General Reddit 2018

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Name General Reddit 2018
Date Jan. 1, 2018
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#1 Copy


We know that if someone marries a Smedry, they get their spouse's Talent. But what if two Smedries marry? Do they get each own's Talents in addition to the ones they were born with?

And what about polygamy? For example, if there would be two Smedries and a non-Smedry in the marriage, would the non-Smedry get both? One of them? Some combination of them?

Brandon Sanderson

As for the Smedries, I've thought WAY too much about this. I went into it knowing I wanted a magic completely different from cosmere magics, and so I've tried to take it that direction--which includes keeping it simple. In a lot of corner cases like you mention, the answer is "nobody knows, because it hasn't been tried yet. But it probably wouldn't work." I'd say that two Smedries who married might BOTH lose their talent, because the entire clan would consider that incest, and kick them out. That would be the answer with most corner-cases.

#2 Copy


Eshonai is flashback character [for Stormlight Four], but she is dead in the present. So...who will be main protagonists in the main timeline? Hope for Dalinar, Shallan and Kaladin will be as important as they were in first three books)

Brandon Sanderson

Eshonai will still be the flashback character, and Venli will take a larger role to provide counterpart past/present. But, as always, you will find a focus on all five protagonists from this sequence. (I view them as Dalinar, Kaladin, Shallan, Eshonai/Venli, Szeth.)


I heard it would be one year time gap(in world) between books 3 and 4, which make me think about structure of the book.Does it mean, something important could happen during this year, and then it will be explained in some form(maybe another set of flashbacks)?If so, it's hard for me to visualise the book structure: main timeline, Eshonai's flashbaks and another set of flashbacks for past year?Seems like a mess. Or it will be like Mistborn era 1 time gaps between each book?Main narrative just continues without getting stuck with one-year break, and nothing important happens off-screen. It will be nice to get some qualification from you, if possible.Cause now I'm a bit confused.

Brandon Sanderson

Right now, I've got it like Mistborn--we're checking back in a year, as I need to give some things time to progress in world. We'll see when I actually write it, though.


Thanks! But please, don't do things like Alien 3-movie, if you know what I mean. It's when they did a time gap between two movies and at the beginning of the new movie they told you that your favorite character died during the time gap, deal with it. This is the worst thing ever and a reason I'm always a bit skeptical about time gaps in fiction. Just hate when things like that happen off-screen.Just don't do it with your books, please.At least can you promise you wouldn't?And what do you think about this trope in general?

Brandon Sanderson

I actually want to write an essay about that very trope (I call it the Newt Principle.) You might see it on my website at some point.

Things will happen during the gap, I'm afraid. You might like it, you might not, but I do plan some of the flashbacks in the second half to help cover this time--so you'll see it eventually. If it helps, I'm pretty sure I understand the dangers of the Newt Principle, and how to not fall into that trap.

#3 Copy


I think it's probably the remnants of the first agreement between the singers and humans. They were allowed to terraform Shinovar, and rule that area, but anywhere else, they were forbidden from. Eventually, it morphed into the "soil lands are for humans, everywhere else is for singers." Then, over the millenia, it became a religious teaching, "don't walk on stones."

Peter Ahlstrom

Brandon wrote a ton of worldbuilding down before starting to write the first book, and this particular thing is definitely something he planned from the start. He does keep a lot of stuff in his head, but sometimes that shifts over time. Part of our job is to make sure what's in his head now doesn't conflict with what has previously been published.

If the outline doesn't work for something, Brandon will change it while writing. As long as it doesn't conflict with published canon, it's always more awesome than his earlier plans.

#4 Copy


Frustrated with the editing/beta readers for not noticing Brandon leaving out a character.

The character I'm talking about is Rlain. An entire part of the book was spent with every single member of Bridge Four talking about how Rlain wasn't really a part of things, and even more so Rlain himself in his POV chapter. And then nothing! We get a conclusion to the whole buildup of Bridge Four, but Rlain is nowhere mentioned in the last half of the book. Nevermind that we've all spent an entire book (and the three years since WoR) wondering if Rlain will become a squire, and nevermind that we get an answer to whether a Parshman can become Radiant in the first place. We just get nothing! No resolution.

Peter Ahlstrom

Everyone noticed this. I noticed it even before the beta read started. Brandon was well aware, and this was all intentional. I'll bet you can think of some reasons for it.

#5 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

So, a couple of things here. First off, I'll take any knocks I get--and try to do better. I'm not an expert on Mental Health, and though I do my best, I'm going to get things wrong. I'm going to risk defending myself here--and hopefully not dig myself deeper--as I at least explain my thought process, and why I built Shallan the way I did.

However, one of the rules of thumb I go by is this: Individual experience can defy the standard, if I understand that is what I'm doing. Like how Stephen Leeds is not trying to accurately portray Schizophrenia, Shallan is not trying to accurately portray dissociative identity disorder (if a scholarly consensus on such a thing even exists. I haven't glanced through the DSM5 to see what it says.)

In Legion, I have an easy out. I say, point blank, "He doesn't fit the diagnosis--he's not a schizophrenic, or if he is, he's a very weird one." I don't have the benefit of a modern psychology voice in the Stormlight books to hang a lantern on this, but my intention is the same. What Shallan has is related to her individual interaction with the world, her past, and the magic.

Is this Hollywood MPD? I'm not convinced. Hollywood MPD (with DSM4 backing it up, I believe) tends to involve things like a person feeling like they're possessed, and completely out of control. The different identities don't remember what others did. It's a very werewolf type thing. You wake up, and learn that another version of you took over your body and went out and committed crimes or whatever.

Shallan is coping with her pain in (best I've been able to do) a very realistic way, by boxing off and retreating and putting on a mask of humor and false "everything is okay" attitudes. But she has magical abilities that nobody in this world has, including the ability to put on masks that change the way everyone perceives her. She's playing roles as she puts them on, but I make it very clear (with deliberate slip-ups of self-reference in the prose) that it's always Shallan in there, and she's specifically playing this role because it lets her ignore the things she doesn't want to face.

