Stormlight Three Update #4

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Name
Name Stormlight Three Update #4
Date
Date Sept. 8, 2016
Location
Location /r/Stormlight_Archive
Entries
Entries 79
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#1 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

I'm happy to post this update only two months after the previous one--which seems like a much more reasonable interval than the many months between two and three. I do feel bad at how long this book is taking, but I'm coming to grips with the fact that Stormlight books are just too involved to do as quickly as I once imagined. I still intend to get to them at a reasonable pace, but this year of work is showing that big epic fantasies require a lot out of even a somewhat quick author like myself.

In the wee hours this morning (3:00 am) I sent Part Three of Oathbringer to my editor. This means I've finished the rough draft (of Part Three) then done a quick revision, putting it at second draft level. (I explain in previous updates that I'm doing more revisions as I go on this one, hopefully to speed the editing process.)

Part Three is tight and fast, a nice counterpoint to Part Two, which was more leisurely and character-focused. The book stands at around 325k words right now. (Words of Radiance was right around 400k at publication.) I have on my website "73%" I believe, though I intend to move that to 75% soon. I started out counting 4k words as 1%, but I'm pretty sure that the final wordcount will be in the 450k range, which is why I have slowed the percentage bar velocity a tad. (Goal is for Part Four to be around 100k words, Part Five to be around 25k, and the interludes to take around 25k. Then I'll trim the book before publication, getting it down to around 450k.)

If you're following the general outline shape from Update Two, I moved the novella from this part to the next part, after deciding I liked the feel of this book having a narrow-wide-narrow-wide focus for the first four parts. We'll see how I feel after finishing the next part.

Next up, I'm going to dive into writing some Szeth flashbacks (which won't reflect on the percentage bar moving up) so I have his past nailed down. Then I'll expand the outline for Part Four, and write it. Goal is still to finish the book by the time I go on tour in late October, but we'll see. This part took me two full months.

Even if I'm a little late, however, having sections of the book already with the editor means we will still be on schedule. Plan is still for a late 2017 release, and it would take a major upset in writing plans to budge us from that.

Thanks, as always, for your patience and your kind words. The book is feeling very strong to me, and I think you'll be pleased with how it turns out.

Brandon

#5 Copy

Argent

I was talking with someone about the woman on The Way of Kings endsheet, and I wondered about her identity - could you reveal whether she is supposed to depict a someone/something specific, or is it just a somewhat generic image of a woman?

Brandon Sanderson

The woman on the border of the maps isn't meant to be anyone specific, I don't believe. I've never asked Isaac about it, actually.

#6 Copy

arichards117

When someone is "killed" by a Shardblade, their soul is understood to be severed. What do Vorin practitioners believe happens to the soul if it is severed? Does this mean that the soul cannot go to the Tranquiline Halls? If this is the case, why are Shardbearers/Blades so revered rather than feared or hated?

Brandon Sanderson

Vorin belief doesn't take being killed by a Shardblade as destroying the soul, likely because of Knight Radiant traditions.

#7 Copy

yahasgaruna

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

Brandon Sanderson

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

#8 Copy

yahasgaruna

The plan to have each book focused on one order is still on, right? Does that mean Book 3 will focus on the Bondsmiths or the Skybreakers depending on whether Dalinar or Szeth are the flashback focus? And what about the book focused on Ash, since she was the Herald of Shallan's order? Am I right in assuming that book will focus on the Dustbringers?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO. :)

#9 Copy

PyroSkink

Is each book in this series a focus on a particular character? Did I read that somewhere?

Brandon Sanderson

Each one has a flashback sequence dedicated to a certain character, and a plot that has something to do with the flashback sequence. I do this to help differentiate them, and we sometimes call it "their" book--but that's a little of a misnomer, as the main plot may not revolve around the flashback sequence. It will simply relate to it.

PyroSkink

Ah right. It was Kaladin then Shallan, next is Dalinar? Or is it Szeth?

Brandon Sanderson

This one is Dalinar most likely. Then (probably) Eshonai, then Szeth. Unless I swap those two.

Back five are Lift, Renarin, Ash, Taln, Jasnah. Not necessarily in that order. (Though that is the planned order right now.)

I do have to give my standard disclaimer. Someone getting a flashback sequence does not indicate they survive until that book. I'm fully willing to flashback to a character who died in an earlier volume. So that isn't as much of a spoiler as it seems.

And Taln is defined as "The man who thinks of himself as the Herald Taln, and whose viewpoint we got briefly in Words of Radiance."

#10 Copy

usuyami

With all the linguistic elements in Stormlight, how much have you done in the way of mapping out the linguistic history of Roshar, ie deciding that this modern language descends from this older language, which descends from that ancient language that also gave rise to all these other languages, etc.?

Brandon Sanderson

I've done a surprising amount of this. The linguist in me slipping out. The vowel shifts are one of my favorites.

#11 Copy

Argent

Recently, at DragonCon, you talked briefly about detecting worldhoppers by examining their speech, and you mentioned Hoid using "coin" on Roshar, where there are no coins. Which overlapped with a question I had been meaning to ask - why would the people around him hear "coin" instead of "sphere"? Is this magical translation (something to do with Connection) malfunctioning for some reason? Or is the use of such out-of-context words solely for the benefit of the Cosmere-aware reader?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, this has to do with magical translation. It's a quirk of trying to say something in the language, and the magic mixing up your intent. Someone who actually learns the local language wouldn't make this mistake.

Argent

Can I just make sure I understand your reply real quick? Are you saying that if Hoid, or someone with the same magical translation, were to learn a bit of Alethi language and culture, get more used to spheres being used as currency, then the magic would stop using "coin" and replace it with sphere? Or, in a sci-fi world, maybe "credit"?

Brandon Sanderson

If he was thinking about saying sphere, he'd say sphere with the magic.

If he accidentally said coin, through the magic, it would try to translate it into coin.

If he learned the language, there's little chance he'd make this mistake. It's a natural feature of learning another language--you tend to imitate those around you. It's still possible he'd make the mistake, but from my experience with second language acquisition, you don't accidentally say words in your native language expecting them to make sense in the new language.

Argent

But wouldn't this require, in his case, the Alethi language to have a word for "coin"? I thought what's happening is that he is saying "coin" (because it's more natural to him), and his magic - not knowing how to translate a word that doesn't exist in Alethi, just sends it across verbatim. Like how he used the word "dog" once, even though the Alethi can't have a word for it.

Brandon Sanderson

That's exactly what is happening--it's sending across the word verbatim.

Argent

Ah, so when you say that is he had said "sphere" in his own language, instead of "coin" (which would be weird to him, because he doesn't think of spheres as currency), then the translation would be fine. Not that he could say "coin" and have the magic interpret his intent and turn into "sphere".

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, to an extent. Remember, this is magical means through connection--not exact translation. But this is a short version of what is happening.

Torrieltar

*in response to Brandon's original answer* Is that how translated puns work, then? Based on your intent?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, that has something to do with it. Though being aware that you're using the magic, and how it works, helps. For example, Hoid (very experienced with this sort of thing) can manipulate the magic and get a feel for what will work and what won't. It's a strange thing, because in most cases, you're actually SPEAKING the language, not speaking your own and having it translated. The magic pretends you were born and grew up in that place.

So you can speak in puns, and riddles, and so forth. However, there's latency from where you actually grew up that causes a kind of "blip" when you try to force through something that just doesn't translate. If you just let the magic do its thing, you'll naturally use idioms from the world you're in. But if you lock on to one from your past, it causes a kind of disharmony in the magic--reminding your spirit web that you don't actually speak the language. It will spit out a transliteration or verbatim phrase in this case.

