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White Sand vol.1 release party ()
#1 Copy

Questioner

Who is Susebron's mom?

Brandon Sanderson

Um... Oh, I have this... *sighs* So, the thing about it is... You read it, you know, in the book, it's not terribly relevant. And so...

Questioner

Mhm. But I'm a mom! *laughs*

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, but you're a mom. So it's-- I mean, I have it in the notes, but it's nobody you'd know in the books.

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#2 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Forty-Eight

Siri and Susebron Decide to Reveal What Has Been Done to Him

Another short chapter here. You probably have guessed that we're beginning the push toward the ending. Now that Siri and Susebron have gone about as far as they can (both in their relationship and in their personal growth) without being free, it's time for them to begin pushing against their boundaries.

As I said before, I think their relationship is one of the most pure and romantic that I've ever written. For some reason, they just fit together. I tried to explain it in the narrative in the beginning of this chapter, and I think I did a good job. However, it's more than that—it's just a feeling that these two belong with each other. Kind of like when one of your friends shows off the person they've been dating, and you just feel that it's a good match.

I don't think I ever got this far in their relationship when I wrote the original book, Mythwalker. One of the reasons I decided to go back to the story was because I'd always missed writing an ending for Siri and Susebron. (Though I think he had a different name back then.) [Editor's note: In the Mythwalker draft, he was just called the Emperor.] I did a much, much better job of the story this time as well; I've increased in skill as a writer. I was finally able to tell this story and bring it to a conclusion, something I'd been waiting for years to do. I'm glad I finally found the time, even if writing standalone novels isn't the fastest way to bestsellerdom in fantasy.

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Brandon Sanderson

What else . . . oh, Susebron's taste buds. A couple of people have e-mailed me about this. From my research (which could be wrong), I've come to understand that the old teaching that certain parts of your mouth have taste buds that focus on certain tastes is wrong. The conventional wisdom is that your "sweet" taste buds are on your tongue, and if it is removed, you won't be able to taste sugar. (Which is why people e-mail me.)

That's apparently an urban legend. There are different kinds of taste buds, but each kind appears in clusters alongside the other kinds. And while most of your taste buds are on the tongue, many are on the roof of the mouth too. So Susebron could taste sweets as well as he tastes anything else.

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#6 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Susebron and Siri Chat

This first scene with the two of them chatting is one I'd been looking forward to writing since the beginning. Siri's scenes become much more interesting to me now that she has someone to talk to. Plus, their relationship is—in my opinion—the most natural romantic relationship I've ever written. I'm not sure why that is. They just seem to naturally fall for one another in a way that seems smoother to me than Sarene/Raoden or Vin/Elend.

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#7 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Forty-Four

Siri and Susebron Talk about How the Next God King is Created

Siri's impulse here—that the next God King might not really be the son of the current one—is a good one. She's actually right, though there are a lot of other things in this conversation she's wrong about.

It is possible for a Returned to have a child. Vo, the First Returned, did it. The God King isn't special in that he can do it; any of the Returned could, but it requires some special knowledge that—I'm afraid—I'll have to keep secret until the sequel. Suffice it to say that the priests know how it is done.

The problem is, they aren't always able to get this to work. Sometimes, they have to do what Siri guessed—replace the God King with an infant Returned. Infant Returns happen very infrequently. It's more rare than an adult Returning, so there is something sound to the Hallandren reasoning that you have to do something heroic in order to Return. (That's not true, but it is more sound a doctrine than Siri thinks it is.)

The God King's priests take an infant Returning as a sign that it's time to change God Kings. At that point, they choose a wife for the God King and hope that she'll be able to conceive the next God King. They'd much, much rather that the God King be the literal child of the previous God King. (Susebron wasn't, however. And his mother was indeed his mother, a poor merchant's wife from far northern Hallandren.)

Now, an infant has indeed Returned. The priests see this as a major vindication of their faith, as they made the wedding contract with Idris twenty years ago and now, just when the marriage was to happen, an infant Returned. The problem is, now they've got to push Siri to get pregnant, because they're on a deadline. They don't want to have to replace the God King with this infant; they'd rather use his own child. Hence the push for her to have a child.

