General Reddit 2015

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Name General Reddit 2015
Date Jan. 1, 2015
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#1 Copy


Who would win in a fight between a Full Shardbearer and a Space Marine?

Brandon Sanderson

I don't know 40k well enough to say. But you will see Shardbearers in space some day.


...that's amazing. You've got high sci-fi fantasy coming? That'll be amazing.

Uh... Now I've got this image of Kaladin in modified shardplate(hell, can shardplate just serve as a spacesuit?) floating about in space and Syl appearing with a little bubble helmet.

Brandon Sanderson

The cosmere (the shared universe of my epic fantasy books) is interconnected, and eventually there will be space travel between them. Those books are quite a ways down the road, though.


I've known a long time of your cosmere! But I figured you'd take a "stargate" approach eventually -y'know, magical gates?

But actual Space travel?

I can imagine the various magical systems lending themselves well to that kind of stuff! I mean, gravity fabrials for artificial gravity, using some sort of cross-world steel pushing fabrial/biomechanical steel pushing device for a gauss rifle..

I mean, the last one is if you make this like space ship battles.

Windrunners and Skybreakers could just function as fighters themselves!

here's a question: how are cross world magics gonna work? Let's say a space freighter powered by fabrials enters Scadrial space. What happens to those fabrials?

Brandon Sanderson

Most of the magics are unaffected by being taken off world, though still subject to their own inherent flaws. Stormlight seeps out. Sand loses its glow. Metal can only be used by one with the right genetic code. Note that the magic from Sel is different, and is location dependent for reasons I don't think fandom has quite teased out.


Isn't Sel the original planet where Adonalsium happened?

Brandon Sanderson

Yolen is the original.

#2 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Most of the magics are unaffected by being taken off world, though still subject to their own inherent flaws. Stormlight seeps out. Sand loses its glow. Metal can only be used by one with the right genetic code. Note that the magic from Sel is different, and is location dependent for reasons I don't think fandom has quite teased out.


I assumed the shard Dominion was the reason why magic's are geographically and/or geopolitically based. Is there a different, essentially unrelated reason?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, there is a different reason.

#3 Copy


Have you currently got a series planned for after the Wax and Wayne books? I really enjoyed the first book, although I do miss the full-on Mistborn / Feruchemists.

Brandon Sanderson

The next series I'm planning is what was originally going to be the second Mistborn trilogy (right now I'm just calling it Era Three.) It is a 1980s era spy thriller urban fantasy, and I think it will be awesome.


I have a question that I assume is going to be RAFO, but ... 1980s era spy thriller implies something like a Cold War to me. Does this mean United States: Elendelians :: Russia : Southern Peoples?

(I'm not sure what the proper demonyms would be.)

Brandon Sanderson

That's a pretty big RAFO.

#4 Copy


During Adolin's exploration of Urithiru (right before he murders Sadeas) he comes across a painting

A fanciful picture with animals from mythology. He recognized a few from children's stories, like the enormous mink like creature with the mane of hair that burst out around and behind its head. What was it called again?

Let's answer Adolin's question. Is that a lion. Does this mean that normal animals once inhabited Roshar but became extinct or were forced to adapt after the arrival of Odium or the Highstorms. Or maybe these were artist illustrations from stories brought over to Roshar by worldhoppers? What do you think?


With shardpools being a thing and worldhoppers like Hoid being a thing as well it's entirely possible that people brought stories of the fauna of their world with them when they came to Roshar. After all, we know (via Word of Brandon) that the Horneater lakes are shardpools so they could have knowledge of lions via travelers, seeing them in the pools or some other way (worldsingers?)

Edit-- just noticed you mentioned worldhoppers. I think that's what it is, but it could also be stories from the original inhabitants if (big if) the original inhabitants came from elsewhere in the Cosmere.

Edit again -- They might have gone extinct after the arrival of Odium. If the rest of the world was akin to Shinovar prior to Odium then it's entirely possible for their to have been lions, tigers, and bears (oh my!).

Unless someone asks (or has asked) Brandon then I have no clue.

[Brandon]can you aid us in our questions?

Brandon Sanderson

No, it seems like you're asking the right ones.


Can you aid us in getting answers?

Brandon Sanderson

I've done so already, by providing two in-depth discussions of the nature of Roshar. They're called The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance.

#5 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

This is an interesting topic, and though I saw this early, I wanted to wait to post anything because I prefer to let discussions like this happen without author intervention, at least not immediately.

I do I like talking about topics like this, though. Humor is such a curiously subjective thing. There are people who just don't get Pratchett, whom I find the funniest thing ever. Conversely, I don't generally like stand up comedians, and actively dislike some of the comedies that people on reddit love. There are people who tell me that my Mat scenes in WoT are the funniest they've read in the series; there are others who consider them absolute duds.

Humor is more subjective than what we find heroic, tragic, or even beautiful. It also depends a great deal on audience buy-in and mood. This makes comedy one of the trickiest things to do in a book, because some people are just going to hate what you do. My approach has generally been a kind of shotgun blast--I try to include multiple different kinds of humor, stylized to the individual character. That way, if you don't find the humor itself funny, you at least learn what the character finds funny--and learn something about them.

In Stormlight, my personal favorite is the bridge crew humor, as it is distinctly character driven. Syl's humor is a different flavor, based on innocence mixed with sarcasm. Wit is another style entirely, though I usually only let him really go when he meets someone he dislikes strongly. I have to be careful, as he's one of the few characters I allow to stray into the vulgar, and letting him go too far risks letting such things overshadow the rest of the book.