You will rarely see Hoid having the trouble that Vasher does in using the language and magic, as Vasher doesn't really care. But you will still see even the most expert slip up now and then.

There's an extra layer on this that I don't focus too much on, in that the books themselves are in translation--so when Hoid's using a pun, he's filtering his intent to pun through the magic, into Alethi, creating a local pun that works in the language--then that is in turn translated to one that works in our language.

#13 Copy

Mat_alThor

Just finished a trip to Zion and Bryce National Parks; did those parks and the surrounding area influence the Shattered Plains? Really felt like I should be looking for gemstones and watching out for chasmfiends while cayoneering.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, they were a big influence. In college, one of my roommates (Micah Demoux, for whom I named Captain Demoux) was a photographer, and he took me on many nature photography trips in southern Utah. Roshar is a direct outgrowth of this.

#14 Copy

Phantine

If a heroic guy was also an organ donor, what happens to his original organs when he Returns?

Will the recipient's heart grow three sizes that day?

Brandon Sanderson

Ha. Not a question I'd anticipated, but the body is healed when made Returned, so anything missing would be regrown. So everything is fine.

#18 Copy

Orang3dragon612

In the 1900's world of Mistborn, what would a comic book super hero look like? I'm guessing at some point someone will come up with the medium, but in a world full of super powers (that seem "normal" to the people), what would a super hero look like? A full Mistborn? Someone who could fly without metals? Maybe someone who could only be killed by someone who didn't fear them? ;)

Brandon Sanderson

Westerns took off as comics, instead of superheroes, on Scadrial as the dominant graphic story form. The idea of "Superhero" doesn't really exist to them, though you could find analogues in their storytelling--it's just not a distinct genre.

BeskarKomrk

This reminds me a lot of Watchmen, and how pirate comics were very popular in that world instead of superhero comics. Are you a fan of that graphic novel by chance?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm a big fan, and the Black Freighter is an unabashed influence here. It sent me into reading the backstory of comics, superheros, the strong man, and things like the comic code--which I found fascinating. As Mistborn Era Three has a protagonist who is a code monkey involved in Scadrial's nerd culture, I knew I'd need to have some foundation in this sort of thing in order to do it in an authentic way.

Instead of broadsheets or sketchbook pages, the Era Three art inserts will be pages of in-world comics.

#19 Copy

havoc_mayhem

You've once said that there were three sentient species on Yolen: Human, Dragon and [Sho Del]. We've seen a lot of 'people' on the different planets that were either descended from or intentionally based on humans. Frost is known to be a dragon.

Are any of the non-human species we've seen descended from or based on either Dragons or [Sho Del]?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO! :)

havoc_mayhem

What colour is Frost's blood? What color is a [Sho Del]'s blood?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO, more because I'm not ready to canonize Dragonsteel facts yet, as opposed because it will be a huge revelation.

#20 Copy

Argent

Recently, somebody came up with a very clever theory about the meaning of The Way of Kings endsheet, and I liked it very much. I suspect you want to keep most of that a secret, but maybe you can answer this also vague question - is there another chart, in-world, similar to the ones on frontsheet and endsheet, that we haven't seen?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm afraid that the first one is RAFO territory. Let me point out that most charts in Cosmere books are human attempts at understanding the world. There are fundamental principles to them, but also human groupings and perspectives worked in.

#21 Copy

Argent

In the White Sand graphic novel, quite a few of the elements of the environment (e.g. rocks, clouds) look like faces (link). I find it hard to believe this is just a quirk of the artist, so can you tell us anything about why Taldain seems positively riddled with faces?

Brandon Sanderson

The faces are intentional. (Though they turned out more blatant in places than I'd have liked.)

#22 Copy

argel1200

Have you ever considered giving Adolin more screen time and a better arc, similar to how Spook grew on you? There are a lot of die-hard Adolin fans that are really hoping he will get bumped up into a more important role?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO on that one.

peleles

Love Adolin! May we also see more style tips for Alethi men? lol I'm likely alone in that.

Brandon Sanderson

You'll be getting some more.

#23 Copy

Yata

In Oathbringer will we discover how the type of a gemheart is decided? (what polestone you will find once the gemheart is gathered) I have this doubt for months and probably is a really not relevant think but I have the constant feel of "I am missing something"

Brandon Sanderson

You're asking why certain species have emerald gemhearts, while others have a different type of gemstone?

Yata

In the end yes. Actually, I was even unsure if a specific species had a specific polestone as gemheart. In the books is never esplicity stated but (in-world) nobody ever asked what kind of polestone is retrieved after the death of a chasmfield (as if it was obvious fact) but I had not actually confirmations until now :)

Brandon Sanderson

Note that there are some species that vary. But many do not, which is what made chasmfiends so valuable.

#27 Copy

Argent

You've said that Investiture tends to develop sapience on its own. Is this a function of the amount of Investiture alone (i.e. any pile of Investiture large enough will develop sapience eventually), or does the process require extra effort (e.g. a Command from an Awakener, an action by a Shard, etc.)?

Brandon Sanderson

Under the right circumstances, a pile of investiture will eventually become self-aware. But there is no specific timing. The more investiture clumped together, the more likely--and the closer to human-level intelligence it is likely to obtain.

Of course, if you leave matter alone long enough (on a galactic scale) it will eventually end up becoming sapient too. So this isn't that different. (Well, okay, it is.)

Boogalyhu34

Are humans already sapient and intelligent because their Spiritual DNA tell their innate investiture what connections to make or what weird soul pattern to go into.

Brandon Sanderson

Let's RAFO that for now.

#28 Copy

nnneeeerrrrddd

Over a long enough timeline would Roshar's "random" seasonal pattern show an actual predictable pattern, or is it truly random?

Brandon Sanderson

I think I know what you're getting at, and if so, you're right. But just to answer the question: temperature variation on Roshar doesn't follow much of a pattern, and is relatively small in variance. It's caused by the blowing of the storms, so over the long term, looking VERY hard, you could probably find some patterns. They'd be related to the frequency and strength of storms during that time of year.

#29 Copy

Argent

You've dropped a few tidbits about the plot of the next Mistborn series over the years. Putting all those things together, we have a necrosil Ferring Terriswoman hacker recruited for fieldwork in an "Allomancer SWAT team" to chase a Mistborn serial killer. Could you give us a more recent and concise pitch/blurb if the above is no longer accurate?

Brandon Sanderson

Ha. That's not far off, as all of those things still exist in the series, though the weight I'll give them is relative. With the Alloy series covering some of the police procedural aspect of storytelling, I'm inching the outlines slowly away from the SWAT idea and toward more spy thriller--but the SWAT team isn't not gone completely. (Of course, who knows what will happen in the intervening years between now and when I write it.)

#30 Copy

Argent

In The Way of Kings, Chapter 54: Gibletish, Dalinar has a brief conversation with Brightlord Hatham, one of his ardents, and a few other people. During the conversation the ardent uses the word "soil" in a way most Rosharans wouldn’t. After the conversation he tells Dalinar of "our goodwill toward you" and that "we will speak with you again." The odd use of the word "soil" combined with what could be a vague reference to the ardent’s associated with a group other than the ardentia has led some of us to believe he might be a worldhopper. Plus, we know Nazh is around in the area, or will arrive soon. Is there truth to this idea, or are we overthinking this?

