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    Shadows of Self Lansing signing ()
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    Questioner

    The thing about women eating sweeter foods, and how sharp the gender divide was and-- I just found that worldbuilding really interesting, so how do you get inspired by that?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So I noticed that a lot of cultures have these really stark gender disparities. And I think in America we don't—like even around the world we still have a lot of them—in America we kind of-- I'm glad we don't because I think it is actual progress to not [have these disparities]. But at the same time that's a really big part of so many different cultures that I wanted to play with that idea.

    And I loved in The Wheel of Time how Robert Jordan had the magic word differently [...] and so I was looking for a long time for something I can do that plays with the idea of gender roles, and that's kind of what rose out of it. It actually came from when I was working on the history and the moment when the men kind of seized control of the Shardblades. You know about this?

    Questioner

    Yeah, I read about it online.

    Brandon Sanderson

    So that moment I'm like "alright, there's a divergence there. How do they strictly define the gender roles to maintain the power of these weapons?" And I think that's-- and I just kind of built from there.

    Questioner

    It's really interesting though that women in a way are actually the creative minds-- they're actually not suppressed, but they're repressed in a different area.

    Brandon Sanderson

    It is, right. It's this weird repression where you can't do what you want, but they're actually in many ways the most powerful ones in society, but they're constrained by it.

    Questioner

    Yeah, they're the ones that are creative because men don't even read because they're not supposed to. I guess that's what's really interesting to me.

    Brandon Sanderson

    It was sooo much fun to figure some of these things out because it plays with expectations a little bit but also plays into them in really interesting ways.

    Shadows of Self Lansing signing ()
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    Blaze1616

    Fabrials and AonDor. In Elantris you mention there’s Tia plates that let people teleport around the city. Could an Elantrian essentially make portable fabrials using a similar method as the Aon Tia plates?

    Brandon Sanderson

    *hesitantly* Yes, that is within the possibility of what it can do. The problem is the further you get from Elantris, the weaker the magic, so they’re going to be really limited in distance. But yes, totally could. And you could probably get them working through most of that region.

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    Questioner

    In Stormlight, how the hell does society work with one object standing for both the currency, the magic system, and light and power--

    Brandon Sanderson

    How does it work in Roshar with one thing spanning-- for the economy, the magic system, and... lighting up everything. They would ask, "How  you could possibly have three different things?" because it makes no sense to them. It totally functions, I think. The big distinction is you can't use Stormlight for lighting if-- Like that's something for rich people. You'll see poor people using candles and whatnot, because hanging out your spheres is not a smart idea in some other places. There are spheres that are a low light level that are worth about a candle or so, so if you put a candle out someone could just swipe that, it's worth the same amount. There's really no difference between putting out a candle and that. If you're going to put out a lantern you can put spheres in it and lock it up.

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    Questioner

    I wanna know about Alloy of Law, if there was an actor who was going to play Wayne, who would you--

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh who would I cast to play Wayne in Alloy of Law? I have no idea. I don't cast characters. I pay a lot of attention to directors but I feel like the best actors are the ones that always surprise you. Like if you were to tell me Matthew McConaughey was doing what he did these last couple of years, if you would have said that ten years ago, I would have laughed at you right, because the best actors can do so many different things. So I don't know, I have no idea who I'd cast. The only actors I've ever really cast in my books, if you guys have read... Legion, about a guy who's schizophrenic but not really, he sees hallucinations but they help him solve crimes; I cast all the hallucinations as actors, so if you pay close attention you can tell who each of these hallucinations are because a lot of them are famous actors. Except for Kalyani who's a friend of mine.

    Firefight San Francisco signing ()
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    Questioner

    I was wondering if you had an inspiration for Cody.

    Brandon Sanderson

    For Cody, yes I did actually. I was at a convention in the South and I had someone, a guy, use y’all for "me", and I'm like, "Y'all for one person?" and he's like "Yeah, that's how you use it" for one person. *laughter* Really? And he just tried to convince me that this is true. So I went to wikipedia and they said there are some delusional people who use it that way. So I'm like, I'm totally building a character around this person who, you know, I couldn't tell the whole time if he was pulling my leg because I was not from the South, or if indeed that was his little regional dialect, that y'all is one person and all y'all was two, which is what he tried to convince me-- it is true? You say it's true?

    Bystander

    It's from Kentucky.