She's losing control of what is real and what isn't--partially because she can't decide who she wants to be, who she should be, and what the world wants her to be. But it's not like other personalities are creeping in from a fractured psyche. She's hiding behind masks, and creates each role for herself to act in an attempt to solve a perceived shortcoming in herself. She literally sketched out Veil and thought, "Yup, I'm going to become that person now." Because Veil would have never been tricked into caring about her father; she would have been too wise for that.

I feel it's as close as I can get to realism, while the same time acknowledging that as a fantasy author, one of my primary goals is to explore the human interaction with the supernatural. The "What ifs" of magic. What if a person who had suffered a great deal of abuse as a child COULD create a mask for themselves, changing themselves into someone stronger (or more street-smart who wouldn't have been betrayed that way. Would they do it, and hide behind that mask? What would that do to them and the world around them?

DID is indeed controversial, but I really like this portrayal. Not of a disease, but of who this character is. And I've had had enough positive responses from people who feel their own psychology is similar that I'm confident a non-insignificant number of people out there identify with what she's doing in the same way people with depression identify with Kaladin.

#6 Copy


Would [Kaladin using a Shardblade to pick his teeth] work, or would it burn out your eyes immediately?

Assuming Syl doesn't just became a shard-toothpick, but remains a sword.

Brandon Sanderson

I suppose I'll go with the other responders--yes, you could make this work, in a perfect world.

#7 Copy


I will confess that over the course of my study I learned that we're nearing the 10th Anniversary edition, and that u/mistborn has asked u/PeterAhlstrom to go over the book, take Brandon's notes, and make sure there is a consistent system behind the scenes. Humbly, I do hope that perhaps by at least locating the times in the book when Breath-count is mentioned, I have saved Peter a bit of busy work, if nothing else.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, a more precise system of how many breaths it takes to do X (and the exchange rate, so to speak, with other magic systems) is something on the list to do for Warbreaker 10th anniversary. I have the resources now, with more assistants behind the scenes, to get more precise on this sort of thing than I've done before.

#8 Copy


There should be an art of the Cosmere coloring book.

Brandon Sanderson

We plan to do one some day.

#9 Copy


I feel like society on Roshar would develop a bit differently because of emotion spren. You'd have to be very careful talking/ interacting with people since you can't hide things like fear, anger, awe, anticipation, joy, passion and shame. Imagine going through high school having to deal with them...


I have to imagine it alters things like, say, the concept of masculinity. Obviously the alethi have very strong ideas about masculinity, but attracting fearspren/feeling fear doesn't seem to be a negative within that like it would be in our culture. Men attract fearspren all the time, and it's totally fine.

It also seems like it might be taboo to mention someone else's emotionspren. People are constantly noticing internally that other people are attracting them, but they NEVER EVER comment on it (until the part in OB where they're investigating it in Kholinar). There must be a really strong boundary around commenting on other people's spren.

It's one thing I did want to ask Brandon about if he does another AMA--how emotionspren affect Rosharan culture.

Brandon Sanderson

This is some good theorizing here. I'd agree with what /u/The_Bravinator says.

The effects are all over the place, but they are just how life is on Roshar, so I rarely point them out. For example, the classic Alethi sort of idolizing being "straightforward" with people. No assassinations. (Well, supposedly.) You're used to being able to see people's emotions, so you take it for granted that only hyper untrustworthy people do things in ways that don't expose emotions. Emotions aren't bad, they simply are, and everyone has them. Views of masculinity are certainly changed.


Is it taboo to mention emotionspren that other people are attracting, or do people just not generally think to do so?

Brandon Sanderson

Depends on the situation, really. Not exactly the same, but note how in Earth societies the different responses to something like passing gas, depending on context, culture, etc.

#10 Copy


Is the story of the girl who looked up a story that is only known to Roshar? I know it could have spread out, especially since we see paintings eluding to it in the Cosmere seen by a non-Rosharn but could it be a story they talked about on... say... Yolen?

Also, was the "god" from "God's love" mentioned by Hoid a piece that either should have or did belong to/with Passion/Odium? Cause that would make all the sense in the world to me that somehow Odium was Passion but because Odium once he lost love from his being... I know it doesn't make a lot sense in the timeline. I just can't get the thought out of my head.

Thank you for the time you spend answering my inanity or was it insanity. Either/or.

Brandon Sanderson

These are actually both RAFOs, I'm afraid. I do appreciate you asking, but I'm going to remain silent for now.

#11 Copy


I had asked you a little while ago if Commander Gaval would be retaining his rank that he received from Kaladin. You told me that he'd been allowed to keep it as he'd earned it. I was now curious, do you think we might see him again in the future of the series or find out anything more about him?

I know it's a silly little side character that was probably only there to facilitate that one interaction but I swear there is potential there to mine. It would be amazing, at least to me, to hear of him joining the recruitment drives, spending his days meeting the members and eventually soaring the winds with Bridge 4. He must have some form of affection for Kaladin after he aided in his major move up the ranks of Dalinar's army.

lol, these are the questions that keep me up at night... "I wonder if Taleb ever felt true respect for the man who'd killed his Brightlord, or if he was simply a man of honor and kept his word after Dalinar's agreement to not sack the city were he to join the Elites." He's another character that I am dying to know more about. The tragedy of Taleb is a short story that needs to be written.

Brandon Sanderson

I really should do more with Teleb, at least in some kind of flashback or the like. There was a lot going on inside of that mind of his--not the least of which a loyalty to a throne that his own line would have been ruling, had things turned out differently.

I'll see what I can do with Gaval. It would be nice to bring him back, as you mention.

#12 Copy


So as I was rereading Mistborn, I realized something that I hadn't deemed important before. Assuming that Rashek doled out the original Allomancy beads to create the first Mistborns, who did he give them to? Obviously, he couldn't give them to his fellow packmen because then they would have the same compounding abilities as him. Additionally, it stands to reason that he would not have given the beads to any of Alendi's entourage because of his deep-seated hatred for all things Khlenni. All in all, I'm just confused about the actual origins of the noble houses.

