17th Shard Forum Q&A

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Name 17th Shard Forum Q&A
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Date Sept. 25, 2012
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#4 Copy

KChan

In your books, we see a lot of really interesting and diverse world elements that make these places and cultures really come to life. What are some of the world elements you've had the most fun creating, and what do you like best about them?

Brandon Sanderson

I'd say that the spren on Roshar have been my favorite so far--they are so different, but also so RIGHT. They have a mythological fae-feel to them, but also fit into the cosmere arcanum just perfectly. I also like writing them.

#13 Copy

Chaos

A lerasium Mistborn's kids would surely be Allomancers. If such a lerasium Mistborn traveled to, say, Nalthis, fell in love and had kids with a native [Nalthian], would those kids be Allomancers? Or something else?

Brandon Sanderson

In most cases, they would still be Allomancers. Mixed, potentially, with something else depending on the native innate Investiture. That mixture could do some strange things, though.

#14 Copy

Chaos

Is there a cosmere-specific term you use to describe, say, a Shard's power inside someone? For example, people on Scadrial had little bits of Preservation in them that made them sentient (and, with enough Preservation, Allomancy). This obviously doesn't make these people Slivers or Splinters, so I was just wondering if you had a word for it.

Brandon Sanderson

In my own terms, I refer to all of this as types of investiture. The degree, and effects, can be very different--but those people are invested. I term this Innate Investiture, and it is similar to what happens with people on Nalthis. That is also innate.

#20 Copy

KChan

How does Snapping work after Sazed changed it? If you don't want to reveal it all right now, are there any hints you can give us?

Brandon Sanderson

He couldn't get rid of this entirely. I don't want to spoil things, but Snapping was built into Allomancy primarily because of larger-scale magical issues. This is getting deep into the issue, but it has to do with a person's spiritual makeup and a 'wounded' spirit being easier to fill with something else, kind of like a cut would let something into the bloodstream. Sazed made this threshold on Scadrial much easier to obtain.

#21 Copy

Arcanist

Most of your heroes are true traditional "heroes", because they want to be useful for the family/society/other, and they often lack selfish, "dirtier" motivations. Will we sometimes see characters, who are not villains but are rather egocentric?

Brandon Sanderson

Kelsier. :)

Expanding that, however, I feel that in general, other people are telling stories about "dirtier" characters and doing it well. I don't feel characters who are generally good characters are any less realistic, however--in fact, almost everyone I know is more like Vin or Dalinar. They want to be good people, they TRY to be good people. Fantasy has taken a very dark turn in many ways, and this is fine, but it is not the type of story or characters in which I am interested.

That doesn't mean I won't ever do it. There are some far more borderline characters mixed into some of the series, but they are more the exception than the rule.

#23 Copy

Arcanist

As Dalinar gave his Shardblade to Highprince Sadeas, was his motivation only to free the Brigdemen as "Thank you" for the help? Or did he already plan to build a team from soldiers who are loyal only to him?

Brandon Sanderson

He certainly saw the side benefits. However, his primary motive was to make a statement. Not just as a thank you, but as a way of proclaiming to all of the Alethi "What we have been doing is wrong. This wealth is not worth the lives of men."

#25 Copy

Arcanist

Do you plan a magic system which enables the character to manipulate the four elements with their will? I mean not so bounded, like Allomancy with Pushing or Pulling but shaping/summoning the elements according to the wishes of the person. I ask this, because in the whole fantasy genre I rarely find something like this (except: Arc Magica RPG), so I had to develop it myself at home. But from the authors I know you are the person who has the creativity to do this without doubt.

Brandon Sanderson

Maybe, but there are a few problems here. For one, "Four elements" magic has been done over and over in books and video games, so it feels hard to make fresh. And in what you describe, it sounds like the characters would be very powerful, which makes for a challenging story to write.

#28 Copy

Voidus

Would an Archivist who was sufficiently practiced be able to store memories at different strengths? (Keep a vague recollection of the memory as well as a stored copy which would degrade faster)

Brandon Sanderson

I don't think this is outside of reason for one to do, if they wanted to. I'm not sure if they would want to, but it's plausible.

#34 Copy

Kaist

If Kasbal hadn't been trying to kill Jasnah, would him and Shallan have gotten together?

Brandon Sanderson

It's uncertain. He actually did care for her, but he was an assassin trained to infiltrate and gain the trust of people like Shallan. If he hadn't been trying to kill Jasnah, he would never have had a reason to begin spending time with Shallan. However, I assume your question is if they had somehow started interacting, would they have gotten together. It's possible, but I don't think--in the end--it would have lasted.

#35 Copy

Shivertongue

What aspect of a new setting do you find to be the most difficult to develop?

Brandon Sanderson

Hmmm.... The everyday stuff is actually the hardest. For example, the question about racist jokes. They'd have them in world, but getting everything like this into a novel can be tough--particularly since it has a chance of squeezing out the story if you do too much.

#36 Copy

Shivertongue

Do you have any of the Power Nine, and if so, which ones?

Brandon Sanderson

Pearl, Emerald, Ruby, Time Walk, Recall. Four left to go. I try to pick them up at times when it means something--for example, I bought my Ruby in Taiwan during my visit there earlier, and my wife gave me one as a gift...that sort of thing.

