General Reddit 2016

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Name General Reddit 2016
Date Jan. 1, 2016
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#1 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

The Lord Ruler died because he had filled his bracers with a large amount of youthfulness, and had to keep drawing it out to stay young--as his soul knew how hold it was, and his body kept trying to 'bounce back' to its perceived age. Compounding is how he gained enough extra youthfulness to pull this off.


Actually, I have a question about the 'bouncing-back'.

Is the 'bounce back force' actually what's stored in a metalmind?

For instance, when storing atium a feruchemist ruins his body to make himself old, and then his metalmind 'catches' the force the soul puts out as it tries to restore his true, younger age?

So you create metalminds by seesawing a ruining and a preserving impulse together.

Brandon Sanderson

The bounce back is caused by the relationship between the three realms of the cosmere. What you're saying isn't terribly far off, but at the same time, ignores some underpinning fundamentals of how it all works.

In the cosmere, your soul is basically an idealized version of yourself--and is a constant force pushing your body to match it. Your perceptions are the filter through which this happens, however, and many of the magics can facilitate in interesting ways.

#2 Copy


In the third Mistborn novel, Marsh's view was shown briefly but what I want to see is a story were one is a main character. This could show many cool stories like, Marsh's training to become an inquisitor (bit like scary hogwarts) or others.


[Brandon], any chance you could squeeze this into the upcoming cosmere short story collection?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm sure I'll do some more Marsh viewpoints eventually, but I have my hands full getting things ready for the collection. (Plus, it has multiple stories from Scadrial already. It's Roshar we're missing.)

#3 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

I've mentioned sequels to Elantris and Warbreaker, though I'm not sure if I should count those or not, as I don't view them as a series in the same way. They were both written as stand-alone novels, and when I return, I intend them to be more return to the worlds as opposed to returns to specific characters.


I don't know if can accept that. I want more Raoden and Sarene. Despite the so-called "flaws" with Elantris, it's my favorite book/world.

Brandon Sanderson

I understand, and there's a chance I might revise my original outline. But I intended from the start to do these as more "Anne McCaffrey" style sequels--where the main characters from one book become side characters in the next. We'll see.


The fact that you have acknowledged and responded to this means I have nowhere else to go except to accept what your intended direction is. Doesn't mean I can't remind you that Lessa appears in the following books...

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, and I do intend main characters from Elantris to appear as side characters in sequels, maybe even with viewpoints and subplots. But I intend to pull a Dragonquest, where the main focus shifts to someone else. (In this case, Kiin's children.)

#4 Copy


I think wines in Stormlight are more similar to fermented juice than alcoholic beverages, the word wine is just the closest thing in English to whatever they are saying in Alethi.


I guess you're right. With all the storms, I don't think they can grow grapevines.

Just like the word 'chicken' seems to be used where we would use 'bird'. :)

Brandon Sanderson

This is correct; these are both several examples of linguistic broadening and semantic change in Vorin languages.

When and Alethi says "wine" they generally mean "alcohol." Though some of them are fermented juices, much of what they drink wouldn't seem like wine to you at all. Several that the Alethi lighteyes are fond of are akin to a harder liquor with an infusion. In others, the colorings are added for the same reason we add coloring to a cola--for convenience, feel, and tradition more than taste. A character in Book Three finds themselves in possession of some distilled Horneater liquor, and it's colorless.

#5 Copy


Do rebellious Alethi teens ever mix together red wine and yellow wine so they can be all 'see parents, I'm just drinking orange, that's nonalcoholic'.

Brandon Sanderson

There aren't as strong a set of taboos on underage drinking in Alethi society as there are in ours. I'd imagine that what you say has happened, but wouldn't be too common.

#6 Copy


Are the House bios etc. for the game considered canon?

Brandon Sanderson

Short version: no.

Long version: Crafty needs too much new material for their games for me to provide. I'd be spending hours and hours on backstory, and none on writing new books. We tried, at first, to make it all canon, but it was too time consuming. We do look it over, and try to catch any big errors, but the problem is that if I want to write more stories in Mistborn, I can't be bound by what the games have included.

That said, I'm mostly worried about extrapolations of the magic in this regard. (They need to be able to include powers and abilities that are good for gameplay, for example, and need to let people use metals in ways that the stories haven't explored yet.) I highly doubt there would be any reason at all to contradict the information about the houses and their bios, which looks solid to me, and in no need of revision.

So it's more of a "Yes, you can treat this as canon, but know that in some extreme cases it's possible I'll rewrite it in fiction."

#7 Copy


In Sanderson's most recent lecture (50:25 in) to his BYU Writing Class, he mentions that Alethkar natives resemble Asians. This came as a bit of a surprise to me, especially since I always imagined the Shin as the "Asians" of that world.

Brandon Sanderson

It's a little more complicated than I might have made it seem. Alethkar natives other than the Shin have the epicanthic fold, but the Alethi wouldn't look strictly Asian to you--they'd look like a race that you can't define, as we don't have them on earth. I use half-Asian/half-arab or half-asian/half-Polynesian models as my guide some of the time, but Alethi are going to have a tanner skin than some of those.

Some Horneaters might look Caucasian to you--but then, most will not. They'll seem like something alien, and not all of them have light skin; they tend to walk a spectrum between pale and coppery. Reshi and Herdazians will look closest to something like an indigenous Bolivian.

Shin would look the closest to Caucasian to you, but again, they're not an Earth ethnicity. So you might not be able to place them either.

A lot of the fanart has done a good job with this, and if you search through it, it might help you get an idea.

#8 Copy

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.

#9 Copy


How about the Iriali and Alethi mix we have going on with Adolin and Renarin? Where would this put them within the chibi figures? I have always had a hard time trying to figure out how they would look like due to their mix ethnicity. I have ideas... of course, but I'd be great to have confirmation.

Brandon Sanderson

They're gong to have lighter skin, but skin tone isn't something Alethi pay much attention to. Hair and eye color is what draws their attention. Dalinar and Kaladin will be darker than Adolin and Renarin, though none of them would look Caucasian to us. Of course, Caucasians have varied skin tone as well, so it's hard to say specifically what they'd look like. (As a note, Renarin/Adolin are a Riran/Alethi mix--not exactly Iriali/Alethi, as there's some slightly different genetics going on there.)


Oh I thought Riran and Iriali were the same... Where did I go wrong?

Brandon Sanderson

I can't say much without giving spoilers, but there are small differences.


Would be cool if you ever got the chance to sit down with a sketch artist to put out images of your visualization of how some of these characters look.

Brandon Sanderson

It would be fun, though I've done this (in a small way) with Ben McSweeny, who does a lot of art for my books. I have semi-official character sketches I use for my own descriptive purposes, but I don't consider them close enough in some ways to be canon, so we don't release them or put them in the books. That said, some of them might be floating around on the internet--I'm not sure.

One thing I wish I'd done was nudge Michael Whalen to push his Kaladin on the cover of Words of Radiance a little further to be a little more ethnically Alethi--as I think it would help people's visualizations of him. But the one we ended up with is already the third version of Kaladin he did for that painting, and each one was increasingly better--I felt bad pushing him further.

As a side note, I've always loved this fanart for Rock. I don't know if there's a more on-target picture of one of my characters out there:

#10 Copy


In the first book the group is focused on getting control of the palace and is not worried about the return of the army because they think that if they get the palace they'll have the atium and, thus, the ability to pay for the loyalty of the army, since they're mercenaries. Well they didn't find the atium, right? So no ability to pay the old army for their loyalty. I'm just saying that it seems to me that the absence of the Lord Ruler's army supporting the city should be a huge indication to all the other warlords that the atium isn't in Elend's possession.

People have been saying that he wouldn't have anyone to trade with so the atium would be worthless but he would have had a year to work out trade with someone if he wanted to monetize it (with as valuable as atium is made out to be in the first book he would have found someone wanting to buy some even if he couldn't get the price the Lord Ruler charged for it).

Brandon Sanderson

Ah! Well, that makes sense. I certainly think some people in world might have come to this conclusion. But they'd still think the atium must be somewhere in the city, even if Elend doesn't have/isn't spending it.

However, I think the issue is a little less cut and dry. For one thing, Elend DOES have the loyalty of much of the local army--the garrison serves him now, which would be an indication that he has access to some of the Lord Ruler's resources. I don't think the lack of a larger army would be an indication he doesn't have the atium, however.

Let's say you were a small band, and were able to seize and control Ft Knox, and get the guards stationed there to serve you. The president is dead, and the country is fragmenting into city-states.

A senator from a nearby state might easily round up the military in his area, promise them that he's the new civil authority--then push them to go seize the gold. When they arrived, they wouldn't think, "Why is their force so small? They must not actually have the gold." They'd think, "They're ripe for the picking. We got here first."

That's basically what is happening. The "Lord Ruler's Army" doesn't exist any more--it's fragmented, taken over by various groups who ruled their own local regions. And the bulk of the most frightening part, the koloss, are their own uncertain band.

#11 Copy


Can Cadmium bubbles be nested if you have multiple Pulsers?

Bonus Question: add in duralumin/nicrosil to the equation.



The effects multiply.



I guess hiring 3-4 Pulsers before something you have to prepare for might be worth it. They create their bubbles one after the other at the same place, and boom, you have days instead of minutes.

Ok, lets calculate. We don't have exact figures for cadmium, but we have for bendalloy: 2 minutes into 15 seconds, that's a ratio of 8. 4 Pulsers mean 84 = 4096 ratio. So 21 second for every day goes by for every day you spend in there.

The outer Pulser burns this 168.75 second's worth of cadmium, the first inner one needs 22.5 minutes, the second inner one needs 3 hours and the innermost needs the 24 hours.

So basically for every day spent in these bubbles you need ~27.5 hours worth of cadmium, depending on how routinely they set up the bubbles one after the other.


Wait, are you mixing up sliding and pulsing? I also think you are nesting your bubbles but not your pulsers, so you are losing a lot of efficiency not to mention practicality.

Tell me if I'm misinterpreting what you're describing, but this is how I'm visualizing it:

I'm saying that you get 4 pulsers huddled together and the one that can open the biggest bubble goes first. Then the next largest one pops his. Then the next. And finally the smallest bubble fires.

In that scenario (unless there is something that prevents this) I picture it like this:

This method, 170 days pass only burning 4 hours worth of cadmium.

