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    Brandon Sanderson

    In the original draft, I wasn't sure what kind of person I was going to make Allmother. I hadn't planned for her and Lightsong to have any kind of history together; these are just connections I worked into it as I wrote. (Along with his relationship with Calmseer.) He needed something to intertwine him better with the court, and so as I was drafting, these things kind of just fit together. Sometimes readers ask me what I plan and what I don't. Well, the honest truth is that it's hard to look at a book and give clear guidelines on what was planned and what was developed during the process of writing. In this case, Allmother as a character was done completely on the fly.

    Of course, once she was developed, I went back in the next draft and built in some references to her in the Lightsong sections so that I could hint at previous interaction.

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    #6953 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    My editor tried to take out the shot of the final man, slumping back but remaining kneeling, staring up into the sky with Nightblood rammed through his chest and propping him up from behind. But I think it's one of the more powerful ones in the book, so I fought for it. (He didn't think it was realistic that the body would just remain there kneeling.)

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    #6954 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Nightblood

    Nightblood's name, by the way, is supposed to sound kind of like the names of the Returned. I played with various different ways for his powers to manifest. I liked the idea of him driving those who hold him to kill anyone nearby. It seemed to work with the concepts that have come before—a kind of unholy, sentient mix of Stormbringer and the One Ring.

    The strangest thing about him is the idea that his form isn't that important. The sheath is like a binding for him, keeping his power contained. So drawing him out isn't like drawing a regular weapon, but rather an unleashing of a creature who has been kept chained.

    Once that creature is unleashed, he becomes a weapon—even if he's unleashed only a little bit. The sheath itself turns into a weapon, twisting those around it. You don't need to stab someone with Nightblood to kill them; smashing them on the back with the sheath works just as well. It will crunch bones, but beyond that, merely touching them with the sheath when the smoke is leaking can be deadly.

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    #6955 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Forty-One

    Vivenna, Sick and Disoriented, Gets Turned Away by the Restaurant Keeper

    One of the ways I decided to make Vivenna's sections here work better was by enhancing the fuzziness of her mind. By giving her this sense of numbness, I hope to indicate that something is not right with her.

    It's common for someone who suddenly becomes a Drab to get sick almost immediately. For a time, her immune system was magically enhanced and warded, in a way, to keep her from becoming ill. With that removed suddenly, sickness can strike. She hasn't built up immunities to the sicknesses going around, and by becoming a Drab, her immune system suddenly works far worse than that of other people.

    These things combined made her come down with something pretty nasty the very day she put away her Breath. This would have killed her, eventually, if she hadn't done something about it. She would have grown so dizzy and confused that she wouldn't have even been able to walk.

    By sending men to find her, Denth saved her life.

    Anyway, I feel that these scenes work much better now. We can look at Vivenna's time on the streets in the same surreal sense that she does. They happened in the past, in a strange dream state. In that way, they can seem much longer than just two chapters and a couple of weeks.

    Waygate Foundation Write-a-thon ()
    #6978 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    For the same reason that I didn't want to do a transgendered on air streaming when I haven't done the research. I don't want to write a gay character without having the resources to send the book to my gay friends to read them and say "Hey am I accidentally being offensive" and things like that. It's just something that I want to be very extra careful on so I'm not going to do it on screen. There is just too many potential pit falls. I know that we want to try  to write the 'other', and that's important, but I worry that with all of this brainstorming this could go silly, so I just want to be careful.

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    #6980 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    The God King's Priests

    Treledees explains, finally, why it is that the God King's tongue was removed. I hope this makes sense. Or, more accurately, I hope that Treledees's explanation and rationalizations make sense. I don't want the priesthood to come off as too evil in these books. In fact, because we're seeing through the eyes of so many Idrians, I work very hard to show the Idrians (and the reader) their prejudices.

    This isn't because I wanted to write a book about prejudice. It's because I wanted to tell a good story, and I believe that a good story works to show all sides of a conflict. Since we don't have any viewpoints from the priests, I felt I needed several reminders (like the confrontation between Vivenna and Jewels) to explain the Hallandren viewpoint.

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    #6981 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    I wanted a good, strong scene where we could see that Siri made the decision to keep her hair in check. Again, I'm moving her and Vivenna into different roles, but I want it to be natural, an evolution of their characters brought on by who they are and how their surroundings affect them.

