Is Jasnah's book going to be one of the backstories?
Yessssss. Favorite character.
She's on the back five.
Is Jasnah's book going to be one of the backstories?
Yessssss. Favorite character.
She's on the back five.
What was Jasnah's last thought? Just pure curiosity, it's been on my brain for whatever *inaudible* been reading.
Have you read the book?
Yeah, I'm on the last ten pages [of Words of Radiance].
Last ten pages.
Her *pause* last thoughts were of escaping.
Why did you gloss over *audio obscured* for Jasnah?
Again you'll want to read on, but Jasnah-- that was not going to happen in this book. In the initial plot it didn't happen, and Shallan was unable to, in the initial scenes I wrote, be able come into her own and so I had to make major revisions to the plot for this outline, the biggest thing I did was that. And once I did that the story started working.
When you were planning for Zahel being Vasher, how long did you [plan] that?
Vasher was in the 2002 version of The Way of Kings by name, as Vasher. I only changed him to the new name after I finished this entire draft. Because I'm like "oh, he'd probably go under a pseudonym". So he's in Roshar for 12 years our time—I mean I had written him 12 years ago, in Roshar.
And what's he doing there? Why? Is that a RAFO?
You'll have to read the Way of Kings Prime but he is in there by name, it blew my assistant's mind when he went back and found it.
He was doing much of the same thing that he did in this one. But in that book-- in Way of Kings Prime the big defining difference was that Kaladin took the Blade and Plate, and Zahel—or Vasher as he was named there—was his teacher then, and that was a much bigger part of the book because the book was about become-- you know. And it was the first book and him and his teacher, so yeah.
Do you know how you're going to write how Hoid travels between worlds?
Yes I do. Yes. Yes there's a big clue in [Words of Radiance]. There is a very big clue in the very first book I published.
When are we going to get Hoid’s book?
Hoid has 6 books, they are the 3 books of Dragonsteel, which are prequels and the last Mistborn trilogy of the nine book arc will have him as a main character. I won't say they're "his" books, but he is one of the primary protagonists.
You think about five books into [The Stormlight Archive], or after this series?
After this series, the middle Mistborn books will happen in-between.
Who are the five main characters from the first of the [Stormlight Archive]?
Kaladin and Shallan obviously. Book 3 is Szeth, book 4 is Eshonai, book 5 is Dalinar.
Spook still alive?
Have you read Mistborn: Secret History?
Then that's as much as we know right now.
Dang it! *laughs* You and your teasing last pages!
I am very teasing. There-- If I get around to it there will be more Secret Histories.
When Shardplate breaks away does it fall off or does it explode or how does that work?
It kind of explodes into bits of molten metal.
Yeah, it's very-- very dramatic.
Why doesn't the Stormlight heal Kaladin's slave brands?
Because, in the cosmere, most healing works by how you perceive yourself.
How old was Kaladin when Syl found him originally?
That's a RAFO.
So you know the coin that Kelsier and Vin were Pushing on?
What ever happened to that?
I did not keep that around, I'm sorry. It's lost to the mists of time.
Is Shallan's drawing abilities. Is that related to Pattern's bond to her like Kaladin's spear with Syl, or...?
Her memorization abilities are supernaturally enhanced, and they aid her drawing.
Can spren fall in love and have emotions like that?
How old is Cody?
Cody? Cody is gonna be... early 40s.
How much older is Wax than Wayne?
Uh... 17... 20 years... Something like that. No, no, no, not quite that much. It's more like 10 years isn't it?
Let's see, I'm trying to remember how-- Wax is 40s... Wayne... Yeah, it's about 10 years.
I was wondering if you know, like, exactly how tall Kaladin is?
Um... Kaladin? 6'-4". But you've got to remember... People on Roshar are taller than people here. So like 6'-4" compared to someone else in Roshar. But it's a low gravity, high oxygen environment which means that he's probably more like 6'-8", or something like that. Like you're gonna see... But it-- that's only-- you know, like for instance their year is different than ours too, and things like that. If you just want to imagine him at 6'-4" that's fine.