    Brandon Sanderson

    See I have gotten-- I have gotten more emails about from Southerners who say "You've committed the great sin for a non-Southerner by using it that way, and it's an abomination, and it's not true". And I'm like, wow I must have done something right. 'Cause they hate that. I'm getting it from the people from Atlanta, they're like "this is not-- this is not correct". You know, Charleston, where they're all like the hoity-toity Southerners. So anyway, yeah that's where Cody came from. That idea.

    Firefight San Francisco signing ()
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    Questioner

    What are you reading right now?

    Brandon Sanderson

    What am I reading right now? So I most recently finished The Martian by Andy Weir, which is big thumbs up, it is fantastic. By the way, he has a potty mouth so kids, be aware, but fantastic book. After that I read Naomi Novik’s new book, which comes out in June--I get them early! It's called Uprooted and I liked that a lot too. Those are both very solid. Otherwise I am reading-- let's see, I've got a couple. Oh, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, read that, really liked that. So those are my three, I read them all in December.

    Right now I'm reading Raising Steam, Terry Pratchett, one of my favorite writers, and I'm also reading Peter Orullian's second book. He's a fantasy novelist who would really like me to give him a cover quote, so I'm reading his book to see if I can give it a cover quote or not. He's a Tor author that writes epic fantasy.

    Firefight San Francisco signing ()
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    Questioner

    Last month you posted a picture of your Dropbox right and there is that one folder that we read about. Is there anything you can tell us about that yet?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So I posted a picture of my Dropbox and I just happened to have crossed out one of the folders. What can I say about that-- you'll know eventually. There's not a whole lot i can say about it because its mere existence is a spoiler to people who haven't read certain other books. And so that's the reason why I crossed it out.

    Questioner

    We can assume it's cosmere?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I can't say either way. It's mere existence is a spoiler. You will find out eventually, but it is definitely a little side project that I may or may not actually ever finish.

    Calamity release party ()
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    Questioner

    So I heard that, like, in *inaudible* you have people with mental health issues. Like Kaladin had depression. And I was just curious if you're going to do something like with Renarin.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Renarin has anxiety. Amongst other things. He kind of got the grab bag of mental disorders. Poor hand. But yeah. I might dig into anxiety a little bit more. Do you know someone with anxiety?

    Questioner

    *inaudible*

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, if you watch Renarin he's got his little fidget box and things like that.

    Calamity release party ()
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    Questioner

    So Lessie's kandra, but in the original Mistborn series kandra can't bleed. So how was it that *inaudible* <bleed>?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I think they can bleed. In fact I think Vin has a conversation about it, because otherwise you could just prick the fingers of everybody in order to find a kandra who was imitating somebody.

    Questioner

    Because when Ten-- well, it's TenSoon but she thinks it's OreSeur-- gets shot and hurt, it talks about how there's no blood.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh, they can stop the bleeding if they want. 

    Questioner

    Okay.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I mean they have absolute control of their muscles and things. But if you look in Well of Ascension they talk about, "Well, we could just prick everyone's finger and find the kandra," but that doesn't work. They can bleed if they want to. They can cut it off.

    Questioner

    Okay, so when I went through and re-did my reading of the series before Shadows of Self came out I just probably missed that.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I'm-- I'm pretty sure I put that in. If I didn't it's in the annotations, because otherwise there's a really easy way to find a hiding kandra. 

    Calamity release party ()
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    Shadow Guardian

    If Calamity were a Shard in the Cosmere, what intent would he be?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh boy... Oh boy. Have you read this book?

    Shadow Guardian

    I have not read Calamity yet?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I don't want to spoil it. Um... *pause* Yeah, I don't really want to spoil it. But it's kind of-- it's like "Vindictiveness" would probably be a good match. This-- Or "Judgement". Maybe Judgement. Calamity's got this impression that people will destroy themselves if he lets them. Does that make sense?

    Shadow Guardian

    Yeah.

    Brandon Sanderson

    So it's not either one of those, but it's something close to that.

    Shadows of Self Lansing signing ()
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    Questioner

    I wanted to know if Forged metals had Allomantic properties.

    Brandon Sanderson

    If Forged metals had Allomantic properties. So what I’ve kind of been ruling on this is if you Forge a metal from one metal to another you can probably start burning it Allomantically but it--  Once you did it would disrupt the Spiritual nature of the metal and it would change back immediately.