    In this case, living in the Court of Gods, there is a very good reason to learn to control your hair. If many are like Treledees, who is of the Third Heightening, then even the most minute changes in your hair color will tip them off.

    This is one of the interactions of the magic system that was nice to connect, an interaction I didn't expect or anticipate. With a lot of Breath, you can perceive very slight changes in color. With the Royal Locks, your hair responds to even your slightest emotions. Put the two together, and you get this scene. It was, in a way, inevitable from the beginning of the book.

    Siri has come a long way. She's still stumbling about and making a lot of mistakes. But she's also winning some victories. There's nothing hidden to learn about this chapter; she really did just one-up Treledees and get what she wanted.

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    #6983 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Vivenna Finds an Alley to Sleep In

    One of the big stories I'm worried about channeling here is Les Misérables. It's one of my favorite stories of all time, so sometimes it's difficult not to find myself drawing upon Hugo's story and characters. That constant fight to keep myself from leaning too much on what has come before went into overdrive in these chapters.

    In the end, however, I think that Vivenna's scenes belong here and accent the story. So yes, if you noticed them, there are some echoes of Fantine in these sections—Vivenna selling her hair and noticing the prostitutes most prominent among them. These two items, most of all, I considered cutting. But in the end, I decided that if there was anyone I was proud to have influencing my writing, it was Hugo, and I left the references. Partially as an homage, I guess—though that's always the excuse of someone who ends up echoing a great story of the past.

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    #6984 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Thirty-Nine

    Vivenna Begs

    This chapter and the next one were originally a single chapter. In the drafting process, I realized that my original chapter just wouldn't do. I'd been in a hurry to get on with Vivenna's viewpoint, and I had been worried about spending a lot of time on the streets with her, since I didn't want to retread ground I've seen in a lot of other books.

    In this case, I was letting my bias against doing the expected thing make the book worse. Now, my drive to find new twists on fantasy tropes and plots usually serves me well. I think it makes my books stand out. You know that when you pick up a Brandon Sanderson fantasy novel, you're going to get a complex, epic story with an original take on magic and a different spin on the fantasy archetypes.

    However, this same sense can be problematic if I let it drive me too far. It's nearly impossible to write a book that doesn't echo anything someone else has done. It's tough enough to come up with one original idea, let alone make every single idea in a book original. I think that trying to do so would be a path to folly—a path to rarely, if ever, completing anything.

    In this case, we needed to have a longer time with Vivenna on the streets. We needed it to feel like she'd earned the sections of time she spent there. I knew I didn't want to go overboard on it, but I also couldn't skimp. So I sliced the chapter into two and added some material to each one, particularly the second chapter.

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    #6985 Copy

    Questioner

    I've got a list of various Cosmere bits of metal and I was wondering if you would rank them from like one to ten or just easy to difficult on how hard it would be to steelpush on them. So with one being just a regular coin, ten being like when the Lord Ruler was moving bits of glass on the floor, so like metal inside a person's body.

    Brandon Sanderson

    It depends on how strong the Investiture in them is.

    Questioner

    Is that gonna be the answer for all of these?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Probably!

    Questioner

    How about a spike charged with Hemalurgy?

    Brandon Sanderson

    A spike charged with Hemalurgy... that depends on...

    Questioner

    Not in a person.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Depends on how strong, yeah, a spike is moderately, (in the realm of these kinds of things) moderately easy to push on because a spike does not rip off very much Investiture. Only enough to short circuit the soul, and less it over time. I would put that at the bottom, with the top being very hard, to be one of the easier things.

    Questioner

    How about a metalmind that is full?

    Brandon Sanderson

    That is full? That is going to be middle of the realm of the, yeah. Generally easier than, for instance, a Shardblade which is going to be very hard.

    Questioner #2

    A Shardblade is [inaudible] actually metal? [metal]-ish?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Ish. Is Lerasium a metal? Yeah.

    Questioner

    So that'd be the same for Shardplate too?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Shardplate and Blade are very hard. Blade is probably gonna be a little harder.

    Questioner

    A Half-shard?

    Brandon Sanderson

    A Half-shard shield? That's gonna be moderate.

