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Boskone 54 ()
#1 Copy

Questioner

First, I have a message from my older brother

Brandon Sanderson

Okay

Questioner

He says, "just tell him that Szeth is the man, and he expects a bloody revenge story, where he whoops off all the heads of all the Shin guys who still have honorblades

Brandon Sanderson

Tell him that Szeth is anticipating that too.

General Reddit 2016 ()
#2 Copy

cinderwild2323

What were you dissatisfied with in WoR?

Brandon Sanderson

It's twofold. Spoilers follow, obviously.

In the original draft, none of the alpha readers felt that I had 'sold' Jasnah dying to them, and were all like, "Ha. Nice try. No body. She's alive.' So I kicked the assassination scene up a notch, until betas were like, "Stormfather! Jasnah just died!"

That was a mistake, I now believe. (Though this didn't get changed, and won't get changed.) Sometimes, I over-emphasize to myself the importance of surprises and twists. The book is fine if readers suspect Jasnah is still alive--actually, I think it's stronger, because it is more satisfying to be right in that situation, and doesn't detract from Szeth's miraculous survival at the end.

I knew this soon after I'd released the book, but decided it was just too extensive a change to try tweaking.

The other one I did tweak. In the battle at the end between Kaladin and Szeth, I'd toyed with letting the storm take Szeth--him essentially committing suicide--as opposed to him spreading his hands and letting Kaladin kill him. I felt that after the oath Kaladin had just sworn, stabbing a docile opponent unwilling to fight back just didn't jive. This I tweaked, changing the paperback from the hardcover, which has produced mixed results.

Most people agree the change is better, but they also say they'd rather not have the hardcover and paperback have different accounts in it, and would rather I just stick to what we put in the hardcover. It was interesting to try, to see what the response would be like, but it seems that the better option all around is to just wait until I'm certain I don't want to revert any of the revisions or tweak anything new.

Ad Astra 2017 ()
#5 Copy

Questioner

So at the end of Words of Radiance Szeth gets Nightblood. But Nightblood on Nalthis will suck your Breath until you die.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

So how can Szeth-- like presumably it takes whatever Roshar's form of Investiture is.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

So how-- but wouldn't it kill Szeth?

Brandon Sanderson

So that's-- First off let's make-- let's mention this: no spoiler questions. That spoils the end of Words of Radiance.

Questioner

Oh, I'm sorry.

Brandon Sanderson

You're okay, but let's avoid spoiler questions. That one will specifically be answered in the next book. So you don't have to worry about that as much. That is a read and find out. That one-- but it's a read and find out that's very obviously the answer is coming.

DragonCon 2016 ()
#8 Copy

Questioner

He's asking if a larkin is capable of pushing Stormlight into someone as well as drawing it out.

Brandon Sanderson

Ahhh, that's an excellent question. They actually feed on Investiture. Like some other people and things that you've seen. *laughter*

Questioner

So is that a yes or no?

Brandon Sanderson

That is more of a no than a yes. *laughter*

Questioner

So that's highly unlikely that that's how Szeth was resurrected.

Brandon Sanderson

That is correct... You did see how Szeth came back foreshadowed earlier in the books. So if you watch for it, the means by which that happens is in there.

Questioner

How early? *laughter*

Footnote: Szeth is resurrected by of a fabrial manipulating Progression, which can be seen in one of Dalinar's visions in The Way of Kings.
Salt Lake City signing ()
#12 Copy

Questioner

So Truthless are kind of pretty rare, right, in the Shin society?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

So how did they come by the [Honorblades] that Szeth's got?

Brandon Sanderson

They, historically, kept all of them.

Auestioner

Oh, ok. I wondered if that was the case. Interesting. Does that have anything to do with why they think stone is sacred?

Brandon Sanderson

You will find out more about that as time progresses.

Legion Release Party ()
#13 Copy

Questioner

Are we just going to see Szeth kill a lot of people in the next book?

Brandon Sanderson

Szeth has some better influences than he's had in a long while. He did have some good influences early on. But it's been a long time since he has had as good influences as he now has. I wouldn't count Nightblood as one of those. But at the same time, he's had worse influences than Nightblood.