    Shadows of Self Lansing signing ()
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    Questioner

    Where does the concept for the broadsheets come from?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So I get together with my team: which is Ben McSweeney who does a lot of the artwork, Isaac who does all the symbols and maps, my editorial assistant, and myself. And then we brainstorm as many cool things as we can, and then Isaac lays it out, Ben does all the art, and then together we all just write different *inaudible* for the articles so it feels like a newspaper that a lot of different people are writing.

    Questioner

    That's awesome. Thank you very much this is very cool.

    Brandon Sanderson

    That's how we do it.

    Isaac wrote the Allomancer Jak pieces in the next one so you should read that one. It's really fun, it's his debut of fiction.

    Warbreaker Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    The Priests Give an Account of the Murder

    This should set off red flags, since you saw what happened that night. Vasher didn't kill the man who was tied up, nor did he flee out the way he had come. He went into the tunnels.

    Someone else was there that night. I hope that readers can put that together from the discussion; if not, however, the next Lightsong chapter lends some explanations to the occurrence.

    Warbreaker Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

     A lot of alpha readers, upon reaching this chapter, said things like, "I was really waiting for something like this to happen," or "This is just what Lightsong needed." They're referring to him beginning to investigate the death. (A lot of these comments come from the next Lightsong scene too, after we're certain this little plot structure isn't going away.)

    They're noticing something that I noticed too—that Lightsong needed something to drive him, something to keep him proactive. Something that wasn't just a political game. I like this sequence a lot, and it's an example of something that developed during the writing process rather than being planned out ahead of time. I just felt I needed something else, a way to have Lightsong be involved, but which would also give me a chance to start delving into his past.

    Warbreaker Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Blushweaver and Lightsong Visit Mercystar

    Just like the last scene showed off what a lot of the standard gods are like, Mercystar is supposed to hint at what a lot of the goddesses are like. I think that there would be a good number of them who would turn out just like this—given anything they want, told how important they are, and blessed with a beautiful and perfect body no matter what they eat or how they act. Imagine what that must do to a person.

    Warbreaker Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Twenty-Three

    Lightsong Visits Blushweaver While She's Enjoying a Gardener's Art

    One of the things I wanted to do with this book was come up with different kinds of art that the gods could enjoy—things that we wouldn't normally look at as traditional "art" but which in this world have been developed to the point that they're just that.

    I liked the concept of a gardener whose art came from the movement and arrangement of pots of flowers and plants into patterns on the fly, like—as Lightsong says—the leader of a musician leading an orchestra. He directs, gesturing and pointing, and dozens of servants rush about, holding different pots. Then they set them down and retreat, leaving them for a few moments. Then it repeats, different servants rushing in with other pots and laying them in other patterns. A little like synchronized swimming, but with plants.

    Warbreaker Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Tonk Fah Wants to Be the Mean One

    Tonk Fah is a sociopath. He doesn't feel an emotional connection to other people, nor does he feel their pain when he hurts them. He tortures and kills animals when it strikes his fancy. There's a dead parrot in the basement of the safe house, which is why Denth keeps Vivenna from going down there. There aren't any bodies of Idrian soldiers down there currently, though Denth has had a few of them killed already. The fact that he has people watching their house, plus Vivenna's mention of her father's soldiers checking Lemex's house first, are tiny clues. They do indeed go there first, and Denth has his people there watching. That's how he catches the Idrian soldiers.

    By this point in the story, he's killed about three people who have come looking for Vivenna. The death count will eventually reach several dozen.

    Warbreaker Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Denth's Speed

    Yes, Denth is inhumanly fast. He's a Returned, after all, and has all of the physical enhancements that come with that. Even when he's chosen not to manifest most of them, he's still got an edge, just like Vasher does.

    How do they hide that they're Returned? Well, it comes down to mastery of their ability to change their appearance. They can't shape-shift entirely; they can just alter some things about their appearance. They can change their weight, their hair color, and things like that at will. Vasher doesn't do this often, but Denth has been known to use it as a disguise. The problem, after you do this once and someone realizes it, your nature becomes very suspect.

    They have learned to suppress their divine Breath. This allows them to hide, but they must be careful never to give away all of their Breath. Denth has been a Drab before—he's not completely lying—but never for longer than a few days. And his divine Breath is always there, suppressed. So he doesn't know what it's like to be a true Drab, which is why in this chapter he says he doesn't think it changes you that much. He's never felt it.

