How did Wax earn his moniker, "Dawnshot"?
Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)
*big smile* He was known to show up early to his duels.
How did Wax earn his moniker, "Dawnshot"?
*big smile* He was known to show up early to his duels.
I’ve been saving Szeth[‘s flashbacks] for the end [of the first five Stormlight books]. I was either gonna do Dalinar or Szeth as the last one, and I ended up deciding as I got to Oathbringer that Dalinar’s flashback sequence really matched Oathbringer really well, which meant I moved Szeth to this book, the as-of-yet-unnamed Stormlight Five, which will almost assuredly have a certain set of letters at the start. (If you don’t know, I’m trying to make it symmetrical with Way of Kings. We’ll see if we can make that happen.)
I intend these flashbacks to… you’ll notice that this kind of a more serene and peaceful start, as a contrast to some of the things that will be happening in the book otherwise at this point (to give no spoilers).
This is just gonna be kind of a starting look at who Szeth was way back before this all started.
Szeth Flashback One
Szeth-Son Neturo found magic upon the wind, and so he danced with it.
Strict, methodic movements at first, as per the moves he had memorized. He was as the limbs of the oak, rigid but ready. When they shivered in the wind, Szeth thought he could hear their souls seeking to break free, to shed bark like shells and emerge with new skin, pained by the cool air—yet aflush with joy all the same. Painful and delightful, like all new things.
Szeth scraped bare feet across packed earth as he danced, getting it on his toes, loving the feel of Cultivation’s embrace. He moved in a wide circle, getting just close enough to the edge to feel feet on grass before dancing back, spinning to the accompaniment of his sister’s flute. It almost seemed alive itself, providing him a partner for his dance, wind made alive through sound. The flute was the voice of air itself.
Time became thick when he danced. Molasses minutes and syrup seconds. Yet, the wind wove among them, visiting each moment to linger, before spinning away. He followed it. Emulated it. Became it.
More and more fluid he became. No more rigidity, no more preplanned steps. Sweat flying from his brow to seek the sky, he was the air. Churning, spinning, almost violent. Around and around, his motions worship for the rock at the center of the patch of ground. For when he was wind, he felt he could touch that sacred stone, which had never known the hands of man—but felt the wind each and every day.
The stone of his family. The stone of his past. The stone to whom he gave his dance. He came out of the dance finally, panting, drenched in sweat. His sister’s music cut off, leaving his only applause the bleating of the sheep. Molli the Ewe had wandered onto the circular dance track again, and—bless her—was trying to eat the sacred rock.
She never had been the smartest of the flock.
Szeth stood, breathing deeply, feeling the sweat stream from his face and pool at his chin, wetting the packed earth below with speckles like stars.
“You practice too hard,” his sister—Elid-Daughter-Neturo—said. “Seriously, Szeth. Can’t you just relax once in a while?”
He looked to her as as she stood up from her seat in the grass and stretched. Elid, at fourteen, was three years older than he was. Like him, she was on the shorter side—though she was squat where he was spindly. Trunk and branch, Dolk-son-Dolk called them. Which was kind of appropriate, even if both Dolks were idiots.
She wore orange as her splash—the vivid piece of colorful clothing that marked their station. A bright orange apron, in her case, across a grey dress and vibrant white undergown that poked through to cover forearms and collar. She spun her flute in her fingers, uncaring, like she hadn’t broken her previous one doing just that.
Szeth bowed his head and walked over to get some water from the barrel. Rainwater had filled with pure, clean water, not a speck of dirt. He enjoyed looking through it, down all the way to the wooden bottom—I liked seeing things that couldn’t be seen, like air and water. Things that were there, yet not, all at once.
“Why do you practice so hard?” Elid said. “There’s nobody here but the sheep.”
“Molli likes my dancing,” Szeth said softly.
“Molli is blind,” Elid said. “She’s licking the dirt right now.”
“Molli likes to try things new,” he said, smiling and looking toward the old Ewe.
“Whatever,” Elid said, flopping back on the grass. “Wish there was more to do out here.”
