Recent entries

    Firefight San Francisco signing ()
    #7654 Copy


    You've developed so many worlds and so many magic systems, how do you keep them all straight?

    Brandon Sanderson

    How do I keep everything straight, all the worlds and all the magic systems? I use a wiki--


    You do your worlds all at once--

    Brandon Sanderson

    Nah I jump around-- I use a wiki. I use a personal wiki called WikidPad, you can't use it, it's only mine, and it's like 400,000 words at last count, which is about the length of Way of Kings. And I have now a continuity editor who goes in after I write a book and they put everything in. That's my method. But I am kind of scatterbrained, I will forget my keys, I'll go to the airport without my wallet and have to talk my way through security. But I don't forget stories. They stick up there.

    Firefight San Francisco signing ()
    #7655 Copy


    Since Disneyland is taking over the world, Disneyland is obviously Librarians. So is Alcatraz ever going to visit Disneyland?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh that's a good question. He should because Disneyland is totally Librarians. They totally run that. I will consider that. I will consider that. Good question. Alcatraz 5 is written. We're re-releasing the Alcatraz books with new covers and new artwork and all sorts of cool things like that starting January of next year [2016] and they'll run straight through to the fifth book which will come out in the summer sometime.

    Firefight San Francisco signing ()
    #7656 Copy


    If you could have any of your powers from any of your novels, in the real world, which one would it be?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Which power would I have? I would definitely be an Allomancer. Because all the metal we've got around-- steelpusher-- coinshot, I would just jump all over the place, it would be super cool. That's not the smart one to pick, no, because there are ones that'll be like "this can keep you alive", or "be immortal!" But no I'm gonna push on metals and fly.

    Firefight San Francisco signing ()
    #7657 Copy


    What is the most unforgettable frustration ever since you became a writer?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Ah most unforgettable frustration since becoming a writer. Boy. I would say that, as a writer, since being published the number one frustration is sometimes I have to meet a deadline instead of just going off and writing whatever bizarre thing I want. I still do that a lot but once in a while I've got to meet a deadline, and I've been training myself to be like no, I'm writing this book, and I have to be creative and excited about that book. And I can't write until I get creative and excited about it. So it's that trying to get myself to make sure that I'm created and excited about a book, that's very difficult. I would say that touring is also, it gets very exhausting. I was surprised at by how exhausting  going on tour a lot can do. We've mitigated that by keeping me from having to get early mornings, when I don't have to have an early morning I'm much more chipper. I'm not a morning person, I'm a night person, and numerous days in a row with not enough sleep can make me a zombie.

    Firefight San Francisco signing ()
    #7659 Copy


    So it's one thing to write a book, how do you pitch a book then? What was the hardest pitch?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh pitches are hard. How do you pitch books, is what she's asking. So hard. You know what taught me to pitch books was standing in book stores. In my early days I would ask them, like I would do a signing at a Barnes and Noble and no one would come of course, because no one had ever heard of me. So it was really me standing behind a cart by the door, trying to shill my book to everyone who walked in the doors. Very used car salesman. "So, you like fantasy novels? You know anyone that likes fantasy novels? Have you heard of The Hobbit?" And so what I had to do it I had to come up with a two sentence way to tell people what my book was. And so if you have a book I would practice on just people-- you know, your acquaintances and say "Can i tell you about my book I just so I can practice", see if you can get it down to two or three sentences. And once you start doing that you'll get a feel for what things you can talk about in your book that made people say "Oh, that's cool" and what made their eyes glaze over. Usually stay away from a lot of names and background stuff, and point toward one great concept in your book, whether it's a character concept or what. When I pitched Mistborn I'm like "what if the hero who'd been prophesied to save the world failed?". Like what if Frodo had gotten to the end of Lord of the Rings and Sauron had said "thanks for bringing my ring back, I've been looking for that", and killed him and took over the world? You know, "what if", and that was how I started that one. 


    And was that how you pitched it to your publisher?

    Brandon Sanderson

    When I pitched the publishers I was not nearly as good at it as I am now and I just relied on my writing sample to get me through. My pitches were terrible, so don't-- It's very hard to learn but the only way to do it is to practice with people. That's good, that's going to take you further than anything.