Well. I'm gonna do it. Gonna page /u/mistborn and ask: is this possible? Can time bubbles be nested like so and if they can do you truly get this kind of efficiency?

crosses fingers

Brandon Sanderson

This one is a RAFO. :)

#12 Copy


As another note, I think it's cool that the Cognitive Realm on different planets have similarities, but different styles, like the beads on Roshar vs the Mist on Scadrial. I assume all worlds have something related to this. (?)

I'm reading (listening to) Warbreaker currently, and I'm curious as to what the Cognitive Realm on Nalthis looks like. I imagine a neutral gray wasteland to represent nonliving matter (metal/rocks) and glowing clouds of color to represent people--glowing more powerfully if they have more breaths, no color if they are a drab--and less colorful more solid structures for once-living-matter. Similar situation with the whole "water is land, land is whatever the fuck the planet wants".

Brandon Sanderson

You'll eventually figure out what Shadesmar looks like on Nalthis.


Are there any big plans for the world of Warbreaker beyond the sequel? Or would that be a RAFO (equally exciting)?

Brandon Sanderson

That's a RAFO.

#13 Copy


Dalinar's visions: at the end they are revealed to be a "journal", where his interactions are superfluous. How does this explain the vision where he fought the smoke creatures with a fire poker? There his actions were having an impact.

Brandon Sanderson

We get into this in the next book with some vivid examples. So it's a RAFO--but with a promise that an explanation is coming.

#14 Copy


If I remember correctly, Allomancy is from Preservation, Hemalurgy is from Ruin and Feruchemy is from both Preservation and Ruin.


This is correct. It isn't caused by a shard, but the interaction of two opposing shards


Would something like that happen between honor and odium?


I just read WoK the other day, I have yet to start in on WoR. That said, my speculation is possibly, but I don't think so. It sounds kind of like Odium isn't from Roshar. Maybe I'm wrong there, but I got that impression. That would mean his form of investiture is somewhere else.

Also, I think that the reason Preservation and Ruin have Feruchemy is also that they worked together to create. There has to be some reason that they interacted while others didn't, and I would guess it is probably their working together

Edit: We could summon [Brandon] but I am almost positive this would get RAFO'd

Brandon Sanderson


#15 Copy


Was Hoid a Feruchemist before he ever got to Scadrial?

I remember reading this somewhere but I can't find it. Not sure if it is a theory or a WoB.

Brandon Sanderson

I don't believe I ever said anything like that.

Footnote: Brandon has said that Hoid uses Feruchemy to know where he needs to go in the cosmere. He has also said that it may not necessarily be Feruchemy, but something similiar based on the same underlying mechanics.
#16 Copy


Still not sure what the multiple mist spirits were that warded off Marsh in the deleted version of the ending - I've heard speculation they were somehow kandra (justifying the mistwraith name). Do you remember what was going on there?

By the way, the knife leras is carrying around. Would people call that a shard blade ;)?

Brandon Sanderson

What a nice, heaping pile of RAFOs you have there, Phantine.

#17 Copy


Did you pre-write the Kelsier stuff for Secret History, or did you just outline the events ahead of time?

Brandon Sanderson

Kelsier was notes, though detailed ones. They might mostly worked out. I believe there was one "thought" a character has in HERO that I had written to be influenced by Kelsier, but turned out to be logistically impossible. I worked on Secret History itself on and off for years before finishing it last fall.


Was that thought the one Sazed has in his fight with Marsh?

Those weren't coins, a voice seemed to whisper.

The bag Marsh shot at you. Those weren't coins.

Brandon Sanderson

Yup, that's it.

Moving the well, playing with where Kelsier was, and the physics of moving through perpendicularities between Realms all kind of combined to make what I had planned originally there not work. I tried fudging things so Kelsier could be there, and felt it was dishonest to the rules. So I didn't let him stray far enough from the Well to talk to Sazed there. Peter had thought for years that was Kelsier, I recall, and was sad we couldn't connect them.


I don't suppose you'd be willing to share with us who the new, canonical voice in Sazed's head is?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm afraid I probably won't ever go into this. At some point, you risk twisting and turning too much. I have a canon answer in my head, but for readers, it will probably need to remain ambiguous--with "it was simply him coming up with it on his own" being a valid option.

#18 Copy


When I asked you during a signing about how Rayse took down the other shards, you RAFOd it. Was that because it will be explicitly covered at some point in the series, or more because the subject will affect things later (possibly vaguely answering my question) and you dont want the info to get out too early?

And can you give anything on when it might be touched on? Front five, back five, book five?

Brandon Sanderson

There are a ton of reasons, and you've touched on several. It will be touched on increasingly going forward, but I'm not going to say when (firmly) it will be discussed in depth.

#20 Copy


What is the biggest change you've made based on alpha/beta reader feedback? (This goes for any of your books)

Brandon Sanderson

Probably adding Adolin as a main viewpoint character in the first book, which was done because I had trouble striking the balance between Dalinar worrying he was mad, and being a proactive, confident character. Worried better to externalize some of the, "Am I mad" into his son worrying "My dad has gone crazy" while letting Dalinar be more confident that his visions were something important. (I still let him worry a little, of course, but in the original draft, he felt temperamental from vacillation between these two extremes.)

Bringing Adolin to the forefront in the books has had a huge ripple effect through them, as I've been very fond of how his character has been playing out.


May I ask why you choose to use Adolin as the viewpoint character to supplement Dalinar as opposed to Renarin? My understanding is Renarin has always been the "most important brother" within SA, which made me wonder why, based on the beta readers comments, you ultimately decided to use Adolin and not your established character to bring forward the dilemma.

I am, obviously, extremely fond of how Adolin has been played out so far and while I have no idea where he is going (but zillions of theories), I am curious to know what his initial purpose in the story was. Did you draft the character's personality just for WoK's needs or did you have an idea of what to do with him when you made the change?

Brandon Sanderson

I was well aware that I needed certain things about Renarin to remain off-screen until later books, and him being a viewpoint character early would undermine these later books.

Adolin is a happy surprise and works exactly because he doesn't need to be at the forefront, even after I boosted his role. With Adolin, what you see is really what you get, which is refreshing in the books--but it also means I don't need huge numbers of pages to characterize him, delve into his backstory, etc. He works as a side character who gives more to the story than he demands pages to fullfill that giving, if that makes sense. Renarin is more like a pandora's box. Open him up, and we're committed to a LOT of pages. (Good pages, but that was the problem with TWOK Prime--everyone was demanding so many pages, from Renarn, to Jasnah, to Kaladin, to Taln, that none of their stories could progress.)

Adolin has basically always had the same personality, from TWOK Prime, through the original draft of the published TWOK, to the revision. The changes to making him more strong a viewpoint character were very natural, and he has remained basically the same person all along--just with an increased role in the story, and more development because of it.

I do discovery write character, usually, as a method of keeping the books from becoming slaves to their outlines. This means that Adolin has gone some new directions, but it's been a growth from the person he was in TWOK Prime. (Which you'll be able to see when I release it, sometime in the hopefully not distant future.)

#22 Copy


What were you dissatisfied with in WoR?

Brandon Sanderson

It's twofold. Spoilers follow, obviously.

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

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

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

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

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

#23 Copy


Can you tell us who the main interlude character is for this book? Like Szeth for TWoK and Eshonai for WoR.

Brandon Sanderson



We know that the recurring interlude character is typically one who plays an important role in events, but is currently not interacting directly with the other characters. My guess is that it's Jasnah this time, as she slowly makes her way back to civilization, or explores Shadesmar.

Brandon Sanderson

You are correct in that it's someone important, but generally unconnected. It's also, generally, going to be someone who hasn't had a large number of viewpoints so far. It does give a spoiler if I say who it is for this book, though.


Because it's someone we believe to be dead / somewhere else / something along those lines? Kind of like giving away the protagonist of Secret History is a spoiler in and of itself?

Brandon Sanderson

It's not as big a spoiler as that; it will just set you wondering about something else that IS a spoiler. This will make sense when the book is out. (Feel free to ask my rationale when it's out.)


Is it Tezim, the god-priest of the Tukari? I'd love to see an interlude focused on him. There have been many hints that there is something really unusual happening there.

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO. :)

#24 Copy


I'm a big fan of Harmony.


Probably will never happen but I'd love to see him put the smackdown on Odium.


Paging [Brandon]... what do you think of this theory :) ? Is this your plan? Or are we asking about something which is decade(s) away?

Brandon Sanderson

I find theories like this very interesting, but yes, you're right. This is talking about things very far away. I've said, however, that Odium is wary of Harmony.


It seems like Odium has been attacking shards that share a world for some reason (dom and dev hon and cult). Maybe his exploit against dual sharded worlds would work less well against a dual-wielding shardholder?

Brandon Sanderson

I won't say yes or no to that, but you can imagine that what happened on Scadrial is something he would have preferred never occur.


I'm surprised it didn't occur to anyone to grab two shards to begin with? Pairing Odium with Devotion seems like a good idea.

Did this not occur for a specific reason, or just an oversight on the part of the folks involved?

Brandon Sanderson


#25 Copy


Does emotional Allomancy work on animals?

Brandon Sanderson

Emotional Allomancy requires a certain level of sapience.


So dolphins, oragutans, mistwraiths and parrots might work?

Brandon Sanderson

I was intentionally vague. :)


Huh, so that would mean that divine Breath (or just regular Breath?) works in a completely different underlying mechanism than emotional Allomancy in providing that calming effect for animals and children. I had previously thought it was just an overlap in abilities.

Brandon Sanderson

There is an overlap. But it involves playing with Spiritwebs and/or the Cognitive Realm.

#26 Copy


While rereading HoA I decided to do a bit of research on an informant. But I also found another interesting tidbit on Theoryland.

This WoB. It implies TenSoon is eventually going to be able to reconnect with Vin, or at least, someone with Hemalurgic spikes is going to be able to communicate with someone that's departed to "The Beyond" (or the Spiritual Realm)...