Why didn't Harmony heal or change *inaudible*? [from notes: Why didn't Harmony change Southerners on Scadrial?]
That is a RAFO. Good question.
I have a copy of your Dragonsteel master thesis, I haven't read it though. And I was wondering, how you've grown as an author, do you like people to read that or would you rather they wait until you do the better version?
I-- I'm-- That one I don't really like people reading that much because it has an inferior version of Bridge Four that I don't want people to meet. Does that make sense? Like the Bridge Four team--
...And when you re-write it it will be better?
Well Bridge Four won't even be in that book anymore I moved them to Roshar. So you go back and you find the version of Rock that is not quite the right version and you'll find-- Teft is basically the same dude but a lot of the other ones have changed and morphed and they basically won't feel right anymore, if that makes any sense. Feel free to read it, don't feel bad reading it but that's the part that I'm not--
Is that the only part you are worried about? And the rest you are like "It's not my best writing" but--
The rest is not my best writing but whatever. But the Bridge Four stuff, I'm like I did it so much better that it's not even going back and seeing it in rough sketches, it's like if da Vinci had painted a Mona Lisa that was ugly and a different person? You don't want it cemented in their mind that that is what the piece of art is. The rest of it I don't mind so much, I mean the main character his conflict will change dramatically because I pulled that out and gave it to another character in the books. So basically the only thing remaining that is still going to be canon is Hoid and his story, the story what's going with him there is still stuff he would have done...
So what give books do you think helped you understand leadership the best?
Well Art of War is definitely part of that. I would say that The Prince is important for understanding leadership, even though I don't agree with every point he's making. By the way he is not as-- Even though it is Machiavelli writing it, he is not as machiavellian as we think he is in that book… So The Prince-- Hmmm, a lot of Plato surprisingly, is where I pull some of my ideas. King Benjamin's speech from the Book of Mormon, in Mosiah, if you haven't read that, is definitely part of it. Ummm... What else--
Like where do you get your-- because you obviously have experience because that's how leadership works.
It is interviews, it is personal experience, it is talking to my friends who are in the military and asking them "Does this sound right? Does this feel right? Tell me what it feels like to obey. Tell me what it feels like to be in command." And things like that. Just lots of practice and interviews and things is where most of it is coming from.
So it’s less like personal experience and more you're really good at researching it.
Yeah, a writer has to be able to do that because for a book like this the amount of psychology and medicine, battlefield tactics, leadership, and all these other things you need to know, you can't know them all. You can't do them all personally. You've got to be able to experience it, you've got to be able to write it as best as you can, and then go to experts. Like the medicine in this I went to a field surgeon and I said "Will you read over my Kaladin scenes and tell me where I'm going wrong." Like I was able to get myself 80% of the way there with research and then the 20% is me going to an expert and saying "Tell me what I'm doing wrong."
So there’s the scene of Kaladin standing alone in /Words of Radiance/. He’s lost his spren, everything is gone, and he's just standing there, and he still fights no matter what. Did that scene come first? Or did the rest of the book?
That was the pivotal scene for the book. That was the thing I felt he needed to learn and the person he needed to be. So I have several focus scenes for each book and that was one of them for this one.
Could you do anymore with the world in Sixth of the Dusk?
Not a ton. You might see it-- cameos from it. But I have no intentions to write something longer right now.
How come it's a joke that he goes by Vasher?
Umm, heh. That's-- So Denth says it’s a joke because the name Vasher is someone they knew whose name he has appropriated.
Will we find out who that was?
Maybe, we'll see if I can work it in. But it is a joke because-- yeah. Denth is not amused.
The dead shardblades, could you possibly get Stormlight into them to reawaken them?
Dead shardblade could you pump enough Stormlight into them? That alone would not be enough.
