Wouldn't you like to know what that is? Maybe you will, eventually. Not in this book though. [Editor's note: If you see it spelled “Adonasium” anywhere, that is an unfortunate typographical error.]
Wouldn't you like to know what that is? Maybe you will, eventually. Not in this book though. [Editor's note: If you see it spelled “Adonasium” anywhere, that is an unfortunate typographical error.]
Rumors of a New Survivor
Oh, and uh . . . I should talk about the chapter, eh? Well, I needed Sazed and Breeze to start hearing the rumors about Spook, but I didn't want them to figure out that those rumors were actually about Spook quite yet. I liked the connection between Spook and the Survivor, so I extrapolated how the religion would deal with new leaders and new mystical forces. And the Survivor of the Flames was born. Ta-da!
All right, so maybe I lied about there only being three magic systems in this book. It comes down to how you term the powers of Preservation and Ruin, who kind of blanket the entire system. There are a lot of things going on here, and—well, the truth is I don't want to mention all of them, for fear of spoiling future books. However, I'll give you a few rules to apply.
First, to these forces, energy and mass are the same thing. So, their power can take physical shape—as Preservation's did in the bead of metal Elend ate. Second, there is a bit of Preservation inside of all the people—and it's this that allows the people to perform Allomancy. It needs to be awakened and stirred to be of use, but when it is, a proper metal can draw forth more of Preservation's power. It's like the metal attunes the bit within the person, allowing it to act as a catalyst to grab more power.
Allomancy is not fueled by metal; it is fueled by Preservation. The metal is the means by which a person can access that fuel, however. If there were another way to access it, then the metal wouldn't be needed.
Preservation's touch on people differs. Some have more, some have less. This doesn't make them better or worse people—indeed, some most touched by Preservation have been among the worst people in the world. As Ruin later points out, there is a difference between being evil and being destructive.
Regardless, if a person can get more Preservation into them, they become better Allomancers. Hence Elend becoming a Mistborn. Like all people, he had the potential within him—it was just too small of a potential to be awakened through normal means. That little jolt of Preservation's body, however, expanded and awakened his Allomancy.
As a tidbit, that was a side effect of what that bead of metal did. It wasn't the main purpose of the bead, and if another Allomancer were to burn it, it would do something else.
Human is a very special koloss. He's quite a bit older than most, his creation running all the way back to before the Lord Ruler's death. He was originally the leader of a rebellion out in the southeast—the same area where Clubs spent his youth fighting. Human, then known as Vershad, was one of the more successful leaders of the wasted men—those who live out in the desert outside the borders of the Final Empire, but come in to raid and steal supplies from outlying villages.
Charismatic and intelligent, he managed to keep his band alive even once the Lord Ruler turned his attention on them. Rather than ravaging villages, Vershad would convert them—quietly, carefully—to his side and get them to give him supplies. In turn, he would "raid" them and destroy the lords' mansions, causing chaos and letting the people get a sideways revenge against their masters. In the chaos, it would be assumed that the raiders got away with the skaa food, and it would be replenished.
The Lord Ruler tired of such games and eventually sent his koloss against Vershad and his men. As clever as they were, they weren't able to stand against a well-laid betrayal and ambush set by an Inquisitor—one who controlled a troop of koloss. The raiders were slaughtered, and Vershad himself was turned into a koloss for his crimes.
He retained enough of his determination and his intelligence, however, to make a remarkably clever koloss. (There is some variety to koloss, based on who they were before the transformation.)
Chapter Thirty-Seven - Part Two
Human Tries to Make a New Koloss
Yes, koloss are people. I assume that many of you guessed this. Then, again, many of you probably didn't. The clues are there, if you care to look—including the fact that small spikes were found in the koloss bodies after the siege of Luthadel. (It's mentioned at the end of book two.)
Unfortunately, the heroes just don't know enough about Hemalurgy to make the connection until this dramatic reveal by Human. There are only three magic systems in this book—all related, all dealing with metal. It's mentioned in book two that koloss, Inquisitors, and—yes, even kandra—are related in some way. All were created by the Lord Ruler during his Ascension.