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, this looks like one where I was tired from answering a lot of questions, and was thinking about Kelsier--I was really excited to write Secret History back then. I realize that it wouldn't make sense for Kelsier to want to talk to TenSoon, but you'd be surprised the things that you say sometimes when you're trying to write in someone's book, keep yourself from giving too many spoilers, but also answer questions. You can go on auto-pilot sometimes for a minute or two, answering questions that my brain THINKS someone asks, when it's not one they actually asked. Or mashing together two questions, and having a kind of crossed-wires brain moment. You can see me do this on Reddit sometimes too, if you look back through my history. I often catch it and edit to explain myself, but not always This was during the era when I was heavily laying foreshadowing to fans for Kelsier's return, so it wouldn't feel like a cheat when I eventually got to Secret History. So I was looking for opportunities to talk about people with spikes communicating with the Cognitive Realm. I can't remember. There's also a possibility that I was still contemplating Vin staying, which she could have done, as someone who'd carried one of the powers. Either way, I made the call that even bringing Kelsier back was dangerous for undermining consequences, and having Vin hang around would be counter to her character arc and the arc of the stories. So Vin and TenSoon won't be talking any time soon. Sorry to shut down conversation on this one, and sorry to lead you on.

#27 Copy


Does this [map of Roshar] look like a storm to anyone else?

Brandon Sanderson

I was searching for something that at once felt organic, but would hint at a pattern. (Much like cymatic patterns, as referenced in the first book.) Fractals and mathematical functions became my go-to place to hunt, as I like the blend of structure and spontaneity they can sometimes exhibit. The slice of the Julia Set was the one that stuck with me as feeling perfect for Roshar. As the continent was specifically grown by Adonalsium, you now know the seed that was used in-world to create it.

The fact that it looked like a swirling cloud is part of this all--but also part of the connection between natural patterns and the underlying math, which is a primary theme of the Stormlight books. So yes, it SHOULD look like a storm--but for deeper reasons than you might assume.


I asked Isaac recently, but he suggested you might be the right person for this - do you have a specific equation for the Julia set you used to generate Roshar? I know it resembles a few easily Google-able images of (shadows of slices of) Julia sets, but I was curious if had specific numbers here.

Brandon Sanderson

I don't have any numbers I could give you. Sorry. I might be able to find them, if I looked, but it would take more time than I'd like.

#28 Copy


As the continent was specifically grown by Adonalsium


Brandon Sanderson

Roshar predates the Shattering. I've spoken of this before, haven't I?


Maybe somewhere before, and obviously most planets existed before the shattering (Planets are pretty old) but I don't think you've ever mentioned Roshar (the continent) being specifically grown by Adonalsium.

Is this a normal thing that Adonalsium did or was Roshar special to him in some way?

A quick search reveals that you have mentioned that Roshar was named Roshar before the Shattering but nothing mentioned about it being grown by Adonalsium. It makes sense though, that shape is obviously not natural.

Brandon Sanderson

There are many things that are unique about Roshar, but it wasn't the only world created in this way.

#31 Copy


Mare is actually no-ghost fully dead, right?

Just wondering, since she's the only allomancer to ever be sentenced to the pits, so she's presumably the only person with a powerful soul to die right next to Ruin's Well.

Or is Ruin Energy inherently the type of thing that won't (can't) extend the life of a ghost?

Brandon Sanderson

There is no cognitive shadow of Mare hanging around.

#33 Copy


You have stated that each Knights Radiant Order gets their own unique ability, for lack of a better word, due to the combination of their Surges. For instance, you have stated this ability for the Windrunners is strength of squires. My question - is this due to the Nahel bond, or just inherent in the Surges combining. Would a non-Radiant get these abilities from the Honorblades, or would they be out of luck due to no Nahel bond?

Brandon Sanderson

Good question! The unique abilities have more to do with the powers interacting, same as how Twinborn will often manifest some odd side effects of the powers interacting. But there are limitations. For example, Jezrien didn't actually have any squires, as none of the Heralds did.

#34 Copy


There is something that recently was debated by some fans and I hope you may give some clue about the "side effect of interaction between magic" as was pointed in the Twinborn and Surgebinder cases: Are those "perks" stackable? To say if I am a Fullborn like Rashek, wil I have all the possible Twinborn's perks or a specific "Fullborn's perk"? And about the same topic, a Mistborn or Full Feruchemist has his own perk/perks?

Brandon Sanderson

I've worked under the premise that if you hold too many of the powers, like a Mistborn, the result is a loss of these little quirks. The mechanics of it are interesting, but I'll leave you to theorize on that sort of thing.

#35 Copy


Scadrial question: When coming up with twinborns, do you actively avoid the incredibly overpowered combinations? Something like pure steel twinborns seem extremely overpowered.

Also, can we get an idea for how many twinborns exist? Is it dozens? Hundreds? Thousands?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm going to have to talk about them eventually, but yes, I made some deliberate choices for the Alloy era heroes.

My intent is that they're very rare, but there's this problem in fiction. You can say something is very rare, but if your two main characters are that thing, readers won't FEEL it. So I avoid making too big a deal out of it either way. Either way, I don't have the numbers handy right now.

#36 Copy


Mr Sanderson, I'm really interested in the languages of SA, especially Unkalaki (Polysynthetic?). Have you actually created full conlangs for these or are they just for naming. You obviously know what you're doing.

Brandon Sanderson

I'm not done yet, but for a few of them, I'm fairly far along. Yes, Unkalaki is polysynthetic, and is the same language family as Parshendi.


how do you create your languages, do you find a language from the real world and base the structure off of that? or do you create it from scratch?

Brandon Sanderson

A little of both. It's hard to create something that doesn't have some roots in something you've seen before, however. (Even if you think that you are.)

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Are there any languages with clicks anywhere in the cosmere?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, though I'm loathe to use them in text because of how people roll their eyes at fantasy novels that try to be too cute with non-standard (meaning non western Earth) symbols in naming.

#38 Copy


I have a question about White Sand Vol 1, although this comment thread is probably not the best place to ask it.

Just wondering how you view the final product, in the range of "learning experience, next one will be different" to "amazing book, won't change a thing"? I've never published a graphic novel, and I'd love to know how you feel about it now that you're past the first volume and have the second one upcoming.

Brandon Sanderson


I'd say halfway between those two. I am very pleased with a lot of things about it. The thing that I don't think came out right is the worldbuilding, particularly the cultural worldbuilding.


That is one difference I noticed. When you describe clothing and buildings and whatnot, it sort of brings them into focus in a different way than a graphic novel (or movie) does. With the graphic novel, my brain just went "ah, they're all wearing this kind of clothing, sure. Oh, she has a Victorian style dress, that's neat." and that was kind of the end of it.

I think it might have something to do with lingering on it? Like spending a lot of time describing something can show how important a thing is to a character (or the plot), but I kind of skipped over the descriptions by glancing at the picture then returning to dialogue.

On the plus side, it helps me reinforce the fact that I need to spend more time describing things in my book.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, that's part of it. Though I don't think we got in the graphic novel some of the important worldbuilding elements, such as the armor that melts when sprayed with water, the unique forms of fighting, and the fact that the people you assume are the advanced ones (because they live in buildings instead of tents) are actually far less technologically developed than the ones who live out in the desert. (Because on this planet, that's the "good" land while the low sands are the less fertile parts.)

That was a dynamic that was very hard to get across in the book, though, and I don't know that my skill at the time was up to it. I was disappointed in the graphic novel once the colors and final art came back to discover a number of pages that looked like brave Europeans fighting savage desert people--which was the reverse of what I'd been trying to accomplish. (But is part of our cultural biases, so I'm not surprised it was how the artists ended up interpreting it. And I'm to blame for not reinforcing the idea stronger back when it could have been changed.)

#39 Copy


Just wondering, I read the old version and it was great, but will I miss out on continuity if I skip the graphic novel release? Also was Hoid in this novel? I dont remember finding him.

Brandon Sanderson

Hoid is referenced in the novel, but it's like Emperor's Soul or a few of the others, where he's only mentioned. We beefed up his presence for the graphic novel, though he'll equate to still just a cameo, because of certain cosmere timeline issues.

I don't plan to change continuity dramatically from the novel to graphic novel--just tell the same story, better. I hope that people will still read and enjoy it, but I also don't want you feeling left out if you don't get around to it.

#40 Copy


How tall would the average chasmfiend be, and how much would they weigh? On a scale from ant to Godzilla.

Brandon Sanderson

So, they're big. Not godzilla big, but larger than elephant big. On average, they're going to loom over you at about twenty feet high, which is deceptive to their size, as they're longer than tall. And some do get even bigger.

Weight, though, is a tricky matter with greatshells on Roshar. The symbiosis with spren is how they get around crushing themselves. (Even on a lower gravity planet like Roshar.)


One last question though, symbiosis is a two way relationship. The chasmfiends get a huge benefit, the ability to not immediately die. So what do the spren get out of it?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, the symbiosis is a two-way relationship. You'll find out more in future books, but suffice it to say, the spren DO get something out of the deal. (At least, when it happens naturally.)

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Brandon Sanderson

Ben's interpretation posted in this thread is the canon one. I wish I'd gotten a picture into the books. One of my regrets for Book One is not thinking to put a diagram.

One thing I worked with when writing the first book were heavy counterweights that you locked into place on one side of the bridge (at the sides) then pulled off and carted across to lock on the other side of the bridge, to change the center of gravity for maneuvering the bridge. They broke the flow too much, so I think I cut all references, but you can head-canon them if you want. I think you'd realistically need something like that to get across some of the wider chasms.

The math on bridges is a bit tricky, regardless. Even with Roshar's gravity, we had to use a Soulcast wood (one that doesn't exist on earth) for huge sections of the bridges to get a strength/weight ratio that would actually work. (Meaning, it could be carried by the numbers of bridgemen we needed after some were killed, but was still be strong enough to ride across.)

Footnote: The 'interpretation' in question is from Ben McSweeney and is attached to this entry.
Sources: Reddit
#43 Copy


Kwaan might have understood realmatic theory.

In the chapter 19 epigraph for the final empire, the author of the journal says "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."

I wonder if that means he was looking into trees have a cognitive aspect. It seemed weird to me the first time I read it, but knowing what I know about the Cosmere and Sanderson loving worldbuilding, I feel like that's what this was about.


Was pre-ascension scadrial cosmere aware?

Brandon Sanderson

The OP's theory is correct. The rest is a RAFO.

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What would happen if a Feruchemist fills, for example, a tin metalmind then mixes it to make a pewter metalmind? Does the stored attribute change? Is the Investiture gone when you melt the metal? What if he just makes it into a tin metalmind again?