Brandon Sanderson

I actually intended to dig into this in the video game--which happened several hundred years after the event, but which would talk about the origins of the houses and things like that. It's possible we'll still do this some day.


Did you end up doing a lot of writing for the game before it got cancelled?

Depending on how much there is, it seems like handing it to Crafty for them to make a RPG module could make sense.

Brandon Sanderson

No, I didn't--but I had a lot of ideas.

My current goal is to hand it over to Ben (who does a lot of the artwork for Stormlight Archive) and see if we can turn it into a graphic novel. (Note that we wouldn't start on this until White Sand is done, though, as I don't want to have TOO many projects in the works at once.)

#13 Copy


I was reading Elantris, with my passive work being Jorge Luis Borges "Book of Imaginary Beings". The chapters are encyclopedic and short, and are meant to have a kaleidoscope style of reading. With Cosmere on my mind, I can across a really interesting entry:

Sylphs For each of the four roots or elements into which the Greeks divided matter there was a corresponding spirit. In the words of Paracelsus, the sixteenth-century Swiss alchemist and physician, we find four elementary spirits: the Gnomes of the earth, the Nymphs of water, the Salamanders of fire, and the Sylphs or Sylphides of air. The words are Greek origin. Litre has sought the etymology of "sylph" in the Celtic tongues, but it is most unlikely that Paracelsus would have known, or even suspected the existence of, those languages. Today, no one believes in Sylphs, but the phrase "a syphlike figure" is still applied to slender women, as a somewhat cliched compliment. The Sylphs occupy a place between that of material beings and that of immaterial beings. Romantic poetry and the ballet find them useful.

I don't think it is a far stretch or much of projection when I say that reminds me of a certain Spren. Either way, it made my day to come across this while reading.

Brandon Sanderson

If you poke around a bit, you can probably find where the names of some other spren (like Notum) come from. In a lot of their names, I'm looking for something similar to what I did with Syl. My rationale is that if you heard her name in-world (which might not actually be the exact sounds Syl) you'd have the benefit of local traditions, word roots, and mythologies. You'd hear it and say, "Huh, that sounds like a word for wind." So, when the books are "translated" to English, the translator creates names in English that evoke the same feel in readers here.

#14 Copy


I do have a question, while listening to New Spring today, I realized that a channeler using the One Power sees and hears much more vividly, similar to people invested with breaths from Nalthis. Was the magic of Nalthis partially inspired by the One Power?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, that was an inspiration from the WoT. I always wanted to take that concept RJ had used and see if I could make it a fundamental and quantifiable part of a magic system.

#15 Copy


Today I saw a paperback copy of Arcanum Unbounded and remembered this reddit comment, in which we're told we might get a Nalthis essay and map around the paperback release or around Oathbringer. Since both those times have passed, is there any hope we might still see it?

Brandon Sanderson

Dang. I'd totally forgotten. I'll have my assistant put it on my list of things to do, and make sure to write one out in the next few weeks. Maybe we'll stick it in the newsletter.

#16 Copy


If the Olympic Games existed in the Mistborn universe, what would some of the events be? This is assuming, of course, that magic is allowed and isn't seen as a form of cheating.


I'm fully expecting to find out in Era 3. Will be very disappointed if sports are never mentioned.

Brandon Sanderson

I already started laying the groundwork, if you look in the Era 2 books.

#17 Copy


In 2014, Brandon said First of the Sun - the planet in Sixth of the Dusk - is a minor Shardworld, in that it does not have a Shard present ( However, we've now gotten a WoB saying that Patji - the Father island - IS a Shard ( Patji was a Shard, but isn't during SotD? Or did we finally get confirmation on that elusive "Survival Shard"? What do you guys think?

Brandon Sanderson

I stand by them. Though, as always, quotes and WoBs at signings aren't always as deliberately thought out as I'd like them to be. Answering questions on the fly can be challenging, and my phrasing can be bad in retrospect.

But no shard was in residence on First of the Sun during the events of that story. The investiture on that planet is residue, normal investiture from Adonalsium. Everything happening there could happen with or without a shard present. Indeed, I would say that no shard was ever "in residence" on First of the Sun.

The being called Patji still exists, and is a shard of Adonalsium. Shards in the past have been interested in First of the Sun, and have meddled in small ways there. (Like they have on a lot of shardworlds.)

Note that I might have been a little misleading in the first quote by bringing up Threnody, which is a real corner case in the cosmere because of uncommon events there.

That said, I'm sure that every story I write about a planet will bring up the quirks and unusual interactions of the magic there, because that's kind of what I do. (First of the Sun has its own oddities, as mentioned in Arcanum Unbounded.) Every planet is likely to end up as a corner case in some way, just like every person is distinctive in their own way, and never fully fits expectations.

I still consider one of the major dividing lines between "major" and "minor" shardworlds (other than Shard residence) to be in strength of access to the magic, and control over it. I intend the minor shard worlds to involve interactions with the magic as setting--coming back to spren, you could have a minor shardworld with people who use, befriend, even bond spren. (Or the local equivalent--Seon, Aviar, etc.) But you'd never see power on the level of the city of Elantris, the actions of a Bondsmith, or even the broad power suite of a mistborn.

But, as ever, the cosmere is a work in progress. The needs of telling a great story trump things I've said about what I'm planning. (I do try as much as I can to avoid having two texts contradict one another. And when they do, that's often a lapse on my part.)



I'm confused.

So the Investiture on First of the Sun is associated with a Shard or is it residue, normal investiture from Adonalsium?

Cause the question was a follow up (on this) where you revealed that all Investiture in Cosmere got assigned to a Shard even if it wasn't part of a Shard.

And then you said that the one on First of the Sun is directly associated with one of the Shards (and since later you revealed Patji to be an avatar of Autonomy (also, what are avatars and how do they work?)) we took it to mean that at one point Autonomy Invested in First of the Sun.

But now you're saying it didn't?