“Dancing is something to do,” he said. “The flute is something to do. We must learn to add so that—”
She threw a dirt clod at him. He dodged easily, his feet light on the ground. He might only be eleven, but some in the village whispered he was the best dancer among them. He didn’t care so much about that. He only cared about doing it right. If he did it wrong, then he still had to practice.
Elid didn’t think that way. It bothered him how blasé she was about her practicing, but she didn’t like talking to him about it. She seemed like a different person, these days.
Szeth shook his head, and tied back on his splash—a red handkerchief he wore around his neck—then went to count the sheep. A few minutes, when he walked past Elid on his way to count the ones on the other side of her, she was still laying and staring at the sky.
“Do you believe,” she said, “the stories they tell about the lands on the other side of the mountains?”
“The lands of the stonewalkers?” he said. “Why wouldn’t I?”
Thirty seven, thirty eight... Were’s swallow?
“They just sound so outlandish.”
“Elid, listen to the words you say. Of course stories about outlanders sound outlandish.”
There she is. Thirty nine.
“But really, Szeth?” she said “Lands where everyone walks on stones? Like, what do they do? Pick them out in the ground and only hop from stone to stone, avoiding the soil?”
Szeth glanced at their family stone. It peeked up from the earth like cultivation’s own eyeball, staring at the sky, unblinking. Six feet across, but maybe with ore of it buried, it was a vibrant red-orange. A splash for Roshar, like the one he wore. He’d chosen his color deliberately.
“I think,” he said to her, “that there must be a lot more rock out there. I think it’s hard to walk without walking on stone. That’s why they get desensitized to it.”
“But where do the plants grow, then?” she asked. “Everyone always talks about how the outside is full of dangerous plants that try to eat people. It’s all anyone ever whispers about. So...there must be soil.”
True. Unless all these plants were like moss? He had trouble imagining fluffy curls of moss being dangerous, though. Maybe the terrible vines he’d heard about grew from patches of soil but stretched out long, like the tentacles you might find on a ***(Octopus creature from the menagerie in book two.) Or the ones from the things that lived in the tidal pools a short distance down the coast.
“I heard,” she said, “they constantly kill each other out there. That nobody adds, they only subtract.”
“Who makes the food then?” he said.
“They must eat each other,” she replied. “Or maybe they’re always just starving. You know how those ones on the coast are...”
Those ones. He looked, nervously, into the distance—though you could only see the ocean on the clearest days. His home of Clearmount was at the very edge of a broad plan, excellent for grazing, with the ocean beyond, on the south-eastern edge of Shinovar. An honored location, near the Zephyr Monastery just further along the mountain ridge, where one of the sacred Honorblades was kept.
In Szeth’s estimation, it was the perfect place to live. You could both see the mountains and visit the ocean. You could walk for days across the vibrant green prairie, and there was never lack of grazing land for the sheep. He bent down next to old Molli, scratching at her ears as she rubbed her head against him. She might lick rocks and eat dirt, but she was also always good for a hug. He loved her warmth, the scratchy wool on his cheek, the way she always stayed nearby—to keep him company—when the others wandered.
She bleated softly as he finished hugging her, then wiped the salty, dried sweat from his head. Maybe he shouldn’t practice so hard, but he knew he’d gotten a few steps wrong. And had stumbled a few times. Their father said that they were blessed in their lives, as people who could add beneath the Farmer’s eyes. Just the right station in life. Not required to toil in the field, not forced to kill and subtract—allowed to tend the sheep, and develop their talents.
Free time was the greatest blessing in the world. Maybe that was why the men of the oceans sought to kill them and steal their sheep. If you lived your life out in the lands where everyone walked on stones, your morals withered, and you sought only to take. It must make them angry to see such a perfect place, full of people with time. The terrible men from the oceans couldn’t have that time themselves, so like any petulant child, they simply destroyed it in those they saw.
“Do you think,” Elid whispered, “that the Servant of the Monastery will ever come out and fight for us? Use that sword during one of the raids to drive off the terrible men?”
“Elid!” he said, standing. “The Servant of the Monastery would never subtract.”