But if she doesn't, they'll go with plan B. Note that there's not, in fact, any danger to her either way, no matter what Bluefingers says. She and Susebron, following the change in power, would have been taken to one of the isles in the middle of the Inner Sea and kept in a lavish lifestyle as long as they lived.

Steelheart Chicago signing ()
#8 Copy

Argent (paraphrased)

Will Llarimar become Susebron's high priest?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

I would not be surprised if the events took him there.

Argent (paraphrased)

Do you think he would be unhappy with the position?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

No. Susebron is going to make at least, if not a good God King, then at least an earnest one, and Llarimar would approve of that.

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#9 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

The God King Has No Tongue

Okay, so here we have the first major reversal in the book. There are several reasons I wanted to write this story. The first was that I loved the concept of the woman being sent to the terrible emperor, only to discover that he was a puppet of someone else. This was a big part of the original Mythwalker plot for Siri, and was a big part of what intrigued me about that story. (As a side note, Mythwalker was also the first place where I tried out the words koloss and skaa for races. They were completely different then, however.)

After writing Mistborn, I became increasingly intrigued with the idea of a complete reversal book—a book that did things very differently from the way I'd done them before. I'd dealt with an all-powerful emperor, and so people would (unconsciously) expect the God King here to be like the Lord Ruler. That gave me more opportunity to use their expectations against them and pull off a reversal of roles like the one in this chapter.

I hope it worked. By now, you were probably suspecting that something odd was up with the God King. However, I hope you weren't expecting something as redefining as the lack of a tongue. In this society, with this magic system, that is an even greater symbol of powerlessness than it would be in our society.

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#10 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Fifteen - Part One

Siri Sees the God King

I think this is my favorite plotline of the book. The Siri/God King one, I mean. It's hard to choose, but this is the one that I felt most interested in. (Though Lightsong's ending chapters are powerful too.)

I wanted the God King to be an enigma, much like Vasher is, at the beginning of the book. Well . . . that's not quite true. Right at the beginning, I wanted him to be scary and dangerous. I wanted the reader to perceive him as Siri did.

By now, however, you should be wondering more. Who is he? What are his motives? Is he angry with her or not?

The driving force behind this, actually, is the Lord Ruler. In Mistborn, a part of me always felt that he was just a little too stereotypical an evil emperor. True, I worked hard to round him out, particularly through the later books. But writing him made me want to take an evil emperor archetype in a very different direction.

I've spoken on the reversals in this book. Well, one thing I realized after the fact is that the novel is—in a lot of ways—about reversals of my own writing. Things I've done before, but taken the opposite direction. Almost like I need to react against myself and explore things in new ways, particularly in cases where (like the Lord Ruler) I did things that were more conventional to the genre.

I think that's why this book has so much resonance with my previous books. Or maybe it doesn't really, and I'm just seeing something that doesn't exist. A lot of my ideas in writing, however, come from seeing something done in a movie or a book (or even in one of my own books) and wondering if I could take it a new and different direction. I hope that doesn't make me feel like I'm repeating myself.

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#11 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Siri and the God King Have Sex

You probably knew this was coming. At the very least, I hope that you were hoping for it. They are, after all, married. I thought it very appropriate that this happen, as the two of them have been falling in love for some time now. And beyond that, of course, it ramps up the tension in the book dramatically. That's always a good thing.

Skyward release party ()
#12 Copy

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

God-King versus God-King. Susebron versus Rashek, who comes out on top?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Rashek, probably.

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

By a lot or a little?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Well, here's the thing. I think Susebron is at the disadvantage in almost every situation.

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

Okay. How so?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Rashek has been alive longer. Rashek knows what he's doing. Rashek has martial training. Rashek has killed a lot of people, Susebron never has. Fewer scruples. His magic is way more combat-oriented. He can get out of range a lot easier. He has power emotional Allomancy, which Susebron would *inaudible*.

Granted, he's got so much investiture, he may be able to shrug that off. But still, I would put Rashek at the advantage.

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#14 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Vivenna and Siri Reunite; Vasher Shows Off His Returned Breath

I believe that this is the first time in the book that Vivenna and Siri talk to each other. (Weird, eh?) I knew I couldn't make their reunion very effusive, since they're both Idrians, and Siri has learned to control herself. Plus, the situation is very tense. (And beyond that, despite Vivenna's coming to rescue her sister, the two were never terribly close. They were sisters, but separated by five years or so.)