So you would have to find someone to re-swear with oaths?
There is something broken on the Spiritual Realm because of the broken oath and simple Stormlight will not fix that.
If the person were still alive and could re-swear the oath then yes.
[...] the Spiritual Realm?
It is not outside the realm of reason but it would be very very very difficult.
So Elend, at the end of Mistborn [Era 1], is going around finding Allomancers the mist had Snapped. How come he didn't find any other Mistborn? Or did he and we just didn't know about it?
What you have to remember is the mists were looking for a way specifically to deliver information to him, that "I am alive and doing something" but they were also kind of crazy. And so the idea was to make him notice the number 16 so that he would know that there was a plan and that something was prepared for him. Does that make sense?
Why didn't the mist throw in some Mistborn in that sixteen too?
Then you would have 17. Or you would have like-- It was the number that was important to what the mists were doing. Plus it is much harder to make someone who wasn't originally-- Like remember what's going on is these are people it is Snapping intentionally who did not-- Like it's Investing them so-- It's either awakening a very little remnant in them or taking people who had-- They wouldn't have been able to be Mistings, if the mists hadn't intervened. Making someone a Mistborn takes way more power.
In this one [Sixth of the Dusk] is the guy he [Dusk] finds dead, is that Hoid?
They guy he finds dead is not Hoid. Good question.
Is it anyone we already know?
Does Hoid make an appearance in that one?
Hoid does not make an appearance in that one.
What about Shadows for Silence?
In Shadows for Silence he does not make an appearance. I established with those two, my goal was, he-- I found that if I just shoehorned him in it didn't actually fit the narrative. Like I want this to not just be a cameo, he's actively doing things. Does that make sense? He's not just there for cameos... he's actively up to something.
Now he has been to Threnody. Threnody is very interesting to him for certain reasons. He hasn't been to First of the Sun, he's never visited Sixth of the Dusk's planet, yet.
I noticed that shardblades are unnaturally light but Nightblood is unnaturally heavy.
That is correct.
Care to expound on that?
Nightblood is built around the same principles as shardblades, if shardblades were... broken? I mean he is-- You'll notice dark smoke that goes down rather than light smoke that goes up, and things like this. So, yeah, they are built on the same principles but in some ways opposites.
I've got a Vasher question too. In Warbreaker he's not really much of a swordfighter but in his later appearance--
In Warbreaker he is better than you think he is, but he is tired of fighting. He's just completely-- You know at this point he's several hundred years old, and he created a sword, he's a swordsman. He knows his way around a sword but he is worn out emotionally and just doesn't want to be fighting and things like that. And plus he's had Nightblood, he doesn't need to, right? Nightblood, you swing Nightblood and it doesn't matter how good you are with a sword, really. You know which direction to point him and disaster happens. And so he's much better than you think he is.
But now he doesn't have it anymore.
But now he doesn't have it anymore, and now he kind of has to survive-- He has to make a living somehow and this is something he was good at.
So what is Vasher's pre-god name?
Umm… That's a RAFO.
So when are you going to tell us who Gaidal Cain is reincarnated as?
*laughs* One of the prevailing theories online is true.
One of 18?
Yes. Most of the-- It's not Olver for instance. People thought that for years but Robert Jordan said it wasn't. I think there are two or three leading theories and it is one of those.
I was just wondering if you were going to continue the mirroring as the Elantris and Warbreaker series continue...
They are probably not going to continue that way. There will be some things, like there will be some tonal things. Part of the reason I wrote Warbreaker was this idea that I'm like "I wrote this whole book about the city of the gods but I didn't actually get to deal with people living as gods". So I came back to the topic because of that reason but the second one is probably going to be a little bit more like my unpublished book Aether of Night. I'm going to fold in some of those ideas.
How many of the Ideals for the Radiants do you have figured out?
