ICon 2019

Event details
Name
Name ICon 2019
Date
Date Oct. 15, 2019
Location
Location Tel Aviv, Israel
Entries
Entries 93
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#5 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

I didn't know the whole cosmere when I wrote Elantris. In fact, a lot of the things I put into Elantris, like the shardpool, I put in feeling like I would connect them later on, but I had no idea how they were going to connect. By Mistborn, I did have all the cosmere. I have an advantage in that, because I took so long to publish, I was able to do a lot of practice books, and it let me really settle in on what I wanted to do, and I was able to build the cosmere... For instance, Dragonsteel (which I wrote after Elantris) is Hoid's backstory and his origin story and things like that. (And also has Bridge Four in it. Back then, they were on a different planet.) I was able to really experiment in Aether of Night with what shardpools meant, and the gods and the Shards of Adonalsium. You can read that one, that one's on the internet just for free. I think the easiest way to do it is to go to my forums and ask them for a copy. I told them they could give it away. It's not very good. It's not terrible, but it does have a lot of shardpool stuff in it, so if you're interested in that.

So by the time I wrote Mistborn, I knew what I was doing with all of this. And I think kind of retrofit to make sure Elantris still fit it all. Hoid still had an appearance, the Shardpools worked the way I wanted to, the magic systems were based off the cosmere magic, the realmatics were all consistent, and things like that.

People ask me a lot, "Where did you get the cosmere?" It was a gradual evolution during the unpublished novels, and then was done by the time I wrote Mistborn.

#6 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Of course the Parshendi wanted to play their drums. Of course Gavilar had told them they could. And of course he hadn't thought to warn Navani.

"Have you seen the size of those instruments?" <Hratham> said, running her hands through her black hair. "Where will we put them? We can't..."

"We move to the upper feast hall," Navani said, trying to project a calm demeanor. Everybody else in the kitchens was close to panicking, cooks running one direction or another, pots banging. Gavilar had invited not just the highprinces but their relatives. And every highlord in the town. And he wanted a Beggar's Feast. And now... drums?

"We've already set up in the lower hall," <Hratham> cried, "I don't have the staff to..."

"There are twice as many soldiers as usual loitering around the palace tonight," Navani said, "We'll have them move the tables." Gavilar never forgot about things like posting extra guards. Projecting strength, making a show of force? He could always be counted on for that. For everything else, he had Navani. 

"Could work, yes," <Hratham> said. "Good to put the louts to work rather than having them underfoot. Alright, deep breaths."

The short palace organizer stumbled away, narrowly avoiding an apprentice cook carrying a large bowl of steaming shellfish. Navani stepped to the side and let the cook pass. The man nodded in thanks. The staff had long since stopped being nervous when she entered the kitchens. She'd made it clear to them that doing their job sufficiently was superior praise to her than a bow. Fortunately, this staff was the kind of middle-ranked lighteyes who understood the need for a little practicality.

They seemed to have things well in hand now, though there had been a scare earlier when three barrels of grain had been discovered with worms in them. A little creative thinking had reminded them that Brightlord Amaram had stores for his men, and Navani had been able to pry them out of his grip. For now, it seemed that with the extra cooks borrowed from the monastery, they might actually be able to feed all the extra people Gavilar had invited.

"I should leave some of the tables set up in the lower hall," she thought, slipping out of the kitchens and into the palace gardens. "Who knows who might show up with an invitation." At the very least she might need to feed some of the military officers who couldn't be seated in the main feast hall. 

She turned to hike up through the gardens and entered the palace through the side doors. She'd be less out of the way and wouldn't have to dodge servants if she went out here into the gardens. Maybe she could...

Navani slowed. The Kholinar palace was brightly lit tonight, with spheres adorning every hallway and all of the garden walkways. By that light, Navani could easily make out Aesudan, her daughter-in-law, Elhokar's wife, standing just near the fountains. The slender woman wore her long hair in a bun, which was lit with a gemstone of each shade. All those colors were gaudy together. Navani preferred a few simple stones themed to a color, but it did make Aesudan stand out as she chatted with two elderly ardents. 

Storms bright and brash. Was that <Grushu Kris>, the artist and master artifabrian? When had he gotten into town? Who had invited him? He was holding a small box with a flower painted on it. Could that be one of his new fabrials? Navani found herself drawn toward the group, all other thoughts fleeing her mind. How had he gotten the heating fabrial to work? What had captured the flamespren? How did he make the temperature vary? She'd seen drawings, but to talk to the master artifabrian himself...

Aesudan saw Navani and then smiled brightly. The joy seemed genuine, which was unusual, at least when directed at Navani. She tried not to take Aesudan's general sourness around her as a personal affront. It was the prerogative of every woman to feel threatened by her mother-in-law, particularly when the girl was so obviously lacking in talents. Fortunately, Elhokar liked her, and she was of a good family. Navani smiled at her and turned, trying to enter the conversation and get a better look at that fabrial. Aesudan, however, took Navani by the arm.

"Mother! I had forgotten completely about our appointment. I'm so fickle sometimes. Terribly sorry Ardent <Kris>, but I must make a hasty exit," Aesudan tugged Navani forcefully back through the gardens toward the kitchens. 

"Thank Kelek you showed up Mother. That man is the most dreadful bore."

"Bore?" Navani said, twisting to look over her shoulder.

"He was talking about gemstones, and other gemstones, and spren, and boxes of spren, and... storms, what a night! You'd think he would understand I have important people to meet. The wives of highprinces, the best generals of the land come to gawk at the wild parshmen. Then I get stuck in the gardens talking to ardents! Your son ditched me there, I'll have you know. When I find that boy..."

Navani extricated herself from Aesudan's grip. "Someone should go entertain those ardents. Why are they here?"

"Don't ask me," Aesudan said. "Gavilar wanted them for something, but he made Elhokar entertain them. Poor manners that is, really."

Gavilar had invited one of the world's most prominent artifabrians to visit the palace, and he hadn't even bothered to tell Navani? An anger stirred deep inside her, a fury she kept carefully penned and locked away most of the time. That man. That storming man. How could he...

Calm, Navani, the rational side of her mind said. Maybe he intends to introduce you to the ardent as a gift. He knows how interested you are in fabrials. Perhaps that was it.

"Brightness!" a voice called from the kitchens. "Brightness Navani, oh please, we have a problem!"

"Aesudan," Navani said, eyes on the ardent who was slowly walking away toward the path to the monastery. She could catch him. She could spare a few minutes. "Could you help the kitchens with whatever they need. I'd like to..."

But Aesudan was already hurrying off towards another group in the gardens, one attended by several powerful highlord generals. Navani took a deep breath, shoving down another stab of annoyance. Aesudan claimed to care about propriety and manners, but she'd butt into any conversation between men without even her husband with her as an excuse.

"Brightness!" the cook called, waving to her. Navani took one last look at the ardents and then set her jaw and hurried back to the kitchen, careful not to catch her skirt on the ornamental shalebark. "What now?"

"Wine", the cook said. "We're out of both the <clavina> and the ruby <bench>."

"How?" Navani said. "We ordered..." She shared a look with the cook, and the answer was evident. Dalinar had been at the wine again, it appeared. "I have a private store," Navani said, pulling her notebook from her pocket. She gripped it in her safehand through the sleeve, scribbling a note. "I keep it in the monastery, with Sister <Nana>. Show her this, and she'll give you access."

"Thank you Brightness," the cook said, taking the note. Before the cook was even out the door, however, Navani spotted the house steward, a white-bearded man with too many rings on his fingers, standing in the stairwell up to the palace proper. He was fidgeting with his rings on his left hand. Bother.

"What is it?" she asked, striding over.

"Guests have started to arrive, Brightness, including Highlord Vamah, who was promised an audience with the King regarding the border disputes. You know the one..."

"...about the misdrawn maps, yes," Navani said, sighing. "And my husband?"

"Vanished, Brightness," the steward said. "He was seen with Brightlord Amaram and some of those... uncommon figures." That was the term the palace staff used for Gavilar's new friends, the ones who seemed to arrive without warning or announcement, and who rarely gave their names.

Navani ground her teeth, thinking through the places Gavilar might have gotten himself to. There were a few rooms he tended to use. He would probably be angry if she interrupted him. Well, good. He should be seeing to his duties rather than just assuming she'd handle it all. Unfortunately, at the moment… well, she would have to handle it all. Brightlord Vamah couldn't be left waiting.

She let the anxious steward lead her up to the grand entryway where guests were being entertained with music, drinks and poetry while the feast was being prepared. Others were going with master-servants to view the Parshendi, the night's true novelty. It wasn't every day that the King of Alethkar signed a treaty with a group of mysterious parshmen who could talk. 

She dealt with Vamah, offering apologetic words, even going so far as to promise to review the maps herself and write him a judgement. From there, she was stopped from locating Gavilar by a line of needy men and women who had come specifically to get the King's attention, a privilege that was growing more and more difficult these days, unless you were one of the 'uncommon figures.' Navani assured Brightlords their petitions were being heard. She promised to look into injustices. She soothed the crumpled feelings of those who thought a personal invitation from the King would mean they'd actually get to see that King. It was emotionally taxing work, but nothing new to her, and fully within the Queen's expected duties.