This chapter focuses on other things, primarily the changes in the God King's personality and the revelations about Vasher. For the first, I hope they are plausible. Remember, the God King has grown a lot with Siri's help. Beyond that, he's been trained to look regal and act like a king, even if he's not had any practice talking like one. I think he works well here, projecting more confidence and nobility than he really feels, speaking in ways that don't make him sound too stupid, yet still betraying an innocence.

The bigger surprise is Vasher's revelation about his nature. I almost didn't put this in the book, instead intending to hint at it and save it for the second book. The reason for this is that I knew it would be confusing.

The big question is, if Vasher is Returned, why can he give away his Breaths and Awaken things without killing himself?

The answer is simple, in many ways, but I'm not sure if I have the groundwork for it properly laid in the book. (Which is why I hesitated in explaining it.) Remember when Denth said that Awakening was all or nothing? Well, he lied. (I think you've figured this out now.) A very skilled Awakener can give away only part of their Breath. It depends on their Command visualizations. So Vasher needs to always give away everything except for that one Returned Breath that keeps him alive. As long as he has that one Breath (which he's learned to suppress and hide), he can stay alive.

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#15 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

I worry that Susebron is too innocent in his regard for sex. Some readers like this; others think it's unrealistic. He'd have had sexual urges, after all. It comes down to the question, how natural is it? If someone had never had sex before, and had never had it explained to them or had friends to talk with about it, would they know what to do? I'll bet they could figure it out, but I'm not sure it would be something one could simply reason out ahead of time.

Perhaps Susebron's innocence is a bit of a stretch, but I believe it's a possible reaction—if not the average one—to his seclusion.

Words of Radiance Philadelphia signing ()
#16 Copy

Kurkistan

Are flamespren, are they all doing their own thing, or is there some Ideal of "Fire" sitting in the Spiritual Realm that they're all based on?

Brandon Sanderson

Each spren is based on the Ideal of Fire.

Kurkistan

And is that sitting in the Spiritual Realm?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, we're using sort of a Platonic Ideal, and that concept is in force, so *sounds hesitant* "yes", but [spren] are manifestations of it.

Kurkistan

So these Ideals in the Spiritual Realm: Divine Breath, does that heal by accessing some Ideal of Human Health: so a guy who had never had a tongue and doesn't know how to speak all the sudden has a tongue and can speak?

Brandon Sanderson

You are... *LONG pause* You are, um, on the right track.

Kurkistan

Okay.

Brandon Sanderson

Because the Breath is... eh. How can I explain this? You are, yeah... So... So each Breath is a shade of diety, right?

Kurkistan

Yeah.

Brandon Sanderson

And each Breath incorporates into it this sort of idea of being endowed by the deity Endowment, correct?

Kurkistan

Yes.

Brandon Sanderson

And so each Breath you hold brings you one step closer to becoming like that, and so what you're saying is... is "yes", kind of true, yes.

Kurkistan

But it's like within the Breath, not sitting off by itself-

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, yes yes exactly.

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#17 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Siri and Susebron Discuss Mountains

One of the things I like about having wildly different plots and viewpoints put into one book is that I can use the viewpoints for different things. In the case of this section of the book, we've got death and tension in Vivenna's plot, and we have soul-searching and mystery in Lightsong's plot. Amid this I was able to sprinkle Siri scenes that are more relaxed, with her and the God King talking and falling in love. The scenes add a nice balance to the book.

I made Susebron get better at spelling quite quickly—this is only our second scene with him writing on his board, but already the spelling errors are gone. There is some small justification of this—he's able to use the artisan's script, and he's very clever; besides, the Hallandren alphabet is phonetic. But it still probably happens too quickly.

Having to slog through dialect is just too distracting for readers, however. I wanted to do it once to show his innocence, but I wanted to get past it quickly—as quickly as possible—so that it wouldn't distract from the story. I don't want Susebron to come off as too childlike; I think that would ruin the romance.

All in all, I think that these chapters are some of the most sensual ones I've ever written. I always think that hinting and reserving will always be better than over-the-top romance. The fact that the two of them are forbidden sex because of the danger of having a child, mixed with some of the conversations they have about beauty and their separate lives, makes a very nice tension that I'm pleased to have managed to work in.