Brandon Sanderson

Alethi use the word "soil" on occasion in their language to mean "dirtied" or similar. It's a holdover from an earlier time. But they don't associate it with the ground, and if you see it used instead of stone like in this quote, it should indeed raise an eyebrow.

Argent

Sooo... I mean, my eyebrow was already raised. :D Let's not bait the RAFO too hard, and drop the worldhopper part - is there more to this particular ardent than meets the eye? :)

Wait, hold up. How can "soil" be a holdover from an earlier time if Roshar was always a rocky place? Or did you mean that it's one of those words that carried over from Yolish, or whatever other language people spoke before they migrated to Roshar (like "hound")?

Brandon Sanderson

It is similar to hound, which is one of the ones that Hoid pointed out as an oddity. But people did not migrate from Yolen to Roshar. Roshar was inhabited before the shattering of Adonalsium.

Argent

Hmm. I am rusty on my Roshar history, I'll have to review what we know the topic. I know Roshar existed before the Shattering, and it was presumably populated, but I didn't think there had been humans there. They don't feel native. I've been working under the assumption that the Parshendi were native (maybe), but the humans came from somewhere - the Tranquiline Halls myths also kind of support that.

Or have I missed something?

Brandon Sanderson

Technically, what I said doesn't actually contradict anything you just said. But just to be extra safe: RAFO. I have to keep a FEW secrets safe from you people to come out in the books. :)

#31 Copy

mathota123

Does being filled with Stormlight make your skin glow, or are they just leaking mist which is glowing and not glowing themselves?

Brandon Sanderson

The glowing is from the Stormlight, which leaks from the skin. Even any glowing you think is coming from the skin is actually from the Stormlight leaking out.

mathota123

So if a kandra Radiant were to go transparent, but had little bubbles of skin under their surface, would the bubbles of skin inside them leak Stormlight and light up, or does Stormlight only leak from outside surfaces?

Brandon Sanderson

Honestly, while what you say is plausible, I'm not sure I want to start down this path and the directions it might end up leading...

#32 Copy

BeskarKomrk

When you say Scadrial has an earth similar year, are you referring to the time it takes the planet to go around the sun? Or the year as people on the planet would measure it (e.g. Vin is fifteen years old when her brother leaves her)? Are these the same thing?

While I'm here, a selection of related questions for you if you have the time:

  1. Did the length of a year (as measured by the people on the planet) change when Scadrial was moved by The Lord Ruler/Harmony?
  2. I've assumed that lengths of time given in the books use that world's time lengths. For example, the Reod happens ten Selish years before Elantris (which may not correspond exactly to Scadrian years or Earth years), or that the 4500 years between the prelude and the prologue of Way of Kings is in Rosharan years. Is this an accurate assumption?
  3. I've assumed in the past that all the major shardworld planets we've seen have roughly earth similar years. Can you confirm/deny this for any of them specifically? I'm especially interested in Sel and Nalthis. (Specific numbers would be ideal, but even a yes/no for any of the planets would be super super awesome!)

Brandon Sanderson

  1. I mentioned in another post that I'll wait a bit to give you exact numbers, because I want to make sure Peter has run all the right calculations. But yes, changing the orbit had an effect on things--though official calendars didn't need to change, as they'd been used since before the original shift happened anyway. When we talk about 'Years' in the Final Empire, it's original (pre LR) orbit anyway. I knew I was going to go back to them later in the series, and when characters were actually aware of things like the calendar, it would be close to earth standard.

  2. Though, since you mention it, all numbers mentioned in their respective series are in-world numbers. This makes things tricky, as Rosharan years (with the five hundred days) are blatant enough to start the average reader wondering about these things.

  3. Mostly, Roshar is the big one (not in actual deviation--I think a Roshar year is only 1.1 Earth years--but in how the scope and terminology of the novel will make people start to notice and ask questions.) Other planets have deviations from Earth, but it's not as noticeable. We'll give specific numbers eventually. I promise.

#33 Copy

argel1200

Regarding Ashraven... Would it be correct to say that memories are part of the mind/CR aspect? Assuming so, was Shai forging a new CR aspect to in-effect reconnect Ashraven's Soul (SR) with his body (PR)? I was thinking this could explain how she got his mannerisms correct -- i.e. that those are timeless SR aspects, so she didn't really get those right but instead, the SR connection was re-established?

Brandon Sanderson

Regarding Ashrovan: The problem here is that I don't want to get too deep into these sorts of things, for reasons that I want aspects of the magic to remain subject to discussion for a while yet. Suffice it to say that when we talk about Returned and lifeless in Warbreaker sequels, you'll have more ammunition for understanding what happened in Emperor's Soul.

Faera

Ashraven, Ashrovan...it's Ashravan damnit. He didn't step up to become emperor just so you could get his name wrong. Gaotona is ashamed of you all DX

Brandon Sanderson

In the original language, the a/o is very similar. I always get them mixed up in the English, like when I try to write aㅂsound from Korean in English.

Either that, or I just couldn't decide which one I wanted when writing the book, giving Peter a headache as he had to go back and standardize them all. :)

#34 Copy

life_b4_death

What is happening from the point of view of an observer in the physical realm when an object is soulcast? Are the constituent electrons, protons, and neutrons being rearranged into new forms? And from a 3 realms stand point, is the history of the material being rewritten? Instead of when that star went nova to create heavy metals, was it silicon instead of iron (for instance)?

Brandon Sanderson

I'll go ahead and RAFO this, but with a promise that answers will actually come some day.

#35 Copy

mcase19

Are lightyears or AU a more appropriate method of measuring distance between shardworlds?

Brandon Sanderson

Because an AU is (correct me if I'm wrong) based on an Earth scale, I'd use light years.

lurgi

Light years are also based on an Earth scale (year = the time it takes the Earth to go round the sun).

Brandon Sanderson

Suppose you're right, but we have planets with an earth similar year (like Scadrial) in the cosmere, and likely also ones with a similar distance to the center of their sun, so I guess it's sixes of one, half dozen of another.

Phantine

With all the planet-moving, which era of Scadrial's year are we talking about?

Brandon Sanderson

Funnily, Peter once came to me with this exact same question. :) We'll canonize this eventually, with actual measurements. I think I'll wait until we have the charts ready to give any definitive answers on the size of orbits and the like.

#36 Copy

ckannan90

I have a cosmere question. At the end of Words of Radiance, Szeth receives Nightblood. The wiki told me it was a sword from Warbreaker, but I didn't realize how significant it was till I read the book. This, to me, seems like the first major cosmere crossover. All the other crossovers so far seem to have just been cameos (Hoid tells stories, or there are mysterious people hunting somebody, etc). I will RAFO, but it does seem like Szeth getting the sword means Nightblood will play a not-insignificant role in Stormlight 3. Does this mean the cosmere books are going to converge more going forward? Specifically, would someone need to have read Warbreaker to understand Oathbringer? Till now your different cosmere series have been readable in any order (and I didn't read them in publication order). Similarly, Mistborn: Secret History seems to be a prerequisite for at least the next Mistborn book.

Brandon Sanderson

One thing you have to remember is that in my cosmere outline, Warbreaker was a prequel to The Way of Kings, explaining Vasher's backstory. So I consider them more closely connected than some other things. But you could consider this the first major crossover.

Nightblood will be re-introduced, so those who haven't read Warbreaker will be brought up to speed.

Thoughtsunthought

Wow. Cool to see this.

One of my "concerns" is that eventually the cosmere stuff will overwhelm the individual series arcs.

