Recent entries

    Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
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    greaterbookwyrm

    What happens when you cut a kandra with a Shardblade?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So a kandra is going to react basically the same way, in that the Shardblade's going to be hitting at the soul and severing it and things like that. They are not immune to Shardblades. But because they have mutable shapes, there will be a little bit of weirdness involved in that. You'll get to see that happen eventually.

    Brandon's Blog 2018 ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    I have the last quarter of this year earmarked to write the final Mistborn (Wax and Wayne) novel, which leaves me around six or seven months to play with, and I'm hoping to finish another book in the Skyward series. However, before I dive into that, there's a certain novella I need to write. We're listing that as "Secret Project" and it's not anything you're probably guessing. I'll reveal it when the time is right, but for now, it's not cosmere, and is not something I've talked about before.

    Brandon's Blog 2018 ()
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    Isaac Stewart

    White Sand has an interesting background. Many of you know that it was the sixth novel Brandon wrote–Elantris–that was picked up by Tor and published as his first novel, but by the time Tor released Elantris in 2005, Brandon had written more than thirteen novels. Mistborn, which came out a year later in 2006, was Brandon's fourteenth.

    But White Sand was Brandon's first novel. His third novel–Lord Mastrell–was a sequel to it. When Brandon wrote his eighth novel, right after the infamous Dragonsteel, he went back to White Sand Prime and Lord Mastrell and rewrote them both from the beginning, combining them into the White Sand we now give away for those who sign up for the mailing list. I believe this was also the novel that got his agent Joshua's attention, and while Joshua didn't offer representation just yet, he did offer some suggestions for a revision. Brandon also had a list of things he wanted to accomplish were he ever to have the chance to return to White Sand and revise it. But when Elantris came out, turning around and revising an old novel was just not in the cards.

    When Dynamite proposed a three-part graphic novel several years ago, Brandon met with Team Dragonsteel and laid out his vision for White Sand. We pulled out his revision notes along with Joshua's commentary from so long ago. We re-read White Sand and made our own notes, and together as a team we fleshed out what Brandon would have liked to have done were he to revise White Sand today without the luxury of rewriting the book from the beginning. We clarified character motivations, we strengthened character arcs, we changed the gender of one of the main characters, and we brought in stronger elements from the cosmere at large. Together, under Brandon's direction, and with Dynamite's help, we crafted this into the canonical version of White Sand.

    General Reddit 2018 ()
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    Kellosian

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

    foomy45

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

    Brandon Sanderson

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

    General Reddit 2018 ()
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    Cryokina

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

    Brandon Sanderson

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

    General Reddit 2018 ()
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    Jeimaxx

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

    Brandon Sanderson

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

    General Reddit 2018 ()
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    Only4DNDandCigars

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

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

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

    Brandon Sanderson

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

    General Reddit 2018 ()
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    Leveros

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

    Brandon Sanderson

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

    Phantine

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

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

    Brandon Sanderson

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

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

    Chris King interview ()
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    Chris King

    Will Southern Scadrians have their own series? Or will they just be something mentioned in the next Mistborn trilogies? Does anything major take place?

    Brandon Sanderson

    We will have to see. Originally they did not have a series but it will depend on how much time I spend deviating with interesting Mistborn side-stories before I jump up into the second trilogy. Because by the second trilogy, this has all been discovered and it's a different world. I have loosely plotted a smaller series visiting the southern continent.

    Chris King interview ()
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    Chris King

    When are we going to see a mechanical way to use the Metallic Arts?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Once the technology is appropriately caught up and once I feel like it's right. It's going to be a little while.

    Chris King

    We've actually had a conversation on the forums about using Lurchers and Coinshots in a way to power a train of sorts... It has inspired some interesting conversations.

    Brandon Sanderson

    That seems grueling.

    Chris King interview ()
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    Chris King

    How and when are you planning on releasing Sixth of the Dusk, the cosmere short story you wrote for Writing Excuses?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Once the entire Writing Excuses team have finished their stories. If you're not familiar we did this thing were each brainstormed a story on air and then we went and wrote them and now we are doing revisions on them. Well, Mary went and I wrote ours, Dan and Howard didn't write theirs... but they're catching up... Once they are all done, we will release them together in an anthology. We will do, the workshopping episodes that we did, we workshopped each others stories, and you'll be able to on Writing Excuses read the rough draft, because that will be included in the anthology, listen to the episode where we workshop it and then read the final draft, which will be in the anthology and get the whole— see what we changed and things like that.