How may have I figured out? I know vaguely what each of them-- their concepts are but I haven't figured out the exact wording and I will when I get to them in the book.
I've been trying to brainstorm what Stormlight characters would have jumped into the other books so far. You told me they had at one point.
Yes, they have but you've got to remember that The Stormlight Archive you are seeing right now, what's happening in it is like late cosmere era, does that make sense? So there are lots of people from the world that have been to other worlds but the people you know--this is happening just before Alloy of Law era-- So does that make sense? That's the first time you'd be able to see anyone here and by that era the bleed over is a lot less because we have the whole Odium trapped and things like that. There's a lot less-- There are a lot fewer people traveling in and out of Roshar than there once were.
I know you went on mission in Korea, as did I, did anything come from that?
Yeah, quite a number of things have been influenced by it. I'd say the biggest influence is Elantris, the writing system is based on the idea of Korean and Chinese mixed together. But Asian philosophy, like the kami and things like that are also common in Korea, that belief that everything has a soul. So yeah it's had a huge influence on me, just the way I worldbuild-- I mean just the fact, I don't know if you've read The Way of Kings… I don't know if you know but everyone's Asian, right? Like Szeth, the white dude, is the one that looks weird them. And that's just because-- It was partially influenced by that.
This chapter in particular was a challenge to write. My experience with Sazed in The Hero of Ages warned me that a character deep in depression can be a difficult and dangerous thing to write. Depression is a serious challenge for real people—and therefore also for characters. Additionally, it pushes a character not to act.
Inactive characters are boring, and though I wanted to start Kaladin in a difficult place, I didn't want him to be inactive. So how did I go about making scenes of a depressed fallen hero locked in a cage interesting and active? The final result might not seem like much in the scope of the entire novel, but these chapters are some of the ones I'm the most proud of. I feel I get Kaladin and his character across solidly while having him actually do things—try to save the other slave, rip up the map, etc.
Syl, obviously, is a big part of why these scenes work. She is so different from the rest of what's happening, and she has such stark progress as a character, that I think she "saves" these chapters.
You might be interested to know, then, that she was actually developed for a completely different book in the cosmere. I often speak about how books come together when different ideas work better together than they ever did separate. Kaladin and Syl are an excellent example of this. He didn't work in The Way of Kings Prime, and her book just wasn't going anywhere. Put them together, and magic happened. (Literally and figuratively.)
The City of Bells is a true city-state. They have no real authority beyond the city itself, and they trade for everything they need. There aren't Kharbranthian farmers, for example. If commerce were to fail, the city would flat-out collapse.
They do have their own language, as hinted at in this chapter, but it's very similar to Alethi and Veden. I consider the three languages to really be dialects of Alethi, and learning one is more about learning new pronunciations as it is about learning new words. (Though there are some differences in vocabulary.) I would put them even slightly closer than Spanish and Portuguese in our world.
The city origins are a little less proud than they'd tell you. Kharbranth was a pirate town, a harbor for the less savory during the early days of navigation on Roshar. As the decades passed, however, it grew into a true city. To this day, however, its leaders acknowledge that they're not a world power—and might never be. They use games of politics, trade, and information to play Jah Keved, Alethkar, and Thaylenah against one another.
I chose to use Shallan as my other main character in Part One, rather than Dalinar, because I felt her sequence better offset Kaladin's. He was going to some very dark places, and her sequence is a little lighter.
She is the only "new" main character in this book. Kaladin (under a different name) was in Way of Kings Prime, and Dalinar was there virtually unchanged from how he is now. The character in Shallan's place, however, never panned out. That left me with work to do in order to replace Jasnah's ward.
Shallan grew out of my desire to have an artist character to do the sketches in the book. Those were things I'd wanted to do forever, but hadn't had the means to accomplish when writing the first version of the book. I now had the contacts and resources to do these drawings, like from the sketchbook of a natural historian such as Darwin.
