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Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
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You know, I seem to recall that one of your original pitches for The Way of Kings was that it's the story of a man on whom the fate of the world lies, except unlike the Dragon Reborn, who goes slowly mad, this guy is already mad. I always assumed (or maybe you'd said it explicitly?) that this was Taln (the original Herald). Has that characterization changed? Or am I remembering something that never happened?

Brandon Sanderson

If I said something like that, I was talking about Taln.

Salt Lake City ComicCon 2017 ()
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With the Heralds we know that there's only one left... one Herald that's still bound to the Oathpact--

Brandon Sanderson

OK, only one Herald was about, was abandoned-- You'll find out the mechanics of that in the next book.


So are we going to see more of Taln...

Brandon Sanderson

You will see more of-- the Oathpact is not completely broken, the others are still bound to the Oathpact.


Even though they kind of sort of said they were abandoning it?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, so there's still connection there, so you'll find out more about all of this and how it works.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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I was wondering how Talenel'Elin is able to speak perfect Alethi without much of an accent at all. I believe Dalinar thought that it was a Northern Alethi accent. He is able to speak perfect Alethi after coming back from Damnation being seemingly isolated for 4500 years. Knowing what we know about language development in the real world over time, wouldn't the Alethi language change as well as to be almost incomprehensible?

If he is not isolated, I supposed that would venture into RAFO territory.

Brandon Sanderson

The language has indeed changed drastically.


General Reddit 2016 ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Taln has what we'd call black skin pigmentation. So does Ash (the woman from the Baxil interlude.) Same for Sigzil.

Fun fact: in the original draft of The Way of Kings, Taln shared equal screen time with Kaladin. In the revised version, for a multitude of reasons, I moved Taln's story further back in the series. He'll eventually get a book of his own.

Legion Release Party ()
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Taln, did he give in to the torture around the events of Way of Kings?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm going to have to look at the...So he should have given in to events in the current version of the book right before...Let's just say around Way of Kings. I'm not going to canonize that, though. In the version of Way of Kings that I wrote in 2002, he'd been around for a few years before he showed up in the narrative. And in the current outline, I don't have that be the case, but I haven't written his book yet. So for canon, but it's a Word of Brandon canon, I'm going to say, he's only been around for a couple of months before he shows up at the city.

Stormlight Three Update #1 ()
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One thing that I'm slightly confused about is who the primary POVs will be for the second set of 5 books in the 10-book series. I've heard a bunch of names being floated around on various online forums--such as Jasnah, Renarin, and Taravangian to name a few--but are any of these confirmed? Any word of Brandon as of yet?

Brandon Sanderson

It's possible this will change. But the back five have been planned as Jasnah, Renarin, Lift, Taln, and Ash. Though, once again, this isn't a promise that these people survive. You'll likely see at least one flashback set in the series from a character who has died in a previous book, and then you get to see something they experienced through flashbacks before their death.


I'm having trouble locating Ash. No direct matches on, 17th shard forums or google.

Do you mean Ashir from one of the WoK interludes? Or perhaps someone we haven't met yet (at least by name).

Brandon Sanderson

There are a lot of weird things going on with Ash, so what's up with her will be something you'll have to wait on for a long while.


But how about the characters we currently love? Are they all gone in the second half??? This is terrible :-(

Brandon Sanderson

No, they will be around. (Well, if they survive.) But the second series will be taking place years later, and their roles may have changed.

YouTube Livestream 16 ()
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How would Adolin fare against the greats like Lan, Rand, Galad, and how would Kaladin and his spear fare against Mat?

Brandon Sanderson

It’s really hard to say this, because what are different characters’ skill levels and things? For instance, I generally count Lan as the strongest and the best. My [Wheel of Time] books that I wrote show that. I think Lan would beat Adolin. You just can’t replace the twenty years of intense practice that Lan has, and the wisdom, no matter how talented of a rookie you are -- even though Adolin is not a rookie. I think Lan could go toe-to-toe with anyone non-immortal in the cosmere, because a lot of the cosmere people have an advantage, right? Taln has spent 4,000 years practicing with weapons. Granted, he spent a bunch of that time being tortured as well, but you know. He has many lifetimes behind him, and has been able to be killed making mistakes and never make those mistakes again. That is a leg up on someone like Lan or like Adolin that is just of a supernatural level. And so, while I think Lan would beat any swordsman in a fair fight from the Cosmere, I would count anyone who has a greatly expanded lifespan as an unfair fight. Like, I don’t think Lan would be able to stand against the better duelists among the Heralds or even against Vasher. Vasher’s got multiple lifetimes of practicing with the sword.