If there was no Shard ever on First of the Sun but Patji is a Shard/avatar of a Shard then where is Patji, actually?

Could you please clarify all that?

Brandon Sanderson

So the Investiture on First of the Sun is associated with a Shard or is it residue, normal investiture from Adonalsium?"

The reason I have so much trouble answering these questions (and you'll see me struggling to get an answer in the 10-15 seconds I have when someone asks me in a signing line) is because this isn't an either or. Is this computer I'm using matter associated with Earth, the Big Bang, or such-and-such star that went supernova long ago? Well, it's probably all three.

When people ask, "What shard is this investiture associated with" it gets very complicated. Shards influence and tweak certain investiture, giving it a kind of spin or magnetism, but all investiture ever predates the shattering--and in the cosmere matter, energy, and investiture are one thing.

I always imagine investiture having certain states, certain magnetisms if you will, associated with certain aspects of Adonalsium. So it's all "assigned" to a shard--because it's always been associated with that Shard. To investiture, Adonalsium's shattering meant everything and nothing at the same time.

We generally mean the term "Invested" to mean a Shard has taken permanent residence in a location, a kind of base of operations--but at the same time, this is meaningless, since distance has no meaning on the Spiritual Realm, where most Shards are. So imprisonment of a Shard like Ruin or Odium is a crude expression--but the best we have.

Autonomy never "invested" on First of the Sun. But even answering (as someone else asked) if they created an avatar without visiting is a difficult thing to explain--because even explaining how a shard travels (when motion is irrelevant) is difficult to manage. It's a subject that I intend to be up for debate, discussion, and argument by in-world philosophers and arcanists.

You can see why I have such troubles explaining these things at signings--and why I fail when I try to, considering the time limitations and (often) fatigue limitations placed upon me. These are concepts I intend to spend entire, lengthy epic volumes explaining and exploring.

Let's say you were Autonomy, and you have--through expanding and exploring your understanding--found a gathering of investiture that has always been there, you always knew about, but still didn't actually recognize until the moment you considered and explored it. (Because even though your power is infinite, accessing and using that infinity is beyond your reach.) Were you "invested" there? No, no more than you're invested on Roshar, where parts of what were Adonalsium still exist that are associated with you (in the very fabric of mater and existence.) But suddenly, you have a chance to tweak, influence, and do things that were always possible, but which you never could do because you knew, but didn't know, at the same time.

And...I'm already into WAY more than I want to be typing this out right now. If it's confusing, it's because it's practically impossible for me to explain these things in a short span of time.

I'm going to leave it here, understanding that no, I haven't fully explained your question. (I didn't even get into what avatars are, what Patji was, and what happened to Patji the being--and how that relates to Patji the island.) But hopefully this kind of starts to point the right direction, though I probably should have just left this question alone because I bet this post is going to raise more questions than it answers...

Overlord Jebus

You've confused things so much now. We thought we had a pretty good grasp of this whole Patji situation (Autonomy visited the planet at some point, got themselves all Invested and created an avatar which is called Patji by the locals).

Now you're saying no Shard has ever visited there? And that the pool would have existed if no Shard had ever interfered? But that Patji still exists and is a Shard?

Does that mean Autonomy edited First of the Sun from afar without actually going there? And that the pool would have already existed without any intervention? Does this mean it was associated with Autonomy from the beginning? I'm really confused now.

Brandon Sanderson

I don't believe I said no Shard had visited. I said no Shard was there during the events of the story.

Investiture on First of the Sun predates any shards fiddling with it.

Shards have fiddled with it by the time of the story.

I think fandom might be going down too far a rabbit hole on this one.


Are you saying here that Patji is an avatar of Autonomy, or is it a separate Shard and not an avatar of Autonomy?

Brandon Sanderson

When I said Patji was a Shard, I was meaning automony--but it is not quite that simple.

Take this post to mean "no, you should not be looking toward another Shard for Patji's origins. Autonomy is the one relevant." But Autonomy's relationships with entities like this (not sure entity is the right word, even) is complex. I'm not trying to confuse the issue, though.

#18 Copy


Was there a being/entity named Patji onworld - prior to the shard 'interfering' - that lead a life that was more conducive to autonomy, and was it a case of that entities (for lack of a better term) natural bent towards autonomy naturally turning it into a portion of autonomy (again, for lack of a better term)?

Brandon Sanderson

This is a good and valid theory that I don't think I should comment more on right now, as I feel like I would muddy the water more. I need to wait until I approach these concepts in-book.

I'll just say that I don't consider what you said to be excluded by the things I've said about the situation.

#19 Copy


Then, at the sixth chapter [of White Sand Volume 2] I was like "ugh... A new artist.." and then I was all like "Oh! A new artist!" I hope new Julius stays on for the rest of the series.

Peter Ahlstrom

Sadly, new Julius has other commitments, but the current proposed artist looks promising.


Oh yeah? Who's that going to be?

Peter Ahlstrom

That's not for me to announce.


Are you able to speak to what drove the change to a new artist?

Peter Ahlstrom

I believe not.

#20 Copy


Isn't Adolin not in the original [Way of Kings draft]? That the son listed is an entirely different character that was cut and Adolin added as a different son?

Peter Ahlstrom

Aredor is Adolin's old name. They're still the same person. However, Shinri Davar is a completely different person from Shallan Davar.

#21 Copy


I want to know if Shadesmar contains memespren or (since they're defined as idea viruses) memetic plague. If anyone can make literal meme magic, it'd be u/mistborn.

Brandon Sanderson

Ha. Yeah, that could probably become a thing in the cosmere, though I doubt I'd go there. (At least, if I did, it would have to be done very carefully.)

#22 Copy


Here is an example of a Mongolian girl with red hair. Would she make a good example of a Vadan Dark Eyes, u/mistborn?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, that's a good example. Though do remember, Vedens aren't all redheads--that's going to depend on region, and even have a lot of variance within regions. (Alethi skin tone will be similar in its variety, depending. Vedens in general tend to be lighter.)

Here's another image I noticed a while back that feels very like what I'd imagined.