    Words of Radiance Philadelphia signing ()
    #7660 Copy


    Have you thought any more of metal allergies with your Allomancy?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It would definitely not be pleasant.


    Because I have the steel allergy.

    Brandon Sanderson

    You have the steel allergy, huh?


    Yeah, I actually got it last year. I have a steel allergy and I work in a steel plant.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Aww man. It would not be pleasant, I can definitely say that. Although, I would have the instinct that fewer people on Scadrial would have that allergy because of the Investiture during their creation. But it could totally happen.

    Calamity Philadelphia signing ()
    #7661 Copy

    Mason Wheeler

    How do you write Wayne? The guy is a little bit crazy, but when you see things from his perspective it makes sense. How do you get in that headspace to write that?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I put on his hat. Well it’s--characters are so hard for me to define how I do them. Everything else I can define, right? I can talk about it. With character I write their viewpoint and see if I get to know them, and if I do I’ve just got it. That’s all I can say.

    Calamity Philadelphia signing ()
    #7663 Copy

    Mason Wheeler

    We’re told that anyone pierced by metal is vulnerable to the influence of Ruin and Harmony, but in every case that we actually see it’s not just pierced by metal but an active Hemalurgical spike.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, that is what they mean. So “Anyone pierced by metal can’t be trusted” means “That might be a spike”.

    Mason Wheeler

    So why does the Path say “everyone wear an earring when you pray” if it’s not...

    Brandon Sanderson

    It’s tradition. Just in the same reason that you wear a cross when you’re Christian and things like this. Like this has become part of the religion.

    Calamity Philadelphia signing ()
    #7666 Copy


    We saw with Miles what it was like if you Compounded gold. I was wondering what it would be like if you tried Compounding tin.

    Brandon Sanderson

    So Compounding with tin?


    Just what it would be like the experience...

    Brandon Sanderson

    Ehhh…  I’ll go ahead and I'm going to RAFO that.  Because I want to write it out and see how it looks on the page.

    State of the Sanderson 2016 ()
    #7667 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson


    Hello, and welcome! I hope the holiday season is treating you all very well. Around this time each year, I write a blog post called State of the Sanderson. I usually post it on or around my birthday, which happens to be today. (So, happy Koloss Head-Munching Day to you all.)

    These posts run long and are extensive essays that go over what I did during the year, updating you all on the projects I've been working on, then doing a rundown of projects that I'm planning. (Find last year's State of the Sanderson right here.)

    I hope you'll find this helpful and interesting. Storytelling is not an exact science, and things don't always go as planned. At the same time, I believe it important to be up-front with you all. I know what it's like to wait for years to read the ending of a favorite series, and I appreciate your longsuffering support when I jump between projects.

    In teaching my university lectures and workshop, I interact with many, many hopeful and talented newer writers. Their excitement, and worry about the future, reminds me how fortunate I am to be able to do what I love for a living. In the story of the ants and the grasshopper, I get to spend my life making music—but instead of letting me starve in the winter, you bring me in and give me something warm to eat, then you listen while I tell you a story.

    It's strange to consider what might have been. How many plausible variations of life are there where I'm not a professional novelist? Did I hit on the one perfect sequence of events that brought me here, or would I have muddled my way through even if Moshe hadn't agreed to look at Elantris back at a party in Montreal in 2001?

    Though I deal in the fantastic as my daily labor, the scene where I'm not a writer is one scene I have difficulty conjuring. Would I be a professor perhaps? I do enjoy teaching, though only in moderation. (When I had to teach the same class multiple times in a day, I found the experience monotonous. One course a year is just about right for me—exciting, vibrant, and involving new things to teach and talk about.)

    Indeed, early in my graduate studies, I realized I'd never make it as an academic. Ironically, I discovered that doing all the things in my writing program that would prepare me for a good Ph.D. or MFA course (being on the staff of journals, assisting professors, traveling to conferences) would prevent me from actually writing—so I threw all of that up in the air and doubled down on my novels. Some of my colleagues went on to professorships, but I was never really headed that direction.

    For me, it was always write or bust. I don't know what busting would look like—but I do know that, barring something truly insane, it would involve me ending up with a closet full of dozens and dozens of unpublished manuscripts.