Kinda like the Marvel Avengers movies, whilst they are great on their own, they lose some of the individuality that an Iron Man movie might have. If the overall story adds characters then you may end up with a Captain America: Civil War movie which whilst was amazing. Wasn't really a Captain America movie and would lose so much to someone who had only seen Capt America movies.

That being said I totally trust your judgement on this, I say concerns but I don't mean in a bad way.

That being said is any book flagged for an Avengers style "battle for the cosmere"?

Brandon Sanderson

I do have some plans for mixing later on, though I'll be very forthright about when those books come out. Meaning, so long as I'm not talking about these things as the main focus of a series, you don't have to worry about it taking them over. Conversely, you can be very excited when it does happen, as those stories will be very clear about what they're attempting to do.

One thing I do try to warn people is that the cosmere isn't an "Avengers" style concept--the goal here isn't to collect a variety of heroes from a variety of worlds and then throw them at a problem. It's more of a, "What if you could watch the world of something like Star Trek develop, by seeing individual engaging stories from various planets, then slowly watching them merge into a larger universe."

While some characters will, obviously, continue on through the series, and the Vessels of the Shards will be very important, the focus of the greater cosmere storyline is the cultures, the magic, and the evolution of the planets, while the individual stories are about the people who live on them during turning-points in their history.

#37 Copy

Shagomir

I'm really, really super interested to see how you approach the calendar for Taldain, given its unique properties and solar system.

Is this something you'd be able to talk about, or will it come up later in the story line for White Sand?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, that one will be fun. I had a blast with a lot of those things during worldbuilding.

I'll at the very least do some short stories set on the world, after the graphic novel(s). So expect information to be forthcoming.

#39 Copy

mcase19

Could someone Feruchemically storing connection in an Aonic nation become an Elantrian?

Brandon Sanderson

It's a little tougher than that, but it would be a start. And for some people, it would be enough.

yahasgaruna

Is it tougher because of some inherent difficultly with the selection process of Elantrians? Or because of something to do with using connection?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm getting a few too many 17th Shard style questions on the thread. I'm going to start curtailing them, as waking up to an hour' or two's worth of detailed cosmere questions each day is going to seriously impact my ability to actually write. So I'm going to liberally apply RAFO from here out.

So RAFO. :)

#40 Copy

Phantine

Got a little atium question:

If it's a god metal, and the power is actually coming from the metal, does it have added investiture that makes it harder to push or pull than the same amount of iron?

Or does the iron have an equal amount of investiture, but the investiture that makes it up is half-preservation and half-ruin, so it's 'inert' (so the power making up the iron never gets touched)?

And I guess in general, if all the metals on Scadrial are composed of preservation+ruin power, are they slightly harder to push or pull than metals mined from a random asteroid that's been sitting there untouched?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO. :)

#43 Copy

NeedsAdjustment

Would a kandra be able to imitate a chasmfiend, given enough time?

Brandon Sanderson

It's not about time, it's about mass. A little one, sure. A full grown one? They'd crush themselves. They'd need to be able to make use of symbiotic spren bonds from Roshar, which isn't just a matter of digesting a body.

#47 Copy

ebilutionist

Hey, Brandon, is there any chance you could tell us something about Nightblood? I'd definitely love to know more about it/him/her.

Also, I recently went through the Warbreaker annotations and found the part where you mentioned that had Lightsong not done what he did, the Hallandren would have been destroyed by the Idris in another Manywar, with the latter having obtained Awakened blades from Yesteel.

Did Yesteel gain the ability to create Awakened swords from Shashara's own research, or did he discover it independently?

Brandon Sanderson

These are questions that I intend to answer in future books, I'm afraid. So RAFO. (sorry.)

#48 Copy

Argent

Obviously you've developed the writing system of Scadrial at least to the level of an alphabet, but have you worked beyond it? Are there any plans to release in-world art, and specifically writing, similar to how Stormlight has them?

Brandon Sanderson

I didn't dig too far into the languages of Scadrial, at least not in First/Second era. It fits into my targeted worldbuilding philosophy--if I tried to do everything in every world, I'd never actually release any books. So I target my worldbuilding at the things that are relevant to characters/plots.

So I'm not planning anything like that for Era One or Two currently.

#50 Copy

Botanica

Mraize is said to come from Thaylenah. If it is true, then what about his eyebrows? 'Cause we didn't see any related descriptions from Shallan's PoVs. Did he cut/shave/dye his eyebrows?

Brandon Sanderson

Mraize...well, let's just say that much about him is mysterious. But no, you would not place him as Thaylen by his eyebrows.

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Argent

Keeping it on Scadrial, the ranks within the Set are obviously inspired by either mathematics, or programming, or logic, or a related field. Can you talk about this motivation (either yours or the Set's) for this?

Brandon Sanderson

My motivation ties directly to the same reasons that we see mathematics playing out in behind-the-scenes ways on Roshar. This plays into the themes of the cosmere, the rule-based magic, and the fascination I have of the ties between art and mathematics. (See the Rithmatist, which was originally a cosmere novel.)

The Set's in-world reasonings are similar to this, though less self-aware.

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yurisses

You suggested Secret History gave the definitive explanation why Vin didn't meet Hoid but many years ago you hinted at something different (that something he does spooked her and she is too observant for her own good). Can you reveal what the original reason you had intended was? (My favorite theories were eerily skillful humming and her picking up very faint pulses from his Investiture usage.)

Brandon Sanderson

I went back and forth on this one, honestly. I knew Kelsier would be involved, but one thing I was really worried about with Secret History was undermining Vin's story or her agency. While I liked Ender's Shadow, the closest parallel I knew of to a story like this, I didn't like how it weakened a lot of what Ender accomplished and gave it to Bean instead. (I think I've mentioned this in conjunction with Secret History before.)

So I wanted something to have stopped Vin, regardless of whether or not I ever wrote Kelsier's behind-the-scenes story or not. The official answer in my head is not that it was anything specific, but that the whole package that Hoid was presenting was WRONG to her. Her instincts picked up a dozen subtle cues that he was more dangerous than he seemed, and that made her freeze and assess. And that gave Kelsier the chance to nudge her away.

I wasn't trying to lead people to figure out a specific answer, with those comments. I was trying to hint that something was wrong, and Vin didn't quite know what set her off--because it wasn't one thing, but many. So I don't have a smoking gun, so to speak, of things Hoid was doing to drive her off.

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Botanica

We know that the Passions are a religion or a set of superstitions from Thaylenah. But what are the "Passions" exactly? Are they a group of Gods who represent various kinds of "Passion" worshipped by the Thaylen people? If not, are those "Passions" simply a set of ideals believed by the Thaylen people? Are there any connections between Thaylen Passions and Alethi Thrill?

Brandon Sanderson

The Passions could be called a religion, but there are those among the Thaylens (and to a lesser extent, other peoples) who would argue that it's more a philosophy. Or a companion religion. Much like Shinto and/or Confucianism co-exist in some places with Buddhism.

However, there is not formalized theology, despite various thinkers and gurus expressing their thoughts on the matter. The central idea is that Passion equates to Action, and the cosmic belief that wanting something draws it to you. This idea is reinforced by the spren, obviously.

Phantine

Ah, so basically some people treat it as a fundamental way of life, and some people just treat it as The Secret?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, you can see it as a Rosharan version of the Law of Attraction, though some people have taken it further into a more religious fundamental.

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ccstat

A question I've been thinking about recently: In Warbreaker we see Nightblood's consciousness shift dramatically when he is actively consuming investiture. Does the Shardic flavor of that investiture (Breath vs Stormlight or Preservation Mist vs Ruin Mist) influence how his mind functions in that state?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO, actually. Good question.