Shallan's humor is based upon regency "women sit in a circle and trade witty comments" humor, of which Jane Austen was a master. Much of what the OP said in his post is correct--Shallan's fault is that she over-extends. She uses the humor as a coping mechanism, and to her, it doesn't matter if it's actually funny so long as she's stretching toward something more lighthearted than her terrible past. She tries very hard to prove herself. And she fails. Often.

However, her type of "wit" is to exemplify what Vorin lighteyed women consider to be amusing or diverting. And there are people who genuinely find that kind of thing to be a blast--though Shallan isn't exactly the best at it yet. (She's not terrible either, mind you. If you don't smile at some of the things she says, it's likely this isn't your type of humor, which is just fine. Hopefully, there will be other things in the books that make you smile.)

Though, that said, I'd love to read passages from other fantasy novels that people on reddit find to be actually laugh-out-loud funny. I know which ones I personally like, but it would be useful for me to see what you're liking. Feel free to PM them to me or to post them here.

#6 Copy


I'm wondering: do you have any other ideas for interesting magic systems you might use in the future?

Brandon Sanderson

I've always got a few bouncing around in my head. Lately, I've found myself more interested in curious and unusual settings than I have magics. (Latest is a world that is surrounded by an envelope of water, much as the ancients imagined water surrounding the earth before the flood happened. So, like, five or six hundred feet up into the air you have an ocean. Beyond that, space and the sun.)

#7 Copy


I'm not terribly fond of puns in fantasy unless the author expects us to believe that the characters are either speaking English or that the language that they are speaking has exactly the same puns.

Brandon Sanderson

It's neither one. Generally, the authors you're reading are pretending their books are in translation--and are generally providing an appropriate English pun to convey the tone of the scene. It happens in the real world, too. My books are all in English originally. When my translator for the Taiwanese editions, for example, runs across a pun, she often constructs a pun that works in the context in her language. The actual words are different, but the idea of "This character is making a wordplay quip" remains.


Thanks for the reply. One of my favourite things about this subreddit is the interaction with authors.How do you extend this to foreign languages within the world, then? For example, Tolkien's various languages, or the Old Tongue in Wheel of Time. Do we assume that the imaginary translator decided not to translate those phrases? If so, why?Made-up example:

"Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious," Tom muttered under his breath.

As, perhaps, opposed to:

"This is a truly stupendous event," Tom muttered under his breath, in Poppinish.

Brandon Sanderson

The idea is that the imaginary translator (who is basically the author) is trying to preserve the proper tone. Any time one of those phrases is written, the author COULD have just written the translated version. Why didn't they? There are a ton of reasons, but the most likely is to preserve the feeling the characters have in interacting with something they don't understand. This extends to which words we choose to translate even from the world. In Stormlight, I use the word 'havah' for a Vorin dress. Yet I call a coat simply a coat. There's a balance between not overloading the reader and providing setting immersion, and also a distinction between an article of clothing that is meaningful culturally and one that is less so. Being able to make these kinds of decisions is like adding a pinch of exotic spice to your broth, making it a unique and savory experience, and is part of what I love about fantasy over other genres.

#8 Copy


I thought the spheres of different denominations were also different sizes.


Someone mentioned this, too. Now with a second person it seems to make even more sense. Was it mentioned in the books?

Garnet and ruby are still right next to each other in value, but with all the other differences... it's probably just enough information to differentiate them.



Huh. I'd always assumed that the glass portion of a sphere was the same size for each gem type, but I can't find solid proof one way or another in the books. It's clear that within a gem type the glass size is constant while gem size grows from chip to mark to broam, but otherwise? I'd have to do a careful reread to try and find any evidence one way or another, and it might not be there at all.

This seems like the kind of question [Brandon Sanderson] or [Ben McSweeney] can give a definitive answer to: would a diamond chip's glass be the same size as an emerald broam's?

Ben McSweeney

[Peter Ahlstrom] ought to know for sure.

I want to say they're all the same size sphere, with larger or smaller gems? But now I'm blanking on what that sphere size is... like, about the size of a marble? Half-inch or so in diameter?

Peter Ahlstrom

The spheres are all the same size, about as big around as a man's thumbnail. Only the gems inside the spheres differ in size.

#9 Copy


*posting a thread in the "WhoWouldWin" subreddit titled "Randland vs Scadrial"*

Round 1: Zen Rand (after revelation, before last battle) vs Mist Vin (Feeding on infinite metal sources) - Both at their top tiers, they should, by my estimation, be matched because of the rays of power vs seeing the future.

Round 2: The armies of Randland vs The armies of Scadrial - Aes Sedai, Asha'man, dragons/cannons, vs koloss, mistings, mistborns.

Bonus round: The Lord Ruler and his armies have to take on the Dark One, and his armies. How well do they fare?

Other rounds would be cool if you come up with more.

EDIT: Since people seem to think that RandLand would stomp, how would Vin and crew, with/without the Lord Ruler, fare if they had full knowledge of Rand's abilities and 6 months to prepare?

Brandon Sanderson

I think that while Vin in the state you mention might be able to give a good fight to Rand, overall, Randland winds. Channelers are more powerful and versatile than most metalborn. Randland has far better generals; everyone on Scadrial is basically still winging it. I hand this one to Randland, unless Kelsier can pull off some improbable assassinations before the whole thing begins.


