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Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
#2 Copy

Nadine

Will The Way of Kings series be based on one of the worlds and magic systems you have already created or are you inventing a totally new one for this series?

Brandon Sanderson

It will be new. There are going to be a lot of different types of magic in the world (I see there's a question below asking about that, so I'll answer more there.) But there will be two main magic systems for the first book. The first will deal with the manipulation of fundamental forces. (Gravity, Strong/weak atomic forces, Electromagnetic force, that sort of thing.) The second will be a transformation based magic system, whereby people can transform objects into one of the world's ten elements.

/r/Fantasy_Bookclub Alloy of Law Q&A ()
#4 Copy

zas678

How long before [The Way of Kings] is Alloy of Law? I heard somewhere that it's a hundred years, but I don't think that's right.

Brandon Sanderson

I intended them to be happening roughly close to one another, with [The Way of Kings] slightly before.

DragonCon 2016 ()
#5 Copy

Questioner

Stormlight feels very different to me on so many levels. You've got the interludes where we get to get a lot of worldbuilding, we get to see more of the planet than just one place. But there is also this sense that a lot of your books we're experiencing the aftermath of something. And in Stormlight that something is coming. How is this affecting the way that you are building your world for us?

Brandon Sanderson

So, this one's going get you a story, okay? So here's the story... So, alright, darkest time in my writing career, okay? Was when I was writing books 11 and 12 unpublished. I was getting rejection letters, and they were rejection letters for things like Elantris and Dragonsteel, which I was really confident in. Elantris, Dragonsteel, and White Sand were the good books during the era of unpublished Brandon.

White Sand by the way, is out as a graphic novel now. You can also read the prose version by emailing me through my website form, we just send it out for free, so you can compare it to the graphic novel. And by the way, Dragonsteel, you're like "Oh, Hoid's origin story", we'll do that eventually. The Shattered Plains started in Dragonsteel, and I pulled them out, and I pulled Dalinar out, and a bunch of stuff, when I built Stormlight. And so it's really a schizophrenic book now-- Schizeophrenic is the wrong term, but half of it was what became Stormlight, and half of it is Hoid's origin story. So, the half that is Hoid's origin story will eventually get a book.

Anyway, darkest point-- I'm not selling anything, everybody is telling me like "Your books are too long". This is the number one thing I'm getting from rejections, "Your books are too long, and your books are not market friendly, in that the worlds are too weird". I'm getting this-- You gotta remember this is-- I love George but  this is right after George got huge, and George introduced gritty, low magic, earth-like fantasy as kind of "the thing" that was big. And his books were large too, I don't know why people kept telling me mine were too big, but they wanted gritty and they wanted low magic and they wanted earth-like. So I was getting rejection after rejection on these things. What people were buying were things like Joe Abercrombie's stuff, which is great, Joe's a great writer. But you know, short things that gave people a similar feel to George RR Martin, but you know, but were low magic, kind of earth-like medieval societies. Basically shorter versions of George is basically what they wanted. So I actually would go to cons and they would be like "Have you read the beginning of Game of Thrones? Write something like that" and so finally against better advice, I sat down and said "alright I'll try something like that". And you guys do not want to read Brandon Sanderson trying to be George RR Martin. *laughter* It was embarrassing, and so I wrote these books, each something different.

And I like trying to do something different, I'm not sad I tried to do something different, but at the end I was like "I can't do this, these books are crap". The worst books I wrote were the two that were like books 11 and 12. Like I shouldn't be getting worse as a writer, the more books I write. And so I was in a funk and I finally just said, "You know what? Screw it, I'm gonna write the biggest, baddest, most awesome book that I can!" They say they're too [long], this is gonna be twice as long! They say that worlds are too weird, I'm gonna do the weirdest world that I've always wanted to do. I'm gonna write the type of fantasy book that nobody's writing that I wish they would write. And I'm gonna break all these rules that say 'Oh don't do flashbacks'. Screw you, I'm gonna put flashbacks in every book! They say 'Don't do prologues', screw you, I'm doing three prologues!" *laughter* It really does, because Way of Kings starts with the Heralds. Prologue. Then it goes to Szeth. Prologue. And then it goes to the viewpoint of the guy in Kaladin's squad. Also a prologue. And then it jumps like eight months and then we start the story. I did all the stuff they told me not to do because I just wanted to make the biggest, most coolest and baddest epic I could-- bad in a good term.