Navani didn't resent her station. Perhaps some day she'd be able to spend her days tinkering with fabrials and pretending that she was a scholar. For now, she had duties. The only thing that truly bothered her was the fact that she shouldn't have to do those duties alone. She was unsurprised at asking that more guests were indeed still indeed showing up, ones that weren't even on the list an annoyed Gavilar had provided for earlier that day. Vev's Golden Keys! Navani kept her increasing fury under control, painting an amicable face on for the arriving guests. She smiled, she laughed, she waved. Using the cheatsheet she kept in her notebook, she asked after families, new births and favorite axehounds. She inquired about trade situations, took notes on which lighteyes seemed to be avoiding others. In short, she acted regal.

She always felt like an imposter, and with good reason. She hadn't been born to this station. Gavilar, Navani, Sadeas, Ialai, they'd taken these mantles upon themselves. And however prestigious their ancient lineage, Navani had to work hard to suppress the anxiety that whispered she was really just a backwater country girl wearing someone else's clothing. Those insecurities had been stronger lately. Calm calm, no room for that sort of thinking.

She rounded the room and was happy to note that Aesudan had found Elhokar and was chatting with him for once, rather than other men. Elhokar did look happy presiding over the pre-feast gathering in his father's absence. Adolin and Renarin were there in stiff uniforms, the former delighting a small group of young women, the latter looking gangly and awkward as he stood by his brother. 

And there was Dalinar, standing tall. Somehow taller than any man in the room, but with those haunted eyes, simmering with passion. He wasn't drunk yet, and people orbited him, like they might a fire on a cold night, needing to be close, but not daring to step up and risk the true heat of his presence. Storms. She complained to her current conversation partners that she was feeling a little faint and, after assuring them that she would be fine, made a brief exit up the steps to where she wouldn't feel so warm.

It was probably a bad idea to leave. They were lacking a King, so if the Queen vanished too, questions were bound to arise. But surely everyone could get on without her for a short time. Besides, up here she could check one of Gavilar's hiding places. He would probably come this direction, away from both the guests and the location of the new feast hall.

Parshendi with their drums passed nearby, speaking a language she did not understand, though one of the young interpreters was with them, so Navani could have asked if she'd wanted. Instead, she twisted her way through the dungeon-like hallways. Why couldn't this place have been a little more light, had a few more windows? She'd brought the matter up with Gavilar but he liked it this way. It gave him more places to hide. 

There, she thought, stopping at an intersection. Voices.

"Being able to bring them back and forth from Braize doesn't mean anything, Gavilar," one of them said. "It's too close to be a relevant distance."

"It was impossible just a few short years ago," said a deep, powerful voice. His. "This is proof. The Connection is not severed, but can be warped to allow for travel. Not yet as far as you'd like, but we must start the journey somewhere."

Navani inched forward, looking around the corner. Yes, there he was, right where she'd expected him to be. In her study, a place she rarely had time to visit but also a place where people were unlikely to search for the King. It was a cozy little room with a nice window, tucked away in the corner of the second floor. He'd left the door cracked, and she inched up to peer in.

Gavilar Kholin had a big enough presence to fill the room all by himself. He wore a beard, but instead of being unfashionable on him it looked classic, like he was a painting come to life, a representation of old Alethkar. By wearing the beard, some had thought he might start a new fashion trend, but nobody else had been able to pull off the look. Others simply didn't have Gavilar's strong features. Beyond that, there was an aura of distortion around Gavilar. Nothing supernatural or nonsensical. It was just that... Well, you accepted that Gavilar could do whatever he wanted, in defiance of any tradition or logic. For him, it would work out. That was just the way of things.

The King was speaking with two men that Navani vaguely recognized. 'Ambassadors from the West' were what they'd been called, but no kingdom had been given for their home. They were simply among Gavilar's uncommon visitors.

A tall Azish man with a birthmark on his cheek, and a shorter Alethi man with a round face and a small nose. The Azish one leaned back against the bookcase, arms folded, face completely emotionless. The Alethi man wrung his hands, reminding Navani of the palace steward, though this man was much younger, somewhere in his twenties, maybe his thirties? No, he could be older…

On the table between Gavilar and the men were a group of spheres. Navani's breath caught as she saw them. They were arrayed in a variety of colors and brightnesses, but several seemed strangely off. They glowed with a color that seemed somehow an inverse of light, as if they were pits of violet darkness, sucking in the color around them. She'd never seen anything like it before, though gemstones with spren trapped inside them could have all kinds of odd looks and effects. Those spheres… they must be for fabrials. And Gavilar was talking to two strangers about them? She was reminded of the artifabrian in the gardens. What was he doing with spheres, strange light, and fabrials? And why couldn't Gavilar talk to her about…

Gavilar suddenly stood up straight, then glanced towards the doorway. Their eyes met. She couldn't tell how he'd spotted her, as she hadn’t made any sound. As soon as she was seen, she pushed open the door, acting like she had been on her way in, anyway. She wasn't spying, she was Queen of this palace, she could go anywhere she wished, particularly her own study!

"Husband," she said, "There are guests missing you at the gathering. You seem to have lost track of time."

"Gentlemen, " Gavilar said to the two ambassadors, "I will need to excuse you for the moment."

The nervous Alethi man ran his hand through his wispy hair.

"I want to know more of the project, Gavilar, plus you need to know something else. I think another of us is here tonight. I spotted her handiwork earlier."

"I have a meeting shortly with Meridas and the others," Gavilar said. "They should have more information for me. We can speak again after that."

"No," the Azish man said, voice sharp. "I doubt that we shall."

"There's more here, Nale!" The Alethi man said, but his friend towed him out the door, protesting. "This is important! I want out! This is the only way!"

"What was that about?" Navani asked as Gavilar closed the door. "Those are no ambassadors. Who are they really?"

Gavilar did not answer. With seemingly deliberate motions, he walked back to the table and began plucking the spheres one by one and placing them into a pouch. Navani ducked forward and snatched one off the table.

"What are they? How did you get spheres to glow like this? Does it have anything to do with the artifabrians you invited – without telling me, I might add – to come visit you?"

She looked at him, waiting for some kind of answer, some kind of explanation. Instead, he held out his hand for her sphere.

"This does not concern you, Navani. Return to the party."

She closed her hand around the sphere.

"So I can continue to cover for you? Did you promise Vamah that you'd mediate a dispute tonight, of all times? Do you know how many people are expecting you? Did you say you have another meeting to go to now, before the feast even begins? Are you simply trying to ignore our guests?"

"Do you know," he said softly, "how tired I grow of your constant questions, woman?"

"Well, perhaps try answering one or two of them, then! It’s a novel experience, answering someone, treating them like a human being, rather than a machine built to count the days of the week for you!"

He wagged his hand, demanding the sphere be returned. Instinctively, she shied back, holding it.

"Why? Why do you continue to shut me out? Please just tell me…"

"I deal in secrets you could not handle, Navani. If you knew the scope of what I'd begun…"

Footnote: This reading is from a draft of the prologue and may change before publication
#8 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

My editor in America made me cut out half of the kolo's – what did you translate "kolo" as?

Questioner

"Kolo." 'Cause you know, it's foreign language, so I just preserve it as it is.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. He made me cut half of those. He was so annoyed by my kolo's. You don't to understand, languages use these little verbal tics, that are very common – I don't know if Hebrew has one, but, like, they're very common, like - Korean has one - <Kuritzu?> - which people put at the end of a lot of sentences, and they just mean "Isn't that so?" or "Am I right?" or... it basically gives you a moment to think while you're talking, and a lot of languages have them. So, this is one of the examples of: fiction happened to be less realistic than real life, because in a lot of real-life texts you would have one of those every other sentence. And I use them like, you know, once a page, and my editor is like, "This is way too much."

#9 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

That was maybe a half or two thirds of the prologue. Um, like I said, hasn't gone through continuity yet, and they are sure to find things that contradict things that I have written in previous books, so don't hold me too hard to first draft, really in first draft I'm trying to lay down emotional beats, and some of the story beats, and then we will worry about continuity.

#13 Copy

Kalanit Taub

When Jasnah picks up the bead for the palace, is that the same bead that Shallan picks up in Oathbringer?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah.

Kalanit Taub

Is that a coincidence or is there something else...?

Brandon Sanderson

So, whenever things like that happen you can assume there's little bits of Connection going on that's changing the probability a little bit. You're not meant to read much into it, but the probability is increased because of thing like that.

And you'll find, if you look really closely, there are connections between the characters that are really subtle that I'm doing, that anyone who's touching the Spiritual Realm or thing like that. For instance, in the second book, Syl turns into Shallan while Shallan is washed up on the beach while Syl is talking to Kaladin somewhere else. There's enough Connection going on that you see Syl change shapes, and Kal's like, "It looks like she's walking on a beach!"

It's just Syl... because through all of that, is turning into... You'll find things like that <happening> all through the books, really subtle, really small. There's just meant to be, one of the things in the Cosmere is Connection. Your Connection to people, Connection to things, places, influences probability a little bit.

