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Shardcast - Q2 2021 Part 2 WoBs

The Dusty Wheel Show ()
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Blue Spirit Gem

When you write the Warbreaker sequel, will it be more focused on Vivenna, Vasher, and Nightblood, and will we learn why they got separated and how Nale found Nightblood?

Brandon Sanderson

That's the plan. It will definitely be Vivenna and Vasher. There will probably be mentions of Siri and Susebron but brief. They won't have--most likely--viewpoints. If they do it'll be like one little something, but I don't even plan that. And then yes, it will at least leave the implication of why what happened happened, if that makes sense. I may not get to the actual events but you will see, you know yeah.

The Dusty Wheel Show ()
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Matt

Were you tempted to have Kaladin be taken by Odium?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, I was tempted.

Matt

What is it the held you back from doing that?

Brandon Sanderson

Kaladin, if I were going to do it, I would have done it with Dalinar. The reason being that Kaladin as a theme represents his triumph over the darker parts of his mind. And Dalinar represents that too, but he also represents in some ways, succumbing to those. Like those are both themes for Dalinar, and for Kaladin it just would not ever have worked--I don't think--reasonably well. And beyond that, Kaladin is not scary as a villain, because Kaladin's strength comes from the people he's trying to protect. Kaladin's really scary to face when he thinks you're going after somebody he's trying to keep safe, that is when Kaladin is dangerous. Or as you saw in Rhythm of War, when you've gone too far, right? But Kaladin as an overarching villain, I don't think would be scary. Dalinar would be; Dalinar would be terrifying in that situation, but I don't think it would just add very much. If I were going to have had one of them, it would have been Dalinar.

The Dusty Wheel Show ()
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Argent

Rlain has a red and black beard whose colors match his marbled skin. Does this mean that the singer hair reflects their skin colors? Does Venli's white and red skin mean her hair strands are also white and red?

Brandon Sanderson

That is... That's what I have right now. That actually happens very commonly in the animal kingdom, right, that the pattern is on the skin. So yes, the answer is yes. But that's not come up in the books and I don't know if it will.

The Dusty Wheel Show ()
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Argent

With how important or at least unique Autonomy seems in the Cosmere, are we going to see how Taldain is doing in more recent times?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeeees, you will. When? I'm not a hundred percent sure. Shouldn't be tooooo long, but it just depends on multiple things, right. Can I get the Silverlight story written? How do things go with Isaac? And he's kind of playing around with Taldain and doing things there and we're just not sure.

The Dusty Wheel Show ()
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Auri

Does a Shardbearer [Vessel] who Ascended from the same world influenced by that Shard have less control over that Shard than a bearer from another world?

Brandon Sanderson

I do not... I'm gonna say no *pause* for now.

The Dusty Wheel Show ()
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Rodrigo

What would be the difference between an aluminum and a chromium grenade, and between nicrosil and duralumin grenades?

Brandon Sanderson

We're talking specifically about the Bands of Mourning ones?

*Matt affirms*

So, what would be the difference? Aluminum would create a sort of "You can't use Allomancy in this... nearby this" most likely, yeah. Duralumin would do the opposite. You would be able to use it and then enhance someone. I haven't played with the ranges on these things yet, and so that's where we get into kind of the question mark territory. Like, right now, I haven't really given them an area of effect unless the power itself has an area of effect. Does that make sense?

But, my intent is to get to the point where it's doing things like this, right. Where you could theoretically be an Aluminum Gnat, you could charge this thing up and throw. And hey, you know, you have... the Metalborn nearby are unable to use their talents. That's convenient, right? Like, I want more of the powers to be relevant and these grenades are a way to do that.

You know, Marasi's power is not the most useful on the planet to have herself. For those who don't know, she can slow down time... well, speed up time? Awkward how... the phrasing of how you do that. But basically she can make a bubble around herself where everyone outside of it moves super fast. That's not terribly useful, right? Unless you want to age, you know, really slowly.

[...]

Not really useful in combat, to be able to be like "Yeah, I'm gonna make all my enemies move really, really fast and I can't respond to them". But, she can charge up one of those grenades and toss it, it becomes real handy. For her, the grenades are more useful than the inverse, right, because speeding up someone is useful, but slowing someone down takes someone out of the battle essentially. Or a whole globe of them... globe is the wrong term, but yeah.

The Dusty Wheel Show ()
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Jeremy

If vast amounts of Investiture can distort time in a similar manner as a black hole, [...] does that include Shards? Would time dilation be greater on Roshar than on Nalthis?

Brandon Sanderson

No, because the Shard is contained almost entirely in the Spiritual Realm. In the Spiritual Realm, time and distance have no meaning. So, what this means is: Large piles of Investiture that somehow make it into the Cognitive Realm or the Physical Realm are going to cause time dilation, but the Spiritual Realm—where it belongs—it's not going to do that.