And I finished this book, which was basically flipping the bird to the entire publishing industry, right? And that-- Within a month of finishing that is when Moshe, who I told you is bipolar, got manic and read through his backlist of books that people had sent him, including one I'd sent him two years earlier, which was Elantris. He'd never looked at it, he read it in a night, he called me manic, and said "I wanna buy your book!". And actually what happened is, he called me and I'd moved since then, and gotten a new phone number. We used to have landlines back then, I know. I had a cellphone by the time he called me but before I had my landline number on it, and I'd actually--this is gonna date me--my first email address was AOL. I was like "Free email." And then I realized AOL-- I wont speak ill of-- Yes I will. AOL sucked. *laughter* And so I'm like "Well I need to get my own email address", so I went and got one, but that meant the email had changed. And I sent to anyone who actively had one of my books on submission like "This is my new contact info", but he'd had it for two years. I figured I was never seeing it-- If you were on the last panel, I mentioned that I sent things into Tor and they vanished, and I never got rejections-- I never got rejected from Tor, I sent them four books, they're still just sitting there somewhere I'm sure. But, so I finished this big beast of a book, right, and then I sell Elantris, and I'm like "Great, now I don't know what to do". So my editor is like "Oh what are you working on now, I want to see that too", so I sent him Way of Kings, and I still remember when he called me, he was like "Uhh... Well this isn't the sort of thing that new authors usually publish. Can we split it?" and I said "No, you split the book and it's a really bad book, 'cause you have all the buildup but none of the payoff". And he's like "Ughhh", and I said "That's alright, I've got this idea for Mistborn", I pitched him Mistborn. "I'll do Way of Kings later", there were some things I wanted to fix about it, it actually needed something, and I didn't know what that something was yet, and I didn't learn it until working on The Wheel of Time, but that's a different story.

But you're asking why is Stormlight so different. Well Stormlight is a series like of my heart. This is the book that I wrote when nothing else mattered, and I thought I might never get published and I just wanted to do what I felt that the genre needed that nobody was doing, right? And so I felt like fantasy needed to be pushed a little further in its worldbuilding, and so I did that. I felt like-- There just a lot going on. The interludes were kind of my solution to the problem Robert Jordan and George RR Martin were having, which, they're fantastic writers, I was able to learn from them. And Robert Jordan, I think one of the problems he had was that he fell in love with the side characters, and then these side characters took over the story to an extent that then it was hard to manage. I'm not bashing on Robert Jordan, he talked about this, he talked about book 10 and how being a parallel novel was a mistake. I could learn from his mistakes, it doesn't make me a better writer, what it means is I can learn from what they did. And I said "Okay, I'm going to put pressure valves in my book, I'm gonna put a short story collection in each novel where I get to write about side characters, and those who wan to skip them can skip them, and those who don't can read them", and I'll just make sure that I contain them in these short stories, these interludes, and that lets me do what I want but also lets the book keep its focus. So I'm doing a lot of things with these books that were like my love letter to the epic fantasy genre, and so I'm enthusiastic that you actually all like it and are willing to read them. *applause*

Kraków signing ()
#6 Copy

Questioner

Does titles of the five books from the first arc create a ketek?

Brandon Sanderson

No. I actually considered it but it’s just too confusing so I actually tossed that out before I even started the first book. But I did consider it. It just was too confusing.

Firefight Atlanta signing ()
#7 Copy

Questioner

What’s the hardest power you've created to find a balance for?

Brandon Sanderson

Hardest power to create a balance for? I'd say first is Wheel of Time, but I didn't create that... Hardest to balance… They've all been fairly easy so far. My guess is that it will end up being Stormlight just because I am doing so many books in that world, and I'm not resetting characters as much as I am in Mistborn, that I'm going to have to be careful about power creep... That's an excellent question.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#11 Copy

XavierRDE

How much work, time, care and difficulty goes into constructing each book's ketek in the Stormlight Archive and sticking every phrase into the different parts of the book?

Brandon Sanderson

More than I expected, that's for sure. Not being a poet, it takes a lot of work for me to get something that I feel isn't embarrassing for the keteks.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
#12 Copy

Questioner

So the first one is Kaladin's backstory, the second is Shallan's backstory, who's next?

