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    Words of Radiance Washington, DC signing ()
    #7606 Copy

    Questioner (paraphrased)

    In order to use magic from one world on another world, do they need a bit of [the first world's] Shard with you?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    It helps a lot. But there are other ways to do it. What's going on in the Cosmere is people have 3 sets of DNA. They have Physical DNA, Spiritual DNA, and Cognitive DNA. Their Spiritual DNA is what encodes the magic system into them, their Investiture. So if you can find a way to rewrite your Spiritual DNA, you can do all kinds of funky things. That's what Hemalurgy does. It rips off a piece of someone else's soul, staples it to yours. So if you went with a Hemalurgic spike to the right place, ripped off a piece of someone's soul and stapled it to yourself, you could create short circuits that will let you do all kinds of goofy stuff.

    Words of Radiance Washington, DC signing ()
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    Chris_from_Warrenton (paraphrased)

    Would it be possible to Soulforge Nightblood and change the command that was given to him when he was Invested?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    That is possible. That would actually not be a very difficult Soulforge. The problem is, he's Invested. So reInvesting him, which is what Soulforgery is, is really hard. So you'd have to figure out how you could use Forgery on something that is already Invested. But Forgery can get through some of those hoops a lot easier than some other magic systems can.

    Words of Radiance Washington, DC signing ()
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    Questioner (paraphrased)

    Given that Investiture is Investiture, would there be potential Investiture of like, kandra to Parshendi using Hemalurgic spikes?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    Hemalurgic spikes can be used on any planet.

    Questioner (paraphrased)

    Would it be potential for Parshendi to develop a form using the spikes?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    Wow, that would be a really weird hack of the magic system that would be theoretically possible. But that's a really weird one. I had never even considered that one. Parshendi adopting other Investiture could happen, the spikes is not one I've considered.

    Words of Radiance Washington, DC signing ()
    #7627 Copy

    Questioner (paraphrased)

    In Shallan, in the beginning and middle of the book it's 10 heartbeats, and in the end of the book it's none...?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    The 10 heartbeats is required to revive a dead Shardblade.

    Questioner (paraphrased)

    But he wasn't dead the whole time.

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    He wasn't.  But perception-- all magic systems in the Cosmere are based on perception-what you think you can do. For instance, Kaladin can't get healed because he sees himself as having a wounded forehead with the scars and that can't vanish because his perception is in the way.

    Calamity release party ()
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    Questioner

    So... that's "[Aon] Ire"...

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, it is.

    Questioner

    ...and that's the symbol for Ire in Secret History.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes.

    Questioner

    I was wondering if-- Is this just an in-world depiction of an out-world symbol, or does this actually have some kind of metalurgic value?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Isaac?

    Isaac Stewart

    Yes.

    Brandon Sanderson

    <I may> refer to Sir Isaac.

    Questioner

    Alright, thank you very much.

    So the question is...

    Isaac Stewart

    Okay.

    Questioner

    So this is the symbol for "[Aon] Ire".

    Isaac Stewart

    Mhm.

    Questioner

    And this is the symbol in Secret History for the part called "Ire". And what I'm wondering is... Is this just an in-world representation of an off-world symbol, or is there some kind of metalurgic... in-world meaning to the symbol outside of it. They're just too close to be coincidence.

    Isaac Stewart

    There is a... Obviously there's a relation between the two. I would say that, as far as we know, there is no <metalurgic> connection.

    Questioner

    So as far as we know there is no metalurgic connection, but that could change in a future book. Potentially. Or not. That's all you got for me?

    Isaac Stewart

    Um... I'm trying to figure out what I should say <about it>. And I think... The first thing is obviously they aren't on the planet that they ought to be on.

    Questioner

    Obviously. I mean, not even in the Realm that they ought to be in.

    Isaac Stewart

    Right. And so... It's more symbolic of "this is not in the Realm that it ought to be, but it's taking on attributes of the Realm that it's in."

    Questioner

    So the Realm that it's in is Shadesmar. But it's more near the Scadrial...

    Isaac Stewart

    It's the Scadrial edge of Shadesmar.