#14 Copy

Nextorl

Well, in Elantris, we saw two people get in the Shardpool, right? We saw Riino, who we later saw in Oathbringer, and we saw Saolin- the warrior. Will we see him again? Like, will we see a cameo?

Brandon Sanderson

It is possible that you will, but I will have to RAFO it. You'll have to wait to see.

#16 Copy

Questioner (paraphrased)

Is there a Dawnshard in Aimia?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yes. Well, there definitely has been a Dawnshard in Aimia in the past, that is why it has been protected so well, obviously. Maybe it is still there and maybe not, that is an open question for now.

#17 Copy

Questioner

About the end of Secret History... We see that Saze is being very shy with Kelsier. Seems like he is afraid of what he's gonna do. Can you tell us about it?

Brandon Sanderson

*carefully* Sazed believes in Kelsier more than Kelsier does.

#18 Copy

Questioner

Are you going to put a gay character in your book as a major character?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes! Someday I will, I want to... I'm easing my way into it because my specific culture and biases, I think would lead me to do it poorly, until I've... until I kind of ease my way in. There will be main characters who are LGBTQ in the future. I'm getting there, be patient with me.

#19 Copy

Questioner

In Warbreaker, the royal family's hair can change colors based on their emotions. Why is it only natural colors? Is there a reason for that?

Brandon Sanderson

It's only natural colors, they could go further than natural colors. Basically, their perception is what's influencing that. They can actually change more than just the color of their hair, but as in a lot of things in the cosmere, the way you view how your abilities work shapes the actual abilities.

#22 Copy

Questioner

If you could meet any author from history, and you could meet with him and ask him a question. Who would it be, and what would be the question?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm going to guess God doesn't count?

Audience

*laughs*

Questioner

Moses!

Brandon Sanderson

Moses, I could go with Moses. *sighs* Would it be Moses? Would it be Abraham? It's gonna be one of the bible writers, right? It might just be Isaiah, or one of the ones like... It would probably be Daniel and I would be like, "Let's go over that dream. Right?" *laughter from audience*

"Let's go over that dream and you can tell me exactly what it actually means. You can trust me, I won't tell anyone." *audience laughs and claps*

Questioner

So, *inaudible*

Brandon Sanderson

Secondary answer would be "Robert Jordan" and "How did I do?"

#23 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

When I was first naming all the characters, I did this--it's a very classic mistake new writers make. And sometimes it works, but sometimes it doesn't. And this is to name the characters things that relate to their role in the plot. So I was naming all these characters and I was basing their Aons on their personality. Which if you think about, doesn't make any sense. Parents could not name their characters after the trait the characters was going to eventually exhibit?

Questioner

But it's like a mystical thing! Maybe determined or fates...

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, you could say that. But at the end of the day, if you could look at the back and be like, "This one means Traitor. That character probably is the traitor!" It worked for Star Wars, right? He named Darth Vader, "Dark Father," in German, and none of us got it. When I went back to the books and I looked him over again, when I was editing it, my editor said, "Do you really want to do this. Do you want to name the character this, because they can just look in the back and find out what the character's name means." And I realized no parent would name their kid, "Traitor." I thought it was cute but it was actually just dumb. So I went back and changed it all.

Questioner

Who was it originally and what was his name?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm trying to remember who I named, "Traitor." I named one of the nobles, "Traitor." I'm trying to remember who it was.

Questioner

Probably the traitor one.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah probably the traitor one. It was more than that. I named all of the nobility these names based on what their role in the plot was.

Questioner 2

*Inaudible* Ahan maybe?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. That's who it was, yeah.

#24 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

I often, when I'm building languages, there are a lot of different ways that I go. I am not a philologist like Tolkien was. I'm not a linguist. Peter is, my editorial assistant, but I am not. I have had a little bit of schooling in linguistics, but not enough to be creating complete con-langs out of nowhere. So I'm usually using a few tricks to develop my language, one of which is to look for historical languages and seek inspiration from them.

And the pitch for myself on the whole thing, in Fjorden, was what if the Vikings had created a very hierarchical religion like Catholicism, and had instead of conquering the world as Viking, Nordic destroyers, they had become a religious group. They're really based off of the Geats, which is Beowulf's people, which are Nor--are British, they're British Vikings, basically. And so when I was developing them, I was using a bit of Nordic--old Nordic and things like that--and I'm using a bit of old English, and just trying to get that feel. In Beowulf, because in Beowulf they have some Danes and you have some people from the British isles, and there's this crossing over, and things like this, and it's this interesting sort of mix and hodge-podge of cultures and languages, from, 1000AD, and i really liked that feel, I really liked that linguistic flavor, so to speak, and so, I was really reaching towards lots of names out of Beowulf as inspiration.

#25 Copy

Nameless36

Why was it that Vasher was able to throw Nightblood while fully drawn but Szeth couldn't even drop him

Brandon Sanderson

So it may have been part to why Nightblood has less an effect on Vasher in general than the other people, but there's also a little of a bit a measure of experience... but there's some other stuff going on with Vasher.

#26 Copy

Brutal_murder

How was it that the Lord Ruler was able to speak into the minds of the Terris and ask them if they want to become kandra while he was wielding Preservation?

Brandon Sanderson

Lord Ruler... able to speak with the minds of the kandra...

Brutal_murder

At least TenSoon said in the text that he spoke directly into their minds.

Brandon Sanderson

Send that to me, I want to go to Peter for that one. I think we have an answer for that one, but I want to make sure I'm getting it right.

#27 Copy

Questioner

Is Hoid named after the Sephira of Hod? Like with an Ashkenazi pronunciation? The Kabbalistic thing.

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, the Kabbalistic thing. Not consciously, though the Double Eye is based a little bit on the Kabbalah tree of life, consciously. That's the illustration on the front cover of the first Stormlight book. And I have read a bunch of Kabbalah, so it's totally possible that it ended up in there on accident.

#28 Copy

Questioner

My question is about, especially in the Stormlight series, I noticed that you use a lot of different languages and that when people speak in languages that is not their mother tongue, they use different phrases and they make mistakes that really remind me of the mistakes that we Israeli do when we speak English. Do you speak multiple languages and can you tell us a bit about languages in the Cosmere?

Brandon Sanderson

So, yeah. I do speak... poorly... I studied French all through high school and my French is really bad. And I was a missionary in Korea and learned Korean and my Korean is slightly less bad. *speaks Korean* I said, "I don't speak Korean very well, I speak about as much as a rat's tail," which is a phrase in Korean. Learning another language was really helpful for writing fantasy books. Going and living in another culture? Really helpful for writing fantasy books.

Languages in the Cosmere are going to vary based on my needs for a given book. I spend my worldbuilding time on what is relevant to the characters and story. So, for instance, the linguistics in Elantris were really important to the story. The linguistics in Mistborn were not as important to the story and so I spent more time on the languages for Sel than I did for Scadrial. I did spent a decent amount of time on the languages for Roshar because all the different cultures and things like that having conflicts with one another is a big part of the story.

Worldbuild in service of the story, is my suggestion to you guys. Spend your times on things that are going to be relevant to the characters.

#29 Copy

Questioner

Does Gavilar and Amaram know that Nale and Kalak are the Heralds and that all the other Heralds also...

Brandon Sanderson

That's a spoiler. Can you talk around it?

Questioner

Yeah. So did they know that the people being met, who were they and also if they knew, why'd they still continue on the missions?

Brandon Sanderson

Let's just say that information is not being shared clearly and succinctly between different groups that are interacting in the prologues of the Stormlight books. How about that.  But the cat obviously got out of that particular bag that you're asking about and the ramifications of it are in the first prologue. You'll find out. When this book comes out, your question will get answered pretty clearly so just know that you'll get your answer in about a year.

#30 Copy

Questioner

If you were in the Reckoners books, what kind of superpowers would you have and what would be your weakness?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm canonized in the Reckoners books and the Reckoners board game as Quicksand. My weakness is early mornings.  Wake me up too early and my powers go away.

#31 Copy

Questioner

How do you think you did? How did you do [on Wheel of Time]?

Brandon Sanderson

How did I do on Wheel of Time? I think I did as close to as good a job that I could have done. There's a few things I'd change if I could. I think I dropped the ball <on the one time thing>, in retrospect, and my Mat, particularly in Gathering Storm, was... I got there on Mat, I feel, as best as I could do Mat, which is not as good as Robert Jordan could, by the time I got to A Memory of Light, but it sticks out a little bit. But he just had a big event in his life, no spoilers, just a big event. Just pretend he's off kilter because of the big event.

Those are my two biggest regrets on that. I think I got pretty close to as good as I could have done. I don't think I did the job that Robert Jordan could have done. By definition, his would be better.

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Questioner (A wheelchair user)

Have you had any negative feedback from other wheelchair users about Rysn's storyline?

Brandon Sanderson

I did go to a bunch of them to ask, so I've been trying. But if you have negative feedback to give me, I would love to hear it, because I had two beta readers in wheelchairs give me the best advice they could. But I obviously do not have that same disability, so there's things I'm going to get wrong.