    Questioner

    Nightblood? I imagine that being hard.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Hard, of all the things you've listed, that is going to be the hardest. Far beyond even a Sharblade.

    Questioner

    Far beyond metal inside a person? 

    Brandon Sanderson

    Uh, yes. Depending on how invested the person is.

    Questioner

    If somebody was invested as much as Nightblood?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, for instance the God King, right. At the end with all those Breaths. Pushing something inside of him, getting through all of that? Gonna be real hard. Average person on Scadrial? You've seen how hard that is. A drab? Much easier.

    Questioner

    That was my next one, or no, sorry not a drab. A lifeless?

    Brandon Sanderson

    A Lifeless, yeah. Even... yeah. Lifeless are kind of weird because they've had their soul leave but then they've had a replacement stuck in in the form of Breath which leaves them in a very weird position compared to a drab which has had part of their Investiture ripped away but a majority remains, so, anyways. I'm going to give you one more. Pick your favorite.

    Questioner

    A soulstamped piece of metal?

    Brandon Sanderson

    A soulstamped piece of metal is going to be on the lower, easier side. Not a lot of Investiture going on in a soulstamp.

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    #6986 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    The Tunnels

    The tunnels become a focus for Lightsong, though the truth is that they're not as important to the case as he thinks they are. Yes, there are things to be learned from them. Bluefingers has sequestered a large group of mercenaries down in a secure chamber under there. He's also begun using Pahn Kahl Awakeners (yes, there are some) to Break some of the Lifeless. The tunnels are central to his plot of getting into the God King's palace at the end of the book and securing it.

    But Lightsong doesn't know any of this, and doesn't figure out most of it during the course of the book. (It's left for the reader to infer.) Lightsong's fixation with the tunnels is driven partially by the visions he's been seeing at night, which include the tunnels and his discovery of Blushweaver being captured. He's made a subconscious connection.

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    #6987 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Lightsong Throws Pebbles to Count Priests

    One of the challenges in writing these sections was that Lightsong could never do anything the "normal" way. He could have simply sent his priests to count at the gates, then come back to him with some figures. But it wouldn't have felt right.

    Despite his protests, Lightsong likes to meddle. He likes to pick at things and be involved. He couldn't just send someone to count; he had to go count himself. And he had to do so in a properly flamboyant way.

    This scene with the pebbles is important for far more than the obvious reasons. Yes, we're furthering the mystery plots (though this particular one isn't as important to the overall plot as some others). However, the more important part of this scene is how it shows Lightsong's progression and growth.

    I know what it's like to finally find something to latch onto, something to drive you and give added purpose to your life. For me, it was writing. For Lightsong, it's the investigation of the murder.

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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Thirty-Eight

    Lightsong Awakes from More Bad Dreams

    This is the scene in the book where I originally started to turn Lightsong's dreams a tad darker. As you can see from the final version, I've now been doing that from the beginning. All to keep tension up.

    Anyway, these dreams he saw—a prison, Scoot, Blushweaver—were there in the original draft. As I've said, I'm a planner, and so I had my ending well in mind by this point in the original version of the book. That ending changed in many ways during revision, but it's kind of surprising how much stayed the same. Sometimes, things just work and you do get them right on the first try.

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    #6989 Copy

    Questioner

    What would happen to a Kandra if you bisected down the middle with half of its blessing ending up on either half?

    Brandon Sanderson

    That would, like ripping off any other piece of it, it would be very disturbing for the Kandra but they could reabsorb and come back together. They would not be able to function half and half. That would eventually kill them. Basically, they cant like send pieces and do things. They can be ripped apart and heal, but if you ripped them in half that would be killing them.

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    #6990 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Vivenna Hides Her Breath in a Shawl

    This has been possible from the beginning, and if Denth had truly been on her side, he would have admitted that there's a way she could get rid of her Breaths. What she would need to do is Awaken something with a one-Breath Command. There are some. They don't do much, but you can Awaken a very tiny scrap of cloth tied into the shape of a person with a very simple Command. That takes one Breath.

    Next, you put the rest of your Breath into another object. Then you get that one Breath back and go hunting for a Drab to give it to. Then you take the rest of your Breath back from the object. From there, you can repeat the process if you want to. Vivenna could get rid of the Breaths one by one.