How would Kaladin do against Mat? It depends, Mat’s luck is a very big wildcard, and how is the luck on Mat’s side and how is karma working in Mat’s favor or against him in that given moment? That’s part of what makes Mat fun. So Kaladin is a soldier, again, not a duelist. Kaladin is really good with a spear, but his training is in war, his training is to be a battlefield captain. What even is Mat? Mat has been trained by fate itself with weapons, which is just really hard to play. Let’s call that a tie, edge probably to Kaladin.

Lan beats Adolin or basically any duelist but you put him up against the Heralds and he has a much harder time.

Words of Radiance Omaha signing ()
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In Words of Radiance and The Way of Kings, was there something important about the stone and the herald <in> the *inaudible* <scene> that has to do kind of with the stone, and maybe Tien giving him rocks?  Am I reading too much into that?  

Brandon Sanderson

Some of that is reading too much into it and some of it is real. I'm not going to tell you what is what. But the st-. . . there is definitely something about that.  

YouTube Livestream 12 ()
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17th Shard

Originally, it was said Way of Kings Prime had spoilers for later Stormlight. But we've released it now. Why is that? Do you still feel it has spoilers, or do you think it's safe or fine?

Brandon Sanderson

I think it is fine, though it still has minor spoilers. The whole thread with Dalinar and Elhokar, I felt, was a pretty big spoiler. Because a very similar relationship played out in the published books, just with different results. I thought that one's a spoiler.

I felt that some of the Taln stuff is slight spoilers. But one of the things that worked passably well in Way of Kings Prime is the question of, "Is this guy a Herald, or is he crazy?" That was a central theme for him. And that whole arc got transposed to Dalinar. "Am I seeing visions, or am I crazy?" Whole thing got transposed, and I knew by the time I was into the actual published versions of the Stormlight Archive, I knew by then that I couldn't do the same thing with Taln. We'd already had a plot cycle like that, plus I was going to be introducing the Heralds, and it was going to be very clear that the Heralds are back and that the Voidbringers are here. And so the question of "Are the Voidbringers actually coming back? Were the Heralds real?" Thats, like, a major theme of Way of Kings Prime. And that cannot be a theme of the published version. And so, for a while, I was still holding onto the hope that maybe I can do something like this with Taln. And eventually, I said, "No, I just can't." It would be too repetitive and what-not, and that's part of what made me realize it's okay to release Way of Kings Prime. The stuff that happens to Taln is going to be so different from where I'm going to be taking him moving forward that it's okay.

There's still some minor, slight things that are still gonna show up, but it would be hard to pick out what those are. And when they happen in the actual series, you'd be like, "Oh, I can see the resonance of this to the original." Just like the Elhokar/Dalinar thing (which is more overt) resonates through that one into this one. Q&A with Brandon Sanderson ()
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Mike Potts

Are any secondary The Way of Kings characters likely to become more major in the next book?

Brandon Sanderson

Jasnah, Navani, and Taln all have expanded parts in the series to come. I won't say specifically in which books, but all three of those characters will have larger roles. Several of the members of Bridge Four have larger roles; they will basically remain secondary characters, but may have expanded viewpoints

FAQFriday 2017 ()
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Why didn't Dalinar get the powers of a Stoneward when he bonded Taln's [Honorblade]?

Brandon Sanderson

Some readers have already figured this out, so I don't think I'm engaging in too large a spoiler to dig into this one here.

There are several oddities going on here. The most important one relevant to this question is the Blade in question. If you compare the descriptions of the sword described in the epilogue of The Way of Kings to the one that traveled with the madman (allegedly Taln, the Herald) to the Shattered Plains, you'll find they are different.