Brandon Sanderson

If you make it impure, you'll keep the investiture, but won't be able to get it out. If you make it back into the same thing, you'll be fine, and can access it normally. If you try to fill it, after changing the composition to make another viable metal, it will act a little like a computer hard drive with corrupted sectors. Some of it will work for the new investiture, but you won't be able to fill it nearly as full. (Depending on how full it was before you melted down.)

This holds for basic uses of the metallurgic arts. Once you start playing with some of the more advanced parts of the magic, you can achieve different results, which are currently RAFO.


Similarly, if you were to soulcast a metal would it have similar effects of corrupting the investiture and making it inaccessible? Like if you turned a steel metalmind into pewter.

Brandon Sanderson

I've stayed away from soulcasting and forging in these types of discussions, as I feel my answers will dig too deeply and prompt more questions that, eventually, will lead to lots of RAFO type questions. I don't really want to go there--but I will say this. Changing invested objects with other magics is hard, and often requires such a force of investiture yourself, that it becomes very power-inefficient. Just like we can technically turn lead into gold right now--by spending way more money than the gold is worth.


So you could, for example, use electrolysis to dissolve a metalmind in water, then reverse the reaction later to get the investiture?

OR, better question, if you store investiture in one allotrope of iron, can your retrieve it off you change to a different allotrope?

Brandon Sanderson

I see no reason why these wouldn't work.


So would forging with the blood of a radiant(kaladin, dalinar,etc) work on a shard blade from a fallen radiant to say change who they had bonded, or how the bond was broken (to say death instead of giving up on the oath)?

Brandon Sanderson


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Ben McSweeney

Peter, are there no Misting hazekillers? If not, is there a proper term for noble Mistings trained to fight Allomancers?

Peter Ahlstrom

Well, I thought for sure there was a scene where one of the hazekillers turned out to be a Coinshot, but now I can't find it. Maybe that was in an earlier draft of one of the books...

Anyway, there's no term for that—it's just Allomancer. All Allomancers (trilogy era) are trained to fight unless they're the mental ones.

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Was anyone else completely surprised in Bands of Mourning when Wax offhandedly mentions that he and Lessie had been married?

I don't remember any mention of Wax and Lessie being married before that point in the series. Together, yes. But married, not at all.

Did I just miss it? Or did /u/mistborn forget to mention it in earlier books? (Or did he slip in some hand wavy retconning and hope no one noticed)?

Brandon Sanderson

This is one of those things that editors kept trying to change back, but which I insisted stay as it's not a contradiction to the earlier book. Wax's thinking of her in this way is a kind of unconscious defense against what his mind perceives as an attempt by society to wipe her out of existence and force him to move on.


I appreciate that the intention here was for Wax's state of mind to feel a little off.

Still, with the concrete way he thinks of the relationship as a marriage, with how he remembers the specifics of a ceremony, it's hard for me to resolve your statement that "Wax and Lessie never had a real ceremony" with the conflicting statements in the text (emphasis mine)—

At the very beginning of chapter 1, Wax and Wayne are talking, Wax casually mentions that it's his second marriage and Wayne doesn't bat an eye:

“You gonna be all right?” Wayne asked.

“Of course I am,” Wax said. “This is my second marriage. I’m an old hand at the practice by now.”

Then, after Wax gets to the church and is getting dressed, he muses further on his previous wedding:

Then, after a moment’s hesitation, he strapped on his gunbelt and slid Vindication into her holster. He’d worn a gun to his last wedding, so why not this one?

And finally, Wax contemplates the actual ceremony as he and Steris are walking "down the aisle":

Wax found himself smiling. This was what Lessie had wanted. They’d joked time and time again about their simple Pathian ceremony, finalized on horseback to escape a mob. She said that someday, she’d make him do it proper.

With all three of these in short succession, Wax clearly establishes that 1. he was married before to Lessie (at least in his head), and 2. there was some kind of wedding ceremony (was this in his head, too?).

Brandon Sanderson

So, the following is how I explained it to Peter, I believe, back when he raised these objections during the editing stage. Wax and Lessie had no official marriage, though they did exchange some vows (as Wax notes, on horseback, fleeing a mob.)

Lessie gave him grief, claiming that it didn't count--that she wanted more. She wanted an actual wedding, and a piece of paper to say they were married. Wax figured this was good enough, and resisted wanting to do something more formal. It was his whole, "I am the law" thing he had out in the Roughs. Focus on what matters, not what paper-pushers might claim he should do.

Over the years, they talked about getting married for real, and he started to think of the day they would. (Shifting his focus away from thinking of "my wife" but instead of kind of a long-term betrothed/common law wife.) When he lost her, and moved to Elendel, his viewpoint shifted. He wanted more and more to treat what they'd had as a legitimate marriage, for fear that what he and Lessie had would be wiped awaystamped out, by something more grand that society was demanding of him.

So while the event never changed, his perception of it certainly did. I intended for it to be contradictory, but only subtly so, and this is one of those things that I didn't feel like it was right to do in the text. (Much like Wayne's dislike of Steris for stealing Wax away from him and from the memory of Lessie--but this sentiment slowly shifting into a protectiveness of her as she reached the "inside" circle and gained legitimacy by making Wax happy.)

These are things that the characters themselves don't realize, and while I'll occasionally hang a lantern on them, sometimes I just leave it unspoken and subject to interpretation. If every little thing gets spelled out in the text, then I am left feeling that we're being too on the nose.

That said, once in a while, things like this DO annoy Peter. He'd prefer I pin the text down on things that seem to contradict one another.

#47 Copy


In Alloy of Law, Wayne says he read a book with talking rabbits, which is referenced again in Bands of Mourning. I'm all but certain this is a reference to Watership Down. In Bands of Mourning there's a bit where Wayne says he read a book where seven convicts stole a spaceship or something, and it's clearly a reference, but I'm not sure what it's a reference to. Does anyone know? Preliminary Google searches turned up only a TV show called Blake's 7, which seems unlikely to be the reference, since it's not actually a book.

Peter Ahlstrom

Both of these are references to books that exist on Scadrial, not our world. Watership Down is not the only book (even in our world) from the point of view of rabbits. (Don't forget Rabbit Hill!)


I believe you when you say that there are books about talking rabbits on Scadrial, but at one point in the Wax & Wayne books, they make a reference to talking rabbits, and then the word "fiver" is used. Fiver is one of the characters in Watership Down. Brandon is definitely using a play on words to reference a classic novel from our world.

Peter Ahlstrom

Oh yeah. I forgot the fiver thing. Nevertheless, it could be a complete coincidence, because talking like that is consistent with Wayne's character. :)

#48 Copy


There was a dispute between /u/mistborn and /u/PeterAhlstrom, and last we have heard, the latter, claiming that Hoid was indeed somewhere in the Shadows for Silence, had the upper hand.

Peter Ahlstrom

Now I'm siding with Brandon on this. I think that's the final answer. :)


What you are basically saying is that some people quietly sitting in the corners of various bars, pubs, inns and taverns in Brandon's books are not mysterious nearly immortal worldhoppers... (-:

Peter Ahlstrom

Or they might be different mysterious worldhoppers than the one you're looking for.

#49 Copy


[WoB compilation about spren]

Brandon Sanderson

Hmm. With a casual glance, I see at least one here that I might have been fixated on a question that wasn't actually being asked. I do this occasionally, particularly at signings, where we're going so fast and I think someone is asking something that they're not.

In regards to there being spren bonds before the Last Desolation--there obviously were. (We see Knights Radiant in Dalinar flashbacks that are before the Last Desolation.) I think I was trying to talk my way around a different question, without giving RAFO answers, that I'm not going to get into now.

Another sketchy one on this list is regarding whether the spren call the nightwatcher Mother or if they're calling cultivation Mother. I don't think the text of the books actually implies either way, despite what I said. (Unless I'm forgetting something.) For those in the know, with the Nightwatcher being an analogue of the Stormfather, that implication is there--but I don't want to confirm it either way. You'll get more on the Nightwatcher and Cultivation, and their relationship, in the books.

#50 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

I think /u/Tellingdwar IS Tellingdwar though, which is still pretty cool. (I got the character from him.)


Wait really? I always thought it was his account that was named after the character.

Brandon Sanderson

He wore a terrisman costume to gencon one year, then was my faithful steward during a RPG session for the Mistborn game. After that, he ended up in the books.

#51 Copy


The question is, WHAT woman [is on the cover of Arcanum Unbounded]?

Peter Ahlstrom

It's Khriss, some years after White Sand. Perhaps around the time she wrote the planetary system essays that are included in the book.

#52 Copy


I'd very much like a story, even a short one, from the point of view of a spren.

Specifically a spren that is bound to a surgebinder. Syl, Glys, Pattern, etc. I'd like to see how they go from Shadesmar to crossing over and losing their thought, to slowly regaining it and forming a bond in more than one way with their surgebinder.

Brandon Sanderson

This is a matter of when, not if--but you might have to wait a few books.

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[Brandon] must have had enough of chuckles every time someone referred to Bavadin as a "he" over the past few years.....

Brandon Sanderson

Bavadin has several male personas, and has often appeared as male for one purpose or another, so it's not that much of an issue. She has more female personas, but some of the male ones are quite popular.

This won't be relevant for a long while, but as a service to the community, let me say this: try not to get too hung up on gender, race, or even human appearance where Bavadin is concerned. There are some peoples who worship entire pantheons where every member is actually her.


There are some peoples who worship entire pantheons where every member is actually her.

I think that's hilarious.

I've been meaning to ask a similar question for a few days now, I am glad someone else did and you replied. Bavadin is now instantly super interesting to me!

Brandon Sanderson

Bavadin is awesome. One regret of finally moving on from White Sand (and doing the graphic novel, instead of doing an entire trilogy myself) is because I won't get to show her off as a character for a while. It should still happen, mind you, but I have enough on my plate right now that I just can't do it all.


Eh, it's alright. The more we wait to see her, the more practice writing you will have when you do write her, and the more awesome she will be to us :) Are we going to see her in White Sand first though, or elsewhere?

I've also been talking with a couple of friends about Ambition, who happens to be a Shard I love unconditionally just because of his?her? mandate. So I should ask - how tight-lipped do you intend to be with information about it? Can we prod for a little bit of trivia, or is it too early for that?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm going to be pretty tight-lipped for now. Let's at least let White Sand finish first--you will find her in there, though her touch on the story (directly) is light. She prefers to allow her personas to become the focus of attention.