And all were created from existing material, one might say. There's a little more depth to the kandra, since they're a race that (kind of) breeds true. You'll see as the book progresses. However, all were created through Hemalurgy, and the spikes are very, very important.
The Elusive Allomancer
It didn't occur to me until doing this annotation that Vin's ability to pierce copperclouds has been a kind of minitheme for all three books. She discovered the power early in book one, and by using it was able to save Elend's from getting killed by Shan and her assassins. In book two, it let Vin try to track down the spy, while also letting her hear the pulsings of the Well of Ascension before they were powerful enough for other Allomancers to recognize.
Now, in book three, it lets her discover this hidden Allomancer and begin chasing him down. Where she got her ability to pierce the copperclouds is a major factor in what is happening in this novel and how the plot will play out in the end.
If you're wondering, then yes—this is Ruin appearing to Vin and acting as a Mistborn to distract her. Right here, he's worried about the siege. He wants Vin and Elend to just attack the city and move on with it. He's frustrated that his pawns aren't doing what he intended them to do—at least not as quickly as he wanted. So he helps Yomen here by distracting Vin, hoping that by having them get attacked and losing some of their koloss they'll get angry at Yomen and strike back in retribution.
Half the Koloss Die
I had to have Elend lose some of his koloss, as just in the last chapter he was thinking that he'd be able to take the city for certain. It would mean losing a lot of lives—mostly on the other side—but he figured he could take it. That left only his morals keeping him from invading.
This way, we've got a double problem. Yes, he worries about the morality of invading—but he now also has to worry about the cost to his own army. It's much more of a risk, which means more conflict and more tension. Hopefully.
Chapter Thirty-Seven - Part One
The Camp Gets Attacked
There's an old adage in writing. If things feel slow, have the protagonists get attacked. (I wonder what literary fiction would be like if they tried this out. . . .) [Editor's note: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies?]
Anyway, I'd planned for this scene to happen a little later in the book, but I felt after Elend's last scene—mostly discussion and wrestling with inner demons—that we needed something quick and action-oriented to speed things up. So I moved the battle up to here and had the camp get attacked.
In a way, therefore, Vin's thoughts at the beginning of the chapter were my thoughts. Finally, a fight! A few of my writing group members echoed this feeling when they got to this chapter, which let me know I'd made the right choice. (Maybe it should have been even sooner.)
If the number sixteen seems obvious to you, please don't blame the characters for not figuring it out. Remember, for a thousand years they've had it reinforced over and over again to them that there are only ten Allomantic metals. Sure, you've got the handy illustration in the back of the book showing you all sixteen in a circle, but the characters don't have the benefit of being able to read the novel.
The Number Sixteen
Demoux's problems here are intended to give me another means of reminding the reader of the statistical anomaly found in the numbers of people who fall sick to the mist. As I wrote the draft, I'm glad I was forced to keep Demoux alive, as doing so gave me a character who was intimately connected with the problems of the mists and the things they were inflicting on people.
I realize that my books contain an awful lot of scenes where people stand around talking to each other. I try to keep them moving as much as possible, changing scenery, making the dialogue dramatic, allowing the characters to make conclusions and decisions. But, at the core, my stories consist of a lot of people discussing and weighing options in their heads.
I worry that sometimes I need to make things a little faster paced. I wanted to avoid too much of Elend brooding. In fact, one of the earliest rewrites of the book I did (one I did before I finished the novel, which is rare—I usually don't rewrite until I finish the rough draft) was done specifically to make Elend a more active character. In that same rewrite, I tried very hard to work out his character arc. (It just hadn't been working in the first draft.)
This was what I came up with. The emperor who knows he will end up having to make a very difficult decision, and fearing that he'll do what's right for his people—even if it seems morally wrong at the time. I didn't want to have many chapters of him brooding, but that sort of decision can't be off-the-cuff. For his character to work, I needed him to wrestle with the question—even go back and forth on it, as we as people often do.