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Questioner

In the world of Stormlight, we have the Weeping season, where there are no large storms [highstorms], we don't have any new Stormlight. How did the Knights Radiant deal in the past? Like, how did they handle this time?

Brandon Sanderson

Well, there's a couple of things, some are spoilery for the books. Large gemstones can keep the Stormlight, though. Some dealt without and just didn't have it. In some cases, they had the large gemstone reservoirs. It was a thing they planned for and there were a couple of other little hacks that are not obvious in the beginning of the series. So, you actually get a RAFO on that.

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Questioner

We were talking about Nightblood. How do you go about creating characters that are inanimate objects, but come to life? Because it seems a lot different. Also, gods... like, things that are otherworldly, because characters like real people, it's easy to write that. But considering gods and inanimate objects, that's beyond, sort of.

Brandon Sanderson

Well, fortunately, for us writers, nobody among our audience will be able to contradict us. Right? So, in some ways, writing something that nobody has ever experienced is a lot easier than writing something that a fair percentage of the population has experienced but you have not. And so, I just do my best. Being a writer is about learning to, "fake it." To pretend you're someone you're not, to pretend to have the experience that you don't, so that character sounds authentic. And faking something that no one can call you on is actually fairly easy.

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Questioner

So, yesterday on the metal panel, you talked about how creating aluminum revolutionized our society. So ever since yesterday, I wondered if you one day can see some kind of... like you know, the Empire from Star Wars? Like, a society like that, probably from Scadrial that is made entirely out of aluminum and things of that nature.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, I totally can. Absolutely, I can see that and it's going to be pretty cool, if I can get it all to work.

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Questioner

Why did the Elantrians came to Roshar in the first place? Because the question came up after I reread Elantris, so...

Brandon Sanderson

Are you talking about... specifically... the old ones? Yeah, why were they on Roshar? So, those specific individuals - the Ire, as we call them - are a group of Elantrians that are not representing all Elantrians. They were there. The one you've met is there for a specific reason. The Ire are involved there. They're mostly... where you've seen them, is on Scadrial so far, but they're interested in Roshar. You are talking about the lighthouse keeper, I assume? So, the lighthouse keeper, wouldn't... would be counted, I guess, as one of the Ire and is there for a specific purpose, but it is not related to their general purpose, that they're trying to achieve.

How's that for being vague? I'm sorry.

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Questioner

We know that on Sel, it's incredibly difficult to worldhop there because of a certain dangerous factor in the Cognitive Realm.

Brandon Sanderson

Yep.

Questioner

Is it possible to worldhop by means that are not through the Cognitive Realm?

Brandon Sanderson

You wouldn't call it worldhopping, but if you could FTL there, you could get there without having to go through the problems. I call worldhopping mostly using non-physical means, but we haven't gotten there in the Cosmere really yet, except for, like, Sixth of the Dusk and things. So, the fan terminology may include worldhopping as jumping in your ship and FTLing over. But... nothing would prevent that. If you had a ship that could FTL using one of the magic systems in the Physical Realm, you would probably be okay, getting to Sel.

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Questioner

I have a question about emotional Allomancy and ways it can affect things that aren't from Scadrial. Specifically, I had a conversation about what it would do to Lifeless.

Brandon Sanderson

Emotional Allomancy would have a more compelling effect on Lifeless than on a regular person.

Questioner

Like breaking Lifeless with Allomancy?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh... to break Lifeless. This... I'll RAFO that for now, just because the actual details there I'm gonna RAFO. So, you're really asking, "Can emotional Allomancy bring back the person behind the Lifeless," and that I'll have to RAFO.

Questioner

I meant like breaking the Command.

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, breaking the command of a Lifeless. Ohhhh... I'll still RAFO that. *laughter and applause from audience* That's not nearly as difficult a question, but yeah... I would say if you're doing that in a roleplaying game, I would call that a viable use of the magic as currently understood. So you could make that happen and have my authority to do it.

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Questioner

When I read Wax and Wayne, I have in my head, "That's how Batman would look like if Brandon wrote it." When I read The Rithmatist, I think "That's how Harry Potter would look like if you wrote it." My question is: Do you have this in mind when you write such stories and is it intentional?

Brandon Sanderson

It wasn't intentional for Wax and Wayne, but my pitch for Rithmatist to my publisher was, "The Muggle at Hogwarts." The Rithmatist is the person with no magic, who's a superfan of the magic, who gets to go to the magic school. So for The Rithmatist, it was actually part of my original pitch and concept, so yeah.

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Questioner

I just wanted to know what you think about writer's notebooks and do you have one?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, mine's... I have two, I have a little... whatever they call them... the little leatherbound ones that I put in my pocket. That's if I'm working on a specific book. If I'm not in the outlining stage on a specific book, which I'm not right now because I'm writing prose on something. At that point, it's just my phone and I email cool ideas I have to myself to put in my file. It used to be called "Cool things that need to be used some time", but it was just too weird a title, so now it's just called "Working ideas".

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AviH

So, the Shades on Threnody, they're enforcing the Three Rules. Would something bad happen if they weren't enforcing those rules?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm gonna RAFO that. The book on Threnody will not take place in [the Forests of] Hell, it will take place on the continent where the Evil is, but I hope to get into some of the rules for Hell when we're there.

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Questioner

I want to ask how were the Realms created and does their creation have anything to do with Adonalsium and the Shattering?

Brandon Sanderson

So, good question. The Realms predate the Shattering of Adonalsium and are part of the fundamental physics of the cosmere. So they would have been created at the equivalent of the cosmere Big Bang when time was created and things like that.

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Questioner

I read the Mistborn series in audiobook form and it was just such high quality. And I was wondering if that was specifically your decision and if so, what made you choose to make it so?

Brandon Sanderson

So, if you're thinking of the Michael Kramer version. That came about because I loved him and Kate's readings of the Wheel of Time audiobooks. And I just... they were my favorite audiobook readers. When they came and said "Who do you want for your audiobooks", I said "Please get Michael and Kate".

If you're thinking of the full cast audios... the full cast audios are done by a group called Graphic Audio and they just do high class work, that's why we picked them. I listen to a bunch of things they've done and I have nothing to do with how great they are, that's all on them.

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Questioner

My question is connected to an acquaintance of both of us. Namely, a lovely, lovely Australian named Shad, who is an expert in weapons and medieval warfare. It is very easy to criticize books and everything about *interjection* because we have the real things in the world, but in all of your books, you have created magic systems that are so... real. How is the initial thought when you create a new world, what is the initial process of creating a new magic system?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, so first off, <I'll point you toward> my essays called "Sanderson's Laws", which are basically stepping through the rules I follow to make a magic system. There are just three of those. I would recommend going and reading those.

The process is really me trying to create something that is both different and unique and something that approaches the theme of the story the right way. Like, I want a magic system that accents my story, not one that contradicts my story. And these things all come together into it: I'm looking for interesting flaws, interesting costs, interesting powers, and interesting connections to the rest of my world.

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Questioner

We've heard a lot about the lighteyes' ranking system, but less so about the darkeyes. I would like to ask you about what would happen to, like, tenth nahn, the lowest of the lowest.

Brandon Sanderson

So, tenth nahn is easy, because that's the slaves. So, it's the middle ones that get really interesting. And actually, in some ways, the top ones are interesting because the nahns, the top of the Alethi darkeyes, would be analogous to how in the early 1800s, you saw a rise of a merchant class - that actually started back in the 17, maybe 1600s - but the rise of a merchant class that were not noble, but more powerful or richer than the nobility in almost every situation except for some legal situations. And that's what you're seeing there. That's really interesting.

The middle nahns are also really interesting because they have the right of movement, which is an Alethi right that you can leave a city and move to another city. You basically can't be a <share cropper>, you can't be required... you can't be a serf. And that power can be wielded over the lighteyes, by - if the lighteyes is terrible, they can call upon the right to move, leave to whatever city and that lighteyes is demoted, right? Because your lighteyes rank can be influenced by how important the people... your civic rank, you could actually become a lower dahn because of that, or at least lose a lot of prestige because of that.

And then the lowest of them are basically serfs, they don't have the right of movement, and the right of movement is a big dividing line. There is a nahn that doesn't have the right of movement that isn't a slave, also, and these people have pretty dismal lives.

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Questioner

Also, The Emperor's Soul, will we see Shai in future books?

Brandon Sanderson

You will see Shai in future books. *applause* I came up with a really good idea for a sequel for her, also. I don't know if and when I can write it, but there's a really solid idea I have for one, so, we'll see. But she'll make appearances, she is around.

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Questioner

The Emperor's Soul was intentionally on Sel or was it just picked up as...

Brandon Sanderson

No, it was intentional, because the magic system... the way I build the magic systems in the Cosmere is very deliberate and certain planets have certain themes for their magic. And Sel's magic systems are all basically computer programming languages and when I was designing that magic system, it had to be on Sel, it couldn't work on any of the other planets for various reason.

Questioner

And another question, is the Shaod random or is there a purpose beyond it?

Brandon Sanderson

It is not completely random. *laughter from audience*

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Questioner

When can we expect Elantris 2?