    Chris King interview ()
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    Chris King

    Are there any eventual plans for release of things such as-- things like Way of Kings Prime or the old version of Dragonsteel after the new version is released?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Once there are no more spoilers in those books I'll do what I have done with things like White Sand and whatnot, that if people write me— Mistborn Prime is a good example. There's no real spoilers in Mistborn Prime if you've read the trilogy. It's not a very good book but you can read it and kind of understand the history of where the story came from. So I'll do the same thing with these books.

    Chris King interview ()
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    Chris King

    When you reach the end of the Cosmere will there be something else? Or do you feel this will take most of your writing career to achieve?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yah, I think this kind of the Story of my writing career. Now, who knows. As I plotted it, right around mid-Mistborn series time, I came out with thirty-six books, of which I've done what five or six? More than that--

    Chris King

    Three, four, five, six, seven?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Seven. I think there is plenty of time so ask me in thirty years.

    Chris King

    This one's kind of similar here: When or if you reach the end of that, were you planning on expanding more or were you going to get done with what you had planned and be done with it, or--

    Brandon Sanderson

    That's really a "ask me in thirty years" sort of thing. I want to see if I can get this whole thing done. I want to do it in— There's this sort of tension to it, in that I view this as— The arc is my life's work. But at the same time I don't want to be belaboring it. There are cool things going on that I want to get to and I want to tell people about. And so there's this push and pull inside of me, wanting to do this. We will see.

    Chris King interview ()
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    Chris King

    We've seen some hints of the over-arching cosmere story arc, what was the inspiration behind that story originally?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I had an idea for a book when I was fifteen and just getting into fantasy novels—just getting into meaning, reading everything I could get my hands on and diving in face first—and I developed that idea over the next few years. I started writing and realized I was just no good as a writer yet. Which was okay, it wasn't a big deal to me. I realized this story was beyond my ability to approach, it was a vast, enormous story. And so, years later when I was writing Elantris I thought "Well let's just pretend I wrote that book and it was awesome and it's the prelude to what's going on here." That expanded into something much larger and much greater.

    I've mentioned before, part of my inspiration for this was the fact that one of my favorite writers, Asimov, later decided to connect two of his main story universes, the Robot books and the Foundation books. It was really cool when he did it and I felt what would happen if I started doing something like this from the get go. I've known several authors who do it at the end of their careers—well I guess Stephen King's not even at the end of his career, in the middle of his career—saying let me tie a bunch of these things together. What if I seeded all of this from the get go and use this story, this awesome story, that I wasn't able to write when I was younger as a foundation for it.

    English Reading Series at BYU 2018 ()
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    Finallity (paraphrased)

    We've seen a number of human/singer hybrids (Unkalaki and Herdazians) and even human/Aimian hybrids (Natans). How is such a thing possible biologically or is there some outside influence there?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    He said that they (humans and parshendi/aimians) can interbreed because they were made by the same person, or rather that they were made with the same intent, that they were made that way on purpose. They don't have a common heritage or anything though.

    /r/fantasy AMA 2017 ()
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    zuriel45

    Could Firefight theoretically access the Cosmere using her dimensional powers? Do magic parallel realities exist in the greater Reckoners multiverse?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I built the Reckoners so that certain possibilities were "stable" and others were not--limiting how weird things go. (And how far she can reach.) I'm trying to keep it within the bounds of the Reckoners universe that things don't go all Rick and Morty on us. So the chance of reaching a shadow of the Cosmere is very slim.

    General Reddit 2017 ()
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    Arithered

    Don't think I didn't notice the Jewish couple that Wit insulted in Way of Kings.  Yonatan and Meirav, huh?

    I loved it.

    Brandon Sanderson

    They're relatives of my editor, Moshe. He requested a tuckerizeation as a wedding gift to them, and I was happy to oblige, considering some of the Hebrew roots of various Alethi cultural features.