#38 Copy

FireArcadia

Does the world map in The Way of Kings show all of the landmasses of Roshar? Does that make the continent on Roshar a Pangaea-like supercontinent? And as I think about it, are there tectonic plates on Roshar?

Brandon Sanderson

It is a supercontinent. I won't say there is NOTHING out there, but (unlike Scadrial) there is not another full continent. Plate tectonics are not a factor on the supercontinent.

#40 Copy

Brendan

Now that you have finished writing [The Wheel of Time], how does it feel going back to telling your epic story that you have wanted to share with the world and being able to write a story naturally without the outside constraints that came with [The Wheel of Time]?

What if anything has been the biggest challenge getting back into writing Stormlight Archive after working so hard on [The Wheel of Time]?

Brandon Sanderson

It feels great, though it's a feeling I've felt before. It was the feeling I had when jumping out of the Mistborn world after finishing all three books and instead doing Warbreaker. For most of the process with [The Wheel of Time], I didn't feel 'constrained' really. It was more a sense of difficulty--it was difficult to do for unique reasons. Matching [Robert Jordan]'s story, making certain to keep characters consistent, that kind of thing.

It is refreshing to move to a new project, but this one presents difficulties of its own. I have to follow up The Way of Kings, which I feel is the best book of my career so far. I poured twenty years of effort into that book. Now, the sequel needs to be equally awesome, which is a real challenge.

Also, I keep wanting to use [Wheel of Time] curses.

#43 Copy

ReaderAt2046

Do Stephen's aspects exist in the way bonded spren exist (independent Spiritual and Cognitive aspect but tied to a human.)?

Brandon Sanderson

Legion does not exist in the cosmere, so Realmatic Theory is not at play in the story.

ReaderAt2046

Did Razon's camera use the same Spiritual gravitational anchors as time bubbles?

Brandon Sanderson

See above.

#46 Copy

ReaderAt2046

What would happen if, right after someone died, they were made into a Lifeless, and then Endowment tried to Return that person?

Brandon Sanderson

Oooh...now that's a spicy one. Endowment's gift of a superpowered Breath would come down, strike the Lifeless, and all kinds of craziness would occur. You'd end up with a drab god, which would be hilarious.

#51 Copy

ReaderAt2046

Can a Feruchemist store an attribute in a metalmind that someone else has already stored in and if so, do the charges affect each other in any way?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, but the charges are just stored in separate pieces of the metal, and don't really influence one another.

#57 Copy

Kurkistan

Do Breaths inherently possess the ability to interpret and carry out commands, or does the Awakener need to impart that decision making ability on Awakened objects?

If the Awakener does need to impart the decision-making ability, then does Awakening consist of an Awakener copying a portion of his/her Cognitive aspect (as determined by his/her visualization and verbal Command) onto the Cognitive aspect of the object being Awakened, with Breath then providing the "juice" for the object to actually follow its Command: powering both physical motion and "cogitation" based upon the copied Cognitive aspect?

If so, is that copying what drains color?

Brandon Sanderson

You're very close here.

#58 Copy

Kurkistan

If you are standing inside of a time bubble, and throw a spear out of the bubble, what happens to that spear as it traverses the border of the bubble? Are different parts of the spear ever in different "time zones," going fundamentally different speeds?

On that line of reasoning, what would happen to a train and its occupants if Marasi stood next to railroad tracks holding up a Cadmium bubble while that train sped by?

Brandon Sanderson

In general, a large object going through a time bubble is not going to notice. An object is either in or out, and it depends in part on how the object views itself. People inside the train would be inside of its influence, and wouldn't notice the bubble. The spear would go from one to the other, but would never be in both.

#61 Copy

rags

We know that there are 10 orders of Radiants and 10 different powers, with each order having access to 2 of them. Any reason why this "class restriction" exists (they are lot more combinations possible with 10 powers)?

Brandon Sanderson

There is a reason. I don't know when I want to get into it, however.

#62 Copy

rags

How is Harmony balanced when a part of Preservation's power is expended on human sentience? Isn't that what caused all the trouble to begin with?

Brandon Sanderson

Indeed. Hm... What could Sazed be doing with that extra power...

#64 Copy

Kurkistan

Would it be fair to describe the three realms as the Spiritual Realm providing motivation/general directives (gravity, desires, energy, etc.), the Cognitive Realm interpreting and applying those directives, and the Physical Realm as where these directives--as interpreted by the Cognitive Realm--are actually implemented? All of this with interactions/change flowing back and forth between the Realms as well (Physical phenomena affecting thought affecting the spirit, for example).

Brandon Sanderson

Ha! That's a very interesting way to look at it. The theory isn't all there, but it's thinking along the right lines.

#65 Copy

dyring

A Coinshot able to store weight can, as you showed us with Wax Push in a ridiculously powerful manner, as the weight/mass is the largest factor which controls the Push strength.

I'm wondering if the same can be done with soothing(or rioting). If you where to increase your identity, that may/should increase your emotional imprint(or whatever you might call it), would your soothings/riotings become vastly more powerful in a similar way as weight makes steelpushing more powerful?

And if it does, is this how the Lord Ruler improved his Soothing in such a spectacular fashion?