    Warbreaker Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Vivenna at the Safe House

    Vivenna is right about what happens to a person when they lose their Breath. It is a part of your soul, and without one, you are more prone to depression, you get sick much more easily, and you're generally more irritable.

    I included this mention here because I'm betting that most people who read the book side with Denth and assume he's right when he talks about these things. But don't be too judgmental about the Idrians—yes, they're biased, but the Hallandren are too in a lot of ways. It's not as simple as one side always being right and the other wrong. In this case, the Idrian teachings are correct, and most Hallandren are looking for justifications when they say that giving up one's Breath isn't all that damaging to them.

    Warbreaker Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Twenty-Two - Part Two

    Clod the Lifeless

    Yes, Clod is Arsteel, in case you were wondering. After Vasher killed him, Denth's team decided to have him made into a Lifeless. Partially because Denth was curious if it was possible, and partially because Arsteel was such a capable warrior that they knew he'd make for an excellently skilled Lifeless. It isn't as good as having Arsteel himself, of course, but Clod is probably the greatest Lifeless swordfighter in existence right now in the entire world.

    Another tidbit that never comes up is that Jewels was in love with Arsteel, which is the primary reason she joined Denth's team in the first place. Arsteel joined it because he wanted to try to redeem Denth; he felt that a reconciliation between Denth and Vasher was possible, and as a peacemaker, he thought he might be able to make it happen. As for why Vasher killed him . . . well, I'm afraid that's another story that will have to wait for the sequel.

    Jewels is still in love with him. And yes, she still sleeps with him on occasion. And yes, she's a little bit unhinged emotionally and mentally because of his death.

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    Brandon Sanderson

    Only Potential Heirs of Idris Have Royal Locks

    This is true. It's not a matter of genetics, but lineage. That's a subtle distinction. Only the children of the person who ends up inheriting will have the Royal Locks. (Though there are a couple of notable exceptions to this, they won't show up in this book, as it will take another novel to explain why and how the Royal Locks really work. If I ever write a sequel, that should be in it.)

    This factoid about the Royal Locks should be one of several hints about the lineage of the Idrian crown. There is something odd about their heritage.

    Warbreaker Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Twenty-Two - Part One

    Lightsong Plays Tarachin With Three Other Gods

    This is the newest scene in the book, added in the last revision before the novel went to copyedit. I added it for two reasons. My editor wanted to see another chapter between the previous Lightsong chapter and the next one. He felt that the god made up his mind to help Blushweaver too easily, and wanted to spend more time with Lightsong mulling over the decision.

    I reacted quickly to the suggestion, as I'd been wanting to show Lightsong interacting with some of the other gods. It's sometimes too easy for me to build my books around a small core cast and rarely involve any others, and I have to force myself to include more characters to round things out. This book had a distinct lack of scenes with "ordinary" gods. We got to see a lot of the exceptions, but never the run-of-the-mill divinities who make up the ranks.

    I wanted to show how they schemed and how they acted. Putting Lightsong with three of them here helps the book quite a bit, I think. It makes the world feel more real and helps his character by providing contrast.

    The game is something I developed in order to make this scene work. I wanted a divine game—one that wouldn't require too much effort, would require a lot of preparation and extravagance, but would still qualify as a sport. So, we have a game where the gods can sit on a balcony attended by a fleet of servants and scribes tallying their throws.

    When my editor read the scene, he loved it instantly. He called to tell me it was one of his favorites in the book, partially because of some particularly good Lightsong quips. He says that he fully expects some Sanderson book readers to develop the rules for the game someday, then play it at a con.

    [Editor's note: Also compare the game of Stones in the deleted Mad Prince Eton scenes from Elantris. Warning: Contains spoilers, so do not read this if you have not read Elantris.]

    Warbreaker Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    The contact Vasher mentions in this scene is Bluefingers. The little scribe is working very hard to push the court toward war, and he thinks that if Vasher sneaks into the hidden tunnels, he might do something dangerous like kill a few guards. More than that, Bluefingers is hoping that by giving away that tidbit of information, he might be able to get Vasher to trust him, and therefore get the chance to manipulate him toward fomenting the war.

    At this point, Vasher has contacted Bluefingers pretending that he's interested in the politics of the court and the war. Bluefingers inaccurately assumes—from intelligence he's gathered, from what Denth has said, and from some faint awareness of who Vasher might be—that Vasher wants to drive Hallandren back to war with Idris. At the very least, Bluefingers assumes that Vasher will want to kill and destroy, since death and destruction have often been his wake.