    Questioner

    And so it's taking on attributes of that area that it's not supposed to be in but it is in.

    Isaac Stewart

    Right.

    Questioner

    Okay. 

    Isaac Stewart

    There may or may not be intersignificance *inaudible*.

    Questioner

    I will pay attention to that.

    Isaac Stewart

    Pay attention. We may-- we may do something with that. It may just be a fun little thing.

    Questioner

    A fun little thing just there, right. So for now it's at least an interesting in-world representation of an off-world thing, but it might at some day be *inaudible*. Cool!

    Words of Radiance Washington, DC signing ()
    #7631 Copy

    Questioner (paraphrased)

    Do you have an adviser for the science?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    I usually run things by my editor who's very big into science, but mostly we go find an expert and have him read.  The thing about it is, I have to hand wave a lot of things.  Like the laws of thermodynamics, I can't, you know..  There are quantum physics in here.  I'm trying to handwave as little as possible but we are breaking fundamental laws of physics, but even in terms of things like the laws of conservation.  Energy is being conserved, but there's a supernatural source.

    Warbreaker Annotations ()
    #7632 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    What Bluefingers Knows

    Siri meets with Bluefingers, who surprises her in the bath yet again. In this little exchange, Bluefingers is being very careful, as he doesn't want to let on how much he knows. As well as Siri is learning to deal with court, she has nothing on Bluefingers, who has spent his entire life there—and who was trained by a Pahn Kahl steward before him. He has been planning his coup for a long time and was actually very frustrated when Vahr started his little rebellion—drawing eyes toward the Pahn Kahl. It was partially due to Bluefingers's manipulations and information leaks to the Returned that Vahr was captured in the first place.

    Here, he lets Siri think he doesn't know that the God King is mute (he does know, and has known for most of his life) and that he is worried about the replacement of the Pahn Kahl servants. (That would be a setback, but not really the main problem.) What he wants most to do is drive a spike between Siri and the priests, and he's succeeding gloriously. He almost leaped for joy when Siri offered her little "You get the God King and me out of the palace" offer. It makes his job a lot easier if/when he decides to assassinate the God King himself.

    Warbreaker Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Siri Is Confronted by Blushweaver

    This is one of those little scenes you put into a book that isn't foreshadowing anything specific. I don't mind if people home in on this confrontation and worry that Blushweaver will take action against Siri, but I don't go there with the book. Blushweaver here is just jealous. She knows enough to recognize that in herself, however, and won't let it push her much farther than her little warning here.

    I like what this shows about Blushweaver's character, and I like that it illustrates how she sees Lightsong. Yes, she's in love with him. Quite deeply, in fact. She brought him into her plots and schemes here partially because she trusts him, and partially because she wanted to show off for him—and perhaps finally convince him to accept her as a lover.

    Warbreaker Annotations ()
    #7634 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Siri Watches the Priests

    I took a bit of a risk here, having a little scene where Siri admits that all of the troubles and problems in Hallandren excite her. I hope this doesn't seem out of character; I think I foreshadowed well that she'd react this way. Back in Idris, she was always making trouble, partially (even though she wouldn't admit it) because she found it exciting. I think that's common for those who end up in trouble a lot of the time.

    Here, what she feels is that same sense—only a more mature version. She's excited by politics, by being in the middle of things, by having a chance to change the future of the city. I think this is a valuable attribute for one in her position, as long as it isn't taken too far. By having Vivenna constantly frustrated by her situation and Siri thrilled by hers, I wanted to show a contrast and have the reader come to the same conclusion Siri does in this scene: that Vivenna wouldn't have made a very good queen to the God King. She'd have made the expected queen, and would have done what everyone anticipated her doing. But she would have let herself be a martyr the entire time, which would have been a self-centered way of approaching her duty.

    Warbreaker Annotations ()
    #7635 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Anyway, as I've said before, I wasn't intending this to be a book to parallel the state of the United States and the war in Iraq. It just kind of came out as it has, and I think the main reason is one of pulling a reversal upon myself. You see, Mistborn was a book about a bloody revolution instigated by the protagonists. We don't see a lot of the death it caused, and fortunately much of the bloodshed was averted by a timely speech given by a certain young nobleman, but the fact remains that I wrote about overthrowing a government.