YouTube Livestream 23 ()
#16 Copy

Ramba Ral

How would a person with a Cognitive Shadow, like Szeth or the Heralds, look to someone in the Cognitive Realm? Would they appear to be just another soul? Or different?

Brandon Sanderson

So the question is, are there differences about a Cognitive Shadow in the Cognitive Realm. The answer is yes, but the way they became a Cognitive Shadow is going to influence how they look. And there are other little things playing into that. You could generally tell this if you knew what you were looking for. So the answer to that is a yes, but a qualified yes.

MisCon 2018 ()
#17 Copy

Glamdring804

Szeth has an afterglow because his soul is lagging behind his body slightly.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Glamdring804

So if he was moving fast enough, could a Shardblade pass through his physical body and not cut the soul?

Brandon Sanderson

Ummm, that sounds like the sort of thing-- I'm going to say, the soul is more stretchy, so I don't think that's possible. But you could do some weird things where you're cutting the soul and not the body.

The Great American Read: Other Worlds with Brandon Sanderson ()
#18 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.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#19 Copy

-lurcher-

At the end of Oathbringer, it seems that many (including myself) felt that Szeth's return and sudden alignment with the protagonists went over a little too easily. Are they accepting of him now? Why the sudden change of heart? Are there going to be trust issues in the future?

Brandon Sanderson

Uh, yeah. Obviously crazy men who shift allegiances quickly, after murdering the king and starting a war, aren't exactly the sort you leave home to babysit your kids.

Brandon's Blog 2015 ()
#21 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Words of Radiance Tweak

Moving on to Words of Radiance, as we were entering typo fixes for the paperback of this book, I made changes to a few lines near the end. This isn't anywhere near as extensive as the changes in Elantris, but once again I figure I should be up-front about what I did and why I did it.

This part is going to have some spoilers for the book, so if you haven't read it, please stop right here. I'll put a number of blank lines here to prevent accidental spoilers. Scroll down if you've finished the book.

So, in Words of Radiance, I think the scene I worked on the longest both in my head and on the page was the final confrontation between Kaladin and Szeth.

There was something I wanted to do, and took a stab at it in the text, then backed off because I couldn't make it work. It was important to me that Kaladin refuse to kill Szeth at the end. Kaladin is about protection, not vengeance, and once he realized that Szeth really just wanted to be killed, I wanted Kaladin to hesitate.

It didn't end up working, and I moved on to a new version and submitted it. But this itched at me, and by the time the book was released, I felt I'd made the wrong choice for that scene. So I've taken this chance to roll it back to the previous idea, and written it in a new way, which I like much better.

The events are the same, except for that moment. Szeth is now killed by the storm instead of by Kaladin, which I think is more thematically appropriate.

The question this raises is about Szeth being stabbed by a Shardblade, then being resuscitated. I'm sad to lose this sequence, as it's an important plot point for the series that dead Shardblades cannot heal the soul, while living ones can. I'm going to have to work this into a later book, though I think it's something we can sacrifice here for the stronger scene of character for Kaladin and Szeth.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#22 Copy

Amerikoni

I only yesterday found out you changed the ending for the way of kings. So here is my question. I've only read the first version where Kaladin kills Szeth. When Szeth gets killed now, it's by the storm. What is it that specifically kills him since he can normally just evade the storm or even be healed by stormlight?

Brandon Sanderson

Good question! So, the idea here is that Szeth has given up, and wants to die. I wanted the storm to kill him, then, as opposed to Kaladin. What kills him is losing control in the storm, and being slammed into the ground.

The bigger change here was actually my desire to leave it at least partially clear that he's not dead, in order to avoid the 'fake out' ending. Having him be dead and reborn was important, but I felt in the first stab I erred on the side of pulling a fast one on the reader.

/r/fantasy AMA 2011 ()
#23 Copy

unknown

Was Vallano, Szeth's grandfather, also a Truthless? And if not, what did he do to disgrace the Shin?

