meet arbitrary deadlines. This is partially me just trying to give you, and my publishers, an idea of when to expect the book. If I finish it by January 1st, the book can come out Christmas 2020. If I don't, we will probably have to nudge it back.

For reference, one percent on my progress bar is 4k words, and I anticipate the final book being 400k words long. A lot could happen during the next year of writing--the book could go super long, like happened with Oathbringer. Or I could run into some serious plot problems, which require time to work out. (For example, I've already thrown away chapter one after doing a short reading of it at an earlier convention--trying again with a slightly different tone.)

That said, I really like the new first chapter, and am now well into the fourth chapter. I promised you an update on the outline this time, and I'm looking at this book in a different way from the last two. As you may remember, I tend to plot each Stormlight book as if it were three volumes, combined together. (Along with a short story collection in the form of the interludes.)

With books two and three, the outline divided the novels into "books" by section. Part one of Oathbringer, for example, was "book one" of my three-part outline. Rhythm of War, however, is plotted more like The Way of Kings--meaning the separate books in it are divided by viewpoints.

In TwoK, Kaladin's complete arc was "book one" of my outline. Dalinar's was "book two" and Shallan's was "book three" with all of them being interwoven into the final product, and with Part Five being a capstone epilogue to them all. This novel is similar, though with more viewpoints.

We have what I'm calling the Primary Arc, which focuses on four characters who are all together in one place, their plots interweaving. The Secondary Arc is three different characters, their arcs interweaving, but in a separate location from the primary arc. The Tertiary arc is the last two characters, in a third location.

There will be ties between the three arcs, but the book will read a little more like TWoK than Oathbringer--with several separate stories that imply interesting things for one another, but which generally focus on their own goals. Book Five should, then, be an interweaving like Book Two or Book Three.

That's the plan, anyway! I'm not 100% done with the outline yet, as I want to explore some viewpoints first to make sure everything is lining up the way I want.

The next update probably won't be until mid summer, as I want to take a nice chunk of writing time to determine how things are progressing before I come back to talk here.

Until then, please enjoy listening to the community playlist of favorite epic tracks that remind them of Stormlight. This is what came of the previous thread, where I asked for suggested music to listen to while I work on Book Four. I've been doing so, and am slowly cultivating a shorter list of my favorite tracks that I'll release at a later date. Thanks to /u/DevilsAndDust- and my assistant Adam for putting this together.

Prague Signing ()
#38 Copy

Isaac Stewart

And I've got, we'll do two more of the fashion pieces.

Brandon Sanderson

Yep, we got two fashion plates in the work also. Cause I love how those looks.

Paleo

The Thaylen one with *inaudible* is good.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, the Thaylen one looks great.

Isaac Stewart

We're still deciding on what we're doing.

Brandon Sanderson

Yep.

Skyward Atlanta signing ()
#39 Copy

Questioner

Previously, you told me that Hoid loves bacon. Is there any other thing that you can tell me about Hoid that we won't be able to RAFO?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh man, I'm running out of stuff to tell you about Hoid that I can't RAFO because I get asked this enough that I forget what I've told people and what I haven't. I'm particularly fond of his monologue for the fourth book. So, be looking forward to that. It's a little different than the others.

Planet Comicon ()
#44 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Lirin was of the opinion that tragedy was the means by which the Almighty proved the virtue of men. How else was one to explain the events of the past year?

He ducked his head and stepped to the side respectfully, pulling his cloak tight as <Abijan?> strolled past. He remembered setting her arm in a splint some ten years before, soon after her arrival in the town, though she’d been called <Adi?> back then. Brightlord Wistiow had paid good money for her, and after she’d broken her arm, he’d wanted his investment protected.

Now, instead of a simple smock, the parshwoman wore a fine silken havah. White, which was an odd color. Lirin didn’t think he’d ever seen a human woman wear a dress that shade. But the Fused taught that in the past, the parshmen—or singers, as they now began to be called—had preferred solid and often muted colors to not distract from the patterns of their skin. <Abijan>, like many of the town’s new parshman Brightlords, listened intently to what the Fused said about the past. They treated the ways of the ancient parshmen like scripture, but couldn’t cover up that they were more Alethi than they were like those old singers. <Abijan> wore her safehand in a sleeve, and when she spoke to her companions, two townspeople who currently had her favor, she didn’t have even a hint of an accent.

Her skin patterns were swirling shapes, like mixing paint, red on white. Lirin had to admit the pattern was indeed striking against the white robe. He kept his eyes down, however, and remained by the side of the pathway, waiting until the parshwoman disappeared in the morning fog. Such extreme deference wasn’t required, but it was best to be careful when you were known as a potential troublemaker.