    That seems to be a popular topic for novels. And anytime I notice that something is popular in the genre, I start wondering if I could write a book about the opposite. In this case, I began thinking of a book where the protagonists were trying to stop a war instead of start one. Where they wanted to stabilize the government instead of destabilize it. The opposite story of Mistborn, in some ways.

    I had the name of the book, Warbreaker, long before I even knew who the Warbreaker would be or what the rest of the book would be about. I'm glad we were able to keep it, though my editor complained just a tad that he thought it didn't indicate the right sense of epic fantasy for the book.

    Warbreaker Annotations ()
    #7637 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Vasher Takes Vivenna Captive

    Now things are finally starting to move! My books, I know, can be kind of slow sometimes. That comes from the fact that I, myself, like to read books that are kind of slow. These two chapters were very important ones. Vivenna admitted something very important about herself, then in a way took the wrong sort of responsibility for her life. Siri realized something about herself, then took the right sort of responsibility for her life. A little bit of reversal going on, as the two sisters live their parallel—yet so different—lives in T'Telir.

    But it was certainly time for a shake-up. The next Vivenna chapters turn a lot of things on their heads.

    Warbreaker Annotations ()
    #7638 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Vivenna Agrees to Learn Awakening

    This has been a long time coming. Sorry to make you wait; in some of my books, I like to use a lot of magic from the start. In others, I like to build out the setting first, letting the characters learn and explore more slowly.

    I've long wanted to call a magic system "Awakening," by the way. I tried it out originally in The Way of Kings as the name for the transformation-based magic system in that book. But it never worked. You didn't really "awaken" things. I was just using the term because it sounded good.

    So I put it back in the file to be recycled someday. As I began to plan this book, I developed a magic system that could be called Awakening. Bringing objects to life seems to fit that just perfectly. So yes, the word came first—though I'm not sure how much I grew the magic system around that one word, or if I was feeling I wanted to do a "bring objects to life" magic system and realized I could use that great name I'd come up with earlier.

    Warbreaker Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Vivenna Admits the Real Reason She Came to Hallandren

    I've been pushing toward this for a long time in the narrative. Vivenna didn't come to Hallandren to save her sister—that's a front. That's what she told herself. But the real reasons are more deep, more personal, and less noble. She had to come because of how much of her life had been focused on the city. Beyond that, she came because of her hatred of Hallandren. She wanted to find ways to hurt it for what it had done to her.

    It was partially her pride. She was the one who was supposed to deal with Hallandren. Her pride wouldn't let her stay away, wouldn't let Siri do the job that Vivenna was certain she could do better.

    She has kept her hatred in check quite well, but it's always been there, driving her. I hope my readers always thought that coming to save Siri was a flimsy reason for Vivenna to come to T'Telir. The term love/hate relationship has become a cliché, but I honestly think there is some real psychology to it, and I feel that I explained one aspect of it here, for Vivenna.

    Warbreaker Annotations ()
    #7640 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Thirty-Three

    Vivenna and the Mercenaries Wait in the Safe House after the Lifeless Attack on the Slumlords

    Why does Jewels bother sewing up Clod? Why fix Lifeless at all? Denth's answer is a fairly good one, but it could use some more explanation.

    You see, when one makes a Lifeless, the reason the Breath stays and won't come back is because the body of a recently deceased person is too "sticky" for Breaths. One Breath attaches to it, and because the body so clearly remembers being alive, it can use that Breath to power it. (Assuming you have the right Commands and can picture them correctly in your head when you make the Lifeless.)

    However, the more the Lifeless is damaged, the less like the shape of a living person it is, and the more difficult it is for the Breath to keep that body going. Powering a body with only one Breath is hard—it requires the body to work mostly on its own. When you power a cloak or something like that, the Breaths need to provide a lot of energy, since there's no real muscles to use or skeletal structure to rely on.

    So the more wounded a Lifeless becomes, the less well its Breath can keep it going. Eventually you'll need to stick a second Breath into it, then a third, all the way up until that Lifeless is nothing more than a bunch of bones you've Awakened. At that point, you might as well be using sticks or cloth.

