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The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#1 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Straff is generally everyone's least favorite character–though that's kind of what I expected. He's not insane; he’s just a terrible person. Those do, unfortunately, exist–given his power and upbringing, he’s not all that surprising in his bullyness.

I wanted to provide a range of villains for this series. The Lord Ruler was one type of villain–the untouchable god, distant and mysterious. Straff is another: the downright, simple bully with too much power and not enough wisdom. Zane is our third villain–sympathetic, edgy, and possibly more dangerous than either of the two.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#2 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Straff Plot Climax with the Poison

And, finally, we get back to Straff. His cycle is filled with quite a few short little scenes, and I suspect that many readers won't pay attention to them. Still, if I'm going to give someone a viewpoint, I like to give them conflicts and problems unrelated to the other characters. It makes the characters and their lives more real. In this case, Straff's problems with a former mistress surface in a revenge ploy.

As I said, it's a small thing, rather unrelated to the overall plot of the novel. When Tor was pushing for me to cut the book (which I didn't end up doing) I left these scenes because I felt that they 1) Worked quite well and 2) I think they gave a little more depth to the story, showing that characters have lives other than the main plot.

The mistress lies here, by the way. Going cold turkey on that drug probably wouldn't have killed Straff. It might have, but probably not. Still, being under her power probably wouldn't have been very fun for him. He didn't kill her intentionally–he really was just losing control of his anger under the influence of panic and poison. This is one of those little twists that I hope feels very realistic under the circumstances, but is also unexpected.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
#3 Copy

Questioner

Are there differences in pronunciation between the different worlds in the cosmere?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

Do you have any record of that?

Brandon Sanderson

So, it depends on the culture and things like that, what it's going to be like. You can kind of bet in Mistborn it's going to be French, if it's from the Central Dominance. So they'll say "Kelsi-ay" and "De-MOH" but where Elend's from is a lot more Germanic so "EE-lend" "STRAHFF" and stuff like that. The other worlds are all going to have their different things. In Roshar you are going to get some of the "YAS-nah kHo-LIN" it's going to be a little more Semitic in its language family.

Bands of Mourning release party ()
#4 Copy

Questioner

*audio obscured*

Brandon Sanderson

So Elend's name came from the Germanic word for misery and Straff's name means punishment. The question is did I do this intentionally. I didn't do either one intentionally. I don't speak German, what I did was I went to Germanic morphemes, I didn't even know what they meant, and just got a feel for "Okay this is Germanic, this is Germanic" and then put those aside and said "Alright can I come up with a bunch of names that sound Germanic" once that mood is in my head. Because English has a lot of Germanic influences I guess I did it too well and I named a whole bunch of people things that are actual words in German. *laughter* But you know I'm actually fairly pleased with that, it means I was doing my job. But you know I didn't intentionally make them mean anything in German, at least this time I didn't accidentally pick a swear or something, which I’ve done before. *laughter*