Brandon Sanderson

So, Elantris 2... Elantris 2 has to be done by the time I do Era 3 of Mistborn, which is the contemporary era. There are certain things that have to be in there before I can finish that series. So, right now - what it's looking like - I will finish Stormlight 4, I will do Wax and Wayne [4] and Skyward and then I'll do Stormlight 5. *applause* And then, what I'll probably do is, I'll try to - this is not a promise - but this is what my goal will be because Mistborn and Elantris books are about each half the size of a Stormlight book, I can probably do one a year, where Stormlight takes me about one every three years. So the goal will be to go, Mistborn Era 3 book 1, then Elantris 2, then book 2 of Era 3, then Elantris 3, then book 3 of Era 3.

Questioner

So it will be a trilogy, right?

Brandon Sanderson

Elantris? Yeah. But the trilogy of Elantris is not the same. It's the story of the world more than just the story of characters, so you'll find about the characters and things, but don't expect... Sarene and Raoden will not be the main characters of Elantris 2. There will be a time jump. Elantris 2 is probably Kiin's children who I've seeded to be main characters for the sequel and book 3 will probably be somebody else, right? So, keep in mind that that's how the Elantris books are intended to go.

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Questioner

So, we know in Mistborn there is this running... you can say, motif about Ruin being associated with the color black and Preservation with the color white, we see a lot of very subtle and a lot of very unsubtle...

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, yes.

Questioner

Is such a motif present in any other books? I think I see it in Stormlight.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, in Stormlight you can see it. So, Ruin is a red-gold... not Ruin, Odium. Odium is a red-gold. Honor is a blue-white and Cultivation is green, obviously. So, those motifs stay, when you... when you see a red or a gold, it's a reddish gold sort of thing, either of those colors, it's going to be Odium.

Questioner

Even when we something we might suspect to be outside influence in other worlds?

Brandon Sanderson

Not necessarily, because red can also mean corrupted Investiture in the Cosmere. So, I would call Odium's real color gold, because you're going to see red when Odium is corrupting other things, so...

Questioner

It's not necessarily on Roshar.

Brandon Sanderson

It's not necessarily Odium. So, you're asking for the invading force on Mistborn, it doesn't necessarily mean Odium because it's red. So red just kind of means corruption. I've talked about that before, so. Not necessarily, not definitive, yeah.

Footnote: When Sanderson said "you're asking about the invading force on Mistborn", the questioner made a guilty "caught red-handed" shrug.
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Questioner

So, I wanted to ask. It wasn't translated to Hebrew yet, but one of your stories has a loosely based magic system based on Shabbos.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. Very loose! It started stricter, it got very loose.

Questioner

Very loose!

Brandon Sanderson

*explaining to audience* Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell.

Questioner

I was wondering, on the same planet, are there more magic systems or is this magic system going to be expanded upon and built, to keep it in the religious theme?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. There is more and it is... all the magics that I'll do there, they are takes on sort of religious concepts. We'll do more. Threnody is really messed up, I'm just gonna warn you. *audience laughs* You haven't even seen how messed up it is.

Commenter

*in humor* Half of the place is called HELL, how worse can it get?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, it's worse outside of Hell. Hell is nice. *audience laughs*

So, yeah, that's my theme...

Questioner

Will it keep the Jewish motif?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, it will keep some more Jewish motifs, and things like that, because I find them fascinating, so, you will find a things like that, yeah.

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Nimrod Rappaport

In Arcanum Unbounded you mentioned that Sel is one of the biggest planets. You also mentioned that there are three empires on that planet. In Elantris 2 two will we get... You also mentioned that they are largely ignorant of each other, will we get a book in which those empires interact? Maybe in Elantris 2

Also, can you please specify on their nature and maybe some inspirations you got when writing and thinking about them?

Brandon Sanderson

So, sure. Sel wears its inspirations quite blatantly on its sleeve, right? It's not that obvious for instance in Stormlight that the Alethi are based off of Mongolians, because there's so much more in the mix there, that it's not quite as obvious. But in Sel, it's a little more obvious. You know, basically the idea came to me that what if the vikings had united behind a very hierarchical religion like Catholicism, and we had Catholic vikings, conquering the world. What would the world look like and that is where the entire religion came from.

Actually the truth is it's like, there was this priest, right, and one group became Buddhist and the other became Catholic vikings and, you know, Buddhist Renaissance... Italians is kind of where we got there and of course, the Rose Empire the inspirations are a little bit more Eastern and Middle Eastern. For instance, the Grands are based on Babylonian influences and I'm kind of looking at a lot of Babylonian, a little bit of Syrian. But of course Shai is very very clearly based on East Asian cultures and specifically China.

So, the empires and things like that... for there you might have noticed that we've got a Europe centered one, and an Asia/Eastern centered one, so you might be able to theorize where the third empire's inspirations might be or at least a list of possible candidates.

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Brandon Sanderson

I will speak up... I do like the American cover. Some people don't and I can understand... there's like... a lot of people who don't like it say that it looks too sci-fi. And Stephan Martinière was a concept artist for science fiction movies and the book, the cover feels too sci-fi for a lot of people.

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Brandon Sanderson

So, what's going on here is that when I was writing Elantris... number one, Elantris is my only book that I wrote not knowing if it would get published. For those who don't know, Elantris is my sixth novel and I wrote thirteen before I sold it. And so, I was finishing my thirteenth unpublished novel when Elantris finally sold and so Mistborn is number fourteen. I didn't publish any of those other ones.

So, Elantris was the only book that I wrote without a professional team behind me. And even those early Mistborn books, I did have assistants and things... For instance, I now have a team of fifteen people that work for me, of which nine are full-time. The Brandon Sanderson business is... we take this very seriously and I have two full-time editors who work on my staff in addition to my editors at the publishers.

When I wrote Elantris, I didn't have that whole team backing me, it was just me. So, when we did the tenth anniversary edition, I said, "Let's look and see if people can actually walk in the time I say to the places I say. Let's make sure you can actually see the things they say you should be able to see". And lo and behold, they're like "You say he looks out of his window and sees Elantris, but you put his house over here and there's stuff in the way" and things like this. This is the sort of stuff that, as a writer, it's just really hard to do without a team specifically looking to ask "Can a person walk to... this distance?" and things like that.

Now that I have those resources, I was able to just update it. All the changes to Elantris, none of them change the story, but all of them were meant for these reasons: People can't actually walk this distance or it takes them too long. Like, it would take fifteen minutes, you say it takes an hour... what happened? It's just easier to say "No, it took fifteen minutes", right, and stuff like that. So, those are what the updates were mostly.

With me adding the scene - I don't know if you guys put in the bonus scene - *affirmative from the interviewer* the bonus Hoid scene in the back, which... the story of Hoid, if you don't know, is... he's the character that connects all the Cosmere. When I first started writing, Elantris was the first book ever I put him in and then he appeared in Dragonsteel, which is an unpublished novel, and in White Sand and in Aether of Night, but just little, tiny cameos.

My feeling was - early on - that people wouldn't put up with this <false> behind the scenes continuity. I thought it would scare people off of the series and things like that. I don't want someone to pick up Elantris and be like "Oh, to understand Elantris, I have to read all of that". I just wanted them to be able to enjoy Elantris, but I found out very quickly: fans, number one, loved it. They weren't intimidated by it. Plus, the MCU [Marvel Cinematic Universe] has done way more of that, right? *laughter from audience* When I started, the MCU wasn't out yet. People were not used to, you know, dealing with continuity between different series and things like that on the level they're willing to now. But I found that, even with the early books, there were at least people like "No, you can trust us more, you can give us more of this. It won't turn us off to the books if we know that Hoid is around" and so, I've started... like, you know, I wrote into Elantris a little bit more Hoid for a bonus scene at the end, stuff like that.

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Brandon Sanderson

The linguistics there, with the... for the Aonic... so, I had a couple of inspirations there. By the time I was writing this book, I was looking to do a little bit more interesting linguistics, I was looking to explore linguistics, and I like that one of the ideas I had is... I'm a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Letter-day Saints - Mormon - and I served a two year mission in Korea. While I was in Korea, I fell in love with the relationship between the Korean language and the Chinese language.

If you're not familiar with how that is, in a lot of Asia, Chinese was the writing system for years. For centuries, people wrote in Chinese, even if they didn't speak Chinese, because Chinese is a logographic language, it's not phonetic. When you write the character, the <Hànzì>, you can pronounce it in any language. It can be written... read in any language - we can read them in English, you can read them in Hebrew. They just mean a concept, it's like hieroglyphics, right?

But what this means is, it's really hard to learn to write, because you just have to memorize every symbol and they're very complex, very intricate. So, around... I think it's 1400, someone will have to look that up to make sure, but... the king Sejong of the Korean people, who is remembered as their favorite king, he came in and said "My people are illiterate because Chinese is just too hard to learn. We aren't Chinese, we don't speak Chinese, we're trying to use their writing system for our language. Let's develop an alphabet."

They got a bunch of scholars together and they built an alphabet by which you can write Chinese in Korean, in an alphabet that's a Korean alphabet. It's really fascinating linguistically, because they create Chinese characters that are phonetic to take the place of Chinese characters in their language and then surround them with grammar only in Korean. So, you have like "Chinese character, Chinese character, Korean grammar... Chinese character, Chinese character, Korean grammar..." and you could replace those characters with Korean ones if you want, or you could just leave the Chinese - really cool.