    Warbreaker Annotations ()
    #7641 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    I wasn't sure if I wanted a map of the world in the front of this book or not. The problem is, if I give a world map, I risk doing it wrong. It takes a very specific set of geographic requirements for a rain forest to work, and what I wanted here was a kind of rain forest valley, irregular and out of place in the world. In the abstract, that can work—but the more details I pin down in the map, the less likely it is to be believable.

    Warbreaker Annotations ()
    #7642 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Hoid the Storyteller Tells Us the History of Hallandren

    This whole scene came about because I wanted an interesting way to delve into the history. Siri needed to hear it, and I felt that many readers would want to know it. However, that threatened to put me into the realm of the dreaded infodump.

    And so, I brought in the big guns. This cameo is so obvious (or, at least, someday it will be) that I almost didn't use the name Hoid for the character, as I felt it would be too obvious. The first draft had him using another of his favorite pseudonyms. However, in the end, I decided that too many people would be confused (or at least even more confused) if I didn't use the same name. So here it is. And if you have no idea what I'm talking about . . . well, let's just say that there's a lot more to this random appearance than you might think.

    Anyway, I love this storytelling method, and I worry that Hoid here steals the show. However, he's very good at what he does, and I think it makes for a very engaging scene that gets us the information we need without boring us out of our skulls.

    Is everything he says here true? No. There are some approximations and some guesses. However, all things considered, it's pretty accurate. All of the large bits are true.

    Warbreaker Annotations ()
    #7643 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Thirty-Two

    Siri Lies in Bed and Decides to Take Charge

    Reading through this scene again, I feel like it needs a bit of a trim. Ah well. There are always going to be sections like that that make it through.

    I felt that there needed to be a scene where Siri finally stopped looking toward the past and berating herself for not being more like Vivenna. For her to step forward and become the woman she must be, she needed to do it of her own choice, with her own motivations. She needed this chance.

    Sometimes in writing classes or in books on telling stories, they'll mention a moment somewhere in act two where the character decides to take charge. I always dislike explanations like that, since I think it's too easy for newer writers to look at such explanations as an item on a checklist that you have to do. I never use things like that. I don't think, "This is act two, so the characters need to do X." The tendency to follow a formula like that is part of what bothers me about the screenwriting profession. It seems like if you always follow the rules, there's never any spontaneity in a book.

    Still, those guidelines and suggestions are used by a lot of people who tell good stories, so I guess you use what works for you.

    Warbreaker Annotations ()
    #7644 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    The City Guard Attacks

    Some of you may be wondering whose plot led to this attack by the city guard on the meeting.

    Well, it's complicated. The city watch—worried about the upswing in crime and the political tension lately—has grown more aggressive. They know that someone snuck into the palace of Mercystar herself, threatening one of their goddesses. The watch captain is making a play for a promotion and favor, and is looking to score a major victory to look very good in front of the Returned. He got a tip that three of the most important slumlords—whom he's been afraid to attack up until now, fearing to commit his guards to action—will be meeting together. He doesn't even know about Vivenna.

    But he did authorize his Lifeless (the city guard has a stock of about fifty that can be used at their discretion) to use deadly force. The Commands weren't quite specific enough, unfortunately.

    Beyond that, Bluefingers has managed—by sneaking through the tunnels that Vasher discovered—to get his forces to Command Break some of the Lifeless in the compound, then insert hidden Commands into them alongside their existing ones. In this case, he wanted the Idrians to see the Lifeless and the city watch cause a slaughter among their people. So he seeded some of the Lifeless with Commands to attack and kill if they were shown aggression by Idrians.

    He didn't know when the slaughter would happen; he doesn't have enough control over events in order to do that. His little Lifeless bombs just happened to go off here, when the Idrians started to resist. Since the regular soldiers—and even the Lifeless not under Bluefingers's Commands—overreacted once blood began to be shed, everything went crazy from there.

    Denth wasn't in on this plan, and Bluefingers never told him that he was behind it. In the end, the whole battle turned into a major embarrassment for the city guard, though they did capture one of the slumlords. He was held until after the events of the book, then eventually released.