“I think you’re wrong,” she replied. “Mother says they practice with the Weapon in there. Why practice with it, except to—”
“They will fight the Voidbringers when they arrive,” Szeth snapped. “That is the reason. No other.” He glanced toward the ocean, unreasonably worried that one of the strange raiders would hear. “Don’t speak of it. Nobody must know. If they realized the treasures of the monasteries...”
“Ha,” she said. “I’d like to see the awful ones raid Zephyr, and face down the Servant. She can fly you know. She—”
“Don’t speak of it,” he said. “Not in the open.”
Elid rolled her eyes at him, still laying on the grass. What had she done with her flute? If she lost another, and father had to carve one for her again...
She hated when he brought that up as well, so he forced himself to stay quiet. He pulled back from Molli, and then looked down at the ground she’d been licking.
To find another rock.
He stumbled back, part shocked, part terrified. This was a small one, compared to their other rock. Only a handspan wide. It peeked up from the earth, perhaps revealed in last night’s regular rain. Szeth put his fingers to his lips, backing away. Had he stepped on that while dancing? It was in the packed earth of the dancing ring around the stone, right in the path.
What...what should he do? This was the first stone he’d ever seen emerge. Even the ones in other villages and fields—carefully marked off and properly revered—had been there for years.
A...a new stone. Was it a sign?
“What’s up with you?” Elid said. “Molli step on your toe or something?”
He couldn’t speak, so he simply gestured. She, perhaps sensing his level of concern, he rose and walked over. As soon as she saw it, she gasped.
They shared a look. “I’ll go get mother and father,” Szeth said, then started running.
Szeth Flashback Two
Szeth’s father, Neturo, knelt beside the stone. His mother, Zeenid, was in the town overseeing painting classes, so they’d sent a message to her via Tek, one of their courier parrots.
Szeth wasn’t certain what frightened him so about finding a new rock. He danced around the other one daily. He loved their rock, and a new one was cause for celebration, surely. Except, he wished it hadn’t happened to him, finding it. Something new meant possible celebration, possible attention, possible change.
He wanted things just remain calm. Quiet days full of languid breezes and gathering sheep. Nights beside the fireplace or candles, listening to mother tell stories. He didn’t want excitement or some new grand thing. Too much of a chance that it would upset what he already loved.
“What do we do, Father?” Elid asked. “Call the Stone Shamans?”
“It depends,” he said. “Depends.”
Their father was a calm man, with a long beard he liked to keep tied with a green ribbon at the bottom. Head shaded by his customary tall reed hat with the wide brim, he had a good-natured paunch that spoke to his skill and talent as a cook. He had all the answers. Always.
“Depends?” Szeth said, stepping up beside him—half hiding behind his bulky form as he peeked at the little stone. “Depends on what? We just do what is right, don’t we?”
Father glanced at their larger stone, then at this one. “A single rock is a blessed anomaly. Two...might mean more. Might mean the spren have chosen this region.”
“Wait,” Elid said, hands on hips. “What do you mean?”
“I mean,” Father said, “there might be others, hiding beneath the surface here. Unlikely, but possible. Stone shamans will want to take the entire region, set it off, preserve it and watch it for a few years at least. See if anything else emerges.”
“And...us?” Szeth asked.
“Well, we’ll have to move,” Father replied. “Tear down the house, just in case it’s accidentally on holy ground. Set up somewhere else—wherever the Farmer finds land for us. Maybe in the town.”
In the town? Szeth turned, looking into the distance—though the nature of the rolling hills prevented him from seeing *** unless he climbed up on top of one. It was close enough to walk in an hour or so. He liked it that far away. He found the place noisy, congested, smelly. In the town, it felt like the mountains weren’t right around the corner, because the buildings blocked them out. It felt like the meadows had gone brown, replaced by dull roadways. It felt like the ocean was far off, because you couldn’t smell the breezes coming in off of the water any longer.
He didn’t hate the town. But he got the sense that it hated the things that he loved.
“I don’t want to move!” Elid said. “We did something great. We found a rock! We shouldn’t be punished.”
“If it’s right,” Szeth said, “the we just have to do it, though. Right, Father?”
Father was silent. He stood up, pulling at his trousers, and waited. Soon, Szeth picked out someone hurrying along the path between hills toward their home. A single woman, wearing a long green skirt as her splash—an audacious amount of color for their station. White apron over the front, curly, light brown hair that punched up around her head like a cloud.