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ccstat

In Words of Radiance, Shallan draws a picture of someone destroying a statue. If attentive, could that person have been aware of being "observed" at the time?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm not exactly sure what you're asking. I need more detail of what you're trying to get at here.

NeedsAdjustment

I think he's asking if Shalash(???) could have (or did) felt Shallan observing her.

Brandon Sanderson

Looking at it again, I realize I'm asking for more clarity than they'd be able to provide. I do understand the question, but at the same time, my answers can can confirm or deny things that are (sometimes false) assumptions underpinning questions. So when we get into something like this, that has to do with mechanics I haven't explained very well yet, I get very hesitant about answering.

So...I'll probably just RAFO this one. For now. Though look for a scene involving Syl where something similar happens, as they are related.

ccstat

I was being more vague than necessary, specifically to avoid a "you're making assumptions" RAFO. I'll go ahead and detail my thinking then and let you respond as much or as little as you like. I recognize that I'm poking at mechanisms we don't understand yet, so RAFO is pretty likely.

I am working under the belief that Shallan's depiction of Ash is accurate and (likely) immediate. She could have visualized the scene in several ways: by having some portion of her aspect or of Pattern's travel there, by some connection-at-a-distance mechanism, or by "word-of-mouth" relay via (e.g.) spren.

As we've seen elsewhere, savvy and/or powerful people (like I assume the heralds to be) are able to notice when an aspect of someone pops up looking at them. Similarly, they could possibly notice a remote observer through the connection. In both cases, I presume that the degree to which the observer is present determines how noticable the event is. In contrast, the passive reporting through intermediaries in the third option would probably not trigger the sense of being watched. So my question boils down to whether Shallan is projecting part of herself, part of Pattern, or doing something else entirely. And in the back of my mind I'm wondering how much manipulation (or aggression) could take place at the other end of the connection.

If I understand correctly which scene you are referring to, where Kal was noticed, then you are saying that the two events share a mechanism which answers the original question, but still leaves me wondering about what is being projected across Roshar. (That you reference Syl is interesting.)

Here is a follow-up question, hoping that I haven't already talked myself into a corner or out of an answer: The clairvoyant drawings occur at a particularly verdant lait, with plenty of growth/death/circle-of-life happening. In a mechanistic sense, did this location help enable the clairvoyance?

Brandon Sanderson

I'll have to RAFO this, as I don't want to get into the mechanics right now.

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Iceblade44

Something that i've been wondering, you said before that Nightblood was modeled after Shardblades intentionally so my question is, did Vasher create his Phantoms with Shardplate in mind?

Brandon Sanderson

He was aware of Shardplate, but I wouldn't call them a conscious influence.

Phantine

Any sort of influence from the Soulcasting-to-Stone burial customs?

(If Vasher were a little more sneaky I'd think he had created the custom in case he needed a ready supply of Phantom material)

Brandon Sanderson

Let's say that yes, Soulcasting was very interesting to Vasher.

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Aurimus

As you (probably) know/remember, I'm really interested in the early parts of your creation process. The ideas basically. What was the first idea that created Zahel in WoK prime? What came first, Zahel or Nightblood and what were they like originally? Was it through them that you came up with the idea of worldhoppers or did you just want another worldhopper to appear to show that Hoid wasn't the only one?

Brandon Sanderson

The idea was actually writing Kaladin's swordmaster in TWOK Prime. By then, worldhoppers were already quite well established. (I'd written Elantris in 99, along with Dragonsteel to be a prequel to the entire cycle. That was followed by White Sand and Aether of Night in 2000 or so--and Aether has the first on-screen appearance of a Shard.)

Kings Prime was 2002-2003, and I wanted Kaladin's swordmaster Vasher to have an interesting backstory. That was the origin of the idea for a worldhopper who was very interested in Shardblades. From there, wanting to do a sympathetic magic, and (years later) my editor suggesting a world more "colorful" drove me to try out Warbreaker itself.

Here is his first appearance in TWOK Prime. Note, none of the names are changed in this, so you get Kaladin and Adolin's original names, among others.

After a few moments, one of the monks noticed him watching. The man paused, regarding Merin with the eyes of a warrior. "Shouldn't you be practicing with the other lords, traveler?"

Merin shrugged. "I don't really fit in with them, holy one."

"Your clothing says that you should," the monk said, nodding to Merin's fine seasilk outfit.

Merin grimaced.

The monk raised an eyebrow questioningly. He was an older man, perhaps the same age as Merin's father, and had a strong build beneath his monk's clothing. He was almost completely bald, save for a bit of hair on the sides of his head, and even that was beginning to gray.

"It's nothing, holy one," Merin said. "I'm just a little bit tired of hearing about clothing."

"Maybe this will take your mind off of it," the monk said, tossing him a practice sword. "And don't call me ‘holy one.'"

Merin caught the sword, looking down at it blankly. Then he yelped in surprise, dropping his Shardblade and raising the practice sword awkwardly as the monk stepped forward in a dueling stance. Merin wasn't certain how to respond--all of his training in the army had focused on working within his squad, using his shield to protect his companions and his spear to harry the opponent. He'd rarely been forced to fight solitarily.

The monk came in with a few testing swings, and Merin tried his best to mimic the man's stance. He knew enough not to engage the first few blows--they were meant to throw Merin off-balance and leave him open for a strike. He retreated across the cool sand, shuffling backward and trying not to fall for the monk's feints. Even still, the man's first serious strike took Merin completely by surprise. The blow took Merin on the shoulder--it was delivered lightly, but it stung anyway.

"Your instincts are good," the monk said, returning to his stance. "But your swordsmanship is atrocious."

"That's kind of why I'm here," Merin said, trying another stance. This time he managed to dodge the first blow, though the backhand caught him on the thigh. He grunted in pain.

"Your Blade is unbonded," the monk said. "And you resist moving to the sides, as if you expect there to be someone standing beside you. You were a spearman?"

"Yes," Merin said.

The monk stepped back, lowering his blade and resting the tip in the sand. "You must have done something incredibly brave to earn yourself a Blade, little spearman."

"Either that, or I was just lucky," Merin replied.

The monk smiled, then nodded toward the center of the courtyard. "Your friend is looking for you."

Merin turned to see Aredor waving for him. Merin nodded thankfully to the monk and returned the practice sword, then picked up his Shardblade and jogged across the sands toward Aredor. Standing with Dalenar's son was a group of elderly, important-looking monks.

"Merin," Aredor began, "these are the monastery masters. Each of them is an expert at several dueling forms, and they'll be able to train you in the one that fits you best. Masters Bendahkha and Lhanan are currently accepting new students. You can train with either one of them, though you'll need to pay the standard hundred-ishmark tribute to the monastery out of your monthly stipend."

Merin regarded the two monks Aredor had indicated. Both looked very distinguished, almost uncomfortably so. They regarded Merin with the lofty expressions of men who had spent their entire lives practicing their art, and who had risen to the highest of their talents. They stood like kings in their monasteries--not condescending, but daunting nonetheless.

Merin glanced to the side, a sudden impression taking him. "Holy ones, I am honored by your offer, but I feel a little overwhelmed. Could you tell me, is the monk I just sparred with accepting students at the moment?"

The masters frowned. "You mean Vasher?" one of them asked. "Why do you wish to train with him?"