Brandon Sanderson

I actually haven't been able to decide yet. It's going to be one of the five for the first five books are Kaladin and Shallan and then Dalinar, Szeth, and Eshonai and I can't decide which one matches the next book best. And I'm going to have to write it...

Argent

What's the current list for the back five?

Brandon Sanderson

Current list for the back five... Jasnah, Lift, Ash, Renarin, and Taln.

Footnote: Brandon eventually decided to go with Dalinar for Stormlight 3.
Skyward Atlanta signing ()
#14 Copy

Personification [PENDING REVIEW]

With the ten Silver Kingdoms, what were actually their roles and what kingdoms did they correspond to *inaudible*?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Well, what do you mean by correspond?

Personification [PENDING REVIEW]

Did the ten Silver Kingdoms each have a job like Alethela was the kingdom of War?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

They would all consider themselves specialized but it wasn't official like that. It was more like their own philosophy and how they view themselves. And I wouldn't align them straight up with orders of Knights Radiant or anything like that.

Personification [PENDING REVIEW]

I wasn't saying that, I was saying, maybe different job or it was like--

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

They all did kind of have different roles but its not like they had any-- you know, Thaylenah is your navy, right? Its not necessarily that it's-- if that makes sense, but Alethela has like the view of itself, it had a very distinctive view of itself.

Personification [PENDING REVIEW]

Okay, so it wasn't like each one actually had a different role?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

No, they were not quite, quite, organized enough for that.

Skyward San Francisco signing ()
#15 Copy

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

As I read about the Parshendi, can't help but think of indigenous peoples. How do you deal with that and respecting the whole experience of colonization?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

I think one of the things I have to do is embrace it. Like, if I just ignore it, it's worse, and so that's why I've tried to dig into and kind of acknowledge the issues. I mean, it is a minefield, right? I'm wandering into a minefield by writing a story that is basically based off of--

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

American colonization?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Yes. But at the same time, ignoring it wouldn't work. And the thing about it is, most cultures in our world, this is a question they had to deal with. Whose land is it? I mean, we're still fighting this war--we, I say, we aren't--but war is still being fought in the Middle East over whose land is it, and it's both of theirs, right, depending on how far you go back. And things like that, and so I think ignoring it is the wrong thing to do. But I also think there's a danger in trying to present an answer that is too easy, and so that's the line I have to walk. Embrace it, talk about it, not present an answer that is too easy, present multiple sides on it. It's kind of like the same way like the people in Roshar are both incredibly racist and incredibly sexist, right? Writing people who are racist and sexist without the narrative itself bolstering those sorts of those things is really hard. But, you know, we sign up to do hard things, and if I fall on my face, the best thing I can do is just acknowledge that I've fallen on my face, as I have done in the past.

Shadows of Self release party ()
#16 Copy

Questioner

Do you already know how The Stormlight Archive is going to end?

Brandon Sanderson

Do I know how The Stormlight Archive is going to end. Yes I do! *crowd cheers* I'm an outliner, so I have lots of plans. I have not yet written the last scene. I wrote the last scene of Book 5 just so I had it in hand, 'cause there's two five book arcs. But I've known for many years and what's going to happen is hidden in the books already. So! *crowd woos* When it happens you'll be able to go "OH!!" When it happens in twenty years-- *laughter*

Oathbringer Portland signing ()
#17 Copy

Questioner 1 [PENDING REVIEW]

The drawers with the infused gemstones. Is that the Stormlight Archive?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

No. That is not the Stormlight Archive.

Questioner 2 [PENDING REVIEW]

Is there a Stormlight Archive?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Yes. But... it means the books. The archive of books that are all named after in-world books. The Archive is a pun on archived collection of books.

Stormlight Three Update #1 ()
#18 Copy

SageOfTheWise

Aww, was really hoping to get a Rysn book. Hopefully we still get a lot more of her anyway.

She can team up with Adolin and make their own club for people too cool for books.

Brandon Sanderson

Rysn will appear again. Not getting a book does not mean someone isn't an important character, just that I don't consider them as having a flashback sequence worthy of structuring a book around.

Stormlight Three Update #2 ()
#20 Copy

HellaSober

(Until the second five books, where our primary characters will shuffle. So you Renarin fans will have to be patient.)