Brandon Sanderson

Well, the Lord Ruler--don't forget--could compound any Allomancy he wanted. That creates some crazy effects. As for what you discuss in your first question, I don't want to touch too much on Identity yet as I am saving it for later books. Talking too much here might undermine my ability to reveal interesting and cool things in books when the time is right. I like your theory, and it has merit, but I'm not going to give you a yes or a no as it delves too much into what Identity, as an attribute, can do.

#66 Copy

Lightflame

You've confirmed that several Heralds have appeared or been mentioned in the modern (non-prelude, non-vision) parts of The Way of Kings. Have any members of the Knights Radiant (the one from the days of Urithiru, not near-Radiants like Kaladin) appeared in the modern parts of The Way of Kings? And if you have to RAFO me, could you give me a hint about the Heralds?

Brandon Sanderson

I can answer that--no, no Radiants from those days have appeared on screen in [The Way of Kings].

#67 Copy

Lightflame

When Shallan is appealing Jasnah, Jasnah reveals that she has heard about Shallan's step-mother, Malise Gevelmar. Has Malise Gevelmar ever met Jasnah or one of her associates (excluding Shallan)?

Brandon Sanderson

No, she has not. You'll learn more about Malise in [Words of Radiance]. She really is just a rural lighteyes of not much consequence. Shallan's mother, however...

#70 Copy

McCullough

In what ways do you feel that finishing The Wheel of Time helped to prepare you for The Stormlight Archive and how did it change your writing in general, if at all?

Brandon Sanderson

I gained three things, I feel, by working over the years on [The Wheel of Time]. (And, in particular, by studying [Robert Jordan]'s work in depth.) I learned how to better balance lots of different viewpoints, I got a better grip for foreshadowing and subtlety over many books, and I gained a deeper understanding of how to write a really sold third person viewpoint.

#78 Copy

Stroniax

Is there a way to harvest BioChromatic Breath from a planet, if it holds any? (If a person dies, and their body turns to dusty he dust of the earth, then doesn't [Nalthis] therefore hold thousands, if not millions, of BioChromatic Breaths?)

Brandon Sanderson

Possible. It would be the same thing as harvesting the nature of Preservation or Ruin, which--on Scadrial--took the form of nuggets of metal.

#81 Copy

mycoltburg

Is there any ramifications to the holder of a Shardblade for using a Blade in a manner that it wasn't intended?

Brandon Sanderson

Depends on the type of Shardblade. (You have seen three different kinds in [The Way of Kings].) For most, no. For some, most certainly.

#87 Copy

Zenith

Szeth mentions that Lashings don't work with shardplate (on?). Is there any way to get around this (As in, lashing with Shardplate on, or lashing people with Shardplate on), and, if so, does it have anything to do with the Knights Radiant and/or their Ideals?

Brandon Sanderson

This has to do with the nature of the magics in the cosmere. They interfere with one another. Something that contains a lot of power--we call it Investiture--resists the efforts of magic to influence it. A strong spirit can interfere as well.

#89 Copy

Kuri Shardweaver

Are there any plans for a world where the magic system operates through devices that transform and empower individuals with spectacular abilities? Like...say...a belt with an ornate buckle...a bracer..things like that?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

#90 Copy

Kuri Shardweaver

What's your opinion on golems/constructs/robots? The Lifeless are a somewhat similar concept, but I was curious as to whether there's a world in the cosmere that might have a more classical take on ye ol' fantasy standby guardian, or are Awakened suits of armor as close as we can get? Is the Future Mistborn trilogy going to have Anti-Allomancer Alluminaughts?

Brandon Sanderson

Ha. I am fascinated the idea of golems, and when I play an RPG I'm often trying to make golems of one sort or another. However, I worry that the idea is a little overdone in fiction, so my takes on that sort of thing come in more unusual flavors.

#92 Copy

Odium's_Shard

Does the Spiritual power used in any given magic system come from the supporting Shard itself, or through it from the remains of Adonalsium and the Power of Creation?

Brandon Sanderson

From the Shard in most cases. But it's also often built into the world innately, and so the Shard (if someone is holding it) doesn't always have control over who can or cannot use the magic.

#93 Copy

Odium's_Shard

Lastly, less pressingly, do Spirit Points (Hemalurgic spots) apply to ever magic system, and through the cosmere at large? Ie. could Hemalurgy be used to take any other magic systems aspects, and do other magic systems also have these 'Points', such as Body Focuses, that work in similar ways?

Brandon Sanderson

Hemalurgy crosses magic systems. You could steal things from people on other worlds, if you knew the right places for the spikes.

#95 Copy

Yamato

What has turned out better for you, starting with the characters, the plot, or the world when you are beginning the writing process for a book?

Brandon Sanderson

Any time I have the characters from the get go, I feel like I'm leaps and bounds ahead. Having a very strong ending in mind before outlining is also very, very helpful.

#96 Copy

Yamato

How did you portray Jasnah's atheism so well? As a staunch atheist myself, I think you did an absolutely brilliant job. Honestly, It made me happy that a religious person was trying to understand my mindset. Anyway, who did you ask to get such accurate ideas of atheist thought?