Brandon Sanderson

No, Vallano was not Truthless.

Szeth was a very respected member of his society, once. There are clues to what happened in his story, but you won't hear it in full until he gets his book. (Which will include his flashbacks.)

Skyward release party ()
#26 Copy

JoyBlu

Szeth, when he writes when Gavilar dies, what language was that written in?

Brandon Sanderson

That was written in Alethi.

JoyBlu

Where did Szeth learn Alethi?

Brandon Sanderson

He has been living among them for a long time, and Alethi was also part of his training.

DragonCon 2019 ()
#29 Copy

Questioner

Could the Assassin in White assassinate Prof from the Reckoners?

Brandon Sanderson

Could he? Yeah, he could. Depends on what- which place in the books you would put him. But I would lay odds on Szeth in that one, in almost every situation. *laughter* Now, the thing is, it depends also on how familiar he is with Prof's powers, how much he's acting like an assassin, right? Which is what he's generally going to try to do, but... you know, Gavilar got a lot of warning. So, if Prof got a lot of warning... the more warning Prof has, the worse it looks for Szeth. But the further in the series Szeth goes - if you pick him from a different book--the more likely it is he's going to win.

'Cause he gets a hold of something very important. *laughter*

Shadows of Self San Jose signing ()
#30 Copy

Questioner

What’s your most terrifying character, and why is it Nightblood?

Brandon Sanderson

Ha. Nightblood is pretty terrifying… You know, an object created to destroy evil but doesn’t know what it is?

Questioner

When you brought it back...I had <to like shut the book> a little bit and like, scary.

Brandon Sanderson

I wanted you to think that Nightblood in the hands of Szeth should be one of the most terrifying things that you have ever contemplated.

FAQFriday 2017 ()
#32 Copy

Questioner

Was there ever a time when you had intended to kill off a character, but changed your mind because you liked them too much?

Brandon Sanderson

Hmm... I'm trying to think of whether or not this happened. I do believe that Adolin died in the original draft of The Way of Kings, which I wrote in 2002. he had a much smaller role in that book, and it played out very differently. When I did the newer version, which I rewrote from scratch, Adolin evolved much differently.

For those who don't know, he wasn't intended to have as large a role in the plot--but I ran into a problem during writing. Dalinar was feeling inconsistent as a character. I wanted to present him as strong and confident, but at the same time had him troubled by worries that he was insane from visions he was seeing.

This worked in outline form, but when I actually wrote, it seemed like he spent WAY too much time standing around worrying that he was crazy. So I expanded Adolin's character, providing a contrast. Dalinar, confident (to an extent) he was seeing something real--and his son, who worried his father was going insane.

Through this development, and giving Adolin more time on the page, he became a much more rounded character.

Another instance of this was Spook from the Mistborn series, who grew to have a much larger role than I'd originally intended.

There's another in this category--but it could include spoilers for an upcoming book. I'll talk about it eventually.

Brandon Sanderson

ETA: Szeth originally died permanently in the end of Words of Radiance. I also changed my mind to let Amaram live in the scene with the poison dart. Adolin killed off Sadeas instead.

Words of Radiance Philadelphia signing ()
#35 Copy

Questioner

Szeth a lot of the time throughout Words of Radiance is referring to the fact that he's hearing his victims screaming in his head. Is that actually just his conscience screaming at him or has he possibly already bonded to a spren in some way, that is displeased with his actions?

Brandon Sanderson

That is not his spren, good question... It is not the spren—it is not a spren that is for one of the orders.

Questioner

Okay, but it is related to—

Brandon Sanderson

I didn't say that. I just said it is not a spren—it is not a Blade. It is not one of those.

YouTube Livestream 13 ()
#36 Copy

Questioner

If you had to design a legendary creature for Magic: The Gathering for Szeth, what would it do? And what colors would it be?

Brandon Sanderson

Szeth is maybe Mardu. Maybe Orzov. It depends on if you get that red in there. He's very passionate, but his passions don't really direct him, it's more the logic. So probably some sort of White/Black, maybe with Red. Like, Mardu is a pretty good fit for him, but the Red is definitely the weakest of those three.