I wanted to develop a language that had these symbols that would also have... that were from an old language... that would then have grammar around them in another language. It was really interesting to me and that's where the Aons came from, this kind of language that predates their culture, predates their linguistics in Arelon. And that they have developed alongside and that they use in their writing system... and if you were to read Aonic, you would see these big Aons and then little Aonic text between them that is bridging all these ideas together with actual linguistics.

So, the Aons I wanted to stand out, I wanted to... when you read them in English to be able to say... and I experimented with making them all caps and it just looked really weird, but that that would be the way that... then you would have to have "RAO" and "den", "RAO" would always be in caps and "den" and readers had real troubles with that. It just read... it looks like you're screaming, right? So, people would read the name *loud* RAO- *speaking normally again* den, *laughter from audience* which is not what I wanted to say.

So I went back, but I still wanted these... So, I used the two long vowels sounds. Whenever you hit a name, they're all gonna have two long vowel sounds in them that are stressed and then an unstressed Aonic portion pushed onto it. So it's /ˈɹeɪ.ˈʊ.dɛn/ [Raoden], where you've got a-o, and you've got /ɪːnɪː/ [Ene], /sɑː.ˈɹɪː.ˌnɪː/ [Sarene], and things like that. And even Elantris... I say /e.ˈlɑːn.tɹɪs/ [Elantris], they would say /ˈɪː.leɪn.tɹɪs/ [Elantris], and things like that.

I built this just, like, have... I love it, when in fantasy, the form and the function meld together, so that what you're putting on the page actually enhances in all ways the culture and the magic together, but it did make for a difficult reading experience. My first review I ever got for Elantris [...] My first review that ever came in was "This book is great, but the names are terrible. Brandon Sanderson can't name anything. Keep him away from naming things, because the first book he published might be the most linguistically challenging, let's just say."

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LiftIRL (paraphrased)

Which part of the two in Dalinar's oath in the end of book three - y'know, "I will take responsibility [...] If I must fall I will rise each time a better man" - would you say encompasses the Third Ideal of the Bondsmiths best? The neutral version of it, what would it be?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

*he thought a bit, hummed* It would be about the second part, mainly about getting better - I will rise each time a better man.

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Inhorman (paraphrased)

Can you Awaken a complex mechanism in a way that it will work by itself?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

I didn't understand the question.

Inhorman (paraphrased)

Like Awakening a gun so it'll shoot by itself.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

It's very hard since you need lots of Breath but theoretically it's possible.

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yahel26 (paraphrased)

What would happen if an Elantrian burned or flared aluminium? Would they become Reod or a normal person? Or something else?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Like if they got Allomantic powers?

yahel26 (paraphrased)

Yeah, like a lerasium [bead] or something.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Okay, yeah, I'm gonna say RAFO, I knew this one was coming.

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yahel26 (paraphrased)

Since the gemstones on Shardblades seems to be infused with Stormlight, could a Surgebinder draw that Stormlight and use it?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

No he couldn't. You see, that Stormlight is the Shardbearer's life energy, you wouldn't be able to draw it just like I can't draw your life energy from you. If you were to extract that gemstone from the Shardblade it is possible.

yahel26 (paraphrased)

But then the gemstone would go dark.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Exactly.

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Doombrigade (paraphrased)

I noticed most of the Unmade have a Middle Eastern mythology inspiration, and could pair them with deities, but I couldn't find a fit for two: Yelig-nar and Ba-Ado-Mishram. Could you tell us their names' origin?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Those two are actully not Middle Eastern but actually inspired by Lovecraft.

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Doombrigade (paraphrased)

If an individual has a mental sickness, such as multiple personalities, can that affect a Shard's intent if picked up by him or her?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yes, that is possible.

Doombrigade (paraphrased)

Is it possible that Autonomy is one such, and has multiple personalities?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

RAFO.

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Brandon Sanderson

One time, at GenCon, they were doing the Mistborn RPG and they had me play. So I *inaudible* my character is a very mysterious individual and so... I played as Hoid in the RPG.

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Questioner

What are the chances - I actually really like the Mistborn Adventure Game. What are the chances of more roleplaying games set in the Cosmere?

Brandon Sanderson

I've asked them if they'll do a Stormlight one and they're interested in doing it.

Questioner

Aha, I'm interested in doing it and I'm a really good designer. *clamor from audience* <How would I go about doing that?>

Brandon Sanderson

If you want to get one of my licenses, the best advice we can give you... the way that Crafty was, is, they made a really good game that wasn't themed. They came to me and said "I've done this, I know how to...". Like our base fear in choosing your people is that they won't be able to finish the product for people waiting for it and know how to distribute it. So, if you have done other games, if you have done that, then your chances go up. If you haven't, my recommendation is go and make your own, prove that you can distribute a game and manufacture a game and things like that - and then come to us. Because, we don't care how big or small you are, as long as you're able to fulfil on your promises and as long as you make quality stuff that people enjoy, right? That's... that's our thing. So, that's your path to getting one of the licenses, okay?

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Questioner

I am an editor.

Brandon Sanderson

Good for you. It's a terrible, terrible job. *audience laughs*

Questioner

What was your process for finding an editor that you liked and now work with?

Brandon Sanderson

So... I work with a couple of editors. My main editor is Moshe [Feder], at Tor, and I found Moshe by going to conventions and I would ask editors which new authors' books they were working on. Then I would go read those books when they came out and I was looking for the editors that were buying books that I liked.

And that's good advice for any of you who are writers: Find out what the editors are publishing, read their books and then if you go, you'll find out what the editor's taste is. If you go to the editor and say "What are you looking for?", the editor's response almost always is "Something good." They're gonna tell you, because they don't want you to limit yourself, but if you read what they're putting out, you can find out. Plus, you'll have to something to talk about with the editor. You go to the editor and say "I love this book." and they're like "You know that I edited it?", because editors are kind of unsung heroes who don't get enough attention. Then you'll have something to talk with an editor about and can make a connection.

This is what I did, I was looking for people who were writing books that I liked... editing books that I liked. The other thing is, I was looking for people who gave me good feedback. When I got rejections, did the rejections make good suggestions? Theses sorts of things... Once I got successful, I was looking more at the first, people whose books I admired, editors who worked on books... So, my team book editor I found because she was just putting out a bunch of books that I thought were really good. She had a good eye, so I went to her and said "Would you like to publish Steelheart?" and by then I was not Brandon Sanderson, I was Brandon Sanderson, and so she said "Yes, please!" So... it's a pretty different process.

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Questioner

What's one of the major pitfalls that you, like, know yourself. Like, "People, don't do that", but still you see so many times that first time writers really should be careful about?

Brandon Sanderson

Ooooh, the one you really need to be careful about is making your opening too full of info dumps. You want your opening of your story, in particular, to evoke a character's voice and to have things happen in it. It doesn't even have to be a fight, doesn't mean you have to start with action, but it does mean there's gotta be motion, a character wanting something and a clear sense of story - not a big info dump about the world. And that's the number one pitfall, stay away from that.

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Questioner

If there would be, like, a movie about the... I hope for a movie, I really hope for a movie. *inaudible*

Brandon Sanderson

So, I always promise people [that we'll] try to have open casting calls, but I do not have power over that. So, I tried like... Wheel of Time... I said, "Can you tell me when the castings start happening?" and they already did it. So, they don't necessarily involve the author all that much.

Questioner

No, I wanted to be, like... a concept artist.

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, concept artists? Well, the best way to do that would to be working for the people who are doing things like... basically, the concept artists would be hired by the team. For instance, we... if Netflix were to buy one of my books to make an animated thing, it would be the team that they work with in-house. I don't know how a concept artist gets a job for there, but being a concept artist who's worked with Dreamworks or with Netflix, or with some of these people who've done a lot of this sort of thing, improves your chances.

I'm certainly not opposed to it, we've looked into it, and the right team has to come together. I really wanna see how the new generation of animated stuff on Netflix happened, how it works and things like that, before we jump into it. But it is something I'm investigating.

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Questioner

Yesterday, you talked about other writers before you and kind of... fantasy of today. Although you're writing and selling quite *inaudible* novels, I wanted to ask if you had to choose one author who is an inspiration for you, who would it be?

Brandon Sanderson

There's a bunch. So, I love how Guy Gavriel Kay is able to tell epic fantasy stories in one volume that are really compelling, that's one of his things. I like how Nora Jemisin is able to use literary trappings to tell really powerful stories. Like, if you guys haven't read The Fifth [Season], it's in second person, it's just crazy, but it works.

I actually envy a lot of the videogame writers, because they can do things that I can't do and it's a lot of fun. Like, the guy who wrote Undertale, Toby Fox, right? Like, that story is the type of story that I can't tell because it only works in that medium. I think it's really cool and so I envy their ability to tell stories the way that they tell them. So, that's just a couple [of inspirations].

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Questioner

If you could change one thing in a book that already happened, what it would be?