Brandon Sanderson

I found some really good atheist forums. Not the 'hate on religion' type atheist forums, but the kind with some serious depth. People asking one another about morality, talking about how they felt when people reacted to them being an atheist, and expressing their philosophy. I gained a great deal of respect for them during these readings.

From there, I went and chatted with some atheists I know to gauge if I had a good handle on things. It was important that I get this right, as it's different enough from my own worldview that if it went wrong, it would have gone VERY wrong and I'd have ended up with something insulting.

#97 Copy

Yamato

Any advice for an aspiring fantasy writer? Besides the obligatory "Read a lot and write a lot!!!" Characterization advice is especially appreciated.

Brandon Sanderson

Well, I do have my lectures on this topic. Go to writeaboutdragons.com and listen to the characterization lecture. I think you'll find it helpful.

Do remember that your characters should have passions, goals, and flaws that are distinct from the plot of the story. They can sometimes align, but a character should have a life and passions outside of what happens TO them.

#98 Copy

Yamato

Out of all your magic systems, which one would you choose to be a user of?

Brandon Sanderson

I'd be a Mistborn if possible. So many fun interactions. Not quite as powerful as some of those on Roshar, perhaps, but very fun.

#100 Copy

Yamato

I am currently trying to write a book in which the world is drastically different from earth. Do you think it is too ambitious to start out with such a complex setting?

Brandon Sanderson

No, not at all. Just don't try TOO hard to describe every aspect of it. It's good to be ambitious. However, be careful to keep you number of viewpoints down for your first few attempts--that will spiral out of control faster than worldbuilding will. Don't feel the need to explain too much, keep the focus on the characters, and you should be fine.

#105 Copy

Yados

Between the Parshendi and the Alethi harvesting gemhearts, how long has it been since a chasmfiend got to finish pupating?

Brandon Sanderson

Aha. I wondered if someone would ask that. Much like whaling in our own world, there is a big ecological price building for what is going on here. You are right to worry about this.

#106 Copy

Yados

Does Sazed's biological body still exist somewhere? If so, does that body still possess Feruchemical abilities?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, it does exist, though kind of...blended-in, so to speak, as happened with the others when they Ascended. Yes, it still has his abilities, though they are kind of moot now.

#107 Copy

mcalton2

Can we expect to see a fight between a Windrunner, an Awakener, and an Allomancer in one of the Stormlight books?

Brandon Sanderson

I've said before that it's unlikely that the Stormlight books will ever delve strongly into the connections between worlds. There will be some cool things happening for the cosmere-literate, but this series isn't focused on those concepts. I want it to maintain its plot cohesion for those who aren't aware of all of the behind-the-scenes stories.

Epilogue to Book Two should excite you, though.

#109 Copy

Thought

What question do you wish that readers would ask you but that no one has?

Brandon Sanderson

Surprisingly, I get this exact question every few months or so. (Mostly in interviews.) I can never come up with something.

#110 Copy

Thought

It seems that certain colors and numbers appear frequently in specific Cosmere books, like the number 5 in Warbreaker or red and blue in Elantris. Do these colors or numbers happen to refer to a specific Shard, and if so, would they be consistent across the cosmere?

Brandon Sanderson

Certain colors and numbers are important in reference to certain Shards.

#111 Copy

luminos

What are the chances that you will eventually write a fifth Alcatraz book?

Does Alcatraz ever actually end up tied to a stack of encyclopedias, about to be sacrificed by evil librarians?

Brandon Sanderson

I bought the rights to the Alcatraz series back from Scholastic earlier this year, and they were given a 'sell-off' period to sell the rest of their stock. I now own the rights again free and clear, and will probably be putting out an omnibus ebook. (Perhaps a print one with Tor as well.)

I can now write the fifth book (which Scholastic did not want.) It was always planned as the book where he ends up on that stack of encyclopedias. I'll do this sometime next year, hopefully.

#112 Copy

Thought

Could an iron Twinborn "fly" by drastically increasing his weight, pulling hard on a counterweight so it flew above him, then decreasing his weight drastically and pulling himself up by the counterweight, and repeating?

Brandon Sanderson

It's plausible. It's kind of a 'Thor-like' way to fly, isn't it? (For those unaware, he throws his hammer and it carries him with it, and STOP THINKING.) I played with this idea, but the trick is not getting hit by the counterweight as you pull it to yourself. If you could stop that, you might be able to manage it, but it felt pretty hard to pull off to me.

#113 Copy

Thought

And finally, to speak non-canonically, would burning copper mask someone channeling the one power, and would burning bronze allow one to detect when someone was channeling?

Brandon Sanderson

Uh... You should ask Kelsier. He probably tried it when he hung out with Moiraine.

#116 Copy

Zenith

Are spren Cognitive aspects?

Brandon Sanderson

:) You guys are figuring this all out pretty well. I want to hold off on talking much about the nature of the spren because the characters in-world are discovering this as the books progress.

#118 Copy

moochboy

The Way of Kings was named after an in story book, as is the would be Shallan's book if you don't change like you siad you might "The Book of Endless Pages", do you plan on naming all the books in The Stormlight Archive with in world literature?

Brandon Sanderson

That was the original plan.

#119 Copy

ChimeraRuin

In [The Hero of Ages], what spooked Vin off from meeting Hoid? (My theory is Ruin's infulence, because he didn't want Hoid interfering(sub question that just occured to me. Was Ruin aware of Hoid on Scadrial?)