The one that the characters obtained in Words of Radiance is NOT an Honorblade. It's an ordinary Shardblade (as ordinary as one of those can be called.) I'm not going to say specifically what happened to the Blade Taln arrived with at Kholinar, but I will say that it IS a different weapon from the one in Words of Radiance.

The other issue here is the somewhat lesser question of whether this character is actually Taln, the Herald, or not. Some characters in-world don't believe that it is, though his viewpoint in Words of Radiance strongly implies otherwise. This isn't specifically relevant to the conversation for reasons I'll talk about below--but it is tangentially related. Because in the cosmere, Intent is important to many of the types of magic. It's theoretically possible to hold an Honorblade and not realize what its powers are, and therefore be unable to access them.

As an aside, this character was actually the primary protagonist of the version of The Way of Kings I wrote in 2002. A man who woke up, with lingering memories of madness, and claimed to be a Herald when nobody believed him--as he couldn't manifest any powers, seemed to have lost his sword, and lore said the Heralds weren't coming back anyway.

When I wrote the new version of The Way of Kings in 2009 or so, one goal was to focus the storyline. I'd included so many characters in the 2002 version that none of them progressed very far in their arcs, creating a strong setting and interesting characters--but a bad book. During the new version, I decided that this character would be moved to the later books, and I'd explore him there.

In the 2002 version, the text was very dodgy on whether or not Taln was a Herald. Confronting the fact that he might be crazy was a major arc and theme of the book--however, as I've worked on the new version, I've realized that it would be dangerous to be too vague on this. Stringing people along with the question for a book or two is one thing, waiting until book six or eight to do a character's arc, and leaving the question of whether they're a Herald or not all that time, seemed unfair.

So the text is going to be making manifest fairly quickly who this person is. You'll have confirmations long before we dig into his viewpoint in the later books.

So, a recap:

1) The swords WERE swapped somehow.

2) Someone could hold an Honorblade and not realize they had access to powers.

3) This character may or may not actually be a Herald--but the text is going to make the answer clear, and I'm not trying to trick you.

MisCon 2018 ()
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When can we get a Herald of War perspective?

Brandon Sanderson

You've gotten one really brief one. You really won't get them until starting around book six. So, you got a little bit left. Taln is a main character in the back five books, but he's only kinda just a tangential character in the first ones.

JordanCon 2021 ()
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Taln. Did he actually ever give up? Or was it... Did he just get released when...?

Brandon Sanderson

You will find out, but Taln did not break. You'll find out how it happened, but Taln did not break.

Shardcast Interview ()
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We've had some discussion, people wondering whether Taln actually broke the Oathpact, or did something else happen? Like he just got too crazy to be able to hold the Oathpact back or something else, or is that all totally off track?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO! There are scenes in the stories talking about that, so it is a question I expect people to be asking.

Salt Lake City Comic-Con 2014 ()
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I asked a question at the panel, I asked if the person you refuse to say who he is, I was trying to talk about Taln.

Brandon Sanderson



Not Hoid.

Brandon Sanderson

So what about Taln?


Is there anything you'll tell us about him?

Brandon Sanderson

What do you want to know? Ask me a specific question.


Is he Rosharan?

Brandon Sanderson

Is he Rosharan? Taln is Rosharan.



Brandon Sanderson

Define Rosharan, how about that?


Native to Roshar.

Brandon Sanderson

That I have to RAFO.


Are the Heralds...

Brandon Sanderson

The Heralds are from the same place that Taln is from.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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It's noted in Oathbringer that Taln was the only Herald who was not supposed to have been one, and that he was not a king, general, scholar, or anyone "special" as it were. So what occupation did he hold before becoming a Herald?

Brandon Sanderson

He was a soldier and bodyguard.

Skyward Seattle signing ()
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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.

Dragonsteel 2023 ()
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#1 Taln Fan

Who in the Cosmere could beat Taln in a fight back when he was in his prime?

Brandon Sanderson

Depends what level of abilities he has access to. If you're saying access to full abilities, I don't know of anybody who could beat him in an actual one-on-one.