Brandon Sanderson

So, I would probably... So one of the... There's a couple things I feel like I've done wrong. One thing is, in Mistborn, I wanted to tell a story about a really strong female character. But I was so focused - and this happens to a lot of writers - on making Vin really great, but there's no other women in the whole book. This happens a ton. You notice that you overcompensate in one area, so it was somewhat <more of the crew than women>.

In Words of Radiance, I didn't get the ending right, it's still not quite right. I tried to change it for the paperback, but that just didn't work out. So, I didn't do any more changes, but the Kaladin-Szeth conflict is just something a little bit off about it, even still, that I'd like to take sort of another pass on that and get it right. I'm not sure what it would be.

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Questioner

Is there a certain book that you've read and you said "my God I wanted to write this book!"

Brandon Sanderson

So, I usually answer Jurassic Park to this one. I really love how Jurassic Park came together and how its use of science and things work kind of as a quote end quote magic system. That's one of my favorites that I kind of wish I had come up with that. Otherwise, the thing that I envy most usually aren't other books. Though I love other books, most of the time the books I love are so distinctively of that author that I don't wish I'd written it because then it would be... it would have to change, right. Like it wouldn't be mine. Like I love Name of the Wind and The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms because those are distinct products of those author's visions for what fantasy should be and I can't write their vision. Though one thing I do envy a little bit is—and I answered this in the QA last night—I really envy sometimes the way that video game writers can tell stories. The one I often mention is Undertale. <applause>. A few people are Undertale fans. If you haven't played Undertale, it's great.

Questioner

Great graphics by the way.

Brandon Sanderson

It's able to do narrative in a way that my form can't do. Which is really cool! And I play a game like Undertale and I'm like "wow you tell stories!" I played Dark Souls. I love those games and the way they can do story is not the way I do story. The way they approach lore and story is so cool and so different from my form that I kind of envy their ability to tell stories in different ways.

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Nimrod Rappaport (paraphrased)

Have you read 1984?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yes, I have.

Nimrod Rappaport (paraphrased)

In your lecture you talked about the three P's: premise, progress and payoff. I wanted to ask you about 1984 because I read the book and was engaged by it and I don't see how the three P's appear in the book, why is it so interesting?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

The thing is that George Orwell is very good with setting, he can make very interesting worlds. The progress in 1984 is that of a person losing its mind, the payoff is in how broken he is the end and how his conscience has been shattered.

Footnote: The question was asked after the "tips for writing" lecture.
Direct submission by Nimi142
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Avivsm

The Lord Ruler write in metal important stuff. Should we need similar protections on "The Diagram" the book? Against Shardic alterations.

Brandon Sanderson

No for a very distinct reason and I will get into it eventually

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Avivsm

Stormlight is very similar to Atium. Are they belong to the same category, like Investiture manifested near a Shardpool?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, they belong to the same category for sure.

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Questioner

What would you say are one or two aspects in the fantasy genre that are not well-appreciated by the masses?

Brandon Sanderson

I've already mentioned it, but I think that truly great humorous fantasy is not appreciated for the difficulty that writing good humorous fantasy that also has good plot and worldbuilding... I'm speaking of Sir Terry again. Writing really good comedic fantasy is as hard as writing regular fantasy, plus more difficult for that extra layer. So I don't think that's appreciated.

But in a general term, anything we do that's not about our prose is generally not appreciated. Because we have a tradition that has grown up, and it's actually fairly recent (because novels are fairly recent) in the last hundred years or so, that elevates one type of storytelling above all others. That type of storytelling is still pretty cool, right? I can read something that got a Nobel Prize and be like, "Wow, this is pretty awesome. I love what they're doing with this." But it's basically like awards only ever being given to one flavor of ice cream. So, if you have the Best Ice Cream of the Year Award, but Rocky Road and its various incarnations always win, and a fruit sorbet never wins. And that's kind of how it feels, that a lot of the book awards go, where it's only one type of art that's seen as valid. Whereas when I look at something that's really intricately plotted that I'm amazed by, and no one cares in the awards committee, that kind of bothers me. 'Cause I'm like, "Don't you see that there's lots of different types of art that create great stories?" And I would love to see more awards given to someone who is able to create a really cool world and integrate it really well, because I think that's as hard as writing pretty prose.

Granted, you get some people who can do it all, and they make me angry. Pat Rothfuss. But, you know.

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Questioner

Your magic systems are very structured, and specific rules that dominate them. But are there any universal laws that apply to all of the magic systems in the cosmere together?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, there's several of them. Basically, the most important one and relevant to people who enjoy real physics is that I consider something called Investiture to be a third state of matter and energy. So, instead of e=mc^2, we have a third thing, Investiture, in there. And you can change Investiture to matter or to energy. And so, because of that, that law that you can do this, is where we see a lot of the cosmere magics living.

We also have a kind of rule that beings all exist, everything exists on three different levels. The Physical, the Spiritual, and the Cognitive. And, like we have DNA for our Physical self, we also have Mental DNA and Spiritual DNA, and all three influence one another. For instance, you couldn't test an Allomancer's blood and find the Allomancy gene, because it is in a different set of their DNA. You just have three sets. You could compose a test that could test it on the Spiritual Realm, but you're gonna have to use a different branch of physics to do that and determine who was an Allomancer. And so they all work on this kind of fundamental rules of: your Identity, your Connection, and being part of your soul, and the magics working through those things.

So there's some fundamental rules about this, about changing forms from energy to matter, and you having this Identity, Investiture, and Connection stored in your Spiritual DNA that are really relevant to everything.

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Questioner

In The Reckoners, you mostly focused on the USA. I'm assuming that it happened across the world. So my question is: what happened to Israel?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, man. I'm barely figuring out what happened in Europe. You're gonna make me stretch. I'll RAFO that for now. It'll be a bug in my ear until I figure it out, how about that.

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Questioner

Are there any cool powers or mechanics that you really liked but had to cut out of your work?

Brandon Sanderson

I went through a lot of cool powers for Allomancy that I thought were nifty that I didn't end up using. So, yes, there's some there. You would ask me to list a few, and I would just have to get out the notes to remind myself, because it's been fifteen years. So, I'm not sure what they are. But I know I went through a whole list of abilities before I settled on the ones I was gonna use.

I cut a really fun character from Elantris; you can read deleted scenes on my website. There's a really fun antagonist who showed up in the story at the wrong place. It was a big distraction. I cut that out.

Every book has some things that get trimmed or cut out. Usually, they're not really big elements. Book Three of Stormlight was supposed to have a Syl viewpoint. It didn't get in there, but we'll get it in in another book, don't worry. It just didn't fit. We had even a little symbol drawn up for her, so hopefully we'll be able to use it in the next book.

There's just things that happen that just don't end up working, and they end up on the cutting room floor. You're like, "Don't cut any of it, Brandon! Just leave it!" Trust me; it's better. The first draft of Oathbringer was 540,000 words long, and the final cut was 460,000 words. So, we cut 80,000 words, which is an entire novel, out of that book. But the book is way stronger for having done that. And you wouldn't enjoy it as much.

It's like, I try to get it down so the soda tastes right. And if it's watered down too much, you're like, "I get two cups of Coke instead of one!" But both of them taste half as good. I would rather give you one really good cup of Coke.

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Questioner

Where are all the [movie] rights?

Brandon Sanderson

Mostly, at this point, I'm keeping a lot of these rights close to my heart and not selling them off as easily as I did earlier in my career. I just don't need the money anymore. So I'm being a little more discerning, being a little slower to sign deals.

So, we have the Reckoners at Fox, with Sean Levy. I did sell Legion for a television show. That's under option right now. And we likely will sell Alcatraz here very soon for an animated show.

A lot of people ask if I will make animated Mistborn or Stormlight. That's on the table. It will depend on where some of these animation projects like the Castlevania adaptation and things like that, if this continues to be a good, viable method of storytelling. So, it's certainly not off the table, but neither are live action television shows. I really wanna see how The Witcher does. I wanna see how Wheel of Time does. I'm a producer on that. We'll see how the new Lord of the Rings at Amazon does. I wanna see how they're doing with fantasy in this sort of post-Game of Thrones world. So, we'll see. Hopefully, we'll get a really good Rothfuss adaptation out of Showtime. There's a lot of cool things happening.

So, we will see. Right now, most of the Cosmere is not under contract to anyone anymore, and I'm just kind of holding onto it. There's a company, DMG, that I've been working with on some of them. They still are involved, I still like them, but we are moving slowly, right now. We're just kind of keeping our eyes open.

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Brandon Sanderson

Well, we're going to read Rhythm of War. Rhythm of War is the working title, most likely the final title, of Stormlight Four. There are not that many things I can actually read for you that won't spoil the first book. There are a few. For those who haven't read the Stormlight books, all of the prologues take place on the same day, and the books before, they always flash back to a different prologue from a different character viewpoint on the same day that the king was assassinated. (And that's not a spoiler because the first line of the book, of the prologue, is a character thinking about how they're there to assassinate the king.)