    General Reddit 2016 ()
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    shadeslayer0930

    Can we dare hope for a crossover like [Lift and Wayne] in the future?

    Brandon Sanderson

    You can hope for such things, but I won't do them "just because." If the timelines align, you will see things like this in the future--but it's probably not going to happen for a while. (Except in certain, specific instances.)

    General Reddit 2016 ()
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    rehash101

    There are a few items I've read in stormlight that initially made me uncomforatble, such as the class/eye color dynamic, safe hands/glove, or the Parshman, and their use of song as a tool.

    However, I get the sense that you are aware of the implications, which makes me really curious to see how it all unfolds.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I'm quite aware, and it's intentional. However, some of the most controversial (and in some cases straight up racist) pieces of storytelling done in the modern era were done by well-meaning, but at the same time oblivious, white people trying to tackle the topic. (see Save the Pearls or the current kerfuffle about "The Continent.")

    So writing a series where racism and class-ism are major themes--and an entire minority population has not only been enslaved, but had their cultures stripped away and their souls partially stunted, preventing them from thinking--is a dangerous thing. It's entire possible that I'll stumble on this, and make a big offensive, embarrassing mess.

    So let's just say it's something I'm watching very carefully. The Herdazians, to a lesser extent, are ones that I'm walking a line on. Where do some Hispanic cultural markers--like big families and feeding visitors--stray from being a fun and accurate representation into, instead, being offensive stereotypes? I have to be careful. They're in the books in the first place because I noticed that I couldn't think of many Hispanic-inspired fantasy cultures that weren't Aztec exaggerations. But I wouldn't want to instead turn this into something that is essentially fantasy blackface or characterture.

    General Reddit 2016 ()
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    midobal

    Snapshot sounds very interesting! Knowing that it's set on the Reckoners universe, I was wondering if I should change my reading plans and start with them now, or if Snapshot can be read without previous knowledge.

    Brandon Sanderson

    It is unconnected to the Reckoners story. You can read it without reading the series.

    General Reddit 2016 ()
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    WeiryWriter

    Does Snapshot take place on the Reckoners' Earth, or one of the other Core Possibilities? (Based on the reading you did I would assume the latter, but it doesn't hurt to get confirmation on that).

    Brandon Sanderson

    It's one of the Other Core Possibilities.

    The idea of going meta-series with Reckoners is to offer me the chance to play with quantum possibilities and alternate dimensions, which is something to cosmere's not set up to do. We'll see how big this one gets, but I'm fond of silver age comics, and the idea of alternate realities they explored. (Often in goofy ways because...well, silver age.) This also gives me a realm to do some magic, like the Epic powers, that I can hand-wave a little more, rather than confining everything to the structure of the cosmere.

    General Reddit 2018 ()
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    Snote85

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

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

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

    Brandon Sanderson

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

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

    General Reddit 2016 ()
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    fireflambe

    This is a slightly old comment, but is the marvel cinematic universe similar to what you envision happening with the cosmere movies? The moment that was announced the first thing I thought of was how great it would be if it followed the MCU formula.

    Brandon Sanderson

    well, and its popularity is part of why I think the film companies were suddenly interested in things like the cosmere. I'd like to think I presaged the MCU with what I was doing--but the truth is that Marvel and DC had been doing crossovers before I was born, so...

    Anyway, I've been trying to warn readers because many are starting to wonder things like you are. Is this like the MCU? Well, it is, and it isn't. The goal of the cosmere is to take individual fantasy worlds, then--over generations--tell an expansive story about their interactions one with another.

    I'm not pointing toward an Avengers style, "Your favorite characters all team up" story. The magics will interact, as will the worlds, and even some of the characters--but the story is not about a super-team.

    Stormlight Three Update #5 ()
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    geoffw35

    When a writer can do something like this: Shallan killing the father she loves while whispering that lullaby, I know I've found a gem! I had to stop listening (audiobook) at that point and absorb what I experienced. What an emotional hit! I'd guess you were proud of that one.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I am indeed.

    Made a little creepier by the fact that I had my Father in Law (a semi-pro musician) write the lullaby, then I used it this way...

