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Shardcast Interview ()
#1 Copy


Especially with the livestreams this year, you get lots of questions from the fandom. How do you feel about the culture around Words of Brandon? Do you ever worry that the fandom takes them too seriously?

Brandon Sanderson

Well, yes, I do worry. I try to explain a Word of Brandon is not written in stone, and I think that people know this by now. A Word of Brandon is how I am planning to do it, but it's not canon until it's in the books. And things get changed as books are worked on and better ideas come around.

The thing is, I grew up in the Wheel of Time fandom. I am used to this sort of thing. I'm accustomed to it. It doesn't frighten me. I'm just used to dealing with it. It's part of fandom to me. And I would certainly rather have this than the alternative, which is no one paying any attention or caring. The opposite is far, far worse. But I do worry that sometimes people take them a little too seriously. Mostly the ones that I give off the cuff while I'm doing a live signing session, like when I'm at a book signing trying to write peoples names and phrases in their books while they're asking me questions. And I flub those way more often than I flub ones on a livestream where I'm not having to track people's names and things like that. But I will often answer the question I think people are asking, rather than the question they actually ask, because something's on my mind I've been thinking about, and they'll ask a question. And then I'll be like, "Oh yeah; bla bla bla bla bla bla bla." And they're like, "That's not what I asked..."And I'm like, "Oh. Sorry."

/r/fantasy AMA 2017 ()
#2 Copy


I've always wondered, how do you determine where the line between "Word of Brandon" and "Read and Find Out" is? Has it ever caused issues where you've said something, but later that thing changed when it went into a book making your first statement now false?

Thanks so much for writing as much as you do, I'm looking forward to all your upcoming books, keep up the great work!

Brandon Sanderson

Boy, this one is an art, not a science.

I've several times said something that I later decided to change in a book. I've always got this idea in the back of my head that the books are canon, and things I say at signing aren't 100% canon. This is part because of a habit I have of falling back on things I decided years ago, then revised in notes after I realized they didn't work. My off-the-cuff instinct is still to go with what I had in my head for years, even when it's no longer canon.

An example of this are Shardblades. In the first draft of TWoK in 2002, I had the mechanics of the weapons work in a specific way. (If you wanted to steal one from someone, you knock off the bonding gemstone, and it breaks the bond.) I later decided it was more dramatic if you couldn't steal a Shardblade that way--you had to kill the person or force them to relinquish the bond. It worked far better.

But in Oathbringer, Peter had to remind me of that change, as I just kind of nonchalantly wrote into a scene a comment about knocking off a gemstone to steal a Shardblade. These things leak back in, as you might expect for a series I've been working on for some twenty years now--with lore being revised all along.

So...short answer...yes, I've contradicted myself a number of times. I try very, very hard to let the books be the canon however. So you can default to them.

As for what I answer and what I depends on how much I want to reveal at the moment, if I'm trying to preserve specific surprises, or if I just want people to focus on other things at the moment. Like I said, art and not science.


In WoR, Navani muses to Dalinar about how the gemstones in the Blades could be the focus that allows the bond with the Blade to exist. If this theory is correct, it would follow that someone could damage that gemstone and thus be able to steal the Blade with it then having no intact bonding mechanism, right?

I guess I'm having trouble seeing how the example you describe isn't possible.

Peter Ahlstrom

The gemstone is needed to create the bond and operate the bond's functions. If you remove the gemstone, the person the sword is bonded to can't summon it or dismiss it to mist. But neither can anyone else. If they eventually pop another gemstone in and try to bond it themselves, they will fail, and the original person can then resummon their Blade. The bond is with the dead spren of the Blade, not with the gemstone. The stone facilitates the bond.

So, you can haul around a de-gemstoned Blade with you all the time and successfully steal it that way. But this makes it very easy to steal back. You'd have to kill the holder of the bond in order to rebond it. Which is no different from usual.

And in general, if you can get close enough to a Shardbearer to steal their Blade, you are also close enough to kill them anyway.


So that scene where Dalinar crushes the gemstone and hands the Shardblade over, he's also doing some sort of mystical de-bonding?

Or is it just 'if you WANT to give it up, you gave it up'?

Peter Ahlstrom

Yes, if you want to give it up, you gave it up.


If nobody is currently bonded to it, does the attuning still take a week?

Otherwise it seems weird people would figure out putting a gemstone in hilt lets you summon it, since nothing would happen without a week of bonding time.


Not that weird. One of the books (WoK, I think) mentions that many years passed before the gemstone bonding was discovered. Shardblades were still really valuable, though, and even more vulnerable to theft, so it makes sense that people would have kept them close at hand long enough for the bonding process.

Other than that, all you need is someone to accidentally decorate the blade correctly, which is something that took a long time to happen, but was probably bound to happen eventually considering how key infused gemstones are to the world.

Peter Ahlstrom

Well said.

General Reddit 2017 ()
#3 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Just a warning: as always, some of these were heard wrong by me, or by the person recording, or were mixed up during questioning.

For example, the one referencing the first 11 chapters was me talking about the first book, not the third. The question about Ivory also wasn't quite recorded correctly.

I usually don't have the time to go through all of these, but remember--word of Brandon can be very fallible for many reasons. I continue to be willing to answer these for fans at conventions and signings, but the community does need to know not to hold to them too strongly.

Ad Astra 2017 ()
#4 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

So, any questions?


Well, I was kind of wondering, you've got this whole culture of, exactly that: people asking you questions about your stories outside of the stories.

Brandon Sanderson



I was wondering, is that something you developed or decided on? Or--

Brandon Sanderson

That I inherited from Robert Jordan. It had started happening a little bit, but it was really a thing that Robert Jordan fostered in his fans, that I got very used to doing. And so, I just kept doing it. I do warn my fans: I change my mind. And so, um, the things I say--they call them the Word of Brandon--Word of Brandon is level below what's in the text in hierarchy, because I will change my mind, and I will get things wrong when I don't have my notes and stuff. And so-- But yeah, but you can find collections of things I've said. And most of them are still true. Once in a while I'm writing a book, I'm like, "No, this just doesn't work out." But you know that--that just happens with everything.

Like I'm writing Oathbringer, right? And I've mentioned things in Dalinar's past before that are from my outline of Dalinar's past. I sit down, I write the flashback sequences, I'm like, "Oh no. Continuity error," right? And so we just have to go with fixing it in this book and then say, "First book's got a continuity error, guys." Because once you actually sit down and write out somebody's life across thirty years, you can't get them sometimes into places where you had noted stuff. So, it's--I wish I could be like 100% accurate on all things. It just doesn't work out. Even the books like Mistborn, that I wrote all three in a row, and then we edited them, and then sent them out--still had continuity errors, so. Ehh.

Starsight Release Party ()
#5 Copy


Do you get some perverse pleasure keeping secrets from people.

Brandon Sanderson

I do. Because I'm a showman, right?. I want you to get that moment where it all comes together, and if I don't keep the secrets, I can't do as many of those. If I could get away with it, I would say nothing, because I would let the books stand for themselves. But I have been a part of fandom for long enough to know people really enjoy this, and so I let them pull things out of me. But it's always my intent to never say anything.