#23 Copy


I don't expect (okay...I only half expect) Brandon to have a spreadsheet matrix of "power levels" quantified down to the molecule, but everything fits so well together that every chapter is a terrific read.

Peter Ahlstrom

My wife Karen has done that for the past couple years.

#24 Copy

teknopathetic (paraphrased)

I have a Reddit PM WOB that says the Terris were given Feruchemy as a gift, and that Brandon may get into how that occurred at somepoint.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

It was more of a gift than an accident, but I do plan to someday dig into it more.

#25 Copy


Anyone really want Wayne and Lopen to have a conversation?

I have no idea what they would have to say to each other but it would sound magical. Michael Kramer is awesome.

Brandon Sanderson

Maybe I can find a way to do this as some kind of non-canon easter egg, like the Kelsier/Moiraine conversation.

#26 Copy


So once upon a time Brandon was going to write Szeth as the flashback character for book three, but then Brandon changed his mind, decided to write Dalinar's flashback chapters to see how that would go, and then after writing them made book 3 Dalinar's book instead. Here is a quote from the first Stormlight Book 3 Update post Brandon made in this subreddit

As someone else has posted, I have finished the rough draft of Dalinar's flashbacks for Stormlight Three. I consider the experiment of writing his flashbacks for this book, instead of waiting for book five, to be a success. Therefore, I'm proceeding with the Dalinar/Szeth flip.

The reasoning for this is something I can't discuss in detail until the book is released. I'd be happy to revisit this topic once you all have a chance to read the novel.

Now that the book has been out for 6 months or so, I'd love to hear Brandon discuss the reasoning behind this. Personally, I have a very tough time imagining how this book would have played out if Szeth had been the flashback character. Clearly we wouldn't have had to Dalinar/Odium confrontation if we didn't have Dalinar's flashbacks, as those were integral to the overall storyline. I'd love to hear what the plot of this book was originally supposed to be when Szeth was going to have the flashbacks. Does anyone know the answers to this, or am I going to have to hope Brandon sees this post and decides to answer more than a RAFO? :)

Brandon Sanderson

Hmm. This is going to be difficult to answer without straying into spoilers for books four and five. It's also hard to say how the books would have played out if I'd swapped these back.

The Dalinar/Odium confrontation would still have happened, as that was something I'd been planning for a while. But how would things have played out? Hard to say, as an outline is only a rough guide--even for someone like me. It's when you get to the nitty gritty of the story that things come together.

Having finished the book, it's hard for me to imagine going another direction--as I made the decisions I did because I felt they were the ones that were right for the story. And a lot has changed over the years as I've worked on the details. (Kaladin's arc from book two, for example, was originally plotted for book three--parallel to Szeth and his flashbacks, which share some similarities.)

Dalinar's flashbacks would work very well for book five for reasons I can't explain yet--but it became clear to me that I needed them for this book, despite the outline looking at the Szeth/Kaladin dynamic. (Which was upended anyway when I moved Kaladin's second character arc to book two.)

So...that's a whole lot of not saying much, I'm afraid. I can answer a lot more once book five is out.


Does it mean that we shouldn't expect any explanations or clues about what happened with Dalinar at the end of Oathbringer before book 5?

Ask just to know if we'll know more in book 4 or we'll have to wait a bit longer.To avoid false expectations:)

Brandon Sanderson

There will be explanations and clues, but I would anticipate more Dalinar in book 5 than in book 4.

#27 Copy


Did "dun spheres" start as a typo of "dim"?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, as has been noted, it's an actual word in English. There was no typo, though I have adapted it to mean something slightly different in the books.

I still can't remember for certain where I got crem from, though.

#28 Copy


There is that scene where Kaladin takes a sharp turn at high speeds and he almost blacks out. That is normal for jet pilots, since they experience high G forces when their airplane tries to accelerate them by their backs and bottoms.

But Lashing doesn't work that way, it generates fake gravity. Accelerating your whole body shouldn't cause you anything, you can't even feel it.

Is this something that is an admitted physics hiccup or I misunderstood this kind of Investiture usage?

Brandon Sanderson

This one is actually in the process of flux, as I do more research on the effects of acceleration (including interviews with fighter pilots, which has been fun.) Basically, I realized I needed to beef up my understanding of all this, and then make some decisions on exactly how this all works, because I've been relying on instinct too much in some of these sequences.

So...that's a RAFO, I'm afraid. More because I'm still tweaking some of the little details of how I want this all to work. (In ways that become increasingly relevant as I look forward toward things like Windrunners in space.)

There are a ton of details to consider, even if I eventually hand-wave some of it with the magic. (For example, the heart pumping blood in a high-g environment. How does that interact, if at all, with stormlight? And the direct oxygenation of the brain implied by not needing to breathe while holding stormlight...)

We have several very large math-ish projects going on behind the scenes.


I think it depends on if lashing independently impacts each atom within your body simultaneously, or if it is only a subset.

Brandon Sanderson

There's one important fact you're not considering, but which is vital: reader expectation.

One of the questions I have to ask myself is this: What will the reader expect to happen? How will they expect to feel? Granted, none of us have ever flown like this before--but we generally imagine similar things, similar feelings.

As a writer, one thing I need to balance is when I go against reader expectations and when I don't. Going against the expectations can be interesting, but often takes a large burden of words and explanation to keep reminding them something is not how they'd imagine it to be.

For example, it took a relatively large amount of reader attention (and explanation) to keep reminding people in Mistborn that plants weren't green and the sky wasn't blue. In many ways, making something new (like a chull) is easier on readers than making something familiar into something strange (like the horses in Dragonsteel, which were smaller than Earth horses--and kept causing confusion problems in my alpha readers.)

As annoying as this example can me, this is why Lucas had sound, fire, gravity, etc in space. Starships banking in formation felt real to the viewers, even if it didn't make sense in context. I hope to not go that far, but these questions are something in my mind.

I try to be careful not to remove the sensations of magic, in order to keep the movements of characters grounded. Windrunning has left me having to decide how far I want to go with things like this, in order to preserve the visceral feelings for the reader.