One of the things that interests me about scientists in earlier eras is how broad their knowledge base was. You really could just be a "scientist" and that would mean that you had studied everything. Now, we need to specialize more, and our foundations seem to be less and less generalized. A physicist may not pay attention to sociology at all.
Classical scholars were different. You were expected to know languages, natural science, physical science, and theology all as if they were really one study. Shallan is my stab at writing someone like this.
Here we finally get to the book's main character, though I suspect that most readers won't catch that he is the one until we've come back to him at time or two.
Discounting Shallan, who was not in Way of Kings Prime, Kaladin is the one who went through the biggest evolution over the years. Dalinar has been Dalinar from day one. Adolin, Jasnah, Renarin, and Taln all solidified into themselves while I was writing Prime. Even Sadeas (under a different name) is basically the same person now as he was ten years ago.
Kaladin, though… Well, I had some growing to do as a writer before I could write him. He started in my concepts as a very generic fantasy "farmboy" protagonist. In Prime, there was nothing really original or interesting about him other than his situation. This is the danger for that style of protagonist; I feel that the best characters are interesting aside from their role.
For all my love of the Harry Potter books (and I do think they're quite excellent), Harry is a blank slate at the start. He's not interesting—the situations he's in are interesting. It isn't until later books, where he gets things to care about (like his godfather) that he starts to be defined as a character.
Kaladin was the same way. It's odd how writers are sometimes better at giving personalities to their side characters than they are at giving them to their main characters.
This was a controversial chapter for my writing group and my editor, and was wrapped up in the whole learning curve argument. It was suggested several times that if this chapter were from Kaladin's viewpoint, the book wouldn't feel quite so overwhelming at the start. After all, Chapters One and Two would then be from the same viewpoint and would give a stronger clue to readers.
I resisted. I had already accepted that this was going to be a challenging book for readers. That's not an excuse to ignore advice, but at the same time, I decided I was committed to the long-term with this book. That meant doing things at the start that might seem unusual for the purpose of later payoff.
This is an excellent example of that. If I'd done this scene through Kaladin's eyes, I don't think it would have been as powerful. Kaladin is on top of things here, in control. I didn't want the first chapter to feel that in control. I wanted the sense of chaos worry and uncertainty.
Beyond that, I wanted to introduce Kaladin as a contrast to all of that. A solid force for order, a natural leader, and an all-around awesome guy. Doing that from within someone's viewpoint is tough unless they're on the arrogant side, like Kelsier. It can work in that kind of viewpoint, but not in Kaladin's.
Finally, I am always looking to play with the tropes of fantasy where I can. I feel that if I'd been writing this as a youth, I'd have made someone like Cenn the hero. (Indeed, in the original draft of The Way of Kings from 2002, Kaladin was much more like Cenn is now.) Opening with a young man thrust into war, then having him get killed seemed like a good way to sweep the pieces off the table and say, "No, what you expect to happen isn't going to happen in this book."
This also let me set up for a future chapter, where I could flashback to Kaladin's view of these events. As narrative structure was something I wanted to play with in this book, that appealed to me.
Obviously, there are a lot of things embedded in this scene for later books. I've noted frequently that with Mistborn, I got the luxury of writing the whole series before releasing it. I don't have that chance with Stormlight. I had to make sure all of my foreshadowing was placed and ready for later use.
I worry that so much of it is obvious, yet also confusingly so. The sphere that Gavilar give Szeth is barely mentioned in the book, for example.
No, I'm not going to tell you what it is.
I'll be referencing the original draft of The Way of Kings (AKA Way of Kings Prime), written in 2002, as I feel it will probably be fun for readers to see how the book evolved over time. Every other book of mine you've read was conceived and executed over a relatively short period. The Way of Kings is different—it had a lot of evolving to do before hitting the state it's in now.