    Of course, Denth didn't want that to happen. He was coveting those Breaths. What he said was intended to sound like an innocent mistake. Many people unfamiliar with Awakening would make that mistake, so if Vivenna learned the truth later, he wouldn't look suspicious.

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    #6991 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Thirty-Seven

    Vivenna Wanders, Then Is Confronted by a Thief Who Takes Her Dress

    The next few Vivenna chapters are short. I wanted to convey that she's on the streets for a time, but didn't want us to have to wallow in her problems. I've seen books do that quite well, and I don't want this novel to focus on it. (If you're interested in one that does it well, Paula Volsky's Illusion has a nice section about what it's like to be a noblewoman who is forced to live on the streets.)

    Instead, these chapters are the transition chapters for Vivenna's character. The representation of her going as low as she can go, so that later she can begin to rebuild. The dress was a problem—it was way too distinctive, and it could sell for enough that she wouldn't have to live on the streets. She could buy something cheap and modest, then put herself up in an inn. So, naturally, it had to get stolen.

    I didn't want to strip her all the way, though. We've been through enough of that with Siri, and I really didn't want to go there in this situation. Vivenna can be brought down to the lows she needs to reach without having to be raped by a random man in an alley. (Personally, I think that rape is overused in a lot of fiction.)

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    #6992 Copy

    Questioner

    So Kandra that just bones. Obviously they need that physically but is there a Cognitive and Spiritual purpose to the bones too?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Uh, no the bones are just there for the muscles to pull against.

    Questioner

    So they don't need it, some spiritual link for the bones to...

    Brandon Sanderson

    No, good question.

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    #6993 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    What else . . . oh, Susebron's taste buds. A couple of people have e-mailed me about this. From my research (which could be wrong), I've come to understand that the old teaching that certain parts of your mouth have taste buds that focus on certain tastes is wrong. The conventional wisdom is that your "sweet" taste buds are on your tongue, and if it is removed, you won't be able to taste sugar. (Which is why people e-mail me.)

    That's apparently an urban legend. There are different kinds of taste buds, but each kind appears in clusters alongside the other kinds. And while most of your taste buds are on the tongue, many are on the roof of the mouth too. So Susebron could taste sweets as well as he tastes anything else.

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    #6994 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Siri and Susebron Eat a Midnight Meal

    This is a scene lifted almost from my own life. While on my honeymoon, Emily and I thought we were being so indulgent by ordering room service at three a.m. It was on a cruise ship, and you can do that kind of thing without having to pay extra for it. It kind of felt like the entire ship's kitchens were there for our whims. And so, a variation on the event popped up in this book.

    That doesn't happen to me very often in books. Usually, it's hard to point toward one event in my life that inspired a scene. But those sorts of things are peppered throughout this book. Another one is the scene where Siri tries to look seductively at Susebron, then bursts into laughter. My wife is absolutely terrible at looking seductive—not because she isn't pretty, but because whenever she tries, she ends up having a fit of laughter at how ridiculous she thinks she looks.

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    #6996 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Susebron's Priests

    Susebron is right to trust his priests. At least, he's somewhat right. They aren't evil men, and they do want what is best for him—as long as that doesn't include going against their traditions and rules. They believe they have the charge to protect Peacegiver's Treasure, and the God King holds that treasure. They do feel bad for what they are required to do to him.

    Their interpretation is extreme, but what would you do, if your god (Peacegiver) commanded you that the Breaths be held and protected, but never used? Cutting out a man's tongue to keep him from using that terrible power is the way they decided to deal with it. Harsh, but effective.

    Either way, they aren't planning to kill him. One of the big reversals I planned for this book from the concept stage was a world where the priests were good and the thieving crew was evil—a complete turnabout from Mistborn. Denth and his team were developed in my mind as an "anti-Kelsier's Crew." The priesthood, then, was to turn out to be maligned by the characters and actually working for their best interests.

    In the end, I went with the evil crew idea, but the priests aren't 100% without their flaws.

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    #6997 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Thirty-Six

    Siri Grows Her Hair for Susebron and Talks about Seduction

    I think these two chapters best show off the tone reversals I was trying for in this book—and explain partially why I was all right with those early chapters being so different from the prologue. Following Vivenna's biggest chapter for shocks, surprises, and failings, we come here—to what is one of the most flirtatious and calm of the Siri chapters.