Do you worry that assuring us that a character will likely survive the first arc of the series removes some of the tension in their scenes?

(While you've discussed the idea that a main character can have a book about them while they are dead when Dalinar was expected to be central to book 5, this seems different)

Brandon Sanderson

I have said many times before that Renarin and Lift are main characters for the next five, but--as you point out--I've also said that I have no problem having a main character who is actually dead, and their story told through flashbacks and the stories of the other characters. Renarin is not safe, but you will see a lot more from him in the future, even if he does die.

To say more would be to give too many spoilers about the nature of the back five books.

Idaho Falls Signing ()
#21 Copy

Shawn M. Halversen (paraphrased)

I asked him about the time between each of the original 99 desolations.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

It turns out that the number 99 in the stories was made up, and that there were much fewer of them. He also then stated that the cosmere runs along a 10,000 year gap and that Roshar falls right into the middle of the timeline. He ended with "That should give you a perspective of the timeline and events of the desolations".

Firefight Seattle UBooks signing ()
#22 Copy

Wetlander

How much time elapses between the beginning of the main part of the story [where they start out at the Shattered Plains] and the end of the series?

Brandon Sanderson

And the end of the series? Because the end of the series, um, we have a 15-year gap between [books number] 5 and 6. So, the first five will probably be Wheel of Time-ish, sort of, each one picks up where the last one left off; we have a little more time, maybe, than Wheel of Time, but not terribly much, so it will probably be just a couple of years for the first ones, but then we will jump.

General Reddit 2018 ()
#24 Copy

TopRamen713

I think it's probably the remnants of the first agreement between the singers and humans. They were allowed to terraform Shinovar, and rule that area, but anywhere else, they were forbidden from. Eventually, it morphed into the "soil lands are for humans, everywhere else is for singers." Then, over the millennia, it became a religious teaching, "don't walk on stones."

Peter Ahlstrom

Brandon wrote a ton of worldbuilding down before starting to write the first book, and this particular thing is definitely something he planned from the start. He does keep a lot of stuff in his head, but sometimes that shifts over time. Part of our job is to make sure what's in his head now doesn't conflict with what has previously been published.

If the outline doesn't work for something, Brandon will change it while writing. As long as it doesn't conflict with published canon, it's always more awesome than his earlier plans.

London signing ()
#27 Copy

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

For the first 5 SA books he's heavily outlined them. For the last 5 SA books he has outlines for the main climax scenes. For the flashback characters for the last 5 books he's not settled on which ones or order but current plan is for Taln, Ash (aka Shalash), Lift, Jasnah and Renarin.

He also specifically stated that for one of the flashback characters that they would be already dead (sounded like definitely dead not maybe dead).

Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
#29 Copy

MarlonRand

Is there any information about Way of Kings that you can give us at this time?

Brandon Sanderson

I've wanted to do a long epic for a while. I guess that's what comes from reading Jordan and the others while growing up. And so, way back in the late 90's—when I was experimenting with my style—I started working on ideas for a longer form series. I knew the real trick for me would be to do it in a way that it didn't feel stale after just a few books; there needed to be enough to the world, the magic, and the plot arcs that I (and hopefully readers) would keep interested in the series for such a long time.

What it gives me (the thing that I want in doing a longer epic) is the chance to grow characters across a larger number of books. Dig into their pasts, explore what makes them think the way they do, in ways that even a trilogy cannot. In Kings, I don't want to do a longer 'saga' style series, with each book having a new set of characters. I want this to be one overarching story.

One of the things that has itched at me for long time in my fantasy reading is the sense of loss that so many fantasy series have. I'm not complaining, mind you—I love these books. But it seems like a theme in a large number of fantasy books is the disappearance of magic and wonder from the world. In Tolkien, the Elves are leaving. In Jordan, technology is growing and perhaps beginning an age where it will overshadow magic. It's very present in Brooks, where the fantasy world is becoming our world. Even Eddings seemed to have it, with a sense that sorcerers are less common, and with things like the only Dragons dying, the gods leaving.

I've wanted to do a series, then, where the magic isn't going away—it's coming back. Where the world is becoming a more wondrous place. Where new races aren't vanishing, they're being discovered.