#55 Copy


I know there isn't a short story from Nalthis in the collection, but I still would have liked a Solar Map and Brief overview of the system in the Arcanum Unbounded. Maybe it could have just included the Warbreaker prologue and a link to the free download? The fact that even White Sand (an unpublished book/unfinished graphic novel) had one but Nalthis doesn't is a shame...

Brandon Sanderson

Truth is, part of me felt I'd find time for a Nalthis story at some point, but it never worked out. Edgedancer's length and involvement in the main Stormlight story sucked away the time for doing a Nalthis story. Maybe it would have just been better to stick one in, with no story, but it felt weird to me. Hindsight, looking at the book, I probably would do it if I had the chance over again.


Could the map and Khriss essay for Nalthis perhaps be released on your website/Tor's website sometime after Oathbringer's release or during the revision process for it.

Brandon Sanderson

I was thinking maybe we release it around the time of the paperback of the collection, if I can find time to get it done. But the Oathbringer release would be another good idea--maybe I'll do that instead.

#56 Copy


Since you mention languages on Roshar, are there any languages that are completely unrelated to any other on the planet?

Brandon Sanderson

Our basic language families are:

Vorin: Alethi, Veden, Herdazian, and more distantly Thaylen. Nathan is close to dead, but shares a root, and Karbranthian is basically a dialect. Other minor languages like Bav are in here.

Makabaki: Azish is king here, and most the languages around split off this. There are around thirty of these.

Dawnate: A varied language family with distant roots in the dawnchant. Shin, parshendi, Horneater. They share grammar, but they diverged long enough ago that the vocabulary is very different.

Iri: Iriali, Reshi, Purelake dialects, Riran, and some surrounding languages.

Aimian: These two are lumped together, but are very different. Probably what you were looking for.

That isn't counting spren languages, of course. I might have missed something. Typing on my phone without my wiki handy.

#57 Copy


"Your" wiki.

Oh dear, I can only imagine the contents, not to mention the chaos it would inspire over on the 17th Shard if it ever leaked. Once the Cosmere is complete in 30 years or so, do you have any plans for letting the fans peek at it?

Brandon Sanderson

When the Cosmere is complete, I will share it--or have instructions to share it when, hopefully in many years, I pass away.

#58 Copy

[joke about Birds=Chickens on Roshar]

Brandon Sanderson

See also: Eastern Rosharans using the word "Wine" for a variety of types of alcohol, when only rare imports from Shinovar actually come from a grape, and naming animals things like "hound" when they only vaguely resemble a creature from Shinovar. (Or the term silk, which is harvested from plants that float in the ocean. Or using the word 'cremling' for any kind of small crustacean or insect, which is a linguistic expansion of the word over the centuries, when there used to be two distinct terms for them.)

Vorin languages, in particular, lend themselves to this kind of simplification of terms.

#59 Copy


Hey Brandon, may I ask if the red-haired woman on the Dayside map is a kind of depiction of one of Bavadin's personas?

Brandon Sanderson

She is not. Isaac designed that border without any explicit instructions from me, so while he might have an idea of who it is, it isn't someone specifically relevant to large-scale cosmere workings.

#60 Copy


This is just a little thing I thought of that is kinda neat. Symmetry on Roshar is seen as holy, but the letter H can be used in place of another consonant without "spoiling" the symmetry.

Is this because of the spelling of the name Honor? If the H is a stand-in for the R, it makes the name symmetrical.


Where is the "h" thing mentioned?


I am copying this from somewhere else, but apparently WoR chapter 47. (I guess i tagged the post wrong, but it's just barely a spoiler anyway.)

""Bajerden? Nohadon? Must people have so many names?" "One is honorific," Shallan said. His original name wasn't considered symmetrical enough. Well, I guess it wasn't really symmetrical at all, so the ardents gave him a new one centuries ago." "But ... the new one isn't symmetrical either." "The 'h' sound can be for any letter," Shallan said absently. "We write it as the symmetrical letter, to make the word balance, but add a diacritical mark to indicate it sounds like an h so the word is easier to say." "That - One can't just pretend that a word is symmetrical when it isn't!" Shallan ignored his sputtering [...]"


Is this similar to the many interpretations of the spelling and pronunciation of YHWH?

Brandon Sanderson

Hebrew, among a few other languages, is an inspiration for some languages in the cosmere. (One of them is Alethi.) That said, in this case it's more like how in some Asian countries, they would give honorific names to famous scholars or rulers after they pass away.

#61 Copy


Quick question, years ago 2011 or '12 I was in Draper, Utah for training (army). There was a trainer there named skarstead (spelling maybe different ). He said he was in a writing group with you and you named Skar (Stormlight Archive) after him. Is this true?

Brandon Sanderson

That would be Ethan. He's still in my writing group, and Skar is indeed based on him. Ethan is one of my best friends, to this day, and a hell of a person.

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Leras mentioned something like Cephandrius had the choice/chance to take up a Shard but declined. So was the Shattering an event that was predicted to happen so that people like Leras, Ati, Rayse, etc to be present at that time to pick up the Shards after the Shattering.

Brandon Sanderson

There's more to it than that, but some of what you say is close.

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Is Cephandrius the real name of the character who goes by different names on different planets?

Brandon Sanderson

No, but it's one of his earliest aliases.


I'm positive this is RAFO bait but would one of Hoid's aliases possibly be Cephandrius?

Brandon Sanderson

Hoid is Cephandrius. It's less an alias and more a long term identity. If you read Dragonsteel, it is super obvious.

#66 Copy


I have to say though, I don't get annoyed by the fact that you want to write the side projects, but I do get perplexed by how big the State of the Sanderson is getting. You keep adding more things that I want to read, and it gets no closer to getting written! I've been waiting for a sequel to Warbreaker for 7 years now, and a sequel for the Rithmatist for over 3 years, and I've been getting excited about Silence Divine and Dark One for years just reading the chapters or descriptions you've read out at signings. Now you're adding a novel set on Threnody, and one on Silverlight?


Brandon Sanderson

Original Cosmere sequence (from around 2003 or so.)

Core books:

Dragonsteel (7 books)

Mistborn (9 books)

Stormlight (10 books)

Elantris (3 books.)

Secondary stories

Unnamed Vasher prequel (1 book)

White Sand (3 books)

Unnamed Threnody novel. (1 book.)

Aether of Night. (1 book.)

Silence Divine (1 book.)

This version was after I decided I'd trim back Aether of Night, but felt confident that Dragonsteel would be coming out soon. (I tried a rebuilt version of it in 2007.)

By 2011, some things had changed. First, I'd rewritten Stormlight, and had sucked Bridge Four off of Yolen, following Dalinar (who had been moved to Roshar for the first draft of TWOK.) Warbreaker had been given a sequel. Dragonsteel, having lost the entire bridge four sequence, refocused to be more about Hoid and shrunk from seven books to between 3 and five, depending on what I decided needed to go there. Silverlight had grown from just a place I referenced to a place I wanted to do a complete story for. And, of course, Mistborn got another era. (Dark One also moved to the cosmere somewhere in here.)

So, a lot of these have been brewing all along, and I haven't really been adding that many books--I've actually been shrinking the numbers as I feel certain things combine, and work better together than alone.

I still suspect we'll end up in the 40 book range, but most of the new ideas for the cosmere I have, I try to limit to novellas so that we don't end up with too many promised books.


Thanks for the answer! I'm going to go ahead and believe there are even more books hidden in your outline you've never talked about because that makes me feel better, especially something like Skyward (since I remember you saying that was YA).

Brandon Sanderson

There are, but I'm very aware of how much I've put on that list so far--so I've been trying to combine stories, or make others into novellas.

#67 Copy


I have a question about the Everstorm.

It appears the Parshendi kept singing long past the point necessary to summon the storm. It could be they didn't know when to stop, but there are other possibilities. Could the storm have been stopped or weakened if the Alethi armi had hit them earlier? Does the time they were stopped affect the number of Odium-spren in the storm?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO, I'm afraid.

#68 Copy


Did you write Wayne as a sociopath? Or just troubled?

Brandon Sanderson

As usual, I prefer not to interfere with theories that people are making, to confirm or deny them. I WILL say this, however.

The scenes where he interacts with Ranette and Allriandre are supposed to be uncomfortable, though I don't anticipate the average reader being able to pick out why. Anyone with any sort of experience with similar situations, however, will identify that something is deeply wrong with the way Wayne sees the world. His inability to understand boundaries, and his almost pathological need to PROVE that he's not a bad person any more, lead to him far, far overstepping. (His treatment of Steris is another example.)

Wayne is trying. This is all what makes him work for me as a real character, not as just a goofy sidekick, but you shouldn't just laugh it off and say, "Oh, that Wayne." He is deeply troubled, and isolation in the roughs--with someone who just kind of let him do his thing--did not help.

#69 Copy


During the final fight between Szeth and Kaladin, Szeth seems far too surprised when Kaladin follows him out past the stormwall.

Kaladin exploded out of the stormwall, surrounded by windspren that spiraled away in a pattern of light. He shouted, driving his spear toward Szeth, who parried hastily, his eyes wide. "Impossible!"

And before that you make a point of mentioning all the windspren streaming around Kaladin as he's flying. A popular theory about Shardplate is that it's made up out of "cousin" spren. Obviously that is a RAFO question, but I wanted to ask if Szeth was surprised for any reason other than Kaladin just following him out of the storm? My theory is Szeth saw the beginnings of a vague suit of Shardplate forming around Kaladin. I know you won't answer that directly, but I was hoping to see your face when I asked it haha. Do you have any comment on that theory?

Brandon Sanderson

Szeth was surprised for more reasons than just Kaladin following him out. He is realizing that the Radiants are returning, and that his exile was unearned.

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

Brandon Sanderson

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

#71 Copy


Graves tells Kaladin and Moash that with Elhokar out of the way, Dalinar would become king and be much better for Alethkar. Obviously Graves isn't totally truthful with them, he is working for the Diagram and wants Dalinar to be king in hopes he becomes the Blackthorn, the warlord, and provides no real competition to Taravangian in becoming king of everything. However, in the scene when Kaladin faces down Graves and Moash, Graves makes a comment on how it was too late, and he just had to keep Kaladin away from Dalinar, presumably so Szeth could assassinate him. Then the last we see of Graves, he is talking to Moash and says

I thought for sure my interpretation was correct, that if we removed Elhokar, Dalinar would become our ally is what is to come.