That's gonna make some exclamation points raise above the heads of some people.

The Dusty Wheel Show ()
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Questioner

How much should we be thinking about possible logical groupings of Shards? For instance, as pairs or groups of four.

Brandon Sanderson

Go ahead, knock yourselves out. This is relevant, but only in a sort of Cosmerenaut sort of way, people who like theorizing on these things and what not. It's not going to be hugely relevant to the narrative, but Dawnshard does indicate that these groupings are a place you can go.

YouTube Livestream 32 ()
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Zelriel

Is Nightblood considered a Sliver after what happened in Rhythm of War?

Brandon Sanderson

By some definitions... *indecisive sputtering* Tenuous. I would say for the most part no. Some people might in-world disagree because Slivers are pretty... it's a moving target, but Nightblood shuts off pretty quick in terms of the amount of Investiture that would come through something like that. And so while he did get a piece of that, technically anything he eats is getting a piece of a Shard. I'm going to say no, with room for debate.

YouTube Livestream 32 ()
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Argent

Are the Rhythm of War Seon communication devices called Selphones?

Brandon Sanderson

Gaah! *general exclamations of mirth mixed with booing from Brandon's team*

I love it, Evgeni, gold star! You're making everyone groan in a beautiful way. Nice work, you have brightened my day.

YouTube Livestream 32 ()
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snowdayplease

Eshonai's one experience as a mate was a "disaster" and Rlain's time in mateform "didn't turn out the way he expected". Is that implying what I think it's implying?

Brandon Sanderson

No, they're implying different things. With Rlain it's just that it turned out he was solely attracted to other men. Not a disaster, just not what he had anticipated. And Eshonai, I'm not implying the same thing there. I'm implying that she... when she did a mate she just did not like being in that form. It did not mesh well with her, she embarrassed herself in ways that... Eshonai outside of mateform considers that entire time an enormous disaster and a huge embarrassment. Does that make sense? I wasn't trying to draw a correlation between those two. It's a good question to ask because the structure of how I wrote those is very similar.

YouTube Livestream 32 ()
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snowdayplease

Does the fact that singers have red bones mean that they have red teeth?

Brandon Sanderson

I have not indicated that to the artists, so I'm going to say no. It would cause a revolution in fanart. Though Isaac can overrule me on that as he's art directing and things. It probably would make sense for them to have red teeth, but we haven't done much color art and I don't know if they've ever been smiling. They probably would but I have not described them that way. I don't think I've described it the other way either, so we could move forward that direction. They probably should have red teeth. It looks pretty cool, red teeth looks kinda nifty, I do like that. Sinister to our preconceived notion of what is sinister is how I'm kind of designing the singers.

YouTube Livestream 32 ()
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Lass Adventurous Arith

How did you decide to turn Taravangian into Odium?

Brandon Sanderson

How did I decide to do that? There are a couple reasons I decided to do that. This was one of the things didn't have to go this way. It is actually a good one I can talk about because I had multiple options here. Even until I was turning in this outline to my team and saying "Alright, it's time to sink or swim, do we like this or not?", I was going back and forth on it. Really until I had written the scenes and given them to my alpha readers and said, "alright, are you guys ready for me to pull the trigger on this?" because there are costs. The major cost is that Odium is a better ancient unknowable evil. Odium was filling the role in the books of Sauron. Ancient thing, very dangerous, very strange, very powerful and whatnot.

The thing is, my books aren't really about that. I will write books dealing with some of that sort of stuff, but that's not the sort of thing that is as exciting. It's not really as much a theme of my stories, the ancient unknowable evil. The whole purpose of Mistborn—one of them, it's not the purpose—is that even the Lord Ruler you've got to know. Even Ruin became a character that you understood. It is a cost, I will admit. It wasn't as strong for me as it might have been somewhere else. I do know that some people would prefer that, and I can understand why. Sauron makes a pretty great bad guy. Ancient, powerful, unknowable, evil forces—but I feel like I get that in the shard itself. One of the things that I plan to play up more as the Cosmere goes forward is that these powers have some sort of primal sense to them. That's always in my mind been the bigger danger than than Rayse is that.