Would the time reversing properties of balefire remove the ability [of atium] to see the future?

Brandon Sanderson

Boy, this one is a tough call. Mixing cosmologies is tough. If we're IN Randland, then atium would work by reading the pattern--but in the cosmere, it looks into the Spiritual Realm--where all times, locations, and possibilities conflate. Either way, I'd say Balefire could counteract atium--but it would be tricky to use correctly, as you'd basically have to balefire some object that the atium burner was factoring into their plans very soon, tripping them up and catching them unable to adjust to the new futures quickly enough.


Not too long ago you told us atium works in the Cognitive - to quote you in reference to how stronger atium burns, "However, there's a certain breaking point where you kind of crack the whole system, peer straight into the cognitive realm, and kind of have a "It's full of stars" moment."

Are the two replies still compatible?

Brandon Sanderson

I meant Spiritual there. Sorry. I deal with the cognitive so much in the books, and Spiritual so infrequently, I often have a silver/tin moment when my fingers just type the thing I'm used to typing.

#10 Copy


I was just listening to Darn Carlin's Hardcore History podcast and Dan Carlin was talking about Genghis Khan's habit of seeing the potential in anyone, even an enemy. He was specifically going over the story of Jebe, a soldier who shot Genghis Khan in the neck and was recruited by the Khan because of his skill. This, at least to me, bears a striking resemblance to the final scene in the first flashback of [Oathbringer]. [Brandon] can you confirm or deny my suspicions that this scene was directly inspired by the real life event?

Brandon Sanderson

Yup, that's where it came from! I read a history of Genghis a number of years back, and loved this story, which was included there (though said to be just a legend.) Since I based old-school Dalinar on Subutai, a Mongolian general, I thought that this would be a perfect inclusion.

The origins of the Mongolian-Dalinar link, by the way, can be traced back to a friend of mine, Bat-ultzi, a Mongolian who went about always claiming to be "The Great descendant of the Great Genghis Khan." He'd throw his shoes at people if they offended him. He was such a character that I got very interested in Mongolian practices and history.

More tidbits. Rock and his culture started Mongolian long, long ago. (98-99 era, when I first wrote him.) As Roshar in general (and the Alethi in specific) became more Asian in look and less Semitic (though they are still a mash-up) I decided to push Rock's people in the direction of a human/parsh hybrid strain. This also was part of moving Rock himself from Yolen to Roshar, following after Dalinar and some other characters, who came earlier during the original Dragonsteel / Stormlight split in the early 2000s.

These changes drove the Horneaters away from Mongolian influences, though I can't say specifically where the Polynesian/Russian mashup came from. I liked how it read, and felt the linguistics supported the accent. These changes, of course, had a domino effect that resulted in the Veden people gaining their occasional red hair and fair skin from Horneater relation, which means Shallan is part parshman--though the relation is distant at this point.

#11 Copy


By the way, the chapters from Way of Kings Prime were pretty interesting when I read them in the [Altered Perceptions] anthology. I assume the rest of the book at the moment is still pretty spoilery... about where in The Stormlight Archive series would you consider it 'caught up' enough to do something with the rest of WoK'?

Brandon Sanderson

Unfortunately, one of the ways I made the series work was by splitting the character into two groupings, and doing half in the first five and half in the second. This means that WoK Prime doesn't spoil anything for Dalinar/Kaladin/Shallan. But it has huge spoilers for books six and seven, with Jasnah and Taln. So it will be a while.

#12 Copy


By the way, if "Awakeners" were something different back then, what did you call Vasher? Or was he just "some guy from another world, I'll explain his magic later".

Brandon Sanderson

The latter. There are hints he has a mysterious past, but not much more.

#13 Copy


I didn't realize Horneaters had parshmen blood, didn't even realize that was possible. How closely are humans and parshmen related, do they have a common ancestor? Or is one an artificially created version of the other?

Brandon Sanderson

There was intermixing long ago. Horneaters and Herdazians are both a result. (Signs of this are the stone carapace on Herdazian fingernails and the Horneater extra jaw pieces--in the back of the mouth--for breaking shells.)

Humans and parshmen don't have a common ancestor. And as a side note, both of these strains of humanoids predate the ascension of Honor, Cultivation, and Odium.


Are there Aimian-Human hybrids as well? (Either type of Aimian) If so, are the Thaylen people one of these?

Brandon Sanderson



*via private message*

Some of us believe that you are saying that humans and listeners existed pre-Shattering while some of us believe that you are saying that Horneaters and Herdazians existed pre-Shattering (you have mentioned that humans had been on Roshar since before the Shattering recently). What were you trying to say here?

Brandon Sanderson

Humans (other than those on Yolen) existed pre-Shattering, as did parshmen.

#14 Copy


So how do the exact mechanics of Feruchemy in relation to Compounding work?

This confusion is primarily around how [the Lord Ruler] gets his near infinite age.

Okay. So first off, I understand the concept of how they work. Feruchemy is net zero, Allomancy is net positive, combine them and you end with a net positive Feruchemy ability.

So how Feruchemy normally works... you take say weight, store half your normal weight and then you can access it whenever you want. So you (originally X weight) are taking A weight, storing it, and then you are at (X-A) weight, with access to A. So we have a metalmind that store magnitude with the efficiency of how its received based on how quickly or slowly it is drawn upon.

All the metalminds except atium seem to act this way. Atium seems to work as storing magnitude/time rather than just magnitude. The way I understand it is that say a 30 year old person becomes 50 years old for 1 day, this would give access to 20 years difference for a 1 day period.