The Voice Is Real
One of the most important events in this chapter was when Kelsier's voice told Spook "You're not in danger." This presents strong evidence that Spook isn't simply hallucinating. The voice knew who was coming before Spook did, and has information Spook does not.
The discovery of the metal vials in the burning house should have given enough proof of that, I thought. However, some alpha readers still had trouble. They wondered if Spook was simply making up all the things he was hearing.
One of the problems with Spook's sequences is that I had to break the chapters timewise longer than I'd wanted to. Originally, these latest three or four Spook chapters happened in the course of a week's time. However, when I added them into the rest of the book, I realized I had to space them out a lot farther because of the things happening in Vin and Elend's timeline.
So it's a little bit awkward. Three chapters ago, Spook heard men mention the rumors Durn was spreading about him. Then we had two chapters dealing with Sazed and Breeze's arrival. Only now can Spook finally track down Durn and demand to know about the rumors he was spreading.
It would have made much more sense to have had Spook find a way to do this earlier, but I just couldn't work it in until now. The “count the skulls” thing is coming up too; I haven't forgotten it. Unfortunately, it suffered from this same issue.
How Hemalurgy Works
The epigraphs to this chapter and the ones around it talk about Hemalurgy. I'm feeling that by now, you've figured out what it does. You use a spike on an Allomancer or a Feruchemist, killing them and charging that spike with power. Then you drive that spike into someone else, and they gain that same power. (Though they get a little bit less than the person who died. In some cases, if the spike sits outside of a body for a long time, it can lose a lot of its potency.)
Though this mechanism doesn't add any new powers to the world, I really like the way it works. With Allomancy and Feruchemy, we already have a lot of different magic powers to keep track of. I wanted something from Hemalurgy that wouldn't simply add to the list of abilities, but would instead fit with the feel and the nature of the magic. Something to balance Allomancy, in which a lot of power can be obtained without much direct cost to the Allomancer.
Hence, Hemalurgy. In a way, it has the most potency of all the powers, for with it you can make anyone an Allomancer or a Feruchemist. You can steal single powers from the other two arts, then mix them in a person as you wish. It adds a different element to the world—a way to obtain more power, a way for a common man to become like Vin or Kelsier, but at a terrible price. It works perfectly with who I wanted Ruin to be and what I wanted the conflict of these books to become. What is the cost of power?
Cause and effect, action and reaction.
Marsh's Target is Drunk
Though it's apparently not completely clear in the text, the nobleman Marsh kills didn't know an Inquisitor was coming for him. He wasn't drunk because of his despair over his impending death; he was drunk because of his despair over the state of the city, his fortune, and the world in general. It was a coincidence that he was unconscious when Marsh arrived, which is why Marsh was so annoyed at missing out on the anticipatory fear that killing the man would evoke.
The triangles Marsh uses to kill people were requested by my writing group. For those up on your obscure Mistborn trivia, in book one we get some glimpses (really our only glimpses) of the ceremonial aspect of the Lord Ruler's religion. In that religion, the common people—even the nobility—were not asked for devotion or faith. They were required to obey and fill their roles in the Lord Ruler's empire, but they never had to worship.
The priests, however, were required to do more. They had to perform daily prayers and ceremonies to the Lord Ruler, worshiping him and maintaining a religious air that the rest of the world never saw or knew about. Involved in these rituals, on occasion, was the process of slicing one's body with small triangular razors. When Vin and Kelsier infiltrated Kredik Shaw in book one, one of the Inquisitors shot a handful of the razors at Vin.
My writing group wanted a return appearance of these things, though I don't know why. Still, I stuck them in, as they were a nice reference back to book one.
Marsh Kills a Smoker
This chapter was a late addition to the book. My agent, during his second read through the novel, noticed that Marsh basically disappeared through the middle of the novel—much as he had in book two. In addition, the reader got very little sense of what was happening in the Central Dominance while all of the characters were out taking care of other cities. In my books, the cities themselves tend to be characters, and Joshua was disappointed to not have at least a few token mentions of Luthadel in the middle of book three.