She was carrying a shovel. Szeth gaped, jaw dropping. That couldn’t mean...
She hurried up to them, shovel on her shoulder. Father nodded toward the new rock, and mother’s let out a relieved sigh. “So small? You had me worried with that message, Neturo.”
“Mother?” Szeth said. “What are you doing?”
“Just a quick relocation,” she said. “We’ll dig up the rock, haul it off a few hundred yards, then place it in the soil there. Let it rain a little, so it seems to have naturally poked up, then tell everyone about it.”
Szeth gasped. “We can’t touch it!”
Mother pulled a pair of gloves out of her pocket. “Of course not. That’s why I brought gloves, dear.”
“That’s the same thing!” Szeth said, horrified. He looked to his father. “We can’t do this, can we?”
Father scratched at his beard. “Depends, I suppose, on what you think, son.”
“You found the rock,” Father said, looking to mother, who nodded in agreement. “So you can decide.”
“I pick what’s right,” Szeth said immediately.
“Is it right for us to lose our home?” Father asked.
“I...” Szeth pulled back, glancing at the house.
“There might be dozens of rocks down underneath here,” Father said. “If that’s the case, then we should absolutely move. But in the hundreds of years that rain has fallen on this plan, only one has emerged. So it’s unlikely. Moving the stone a few hundred yards will still make the shamans watch this region, but without the rocks being so close together, the worry will be more nebulous.
“But then again, we’d have to move it. In secret. We’re supposed to reverence stone, treat it as the home of the spren. That’s why you dance to it.”
“We hate the stonewalkers on the outside,” Szeth said, “because of how they treat it.”
Father knelt down, one hand on Szeth’s shoulder. “We don’t hate them. They’re people who just don’t know the right way of things.”
“They raid us, father,” Elid said, arms still folded. “That’s not just them being confused.”
“Yes, well,” he said. “Maybe those ones are evil. But it’s not because they live in a place with too much stone. It’s because of the choices they make.” He smiled at Szeth and nodded his head, his beard juggling like it did when he laughed. “It’s okay son. You can choose what you want. If you want us to go turn this in now, well, we’ll do it.”
“Can’t you just...tell me what to do?” Szeth asked.
“No, I don’t think that I can,” Father said. “Unfair to put you in this spot, I suppose. But the spren did it, so now we just live with that. We can move the rock, or move our home. I’ll accept either one.”
“Maybe we should let him sleep on it,” Mother said.
“No,” Szeth said. “No. We can...move it.”
All three of them relaxed as he said it, and he felt a sudden—shameful—resentment. His father said he could choose, but they’d all three clearly wanted a specific decision. He’d made it, he felt, not because it was right. But because they wanted it.
But how could all three of them want it if it wasn’t right? Maybe Szeth was just broken in some way that he couldn’t see what it was they did. Maybe it was all right to just...be lax about all of this.
He still hated this entire situation. If they’d just told him what they intended to do, and then done it, that would have been fine. Why give him the choice? Didn’t they see that made it his fault what they were doing?
“Let me dig about it,” Mother said, putting on her gloves. “looks small, but that can be deceiving. Wouldn’t want to find out that it’s secretly as big as a house under there.”
They all stepped back, and mother started digging about it. Szeth winced each time the shovel scraped the stone. That was not a natural sound. He’d hoped that they would, indeed, discover that the rock was enormous—so that the plan had to be abandoned. But in the end, it was really was just kind of small. A foot across at it widest. He could have held it in one hand, if he’d wanted.
No, don’t think like that, he told himself, putting his hand down to the side. Molli the ewe, seeming to have sensed his tension, rubbed up against him and he felt at her wool, her warmth. Hoping to draw strength from it.
Even mother seemed a little unsure, now that she’d dug the rock out. She stepped back, leaving it in the hole. She hadn’t touched it at all.
“You scraped it,” Elid said. “That seems...kind of obvious.”
“Once we’ve buried it again,” Mother said, “nobody will see those scrapes.”