    BYU Writing Class Wrap-up 2017 ()
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    Just another guyn

    If a Shard were to wield Nightblood more directly, like Odium's champion and Odium channeling his power through Nightblood, would we see a lot of world ending stuff from that?

    Brandon Sanderson

    That-- What you just described would work no differently from a Knight Radiant wielding Nightblood

    Just another guyn

    Okay. And that would be scary powerful?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No. No, they'd feed off the Investiture and eventually would either run out or be drawing it so quickly that it would dissolve the person's soul.

    Just another guyn

    So souls are made of Investiture?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, in the cosmere, souls are. So you'd have a little while, but eventually the person would just die and get eaten.

    BYU Writing Class Wrap-up 2017 ()
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    Just another guyn

    If an Elantrian were to get a hold of Nightblood and draw it, how would Nightblood react to that-- What kind of power would be unleashed?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So Nightblood needs kinetic Investiture to feed upon. The Elantrian would have to be able to get a conduit to the Dor to feed Nightblood or Nightblood would just eat their soul.

    Just another guyn

    So if they used AonDor to fuel Nightblood--

    Brandon Sanderson

    There are some types of AonDor that would work, and there are others that would not.

    Just another guyn

    And would Nightblood just keep going until either the Aon was--

    Brandon Sanderson

    He would dissolve the Aon as he drew the power from it.

    Just another guyn

    So it wouldn't just empty the Dor?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No, it would not empty the Dor.

    Miscellaneous 2016 ()
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    BlackYeti

    If you remember from the original version of Words of Radiance, Kaladin rammed a Shardblade through Szeth’s chest, after which Nale found Szeth and healed him with a fabrial. However in Edgedancer Lift tries to heal a girl who had also had a Shardblade rammed through her chest, and it didn’t work. Wyndle then explains that since she was killed by Shardblade, she cannot be healed at all, unless she is healed right after it happened. Since Nale was obviously not with Szeth and Kaladin to heal him immediately, this appears to be a contradiction.

    Therefore, either Nale has some way to remotely heal someone (of which we have no evidence), "right after" is being used very loosely, or when Brandon changed the scene to have Szeth fall to his death instead, he also changed the rules governing what can or can’t be healed.

    If so, what other rules could have been changed at the same time? Is there some additional significance to the change in wording from fabrial to Surgebinding for instance? Moreover this would be a somewhat significant precedent that Brandon is setting, and I’m not sure what to make of it.

    Peter Ahlstrom

    The way it worked in WoR's first draft is still canonical. There are subtle things that make the two situations different.

    JordanCon 2016 ()
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    Ruro272

    THIS JUST IN: KELSIER'S EYES ARE HAZEL.

    I have a lot more tidbits and all of them more juicy than this, but this may be the single thing all weekend that actually added to the canon. As far as Peter and Brandon know, they never explicitly stated Kelsiers eye color, only that they were "dark", and Brandon thought about it and went with hazel.

    Does it matter? Probably not lol. But the moment he said it Peter contacted the wiki writer to add it officially. Pretty cool to ask a simple question that Brandon graciously chose to answer and then add to the canon story

    bschnebs

    Since when is Hazel considered dark?

    Peter Ahlstrom

    It isn't. What we said is that Mistborn doesn't give anyone's eye color and only says Vin's eyes are dark. (Shan Elariel's eyes are also dark.) Kelsier's eyes will now be considered canonized as hazel, which is not dark.

    Elantris Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Conclusion

    That is about it for the languages in Elantris. There are books for which I’ve spent a lot more time on the languages, but there are also books for which I’ve spent far less. Overall, I like how the sounds in this book add to the feel of the various nationalities, though I realize that Aonic names (in particular) are difficult to pronounce at first. If you have your own way of saying them, well that’s just fine. I do the same thing with books I read.

    Elantris Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Duladen, Jindoeese, Svordish

    Duladen is a language purely of tonal convenience. My only rule for this language was to use that which ‘sounded right.’ It seemed wrong, in a way, to force any firm linguistic constructions on the Dulas. In addition, Galladon’s use of Dula slang was to become a major mood element of the book. I didn’t have enough time in the book to develop the language in detail, but I needed its sounds to give atmosphere.