I agreed with him, and that's where this Marsh chapter—along with the next one—came from. An attempt to have him doing something, rather than just sitting around being controlled by Ruin, while at the same time showing some of what is going on in places where there aren't any main characters to narrate for us.
The Blessings are still a little confusing, I fear. Originally I designed a Blessing as a single bit of metal in each kandra's shoulder. Eventually, however, I realized that I needed to change this for magic system cohesion reasons. I changed it to be two bits of metal, one in each shoulder. So, each kandra has one Blessing, but that Blessing consists of two bits of metal.
Each kandra only gets one Blessing from among the different types. There will be more on this in the book later, of course.
I worry that TenSoon's plotline isn't connected enough to the others. Truth be told, I worry that all three plots are too separated. They do interweave at the end, but I'm not sure if it's enough to justify having all three take place in such different locations. I'll be curious to see what the reviews say.
TenSoon's escape shocked the other kandra. They probably should have taken more precautions, but they thought they'd done all they needed to. The two soldiers with the Blessing of Presence should have been enough to keep him from running, and the blocked doorway out was—in the minds of the Seconds—a major obstacle. Mix that with the fact that TenSoon had shown no resistance, and had come to his fate willingly, and you have a group of Seconds who had a false sense of security.
Vin's Identity Acceptance
This is a very important chapter for Vin, as it finally ties up a conflict that had been tormenting her since book one. All through the first and second novels, she struggled to find a balance between her different identities. Was she a noblewoman, the wife of an emperor? Or was she a thief, trained on the streets? It might seem at first glance like this would be a simple balance to work out, but as I dealt with it in her personality through the books, it seemed a very weighty process to me.
She's come far enough that she can finally recognize why it is that she turned away from noble culture and activities. And she can also see why doing so was wrong.
Vin is half noblewoman. Her father, if you recall, was an obligator—a member of a very important noble line. (House Tekiel, if you're wondering, though upon joining the obligators he forfeited his surname.) And, while I don't think parties and ball-going are genetic attributes, she does have a heritage. Elend fell in love with her while she was attending those balls and being Valette. It's good that she finally realized that she wasn't being false; she was just showing another aspect of herself when she attended those parties.
Chapter Thirty-Two - Part Two
Elend's Verbal Sparring with Yomen
Something to notice about the conversation between Elend and Yomen is that Yomen's arguments are quite good. Better than Elend gives them credit for being, I think—though I might revise as I go through the copyedit to have Elend notice this more.
Either way, I hope one can see why Yomen would resist making a treaty with Elend. This is a sticky situation, and in this conversation I think Elend comes off poorly. Partially because his old ball-going self is resurfacing, but partially because his role has been reversed. In book two, he was under siege and was trying frantically to keep his city from being conquered. Now he's forced to sit on the other side of the table and be the one who has come to conquer.
Elend Talks to Telden
I doubt many people remember Telden, but he was a minor character from book one. We saw him in five or six scenes, interacting with Elend. He was the dandy of the group, and together with Elend and Jastes, formed a trio of friends who were in line to rule powerful houses eventually. (Though, Telden was fairly distant in the succession of his house, I believe.)
Anyway, his reappearance here is another hark back to the first book. We'll see a bit more of him, just like we did of Jastes in book two.
Chapter Thirty-Two - Part One
As I mentioned a couple annotations ago, this chapter is one of my favorites. That, however, doesn't mean it doesn't have flaws. It has a lot of them, the most important one being the fact that it's just a tad out of place. It's almost a chapter from book one pulled and stuck into book three, where it has no business being and is likely to get clubbed on the head and dragged into a dark alleyway.
Book one was far more lighthearted than this final book is, and while I love having this chapter in the book for the nostalgia it evokes and for the opportunity it gives for banter, I will acknowledge that some people may find it out of place.