And

What would Hoid have told her if they had talked?

Brandon Sanderson

Ha. Well, by this point Hoid had been to the Well--getting there just before Vin--and had retrieved something from it. That should have been enough to get him to leave the planet entirely, but he got involved in events. (He tends to do that.) It's pie in the sky, but I would someday like to do parallel novel to the Mistborn series with Hoid in the background like they did in the second(?) back to the future move. I don't know that I'll ever be able to do it, but we shall see. I would answer this question there.

#122 Copy

Shivertongue

A few months ago, I discovered listening to classic jazz just really got me into the mindset for my current novel, and I think it might be because the story is set in a time similar to the America in the 1920's; do you ever try to match the music with the setting of a specific book or scene? Is there any one artist or style of music that works no matter what?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, indeed I do. I actually listened to era-appropriate music when working on Alloy of Law. In general, a good soundtrack can work no matter what, but for some scenes I need something more powerful. (Szeth's scenes in [The Way of Kings] were usually to Daft Punk.)

#123 Copy

Joe ST

Would you be willing to write a Ketek in High Imperial? It's just something that's been going around in my head for a while, I think it'd be pretty cool XD.

Brandon Sanderson

Ha. I...really would rather pass on this one. Getting the Ketek right in [The Way of Kings] took weeks of writing and rewriting. I'm not sure I'd like to try something, even for fun, in a quick forum write like this.

#125 Copy

Satsuoni

How is heat a mental attribute in Feruchemy?

Brandon Sanderson

Because I messed up. I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but that power was supposed to be swapped with another one. (You might be able to guess which one.) However, by the time I realized my mistake, it had already been canonized in print in the trilogy, so I was stuck with it. I've been tempted to go back and correct the error, but it reaches pretty far back. People drawing upon warmth is mentioned in the first book. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that in general the 'physical, mental, etc' things are applied by people--they are boxes that people investigating the magic have used to describe it.

#128 Copy

BLU3

Just wondering, are you ever going to go back and write about The Further Adventures of Lestibournes? I think his character is pivotal to the Mistborn trilogy and felt cheated that the trilogy mostly focused on Vin, Kel, Sazed, and Elend. I would like to know more of his backstory and how he became the stud that he is.

Brandon Sanderson

He became quite the 'stud' in the years following the first trilogy. I might be persuaded to show some of this at some point. He also knew many things he really should not have.

#130 Copy

Thoughtful Spurts

If there's really no upper limit to Feruchemy for practical reasons* , why didn't Sazed just fill steel at ridiculous levels for a few minutes in [Well of Ascension], and then go back to running instead of leaving his steelminds there? Say, being some 100,000 times slower than he would normally be for about a minute. Meaning that a Feruchemist should be able to fill a given metalmind in very short periods of time if you fill at a high enough rate.

*(yes, you have the limit of how much you can store in a given metalmind and for how many metalminds you can carry on your person, but those are probably too high to really be taken into account in more "normal" circumstances)

Brandon Sanderson

The low end is bounded. You can pull out tons--but in filling, you can only go so far. I didn't ever explicitly talk about this in the series, but the implications are there. Not all have the same bounds, but in your example, the body just can't slow beyond a certain point. Think of it this way--you can only fill a weight metalmind with as much weight as you have to give. So you can become very, very light--but you only add to a time for doubling your weight. You can't make yourself 100,000 times slower and gain 100,000 times multiplication. You can give up all of your normal speed, and so when you tap that speed out you are at 200% for an equal period. (And that's a theoretical maximum; realistically, you can only go to down around 75% slower or the like.)

#132 Copy

Thoughtful Spurts

If tapping heat means your own body gets hotter, does it also mean you become immune to hot temperatures so long as you're tapping it, or should you fill heat and grow colder for that to happen?

Brandon Sanderson

As everything in Feruchemy, you become immune to the effects of the ability only. Like weight doesn't crush you, but at the same time doesn't have a net gain in strength. Growing colder, however, would be more helpful in this regard.

#134 Copy

Joe ST

Can a Misting burn the god-metal alloys of their metal? If not, do the god-metals even 'exist' if there are no full Mistborn?

Brandon Sanderson

There are metals which exist that any Allomancer can burn, regardless of their own orientation.

#136 Copy

Nemuri

How has writing Shallan as the focus character been compared to Kaladin in the last book? Easier? More difficult?

Brandon Sanderson

So far, I've only done her flashback sequence--but this was a little easier than Kaladin's, as I've been kind of chomping at the bit to tell her story.

#139 Copy

Arcanist

According to [Sanderson's Second Law of Magic] your characters have flaws, weaknesses. What is the reason, that in a lot of them (Vin, Elend, Kaladin, Dalinar, Spook, etc) the most significant weakness is the lack of self-confidence?

Brandon Sanderson

It's because of mode-shifting. The people you noted have been doing one thing for a long time, and are now forced into something else. The self confidence is a side effect of that. However, I wouldn't say it's the primary character attribute for any of them, however. I think you're blanketing self confidence as a larger issue, when it's the smaller part of something larger for each character.

Vin: Trusting Others

Elend: Idealism

Dalinar: Conflict between the killer he was and the man he wishes to be.