    As an aside, for those who didn't hear the story on tour this year, my second son (who is six) has started to figure out what it means that I'm an author. He came up to me a few months ago and said, "Daddy. You write books!"

    I said, "Yes!"

    "You sell them, so we have money for food and our house!"

    "That's right."

    "And when people visit, you give them books from the garage! That's how you sell them!"

    I often give copies of the books to friends who visit, and in his six-year-old understanding, this was how we made our living. But hey, there are worse things to be than a garage novelist with a trunk full of demo manuscripts.

    In any case, you have my sincere thanks for your support! I'm glad we're not in the alternate, dystopian Sanderson timeline where I have a goatee and have to spend my life selling people insurance.

    State of the Sanderson 2015 ()
    #7668 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson


    We are approaching Koloss Head-Munching Day—the day of the year that happens, by utter coincidence, to coincide with my birthday. (December 19th.) I'm turning forty this year, which isn't as dramatic for me as it might be for some others. From the way I act, people have been joking for the last twenty years that I was "born forty." I guess I'm finally just catching up.

    It's been almost twenty years since I finished my first book. I can remember joking with my friends in college (whom you might know as Lieutenant Conrad from Mistborn and Drehy from Bridge Four) that by forty, we were all going to be rich and famous.

    The thing is, I always intended to make that dream happen. Not necessarily for the "rich" part or the "famous" part, neither of which interested me a great deal. I just knew that without a solid, stable writing career, I'd never be able to make the Cosmere happen.

    Perhaps that's where this whole "born forty" thing came from in the first place. I basically spent my twenties writing, slavishly trying to figure out how to craft stories. Friends would tell me to relax, but I couldn't, not when these dreams of mine were so big. It should be mentioned that despite what our society would like to believe, hard work doesn't always equate with success. For me, luck played a huge part in my being able to sit here and type this out for you.

    Still, here I am, and I honestly can't imagine things having gone better. People often seem bemused by my productivity; when I get together with fellow authors, they sometimes jokingly refer to me as "the adult" in our group. I get this—for a lot of them, writing is more of an instinctual process. Sitting and talking about the business side of things, or their goals for writing, flies in the face of the almost accidental way they've approached their careers. And it works for them; they create great books I'm always excited to read.

    However, sometimes there's also this sense—from fans, from the community, from us authors in general—that whispers that being productive isn't a good thing. It's like society feels artists should naturally try to hide from deadlines, structure, or being aware of what we do and why we do it. As if, because art is supposed to be painful, we shouldn't enjoy doing our work—and should need to be forced into it.

    If there's one thing that has surprised me over the last ten years, it's this strangeness that surrounds my enjoyment of my job, and the way my own psychology interfaces with storytelling. People thank me for being productive, when I don't consider myself particularly fast as a writer—I'm just consistent. Fans worry that I will burn out, or that secretly I'm some kind of cabal of writers working together. I enjoy the jokes, but there's really no secret. I just get excited by all of this. I have a chance to create something incredible, something that will touch people's lives. In some cases, that touch is light—I just give a person a few moments to relax amid the tempest of life. In other cases, stories touch people on a deep and meaningful level. I'll happily take either scenario.

    Almost thirty years ago now, I encountered something remarkable in the books I read. Something meaningful that I couldn't describe, a new perspective, new emotions. I knew then that I had to learn to do what those writers were doing. Now that I have the chance to reach people the same way, I'm not going to squander it.

    I guess this is all a prelude to a warning. I'm working on a lot of projects. Many of these tie together in this epic master plan of mine, the thirty-six-(or more)-book cycle that will be the Cosmere. Even those books that aren't part of the Cosmere are here to challenge me in some way, to push me and my stories, to explore concepts that have fascinated me for years.

    These last ten years have been incredible. I thank you, and I thank God, for this crazy opportunity I've been given. I don't intend to slow down.

    I'm not embarrassed to be "the adult." Even if I've only just hit the right age for it officially.

    Calamity Philadelphia signing ()
    #7669 Copy


    I was also wondering if... I just finished reading the Ars Arcanum in the back of Bands of Mourning and I heard it mention that god metals could be alloyed to give different abilities or traits.