"I. . .I'm not certain," Merin confessed.

ebilutionist

Is the payment to a devotary while training under an ardent still canonical? And given that Vasher had a reputation for being a bad duelist in Warbreaker, exactly how good is he with a blade? Is it just a case of Nalthian swordmasters being better or did Vasher learn from his experiences?

Brandon Sanderson

It's been a while.

And Vasher isn't as bad as the text implies.

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Aurimus

Are you saying that Elantris has other worldhoppers in? I just finished the prose version of White Sand as well (i've never been a fan of graphic novels but didnt want to miss anything from the Cosmere) and didnt even notice Hoid in it, let alone other worldhoppers there.

So you created Vasher and then made them a worldhopper, and the magic system and Nalthis stemmed from there? I actually have another question related to that. Have you ever thought about something you wanted to add to the Cosmere - say, an idea or an ability or something - and then built from there, or do you always write a cool story because its a cool story and the Cosmere stuff comes after?

For example, did you write Mistborn E1 to introduce the idea of Shards or did you write the plot and then realize you can wiggle the shards in there?

Brandon Sanderson

Hoid's part in White Sand was very minimal. I believe he's only referenced, and doesn't even appear on screen. Though Elantris has the famous mural depicting worldhopping.

You have it right. I was designing Vasher, decided he was a worldhopper, and then filed away "I'll tell his backstory some day" in the back of my brain. The magic for Nalthis grew more out of the idea for a sympathetic magic than it did for him, but the book was always intended to be his backstory world, so knowledge that Shardblades (or a version of them) being involved was part of my core creation of that setting.

Every story happens differently. Shadows for Silence happened from a writing prompt, for example. But at the same time, I'd been imagining for years a world to delve more into Cognitive Shadows. These things just kind of fit together as you work on them in your brain. But I've started with story first, and I've started with world first. Mostly, though, it's a mixture of both.

By Era One of Mistborn I was already very certain what I was doing with Shards, and so they were there from the get go. I'd say in the cosmere canon right now, White Sand is the most oddball, since it was the only world I designed and wrote a book in (the 1997 version, which is different from the 2000 version) before I had settled on the mechanics of the cosmere. I then placed it in the cosmere when writing the new version.

All of the published novels were written with the cosmere mechanics fully locked in, however, and the interactions of the Shards set forth.

Aurimus

Where is that [Hoid's part in White Sand]? I totally missed it? Is it possible to read the 97 version too, and LORD MASTRELL as well?

Brandon Sanderson

I don't send out the 97 version. It's just too bad. (Sorry.) Maybe some day, but not right now. It's the first book I ever wrote.

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Aurimus

I dont really understand what you mean by sympathetic magic. All that comes to mind is Kvothe, which certainly isn't part of your work. :p

Brandon Sanderson

Sympathetic magic is the classical science idea that "Like influences Like." Voodoo dolls are a more contemporary example, though even spontaneous generation and the humors connect to the idea slightly. It was the basis for Awakening, and (I believe) Rothfuss's sympathetic magic. It's a common theme in fantasy magics, though, much like alchemy and astrology.

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Phantine

At the risk of getting too technical, is there anything besides lack of knowledge preventing a soulcaster from turning some rocks into a bunch of plutonium and exploding?

I know you've got some rules attached to time bubbles to avoid those going nuclear so I wouldn't be surprised if there was something or another.

Brandon Sanderson

Well, Soulcasting isn't fission or fusion. It's a spiritual transformation process, not a physical one, and so you don't have to worry about some of these issues. There IS historical precedent of accidentally setting off fission reactions in the cosmere using the magic, but that was a different process. Soulcasting is actually pretty safe. (Well, on a grand scale.)

You could end up irradiating yourself, though, which wouldn't be very fun.

If you know what you were doing, making plutonium or uranium on Roshar wouldn't be difficult. The problem is more a matter of knowledge, and room for scientific exploration. They're unlikely to make atom bombs for the same reason they haven't made gunpowder. Once they figure out that some substances are important, they can learn to make them with Soulcasting (assuming they have Radiants) but some substances just don't occur naturally--so discovering them in the first place is difficult, and would require more modern scientific process.

Phantine

Okay, just to clarify here (since I'm not sure how up you are on early nuke designs)

A big enough chunk of uranium or plutonium will explode regardless of whether it's in a bomb or not. Early bomb designs just slammed two smaller chunks together so they'd be one big chunk.

For plutonium 'big enough' is about 35 pounds in one place - a chunk somewhere between the size of baseball and volleyball.

If I understand properly, people can soulcast from the cognitive realm into the physical, which implies once we get into a more modern stormlight setting soulcasters will make nuclear submarines look like small potatoes.

Brandon Sanderson

Slamming two chunks together so they became one big chunk seems an understatement, from what I remember. I'm under the impression that you had to use a great deal of explosive force to ram them together in order to set off a viable fission reaction. Doesn't it have to be compressed somewhat in order to react with itself?

I'll admit, it's been a long time since I've looked at this, but I remember glancing it over, and deciding that you'd need more than just soulcasting to get it to happen. Though it's not outside of reason that a soulcaster could learn to create super-dense plutonium. The problem is one of understanding, however.

Just like it's totally possible that we, with our current technology, could figure out some huge breakthrough in science allowing FTL or other incredible discoveries. But we don't have the understanding to pull it off yet.

In a modern setting, however, a lot of these complaints go out the window. Let's just say that this isn't the only reason a modern society that can instantly transmute one substance to another is potentially a very interesting place.

Phantine

You're totally right that everyone currently uses an 'implosion' style compression design. It's a lot more bang for your buck, and you need less radioactive material to work with. They're also a lot safer, because just sitting around they're well below critical mass - without the power-boosting tricks they basically can't go off.

The old "nobody uses these anymore" designs were 'Gun-Type'. Very simple - shoot a uranium bullet into the center of a uranium ring (or vice versa). Inefficient as heck (the Hiroshima bomb only fissioned 1.4% of its uranium), but also super simple to put together.

Despite being simple to build, gun-types were also super unsafe relative to modern implosion devices (among other worries, dropping a gun-type device into the ocean could potentially set it off because of how neutrons react with water). Also, getting the timing perfect on the fissile 'bullet' was a problem, so practically speaking it could only be done with uranium.

After WWII, the only use the US ever had for gun-types was in bunker busters and nuclear artillery (because of course that was a good idea).

Darn, that post turned out longer than I expected it to.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to see you make something really cool out of a post-scarcity transmutropolis setting (especially since the liespren would be in charge of nuclear treaties), and also my roommate just pointed out all the laying out of nuclear bomb details is pointless if they could just make antimatter instead. D'oh.

Brandon Sanderson

This is useful information for me, but my gut says that Rosharans couldn't get this working with their current tech level. That said, the REAL issue (as you mentioned in your original question) is knowledge, not feasibility. They'd have to know how to make the right kind of Uranium or Plutonium--and would need to be able to get this across to a soulcaster in a way that works, then THEY would need to get this across to spren. Cross that hurdle, and I suppose it's not at all implausible to imagine Alethi during Dalinar's era with nukes. I suspect the right kind of fabrial could make a trigger device to match ring and bullet at the right time. Depends on how quickly it needs to be going, though.

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ccstat

There IS historical precedent of accidentally setting off fission reactions in the cosmere using the magic

Now this is a story I look forward to hearing :-)

Brandon Sanderson

One of the first magic systems I designed for the cosmere was based on the manipulation of sub-atomic particles, and involved the ability to look directly at atoms and interact with them. I decided to back off on this, as it was a whopper of a magic system to get right with my limited (at the time) writing experience. It was fun, though, and is still a canonical Cosmere magic.