Obviously, I'm not the first to approach a fantasy this way. Maybe I'm reading too much into the other books, seeing something that isn't there. But the return of magic is one of the main concepts that is driving me.

Well, that and enormous swords and magical power armor.

JordanCon 2014 ()
#30 Copy

Questioner

Are we going to see any chapters that are expressly Hoid now that he is becoming more and more important?

Brandon Sanderson

You have seen two. Are you going to see more? Yes. I would say that if you look at the structure of the first two Stormlight books, you will find several themes and those themes are likely to be repeated in future books. And Hoid does like having the last word. *laughter*

Orem signing ()
#31 Copy

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

So I think you dropped like, so many cosmere bombs in Oathbringer. And I'm just low-key worried that there's not going to be much more to reveal. I hope that that's not the case and I just want a small confirmation.

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

There is still plenty to reveal. Remember it's two five book arcs

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

So we're okay?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Yeah. I've still got a few bombs to drop.

Skyward Chicago signing ()
#32 Copy

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

At this point, so far out from Oathbringer, what are the best and hardest things about having spent a lot of time writing about mental illnesses?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

One of the reasons why I approached Stormlight the way I did is, during the intervening years, during those seven years, I got to know very deeply some people who we would call non-psychonormative, I think is a good way to say it. And I began to see that the various different ways we perceive ourselves and the various different ways we perceive our own mental processes influence a lot of how we act and who we are. And I also noticed, speaking to them, that a lot of my friends were a little--and there's no problem if you like these--but they're a little tired of every book that represented their mental illness in a story was all about the mental illness. That the book was only just how to cope with mental illness, which are great stories. But they're like, if you look at the statistics, psychonormative is not the norm. In fact, it seems to be this mythical person that doesn't exist, in that the way that all of us think is different, and in some of us it can be really impairing for our lives. And in some of us, the same thing that's impairing to our lives defines who we are. You guys want a really good book about this, Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon is a fantastic look at this.

But this all became really interesting to me. When I was looking at my characters, one of the things I noticed, for instance, I kind of used the pop science version of autism in Elantris. The more I actually got to know people with autism, the more I saw that the Rain Man version was a very extreme representation of something that is something a lot of people deal with, the way they see the world, and I started thinking, "You know, if I'm gonna create real characters in my books, this is something I need to be looking at." And it wasn't that I set out to say, "I'm going to write a book about lots of people with mental illnesses. I said, "I'm going to write a book about a lot of people who are like the people I know. And some of them think in different ways than others." And again, in some of them, that's a thing that they don't want to think that way. And it can be really impairing. But it's not that the story-- The Stormlight Archive is not about mental illness. The Stormlight Archive is about a lot of people that I wanted to try to make as real as I could, and that I also wanted to approach some things that haven't been approached, I thought, in fantasy fiction.

What are some of the advantages? Well, I think the story has been very eye-opening to me. It's hard to talk about advantages and disadvantages in light of this. What are the "disadvantages"? I am walking through a minefield, and I have blown my foot off multiple times. And I think this is part of that whole failure thing as a writer. If I hadn't perhaps done it poorly in some of my books, I wouldn't have had the chance to talk to people who are like, "I really appreciate the book and what you're trying. Here's how, if you ever did this again, you might approach making it feel more realistic." And that made me a better person, not just a better writer, and so in some ways that disadvantage is the advantage. But that is the thing. I have blown my foot off on several landmines. And I will probably continue to do so.

Words of Radiance Portland signing ()
#33 Copy

Swamp-Spirit

We have a lot of Renarin questions just because he is a character we both care a lot about, just another what could you-- give us a tidbit about Renarin's relationship with Bridge Four?

Brandon Sanderson

I can tell you this, here's a good tidbit. You know the books are about ten characters. Renarin's one of them. But Renarin, you know the first five, he's not one of. So Renarin is one of the main characters for the back five, which are focused more on the Heralds, and he is one of the characters with the flashbacks there. So Renarin, you are not going to get everything you want about him until the back five books. So just keep that in mind.

Swamp-Spirit

I can live with that.