One of those evolutions was the magic. Mistborn had one of my best magic systems to date. In Way of Kings Prime (written before Mistborn) we only had two types of magic: Shardblades and Soulcasting. Shardblades were great, but not really magic. Soulcasting didn't work so well. [Assistant Peter's note: There was also something called Windrunning, but it was completely different from the version we know now.]
Mistborn really upped the ante in terms of magic in my books, and I wanted The Way of Kings to have a more dynamic, interesting magic system. That is one factor in why I waited so long to release it.
I finally worked out Lashings while on tour for The Well of Ascension. (That was the tour I went on following the call from Harriet, asking if I was interested in finishing The Wheel of Time.) What I liked about the Lashings system was the visual power and the means of manipulating gravity and pressure in interesting visual and creative ways. I had already built into the sensibilities of the world the idea that there were ten fundamental forces I had based on the idea of fundamental forces in our world's physics. It all fit together nicely.
Anyway, Szeth (named Jek in the first version of the book) was a more ordinary assassin in the original. He didn't have powers beyond being a really, really good killer.
Szeth uses magic
In Mistborn, by intention, I saved any big action sequences with the magic until the characters and setting had been established. This was intentional.
I did the opposite in The Way of Kings.
There are a couple of reasons for this. I spoke on the learning curve of this book; I felt it was best to just be straightforward with what I was doing. This book would be steep, and you'd see it in the first few scenes. Better to be straightforward with what you are.
At the same time, I felt that readers would put up with more from me. Fantasy readers can handle a steep learning curve, and tend to celebrate books that have a lot of meaty worldbuilding. I feel from my own experience as a reader, however, that I am wary of giving much effort to a book by a new author. Learning a new world takes work, and if an author is going to demand that kind of work from me, I want big payoff.
My hope is that I've earned my right to put out a book with this involved a setting. I've proven that I can tell a good story, and that it's worth the effort to get into one of my books and worlds. The Way of Kings is the most challenging book I've written; the payoff will be equal to that challenge. (I hope.)
Which ear does Vin wear her earring in?
I don't know... Oh, man. I can't <answer> this one because I can't remember it. They know it on the 17th Shard, you can go ask them. I can't remember. Now if I told you I'd get it wrong.
Okay. What-- What's your instinct? Off the top of your head?
My instinct? I'm a robot. I work by programming.
In classic Sanderson fashion, the beginning of this book was the part to see the biggest edits. I usually start a novel, write from beginning to end, then go back and play heavily with my beginning to better match the tone of the book.
Here, one of my big decisions was to choose between two prologues I had written out. One was with the Heralds, and set the stage for a much larger story—I liked the epic feel it gave, and the melancholy tone it set. The other was Szeth's attack on Kholinar. This was a great action sequence that set up some of the plots for the novel in a very good way, but had a steep learning curve.
I was very tempted to use both, which was what I eventually did. This wasn't an easy decision, however, as this book was already going to start with a very steep learning curve. Prelude→prologue→Cenn→Kaladin→Shallan would mean five thick chapters at the start of the book without any repeating settings or viewpoint characters.
This can sink a novel quickly. As it stands, this is the most difficult thing about The Way of Kingsas a novel. Many readers will feel at sea for a great deal of Part One because of the challenging worldbuilding, the narrative structure, and the fact that Kaladin's life just plain sucks.
It seems that my instincts were right. People who don't like the book often are losing interest in the middle of Part One. When I decided to use the prelude and the prologue together, I figured I was all in on the plan of a thick epic fantasy with a challenging learning curve. That decision doesn't seem to have destroyed my writing career yet.
The world map for Roshar changed dramatically between various iterations of the book.
Work on this novel started when I was fifteen. Back then, most of the plots and characters were combined with another world of mine, called Yolen. (That's where the book Dragonsteel takes place.) Somewhere in my early 20s, after I had a whole lot more experience and knew (kind of) what I was doing, I realized that the plots I had going in this world didn't click well together, so I divided the books into two separate series.