How would Dalinar become their ally if Graves was purposely keeping Kaladin away from Dalinar so Szeth could kill him? Is Graves lying to Moash there? That part I never fully understood. It seems as though Graves understands Dalinar is going to be assassinated, yet from what he says to Moash at the end he seems to expect Dalinar would not have been killed.

Brandon Sanderson

Graves is supposed to (though people missed this, so perhaps I didn't do it well enough) indicate that the Diagram is not simply one group, following Taravangian. They follow the diagram itself, not him, and some think his interpretations are wrong.

Graves was ordered to remove the Alethi leadership entirely--though Taravangian was sending Szeth after Dalinar (the more dangerous one) and Graves was to remove Elhokar. Graves, however, interpreted the diagram differently. He thinks that Dalinar cannot be killed by Szeth, or anyone, and is hoping to remove Elhokar, have Dalinar step up, and help them. He has passages of the Diagram that indicate, to him, this is the natural outcome of removing Elhokar.

The actual passages, and what it is they're trying to accomplish in specific, has yet to be revealed in full.

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This totally doesn't really matter and will probably change in the time it takes you to get to them but are Liar of Partinel and Lightweaver of Rens still planned as a semi-separate sub/prequel-series to Dragonsteel, or would they be included in that 3-5 book estimate?

Brandon Sanderson

They're included in the 3-5 book estimate. Dragonsteel's outline is kind of still in pieces, as I chopped out so much but dumped in a whole bunch more, so I'm not 100% sure on what length it will be.

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[Fancast of Mistborn Era 1]

Brandon Sanderson

For what it's worth, I love seeing things like this, but as I don't "cast" most characters with actors in my head, it's not like I can step in and say "let it be so." I do like the idea of playing with a black Ham, though personally, the big change I'd make to canon for a film would be to genderswap a character or two to get more women in the crew.


Did the lord rulers armies have female soldiers? Wondering since Ham hung out with them quite a bit and sparred, speaking of genderbending characters.

I think the easiest character to genderbend would be Clubs. And more outside the main cast, people in the Skaa rebellion.

Brandon Sanderson

I would imagine that the LR's armies would take Allomancers of either gender quickly and happily.

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The Rithmatist takes place on an alternative version of Earth. One where the United States are the United Isles, for example.

Ben McSweeney

Also that Earth is (I think) half the size of our own? Or possibly less? Brandon says it has a denser core to make up the difference.


Really? This is the first time I hear this, but it's pretty cool news. You know the man, find out specifics for us :P

Ben McSweeney

Brandon and I discussed it when we put together the map of the United Isles... there was some hand-wavery in terms of total numbers, but the scale on the map legend is more-or-less accurate. As you can see, that puts the Isles themselves at about 1500 miles (give or take a few hundred, I'm eyeballing it) from the cliffs of the western California Archipelago to the eastern shores of New Guernsey.

In comparison, the continental United States is about 3000 miles across from shore to shore. So, loosely speaking, it's a half-sized planet with a core of something denser than iron to make the mass mostly the same. Perhaps gold?

Aside from the map, which I'm not surprised if it was overlooked, we also get some clues in the travel times and distances described during Joel and Fitch's trip.


All of those clues would require me to pay attention and think about things, though - which is something I find difficult to do when my hand is racing to turn the pages :)

On the topic of distances and masses though, I was looking into possible easy solutions, but it actually looks like there is some serious sciencing that needs to happen for the numbers to work out. But eyeballing, if you shrink the radius of the planet in half, this drops the volume (including the core volume) by a factor of 8, which - assuming the same density, which is not a safe assumption because lower mass makes lower density more likely - means that the core has to be about 8 times more massive to maintain the same gravity. Which is a problem, because such element doesn't exist naturally, and is even less likely to fuse in a small planet. So. Heavy sciencing and/or handwavium :)

Ben McSweeney

Maybe a denser metal and a larger core? Our iron core is only about 10% of the planet's diameter, but I have no idea how a larger core would affect the physics of the planet.

Handwavium. Unobtanium. Impossibillium. :)

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Has Brandon said that the Shardblades are based off of the swords from Soulcalibur/Final Fantasy. (You know, those stupidly huge swords?) Or are they just normal swords when it comes to the shape and size etc?

Ben McSweeney

Shardblades come in many shapes and sizes, but are often larger than normal swords, in order to fight larger-than-normal enemies.

Not always, though. Szeth's Blade, for instance, was about the size of a scimitar.

There is no single source or work from which the inspiration was drawn. It's a refection of a common trope, instead. Isaac and I created a few dozen silhouettes, and Brandon chose the ones he liked best, and we've been extrapolating from there ever since.

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I'm personally really turned off by the theme. If I'm playing a Mistborn game, I want to play as a misting and pull of some sort of heist using characters with variable powers or something. I think the last time this game was mentioned in this sub somebody said that they wanted to see an area control game based off of the plateau runs in The Stormlight Archives, and I would absolutely be all over that.

Peter Ahlstrom

There are companies that are proposing plateau run games to Brandon. It could be years before anything comes of that though. I do think of this as a no-brainer concept—of course someone should be able to make a fun game out of that!

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I actually asked Peter Ahlstrom (who tends to handle math and magic system interactions with physics for Team Sanderson) about this a little while ago

A couple of friends and I are discussing if the iron feruchemy causing changes in speed is a retcon (since there's a mention in AoL that "increasing his weight manyfold would not affect his motion"), or if the effect is just more complicated (like only causing an instant change in speed if Wax changes weight while actively pushing on something).

Are you willing to weigh in on that, or is it just something we shouldn't be thinking too hard about?

Thanks :)

And his response was

I just don't know the answer to this question. :)

So I personally think the explanation is either 'Brandon thought it would be cooler for shifting your weight to change your velocity, and forgot he had mentioned it a couple times' or 'this is Wax's twinborn perk'. I'm leaning towards the latter, since the person who writes the magic system summaries at the end of the book specifically interrogated Wax about the effects, and mentioned she specifically was interested in his very unusual power combination.

As for the density thing, there is an explicit mention that you appear to get stronger when tapping, but only to the extent that you can still stand up and walk around - you still have more difficulty moving around overall. So (to pull out random numbers), if you're at 200% normal mass, you have 180% normal strength, and at 50% mass you have 60% normal strength. That means Wax habitually going around at 75% weight so he's 'light on his feet' makes sense - even if he's weaker overall, he's proportionally stronger.

The way I personally think about things for bullets or whatever, anything 'inside' the body (where 'inside' is defined in the same way that pushing/pulling metal 'inside' the body uses it) interacts with your body as if it were normal. So tapping iron doesn't cause your ultra-massive blood to be impossible for your heart to pump, but it also doesn't prevent a bullet from passing through your flesh. That seems to be consistent with how it's portrayed in the books.

Brandon Sanderson

Just a note: in the quote of mine above, I was trying (I believe) to find a way for Wax to indicate that weight doesn't influence the rate at which he falls. IE, acceleration in regards to gravity. It's tough, and I made the call (perhaps incorrectly) not to use modern physics terminology in the W&W books. It has been very hard then to explain:

1). Wax changing his weight doesn't change the pull of gravity on him, or the rate at which he falls. 2) He DOES follow the laws of conservation of momentum.

My talking around these things has let me to tie a few paragraphs in knots.

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Actually [Peter] what kind of gem is in oathbringer's hilt, anyway?

Peter Ahlstrom

I don't know the answer to that offhand.


This says it was set with a heliodor (which would be a cool bit of foreshadowing if true, like how Lift's lucky sphere is a diamond and Kaladin gets sapphire spheres when he sells the knobweed sap).

Peter Ahlstrom

Oh yeah, that's right. That is indeed true.

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Peter Ahlstrom

Mistborn: The Final Empire contains cannibalized aspects of: Mistborn Prime, The Final Empire Prime, Mythwalker, and Aether of Night.

The Way of Kings contains cannibalized aspects of: The Way of Kings Prime, Dragonsteel, Mythwalker, and Aether of Night.

Warbreaker also contains cannibalized aspects of Mythwalker.


Can you talk about what aspects of Aether got cannibalized? I don't recognize anything from it in either Mistborn or Stormlight.

Peter Ahlstrom

The two obvious ones are Ruin and Midnight Essence.

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Merrin was a terrible name... It makes me think of member of Robin Hood, men in tights. I am super glad Brandon decided to change his name: Kaladin works much better, IMHO.

Peter Ahlstrom

It was Merin, but it did rhyme with Perrin and Verin. He was actually still using Merin when he was halfway through the first draft of the published WoK. I was totally used to it and thought it was a fine name, but Kaladin is better.


Thanks for the added precision. Merin still make me think of Robin's Hood Merry Men... It somehow does not reconcile quite well with the mental imagery I currently have of Kaladin. I guess it feels rather different when you've known him as Merin for a long time, but knowing him as Kaladin to then find out he initially was a Merin is somehow weird.

This being said, it is super interesting to find out so many names were changed from the early version of WoK to the published book. It wasn't just Kaladin.

Peter Ahlstrom

Yeah, Sadeas used to be a guy called Meridas. One of Meridas's things was wanting to marry Jasnah (and Jasnah did not return the interest). But Sadeas didn't have that interest. So Meridas became Amaram's first name instead.


Oh sweet. I didn't know about this one. I also heard Dalinar originally had no sons, then he had three and now he has two: none the original names were retained (except Renarin, I think). Quite a lot of changes. It is very fascinating how characters can move from one identity to another and through this morphing, earn another name.

Peter Ahlstrom

Dalinar's second wife in Prime was one of the craziest things.


Oh I would have loved to read that. Has she become the inspiration for another character?

Peter Ahlstrom

No. At least not yet, and the way the series is going I doubt someone like her will fit.


Ah then may I ask what she was like?

Peter Ahlstrom

I would leave that up to Brandon to reveal.


Any plans to do another Altered Perceptions sometime?

Peter Ahlstrom

Brandon is in no hurry to be involved in something like that anytime soon, but we wouldn't rule it out. More of Way of Kings Prime will be revealed eventually, but at this time some elements of it are still spoilers for future books in the Stormlight Archive.