    You should have been able to notice some changes about Siri, one of the most subtle being her ability to control her hair. The hair is, in a way, an extension of the metaphor. In the beginning chapters, Siri wasn't able to control it at all, and it always changed back right after she tried to make it go to a specific color. It did what it wanted, reflecting her attitudes, and kind of represented her ability (or lack of ability, in her case) to control the world around her.

    Now, she's able to manipulate things around her slightly to her liking. In contrast, Vivenna's life is completely out of control. And her hair will respond.

    Salt Lake City signing ()
    #6998 Copy

    Questioner

    We're hoping at some point that you will do a collaboration with Patrick Rothfuss.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I would love to do one someday. I pitched one at him. I pitched a concept at him. It was a Brandon Sanderson vs Pat Rothfuss where we would both pick, we would brainstorm a story together then put characters on opposing sides where we try to screw up each other's story and them we get to near the climax and we give it to George Martin and we say "read this and tell us how we have to end our story" and then we have to do what George says and he's the judge.  Wouldn't that be awesome?

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    #6999 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Parlin Is Dead

    Parlin was always meant to die here. That's one of the main reasons I left Vivenna with someone from Idris to be in her team, in fact. (The other reason is that I found it unrealistic that she wouldn't have somebody with her.)

    Maybe this is why Parlin never worked as a character, to be honest. I wonder if he was always in my mind as the character who was going to get killed by Tonk Fah, which kept me from giving him enough depth. I'm not sure; I do know that in the book as it stands, he's probably the biggest component I wish I had time to change. I'm not certain what I could put in his place that wouldn't distract too much from the plot—and wouldn't take away from the humor of Denth and the mercenaries—but would still be sympathetic enough that when he dies here, it would be more powerful. But I would have liked to have found something.

    Tonk Fah tortured him to death. He wasn't supposed to, but he got carried away. It was an accident, as Denth claims. (Denth shouldn't have left Tonks alone with the prisoner to continue the torturing.) Denth came back and found Parlin dead, and was annoyed and frustrated. He left Tonks behind, storming out in anger, and eventually found Jewels and Clod, who were talking to slum contacts and trying to find Vivenna. They came back to regroup.

    Meanwhile, Tonks heard Vivenna enter, and knew it wasn't Denth. He put his Breath into his clothing, then ducked back under the stairs, his lantern extinguished, wondering who had come. He wasn't terribly surprised to find Vivenna. That was when Denth and Jewels got back and the rest of the situation went down.

    I added the corpses of Vivenna's father's agents in the last draft, by the way, since I figured I wanted it to be more obvious what had happened to them.

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    #7000 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Vivenna Realizes That the Mercenaries Are Traitors

    And finally, here we are. The biggest gamble in the book. I went into the novel knowing I was going to do this, and I wrote all along with the intention that Denth and his crew were working against Vivenna's interests.

    As I mentioned in a spoiler section earlier, Tonk Fah is a sociopath, and much of the time when he makes his jokes about hurting people, he's serious. (The vanishing pets are a subtle clue to this.) He finds the concept of hurting people funny. We laugh because of Denth, who's running interference and making it seem like they're just exaggerating to get a laugh.

    The death of Lemex is another clue—he was, indeed, immune to disease. (Though not poison, if enough was used.) Anyone with that many Breaths is immune. Another clue is what the mercenaries are doing, riling up the Hallandren to war rather than working to prevent it. Not that Vivenna wanted them to, but through Denth's manipulations, Siri has all but been forgotten in the face of the work against Hallandren. Of course, Vivenna herself was willing to forget Siri. Not by intent, but because she has always been more focused on Hallandren, and Siri was partially just an excuse.

    The fact that Vivenna's father's agents are never seen looking for her, the fact that the mercenaries don't seem to care about money, the way Jewels was frequently gone at the beginning (partially so she could tail Vivenna), and much of what they said and did were supposed to be reinforcement of this moment of betrayal.

    All that said, however, I don't think it's at all obvious what they are really up to. And that's why this is a gamble. This twist isn't an "Ah, I should have seen it!" revelation like the one about the Lord Ruler at the end of Mistborn. Instead, it's a twist that—hopefully—has just enough groundwork underneath it not to seem out of nowhere. I fully expect it to blindside most readers.