#29 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

I've had to hide this news for a long time. It was almost one year ago that the Dark One outline finally snapped together for me at long last. We had interest almost immediately from Fremantle, and I've done multiple flights to LA to chat with them about it. I think this one might finally be the real deal when it comes to a Sanderson adaptation--which is amusing, considering we don't have any books for Dark One yet. But if this goes forward, I'll be sure to write some.


I'm a big fan of this multimedia approach, but I'm wondering what inspired it. Was it your idea or Fremantle's? Is this an experiment for other properties in the future at all? A lot of us on the 17th Shard discord have discussed the sheer size of Stormlight, for example, and worry about DMG either going the Hobbit route (hours upon hours of content for a single book, which'll really rack up even by the time we reach OB), or missing out on a ton of content. If Dark One pans out well, would you use this multimedia approach for Stormlight? (I'm a big fan of the idea of a Black Mirror style show for the interludes, but straight up seperating them from the rest of the books would take a lot away, especially with characters such as Szeth and Venli)

Brandon Sanderson

With Dark One, I've pounded myself against the idea for years. Finally, I sat down with it and said, "What if I were going to design this for a television show or graphic novel first?" Using Stranger Things and the recent Westworld reboot as guides, I dug into a parallel narrative--half in our world, half in another world. A kind of dark "portal fantasy" story.

It came out as an eight episode outline that I really liked, with a solid outline for two prequel novels about the previous generation. (Characters still important in the episode outline.) With this in hand, I took it to Hollywood and said, "If you guys are interested in doing the episodes, I'm interested in writing these books--and we can intertwine them in a (hopefully) very cool way."

Fremantle was on board immediately. (They'd been intrigued by Dark One from a one-page outline they'd seen, back before I did this new treatment.)

Warning: I can't say how much of my original outline will end up in the show; I've never written for a television show before, and the showrunner will know better than I will what will or won't work. But (theoretically) the graphic novels will follow the outline pretty closely.

If this works, will I apply it to the Cosmere? That's the goal. I do like the idea of getting some experience with TV/Film through non-cosmere projects, particularly as we see how things shake out these next few years in regards to TV/film distribution.


Brandon, I'm curious how you see the same scenario playing out with Cosmere material considering the material already exists and the opportunity for the same intertwining wouldn't be quite the same. Unless of course you go back and interweave new stories with the already completed books?

Very excited to see what comes of this venture! I've loved the concept from the moment you first mentioned it and I can't think of a better way to see it come alive than how you're doing it here.

Brandon Sanderson

I can't really say at this point. There are just too many variables. There are a lot of ways these things could be approached, however.

#30 Copy


What is the [Dark One] podcast piece going to be like? An old-style radio serial or something?

Brandon Sanderson

The original pitch was for something more contemporary, like a fake version of the podcast Serial--but in-world and dealing with a specific character. But a lot will depend on how the series develops.

#31 Copy


Congrats u/mistborn

Very happy for him that [Dark One] is getting off the ground but also worries me a bit.

I’ve been through the waiting game with George r r Martin, j k Rowling and Robert Jordan. I started reading wot when I was like 13 and finished when I was 34 or so. I’m worried that some of the stuff that sounds awesome will never see the light of day or be 40 years in the future. The second half of the storm light or warbreaker 2 for example

I also wish that this was In the cosmere cause it could be a great tie in.

I’m also worried that it fails and kills any chance of his other works being adapted.

Either way hoping that my fears are unfounded and it’s awesome. Sounds cool

Brandon Sanderson

I think that we want this to not be cosmere--because that should both give me a chance to dabble in Hollywood, but also not risk the continuity of the cosmere until I have more of a reputation there.

Also, I don't think you need to worry. So far, this hasn't divided my attention too much from other projects. I've spent maybe a day ever few weeks or so on Dark One--and I don't anticipate letting it consume me too much.

#32 Copy


If you could write a story in any other world/authors work what would it be and why(discounting be obvious of you already did wot)?

If you could let any other author write a story in one of your universes, what story, which author?

Now what if the answer to both those questions where pat rothfuss?

Brandon Sanderson

Good questions.

First one would be tough. I've turned down, for example, writing on a Marvel property--and could likely write a Star Wars book if I wanted, but am not particularly interested in either. Not because I don't enjoy those stories, but because I'm happy doing my own thing, and don't know that I can add in a meaningful way to what is already happening with properties like that.

I would enjoy working with specific authors. For example, I'd leap at doing something with Pat--but I doubt we'd want to do anything in either of our worlds. But something new.

#33 Copy


A couple years ago Peter answered in this post that as of May 2015 (3 years ago now), Brandon had sold ~7 million copies (not including Wheel of Time). I am curious now if Peter would be so good as to give us an update, especially after I saw this from his source in that comment that in the first week alone of Oathbringer's release it sold over 300k copies. That number, especially when taken in context with this other comment of Peter's from that thread, means that OB did way better than the average #1 NYT bestseller.

When a movie hits #1, millions of people saw it that week. On a slow sales week for books, it's possible to hit #1 on the New York Times list and only sell 12,000 copies. (Though that is rare; it's also possible to sell that much and miss the top 15.) The #1 usually sells much less than 100k copies in release week. Publishers don't want people to know, without digging for the info, how small the industry really is.

I'm sure Oathbringer's sales were pretty frontloaded given it's place in a series and how anticipated it was, but I'd love to know how well the books are doing, and I'm just curious if he could give us an idea of how well Stormlight does compared to Mistborn or anything like that. I assume the SA books are Brandon's top sellers, but I obviously don't know that for sure, and I just wonder if each SA book sells like twice as much as an average Mistborn book, or is it closer to 1.5x, or 3x. I imagine they must sell very well to be worth the huge amount of time and the incredible toll it takes on him to write given they are 2-3x longer than his other books.