    Duladen implies a laid-back, loose culture. Its words flow smoothly, and even have a hint of ridiculousness to our English-accustomed ears. Even the Dula word for Hell, ‘Doloken,’ has a kind of rhythmic nonchalance about it. Ironically, the part of the Dula language I was most unsatisfied with was its lead character’s name. I eventually changed it from “Galerion” to “Galladon” to make it fit better.

    JinDo is probably the least original of the languages in the book. It is an unabashed rip-off of Chinese, as can easily be distinguished. I did this with some hesitance. I worried that I had too much of a ‘learning curve’ in the setting of the book already, especially with the strange circumstances Raoden was going to be forced to endure. When it came to the JinDo language and culture, I feared that stuffing too much development into such a minor part of the book would make it unwieldy.

    JinDo is most important for the philosophers it spawned, three men who eventually became the religious foundations of the continent. I chose an Oriental culture to mimic in this case because of the mystical way in which most western cultures regard Asian-sounding names. Simply by calling something “JinDo” gave it an instant sense of foreign-ness.

    I went, perhaps, too far by making the adjectival reference for the nation ‘Jindoeese.’ I probably should have gone with simply “JinDo” as both noun and adjective. Other than that, I am satisfied with the culture, despite its lack of original sounds.

    The final language, Svordish, was almost an afterthought. I wanted to make it a dialect of Fjordell, something I could point out to show that all of the nations beyond the mountains weren’t just one big stereotype. By giving Svorden a minor identity of its own—with a side character and the ‘sv’ pattern of sounds—I hoped to give a bit of roundness to the unseen Fjordell empire.

    Elantris Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Fjordell

    The Fjordell language was a little more formed in my head in the pre-writing stage than Aonic was. I already had an idea of what I wanted this culture, and its language, to represent. I’ve always been fascinated by the rise of the Roman empire, first in military power, then in theological power. Latin and Catholicism fit very will with Rome’s logical, almost bureaucratic, culture.

    I wondered what would happen if a similar train of events had led a more war-like, barbarous culture to power. What would happen if the Scandinavian tribes had been able to unite and conquer all of Europe? The answer was simple, in my mind—they didn’t have the bureaucratic skill to run an empire. It would have collapsed.

    And that was where Fjorden came from. I imagined three distinct periods in its history. First, the rise of a war-like tribe to imperial dominance. However, once the empire was established and it ran out of foes to conquer, I imagined the new empire struggling to maintain control. Eventually, the First Empire collapsed under its own weight.

    However, this experience taught the Fjordell leaders what it was they did wrong. They learned order, organization, and—most importantly—they learned patience. Under the leadership of an inspired ruler, they abandoned their conquering ways and focused instead on Shu-Korath, a newly-budding religion that combined their ancient pantheistic beliefs with a more modern sense of theological order. This religion, which held the power of forced unity as one of its major themes, appealed to the warrior sense of the Fjordell.

    With that, the Second Empire was born. Now, instead of an army of warriors, Fjorden had an army of priests. The empire learned to lead more subtly, using its doctrines to control, rather than its swords.

    This country had to sound Scandinavian—the more like Beowulf the better. I had Hrathen’s name from almost the beginning, though I quibbled a little more on Fjorden itself. (I realize the name itself is a little gimmicky, but so far I’ve had good reactions from it.)

    Fjorden is defined in my mind more by its sounds than by any specific set of linguistic characteristics. The language prefers guttural sounds. ‘U’ sounds, ‘F’ sounds, ‘H’ sounds, and ‘G’ sounds. I added in a Hebrew ‘Y’ sound in the form of a ‘J,’ and placed emphasis on the ‘Hr’ combination. From this language, we get names like Dilaf, Jaddeth (pronounced yah-death,) and Sycla.

    Elantris Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Aonic

    In the initial stages of Elantris‘ development, Aonic was one of the more difficult elements to construct. The Aons themselves—then still unnamed—were to become a major part of the novel. I wanted all of the Aonic names—including the names of two POV characters—to include references to the language. In addition, the magic system had complex connections with the Aons, influencing their actual forms and design. Furthermore, one of the greatest puzzles in the novel—that of Elantris‘ mysterious fall—was intimately tied to the power and shape of the Aons.