    And so, Bluefingers sells to Vasher a little tidbit that he assumes is innocent (the presence of the tunnels). This gives Vasher an unexpected edge. He now knows that it's possible to get to the Lifeless garrison, and into the court itself, through ways nobody knows about. That makes him suspect that something greater might be going on, perhaps a coup of some sort.

    I apologize for only showing little pieces of this in the book. But, to be honest, I don't think it's that interesting—mostly because everybody is so wrong about what they're assuming. And the assumptions are rational enough that I think it would be confusing in the book. Vasher is wrong about the coup, and Bluefingers is wrong about Vasher's motives. Denth only cares about getting a chance to punish Vasher for the death of his sister.

    Warbreaker Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Vasher Fights the Guards, Then Creates a Lifeless Squirrel

    I wanted to show the creation of a Lifeless somewhere in this book, as I think the process is interesting. The draining of color happens in a slightly different way than in regular Awakening, though it's similar. In this case, the creature draws color from its own body in order to come to life.

    The better your imagining of the Command when you make it (not the orders you give it, but the one when you give it the Breath), the more intelligent and capable of following orders the Lifeless is. Later in the book, for instance, people are surprised at how good this little squirrel is at doing what it is told.

    Warbreaker Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Vasher Pretends to Be Crazy, Approaches the Guards

    This line about gods attracting the unhinged comes a little bit from personal experience. Many of you may know that in the LDS church, we often serve missions during the early part of our twenties or our late teens. I did this, moving to Korea for two years and doing service, teaching about the church, and generally having a blast living among and learning from another culture.

    One thing I learned, however, is that when you're associated with anything religious in a formal way like that, you tend to attract people of . . . interesting inclinations. I got to listen to a surprising number of people who weren't all there tell me about things they'd seen or decided upon. (And note, this isn't me trying to make fun of other religions or other beliefs—I, of course, got to speak with a lot of people who believed differently from myself. No, in this case, I'm referring to the mentally challenged people who—for whatever reason—liked to search out missionaries and talk to them.)

    It was a lot of fun, don't get me wrong. But it was also weird.

    Anyway, I would assume these guards are accustomed to dealing with the unbalanced. Though entry into the Court of Gods is restricted, it's hardly impossible to get in. With the lottery, and with the numbers of performers and artists coming into the place every day, you can sneak in without too much difficulty. At least up until what happens this night, after which things become a lot more strict.

    I imagine that Mercystar, somewhat vain though she is, intentionally hired men to be her guards who were of a kindly disposition. She's a good woman, if a bit of a drama queen. In my mind, most of the people working in the Court of Gods are generally good people. But perhaps that's my personal bias that religion—when it's not being manipulated and used for terrible purposes—does wonderful things for people.

    Warbreaker Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Twenty-One

    Vasher Awakens His Clothing, Then Leaps off the Palace

    One of the subtle, yet drastic, changes to Awakening that happened in this story came during the middle drafts. Originally, the Command was part of the process of Awakening—but wasn't as important as I eventually made it. I had intended for very difficult things to be accomplished through the use of very long and intricate Commands. However, as I wrote the first draft, I felt this was bulky. What it meant that was if you wanted to use a powerful Awakening in battle, you'd have to stop and spout several paragraphs of instructions. It really cut down on the tension of the battle sequences. (And Awakening was already slower than I preferred, with the need for all of the steps—Breathing, finding color, then Commanding.)

    So during revisions, I changed this. Instead of requiring a lengthy Command to create a powerful Awakening, the strength and skill of the Awakener is instead determined by their ability to visualize what they want the Command to do. The Command is a focus, the spoken words an important part of the process, but the real trick is getting the right mental picture.

    This way, someone can practice a lot, and still use simple Commands—like "grab things"—yet have them do very powerful things. It also allows me to have Commands be easier to learn and use, yet still require skill to master.

    Warbreaker Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    The God King Has No Tongue

    Okay, so here we have the first major reversal in the book. There are several reasons I wanted to write this story. The first was that I loved the concept of the woman being sent to the terrible emperor, only to discover that he was a puppet of someone else. This was a big part of the original Mythwalker plot for Siri, and was a big part of what intrigued me about that story. (As a side note, Mythwalker was also the first place where I tried out the words koloss and skaa for races. They were completely different then, however.)