Anyway, I'm just a curious and nosy guy who loves learning about sales figures, I follow every Sunday to see how much each movie makes for no reason whatsoever aside from I'm interested in it. I also, like many of us I assume, wish for the best for Brandon and the rest of Team Dragonsteel and hope his books are kicking ass and flying off shelves.

Peter Ahlstrom

Total sales are now over 11 million worldwide (still not counting WoT). Mistborn, with more books, is a higher proportion of that than Stormlight is. Stormlight is catching up, but it still has quite a way to go. Oathbringer has sold more in hardcover than anything except WoT books.

Mistborn's mass market paperback box set is usually in the top ten box set sales for the year. Way of Kings mmpb has sold more each year than the year previous since 2014. So did Mistborn until 2017, which is also the first time that Way of Kings mmpb passed up the Mistborn mmpb and box set combined. But Well of Ascension is still outselling Words of Radiance by the same metric.

Those are just print numbers. I don't have the ebook breakdowns handy. Generally ebook has been selling twice as much as print, with audio a bit lower—but with Oathbringer, the print, audio, and ebook numbers are nearly identical. Readers seem to really like the hardcovers, probably due to all the art, and Oathbringer was the most preordered Audible audiobook of all time—which I believe means it had the highest-selling audiobook release week of all time. (It won't pass up books like Harry Potter in the long run.)


When you say "Those are just print numbers" do you mean the paragraph preceding that statement, or is the "over 11 million" just print? I am assuming over 11 million includes all print/ebook/audible etc, but just want to clarify. Again, thank you.

Peter Ahlstrom

The 11 million does include ebook and audio. Though also, that number was from June so it doesn’t include Oathbringer. But that fact doesn’t change anything I said here, yet.


I wonder - considering the three main Stormlight books are about as many words as all the Mistborn books combined, which series has "sold the most words"?

Peter Ahlstrom

Still Mistborn.


Interesting! I suppose it's somewhat expected considering Mistborn was released first. If you'll indulge me, is it still the same if we rescale for time? Sort of a "word sales rate" - is the average Sanderson reader more likely to currently be reading Stormlight or Mistborn?

Peter Ahlstrom

Hard to say right now because the good numbers reporting only happens every January and July. The sales period from July to December 2018 will be best to look at for comparison purposes, since neither series will have a super-recent book out in that period. We'll get those numbers in July 2019.


That's an insanely long delay for getting good data.

Peter Ahlstrom

It's because the publishing industry borrows from the future by paying authors royalties 6 to 11.97 months after book sales take place. And it's the royalty reports that include the actual sales numbers.

#34 Copy


Did Odium have the assistance of another Shard to kill Honor?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm going to have to RAFO that for now, I'm afraid. Too bad it's not in person! I could give you a RAFO card. :)

#35 Copy


In OB, you explained that the Singers have four sexes. I was wondering... Can the Singers have genders other than those four, like humans? Even as simple as just not going with male, female, or malen/femalen. Could a transgender Singer use their ability to shift forms to change their biological reality? And, finally, could a Spren be non-binary, if it wasn't personified in a typical male/female way?

Brandon Sanderson

In the cosmere as a whole, a person's perception of themselves has a lot of power over both their Spiritual and Physical forms. It is possible, with investiture, to change their biology to match Cognitive perceptions--and while this could be easier for some races (like the Singers) it's not outside plausibility for any race.

There are non-binary spren, actually--and you should be meeting one important one quite soon in the books.

#36 Copy


So what you're telling me is that not only my first edition Words of Radiance, but also my first edition Way of Kings are Dragonsteel guaranteed to be worth at least a sapphire broam in ten years time.

Peter Ahlstrom

I wouldn’t go so far as that! Looks like 2-carat cut sapphires are going for about $2000. They printed tens of thousands of copies of Way of Kings. They’re not that rare.


Ah, so is that the Canon size of the gem in a broam?

Peter Ahlstrom

Yes. 2 carats.


Oh, I've been curious about this for a long time. One of my hobbies is working with gemstones, so knowing the sizes (and cuts, because of how light is affected by the cut) of the gemstones in spheres and Soulcasters would be wonderful!


I'm not sure about the cuts, but broams are 2 carats and the other sizes are proportional to their value.


Thank you, that helps a lot!

would be happy to offer input on cuts, should that ever be wanted

Peter Ahlstrom

The canonization of the cuts is being worked on, just not by me.


This is great to know, thanks! One last clarification though: is this proportionality linear? In other words:

* Since there are 4 marks per broam, does that make marks 0.5 carats each?

* Since there are 5 chips per mark, does that make chips 0.1 carats each?

Or is there some wonky formula with diminishing returns?

Peter Ahlstrom

Yeah, that's it.


Just to clarify, as a jeweler I think those numbers might be a bit on the small side.

A 2 carat sapphire (assuming a standard well proportioned round cut) is going to be about 8 millimeters in diameter.

A 1 ct sapphire is going to be around 5 mm ish.

A 0.1 carat sapphire would be really tiny. Like, about 1 mm in diameter ish? Depends heavily on how shallow the cut is.

It just seems way too tiny (and imagine the poor high-precision lapidarists working on making pennies - diamonds require specialized cutting equipment because they're WAY harder than anything else)

Peter Ahlstrom

Those sizes are pretty much right.

#37 Copy


Would you be willing to confirm if Skar is a proto-radiant (on the same level as The Lopen?)

It is implied by his statement of "We protect those who cannot protect themselves", which is obviously an affirmation of the oath, if not an outright swearing of it. I could see it being either/or. He's a good man that did what he thought the order, and he himself, wanted or he just became a radiant on the same level as Kaladin during the Battle of the Tower.

Thanks for your time. I understand if you can't/won't answer that at this time. It's simply a curiosity, so I get it if you're a bit too busy to answer. :p

Brandon Sanderson

By the end of Book Three, I'd put Skar very close to (though not quite at the level of) Lopen along the way toward full Radiant-hood.

#38 Copy


Bluefingers is left-handed

Saw the "what inconveniences do left handed people have?"

It seems left-handers get ink all over their hands when writing....or he could be a righty and they write right to left

Not much of a revelation, but wanted to share it.