Spook: Self Worth

#144 Copy

rags

You have told us there are more than 30 magical systems on Roshar. I am assuming there are 10 Surgebindings and 10 Voidbindings. Do the next 10 belong to another such classification? If yes, can you give us the name for it.

Brandon Sanderson

Fabrials are part of it.

#145 Copy

Straff Venture

Are any of your books' locations (barring Legion) based on real-life places? If so, where? If not, what propels your creative drive to make new worlds?

Brandon Sanderson

All of the keeps in the Mistborn series are based on real structures I've visited. The mists are based on a trip to Idaho, were I drove through a fog bank at high speeds.

Warbreaker's setting was inspired, in part, by a visit to Hawaii.

Much of Roshar is inspired by tidal pools and coral reefs.

#148 Copy

Aethling

Is there a chance that any dead protagonists will miraculously come back (IE Vin, Elend, Lightsong) to help fight later battles? You have shown Kelsier having influence after he died, and Sazed makes a statement about keeping in touch with Vin and Elend.

Brandon Sanderson

I don't want to be unsympathetic to people's love for these characters, but I feel that as a writer I must resist the urge to bring back characters in this manner. I feel it would undermine my storytelling. I never want to get to the point where people read and the tension of a character being in danger is ruined by the thought, "Well, even if they die, they'll probably just be brought back in the future."

I'm not saying I won't ever do it, but I want to be very sparing. I like how Robert Jordan did it with a certain character's return in [Towers of Midnight]. It was foreshadowed, built into the story itself, and relevant.

There are characters--in the 36-book-cosmere-superoutline--who return when thought dead. Some have not met their perceived end yet, while others have. So it's going to happen, but I want it to be very rare.

#149 Copy

Yamato

Where did you get the idea for your Adonalsium mythos? Did it develop in your head for a while, or did you have a sudden flash of inspiration.

Brandon Sanderson

Over time, particularly when building Dragonsteel as a novel. I was planning it as I wrote Elantris. Hoid has been around forever, long before Adonalsium became the central plot of his story. I have an old short story from the early, early, early days where he's on a planet trying to figure out how the local magic system works.

#154 Copy

astalduath

After reading The Way of Kings, I couldn't help but to wonder this: hypothetically if there were two equally skilled combatants in every way, one armed with a Shardblade and the other with a Lightsaber, and take magic and the Force out of the equation (except for the weapons themselves), who would win? And yes, the Shardblade would have already been summoned and the two are just squaring off in a dual. Have fun with it.

Brandon Sanderson

A lightsaber is actually a little more easy to wield than a Shardblade, I would guess. Shardblades were designed to fight something larger than another person; you don't actually need all of that size when fighting someone. So that gives a slight edge to you average Jedi. If it's someone like Szeth, who has a more modestly sized Blade, then I don't honestly know.

#155 Copy

Observer

What are the smoke-y spren that appear around a dead chasmfiend?

Brandon Sanderson

They are in a symbiotic relationship with the chasmfiend, and are part of what allow the creatures to grow to the size they do with an exoskeleton. (Along with a high-oxygen, lower-gravity world.)

#156 Copy

PricklyBear

Is there a functional/structural difference between modern-day Shardplate and the stuff the Radiants wore? Did the Radiants have to use infused gems to keep their suits going or could they just 'breathe in' Stormlight and feed the suit off of their 'inhaled' reserves?

Brandon Sanderson

Something is different. You will find out what.

#158 Copy

PricklyBear

What's up at the south end of the world (during the 'closer to the sun' phase)? Life there? Cultures? Allomancers? Assuming that there is some life down there, can we assume that we'll have some interesting 'culture clashes' in future books?

Brandon Sanderson

They will be known by the modern trilogy, so it's safe to assume that a discovery will happen soon. Either during the Alloy of Law era or soon after.

#159 Copy

PricklyBear

What's the closest that humans had gotten to the 'inhabitable' zone of the planet during the events of the first Mistborn trilogy?

Brandon Sanderson

There were groups who would go out there to escape the Lord Ruler, and the Final Empire in general. Survival was practically impossible. It's possible someone might have gotten across to the southern continent, but it would take a small miracle.

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PricklyBear

When Scadrial was closer to the sun, can we safely assume that the middle section of the planet was scorched clean of anything living? Could there have been some underground life thing going on? Anything cool or interesting sitting out there (like ruins or some lost technology)?

Brandon Sanderson

The middle section was scorched pretty clean. I know of a few interesting tidbits, but it's not technology. (The tech level before the Lord Ruler took over was nothing particularly special, early industrial era.) The cool and interesting things are on the southern continent.

#161 Copy

EHyde

Since we generally don't see inhabitants of your worlds refer to their planets by name, where do the names come from?

Brandon Sanderson

From world-hoppers, Shards, and those who know about the cosmere.

#163 Copy

EHyde

You've already given some information about the origins of the custom of a safehand (feminine arts being those that can be done one-handed) but why the word "safe?"

Brandon Sanderson

It grew out of the culture and linguistics somewhat naturally; nobody 'named' it that.

#165 Copy

llwvyn

My question is in regards to the writing system. In Warbreaker, when Siri is teaching Susebron to read, she mentions the letter "shash," which we now know better as a glyph from [The Way of Kings].

so onto the questions:

Are the two writing systems related, or is this a chance coincidence of names?