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I dont recall hearing about this anthology until recently. Did Brandon need a break from writing S3 and so [Arcanum Unbounded] was put in the schedule?

Peter Ahlstrom

This was put on the schedule when it was determined that Stormlight 3 wouldn't come out until next year. Brandon has been wanting to do something like this for a while, so we went for it.

The book is not just reprinting stuff you've already read. Aside from the new Lift novella (at 40,000 words it's actually a mini-novel), each story has a new full-page illustration and a postscript by Brandon. Each world section of the book has a planetary system map and an essay about the system written by Khriss, who writes the Ars Arcanum section at the end of the books.

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So just for clarification, once Nightblood consumes investiture, that investiture gets recycled? That's what I've always assumed. That it enters the cognitive/spiritual realm?

Brandon Sanderson

The investiture he consumes is not gone forever--it's not leaving the system, so to speak.

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Hi guys, this might bore some (most) of you but this is my take on why the plants on Scadrial were turned brown after the Lord Ruler's Ascension.

So basically, heres a bit of plant biology:

Plants absorb light during the first phase of photosynthesis , converting specific waves lengths into high energy electrons, which are then used to create NADPH, ATP and Oxygen. Some of these molecules are then used in the second phase to make carbon molecules, which we break down into energy.

However, only specific light waves are used by plants, namely the red, blue, purple and to a lesser degree yellow waves. The green light waves are not absorbed and are actually reflected - the reason why chloroplasts and plant cells containing chloroplasts are in our eyes, green.

Because of the ash in the sky, plants were not able to get enough light, and thus were unable to survive. To combat this, the Lord Ruler altered many plants to have a new pigment (say chlorophyll-C) which allowed them to absorb green light waves and therefore get more energy - stopping them from dying.

Thus, green light was no longer reflected by plants and they were brown instead (probably because light absorption isn't 100% effective and so the small resulting meld of colours looked brown to the people of Scadrial - like how paint eventually just turns brown when you mix too many different colours).

Although this makes sense to me, I'm sure I've overlooked something, and I'm not sure why this would result in plants that were less nutritious to man kind. Maybe because of the ash? I'm pretty sure that at some point Sazed mentions that the plants help breakdown the ash so maybe this made them less nutritious?

But yeah, there you go, the science behind the brown plants on Scadrial!

Brandon Sanderson

This is actually pretty close to correct. The plats are not actually "sickly" or unhealthy. I basically looked at plants like red sea weed and some ornamental plants and asked about how they got energy--and came to many of the same conclusions that /u/neverbeenspotted has come to.


Seems like a smart worldhopper could hybridize pre-final empire plants, final-empire plants, and post-final empire plants in various ratios, and be able to market crops adapted to a very wide range of environments. Anything like that going on?

Brandon Sanderson

Things like this are more "Space era cosmere" than it is current era.

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Brandon Sanderson

When I was working on Mistborn 2 with my editor, he asked me, "Are Vin and Elend sleeping together?" I said, "Absolutely." He requested some confirmation of it on the page, and I explained something that has always been my policy, and one that has served me well.

I consider what I'm writing to be a very detailed script, which you the reader direct in your mind. Each person's version of the books will be slightly different, but in sometimes telling ways. The subtext of conversations will change, the visualizations of the characters, even larger implications are changed, distorted, and played with by the reader as they build the story in their imagination.

This is an area in which I prefer to leave the answers to the reader. For those who wish to imagine that the characters are having sex, then the implications are often there. (Though I've gotten better at that balance, I feel.) For those who don't want to imagine it, and wish to pretend the characters are living different standards, I will often leave the opportunity for that--unless it is a plot point I consider relevant.

Certainly, my upbringing and beliefs are an influence on this. I'm obviously more circumspect in these areas than I am in others.

But yes, for those who don't want to pretend otherwise, Vin and Elend were sleeping together. And Wax and Lessie never had a real ceremony. My editor tried to remove the word "wife" from one of the later books, and I insisted, as the shift in Wax's thinking was a deliberate point on my part--related to his changing psychology in the books. But even to him, it's more a 'common law wife' thing.

As a side note you'll likely find amusing, I do get a surprising number of emails from people who complain to me (even take me to task) for the amount of objectionable material I include in my books, and ask me why I have to wallow in filth as much as I do. I'm always bemused by this, as I doubt they have any idea how the books are perceived in this area by the general fantasy reading world...


Does this mean that Wayne and MeLaan's fling is "a plot point [you] consider relevant"?

Calling it right now, Wayne's... intimate... knowledge of Kandra biology will be a point on which the fate of the entire cosmere hinges. Because why wouldn't it.

Brandon Sanderson

The plot point isn't exactly what you think it is, but yes.

One of Wayne's roles is that of a character who points out absurdity, either through word or action. There is a certain level of absurdity in what I described up above, and I realize that. Some things I talk about explicitly in books, some things I don't.

On a certain level, Wayne showing that people do--yes indeed--actually have (and talk about) sex in Sanderson books is there for the same reason that a court jester could mock the king. When as a writer you notice you're doing something consistently, even if you decide you like the thing that you're doing, I feel it's a good idea to add a contrast somewhere in the stories.

It's one of the reasons that Hoid, though a very different kind of character from Wayne, has more leeway in what he says in Stormlight.


I know this was a few months ago, but I have a follow up question (huge fan of your work btw!): Do you purposely mention characters having sex to show that they are maybe not "good guys"/"bad guys" are mentioned having sex as a continuation of their lowered morals? Like OP mentioned with rape, of course that would be a sign that someone is a terrible person, but I can think of several other instances in your books were someone engages in consensual sex who later turns out to be more morally loose.

ETA: I mean premarital sex

Brandon Sanderson

I don't personally consider this to be a sign of who is good or bad, but I can't speak for how the morals that shape my own society might affect my unconscious application of morals in my books. That's certainly something for critics to analyze, not for me to speak on.

If it's relevant, though, I don't perceive it this way. More, the people I mention engaging in premarital sex are ones more likely to reject societal mores. (Such as MeLaan.) I also am more likely to do it for characters who are not primary viewpoint characters, for reasons I've mentioned--the ability to allow plausible deniability for readers who wish to view the characters in a certain way. I can see myself unconsciously letting myself say more about villains for a similar reason, though I don't intend it to be causal.

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[The sunrise metaphor] is one of my favorite quotes. Did you spend much time rewriting it?

Brandon Sanderson

This one took a fair bit of time to craft.

Going into Calamity, one of the things I knew I wanted to show was that David could--on occasion--really NAIL a metaphor. That he wasn't completely hopeless; he just often spoke without thinking or finding the right setting.

Here, I needed the metaphor to be more than just silly--or even more than just "This is really sweet, once he explains it." It needed to work in a way one hadn't before. So I spent a great deal of time pivoting on this scene in my head, trying to determine the way to go.

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If [Mistborn: Birthright] doesn't come out, would we see a book based around the story that was written for the game?

Brandon Sanderson

It's possible. I did send in an outline for the story of it. I could use that for a story, though I've got a full plate right now.


Would you consider doing it as a graphic novel (if the White Sand graphic novels do well of course, though I really don't have any doubts about that)?

Brandon Sanderson

You know, that's actually a really good idea.

This could be a very elegant solution. I'll think about it.

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I read Perfect State when it came out. Reading your annotations and the deleted scene has jogged my memory. Honestly, I never made the connection that Sophie was Melhi for all intents and purposes. I believed Melhi's facade and thought he was simply a crazed do-no-gooder (I totally forgot that the Wode mentioned Melhi's gender).

Reading the deleted scene makes things alot clearer though. I was chatting with a friend about the deleted scene and we agreed that we're glad it was omitted. It smelled too much of the Matrix and, worse, it cheapened Kai's betrayal. That is, "Sophie" didn't really die. The person that Kai found attractive due to her outlook and personality was in fact not a creation on Melhi's part to simply hurt Kai but was Melhi being her honest self (I imagine it's much easier to just be yourself then construct a person as realistic as Sophie). Melhi being Sophie undoes the reversal of Sophie being a robot. Shadows of Self spoiler: It'd be like if at the end, after the Lessie/Paalm reveal, we find out it's really a different Kandra after all.

Regardless, the deleted scene interests me and leaves me wanting a sequel.

Edit: More thoughts. I appreciate understanding Melhi's motivation for how and why she does what she does. I don't think I picked up on that. Again, I took Melhi at face-value. I would say that Melhi is pretty selfish though. She feels she knows best for everyone else. That it's better for others to feel the same way about being a brain in a jar as she does. This is obviously an opinion though as any revolutionary can be viewed as a traitor.

Brandon Sanderson

I think your analysis is spot on, both about what the scene does to the story, and Melhi's character. I would call her selfish, but in an approaching self-aware way.

Either way, I'm glad to have this out there, but--though I go back and forth on it--I'm mostly glad that I left it out of the official release of the story.

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I've always pictured Rock and the Unkalaki / Horneaters as Pacific Islanders. Are they based on Pacific Islanders despite their red hair?

Brandon Sanderson

Their linguistics and some parts of their culture are based on Pacific Islanders, though their physical characteristics are not.

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Brandon Sanderson

I'm not planning a 'regular' novel edition of White Sand, though I do still send the old (unedited and not-quite-canon-version) to people who write through my website form and ask for it.

I fully intend to do some stories set in this world, in prose form, eventually. However, I won't retell the story of the graphic novel. I'll make them their own thing. However, there's so much on my plate that I can't promise when (or even if) I will actually do that.

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Brandon Sanderson

The number of authors with creative control of films are very small, and sell orders of magnitude more copies than I do. (Sorry ). It is either sell the rights and hope to be involved, or have no film.


It might sound insensitive but....are you not as big as I thought? You, Butcher and Rothfus (or maybe Martin...special mentions to McClellan and Weeks)....I always imagine you three as the BIG names in the genre of the generation. I guess I have the bias of how much I love your books but it seems to me someone so acclaimed could in the figurative sense "name their price"

Brandon Sanderson

It's not insensitive. I'm pretty happy to be able to be make a living at all, let lone to be as successful as I've been. I'm certainly "big" for fantasy--the issue isn't that, it's that even popular books just don't make a dent in film numbers. It takes so much to finance a film these days, that it's very rare (and requires a huge, huge fanbase) for anyone to risk putting an author in charge. We're not a known element.