The Lord Ruler then exploits this by gaining access to say 20 years difference over 10 days (magnification by Compounding) which he then slowly feeds into himself to lower his age.

Why this difference? I'm assuming its to maintain a neutral "body age" because with just magnitude a person could permanently make themselves younger by Compounding.

With just magnitude of "20 years of youth" being stored, if the Lord Ruler magnified it, he could turn it into "200 years of youth" and then he would never need the constant stream off youth (and wouldn't have died without the bracelets)

Hope this makes sense.

Brandon Sanderson

All right, so there are a few things you have to understand about cosmere magics to grok all of this.

First, is that magics can be hacked together. You'll see more of this in the future of the cosmere, but an early one is the hack here--where you're essentially powering Feruchemy with Allomancy. (A little more complex than that, but it seems like you get the idea.)

The piece you're missing is the nature of a person's Spiritual aspect. This is similar to a Platonic idea--the idea that there's a perfect version of everyone somewhere. It's a mix of their connections to places, people, and times with raw Investiture. The soul, you might say.

(Note that over time, a person's perception of themselves shapes their Cognitive aspect as well, and the Cognitive aspect can interfere with the Spiritual aspect trying to make the Physical aspect repair itself.) Healing in the cosmere often works by aligning your Physical self with your Spiritual self--making the Physical regrow. More powerful forms of Investiture can repair the soul as well.

However, your age is part of your Connection to places, people, and times. Your soul "knows" things, like where you were born, what Investiture you are aligned with, and--yes--how old you are. When you're healing yourself, you're restoring yourself to a perfect state--when you're done, everything is good. When you're changing your age, however, you are transforming yourself to something unnatural. Against what your soul understands to be true.

So the Spiritual aspect will push for a restoration to the way you should be. With this Compounding hack, you're not changing connection; it's a purely Physical Realm change.

This dichotomy cannot remain for long. And the greater the disparity, the more pressure the spirit will exert. Ten or twenty years won't matter much. A thousand will matter a lot. So the only way to use Compounding to change your age is to store up all this extra youth in a metalmind, then be constantly tapping it to counteract the soul's attempt to restore you to how you should be.

Yes, all of this means there are FAR more efficient means of counteracting aging than the one used by the Lord Ruler. It's a hack, and not meant to be terribly efficient. Eventually, he wouldn't have been able to maintain himself this way at all. Changing Connection (or even involving ones Cognitive Aspect a little more) would have been far more efficient, though actively more difficult.

Though this is the point where I ping [Peter Ahlstrom] and get him to double-check all this. Once in a while, my fingers still type the wrong term in places. (See silvereye vs tineye.)

#16 Copy


I always wondered what would happen if someone burning atium fought a ta'veren like Matrim Cauthon. Would it look like he was burning atium as well? Would his atium shadow be concealed by a haze of probability?

Brandon Sanderson

I'd say that Mat's aura would interfere with atium, but you could easily rule the other way--you could say atium works something like Min's visions of the future, letting one "read the Pattern" so to speak. And Min's visions do work on ta'veren.

#17 Copy


Who would win in a game of chance: Mat, a chromium compounder, or Hoid?

Brandon Sanderson

In these kinds of questions, more and more I give "points" to the character with the most established narrative, set of powers, and momentum. So Mat wins hands down. In twenty years, maybe not. But right now Mat.

#18 Copy


From a very recent signing, we have this new Word of Brandon...

chasmfriend's son: Is there a finite amount of Investiture?

Brandon: Yes.

chasmfriend's son: So is Nightblood consuming it?

Brandon: Yes. Very, very slowly.

This worries me somewhat because of the following observation.

Nightblood consumes Breath (and other Investiture, but let's limit ourselves to Breath for a second).

Every person on Nalthis is born with one Breath.

Populations tend to grow. Which means that under normal rules of demographics, population of Nalthis should keep increasing.

This in turn means that under normal circumstances the number of people with Breath on Nalthis should be growing.

I can see the following possible explanations to this:

  1. Endowment can give Breath to many more people than are currently living on Nalthis. So, the exponential population growth has not yet reached the level at which Endowment's ability to award a Breath to each Nalthis-born human is seriously challenged. When it happens though, things will not go well.

  2. There is some built-in mechanism controlling population growth on Nalthis, making certain that the population stays within the limits. Nightblood's consumption of Breath makes these limits smaller, and overall may lead to Endowment's inability to grant Breath to Nalthis-born, but not for a while (essentially, Endowment controls population trends at she sees fit).


Brandon Sanderson

Just as a point you should understand, the amount of MATTER in the cosmere is finite too. As is the amount of energy.

Worrying that Endowment will run out of Breaths to give is a little like worrying that the amount of carbon on Earth will run out because people keep being born.


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.

#19 Copy


Are there any black people in Scadrial? Or any other races? I couldn't find an answer online, but the descriptions in the book all seem like white/European people.

Brandon Sanderson

The Terris had a lot more skin color diversity than the people of the central dominance. A large number of those preserved had darker skin, so in the W&W era, you are starting to see skin color become associated with them. During the Final Empire, skin color was basically ignored.

Note that for even people in the Elendel Basin, darker skin won't get nearly as dark as what you will find on Roshar or Taldain.

EDIT: Now that I'm on my computer instead of my tablet, I can dig into this a little more. What other posters have been saying is true--the region of the Final Empire we see in the first trilogy is very small, and the Final Empire itself isn't terribly big. There's not a lot of racial diversity at all.