SF Book Review interview ()
#34 Copy

Ant

The Stormlight Archive already has that feeling of an "epic" tale, not just in the size of the novels and the rich world building but the story too. Do you have any idea how long the book series might go on for?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. I conceived The Stormlight Archive as a series dealing with ten characters, where each book took one of the characters and delved deeply into their past and their psychology. Granted, the other characters will appear, as Kaladin is a big part of Words of Radiance even though this volume could be described as Shallan's book. Since I have those ten characters, and there are ten orders of Knights Radiant, I built a ten-book series with two five-book arcs: five books and then a break, followed by another five books.

Oathbringer release party ()
#35 Copy

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

I'm curious to know if there are any books-- any stories or scripture in the Book of Mormon that have particularly inspired your writing, that you like.

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Yeah, King Benjamin's speech is the thing that I can point to most specifically as influencing me on my views of leadership, specifically in The Stormlight Archive.

Sasquan 2015 ()
#38 Copy

Questioner

So I know you talk a lot about the length of the Stormlight books before and how Tor has had some interesting worries there.

Brandon Sanderson

Oh yeah. They were more worried about it-- They would like me to write shorter, but they were much more worried before they became the explosive smash hit that they are. *laughter* Now they're just like-- They've learned. "Do what you want Brandon" *laughter*

Questioner

How do you balance, you know, wanting to extend a scene or wanting to do more flashbacks, or do more characters, while still making sure you get the plot and turn out an incredible book?

Brandon Sanderson

Right, right. So epic fantasy does have this issue of spending so much time dallying with side stories that you lose, sometimes, focus of the main plot. So I've tried to do this thing with the Stormlight books where I consciously made two decisions. One was I would do a flashback sequence in each book that kind of focused on one character that hopefully gave a kind of soul to that book that allowed you to remember "Oh whose flashbacks was that book. Oh that was this one." and that one lead you to understanding the theme of that entire book. Hopefully that will help keep that. The other is that I try to confine my time to the side characters to the interludes, which are slice-of-life glimpses of Roshar. And if I can confine myself to little stories there, then I have a set amount of room-- It's like giving yourself this ground to play in that is bounded, so you finish when you're done with that. I get three interludes between each part, so I can write a bunch of little short stories to explore side characters. But I have to be very careful, you know, "I don't want to do this character yet because I've got this new character" I've got to balance that. And those two things together, hopefully, will help me. Now the issue is most books that-- the series that have had trouble with this in the past don't have it until books 3 or 4, so we won't know if I'll be successful until we get through books 3 or 4, where it starts to appear. So watch me for the next couple years and we'll see if it manifests.

Stormlight Three Update #7 ()
#39 Copy

jmcgit

You don't have to worry about him becoming unproductive, but I do worry a little about Stormlight taking more out of him and needing more and more "hamburger and fries" to recharge. I also am suddenly worried about the series growing beyond 10 books, especially with Peter Ahlstrom suggesting that story could be moved from 4 to 5, but story can't be moved from 5 to 6 without delaying the planned time jump.

GRRM started with ASOIAF planned as a trilogy, and even if he were fully healthy and productive, it's hard to see how he would wrap this up in the currently planned seven. Wheel of Time was pitched as a trilogy, and the publisher knew better, and Jordan was signed to six books, we wound up with 14. Stormlight Archive originated as a 10 book series, and now I'm slightly worried as to whether this is going to grow like many fantasy series do.

I don't think it would be by much, Sanderson appears to have a much more detailed plan than some of these other authors, but even growth from 10 books to 12 books would make a huge difference considering the interesting concepts I'd like to read that are bottlenecked behind the end of Stormlight.

Peter Ahlstrom

I think that if he ends up with too much content, more novellas like Edgedancer are much more likely than expanding the number of books.

Also, Brandon has already moved plot elements forward in the name of awesome. Moash's plot for book 2 was originally planned to be in book 3.

Salt Lake City Comic-Con 2014 ()
#40 Copy

Questioner

So Stormlight and Breath are both just different manifestations of Investiture.

Brandon Sanderson

That's correct.

Questioner

So Nightblood and Shardblades are both kind of powered by Investiture?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, in fact you can call Nightblood kind of a miss-made, evil Shardblade... more miss-made than evil but yes.

Questioner

But a Shardblade wouldn't shear through Nightblood.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes a Shardblade would not shear through Nightblood. In fact I wrote Way of Kings first and then I wrote Warbreaker and Way of Kings came out after Warbreaker but in my mind Warbreaker is a prequel to Way of Kings, where I was telling Vasher's backstory.