    Brandon Sanderson



    Could you give an example of one?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, you could alloy lerasium with certain metals of the sixteen in the table and get, if you had just enough lerasium, it would make them a misting of those powers.

    State of the Sanderson 2014 ()
    #7670 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson


    Hello, all! I recently turned in Shadows of Self, the new Wax and Wayne Mistborn novel. (And, well, something else too. More on that below.) In addition, tomorrow is December 19th—known with fondness as "Koloss Head-Munching Day." Also my birthday. (I'll be 39.)

    This seemed like a good chance to take a step back and give you all a long-form update on what I've been doing lately, and where I am looking for the future. I like to be accountable to you, my readers, for what I'm doing. You are the ones supporting me in this, my lifelong dream of being a professional writer.

    2014 was an excellent year for me. Words of Radiance has been very well received, and enthusiasm for the Stormlight books is very high. As this series is my baby, it feels awesome to see people getting to know characters like Dalinar and Kaladin, whom I've known for decades. At the same time, I've been jumping back into teen books again after the Alcatraz books. (Which kind of fizzled back in 2010 or so, though we're planning a relaunch.)

    Having two publishers made for a very challenging tour schedule. I've been away from home far more than I want to be, mostly because of the need to add more touring (along with things like school visits and appearances at teacher/librarian conferences) for Steelheart and The Rithmatist.

    I'm still struggling to find a balance I like. On one hand, I enjoy visiting you all and going cool places. On the other hand, my real love is writing the books—and I don't want to get so busy that the stories fall by the wayside. Anyway, the following is an account of my 2014 writing experience for those who are curious.

    Brandon's Blog 2016 ()
    #7671 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Any of you who haven't read the Evil Librarians series might want to duck out here, because I'm going to talk about the big reveal at the end of the fifth novel. This is a post that's been brewing since 2006, so I'm eager to talk about it—but anyone who has read stories like Secret History will know that I like to brew surprises over the long haul. I'd rather you discover this on your own, by reading the series. I've posted before my pitch on what the books are about, and why you might like them.

    For those of you who have read up to the fifth book, it's time to give a behind-the-scenes look at what happened with this series.

    If we look back to 2006, we can find the seed of the first [Alcatraz] book in a writing prompt I wrote out for myself: “So there I was, tied to an altar made from outdated encyclopedias, about to be sacrificed to the dark powers by a cult of evil librarians.”

    Great first line to a story. I typed it into my phone while at a meeting one day, and quickly became enthralled by it. I'd been reading a lot of middle grade, and wanted to try my hand at something in the genre. I discovery-wrote the story, mostly as a writing exercise—and as a break from the Mistborn series, which I felt needed some breathing room before I could work on the next book.

    The story turned out great. Quirky, sarcastic, and fun. So I sent it to my agent, and he liked it too. It took us only a few months to get four offers. Each of the editors we were talking to wanted to know, what was my vision for the series?

    And this was tricky because the first book had left me in a bit of a conundrum. You see, a big theme of that first book was a character telling their life's story and warning everyone that he wasn't a hero, that things ended poorly for him. And yet the series was lighthearted and fun, full of humor and wackiness. It didn't have the dark tone of Lemony Snicket, despite the main character's insistence that he was no hero.

    I felt I'd promised the audience a fun reversal—that Alcatraz would end up being a hero, even if he didn't think he was one. This was tricky though, because I had the feeling that if I ended it that way, it would be too obvious. Somehow I had to have an ending that justified Alcatraz thinking he was a huge failure in life, but at the same time indicating to the reader that he was actually heroic.

    And that's when I hit on a structure that would let me do this. I pitched the following to the various editors interested in the books: I'll write a six-book series that I tell everyone is five books long. The main character will write five, and the fifth will end with the disasters he predicted. This will show exactly why he thinks of himself the way he does.

    But then the sixth book will be from the viewpoint of his bodyguard, continuing the story and giving the real ending.

    I felt this would work because it played into the themes of Alcatraz being honest about his past, mixed with his feelings of failure. But it would at the same time let us have an ending that wasn't quite so much of a downer. All it required was that we remain quiet for six years or so (it ended up being ten) about the secret sixth book. (In the intervening years, if people asked me if book five was the end, I tried to always answer, "The fifth book is the last one Alcatraz will write.")