There is a strong rationale for it being like it is. Elend hit on this while dancing with Vin. The familiar setting and situations brought out the person he used to be when he attended the balls. I think we all do this. When I came back home after my first year of college, I was shocked at how quickly I fell back into being the person I was before that year, which had forced me to stretch and grow a great deal. I was home, and the high-school me resurfaced.
Well, this chapter has the high-school Elend. He goes too far and makes too many wisecracks. He should have known better. In fact, he did know better, and he almost immediately regretted treating Yomen as he did. One other thing to remember, however, is that this is Elend's first real parlay with an enemy king. His previous two conquests were made by Vin and were negotiated via the use of a lot of Allomancy and a rather large koloss sword.
The Inscription on the Cache's Steel Plate
The Lord Ruler's words here are probably the most altruistic things he wrote in his entire life. Elend worries sometimes that he's becoming like the Lord Ruler, and the truth is that—in part—he is. The difference is that the Lord Ruler started out as a spiteful, petty man and learned through the power he held to be more responsible with it. Elend was a good-hearted, idealistic man—and leadership tempered him into someone a little more realistic.
I guess I'm saying that power doesn't always have to corrupt. In many ways, I think it can change a man for the better.
Sazed Thinks about Kelsier's One Flaw
Kelsier's hatred of the nobility—and the terrible brutality he manifested in killing them—was indeed his greatest flaw. Some would disagree with me. I've read a lot of fantasy, particularly lately, where Kelsier's style of brutality is the norm for characters. Anyone who isn't like that is chewed up and spit out.
Sazed's Speech Patterns
Sazed thinks here, I am, unfortunately, in charge. Look back at the very first epigraph of the book. Notice a similarity? All of the epigraphs in this novel use Sazed's distinct language style. They sound so much like how he talks that I thought, at first, that it would be blatantly obvious from the first few chapters. Fortunately for me, most people don't pay that much conscious attention to how characters speak.
The Crew Moves into the Cavern
Some of my alpha readers were far more worried about Sazed's team getting trapped in the cavern than I was—and of course one of the most vocal was Skar, my military friend. They figured that it would be so easy to box Sazed and company into that chamber that it was a tactical mistake for them to stay down there.
I, however, figure that the dangers of possible assassins from the Citizen and of the building being rushed by soldiers were far more serious threats. If I were Sazed and Breeze, I'd rather be trapped in the well-stocked cache than in danger up above. But to each his own, I guess.
When Hoid is talking to Dalinar he seems to expect that Dalinar may have heard of Adonalsium.
Why is that? Why would he think that Dalinar would have knowledge about that?
He thought that Dalinar was part of some of the secret societies on Roshar, and he had thought his way into thinking Dalinar was part of them and that was how Dalinar was knowing certain things he was knowing. Which he really wasn't, he was getting from the storms and things like this, but he thought that Gavilar had confided things in Dalinar and that Dalinar would know more about this. And so he was kind of testing to see, and he was wrong.
In Words of Radiance and The Way of Kings, was there something important about the stone and the herald <in> the *inaudible* <scene> that has to do kind of with the stone, and maybe Tien giving him rocks? Am I reading too much into that?
Some of that is reading too much into it and some of it is real. I'm not going to tell you what is what. But the st-. . . there is definitely something about that.
We all appreciate that you write real heroes who always try to do what's right, instead of the anti-hero.
There is a lot of anti-hero out there right now. And I will let that to other writers. I am more interested in people who are basically good people who are sometimes put in very difficult situations. That is more fascinating to me than someone who has no morals or has very little of them.
So Wit, is he in any other books besides The Way of Kings?
Yes. He has a nice big feature in Warbreaker. He appears in all the others just in little pieces here and there. In Warbreaker there is a storyteller that she meets with the dust and things like that and his name his Hoid.
What was the other one you said?
He's in all of them, but in Elantris he's a guy with a hidden face that Sarene hires to carry supplies into Elantris. In Mistborn he's a guy that Kelsier meets with that pretends to be blind, but then Kelsier notices he is not really blind. He's an informant that Kelsier gets information from.
If I were to start reading your books, which you would recommend I start with?