Questioner

Oh really, so the Warbreaker we know takes place after Way of Kings?

Brandon Sanderson

No, it takes place before, it's a prequel meaning I wrote Way of Kings and then I went back in time and told Vasher's backstory but Warbreaker ended up coming out first because Way of Kings wasn't ready yet.

Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
#42 Copy

PyroSkink

Is each book in this series a focus on a particular character? Did I read that somewhere?

Brandon Sanderson

Each one has a flashback sequence dedicated to a certain character, and a plot that has something to do with the flashback sequence. I do this to help differentiate them, and we sometimes call it "their" book--but that's a little of a misnomer, as the main plot may not revolve around the flashback sequence. It will simply relate to it.

PyroSkink

Ah right. It was Kaladin then Shallan, next is Dalinar? Or is it Szeth?

Brandon Sanderson

This one is Dalinar most likely. Then (probably) Eshonai, then Szeth. Unless I swap those two.

Back five are Lift, Renarin, Ash, Taln, Jasnah. Not necessarily in that order. (Though that is the planned order right now.)

I do have to give my standard disclaimer. Someone getting a flashback sequence does not indicate they survive until that book. I'm fully willing to flashback to a character who died in an earlier volume. So that isn't as much of a spoiler as it seems.

And Taln is defined as "The man who thinks of himself as the Herald Taln, and whose viewpoint we got briefly in Words of Radiance."

Orem signing ()
#43 Copy

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

How frustrating is it that you have to wait so long and do so many things first before you can tell the Hoid story.

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

How frustrating is it that I have to wait so long to do things before I do the Hoid story, which is one of the big ones that I want to tell. It's not as frustrating as you think. Because, if you sat me down and said "You can only write one of these, Hoid story or Stormlight." I would pick Stormlight every time. Stormlight is a-- in my opinion, Stormlight is a stronger story over all. And Hoid's really interesting, and it's going to be a really cool thing for me to write. But I'm more excited for Stormlight 8, 9 and 10 than I am-- Though I'll be very excited when I get to write the Hoid ones because they're going to be cool things.

Like Stormlight is the thing that I plotted out to be the big opus. It's more frustrated that there's only one of me, despite what the internet says.  I don't got any clones, or any Sanderbots to do all this.  So I have more ideas than I can write books about. That's kind of the-- The biggest frustrating in my life is that I can only do so much. But that's been a frustration since I was unpublished. I always had more stories I wanted to write than I could.  So it's all about story triage for me.

One thing I've learned to do is to write novellas or work on graphic novels. Because the actual word count that I need for a novella like Emperor's Soul or for a graphic novel like White Sand, is a fraction of what a big novel takes. And so I get this cool thing with a graphic novel where I can write something out..like I just finished an outline and script for a new graphic novel, that we're not going to release until after White Sand's done. But now that White Sand 3 is moving along and the writing portion of that is done, and we're just working on the art, I came up with something else. And instead of taking 18 months like a Stormlight book takes, it took me, like, a month. And so that's a way I can get a story ready and can release it to people without having to spend 18 months on something.

Stormlight Three Update #5 ()
#44 Copy

zuriel45

Jasnah, as I've said, grows more important in the back five.

I'd say spoilers, but I doubt you'd kill her off..

Pitchwife

This is entirely from memory so please forgive me if I get this wrong, but I believe [Brandon] has hedged on this topic in the past, e.g. who says she has to be alive (in the usual sense) to be a POV character?

Brandon Sanderson

I've said that flashback characters (which are the ones I've announced as having "books" dedicated to them) can die before their book arrives.

Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
#46 Copy

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

You know the artwork... the arches with the faces? What are those?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Those are each of the Heralds. And those archways, Isaac picks based on what he thinks the themes of the chapter are. I don't pick which faces go on there. He reads the chapter... he tries to align what's happening with the emotions represented by the various characters. 

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

And the thing underneath it is?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Generally the symbol of the viewpoint character. But those shift. Like for instance we sometimes start with a general one, and as the characters get more individual we add ones specifically for them. Usually you'll have one that's the viewpoint character, and then like for instance the ones for Jasnah and Shallan split apart when originally they just had one, and stuff like that.