I wrote Dragonsteel first, back in 1999 or 2000. (Although Dragonsteel was the third book I wrote in the cosmere—after White Sand and Elantris—it was meant to be the chronological origin of the sequence. Hoid was one of the main characters of that series. The first book even includes significant viewpoints from him.)
I started outlining The Way of Kings fairly soon after. That original map I imagined as a continent with three prongs facing downward, with a connection at the top. There was the Alethi prong in the center, Shinovar to the west, and a long prong with Natanatan on the east.
Over the years, my worldbuilding skills grew. And part of that growth was realizing that the map I'd designed didn't work well for the story I wanted to tell. I wanted something better, and I changed designs.
I gave Isaac the outline of this world that became Roshar. (Based on an iteration of a Julia set, though for a while I played around with making the whole continent a cymatic shape.) That didn't happen for Mistborn, where I basically just told him, "Make the world map as you wish, with these guidelines." Mistborn, I knew, was going to happen basically in a couple of cities.
The Way of Kings was going to be huge, and I wanted scope for the project. That meant a big, epic map. I'm very pleased with Isaac's work here. Do note that this is a southern hemisphere continent, with the equator up north.
So if someone is storing weight-- Feruchemy-- Can you store enough that you can actually float like a balloon?
Uh, your clothing and stuff will still have weight.
If you were, like, completely naked and just *unintelligible* your hand up a wall, you will?
Yes. You will-- You could float, yeah. That's-- I mean, you could get your weight so low that it's basically like being in microgravity, which is...q
Like 99%? Like a vacuum balloon?
So in Scadrial we know that Allomancy is end-positive, and Hemalurgy end-negative, and Feruchemy is neutral, right? Is there such a concept on Sel, with the magics?
All of the magics on Sel, every one of them, is end-positive.
Okay. And what fuel-- well, it's not a fuel. What focuses it? It's-- no, not that too.
They all draw power from the Dor. None of it's coming from the people. That's what this refers to, right?
Are the Ire old enough to have gone through the Reod?
The Ire are very, very, very, very old.
Can you tell me which Hemalurgic spike transfers temporal Allomancy?
No, I cannot. Well, I could, but I'm not going to.
The endpapers were one of the things that we weren't certain whether we'd get into the final book or not. Tor was iffy on paying for them, as they add a large expense to the novels. In the end, Tor stepped up because they believed in the project, for which I am very grateful.
These are one of the last things we finished, and it took several tries to get them right. I knew I wanted them to be in-world pieces of art–things that are supposed to have been created by artists living within the world of Roshar. The front endpapers are murals crafted from stone and gems fitted together, and the back endpapers are stained glass. But the tones and the exact look of the images took some time to get right. (For a while, the symbols of the various magics on the first one had gemstones overlaying them. That turned out to look bad on the page. Perhaps when Peter is putting this up, he can grab those old drafts and post them beneath here.)
The first one of these is the one I'll talk about the most, the design that outlines the magic for Roshar. (Well, some of the magic.) This design is one of the very first things I developed for the art of this book, way back in 2001. The "Double Eye," as the people in world would call it, is a connection of ten elements.
I avoid elemental magic systems. I feel they're overdone. However, one of the concepts of this world was to have a theology that believed in ten fundamental elements instead of the ordinary four or five. A focus would be on them, and on the ten fundamental forces—the interplay between the two being a major factor in the magic, the philosophy, and the cosmology of the world.
Well, that's what these twenty symbols represent, with each of the larger symbols being a Radiant element. The smaller symbols are the forces. You can draw a circle around one element and the two forces that connect to it, and you have one of the orders of Knights Radiant.
For example, top right is the symbol for air—with the symbols for pressure and gravitation connected to it. The Windrunners.
Indeed, there was a lot of swapping around at the last minute to get everything working right with the magic. This is actually why the Way of Kings audiobook gets the Ars Arcanum chart wrong—it was using a version that was messed up between rounds of changes.