That is, the negatives were not that big of negatives. And what are the positives? In Oathbringer, Dalinar did not fall to Odium. That is a huge blow to Odium, Rayse-Odium. The fact that at the end of book three he was defeated in a major way, and in book 4 he gets defeated again, this time by Kaladin. We have proven that two of our primary viewpoint protagonists of the Stormlight Archive are able to resist and defeat him. My opinion was that by that point in the Stormlight Archive, Odium would no longer, Odium-Rayse would no longer be a threat. You run into this in lots of long running epic fantasy series. I've talked a lot about how when I was designing Stormlight Archive, the things I had read in other long running fantasy series were a big part of why I designed it the way I did. For instance, in the Wheel of Time it was very difficult—even in the ones I was writing—to maintain a sense of threat for the Forsaken when they had just been defeated right and left every book. They do get their licks in now and then, but it's real hard to keep considering Ba'alzamon from the first one to be a threat when boy, Rand just defeats him and defeats him again and defeats him again and then defeats him again. This is a problem for a lot of media. How threatening is Magneto really when he never wins?

At this point in the series, what I wanted to do was hit you with a left hook from somebody that I considered more frightening, more dangerous, more capable, and who had been growing as an antagonist for a while. And while some of his ploys had not turned out, he is still very threatening. My hope was that this reveal to a portion of the audience—I knew that some would prefer Odium, but to I hoped a larger portion—would be like, "Oh, this just got real."

I've mentioned before that my favorite antagonist is Magneto, I've brought him up before. I like characters who have clashes, antagonists who have clashes of ideology, not just clashes of forces. A reason I'm not excited to write about somebody like Sauron is that, while there are clashes of ideology behind the scenes, on screen for the movies and books it's basically: Sauron wants to rule the world and we don't want him to. That works really well in Lord of the Rings because you have, as I've talked about, part of the brilliance of the Lord of the Rings is both having Sauron, Saruman, and Gollum to represent three different kinds of evil and three different antagonists that work in tandem really well together. It's part of the brilliance of the Lord of the Rings. But I like having a villain like Taravangian. Taravangian, who has a world view that is a certain world view and that is terrifying because of how that world view is. Elevating him to Odium so that you mixed that with the kind of ancient spren of hatred that is still a very big, dominant part of what he's now become—I just thought made for a more compelling and interesting villain for the fact that we have many more books left in the Stormlight Archive and in the Cosmere, and I had done what I wanted to with Rayse-Odium.

There's my answer. It is totally viable to have, viable is the wrong term, totally understandable that some would have preferred me to go a different direction, but my instinct says—and I haven't done any polls or things on this—that the majority of fans are going to like this direction better, and I certainly think the story will turn out better. That's what led me to make that decision, but these were all things I was heavily considering. Adam was there watching those emails go around with me and the team when I was asking if I should pull the trigger on this or not. There are a couple of things that I've made decisions on that have been some of the most difficult or most far-reaching in that regard, but that I think I made the right decision on.

The other one was bringing Kelsier back. Kelsier, so I seeded all the stuff in the original books to bring Kelsier back, but then I backed off on it, and for a while I'm like eh, I don't think I'm going to bring Kelsier back. During that whole thing, oh this is a fun spoiler thing that I don't think I've talked about before: during that time in the outlining—some of you may again have much preferred this—TenSoon was actually going to be Thaidakar, wearing Kelsier's bones. There was a time where I was going to play with a kandra believing they were Kelsier, in this case TenSoon. I was going to go this direction where it's like, I'm the survivor, I'm picking up the survivor's heritage and I'm doing all of this sort of stuff—I did warn you all about spoilers—and there was a time in there where I decided no, I'm going to leave Kelsier dead—that I'm going to go this direction. Why did I back off on that one? A couple reasons, number one I feel like I really did a solid job with Lessie in the second of the Wax and Wayne books, which was a similar conflict. I felt like I got that out of my system. I did it well, I think that story has some really heart-wrenching things, but as I wrote that story I felt that it was a one-book story.

One of the things I've come to be aware of as I've written, this stretches back to the days of Elantris where my original ending had too many twists. It's been changed, like I had some weird twist where Hrathen had secretly come to Elantris at some point and had a heritage that made him Aleth—not Alethi—made him Aonic and things like that and it was dumb and it didn't work. It was twisting for twists sake. And part of me worries, and part of me actually doesn't just worry, I think that if I had done that whole thing with TenSoon it would have been less cool than what I just actually wanted to have happen, which was to give a full finished character arc to Kelsier. At that point I went back to what my original plan had been and I picked up those threads, and that's when I wrote Secret History, after I had finally made that decision. And it comes with costs too. Everything comes with costs. Having main character die in such a spectacular way and then not being quite dead yet has certain costs in your narrative. The more you do that less that death is meaningful in the stories, the more it feels like a gotcha and things like that. Yet at the same time on the other side, I don't think the Lord of the Rings is weaker for having brought back Gandalf. I think the Lord of the Rings is stronger, and why is that? Gandalf comes back changed as a different person and makes the story more interesting for having returned. My original plan with Kelsier was just more interesting in the long run. Forcing Kelsier to do these things and fi—he did not complete his character arc, and that's part of why it was so heart-wrenching to lose him, which I understand. Bringing him back in that regard lets me finish his story, and I just think that's going to be more satisfying. I gain more than I lose.