    After writing Mistborn, I became increasingly intrigued with the idea of a complete reversal book—a book that did things very differently from the way I'd done them before. I'd dealt with an all-powerful emperor, and so people would (unconsciously) expect the God King here to be like the Lord Ruler. That gave me more opportunity to use their expectations against them and pull off a reversal of roles like the one in this chapter.

    I hope it worked. By now, you were probably suspecting that something odd was up with the God King. However, I hope you weren't expecting something as redefining as the lack of a tongue. In this society, with this magic system, that is an even greater symbol of powerlessness than it would be in our society.

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    Brandon Sanderson

    The God King Approaches Siri in Bed

    Siri wonders why the God King wears black, rather than white—which his BioChroma would distort. The answer is simple. To Awakeners, black is a symbol of power. It's a fuel, a color that can be used for Awakening. White, however, is useless. So to wear white would be foolish, except in certain cases where the priests want to prove how powerful the God King is by letting him dynamically bend the light. So while he occasionally appears in white, his everyday attire is black.

    His ability to bend light into the prismatic colors, by the way, was added about halfway through the first draft. I wanted a stronger visual indication of someone who had reached the top Heightenings, and I like the imagery associated with it.

    Warbreaker Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Twenty

    Bluefingers Warns Siri Outside the God King's Chamber

    I'll admit that many of Siri's thoughts here are complaints I myself have. She wonders why Bluefingers had to be so cryptic. It's a weak literary device, in my opinion, always having people with knowledge tease with it but never give the full truth. I hate it when I read stories where characters withhold information just because it needs to be withheld in the book.

    At the same time, the only way to have a mystery is for there to be things the characters don't know. There can be legitimate reasons why someone doesn't want to speak or share what they know. In my books, I want those reasons to be good ones—which is why in the Alcatraz books, I never have the adults refrain from giving Alcatraz information just because of his age.

    In this case, Bluefingers has very, very good reasons for what he does. I hope that it doesn't feel contrived for him not to speak further here.

    Warbreaker Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Denth's Plans

    When I was posting chapters online as I wrote them, I remember one person in my forums noting (upon reading this chapter) that Denth's plans were a terrible way to help Idris. By attacking supply caravans and creating a crisis in the city, chances are very good that the war factions would be more likely to get the others to strike. Desperate times generally give more power to those who are willing to act, even if those actions might lead to even more problems.

    This person on the forums is, of course, exactly right. I'm impressed that they caught it, since most everyone else seemed completely taken in by Denth. However, what Denth is doing here is using Vivenna to help continue plots he has long had in motion. He's lying when he says that he doesn't know what Lemex was involved in and has only seen pieces. In truth, Lemex was doing what Denth wanted him to—they were Denth's plans all along.

    However, Lemex was beginning to grow more reticent, and Denth was having more trouble manipulating him. Another good reason for the poisoning. (And it took a lot of poison to off someone with that much Breath.)

    If you're reading it through again, I hope that Tonk Fah's line about being able to stow a lot of bodies in the storage space is a creepy line. It's supposed to be.

    Warbreaker Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Denth Tells Vivenna to Use Her Breaths

    Don't forget that Vivenna has a huge wealth of Breath. To most people, anything over one or two Breaths is a huge wealth—and Vivenna has enough to reach the Third Heightening. She's fully capable of Awakening objects, and while she's not as powerful as Vasher in Breath right now, she could learn quite quickly. (The more Breath you hold, the easier it is for you to learn how to use it.)

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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Nineteen

    Clod Arrives with Jewels

    Early on in the development process, I knew that I wanted to have a Lifeless as a side character. They're such an interesting part of the world—in fact, they're a big part of the foundation of the setting, or at least what made me want to write it.

    That meant having a Lifeless on Denth's team, and Clod as a character fit into place quite easily. I had worried about how to make Jewels distinctive in the team, after having Denth and Tonk Fah establish themselves for some twenty chapters before Jewels even makes an appearance. Working with that, I realized that by making her the Lifeless handler, I could add something unique to her—and to the team.

    Denth knew that Vivenna wouldn't react well to there being a Lifeless on the team. That's part of why he kept Jewels away for so long. (In fact, when Jewels says, "Who's that woman?" in regards to Vivenna, it should have been slightly suspicious to you. She knew they had a new employer, and she should have made the connection. Indeed, she did. Denth had specifically ordered her to stay away until this moment, as he didn't want to scare Vivenna off.)