That said, the Terris are a distinct ethnic group. I carefully didn't describe people in the original books with regard to a lot of racially identifying features. One of the Lord Ruler's goals over the years was to stamp these things out, to create a single unified people. While he couldn't change genetics, his work here did make people start to look at things like class and clothing more than accents or racial identifiers. In addition, it was important that the Terris be diverse enough that, while some looked Terris from just a glance, with others, you could meet them and (for obvious reasons that are spoilers) not know they were actually Terris.

That isn't to say they aren't there--they actually are. Elend and Straff would have a bit of an accent, and Cett a fairly strong one. Sazed would look racially distinct from Vin.

As we get further from the Final Empire, we see these things becoming more of a marker. The Terris work to preserve their cultural heritage, and this distinctiveness highlights other aspects about them, including the dark skin that many of them brought through the end of the world. The next trilogy (1980's era) is planned to star a Terriswoman right now, and she would likely resemble someone ethnically black to many of us on Earth.


How far off your impression of Sazed was I in imagining him looking like Teferi from MTG?

Brandon Sanderson

I often give him a Teferi-like-look in my own head, but in actuality his skin tone is probably more akin to someone like Keegan-Michael Key.


>While he couldn't change genetics, his work here did make people start to look at things like class and clothing more than accents or racial identifiers.

How did the 'skaa/noble' class genetic tinkering work out, anyway? Did the leadership of every nation just wake up the next morning and find themselves taller, more intelligent, and less fertile?

Brandon Sanderson

Most genetic differences between skaa and noble were exaggerated, even fabricated, by noble culture as justification for their perceived superiority. Height differences due to nutrition, 'intelligence' due to education and societal expectations, fertility due to common factors in urbanization. The LR did try some minor tinkering, to be played out over time through genetics, but in the end these changes weren't very successful.


This is actually good to know. I've seen your other responses to similar questions, where the inference was that there was indeed a significant difference.

The main changes were for dealing with the atmosphere, correct? And they were reverted by Sazed/Harmony?

Brandon Sanderson

There were also some general hardiness changes for the skaa and some fertility changes, but as I said, by the time of the books those were basically gone. And yes, Sazed reverted the ones designed to help survival in the ash.

#20 Copy


"There are four individuals," VenDell said, "who, to our knowledge, have held the power of Ascension. Rashek, the Survivor, the Ascendant Warrior, and Lord Harmony Himself.

[Brandon], I noticed the list doesn't include 'Terr'. Anything interesting about how modern kandra see Terr/Leras?

Brandon Sanderson

Good catch. There are things to be inferred from this.

#21 Copy


I'm only maybe 1/4 of the way through WOA (the second book of the first series) and something has kind of been nagging at me for a while. I figured out what it is, finally, and it's that there are no women in this story. I mean, obviously there's Vin as the main character, but she has a lot of overtly masculine qualities and quite frankly a suppressed fondness for dresses and perfume just isn't enough for me. All of the feminine characters are bad, jealous, stupid, flippant and/or unimportant. The only other positive female characters I've met so far are either dead (Mare) or "other"/foreign (Tindwyl).

And the series, so far, clearly fails the Bechdel test. The only conversations Vin has had with other women have been about men (particularly Elend).

Does it get any better than this? I mean, it's honestly really starting to bother me. This series is almost like a reverse-harem trope with all the males surrounding the main character.

Don't get me wrong, I'm enjoying the world and the story otherwise (except for Elend's chapters that drone on and on about his ideal political structure which don't have any place in a society like this one IMO), but the complete lack of any female interaction is starting to bother me, TBH.

Brandon Sanderson

I've always considered this a legitimate criticism of Mistborn. In my plotting and planning, I was so focused on doing a good job with a dynamic female lead that I fell into a trap that is common for newer writers--to be less intentional about other characters, and default to male.

I think I once counted, and was able to find interactions in each book between Vin and women that were not related to men, and so the series does strictly pass the test--but the test has always been intended as a bare minimum. You can pass the test and still lack any real and meaningful representations of people different from yourself, and you can actually fail the test while not having this be a problem at all.

In the case of Mistborn, I consider it a legitimate weakness of the stories. I'm sorry it is distracting to you.


It is only a minor distraction, Brandon. And I think perhaps I am spoiled, because I read Stormlight 1 and 2 first and am only now just starting Mistborn, and your female characters in Stormlight are outstanding. The relationship between Shallan and Jasnah is amazing so I know that you are perfectly capable of writing complex and varied female characters. I think that's why I found it so striking that it seems to be missing in Mistborn.

Regardless... I am still enthralled with the books. I am enjoying the plot and I do love the characters. I can't wait to find out what the Deepness is or if Vin truly is the Hero of Ages (knowing the title of the third book probably spoils that one for me though, haha).

Thanks for taking the time to respond to me, Brandon! You are so good to your fans I really appreciate it! Can't wait to finish reading this series!

Brandon Sanderson

My pleasure.

It wasn't long after finishing the series that I started to think about this aspect. I really wish I'd made Ham a woman, for example. I think the character would have gone interesting places--and would have done good things for the lore of the world if women Thugs were heavily recruited to be soldiers.

Reflecting on Mistborn has been very useful to me as a writer, however, as it's part of what helped me personally understand that you can do something like have a strong, and interesting, female lead but still have a series that overall displays a weakness in regards to female characters. This has greater implications for writing, not just in regards to female characters, and is something I don't think I could have learned without this series. (Where I worked so very hard on Vin that I thought I had this aspect down.)