Oathbringer San Francisco signing ()
#47 Copy

FirstSelector [PENDING REVIEW]

...The Tenth Name of the Almighty, Elithanithile, He Who Transforms. Is this related to the fact that Akinah is divided into ten parts, and the things  you find there?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Uh, yes... Are these things all related to the concept of change and why things are divided into ten parts in The Stormlight Archive, and the answer was "Yes, these are all very much interconnected."

Shadows of Self San Jose signing ()
#49 Copy

Questioner

Thing about Stormlight, are you kinda writing a series about the nature of abstraction?

Brandon Sanderson

Kinda yeah see…*recording paused* journey before destination.

Questioner

Yeah, that is my favorite, so far. I mean I don’t know all the orders yet. Because that is...I’m looking forward to the rest of it.

Brandon Sanderson

It is, the nature of abstraction and that sort of stuff is a very big part of it.

Brandon's Blog 2010 ()
#50 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

I started writing my first novel when I was fifteen years old. I didn’t have a computer; I had an old, electric typewriter. It would remember your file on a disc, but it was really just a printer with an attached bare-bones word processor. (It had a tiny LCD screen at the top that could display three lines at a time. You could scroll through and edit bit by bit, then you hit print and it would type out the document.)

The book was terrible. It was essentially a hybrid of Tad Williams and Dragonlance, though at the time I felt it was totally new and original. It did have a wizard who threw fireballs with smiley faces on the front, though, so that’s kind of cool. At its core were two stories. One vital one was the tale of a wise king who was murdered by assassins, forcing his younger brother to take up the mantle and lead the kingdom while trying to find/protect the king’s son and rightful heir. The other was about a young man named Rick, originally blamed for the murder.

I still have some of these pages. (Not the entire book, unfortunately.) I used to hide them behind a picture on the wall of my room so that nobody would find them. I was so anxious about letting people read my writing, and was—for some reason—paranoid my family would find the pages and read them, then make fun of them.

Over the years, many ideas proliferated and matured in my mind. I began writing books in earnest (I never finished that one I started as a teenager.) I grew as a writer, and discovered how to make my works less derivative. Most of my ideas from my teenage self died out, and rightly so. Others evolved. My maturing sensibilities as both a reader and a writer changed how I saw the world, and some stories stood the test of both time and internal criticism, becoming stronger for the conflict.

Rick became Jerick, hero of the book now known as Dragonsteel. (It was my honor’s thesis in college, and will someday be rewritten and published. For now, the only copy available is through interlibrary loan, though it appears to have vanished.) Jared, the man who lost his brother and had to lead in his stead, protecting his nephew, slowly evolved into a man named Dalinar, one of the primary protagonists of The Way of Kings. Some of you may be curious to know that the character many now call Hoid also appeared in that ancient book of mine.

These two epics—Dragonsteel and The Way of Kings—have shaped a lot of my passions and writing goals over the last two decades. For example, in my last year of college I took an introductory illustration class to try my hand at drawing. My final project was a portfolio piece of sketches of plants and animals from Roshar, as even then I was hoping to someday be able to publish The Way of Kings with copious in-world illustrations of Roshar and its life. (At that time, I was planning to have an illustrated appendix, though I eventually decided to spread the pages through the book.) Fortunately, I was able to hire artists to do the work in this book instead of forcing you to look at what I came up with . . .

Well, finally—after two decades of writing—Tor has given me the chance to share The Way of Kings with you. They’ve taken a risk on this book. At every juncture, they agreed to do as I asked, often choosing the more expensive option as it was a better artistic decision. Michael Whelan on the cover. 400K words in length. Almost thirty full page interior illustrations. High-end printing processes in order to make the interior art look crisp and beautiful. A piece of in-world writing on the back cover, rather than a long list of marketing blurbs. Interludes inside the book that added to the length, and printing costs, but which fleshed out the world and the story in ways I’d always dreamed of doing.

This is a massive book. That seems fitting, as it has been two decades in the making for me. Writing this essay, I find myself feeling oddly relieved. Yes, part of me is nervous—more nervous for this book than I have been for any book save The Gathering Storm. But a greater part of me is satisfied.

I finally got it published. Whatever else happens, whatever else comes, I managed to tell this story. The Way of Kings isn’t hidden behind the painting in my room any longer.