Brandon Sanderson

I feel the pain of lefties, though I am not one myself. Every time I see them writing, I think of how inconvenient that must be.

I'd be happy to canonize this, but I'd be taking too much credit if I said this is what I'd thought of when writing. I had simply imagined that he wrote a lot, and was not always as careful about cleaning off his hands as he should have been.

#39 Copy


So something I've noticed in the fantasy genre that I love is that my 2 favorite authors (Sanderson and Rothfuss) don't use the traditional fantasy medieval setting (that I love) of castles, knights, feudalism etc. Now there are plenty of great authors that do (GRRMartin comes to mind as one that does it right), BUT the truth is, a good story eclipses all minor details like setting. An example I always give is that Patrick Rothfuss could write about brushing your teeth and it would make a fascinating read, and Sanderson would make an intriguing plot with amazing characterization throughout the dental hygiene experience. But I digress.

My question (If Brandon would be so kind as to show up, and if not, if anyone has any insight) is why; why doesn't the cosmere have any traditional medieval fantasy settings? Mistborn has keeps, but the society is not the traditional technology and setting of the medieval time period, nor do any of the other worlds given us.

Brandon Sanderson

There are both in-world reasons and writing reasons.

The writing reasons are obvious. I grew up on a steady diet of fantasy in a faux-medieval setting. I felt that some of these stories were really good, and enjoyed them--but at the same time, I felt the genre had been there and done that. In some ways, GRRM doing fantasy with the eye of a true medievalist provided a capstone to this era of fantasy.

When I sat down to write, didn't want to write what I was tired of reading. Dragonsteel (which never got published) was bronze age, White Sand was industrial, and Elantris was (kind of) Renaissance. (As you noticed, Mistborn is somewhere around 1820's. I modeled a lot of the society around the fascinating culture/industry of canals as shipping lanes that happened in England right before railroads took over.)

The other big reason, writing wise, is that I feel some of the magics that I enjoy dealing with in my settings need a certain near-industrial mindset to be interesting. The stories I want to tell are about people applying scientific principles to magic--and about the commodification and the economics of magic. Those are early-modern era stories.

The in-world reasoning I have is that on some of these planets, those eras existed--but the books are taking place when the stories of the worlds start smashing into one another. In addition, however, the Shards have an influence on this, because of things they saw happen on their own home planet.

#40 Copy


Would it be too much to ask for another Mistborn novel? 

Brandon Sanderson

The last Wax and Wayne book should be one of my projects this year. We'll see how Skyward finishes up.

#41 Copy


Hey u/Mistborn could you put more SA posters [in the store]?

Brandon Sanderson

I keep meaning to do so--but it's hard to find the time for my art team, who spends a LOT of effort on the leatherbounds. There's one I've been wanting to do for a while. Hopefully, we'll get to it before too long.

#42 Copy


Awakeners are useless in space. Awakened objects can't propel themselves where there is no air and can't produce air or food from nothing. Elantrians have another problem. Their power is very flexible, but tied to a location; they can't take it with themselves when they travel. Or, at least, they can't do it in a way explained well enough to extrapolate.


Actually I wonder about this. There is one scene where Vivenna Awakens Tonk Fah's cloak to attack Denth, and it drags Tonk Fah across the room. How? I mean, in theory, sure, we can speculate that it might have moved in a series of sweeps and jerks like swimming to force his momentum, perhaps it grabbed his legs, maybe it pushed off against the wall, maybe it even made a big scoop and sailed there on wind resistance... but the paragraph makes it seem possible that the cloak was somehow able to simply will itself along, strongly enough to drag Tonk Fah behind.

It does seem out of keeping with what Awakening is and can do, so I tend to think that at most it's just a typo (should I page u/PeterAhlstrom? I think they're working on a re-release and looking for continuity errors) but, if this is how it works, then once you're in space, Commanding a handkerchief to "go to Scadrial" might be enough to generate propulsion.

Peter Ahlstrom

There's no error in that scene, and it also doesn't directly contradict Steenan's statement.

#43 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

All right. So...things do get confusing whenever I'm trying to circumlocute spoilers. I could have smacked myself for forgetting to mention "no spoilers" before the Q&A. I keep forgetting that there are many readers who are not as sensitive to these things as I am. (Though one woman did gasp in the row behind that guy asking the question--as his original one mentioned Sadeas's death, I believe.)

I will say that there are multiple people I'd consider well on the path to being Radiants by the end of Book Three, and several of these would--shall we say--dispute KR traditions from the past, specifically on this subject matter. (What makes someone eligible to become a KR.) So this discussion is relevant for multiple reasons.

I wasn't trying to drop any bombs about Adolin, however, as I remain very solidly in RAFO territory about his future.


Thank you for taking the time to clarify this one Mr Sanderson.

This WoB created a massive shock-wave all across the fandom and many readers were taking you had officially confirmed Adolin was "well on his way towards Knighthood" which I was personally convinced was very deeply into the RAFO territory, as it should be.

Perhaps in order to also settle some additional debates, would you say Adolin would challenge what has traditionally made someone eligible to become a KR or is this within RAFO territory too? Readers can never seem to agree on how perfect Adolin actually is. We seem to find rationals for both.

Brandon Sanderson

I hate to use terms like "perfect" or the like. It's even difficult to (when not speaking in world) use some of the terminology the KR have used in the past--as we have to reconcile several things.

How do you decide what is a mental illness and what is simply a person's unique brain chemistry? Usually this comes down to two factors--the person's own feelings on it and the advice of medical professionals. Even language like "Well-adjusted," as I used before, is dangerous territory because it's so subjective. One need look only to the deaf community to find examples of people who challenge an outsider's perspective of what is a disease and what isn't.

So I generally prefer to talk about this through the character's viewpoint, the lens of historical commentary (which is in world, and may not therefore be accurate--but at least offers a perspective,) and the context of the book.

And in that context, I like Adolin being a RAFO. I believe that using the text, there are multiple directions one could go in discussing him.

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