Lirin pulled his cloak tight again and continued on his way through the dense fog. Though the sun was well above the horizon, he saw it only as a vaguely circular white blotch. They’d been seeing spring weather lately in Hearthstone, and that meant morning fog. A welcome shroud for his chosen activities this day.

As he neared the perimeter of the town, he passed an increasing number of improvised shanties, blankets and tarps stretching between rooftops, making a kind of shelter for the crowded refugees. Entire streets were closed off this way. The sound of plates clinking and people talking rose through the fog surrounding him. These shanties would never last a storm, of course, but they could quickly be torn down and stowed. There just wasn’t enough housing otherwise. Hearthstone, as one of the towns of modest size this close to the Herdazian border, was clogged with refugees these days. In Herdaz, men could claim to fight for freedom, but how free were the corpses they left to bleed into the storm waters?

In some ways, little had changed, despite the coming of the Everstorm and the awakening of the parshmen. The skin of some involved in the battles changed, but the same old conflicts raged. Those who had a little taste of power wanted more, and sought it with the sword. The normal people bled, and men like Lirin had to try to put them back together. At least it seemed to almost be over. Word was that the resistance in Herdaz had finally collapsed, and the singers were securing dominance in the country. That meant more refugees for a time, but maybe after that, everything could settle back down and men could stop killing one another.

Unfortunately, as he emerged from a line of shanties, he found a sorry lot waiting for him. It was hard to get a count in the fog, but there had to be a good hundred people here. And with Hearthstone already nearing bursting, where were they going to fit so many?

Brandon Sanderson

So the rest of the chapter outline goes—and the rest of it’s in a real big mess—Lirin is there, he’s kind of looking through the refugees for sickness. Really, he’s keeping an eye out for that Herdazian general that had an interlude in the third book. He’s gonna be relevant here, they’re gonna try and hide him. But then they’re looking through the refugees, and one of them is Kaladin!

Skyward Houston signing ()
#46 Copy

Questioner

So in one of your State of the Sanderson posts you said that the "Wax and Wayne" series was going to come out in late 2019, but then you decided to write another trilogy that lasted two years, so--

Brandon Sanderson

So Wax & Wayne 4. Abandoning Apocalypse Guard has put me a little on the rocks for when I'm going to do that. Right now I'm planning Wax & Wayne 4 to be a book I use as a break from doing revisions on Stormlight 4. Stormlight 4 I have to start in January if I'm going to meet my stated goal of having them come out every three years, which I realize is a long time between books, but remember that they're four times longer than a normal book! *laughter*. You're laughing, but Oathbringer was 450,000 words, Skyward is 110,000. So Oathbringer is longer than four Skywards. I do have Skyward 2 done, and am going through the editing process right now. *applause* So Wax & Wayne 4 is very much on my radar-- I wrote the first one taking a break from Towers of Midnight, so the chances are good I'll need a break from Stormlight 4 and write it there. I don't know if it'll be out next year or the following summer. Stormlight 4 we're shooting for the fall of 2020, and I should be able to get it right around that time if I start in January, so that's the plan.

ICon 2019 ()
#50 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Of course the Parshendi wanted to play their drums. Of course Gavilar had told them they could. And of course he hadn't thought to warn Navani.

"Have you seen the size of those instruments?" <Hratham> said, running her hands through her black hair. "Where will we put them? We can't..."

"We move to the upper feast hall," Navani said, trying to project a calm demeanor. Everybody else in the kitchens was close to panicking, cooks running one direction or another, pots banging. Gavilar had invited not just the highprinces but their relatives. And every highlord in the town. And he wanted a Beggar's Feast. And now... drums?

"We've already set up in the lower hall," <Hratham> cried, "I don't have the staff to..."

"There are twice as many soldiers as usual loitering around the palace tonight," Navani said, "We'll have them move the tables." Gavilar never forgot about things like posting extra guards. Projecting strength, making a show of force? He could always be counted on for that. For everything else, he had Navani. 

"Could work, yes," <Hratham> said. "Good to put the louts to work rather than having them underfoot. Alright, deep breaths."

The short palace organizer stumbled away, narrowly avoiding an apprentice cook carrying a large bowl of steaming shellfish. Navani stepped to the side and let the cook pass. The man nodded in thanks. The staff had long since stopped being nervous when she entered the kitchens. She'd made it clear to them that doing their job sufficiently was superior praise to her than a bow. Fortunately, this staff was the kind of middle-ranked lighteyes who understood the need for a little practicality.