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Niceratops

Not to be too obvious about being a geology dork, but if you can make clear quartz easily with soulcasting as we've seen, and you can also make radioactive materials, wouldn't it be trivial to make smokestone since defects from irradiation are what make quartz black?

Brandon Sanderson

Making unstable plutonium or the like is theoretically possible, but not something that Rosharans are aware they could do.

Emerald and Heliodor are basically the same thing, chemically, but are very different substances on Roshar--with different soulcasting properties. Same goes for quartz and smokestone.

usuyami

Is there any significance to some of the gems being forms of aluminum oxide?

Brandon Sanderson

Not really, I'm afraid. I tried to work it in, and decided I was stretching.

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Arkadious4028

Can Kandra learn to photosynthesize or imitate plants? I'm thinking no, due to the biological differences between animal and plants cells, but I gotta know.

Brandon Sanderson

They've toyed with this, and it hasn't worked so far. There are kandra who believe they can figure it out, however.

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PriestOfTheSurvivor

Based on the current state of the Cosmere, known and unknown, could Kelsier theoretically find enough power/skill/knowledge to have a fair and equally matched fight with Hoid? Assuming they were to meet again and have a rematch?

Brandon Sanderson

I'd say that what you posit is indeed theoretically possible.

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ebilutionist

Regarding Soulcasting, I have a question - why do people continue to use it post-Recreance? Would it not have been seen as a betrayal, given that the Radiants abandoned them? Why this Surge but not others? Was it simply the only Surge available and people would have kept using the others anyway? I guess it's a matter of practicality but given how devout Vorinism can be it does seem odd.

Brandon Sanderson

Good question. You'll notice that Soulcasters aren't the only fabrial that access a Surge, however. They're just the one most commonly used.

There are plenty of rationalizations. But it comes down to this: they are too useful to give up.

ebilutionist

Ah yes, now that I think of it Navani's conjoined-gem fabrials seem to utilize Gravitation and perhaps the heating one uses Abrasion(?) to produce heat. Or are there others I did miss?

Brandon Sanderson

I was referencing a Regrowth fabrial, actually, which I believe has appeared several times.

ebilutionist

Isn't the Regrowth fabrial incredibly rare? I was under the impression it disappeared with the Recreance and only Nin's reappearance brought it back. AFAIK, only a Radiant in Dalinar's vision and a Herald have actually used it so far.

Brandon Sanderson

Their rarity depends on the time period in question. But yes, I'd list them as incredibly rare.

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ebilutionist

How would food production be like without soulcasters? Has Alethkar, for example, grown far beyond what it could (population-wise) without them?

Brandon Sanderson

The food question is a great one. As far as the Alethi go, it's more a matter of concentration than raw food production. Shipping is SLOW in Alethkar. It's long, which makes getting between north and south difficult, and the rivers aren't as useful as they are on (say) Earth.

The warcamps, for example, would starve themselves out short order without soulcasters. Supply lines are just not an Alethi strength. Kholinar, while not as big as Scadrian population centers, is also large enough that it depends on soulcasters for some of its food. It could survive without them, though, with northern Alethi food production.

Really, warfare is where they've learned to extend themselves, and depend on the soulcasters. Remember, gemstones in them DO break, so you do still need a ready supply of emeralds. The larger, the better.

ebilutionist

Very interesting on the food logistics of Alethkar - I never did quite imagine Kholinar was smaller than say, Elendel, but the technological progress there explains it.

Given how slow food transportation is, I would presume fresh food is a no-go. Are spices and preserved food selling well in Roshar, then? As for population centers, is Kholinar the largest around, or are other places a lot larger?

Brandon Sanderson

There's a reason that Herdazian food (which makes soulcast meat taste good) is popular these days.

Azimir is larger in population than Kholinar. Kholinar is big by Rosharan standards, but far smaller than an Earth population center (like London) at a comparable time. The warcamps had it beat by a lot--depending on how you view the warcamps. (As one city, or ten small ones.)

ebilutionist

Does that just mean Herdazian food is incredibly spice-heavy, then? Also, why is Soulcast food bland? Is it due to the nature of the object (changing food to food makes it tastier than stone to food), or just because the Soulcaster lacks practice, like Jasnah did with strawberry jam?

Brandon Sanderson

Flavorful, rather than spicy. Most western food is already spicy. The Herdazians offer something a little different, and are pretty good with soulcast meat. The portability is also a bit of a revolution.

Soulcasting anything other than the basic Essence requires some innate knowledge and practice. People could learn to soulcast better food, but it would have to be a Radiant with control over the process. The soulcaster fabrials are far more rigid in what they can create.

ebilutionist

As for soulcasting - now that is... interesting. So are Surgebinding fabrials more rigid in general? And what of an Honorblade when a non-Herald uses it?

Brandon Sanderson

A soulcaster is built to do a certain thing, and can do that certain thing well, but without as much flexibility. It is the difference between having a computer output a picture of a circle--following some inputs such as size and some changes to shape--and having an artist who can draw what you want.

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ebilutionist

Ah, so Azir has a larger population density, at least. Cosmere-wise, is Elendel the largest, or could say, T'Telir match it?

Brandon Sanderson

Azir has a large population density. Cosmere-wise, though, Eldendel is by far the largest. Though I don't have strict population numbers on places like Silverlight. (Which, for years, I assumed I'd have to rename--but I think the program Silverlight is dead, so I can go back to calling the city that.)

ebilutionist

And of course, what exactly is Silverlight? I don't think I've ever heard of it before. A Threnodian city?

Brandon Sanderson

Silverlight is mentioned in the Cosmere collection, I believe, in one of the essays. It's a city somewhere in the comsere, with some relevance you will discover eventually.

Tellingdwar

Is Silverlight the city that exists in the Cognitive Realm, in an area corresponding to deep space in the Physical? And if that's the RAFO I expect it is, will we see an answer in Arcanum Unbounded?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO.

I believe it's referenced in Unbounded, but I can't remember if I cut it or not. (I have been touchy about mentioning the place since Microsoft took the name in 06 or whenever it was.)

This one will remain a mystery for a while.

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Botanica

How does the Moon Scepter actually look like? In what shape is it?

Now we have two understandings of the word "scepter" based on different ways of translation:

1) 杖: It shapes like a common wand/staff/rod/cane/stick, usually seen in Western countries. [Mainland translation]

2) 笏: It's kind of a flat scepter of Chinese origin, shaped like a tablet, usually held before the breast by officials when received in audience by the emperor. (Very rarely, the emperor himself holds it.) The officials can take notes on it. [Taiwan translation (I believe the translator once showed you around the Taipei Palace Museum.)] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shaku_(ritual_baton)

Could you tell us which one is closer to the original design? Thanks!

Brandon Sanderson

It's not a Shaku, it's a Ruyi, actually. That's an excellent question, though. It does actually come from my visit to the museam, and while I'm aware of shakus, I hadn't heard them called scepters. But I guess they are!

Either way, I imagined it as the wavy shape of a Ruyi. (如意)

Botanica

Whoa what an amazing answer! Thanks so much for the explanation! I once thought of Ruyi when flipping through some reference materials and now it becomes canon! Hooray! Another question if you don't mind: (Someone just asked this a moment ago.) Why is it called Moon Scepter? Does (perhaps) one side/end of it resemble moon? [Full moon or crescent?] Or is it colored like moon? Or does it contain some moon pattern? (Also a fan art question, sorry ;P)

Brandon Sanderson

It has to do with the differences in religion between Shai's people and the Rose Empire. It is colored like the moon, but there's a little more to it than that.