If they are related, did they stem from the same source? (i.e., do the people of Nalthis and Roshar both descend from a more ancient group of people?)

If I haven't gotten a RAFO yet, did the separation from these other people create the legends of being cast out of the Tranquiline Halls?

Brandon Sanderson

There are interesting connections around the cosmere between linguistics and some cultures. Though different groups of humans were created on different planets, the Shards all share a single point of origin. However, the Tranquiline Halls legends are not related to a Nalthis/Roshar connection.

#166 Copy

ROSHtafARian

In the Mistborn trilogy, the base 16 Allomantic metals separate into different groups like the Enhancement metals, etc. Given that there are 16 Shards, do they also separate into different groupings as well? For instance, are Shards like Honor and Devotion part of one 'grouping', with Shards like Cultivation and Endowment part of another?

Brandon Sanderson

Good question.

...

RAFO

#167 Copy

ROSHtafARian

There's been enough speculation that an Elantrian world hopper appears in Way of Kings and that an Elantrian world hopper wrote the Ars Arcanum in Alloy of Law to make it likely that by the time of both books, at least some Elantrians can world hop. So my question is, at the time of Way of Kings, does Sel have the most cosmere-awareness out of any of your Shardworlds (including ones we have not seen yet), or is there another Shardworld that's more aware of the greater cosmere at this time?

Brandon Sanderson

Sel is very cosmere aware at this point, but getting to and through Shadesmar (that's not the local term, by the way) is very difficult on Sel. That stunted them for a long while. They're still fairly far ahead.

#168 Copy

ROSHtafARian

We're aware by now of eight of the sixteen Shards (Devotion, Dominion, Ruin, Preservation, Endowment, Honor, Odium and Cultivation) and seven of the ten core Shardworlds (the Dragonsteel world, Roshar, Scadrial, Nalthis, Sel, the White Sand world and The Silence Divine world). Given that you now how we love to obsessively speculate based on only the tiniest of information, and also given that it seems an endless source of amusement to you that we do, would you perhaps like to tease us with a smidgen of information about one of the remaining eight Shards or the three remaining Shardworlds?

Brandon Sanderson

Ha. If I give you this, what will you speculate on in the future? :) I hate to do this, but I'm going to RAFO that one for now. Sorry.

#170 Copy

Douglas

This might have been specified in the books, I don't remember, but does duralumin expend itself as well as the metal it's used with? If it does, I've got this theory that its effect is actually just to cause a regular flare, not a superflare, but it affects itself in a feedback loop that keeps forcing the flare higher until it runs out.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes you DO expend duralumin in the process.

#171 Copy

Douglas

In Alloy of Law, evidence is uncovered that the bad guys are attempting to breed a Mistborn. The time span of the gap between this and the original Mistborn trilogy, perhaps with the interval I vaguely remember being stated for between Alloy and the next main trilogy added, is suspiciously close to 300 years. Does the organization Wax's father is part of know the location of the Pits of Hathsin, or otherwise have access to atium, either now (as of Alloy) or in the time period of the planned second trilogy?

Brandon Sanderson

You are on the right track

#172 Copy

Douglas

1) What benefit does Compounding copper get? Exceptionally clear and detailed memories? Memories that can be split into a new coppermind while still remaining in the Feruchemist's mind? Something else?

2) How does Feruchemical luck work? If a chromium Compounder tried his hand at day trading on the stock market, what would happen? Would it make him choose stocks that were coincidentally going to go up anyway? Would it change stock prices by altering the world around him? Would it fail because the required scale of action is too large? Something else?

Brandon Sanderson

So, I've said before that I want to hold off on talking about different forms of compounding and types of twinborn until I can address them in the series. So I'll have to RAFO the first two.

#173 Copy

Douglas

What benefit does an aluminum savant get? Yes, I know this would normally never happen because aluminum burns itself up. Suppose a mad scientist with a willing Mistborn test subject shoved a feeding tube down the Mistborn's throat to pump in a continuous stream of aluminum, replenishing it steadily so there's always a new unburned supply. Add another tube to pump out excess water if necessary. What would he discover? Alternatively, what would Sazed with his Shard-granted knowledge know?

Brandon Sanderson

Ha, that IS a little silly of a method. However, on the extreme end of aluminum, I have in the notes the possibility of cleansing the spirit of unwanted effects of other Investitures. You'd get really good at this, and maybe even be able to cleanse the body of other impurities.

#175 Copy

NinjaMeTimbers

What would happen if you gave [a mistwraith] a spike imbued with steel Allomancy? I'm assuming that wouldn't be enough to grant it sentience but could it then use steel powers? Can you give Allomantic powers to a kandra?

Brandon Sanderson

Hemalurgy can give Allomantic powers to a kandra. The process to do so is not known to anyone but Harmony.

#177 Copy

NinjaMeTimbers

How intelligent is a mistwraith? Could you raise and train mistwraiths like dogs or horses, controlling what forms they take by the bones you give them? Would you be able to train yourself a horsewraith steed by giving it only the bones of a horse?