For example, Stephenie Meyer (of Twilight fame) wasn't popular enough to get creative control from a major studio, which resulted in her going to a second string studio to get the power she wanted. And she was orders of magnitude more popular than GRRM is now. The only author I know of to manage it for sure is Rowling.

In answer to your question, last I checked (which was around the end of the year last year) Pat, and Jim, and myself were basically even. Pat sold the least of us three that year, but when he has a new book out, he jumps to the highest of us by a significant margin. Over time, we are pretty even in the US. (Though it should be noted Pat does that with far fewer books than the other two of us.)

George was about five times our numbers, and there weren't any fantasy writers in between him and us that I recall. Dashner (author of Maze Runner, and a friend of mine, so I thought to look) was about seven times our numbers. (Even with Grisham.) Hunger Games was about double us. Big romance/thriller writers hovered at around George's level.

Fifty Shades of Grey (the one book alone, not the series) in its first year sold about 10 times what Pat, Jim, and I sell in a year. So while we might be big sellers for our respective genres, we become small fish when we swim out into romance/thriller waters. The only one who can hold his own out there is George, and maybe Niel Gaiman. (I didn't think to glance at his numbers.)

And even they don't sell enough to name their price with a film studio. These are places with the kind of cash flow that they could buy every single copy of every Sanderson, Rothfuss, AND Butcher book ever printed, misplace them on accident, then shrug and write it off.

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This is a slightly old comment, but is the Marvel Cinematic Universe similar to what you envision happening with the cosmere movies? The moment that was announced the first thing I thought of was how great it would be if it followed the MCU formula.

Brandon Sanderson

Well, and its popularity is part of why I think the film companies were suddenly interested in things like the cosmere. I'd like to think I presaged the MCU with what I was doing--but the truth is that Marvel and DC had been doing crossovers before I was born, so...

Anyway, I've been trying to warn readers because many are starting to wonder things like you are. Is this like the MCU? Well, it is, and it isn't. The goal of the cosmere is to take individual fantasy worlds, then--over generations--tell an expansive story about their interactions one with another.

I'm not pointing toward an Avengers style, "Your favorite characters all team up" story. The magics will interact, as will the worlds, and even some of the characters--but the story is not about a super-team.

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Does Snapshot take place on the Reckoners' Earth, or one of the other Core Possibilities? (Based on the reading you did I would assume the latter, but it doesn't hurt to get confirmation on that).

Brandon Sanderson

It's one of the Other Core Possibilities.

The idea of going meta-series with Reckoners is to offer me the chance to play with quantum possibilities and alternate dimensions, which is something to cosmere's not set up to do. We'll see how big this one gets, but I'm fond of silver age comics, and the idea of alternate realities they explored. (Often in goofy ways because...well, silver age.) This also gives me a realm to do some magic, like the Epic powers, that I can hand-wave a little more, rather than confining everything to the structure of the cosmere.

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Snapshot sounds very interesting! Knowing that it's set on the Reckoners universe, I was wondering if I should change my reading plans and start with them now, or if Snapshot can be read without previous knowledge.

Brandon Sanderson

It is unconnected to the Reckoners story. You can read it without reading the series.

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There are a few items I've read in Stormlight that initially made me uncomfortable, such as the class/eye color dynamic, safe hands/glove, or the Parshman, and their use of song as a tool.

However, I get the sense that you are aware of the implications, which makes me really curious to see how it all unfolds.

Brandon Sanderson

I'm quite aware, and it's intentional. However, some of the most controversial (and in some cases straight up racist) pieces of storytelling done in the modern era were done by well-meaning, but at the same time oblivious, white people trying to tackle the topic. (see Save the Pearls or the current kerfuffle about "The Continent.")

So writing a series where racism and class-ism are major themes--and an entire minority population has not only been enslaved, but had their cultures stripped away and their souls partially stunted, preventing them from thinking--is a dangerous thing. It's entire possible that I'll stumble on this, and make a big offensive, embarrassing mess.

So let's just say it's something I'm watching very carefully. The Herdazians, to a lesser extent, are ones that I'm walking a line on. Where do some Hispanic cultural markers--like big families and feeding visitors--stray from being a fun and accurate representation into, instead, being offensive stereotypes? I have to be careful. They're in the books in the first place because I noticed that I couldn't think of many Hispanic-inspired fantasy cultures that weren't Aztec exaggerations. But I wouldn't want to instead turn this into something that is essentially fantasy blackface or characterture.

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Can we dare hope for a crossover like [Lift and Wayne] in the future?

Brandon Sanderson

You can hope for such things, but I won't do them "just because." If the timelines align, you will see things like this in the future--but it's probably not going to happen for a while. (Except in certain, specific instances.)

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By the way, if all noble-era Allomancers got some fight training, does that mean a lot of Coinshots and Lurchers got really fat, so they had more weight for their pushes?

Or would that be like, too blatant a clue that someone was an Allomancer?

... I'm now thinking of a scheme where a non-Allomancer noble member has to get super fat in a month so his house can bluff that they have more Coinshots than they do.

Peter Ahlstrom

Hah, good question. I don't think that's what happens. After all, many of them hide what they are in order to keep opponents guessing. If it were too obvious, that wouldn't work.

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Shallan's comment in Words of Radiance that she's "five foot six inches" jerks me out of the story every time, particularly because I'm used to the metric system. I understand in my head how Sanderson is translating for the readers whatever Rosharan measures she actually used...but it's still jarring whenever I actually come across it while reading.

Peter Ahlstrom

Measuring by foot was extremely common in our world. Many European countries had their own standard foot. It just makes sense that humans would measure by feet.

The Vorin foot probably has 10 inches.

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I believe /u/peterahlstrom mentioned that Mistings can only detect sufficiently close versions of their metal, and burning non-Allomantic stuff is a Mistborn-only risk.

Peter Ahlstrom

I don't remember saying that, though it sounds reasonable.

Except I don't know what happens when you start involving god metals. How important is the alloy percentage then?

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Ben McSweeney

Also that [Rithmatist] Earth is (I think) half the size of our own? Or possibly less? Brandon says it has a denser core to make up the difference.

Brandon and I discussed it when we put together the map of the United Isles... there was some hand-wavery in terms of total numbers, but the scale on the map legend is more-or-less accurate. As you can see, that puts the Isles themselves at about 1500 miles (give or take a few hundred, I'm eyeballing it) from the cliffs of the western California Archipelago to the eastern shores of New Guernsey.

In comparison, the continental United States is about 3000 miles across from shore to shore. So, loosely speaking, it's a half-sized planet with a core of something denser than iron to make the mass mostly the same. Perhaps gold?

Aside from the map, which I'm not surprised if it was overlooked, we also get some clues in the travel times and distances described during Joel and Fitch's trip.

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The art displayed above [the Arcanum Unbounded scene for Emperor's Soul] looks similar to Pattern

Ben McSweeney

They're unrelated (at least in terms of the fiction), this was just my take on the mural that Shai creates on one wall of her cell.

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Ben McSweeney

[Seeing an uncoverd safehand is] more like seeing a woman with her hair uncovered. Intimate, but not by nature sexual. I mean, sure, everyone's got a thing, but Vorin society as a whole does not view the safehand as a sexual thing so much as a propriety thing.

SOURCE: I asked Brandon about this way back at the beginning.

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Has Brandon said that the Shardblades are based off of the swords from Soulcalibur/Final Fantasy. (You know, those stupidly huge swords?) Or are they just normal swords when it comes to the shape and size etc?

Ben McSweeney

Shardblades come in many shapes and sizes, but are often larger than normal swords, in order to fight larger-than-normal enemies.

Not always, though. Szeth's Blade, for instance, was about the size of a scimitar.

There is no single source or work from which the inspiration was drawn. It's a refection of a common trope, instead. Isaac and I created a few dozen silhouettes, and Brandon chose the ones he liked best, and we've been extrapolating from there ever since.

#111 Copy


What time period do you think the Mistborn series is most reminiscent of? I get a feeling of 1800s England but more brutal in their politicking.

Ben McSweeney

Industrial-era France, with some variables based on TLR's rigid control of technological development. Skaa on plantations look more pre-industrial, Nobles in the city are more post-industrial, and so forth.

That's the era Brandon instructed me to look towards for visual reference while designing for the MAG, so that's what I stick with. Mind you, the visual culture of Luthadel is different from that of the other Dominances.

Second Era is specifically equivalent to about 1910 U.S.

#112 Copy


I sorta wanna find out what a hemalurgic bindpoint would be and get it tattoo'd there... I asked Brandon once and he vaguely pointed to spots, but it didn't seem like he really considered it canon.

Ben McSweeney

it's one of those things kept purposefully obscure. There's no real benefit in being specific about it. Was a whole discussion we had internally when we did this illustration for the tapletop game. Even there we're being obtuse through style.

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Ben McSweeney

i do have a rough design for this, because we had Dalinar's bridges appearing on the endpaper illustration that I helped Michael with. We ended up making them veeeeerrry small in the final, but a design was roughed out for 'em nevertheless.

I should warn it's even less canon than my sketches for Sadeas bridges. But I'll see what I can dig up.


Threw this together out of some loose stuff I had laying around. In the corner is part of the original sketch I had sent to Michael. Then I added some step-by-step sketches and filled out the remaining space with miscellaneous unseen stuff.

I must emphasize once again, these are not Brandon-approved concepts. Half of it isn't even that well thought-out, it's just a draft so I could wrap my head around the idea for the purposes of background details. I am also not an engineer.

Anyhow, I had the idea that the hinge is the weak point, but it also doubles the length you can extend, so I added two large posts that would extend to counterweight the bridge during operation and then push the other way to support the surface of the bridge during the crossover of the tower. Not only does the raised bridge shield your troops from fire up to the drop point, you can station archers in the upper portions to rain fire down upon the enemy that defends your landing position.

The downside to all of this, of course, is that it's sllloooowwww... and of course, these big towers with their support crews and complex engineering are a lot more costly than throwing thirty or forty slaves under a wedge of timber and forcing them to run, drop, lift, run, drop, lift, run, drop, die. Dalinar's crews have a decent chance of actually surviving their runs. Dalinar's bridges can also cross slightly wider chasms than Sadeas's (I don't recall if that's from the books or just me trying to give this design a bit of an advantage).

There's probably a smarter way to handle the hinge and counterweight issue than those long posts, but I haven't given it much thought.

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Date Jan. 1, 2016
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