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    Lightsong Refuses to Get Out of Bed

    As I've already mentioned, this is a chapter where—after a climactic focal point in the book—the characters backslide a tad in order to enforce that there are still struggles going on. Did I consciously decide this? No, honestly. I sat down to write this chapter, and I felt that I needed to spend a little more time focusing on the conflicts of the characters. So that was intentional. But the placement in the book? That was just by gut instinct.

    Llarimar has been holding this little tidbit—the knowledge that he knew Lightsong before the Return—back for just the right moment. He knows his god well, and understands that information like this can be very powerful as a motivator. He's been waiting for years to use this hint at a time when Lightsong was morose. (And yes, that happens to Lightsong fairly often.) This seemed an important moment to keep the god motivated, so Llarimar doled out the tidbit. Talking about the past of one's god is unorthodox, and maybe even a little sacrilegious. Fortunately, one of the nice things about being high priest is that, on occasion, you get to subtly redefine what is orthodox and what isn't.

    He did make sure to send the servants away first, though.

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    Siri Does Her Show for the First Time

    This little sequence is far more discomforting to me than the actual nudity, to be honest. Being somewhat of a prude as I am, I hesitated to put this into the book. I realize that to most readers, it's not even very risqué. But I'm the one writing the book, and I'm the one who decides what I include. I have to be willing to take responsibility for what's in my stories.

    Why did I put this in if it discomforts me? Well, to be honest, there was no other way. It was what the story demanded. I couldn't see the priests not at least listening. (And, as I think will be mentioned later in the story, they did have some people watching the first nights—no matter what Bluefingers says in this chapter. He's not lying, he's just wrong. The priests would never let a potential assassin near their God King without taking precautions. There was even a soldier hiding under the bed that first night, and another watching from a secret chamber beside the hearth. It was still a risk to let Siri into the room, of course, but they were fairly certain—after taking her clothing and instructing the serving girls to watch carefully during the bathing—that Siri had no weapons on her.)

    Regardless, it was ridiculous to think the priests wouldn't listen in, knowing what they do of the God King. That meant Siri had to either sleep with him for real, or find a way to distract them. This was a clever move on her part, and I like it when my characters can be appropriately clever. And so the scene stays. If I hadn't allowed her to do this, then I would have—as an author—been holding her back artificially.

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    Chapter Eighteen

    Siri Decides to Spite the Priests, Then Reverses That Decision

    This chapter involves a bit of a backslide for both Siri and Lightsong. It was important to establish that they, as characters, are still the same people that you started reading the book about—even if both of them are being forced to change the way they react to things. (Well, at least Siri is being forced to change. Lightsong is more just mulling over what he wants to do. Or not do, as the case may be.)

    Siri's decision here is intended to show just how far she has come during her short time in Hallandren. Siri had all the potential to blossom like this before; she just never had a good reason. With Vivenna there dominating and drawing everyone's attention, Siri was like a plant growing beneath the shade of an enormous tree—she couldn't get enough sunlight to grow herself. Freed from that shadow, she's ready to go.

    Her first impulse is very characteristic—it's the sort of behavior that she's ingrained in herself for many years. But she decides against it, which should be a big tip-off that she's capable of much greater things.

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    Vivenna Reads Her Father's Letters to Lemex

    So, is what Dedelin did wrong? I don't know. Again, I'm not here to give answers. He did what he felt he needed to do. Getting Lemex into the Court of Gods was an extremely important task. Without access to the assembly sessions, he had to rely upon paying people who could get in to take notes. Much better to get your spy in there himself. Unfortunately, the easiest, best, and least obtrusive way to do this was to get Lemex a pile of Breaths.

    Now, I don't expect any readers to be shocked by what he did. The tone of the book presents Awakening as being far less inherently evil than Vivenna sees it. I'm afraid this is a bias I can't stamp out, since I myself see the power as being something other than evil. Neutral, as are most of my magic systems.

    But I do think it's important to hold to your own personal code. Vivenna is rightly shocked about what her father did. But, then, perhaps this is a sign that she wouldn't have made as good a queen as she and her father assume she would have. While she's perfectly willing to sacrifice herself for Idris, she doesn't seem willing to live for Idris—meaning to stay behind and lead her people. She ran off. Beyond that, she would never have been able to make the decision her father did, buying Lemex Breaths.