They seemed to have things well in hand now, though there had been a scare earlier when three barrels of grain had been discovered with worms in them. A little creative thinking had reminded them that Brightlord Amaram had stores for his men, and Navani had been able to pry them out of his grip. For now, it seemed that with the extra cooks borrowed from the monastery, they might actually be able to feed all the extra people Gavilar had invited.

"I should leave some of the tables set up in the lower hall," she thought, slipping out of the kitchens and into the palace gardens. "Who knows who might show up with an invitation." At the very least she might need to feed some of the military officers who couldn't be seated in the main feast hall. 

She turned to hike up through the gardens and entered the palace through the side doors. She'd be less out of the way and wouldn't have to dodge servants if she went out here into the gardens. Maybe she could...

Navani slowed. The Kholinar palace was brightly lit tonight, with spheres adorning every hallway and all of the garden walkways. By that light, Navani could easily make out Aesudan, her daughter-in-law, Elhokar's wife, standing just near the fountains. The slender woman wore her long hair in a bun, which was lit with a gemstone of each shade. All those colors were gaudy together. Navani preferred a few simple stones themed to a color, but it did make Aesudan stand out as she chatted with two elderly ardents. 

Storms bright and brash. Was that <Grushu Kris>, the artist and master artifabrian? When had he gotten into town? Who had invited him? He was holding a small box with a flower painted on it. Could that be one of his new fabrials? Navani found herself drawn toward the group, all other thoughts fleeing her mind. How had he gotten the heating fabrial to work? What had captured the flamespren? How did he make the temperature vary? She'd seen drawings, but to talk to the master artifabrian himself...

Aesudan saw Navani and then smiled brightly. The joy seemed genuine, which was unusual, at least when directed at Navani. She tried not to take Aesudan's general sourness around her as a personal affront. It was the prerogative of every woman to feel threatened by her mother-in-law, particularly when the girl was so obviously lacking in talents. Fortunately, Elhokar liked her, and she was of a good family. Navani smiled at her and turned, trying to enter the conversation and get a better look at that fabrial. Aesudan, however, took Navani by the arm.

"Mother! I had forgotten completely about our appointment. I'm so fickle sometimes. Terribly sorry Ardent <Kris>, but I must make a hasty exit," Aesudan tugged Navani forcefully back through the gardens toward the kitchens. 

"Thank Kelek you showed up Mother. That man is the most dreadful bore."

"Bore?" Navani said, twisting to look over her shoulder.

"He was talking about gemstones, and other gemstones, and spren, and boxes of spren, and... storms, what a night! You'd think he would understand I have important people to meet. The wives of highprinces, the best generals of the land come to gawk at the wild parshmen. Then I get stuck in the gardens talking to ardents! Your son ditched me there, I'll have you know. When I find that boy..."

Navani extricated herself from Aesudan's grip. "Someone should go entertain those ardents. Why are they here?"

"Don't ask me," Aesudan said. "Gavilar wanted them for something, but he made Elhokar entertain them. Poor manners that is, really."

Gavilar had invited one of the world's most prominent artifabrians to visit the palace, and he hadn't even bothered to tell Navani? An anger stirred deep inside her, a fury she kept carefully penned and locked away most of the time. That man. That storming man. How could he...

Calm, Navani, the rational side of her mind said. Maybe he intends to introduce you to the ardent as a gift. He knows how interested you are in fabrials. Perhaps that was it.

"Brightness!" a voice called from the kitchens. "Brightness Navani, oh please, we have a problem!"

"Aesudan," Navani said, eyes on the ardent who was slowly walking away toward the path to the monastery. She could catch him. She could spare a few minutes. "Could you help the kitchens with whatever they need. I'd like to..."

But Aesudan was already hurrying off towards another group in the gardens, one attended by several powerful highlord generals. Navani took a deep breath, shoving down another stab of annoyance. Aesudan claimed to care about propriety and manners, but she'd butt into any conversation between men without even her husband with her as an excuse.

"Brightness!" the cook called, waving to her. Navani took one last look at the ardents and then set her jaw and hurried back to the kitchen, careful not to catch her skirt on the ornamental shalebark. "What now?"

"Wine", the cook said. "We're out of both the <clavina> and the ruby <bench>."

"How?" Navani said. "We ordered..." She shared a look with the cook, and the answer was evident. Dalinar had been at the wine again, it appeared. "I have a private store," Navani said, pulling her notebook from her pocket. She gripped it in her safehand through the sleeve, scribbling a note. "I keep it in the monastery, with Sister <Nana>. Show her this, and she'll give you access."