“How much trouble would we be in,” Elid asked. “If someone finds out what we did?”
“I suspect the Farmer wouldn’t be happy,” Father said. He laughed then, and it seemed genuine. “Might require some cake to make up for it. Don’t get that look, Szeth. We show devotion because we choose to. And so, the kind of devotion is ours to make.”
“I...don’t understand,” he said. “Don’t the Stone Shamans tell us what to do?”
“They tell us the teachings of the spren,” Mother said, she shouldered her shovel. “But we choose to interpret those teachings. What we’re doing here today is reverent. Enough for me at least.”
Szeth thought on that for a moment. And wondered—as this was not the first clue in his life, but it might be the most stark one—if this was a reason, perhaps, they chose to live outside of town. Even other shepherd families lived inside the buildings there, beneath the shadow of the monastery.
He’d gone, with his family, each month for devotions since he could remember. He didn’t dare think that his family wasn’t faithful. Yet...the older he got...the more he had questions like these. It was only today, however, that he’d had to really confront the fact. What did he feel about his parents doing something he knew the shamans wouldn’t approve of?
They were still all standing there, staring at the rock, when the horns sounded. Father looked up, then whispered a soft prayer to the spren of their stone. The horns meant raiders, on the coast, coming in from the east and the lands of the stonewalkers.
Szeth felt an immediate panic. “What do we do?” he said.
“Gather the sheep,” Father said. “Quickly. We must drive them toward Dison’s Valley near the town. The Farmer has troops in the region. We’ll be safe if we move inland.”
“But this?” Szeth said, gesturing to the rock. “This!”
Mother, suddenly seeming determined, just reached down and grabbed it in two gloved hands. Together, all four of them froze, then looked inward toward their family stone. It sat there, unblinking, unmoving. None of them were struck down. And Szeth thought he could tell, from the way his parents relaxed after a moment, that they hadn’t been certain what would happen either.
At least it seemed they hadn’t been secretly moving rocks around all his life. This was a new experience for them. Mother walked over to a nearby tree, then carefully placed the stone into a gnarled nook near the roots. She then hid it over with a handful of leaves.
“That will do for now,” she said. “If raiders do come to the home, they’ll think nothing of a stone. They don’t feel or commune with them—they ignore the spren.”
Father and Elid went to start gathering the sheep. Szeth just held to Molli, who bleated softly, and wished this day had never begun.
What type spren would be Axies Black Lotus? Like the spren has he never seen that he really wants to.
The Nightwatcher. He has gone like two dozen times to the valley but has never seen her.
If a radiant summons their Shardplate on Braize will it work?
Well it depends, in the Physical realm or Cognitive?
And you are asking about Shards?
Ah, okay. So if they have already been able to summon the Plate before it will work, but it will fail if it’s their first time.
With White Sand, you’ve expanded into a more visual medium with a new storyline. There’s always talk of when there’ll be an adaptation to the screen. Now, when that comes, will you be interested in doing an adaptation for the screen? Or write a new story for the Cosmere universe that is just solely either television or movie?
It’s an excellent question. It is one I’ve given a lot of thought to, and I’ve eventually settled on: the first thing that I do needs to be an adaptation of a work. This is because, for Hollywood to invest the kind of money we’re asking for, they are going to need it to be proven. One of the reasons they go to books so often is because they’re looking for the things that have already been successful in one medium. Not a guarantee they’ll be able to adapt it; in fact, it’s a really big challenge. But at least it’s a way to go to the money people and be like, “Yes, we want $300 million.” And they’re like, “Oh, really. Why?” And we can be like, “Well, this thing has sold a lot of copies.” It is a proof of concept.
I will eventually get into, I think, doing things (if this is successful) that haven’t had a book adaptation, but we’ve gotta start with a book adaptation. Just a nature of the way business works.
Can Transportation-based fabrials be used to achieve Physical Realm FTL, faster-than-light?
This is theoretically possible, yes. Basically, I am pushing toward competing methods of FTL in the space age, and Roshar is one of the ones that has access to being potentially able to do that.