Normally, I recommend that people either start with a book called Mistborn or a book called Warbreaker. Warbreaker is a standalone. It has a little more romance to it and it's a little lighter. Mistborn is a little more action oriented and a little more plot focused. So it just depends what you're interested in.
Could Nightblood receive a boon and a curse from the Nightwatcher?
... She could try. I have no idea how that would turn out. I think it would take them and nothing would happen, would be my guess.
With Mat’s foxhead medallion, would Allomancy work on him? Or would that stop it?
I would say that it would…urgh, mixing magics. I would say it wouldn’t stop Allomancy from working on metals he’s carrying but it would prevent emotional Allomancy from affecting him.
How much of Newcago would a Steelpusher have to eat to move the city?
(Laughing) A lot.
I’m very curious about pewter. How much Feruchemical pewter, steel, and gold would you have to take in in order to be equal to burning pewter and flaring.
Oh…um, okay. So you wanna...ok, let’s back this up. So you wanna know feruchemically what would it take to match burning?
Okay. So burning pewter, I kind of imagine...roughly doubling. Roughly.
Double your strength?
Yeah. But without the muscle mass change, it’s a magical boost. So because of that it has some pretty dramatic effects, like when Vin jumps and things like that.
So it’s only a double, so would flaring it bring it any higher?
Yeah. Flaring would go higher.
Would it be like triple?
Maybe like triple.
Maybe like tripling...that’s fascinating. So I always thought normal burning would triple it and flaring would quadruple.
Yeah I always felt kind of double. You won’t see people burning pewter and lifting a car.
You see people burning pewter and delivering a really solid punch.
Gotcha, thank you. That is fascinating…and would it be about doubling speed and healing ability?
I haven’t worked out the numbers on that exactly. I have an instinct that says thatburning pewter, healing goes a bit faster but I have to look in the books and see what we’ve done in the past and then kind of canonize it.
If someone burned atium in the modern era, after Sazed changed things around, would it do the same thing that it did in the previous era?
Yes it would.
It would? Interesting.
If you could find some.
If you could find some…
If it didn’t then Marsh would be dead.
If it changed its powers.
Who invited Rayse to the Adonalsium-Shattering party?
Hehe, you will have to see. That is definitely a RAFO.
And Hoid was a visitor at it [the Shattering] but he wasn’t partaking in on it.
That is what the implication is. For sure.
How do you strike a balance between making sure you write something descriptive enough to get the scene across that you want but not overdoing it with too much...
Usually the thing to do, is to try to be really concrete. Don’t just say “a dog” say “a wet dog, limping and whining” and describe one really powerful sentence or two, and leave it at that. Describe a few of the small, powerful details and let the readers fill in the rest is a good rule of thumb. If you like things more descriptive you can go up from there. But that’s kind of where to start.
Do you know who Phineas Gage is?
Okay, so he was a miner and had an iron rod shoot through his head...
Oh yeah, yeah, yeah…
...and it changed his personality and stuff.
Yeah, I have read about that.
So if like consciousness and personality can exist independently of a body, if something like that happened to somebody in the cosmere would it change their personality?
It would change their personality. Unless it were a hemalurgic spike but then that does usually twist you as well. Yes it still would. In the Cosmere most of these things will work the same way, because the body’s interpreting what’s going on.
Are the Bands of Mourning...would they be like similarly invested as Nightblood?
Not quite to the extent of Nightblood. In fact not remotely close to the extent of Nightblood.
In Perfect State, will we get more from that universe?
I’d like to, but I’ve got so many things going. So we’ll see. I know what I would do, but it would have to be like... I’d have to find space for it.
Would the two antagonists get together?
You've said that Shadesmar is the cognitive realm connecting all the worlds in the cosmere, and that Hoid is very good at using Shadesmar. Should we take this to mean Shadesmar is how he travels between the worlds? Do the other worlds have different ways of accessing Shadesmar than the way(s) the people of Roshar use?