"Thank you Brightness," the cook said, taking the note. Before the cook was even out the door, however, Navani spotted the house steward, a white-bearded man with too many rings on his fingers, standing in the stairwell up to the palace proper. He was fidgeting with his rings on his left hand. Bother.

"What is it?" she asked, striding over.

"Guests have started to arrive, Brightness, including Highlord Vamah, who was promised an audience with the King regarding the border disputes. You know the one..."

"...about the misdrawn maps, yes," Navani said, sighing. "And my husband?"

"Vanished, Brightness," the steward said. "He was seen with Brightlord Amaram and some of those... uncommon figures." That was the term the palace staff used for Gavilar's new friends, the ones who seemed to arrive without warning or announcement, and who rarely gave their names.

Navani ground her teeth, thinking through the places Gavilar might have gotten himself to. There were a few rooms he tended to use. He would probably be angry if she interrupted him. Well, good. He should be seeing to his duties rather than just assuming she'd handle it all. Unfortunately, at the moment… well, she would have to handle it all. Brightlord Vamah couldn't be left waiting.

She let the anxious steward lead her up to the grand entryway where guests were being entertained with music, drinks and poetry while the feast was being prepared. Others were going with master-servants to view the Parshendi, the night's true novelty. It wasn't every day that the King of Alethkar signed a treaty with a group of mysterious parshmen who could talk. 

She dealt with Vamah, offering apologetic words, even going so far as to promise to review the maps herself and write him a judgement. From there, she was stopped from locating Gavilar by a line of needy men and women who had come specifically to get the King's attention, a privilege that was growing more and more difficult these days, unless you were one of the 'uncommon figures.' Navani assured Brightlords their petitions were being heard. She promised to look into injustices. She soothed the crumpled feelings of those who thought a personal invitation from the King would mean they'd actually get to see that King. It was emotionally taxing work, but nothing new to her, and fully within the Queen's expected duties.

Navani didn't resent her station. Perhaps some day she'd be able to spend her days tinkering with fabrials and pretending that she was a scholar. For now, she had duties. The only thing that truly bothered her was the fact that she shouldn't have to do those duties alone. She was unsurprised at asking that more guests were indeed still indeed showing up, ones that weren't even on the list an annoyed Gavilar had provided for earlier that day. Vev's Golden Keys! Navani kept her increasing fury under control, painting an amicable face on for the arriving guests. She smiled, she laughed, she waved. Using the cheatsheet she kept in her notebook, she asked after families, new births and favorite axehounds. She inquired about trade situations, took notes on which lighteyes seemed to be avoiding others. In short, she acted regal.

She always felt like an imposter, and with good reason. She hadn't been born to this station. Gavilar, Navani, Sadeas, Ialai, they'd taken these mantles upon themselves. And however prestigious their ancient lineage, Navani had to work hard to suppress the anxiety that whispered she was really just a backwater country girl wearing someone else's clothing. Those insecurities had been stronger lately. Calm calm, no room for that sort of thinking.

She rounded the room and was happy to note that Aesudan had found Elhokar and was chatting with him for once, rather than other men. Elhokar did look happy presiding over the pre-feast gathering in his father's absence. Adolin and Renarin were there in stiff uniforms, the former delighting a small group of young women, the latter looking gangly and awkward as he stood by his brother. 

And there was Dalinar, standing tall. Somehow taller than any man in the room, but with those haunted eyes, simmering with passion. He wasn't drunk yet, and people orbited him, like they might a fire on a cold night, needing to be close, but not daring to step up and risk the true heat of his presence. Storms. She complained to her current conversation partners that she was feeling a little faint and, after assuring them that she would be fine, made a brief exit up the steps to where she wouldn't feel so warm.

It was probably a bad idea to leave. They were lacking a King, so if the Queen vanished too, questions were bound to arise. But surely everyone could get on without her for a short time. Besides, up here she could check one of Gavilar's hiding places. He would probably come this direction, away from both the guests and the location of the new feast hall.

Parshendi with their drums passed nearby, speaking a language she did not understand, though one of the young interpreters was with them, so Navani could have asked if she'd wanted. Instead, she twisted her way through the dungeon-like hallways. Why couldn't this place have been a little more light, had a few more windows? She'd brought the matter up with Gavilar but he liked it this way. It gave him more places to hide. 

There, she thought, stopping at an intersection. Voices.

"Being able to bring them back and forth from Braize doesn't mean anything, Gavilar," one of them said. "It's too close to be a relevant distance."