I don’t roleplay as much, anymore, but I’m very, very fond of roleplaying. And so I’ve always wanted to do a roleplaying system. So when Crafty came to me about Mistborn, I was just very on-board. And in the same way, when we were exploring a partnership with Brotherwise, the first thing I said to them is: “I want a Stormlight RPG; can we do this?” This time I was saying to them. They’re like, “Yes, we can do this; we will make it the way you want it to be.” So, we’re going to be spending a few years building that, and my philosophy on roleplaying will probably come out quite a bit in the roleplaying system.
In Dawnshard, we see a mural of Adonalsium being Shattered.
It’s, like a circle that splits into four parts, and those four parts also split into four parts.
So I’m wondering if there’s a way to group the Shards in terms of being, or…?
I would encourage people to be trying to figure this out.
Is there anything more to learn about why Helaran was on the battlefield that day when Kaladin killed him?
Yes, but you already know the basics of that story...
Like it was definitely him on the battlefield, he was with the Skybreakers, his target was Amaram...
He nods, and says the 'more information' is more about the Davar family in general.
I had asked whether it was that Helaran was looking for Radiants, I had suspected maybe he would have struck at Amaram again if he was determined to kill him? Maybe he thought Amaram was a Radiant and taking the Shardblade disproved that?
No, the Skybreakers knew about the Sons of Honor, they had a good opportunity to strike at the organization and they took it.
If you put an emotional allomancer, say a rioter, on roshar and have them riot a crowd to increase the number of fearspren, would the fearspren be at the feet of the rioter or the crowd?
We know that finer gemstones like the King's Drop can hold Stormlight longer and encases other things that I won't say because of spoilers. Is that because of the craftsmanship, connecting their Identity in the Cognitive realm?
Excellent question. "You can hold Stormlight in gemstones, and the more perfect a gemstone the more Stormlight it'll hold. Is the craftsmanship required to create it part of the reason why?" And no, it's actually the crystalline structure. Fewer flaws in the crystalline structure means fewer places for the Stormlight to wiggle out.
Do gemstones exist naturally on Roshar? Or are they all gemhearts?
Yes, but you gotta dig through lots of layers of cremstone to get to them, so most of the time you're getting them from gemhearts.
Have you figured out how old you think you're gonna be when you finish the Cosmere?
My goal is by age 72.
I came here to talk about Moonbreaker. I saw the teaser that you did talking about the lore and audio logs, but we didn't really get a whole lot about the lore itself of Moonbreaker. I was curious if there was anything that you could talk about there, and if there's any crossovers or references to the Cosmere itself.
Okay, excellent question. Dan and I are working together on a video game called Moonbreaker, which is a tactical minis painting video game. It's really cool; it's on Steam.
It's from Unknown Worlds, the company that did Subnautica. This is their new thing. It's in early access now. You can get it on Steam. It is incredibly beautiful and cool. It plays really well. The painting is phenomenal. Brandon did all the worldbuilding and I'm writing all the stories.
So the question is, "What can we tell you?" The thing is, they won't let us tell anything about the story or lore until it comes out. Video game and movie companies tend to be super tight-lipped. I am pushing on the movie side to be like, "Just let me say stuff, guys." They're like, "No! You can't say anything! If you say things, then the publicity team won't have a job any more, because it's their job."
The basic premise of it is that there is a star with an atmosphere. So there's hundreds of moons kind of swirling around inside of that. You can fly from one to the other. You know, open air, and different crews of things will fight against each other.
The physics of that kind of works.
Yesh. It's space fantasy, so the physics can take a back seat. <laughs>
What can we say?
What I know I can tell you, at least structurally, is that every four months they're releasing a new season of the game. So there will be new units added to the game and occasionally new maps and things like that. Season 1, which is what's out right now—the launch season, has three captains, which is like your main character. Then every new season will add a new captain. I just yesterday turned in the first episode of season 2. We're going to have three half-hour audio episodes per season, and so we've introduced the fourth captain now internally.
I don't know what else we're allowed to tell you except that the game is super cool.
I can tell you this. I came up with a really large-scale overarching plot for everything, and we are not going to get to that, they decided, until we do the backstories of all the captains, which was a smart move. So once you know who all the captains are, then you will find out what the plot of Moonbreaker is.