#22 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Some statistics/fun facts on [Calamity]:

  • The Book Guide (my planning file) was started in late December, but that was mostly made of me grabbing the notes for this specific book out of the general outline file for the trilogy, and pasting them in here.
  • Chapter One was started January first.
  • Chapter Fifty was finished May 5th.
  • Includes the shortest prologue I've ever done, at 61 words.
  • I wrote 13,200 (somewhere around 12-13% of the book) words yesterday across around thirteen hours. (With a break to go watch Ultron in the middle.)
  • This series is unique in that I wrote the first chunk of it years ago, around 2008, but then didn't have time to return to the project until a few years back. Unlike many of my series, I didn't plan out the entire trilogy before the first book--I wrote the first book, sold it, then put together an outline for all three books.
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Brandon Sanderson

Current Mistborn Eras:

Era One: Vin and Elend Era Two: Wax and Wayne Era Three: 1980's Era Four: Science Fiction

We'll see if this changes. I wasn't planning on what is now Era Two, so I could see another Era between Three and Four.


have you decided to not do the 1940(?)'s story? or is it just that that won't count towards a separate era designation?

Brandon Sanderson

Haven't decided 100%, but I'm leaning against it. We'll see.

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I really wish there was a book sales equivalent to box office mojo. Would be super interesting to compare the numbers more in depth between super popular authors like yourself and less known/new authors.

Brandon Sanderson

There is, actually. It's called bookscan, and is generally only available to insiders. (But if you can find someone with access, you can track books back for two decades of sales info.)

Problem is, it doesn't track ebooks. (Because Amazon doesn't release them.) I wish this info were more public too, personally. But I can try to guess a kind of rough estimate, based on what I've seen. (This is for first year ebook/hardcover combined, and only applies to fiction books, and not those by a celebrity.)

On the chopping block: 5k (This is a book that did modestly well, but is probably overall losing money for the publisher. Some would keep publishing an author at this level, depending on expectations of growth, award recognition, or niche interest.)

Solid seller: 5k-10k (This is a book most publishers will always be pleased with, and will continue to pay a decent advance for. This author may not make a healthy living on their book unless they can do more than one a year, but will probably always have a writing career.)

High midlister: 10k-20k (This is an author who is well known in their genre, is a dependable seller, and has a dedicated--but small-fanbase. If you can find a writer with a number of books on the shelf, but they don't chart often on the NYT list with new books, they are probably in this category.)

Genre Bestseller: 20k-50k (This is a book that charts on the bestseller lists without hitting the #1 spot. Authors who hit this consistently set trends in the industry, are well known in their genres, and are pulling low six figure advances. Breaking out of this level and into the next takes serious luck, even in a field which already requires a lot of luck.)

Dominant Genre Bestseller: 50k-300k (These are the books that hit #1 on the bestseller list. Authors who do this consistently with each new book are generally at the top of their field, and are probably what you consider "super popular" in your post. But they--we, as this is where I am--are small potatoes compared to the next levels.)

Breakout Bestseller: 300k-1mil (These are books that "break out" of their genre, or are the top of larger genres, like thrillers. Teen books with a lot of momentum can hit here too. Books in this category sell in airports or walmarts to the general public for months, as opposed to those in the category below, which sell really, really well for one week--but only because fans buy their books week one, rather than waiting. I've outsold Dan Brown and John Grisham...for one week. The next week, they trounced me.)

Movie Books: 1-5mil (These are books from one of the other categories that have a film come out recently. Also, the tail end of the breakout bestsellers and the beginnings of phenomenon books. It gets really blurry in here as we're dealing with such large swaths of numbers. Game of Thrones books are in here, I believe. Note that they basically jumped over the category between, which often happens in sf/f when you get a film or tv show.)

Phenomenon books: 5-20+mil (These are books that somehow SUPER break the mold, for reasons nobody really understands. DaVinci Code. Harry Potter. Twilight.)

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Doesn't Zahel mention that he has 'Lost a Friend' maybe in a worldhop he dropped it, or nightblood has grown in power since landing on roshar and was able to move enough on his own that Zahel didn't notice til it was too late and he had already been identifed by Nalan.

Brandon Sanderson


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[question about using Feruchemy in Dungeons and Dragons]

Brandon Sanderson

Why Feruchemy "works" in book terms is because it's about intrinsic trade off. We see the character pay something, so we accept when later on, they're able to do something dramatic. Narratively, their boost is "earned" in much the same way that a character "earns" their ending winning a duel by showing us through the story that they've been practicing with the sword.

You need to "earn" your boosts. If I were a GM, I'd suggest that you can store attributes during one day of gameplay, to use it during another day of gameplay. -2STR for one day, +2STR for the next day. I'd say no more than -/+2 at first--with feats or Feruchemist prestige class levels allowing you to do 4 or even 6. Storing senses could be covered with WIS, and health with CON.

Alternately, if you want to get into the specifics, you could try something where when you land a hit, you can use a smaller damage die (a d4 instead of d6) to "store up" strength. Then later, when you need it, you can trade in one of those stored moments (which would be capped with a maximum number that could be stored at once, to be raised by requiring you to find special metals) to raise a damage die during a climactic battle--maybe making your d6 into a d10. You could do the same thing with spot checks (take a penalty for specific rolls to be able to add to the later on.) HP could be done the same way--drop your HP for a battle to "store" then raise them for another battle.