Botanica

Ah, I see. Thank you! So what color is Selish moon when we look at it? (I suppose there's only one moon?) Didn't find any specific descriptions about its color in books. Can we assume it is similar to our moon?

Brandon Sanderson

I didn't say it was the color of Sel's moon...

Just kidding. It is, and there is only one. It's a pale white blue, a little more blue than ours, but similar.

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liftfan

I have a couple of questions regarding Dalinar. We know that he visited the Nightwatcher and it doesn't look like anybody else knows about it.

  1. Have we seen anything in the first two books, which shows the boon he got from the Nightwatcher?

  2. As we see from the preview chapter of Oathbringer, Dalinar was extremely brash and maybe a bit cruel in his youth. Does his change of character has something to do with the Nightwatcher?

Brandon Sanderson

These are both questions that, presumably, the Dalinar flashbacks in book three will answer. So RAFO. :)

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heroofpages

I was going through the compiled WoB and came across two interesting pieces of information. So I guess a lead in question, you said that Hoid isn't quite human, so I was wondering if he wasn't quite human in the same way that inquisitors aren't quite human (i.e. alterations to spiritual DNA etc.)? And if so does he get his many investiture based powers in a similar way?

Brandon Sanderson

You are asking the right questions, and are thinking along correct lines.

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Aaronator17

I was wondering whether any of the Vessels are blood related?

Aside from the romantic relationship between Honor and Cultivation I'm not sure that we know anything about the relationships that others have with each other within the group of 16, and it would be interesting to know.

Brandon Sanderson

I'm saving most of this for Dragonsteel, I'm afraid. So RAFO.

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Argent

We know that you can't Lash people in Shardplate, but can you Lash the person inside the Plate? If they had their helm off, for example. At that point Plate should be just dead weight, right? 

Brandon Sanderson

There's a bit of an interference envelope. Wearing plate, the person has this big ball of investiture around them, and so pushing any through it--even by touching a person without a helm--is going to be tough. Easier than with the helm on though, I suppose.

Investiture acts (roughly) like a saturated solution in these cases. Sticking more power into something like a Feruchemical storage or a hyper-invested object like Plate is increasingly hard. The other part is that Investiture tends to interfere with other Investiture, unless there's a familiar resonance. (This is part of what philosophers call Identity.) Slapping your hand through a sand master's stream of sand will cause interference, and make them start to drop. It's not that the sand is supporting them, it's that the investiture holding them up gets scrambled for a moment because of your own investiture.

Investiture pushed toward someone inside a hyper-invested (supersaturated) system like a person in Shardplate is going to get hard push-back.

This is similar to the reason that it's harder to Push on invested coins. Depends on how invested they are, in that case. It's generally not as hard as doing something like Lashing a person in plate. (This is more about the interference than the saturation of investiture.) But the two principles are what I use to guide the physics in these areas.

quietandproud

Can we take that as a hint that the Investiture in the Plates and the Investiture that the Surge of [Adhesion] uses come from different Shards? Or do they interfere because they "belong" to different spren?

Brandon Sanderson

You know, I should have realized this one would bring out the follow up questions. Let's leave it at what I posted for now. This is a deep, deep rabbit hole, and I do need to try to get some more writing done tonight. So...RAFO. (Sorry.)

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Argent

The name Bleeder - does it come from (the incorrect) idea that bleeding a patient can make them feel better? And so Paalm sees herself as the one who needs to bleed Elendel to make it healthy?

Brandon Sanderson

The idea of "bleeding" as we had on earth as a custom of medicine did not exist on scadrial. But the idea in your post isn't too far off.

Oversleep

What do you think about translating 'Bleeder' as 'barber surgeon'? It's the Polish translation (and the term is one-word and sounds really well). I think the translators went with the same train of thought as Argent did and since Bleeder has already described herself as a kind of surgeon - her comments about cleaning the wounds being more painful than the cut itself and so on. Is this a "on spot" translation or is it far off?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, that's not a bad translation at all. I like it.

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Argent

When, in Stormlight, Shardblade victims are described as having burned out eyes, do the eyes physically burn out leaving empty eyesockets, or is it closer to a surface burn, maybe just looking like they had burned?

Brandon Sanderson

Eyes actually burn. It is an oddity that I might some day explain.

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Argent

How can Szeth apply multiple Basic Lashings to an object - wouldn't the first one send the object immediately beyond his grasp?

Brandon Sanderson

Hold something in your hand. There is a "basic lashing" pulling it downward. How hard is it to keep holding on to?

Often, though, then I have him Lash multiple times, he either does it all at once or in very quick succession.

Argent

I was mostly interested in cases where Szeth lashes really heavy objects - stone blocks or tables - to the side. They are not things he can hold (usually), and my understanding of physics suggests that a second after the first Lashing the object would be 9.81 (well, less for Roshar) meters away.

Maybe I can find an example where it feels weird.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, please. It's entirely likely I've made a mistake somewhere.

With the blocks, the ones I remember are where he has to overcome friction.

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mathota123

Also what would happen if I had a LOT of Breath and tried to Awaken something that was still alive...?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO on the second question. You could say that Investing someone with your Breath, however, IS Awakening them.

crocsandcargos

Are Commands unique to Endowment and those with Breath, or do other Shards have an equivalent or similar power / ability? The girl Vasher rescues, his statements to Denth, and your quote above seem to point that Commands can be used on living entities for some purposes... I've always wondered if there was more to Dalinar referring to "unite them" as a 'phantom command'. If other Shards use commands or something similar it could also explain the mechanism of the Nightwatcher's boon/curse related to Dalinar's memory loss.

Brandon Sanderson

Intent is one of the components of the Magic, as you'll see frequently. These things are related.

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mathota123

Do you have a rough idea of when we will be hearing more about "Dark One"?

Brandon Sanderson

Well, I decided to do Apocalypse Guard as my next YA project, so we won't see Dark One AT LEAST until that trilogy is done, Alcatraz 6 is done, and Rithmatist has another book in it. (Sorry.)

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Ray745

When a person dies who is then Returned, do they come back essentially immediately? According to Llarimar it sounds like a quick process...

"When we found you dead, I lost hope. I was going to resign my position. I knelt above your body, weeping. And then, the Colors started to glow. You lifted your head, body changing, getting larger, muscles growing stronger."

When they do come back, are they unconscious? I only ask because as Llarimar was holding him when he changed, if he came back right then, Lightsong's first memory would be of this man who was to be his priest holding him. I assume this would be something Lightsong would have asked about numerous times, why he was with Llarimar when he died, so it seems to me a Returned must be unconscious for a while in order to give them a chance to be brought to the Court of the Gods without being exposed to their family, whom they were probably around when they died.

Brandon Sanderson

It's usually a quick process, but not standardized. It could take hours, or longer, but generally does not.

It's something between what you're saying, and instantaneous waking up. More like they start to glow, and the transformation begins, then they wake up and stand. But they're confused and disoriented, and Lightsong was told his priests were gathered as soon as he started glowing, so that they could greet him as he came to himself. He never had reason to question, and that moment is fuzzy anyway. (As evidenced by him not remembering the event, and needing to be told about it.)

At least, that's my rationale as I remember it. It's been ten years at this point, so I could be fuzzy on the details. :)

Event details
Name
Name Stormlight Three Update #4
Date
Date Sept. 8, 2016
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Location /r/Stormlight_Archive
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