Plus there's the fact that someone comes back from the dead in the first chapter of the very first Cosmere book. Second chances at life is a major theme of the Cosmere. Both Warbreaker and Elantris that's kind of—Warbreaker it's the primary theme: second chance at life. You're doing a different thing with your life than you thought you would do, and let's take a second stab at it. I think that being able to play with that with Kelsier is a stronger narrative thing to do. This was also influenced by my, as I've talked about before, sort of shrinking the timescale a little bit of the Cosmere so that more of the characters from the different books can interact. It just makes better storytelling. I would say that those are the two things that in outline I could have gone different directions when I actually got to the story. When it was time to write Secret History I had to make the call. He had been dead, he had been alive, he had been dead, he had been alive, at least in my head, and I made that call. The same thing actually happened with Taravangian. It had been am I going to pull the trigger, was he going to become Odium or not? I actually vacillated on that and eventually have made the decision I made. 

Adam

Are you ever going to reveal what the alternate was going to be, kind of like what you just did?

Brandon Sanderson

Maybe eventually I will, but for now I will not. It's easier to reveal in Mistborn because it's basically all in the past. It isn't to say that I won't do something else like that, with a kandra. I might, but Lessie's story covered that real well. Who knows what I'll do, but I've backed off on, for those who have read Way of Kings Prime, Taln's original story was the story of am I an angel or am I not? Am I a herald or am I not? Am I this divine being or am I a normal person? And that actually plays real well in Way of Kings Prime. It is just not a thing I could make work in the actual published version of Way of Kings. It's one of the things that's cool about Way of Kings Prime, is being able to see some of these ideas that I can't express in the actual series. Part of the reason I can't is also, number one I wanted to bring the voidbringers in and all of these things, and you just can't... The more fantastical your book is, the less the reader will be able to suspend disbelief about your character who claims that they're not some mythological legend from lore actually not being that mythological—they walk onstage and are like, "I think that I'm this mythological legend from lore but my powers are gone." Ninety-nine readers out of a hundred are going to be like, "yep, I believe you", even though all the rest of the people in the books are going to be like, "No of course you're not." The reader—because it's just cooler that way. It's very hard to fulfill on good promises by not having that turn out that way. Beyond that, the story I wanted to tell involved Taln and so big surprise, Taln is a herald!

YouTube Livestream 32 ()
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m4ge

If Kaladin wasn't in the arena in Words of Radiance, would Zahel have intervened to help Adolin?

Brandon Sanderson

I will RAFO that, but a different kind of RAFO—in that I don't think Zahel himself knows what he would do in that situation. The better part of him would want to have, but he is not living his best life right now, shall we say. He is not living up to his potential, and he knows it. And so would he have? He should have. But would be have? Good question. Even he doesn't... I don't think that he could answer.

YouTube Livestream 32 ()
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Tony Patrick

Where did you get the idea to have multiple moons on Roshar?

Brandon Sanderson

I have no idea, it's gone back so far. I mean... Yeah, no idea. I like doing weird things with the cosmology and with planets and things like that. For the 2010 version, looking at the moons, I wanted to subtly indicate the presence of three gods and kind of subtly give some color scheme indications of them and things like that, but they aren't one to one. Just that idea, because everything was based around ten, I wanted some threes hanging around in the world building as well.

YouTube Livestream 32 ()
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Brad

Will every death rattle have a canonized point of reference at some point in a coming novel?

Brandon Sanderson

I don't intend them all to. I intend most of them to, but I don't intend them all to. Some of them happened, but were not relevant to the story on screen, is what I've decided.

YouTube Livestream 32 ()
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Blackflame Omega

Does “Light” in a vacuum become unkeyed until exposed to a vibration upon leaving, and what happens if that vibration isn't actually a pure tone?

Brandon Sanderson

It can be overridden and things like that. You can unkey that vibration and then kind of separate it. Whether it's even fully unkeyed, to be perfectly honest, I can't even say. Like, you are dampening it, and then overriding it with something else.

This is kind of outside the world, they wouldn't be able to measure it—but I don't even think it's completely unkeyed, like Navani thinks it is, before she rekeys it. The mental component on her part is pretty important to what's happening.

YouTube Livestream 32 ()
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Team Teama

Vin “sucked in the mists” with a deep breath, also the mist was “leaking” from her arms. Is that similar to Stormlight?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes it is. One hundred percent. In fact, you should notice that when Shardblades form they take a certain shape... substance.

Adam Horne

Oh jeez, yeah...

Brandon Sanderson

Did you never notice that?

Adam Horne

No, I did, but you know… you don't think about it.

Brandon Sanderson

Before they solidify, yeah.