This is more of a tweak to the way the books use the magic, but the idea is to make certain your cost is still a cost. You get ahead by choosing the times to - or +, making it fun--but you are always paying a price.

So the first question I'd ask myself is do I want this to be a time period thing or a specific instances thing--which would be more fun to play? Then ask is this about attributes or specific skills/hit points, etc? Define some rules, define how you get better, and then have fun within the system.

Personally, I'd avoid the will save as a cost to drawing out the attribute or ability. Perhaps make it require concentration checks if you want to make it tougher--but requiring a will save to magically gain strength doesn't feel very "feruchemist" to me and downplays the real fun you could have with the character. Role playing a day spent with very low spot checks, or a terrible constitution, could be really fun.

I'd also figure out if you can do some kind of "super move" with the abilities by storing up a whole lot. (Like ten units, however you decide upon them.)

My take on the attributes: Iron: To be used in a role playing way, making yourself lighter or heavier, with no battle implications. Steel: Increase/decrease movement speed in a fight. OR under the effects of a "slow" spell for a day, vs under the effects of a "haste" spell. Super move: Very limited time stop. Tin: Spot Checks or WIS. Pewter: STR checks, damage die, or +/- damage to each hit. Zinc: Bonus to hit (for thinking through the situation) or bonus to initiative. (With corresponding negatives.) Brass: Specific fortitude checks.Copper: Mostly role playing. Memorize a book, or an entire library, if given time. Blank things from your mind to prevent mind reading. Bronze: Mostly role playing, with (perhaps) being able to "rest" immediately and get back any abilities that come with it. (Haven't played 5e--these were big in 4e, but don't know if they kept them.)

These metals are going to be rare.

Cadmium: Not having to breathe for a time could have all kinds of applications, though I'd love to hear you role play hyperventilating all day for one session. Bendalloy: Not eating and storing calories. Great for role playing.Gold: CON bonus, hit points, or something like that. Sudden healing is great for gaming. Electrum: General bonus to all skills. Chromium: Bonus or minus to any roll.

The rest aren't even understood in-world, so I'd stop there. If you go all in on this, I'd say you need some kind of class built around it--perhaps a rogue or monk base, replacing their bonuses with feruchemical abilities that you gain over time.

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How the heck do regular people on Roshar tell the difference between Ruby and Garnet spheres??

So. Really. If you hand be a Ruby and a Garnet... I guess I could guess at which was which. But if you just handed me a red gemstone and said "that's a ruby, so I'll need change back" I'm not really sure I could.

But imagine being a busy merchant. That's just too much of a real chance at error.

I'm sure the stormlight is a different color, but still, it's gotta be close.

I'm sure there are experts that can easily tell these things. But I'm talking about regular people, since this is a currency after all.

Is there any theory on this at all?


I assume that the stormlight-holding garnets are violet rather than pure red.

But what if I infused this guy with stormlight? The color keeps changing!

Brandon Sanderson

I'll write something up about this eventually. The hue is more important than the actual crystalline structure on Roshar.

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Brandon Sanderson provides an unintended lesson about being careful with pronouns

"All right, people," Elend said, folding his arms. "We need options. Kelsier recruited you because you could do the impossible. Well, our predicament is pretty impossible."

"He didn't recruit me," Cett pointed out. "I got pulled by my balls into this little fiasco."

"I wish I cared enough to apologize," Elend said, staring at them.

Brandon Sanderson

This one was unintentional. Gotta watch those pronouns!

In the original draft of one of the books, I had Elend talking about the difference between him and Vin, referencing his time going to parties in noble society. He mentioned he was a man of "Magnificent Balls."

I caught that one, fortunately.

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So is Harmony as excited for the space Mistborn as we are?

Brandon Sanderson

It will have four trilogies now. (Though part of me thinks I might need another interim cyberpunkish one between 1980's and full Space Opera.) Right now, though, I have four eras planned.

As for your original question, Harmony is excited, but also worried, perhaps in equal measure.

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Soooo, hope you don't mind, but not long ago I finished reading The Aether of Night and the White Sand ... books.

And I've seen that Dragonsteel exists, but there are only 5 copies and they're all in the Harold B Lee Library at Brigham Young University.

Is it possible to get a copy to read the same way we can get the first two I mentioned?

Sorry to bother you. Can't wait til January though.

Brandon Sanderson

I don't send it out yet. Maybe once I've gotten far enough in the cosmere that certain things in it are not spoilers. But the book, now that Bridge Four is gone (they used to be in that one) really doesn't have much to recommend it, unlike the others.

Maybe I'll change my mind some day. For now, I don't send it out. (Sorry.)

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I see all these titles, and I have no idea what you're talking about. Can you elaborate, please?

Brandon Sanderson

White sand and the Aether of Night are two good, but flawed, books I wrote during my unpublished days that I still consider at least partially cosmere canon. (White Sand more than Aether, at this point.) They're good enough to read, but I don't feel they're good enough to charge money for, so I send them to anyone who who sends an email through my website and asks.

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I was thinking about how Shardblades are essentially invested swords. Now, the investiture' source does not necessarily have to come from Roshar, as we have seen with Nightblood, which is a sword invested with Endowment's investiture.