What would I have him do? I don't know. The tricky thing about designing characters as Magic cards is: the power sets in the Stormlight Archive do not match the colors of the personalities of characters. A lot of times, for the iconic Magic characters, they make their power set match their personality leanings. Szeth's powers may not really match a White/Black character very well. Having power to fly works in White/Black, so you could do that. So he would probably have some sort of thing like that. But there's also kind of an indestructibility, which also could work. Maybe some of the vampire designs recently would work for Szeth. I don't know; I'd have to think about it.

San Diego [email protected] 2020 ()
#37 Copy

Stormlightning

How the heck is Nale's spren still with him? Is his spren as wacky as he is? Or is it dead, and he still carries it around?

Brandon Sanderson

Nale's spren is alive. The highspren... I would say "wacky" is probably a decent term for them. I would blame some of how Nale is acting more on the highspren. Obviously, it's partially being a Herald and all the things he's gone through, but they're all on board for this. So read that as you will.

Well, "all." The ones that are making Radiants of the Order are on board for it. You'll get to see Szeth interact with his just a little bit. There's not a ton of Szeth in this book, but you've got a few chapters. At least one, for sure. And he gets to interact with his spren, and you'll get a better picture of the highspren from that moment.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#38 Copy

NotOJebus

If I held Szeth's Oathstone, smashed it up into a fine powder then snorted it, would Szeth still follow my direction?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, probably, but be warned that you're not dealing with someone terrible stable. You could push Szeth over the edge with things like this, and then you could end up in a very bad situation.

Arcanum Unbounded Seattle signing ()
#40 Copy

Questioner

Szeth-son-son-Vallano, is that name common, in Shin, or is that something that...

Brandon Sanderson

Usually it's, if you only have one son, usually it's... Yeah, the son-son was because he was not considered worthy enough to be worthy of his father. 

Question

So is he related to Vallano?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, it's the grandson.

Stormlight Three Update #5 ()
#42 Copy

IHeartMyKitten

Would Szeth still have been chosen to be a skybreaker if Nalan'Elin had known that Szeth was willing to kill Adolin "on his own time" unlawfully without being compelled by his oathstone? Or did Nalan'Elin know about that and still think he'd be a good fit?

Brandon Sanderson

Nobody is perfect, and Nale knows this--but he has worse days than others. It's not so much the law, as willingness to follow a personal code, that Nale is most interested in. He's also more harsh with people once they join the order than before.

So, he wouldn't have loved it, but it wouldn't have stopped him from offering.

Supanova 2017 - Sydney ()
#43 Copy

R.E. (paraphrased)

Does Vasher have a different way of getting access to Stormlight than everyone else? Given that he has no spren, no honorblade and he isn't a squire?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yes. He can use Stormlight to stay alive, but it doesn't let him Surgebind.

R.E. (paraphrased)

Could Szeth get access to this method?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yes

R.E. (paraphrased)

And use it to fuel Nightblood?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yes he could.

R.E. (paraphrased)

Can you tell me what that method is?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

*smiles*

Skyward Seattle signing ()
#44 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Someday... once I'm sure everything that it would spoil has been released, I will release [Way of Kings Prime] so you can read it. You can probably see that, if you read Stormlight, a chunk of the book belonging to Taln moved to Szeth, instead, who was a character in the first book but had a slightly different plot. Eventually, we will get to the whole story, though.

Tel Aviv Signing ()
#48 Copy

Alyssum

Will we be seeing Szeth training the Radiants in the future?

Brandon Sanderson

So... Szeth will be sharing some tips, but I don't know that you'll see him training. He starts the next book in jail, so... yeah...

General Reddit 2016 ()
#50 Copy

Ray745

Is Lift the only one who is able to see the afterimage around Szeth when he moves? And would she have seen that afterimage around him before he was brought back to life by Nalan?

Brandon Sanderson

Lift is seeing that Szeth's soul isn't quite attached to his body any longer. She is not the only one that can see it, but her special physiology is certainly helping her see it.