Brandon Sanderson

This is feasible. One thing to keep in mind is that mistwraiths are people who have a blockage between the Physical and the Cognitive Realm, messing with their ability to think. Think of them as mentally-stunted people. There's enough there to train, but then you have to dig into the ethics of it...

#178 Copy

astalduath

I am formerly a Sergeant in the United States Army Reserves. Having read all of your work except for your Wheel of Time additions, I couldn't help but to see that you have a good grasp of leadership displayed in your writing. When I finished reading the scene in The Way of Kings about Kaladin ordering Bridge Four to carry their bridge into battle in a way that would protect them, but ended up causing defeat for the rest of the army, you wrote a well described contrast between an NCO and a high ranking officer (not saying an officer would act like Sadeas by the means of using bridge men like he does), and how the two types of leaders look at battle. I was wondering, do you draw from your own experiences, or study others, or something entirely different you use when you write leadership roles in your characters and how they act in different situations utilizing that trait?

Brandon Sanderson

That's very flattering to hear. I've made a study of leadership in many different areas, the military being one of them. It's a topic that fascinates me, and I try hard to get it right. I wouldn't say I have any practical experience in it, unfortunately--just a lot of study, questioning, and curiosity.

#179 Copy

Karkat Vantas

Does the Physical Realm of the cosmere have more or less the same structure as our own? It's obvious from Mistborn that solar systems function as they do in our universe, but it's less obvious if there are galaxies, clusters, superclusters, and so forth. Are there?

If the cosmere does have the same structure as our own, are the Shardworlds all in the same general area (a galaxy, for example), or are they completely spread out?

Brandon Sanderson

Good question. I designed the cosmere to have much the same structure, but imagined the action happening in a compact dwarf galaxy. Still a lot going on, but far, far fewer stars and systems than our own.

#181 Copy

JamesW

You said that Preservation created the Terris Prophecies. Why couldn't Ruin see into the future and counter Preservation's plan? Is it because Ruin's intent has him focusing more on the present than the future, while Preservation (wanting to preserve forever) looks more into the future for that goal.

Brandon Sanderson

Looking into the future was not something Ruin was good at doing. That ability is confined to certain shards, and not others.

#183 Copy

zebobes

Since Allomancy is powered by burning metal, isn't Scadrial going to eventually start running out of metal?

Hmmm... is that why there's a space trilogy? They have to mine asteroids and other planets for their metal?

Brandon Sanderson

It could happen. However, it's not really a danger with the current population of Allomancers. There just aren't enough of them.

#184 Copy

Nesh

So some of us happened across a line in [Mistborn: The Final Empire] that gave us pause. It's in the chapter 19 epigraph:

"Not so Kwaan. In a way, he is as unlikely a prophet as I am a hero. He never had an air of ceremonious wisdom - nor was he even a religious scholar. When we first met, he was studying one of his ridiculous interests in the great Khlenni library--I believe he was trying to determine whether or not trees could think."

This sounded to us like Kwaan the Terrisman might have been looking into or might have known something about Realmatics, like for instance knowing of the Realms and that things have aspects in all three. Is this the case? If so, was such knowledge common among his people or Scadrial?

Brandon Sanderson

Realmatic theory was part of the ancient Terris religion.

#192 Copy

Cheese Ninja

Do you ever plan to continue "I Hate Dragons"? I have a theory that Skip does not have a separate knack to make him smell delicious to dragons, but rather that he is high in levels of human magical potential, which the dragons need in their diet.

Brandon Sanderson

Perhaps. I've got a few more chapters than I've posted. Including some viewpoints from the most powerful magical sword ever created. Most powerful...in that he has the most powers. Thousands of them. All useless.

#193 Copy

XFER

Are you planning to include a gay character in the second book of The Stormlight Archive? I know there is that bridge guy, but I mean a character with some weight on the book. Would be cool.

Brandon Sanderson

I've tried to be more GLBT aware in recent years, but I want to be careful. Doing it poorly could be more insulting than doing it not at all. Having Ryan, the real world Drehy from Bridge Four, as a friend does at least give me access to someone who can give early feedback and tell me where I might be going wrong. So let's just say maybe.

#194 Copy

XFER

And I saw on facebook about the discussion about the name of the second book. This is more like a request, please, keep the name of it being The Book Of Endless Pages. That title is awesome! Oh and another suggestion, please, keep making huge books! Now, after reading your books, I expect books to be at least 600 pages, so you can see I get disappointed quite often lol

Brandon Sanderson

I will keep the books, in this series at least, long. It's what the story demands. As for title...it does have a certain charm, but I worry that it just feels wrong to too many people. Three out of four laugh when I mention it. That doesn't bode well...

#197 Copy

Master_Moridin

Why aren't seons affected by the lack of a chasm line in their Aon?

Brandon Sanderson

If they tried to actualize their Aon, it would have an undesirable result. In addition, the chasm broke their bond to the humans they were tied to, and you can see the result of that. So they were affected.

#198 Copy

Nesh

There's also been a long standing debate on whether an Allomacer could burn the One Ring, stance on that?

Brandon Sanderson

Burn the One Ring, eh? I think it's such a powerfully Invested object that it would be very, very dangerous to try.

Event details
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Name 17th Shard Forum Q&A
Date
Date Sept. 25, 2012
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Entries 198
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