So I was wondering if, say, a feruchemist decided store a LOT of investiture into a large block of nicrosil and fashioned a sword out of it, or at least made part of the blade out of it, would this essentially act as a Shardblade?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO! (Did you expect anything different on this one?) :)

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I just read Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell in the Dangerous Women anthology. Having the knowledge that this is a story set in the Cosmere is anyone aware if Hoid (aka Wit) is in this story? I'd imagine that he isn't as its not a novel worthy plot but I was just curious.

Peter Ahlstrom

Yep. Hoid is in there. Brandon just forgot, but we talked about it and he remembered. Hoid had to have a reason for being there. And there is a reason.

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Does anyone understand what [Brandon] means in saying that dead Shardblades cannot heal the soul, whereas living ones can?

It seems like it's been a while since I've read WoR, and I can't make out how the original scene demonstrates this? Is he talking about Kaladin's soul or Szeth's?

Peter Ahlstrom

I don't understand it myself, except that two Orders can use Regrowth. But that might not be what Brandon is talking about.

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Peter Ahlstrom

It was Meridas [dual-wielding Shardblades in Way of Kings Prime], but this never actually came up in the book itself. It was just Brandon's headcanon. Would have happened in a sequel or something. Though, something about this is implied, if you read the chapters in Altered Perceptions, because of the way Shardblade bonding worked in that draft.

Meridas was kind of part-Amaram, part-Sadeas, part-...I dunno, Vstim? His personality was most like Sadeas, but he was a trumped-up merchant who wanted to marry Jasnah.

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I'm currently on a reread of WoK and in chapter 57 Hoid says to Kaladin: "I've many [names]. I began life as a thought, a concept, words on a page. That was another thing I stole. Myself."

Do we know if this is Hoid breaking the fourth wall or is it just some kind kind of metaphorical reference to his presence at the birth of the Shards?

Peter Ahlstrom

The simple answer is that this does not break the fourth wall, but we won't find out why until years from now. So it's understandable that you would interpret it this way.


Can we have a hint as to which book will explain it?

Peter Ahlstrom

Probably Hoid's origin story, which Brandon is writing after he finishes Stormlight 10.

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Is there any chance White Sand the novel ever gets revised and published? I'm not sure if there is a place for both the novel and graphic novel, but I really enjoyed the read.

Peter Ahlstrom

Well, Brandon said it's not outside the realm of possibility, but I hope he doesn't. The first draft of White Sand is already nearly 20 years old at this point. Nowadays, Brandon has better ideas. He has plenty of things to write that he's excited about. He has already written White Sand twice, and I think it would be hard for him to get excited about it, and his excitement translates into a good book.

Assuming the three volumes sell well enough to warrant continuing the story, then Brandon could get excited about outlining the sequel to get adapted into more volumes.

And, since it's the Cosmere, you can be assured that sand masters will show up when all the planets start interacting with each other.

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I had always pictured the Shardplate a little more "flow-y", almost unrealistic in its elegance of interlocking plates. These [Words of Radiance illustrations] seem much more classic to me, with the small plates only at tight corners. Why was it taken in this direction?

Also why the skirts? Did the cod pieces just never quite look right?

Ben McSweeney

1) Partly because of my own aesthetics, and partly for practical purposes. My goals when designing for Brandon are generally twofold: follow the text to the letter (getting creative where ambiguity allows) and think about long-term developments for the Stormlight IP.

While the structure of Shardplate as described necessitates some magical properties, I wanted to encourage a design that could be practically adapted outside of a CGI render. The designs we went with are meant to bridge a space between historical accuracy (most of which is driven by function) and complete dreamspace (where form can take precedent).

That being said, when I imagine it in motion I envision a lot of parts that move in ways you wouldn't expect from classic armor, because the plates are layered, providing areas of overlap rather than interlock.

If this were made of actual metal it would be far too heavy and have way too many loose parts to work... even for cosplay or live adaptation, someone's gonna have to make adjustments.

2) Interestingly enough, there is a design in the production notes for what's beneath the skirt... it's meant to be a part of the extended faulds and belt, worn over the cuisses, which do connect to the codpiece beneath. The armor over the upper legs and groin is effectively doubled-up. I even did a little doodle for the... "cleaning access" function, because that part was in the early drafts and it made me laugh out loud. We don't see this in the published illustration because Shallan didn't ask Adolin to show her his butt on the training field, yet in retrospect I probably should have figured out a way to slip something into the margins.

We plan to collect of those visual notes and errata in book of their own (The Art of Stormlight sorta thing), but probably not until we're closer to the mid-point.

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Ben McSweeney

One of the developments of the [Mistborn] RPG is that we're already seeing some "B-Canon" being produced as a derivative of the game mechanics (for example, the game develops the Koloss a lot further), where Brandon has tentatively approved the content but retains the right to modify or nullify it as his interests dictate. Same idea as Lucas and the EU, and in that you can see the framework for developing creative content through third parties. Beyond that, characters like Allomancer Jak and Nicki Savage are tailor-made for "Legends" material, with their narratives being framed as "stories within the story".

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Ben McSweeney

I've done most of the illustrations for The Mistborn Adventure Game. It's the licensed tabletop RPG for the series.

Lots of different cane designs in there, and a few that carried into the sourcebooks for Alloy of Law. I've tried out several designs, just about every variation I could think of... there's no single "correct" design for dueling canes. It depends a lot on the style of the duelist and the fashion of the period. For instance, the jitte design suggests a dueling style that traps the opponent's cane. Reversing the guard might suggest a more aggressive style that protects the fingers when the duelist is open after a swing or a thrust. And then there's canes with even hilts, or no hilts, or hilts that follow different shapes.

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