"It was impossible just a few short years ago," said a deep, powerful voice. His. "This is proof. The Connection is not severed, but can be warped to allow for travel. Not yet as far as you'd like, but we must start the journey somewhere."

Navani inched forward, looking around the corner. Yes, there he was, right where she'd expected him to be. In her study, a place she rarely had time to visit but also a place where people were unlikely to search for the King. It was a cozy little room with a nice window, tucked away in the corner of the second floor. He'd left the door cracked, and she inched up to peer in.

Gavilar Kholin had a big enough presence to fill the room all by himself. He wore a beard, but instead of being unfashionable on him it looked classic, like he was a painting come to life, a representation of old Alethkar. By wearing the beard, some had thought he might start a new fashion trend, but nobody else had been able to pull off the look. Others simply didn't have Gavilar's strong features. Beyond that, there was an aura of distortion around Gavilar. Nothing supernatural or nonsensical. It was just that... Well, you accepted that Gavilar could do whatever he wanted, in defiance of any tradition or logic. For him, it would work out. That was just the way of things.

The King was speaking with two men that Navani vaguely recognized. 'Ambassadors from the West' were what they'd been called, but no kingdom had been given for their home. They were simply among Gavilar's uncommon visitors.

A tall Azish man with a birthmark on his cheek, and a shorter Alethi man with a round face and a small nose. The Azish one leaned back against the bookcase, arms folded, face completely emotionless. The Alethi man wrung his hands, reminding Navani of the palace steward, though this man was much younger, somewhere in his twenties, maybe his thirties? No, he could be older…

On the table between Gavilar and the men were a group of spheres. Navani's breath caught as she saw them. They were arrayed in a variety of colors and brightnesses, but several seemed strangely off. They glowed with a color that seemed somehow an inverse of light, as if they were pits of violet darkness, sucking in the color around them. She'd never seen anything like it before, though gemstones with spren trapped inside them could have all kinds of odd looks and effects. Those spheres… they must be for fabrials. And Gavilar was talking to two strangers about them? She was reminded of the artifabrian in the gardens. What was he doing with spheres, strange light, and fabrials? And why couldn't Gavilar talk to her about…

Gavilar suddenly stood up straight, then glanced towards the doorway. Their eyes met. She couldn't tell how he'd spotted her, as she hadn’t made any sound. As soon as she was seen, she pushed open the door, acting like she had been on her way in, anyway. She wasn't spying, she was Queen of this palace, she could go anywhere she wished, particularly her own study!

"Husband," she said, "There are guests missing you at the gathering. You seem to have lost track of time."

"Gentlemen, " Gavilar said to the two ambassadors, "I will need to excuse you for the moment."

The nervous Alethi man ran his hand through his wispy hair.

"I want to know more of the project, Gavilar, plus you need to know something else. I think another of us is here tonight. I spotted her handiwork earlier."

"I have a meeting shortly with Meridas and the others," Gavilar said. "They should have more information for me. We can speak again after that."

"No," the Azish man said, voice sharp. "I doubt that we shall."

"There's more here, Nale!" The Alethi man said, but his friend towed him out the door, protesting. "This is important! I want out! This is the only way!"

"What was that about?" Navani asked as Gavilar closed the door. "Those are no ambassadors. Who are they really?"

Gavilar did not answer. With seemingly deliberate motions, he walked back to the table and began plucking the spheres one by one and placing them into a pouch. Navani ducked forward and snatched one off the table.

"What are they? How did you get spheres to glow like this? Does it have anything to do with the artifabrians you invited – without telling me, I might add – to come visit you?"

She looked at him, waiting for some kind of answer, some kind of explanation. Instead, he held out his hand for her sphere.

"This does not concern you, Navani. Return to the party."

She closed her hand around the sphere.

"So I can continue to cover for you? Did you promise Vamah that you'd mediate a dispute tonight, of all times? Do you know how many people are expecting you? Did you say you have another meeting to go to now, before the feast even begins? Are you simply trying to ignore our guests?"

"Do you know," he said softly, "how tired I grow of your constant questions, woman?"

"Well, perhaps try answering one or two of them, then! It’s a novel experience, answering someone, treating them like a human being, rather than a machine built to count the days of the week for you!"

He wagged his hand, demanding the sphere be returned. Instinctively, she shied back, holding it.

"Why? Why do you continue to shut me out? Please just tell me…"

"I deal in secrets you could not handle, Navani. If you knew the scope of what I'd begun…"

Footnote: This reading is from a draft of the prologue and may change before publication