So, the thing I'm gonna warn you about here is that my continuity editor has not been through this yet. And these prologues get really tricky to intertwine because of where everybody is at certain times. So whenever I turn in one of these prologues, it's a lot of work to make sure that each of the characters can be where they need to be, so that the prologues don't go out of continuity with each other. So, do be warned, this is first draft. But this is Navani's prologue.

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Questioner

What was the moment that you finally understood that you were an international success?

Brandon Sanderson

The first moment that happened was actually before the Wheel of Time. Things were really starting to take off. Hero of Ages was where it started to really just hit. And I can still remember... my agent, one of their jobs is to go around the world and sell all my books in all the different languages. And they're very, very good at this. Most of the languages you sell the books in, the population of fantasy readers is such that they aren't big checks. We don't do it for the big checks for a lot of these countries. It's just more about how science fiction/fantasy fandom is a big community, and we like having the books. And a lot of the smaller countries, the agent doesn't really earn their money back, but it's still cool to do, so we do it. And I'm used to getting these checks for 50 bucks, or things like this. "Here's your Bulgarian rights at 50 bucks," and you're like "Yes!"

And I opened a check from Taiwan, and I was expecting 50 bucks. And it was 50 grand. So I called the agent, and I'm like, "Hey, you moved the decimal." I legitimately just thought it was a bank error. When you're expecting 50, and it's 50 grand, that's... you know. And my agent said, "Guess what... Turns out Mistborn is a massive bestseller in Taiwan."

Questioner

So you're almost big in Japan?

Brandon Sanderson

Most fantasy authors aren't big in Japan, by the way. Japan's one of the places that's very hard to sell fantasy. The local writing traditions are so strong that they have their own... the anime and manga and light novels and litrpg that traditional Western fantasy just doesn't do very well in Japan. (Which is totally fine. They have lots of cool stuff; I read their stuff.)

But when I got that, and then the other countries started coming in. And instead of being 50 dollars, they'd be 5 grand, or things like this. And you're like, "Oh, something is happening." And my agent's like, "Yeah, something's happening." That's when we first got the inkling.

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Questioner

I also read that you went to visit the United Arab Emirates, and you wrote the Alloy of Law while you were on the plane.

Brandon Sanderson

I didn't write the whole book.

Questioner

What did you write on the way here?

Brandon Sanderson

I wrote Stormlight Four on the way here. Let's see if I can give you a non-spoiler version of the scene, so you can know when you get there. In the scene, the person who's a Bondsmith is being flown about by Windrunners who are not the Windrunner who is the main character. So when you get to a scene that this character's being flown about by Windrunners and moving to a different part of the world, you will know that scene was written on the flight here.

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Questioner

Let's say we are twenty years in the future. You've finished the Cosmere books. What do you think you'll write next? I don't think you'll ever stop writing!

Brandon Sanderson

No, I won't. Let's get me there, first. Because, for me to finish the Cosmere, I need Warbreaker 2. I need to do Elantris 2 and 3. I need to do the Threnody novel. I have two other standalones that are not planets you know yet. I need to finish six more Stormlight books. I need to finish the last Wax and Wayne book and two more eras of Mistborn. And I need to do the prequel Hoid story, the Dragonsteel books. I mean, the Cosmere, I don't know the count on there, but the Cosmere is, like, fifteen books so far. And I have more than that left to write, and it's been fifteen years. So we're averaging one book a year, so 20 years, hopefully, I'll be approaching. But let's get me there, first.

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Questioner

If you will say you're the MCU, to compare you, we're at, I think, the Winter Soldier period?

Brandon Sanderson

Maybe, yeah. The comparison to the MCU doesn't quite work. It is the closest thing. The thing that I warn people is that the convergence of the Cosmere books is more about the clash of the different cultures of the Cosmere worlds, and it's less about uniting a group of heroes. The MCU works because your title character, your title character, your title character, and your title character are going to team up, which is really cool. For the Cosmere, don't imagine that that's where I'm going, though some of those characters will show up. The idea is that I am building Star Trek one planet at a time, and I'm then going to deal with the intergalactic politics of it all, and it's the clash of all these different societies and their different magics and their way of seeing the world is what I'm pushing toward, rather than a big team-up event.

Questioner

I think everybody would like to know, what is the Infinity War of the Cosmere?

Brandon Sanderson

The equivalent would be the last Mistborn trilogy.

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Brandon Sanderson

I intentionally didn't use lead or mercury in my magic systems because I knew they would kick people out. When you say, "People are eating lead," even in a fantasy book, it's gonna make some snickers. People are gonna stop and be like, "Wait a minute... this is a bad idea." And as my popularity's grown, I've become more and more aware of how many times I'm going to have to answer the same question if I put it in my book. I'm so glad I didn't use lead because at every signing, I would be answering fifty or sixty times, "You do know that lead's a bad idea to eat, right?"

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Panelist

I'm thinking of the characters of metal. Other than the One Ring, you have Elric's sword, that can ingest your soul.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, oh, I love Stormbringer. Stormbringer is an amazing sword. If you guy shaven't read Elric, it was the inspiration for Nightblood, was the Elric cycle with Stormbringer. It's this sword that sucks people's souls and gives the main character the ability to be strong, 'cause he was born very weak. But it usually harvests the souls of the people he loves most as he's trying to save the world, and it's this give-and-take. Do I use this powerful sword, because I'm really saving the world; it's really important. But it's probably gonna suck the souls of everyone I love. Creates some really great tension. But those books are kicks to the face. They are not pleasant stories necessarily.

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Questioner

Are you gonna try to use superconductors or different alloys in your books?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, you'll see a lot of interaction with metal. In fact, book four of Stormlight talks a little more about how metals in fabrials work. If you watch very closely, you'll see parallels between that and what's happening in the Mistborn series.

The further we get along, the more important things like superconductors will be, and we'll start explaining why metals work the way they do in the cosmere, and stuff like that. So that's all stuff you can look forward to.

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Questioner

Is the reason aluminum is so distinct in the cosmere have to do with what you talked about earlier? [falling from the sky, Napoleon's plates]

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, it's because I love how it had this sort of mythological attachment in our own world. And I liked that mythology.

But the other cool things that aluminum does is, it is a really powerful, strong, wonderful metal that, in our society now, is so common you can make cans out of it and sell it super cheap... but only two hundred years ago, was more valuable than gold. And that changeover let me build into the Mistborn system something that would then add a counter to the powers I was developing, which were going to become more and more common as we reached the modern era. That there would be a counter to them which would also become more and more common. It's a really nice parallel that I could build into the system.

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Questioner

How are you going to deal with the fact that Allomancy is genetic, and as it spreads to the population, the general power of it decreases in a given individual. What are you going to do in Eras 3 and 4?

Brandon Sanderson

That is what we call a RAFO. Read and Find Out. You can find in Era 2 one group's attempts at dealing with that. But they are approaching it in a very scary way.

Moderator

Is it x-linked? Is it dominant?

Brandon Sanderson

This actually plays into the way the cosmere works. Every person in the cosmere has what I call a Spiritual DNA, which exists in... it goes back to Platonic forms, it's very weird. But it is not their actual genetic code, it is their Spiritual genetic code, which works a little differently.

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Questioner

You mentioned earlier that the Mistborn magic system is basically a Periodic Table of Elements. How would that affect the study of science in creating the whole Periodic Table?

Brandon Sanderson

If you can see what's happening on Scadrial, even in Era 2, they have a disproportionate amount of understanding and study of metallurgy, and they are not nearly as good at other things. So it's affected where they spend their focus and their research. Like, they don't have the radio, when they kind of should. They had to get it from some other places, the idea of that technology. So really, what's happening there is, I'm trying to keep it close ('cause Scadrial is an Earth analogue), but at the same time show what they're stronger at and what they're weaker at. It has influenced the way they approached science in some interesting ways.

We won't find out a lot more until Era 3, where one of the characters is more interested in the science. Because the characters in Era 2 are mostly interested in shooting people and perhaps creating interesting mixed drinks. And finding lost coins. (Steris.)

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Questioner

You've started to put more of an emphasis on Identity, which is a cosmere concept. Why did you do that?

Brandon Sanderson

These are things that are gonna need to make sense to the reader by the time that we get to Era 3 and 4. And so I'm using Era 2 as a kind of, ease-you-in to this idea. And that Identity is a cosmere concept is very much tied to the way the magics work behind the scenes.

So when you read Era 1, when you read Stormlight, the first five-book arc, when you read Elantris, you read those books, you're looking at kind of just the effects of the magic. But the underlying principles are more being shown in Wabreaker and in Era 2, where I'm starting to try to get you to understand the fundamental principles that make the magic systems work. So when we get to Era 3 and we start to need that understanding to really extrapolate how the magic's working, you'll be there on the same page with me, is my hope.

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Questioner

Can there be an Allomancer who's allergic to their metal?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. I have a lot of allergies myself, so I sympathize with you.

It's like being an Alethi highlady who is left-handed, or being an Allomancer who's allergic to your metal, these are really painful things that the culture and society and magic system is not built well to deal with that highlight certain problems that people do have. And it totally can happen, and it sucks.

Event details
Name
Name ICon 2019
Date
Date Oct. 15, 2019
Location
Location Tel Aviv, Israel
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Entries 93
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