Can all spren imprint on someone—like Syl has with Kaladin—or is this ability special to certain types of spren? (I just got a mental picture of a flamespren taking notice of the pyromaniac noble girl from the castle market exercise in your JordanCon talk. Not sure that would end well.)
It is special to certain types of spren. There you go, a non-RAFO.
The spren are a really unique part of Roshar. Do you have rules for deciding what "gets" spren (wind, flames, glory, creation, life, death) and what doesn't? Have you introduced most of the spren types, or will we see a lot of new ones as the series goes on?
You will find out much more about the spren as the series goes on. There are a lot of things that get spren where the spren are not noticeable, or they only occur in very rare circumstances or in certain regions, as Axies explains. So the phrase "There's a spren for that" that I've seen popping around on the internet is actually fairly accurate. There's a spren for quite a lot of things. I don't want to delve too deeply into this until I've written more in the series and you begin to understand exactly what the spren are.
You've mentioned that each of the smaller glyphs on the inside cover of the The Way of Kings represents a type of magic. Can you tell us how many of these types we've seen so far?
Remember that to get an order of the Knights Radiant you take two of the small glyphs and one of the large glyphs. The large glyph represents a concept or an ideal mixed with an essence, what they call the elements of this world, with two magics attached to it. You have seen the Windrunners, which is the first, top-right glyph, mixed with the two Surges—the forces in this world—attached to it. So you've seen pressure and gravitation as mixed together to form a Windrunner. You have seen one of the other Surges, which is Soulcasting—Transformation—though which other Surges that mixes with to form orders of the Knights Radiant I am not specifically going to say at this time. What else have you seen? Those are the only ones that are overt. But you have seen the effects of others.
The art featured in The Way of Kings is very striking and has been well-received by readers. Do you have any plans to include more art in your future books—other books as well as The Stormlight Archive? Or maybe as bonus content on your website?
There will be more art in future Stormlight Archive books. I'm very pleased with how it turned out, and I think adding a visual aspect to novels helps create a more complete and immersive experience. You'll notice that art has been important to one extent or another in all of my books. Elantris had its map and the Aons; Mistbornhad its maps and the Steel Alphabet. The Rithmatist, when it comes out in 2012, will have extensive magic system diagrams with every chapter.
Including a map in a fantasy book has become a bit of a cliché ever since Tolkien did it. But if you go back and look at what Tolkien actually did, the map that was in the book was an in-world artifact—it was something the characters carried around with them and used. So I've approached the art in my books in a similar manner. Each piece represents something that is made and used by the people in the world of the books. I think that helps give a richer feel to the world I'm creating.
One thing you probably won't see me doing in future novels is including character art. I want to leave exactly how characters look up to the imagination of the reader. But I'm a big fan of the sequential art storytelling form as well, so you'll likely see me do some completely graphic novels in the future.
In your words, "Is it okay, in an epic fantasy, to hang a gun on the mantle, then not fire it until book ten of the series written fifteen years later. Will people wait that long? Will it even be meaningful? My general instincts as a writer so far have been to make sure those guns are there, but to obscure them, or at least downplay them." Your novels are followed very closely by groups like TWG, and now 17th Shard and Stormblessed, and you're familiar with the obsessiveness of Wheel of Time fans. There are more and more people out there who spend time between book releases poking at the metaphorical walls of your work, on a hunt for those guns you've obscured. Does this kind of scrutiny change anything for you?
Yes. I don't generally change the guns that I'm hanging, but I have begun to hang more subtle guns for those who like to dig. I like to have a variety of secrets in my books, with a variety of difficulty levels in figuring them out. If you read one of the books I've written, like The Way of Kings, I would hope that it will meet everyone's needs when it comes to discovering things. For those who really want to dig, there will be some really deep secrets that you can unearth, talk about, and theorize about and eventually be proven right. There will be things that the casual reader will figure out three pages before the answer is revealed, that you will have figured out ten chapters ahead of time. I like that variety because of the old adage—it's hard to fool everybody all the time, but hopefully I can have enough different secrets that they will each fool a few people.