    I began looking for sounds and themes. Usually, when I construct a language, I try to develop something with a few basic sound patterns that are easily recognizable. When a reader runs across a name in the book, I want them to be able to instantly determine which country that name came from. However, the names can’t be too similar, otherwise they will become a jumbled mess in the reader’s mind.

    So I started, as I often do, with a couple of names. The first one I devised, I believe, was Raoden. The sound “Rao” (both vowels are pronounced in their long form) struck me. One of the things I wanted from Aonic was resonance with ancient classicism. I wanted the reader to reference a culture with a great, majestic history. Golden age Greece or imperial Rome—lands were gods were very real, and were thought to interfere with the workings of mortals. To the modern mind, these cultures bear a weight of age.

    Rao. (Pronounced Ray-Oh). I liked the repeated long vowel sounds—they seemed to bear the weight I wanted. From there, I constructed other morphemes. Ene. Ashe. Dio. I started combining these, constructing a language that references modern Japanese with its combination of a natural tongue and imported Chinese characters.

    The result was the Aonic language. Each name or word contained an Aon—a two-syllable morpheme that contained two log vowel sounds—and a non-Aon prefix or suffix. Raoden, for instance, contains the Aon ‘Rao’ with the non-Aon suffix ‘den.’ Seon contained the Aon ‘Seo’ with the suffix ‘n.’ The accent in these words is always placed on the Aon.

    Then, like any good modern language, I was forced to bend a few rules. The name of the city was very important to the book, as I intended it to be in the title. I played around with several different words, including one that stayed through the entire rough draft of the novel—a word based on the Aon ‘Ado.’

    In the end, however, I grew very partial to the word ‘Elantris.’ Again, this was for connotative reasons. It brought to mind ancient cultures without actually being too similar to any names I knew. The word seemed to have mythic import. Unfortunately, it didn’t contain an Aon. In the end, I went with it anyway. Any good language has sound-changes and broken rules. Elantris, therefore, is based off of the Aon ‘Ela,’ which is a very Aonic sound. When combined with its suffix, however, the secondary vowel is weakened—though not completely. When I say the word in my head, the ‘a’ sound is stronger than it probably is to most readers.

    The second bent rule references Sarene’s name. Originally, her Aon was ‘Ana,’ with two long ‘a’ sounds. Unfortunately, ana looked too similar to the word ‘anal’ to me. Eventually, I changed her from Sarana to Sarene. Still, in my head, I pronounce this word ‘Sar-Aynay,’ though the Aonic usage of the name would be more appropriately rendered ‘Sar-eenee.’

    With the Aonic language finished, I could easily fill in the names of side-characters and places. I threw out a few sounds—there is no ‘u’ sound or ‘th’ sound in Aonic—and from there could construct hundreds of names from Aonic combinations of sounds. I designed a few of the characters for referencing in the book, and the language grew from there.

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    Brandon Sanderson

    Basic Process

    I take several approaches to constructing languages for my works. The first thing I ask myself is how much I’m going to be using this language. How many characters will speak it? Will the setting take place in a land native to that tongue? How important, overall, is language to this particular book?

    In Elantris I realized that Aonic was going to be an integral part of the novel. The magical power of AonDor was once accessed through the form of the Aon characters. In this culture, language is a very literal power, and the practice and use of it would denote royalty, high-breeding, and even divinity.

    The other languages included were of varying lesser importance. Fjordell—the language of Fjorden’s priesthood—would be second in importance, for it was to be the native tongue of the only non-Aonic point-of-view character. To Hrathen, language was to become a symbol of purity and of the chosen race. It had religious significance, and was to be a subtle model of the elitist culture from which Hrathen hailed.

    The languages of Duladen, Svorden, and JinDo were of least significance. They had important characters representing them, but no major point-of-view characters. With the weight of Aonic and Fjordell already bulking up the linguistic part of the novel, I decided I wanted these three languages to provide flavor only. I wanted their representative words and names to give an instant clue to the nature of the society, and then add variety through the novel without becoming unwieldy.