    Warbreaker Annotations ()
    #7645 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Anyway, that's a tangent. Meeting with these men was a mistake, something that Vivenna realizes partway through the meeting. There is little she can gain from them—and that which she could gain she's not prepared to ask for. She should have come with more of a plan. Instead, she did what she's done for most of the book—that is, pretend that she is in charge and in control, while in fact she's just floating along with whatever comes at her.

    I think this is the big thing Vivenna has to realize in the book. She has never had a good plan of how to deal with things in T'Telir. Unfortunately, I don't think she can learn until she falls a bit.

    Warbreaker Annotations ()
    #7646 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Vivenna Meets with the Slumlords

    When I write a scene like this, I am never quite certain how much time I want to spend distinguishing the side characters who make an appearance. (Another scene like this is the one where Lightsong plays the game with the three other gods.) Here, we're introduced to three different slumlords. They all have distinct personalities and different ways of looking at how Vivenna can help them. However, how much time do I spend explaining them and making them have an impact? It's a tough line to walk. I don't want to bog the scene down and spend a lot of time on characters you'll never see again, but I also don't want the scene to feel ambiguous or lacking precision because you can't imagine the slumlords.

    I suspect that most readers won't care about telling the difference between the three, so I don't dwell on it—but I try to give hints that will help those who want to visualize the scene exactly.

    Warbreaker Annotations ()
    #7647 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Thirty-One

    Vivenna Visits the Idrian Slums

    Vivenna probably should have expected what she would find here. She knows that the slumlords, who are Idrians, run whorehouses and illegal fighting leagues. However, she deluded herself into assuming that they employ Hallandren whores or that the fights aren't all that bad.

    I think this would be a hard thing to come to grips with. It's happened repeatedly throughout history—a poorer segment travels to a new country and becomes part of the lower, working class. In Korea, they were always complaining about people from Burma coming in and stealing their jobs. I remember hearing the Japanese saying the same thing about Koreans. I've heard Americans complain about all three. Things like this have far less to do with culture or race and far more to do with relative economic standing and fluency with the language/culture.

    Knowing it happens, however, wouldn't make it any easier to find your own people in such a state, I think.

    Notice that the Idrians here often wear dark clothing. This is partially to hold to their old ways of avoiding colors, but they tend to wear clothes that are black and dark instead of light. (Though there are some who follow the more traditional way.) However, by wearing these dark colors, they completely defeat the original stated purpose of dull clothing—that of removing color to keep Awakeners from using their art.

    Warbreaker Annotations ()
    #7648 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Some of Blushweaver's sparring here should give you a hint that she's far from the shallow egotist she pretends to be. In a lot of ways, she and Lightsong are perfectly matched, and I imagine this being the reason they ended up spending so much time together. They both have an extreme persona that is almost a parody of the other gods, and for both of them, that persona is but a sliver of who they really are. Blushweaver is more conniving, Lightsong more noble, when you strip everything else away. But they understand each other in a way that I think few people do.

    Warbreaker Annotations ()
    #7649 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Lightsong and Blushweaver Visit Hopefinder

    I wanted to show some Returned of different ages; I think it's important for people to realize that you can be any age when you Return. There are children, babies, grandmothers, and people in their middle years who Return.

    Hopefinder is the youngest person at court currently, though there are a couple of other gods who Returned when they were in their teens. It's hard to tell them from the other gods now, however. (And often, when a god Returns in their middle years, their body transforms to be much more youthful. Not always; it depends on the god.)

    Warbreaker Annotations ()
    #7650 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Thirty

    Lightsong Tries Pottery

    It's been a while since one of the gods tried something like this. Lightsong isn't the first, of course, to wonder at his old life and realize that some of his skills and abilities came with him to his new one. But he's the first of this generation of gods who has taken any interest in it.

    His father was actually a potter, if you're interested in knowing. As for why he knows nautical terms and mathematics, I'm afraid you'll have to wait on that. They come up eventually.

    The juggling, though . . . well, that'll just have to remain a mystery.