    Some of the editors loved this idea, and others didn't like it at all. One who loved it was Susan at Tor, who is now publishing the books—so yay!

    My initial pitch for the release of book five this year was to have a little envelope inside the back cover that you opened and found a note from Bastille, saying she was going to write the last book. However, that proved to be a problem. First, it's easy to lose a card from an envelope, which meant that library books and secondhand books risked having the true ending get lost. Second, it seemed like it would just be too much for people to resist opening early. We ended up going with a folded-over page at the ending, which at least can't get lost. (And in the ebook, Bastille's note is at the very, very end, past all the footnotes, like a post-credits scene.)

    So what does this mean for the future of the series? Well, two years ago I posted a screenshot of my folder showing all of my books in order. It hid a secret project, scribbled out. People assumed this was Secret History, and I didn't disabuse them (as I was working on it at the time). But it's actually Evil Librarians Six, which I've done a bunch of work on. I'm not sure when I'll have it out, but it won't be too long. (I will probably finish it sometime next year.) I'm tentatively calling it Alcatraz Bastille vs. the Evil Librarians: The Worldspire. (Yes, Alcatraz's name will likely be crossed out on the cover, with hers written over it.) Originally I'd named it Alcatraz vs. His Own Dumb Self, but I think that might be going too far.

    Thank you to all the fans who have kept with this series over the years. It's because of you that I went through all the trouble of buying the series back from the old publisher, when they decided to end it at four books. And it's because of you that we have the gorgeous new Tor editions, finally with cover art that fits the books. (Not to mention the awesome interior art.)

    But book six WILL be the last. You can trust this, because it's me saying it, not Alcatraz. 

    Calamity Philadelphia signing ()
    #7673 Copy


    *to be inscribed in a book* Could I have the name of an observed but unnamed spren?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Observed, but unnamed, spren? They’ve all been named.


    They’ve all been named that have been observed?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, someone will call it something so I will just say-- y’know. When they see them they refer to them by things.

    Brandon's Blog 2016 ()
    #7674 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    A lot of people have been asking if this is the end of the Reckoners. It is. The trilogy is finished, and came together wonderfully. However, as you all know, I'm unlikely to leave an ending without some hints of where the characters would go in the future.

    I don't currently have plans to do a direct sequel series, but the next project I'm planning is in the same universe. This is a new trilogy in the works with Delacorte (the publisher of the Reckoners), and it's the unnamed project I talked about in my State of the Sanderson post in December. It's scheduled tentatively for a 2018 release, and it's called The Apocalypse Guard.

    Here's the pitch:

    Over a decade ago, people started manifesting strange, incredible powers. One side effect of this was an awareness of alternate dimensions—some of these powers could reach into other realities, other versions of Earth. Though infinite dimensions are present, most of these are unstable, existing only as vague possibilities.

    A few of these worlds, however, are stable. These real, alternate versions of Earth are sometimes very, very different from the one we know. And a bizarrely large number of them, it turns out, are doomed. And so the Apocalypse Guard was founded: an organization of thousands of scientists, engineers, and extraordinary individuals who save planets.

    They comb the dimensions searching for stable worlds to contact. When they find one that is facing some kind of cataclysm, the Guard either finds a way to save the planet, or evacuates it. The process can take years, but so far the Guard has saved some dozen planets—though it has lost half as many to utter destruction.

    Emma is the Guard's coffee girl. On summer internship at mission control, she gets to witness—from a safe distance—their activities. During the events surrounding the rescue of a planet, however, a shadowy group attacks the Guard and throws it into chaos. Emma finds herself cast through dimensions to be stranded on a doomed planet the Guard had been planning to save. Cut off from mission control, woefully inexperienced, Emma has to try to meet up with the Guard or find another way off the planet before cataclysm befalls it.

    In the tradition of the Reckoners, The Apocalypse Guard is a fast-paced, action-oriented story with roots in comic book traditions. This one is a little more science fiction and fantasy than it is superhero, and it will dig deeper into the mythology begun in the Reckoners. It is not a sequel to the Reckoners, in that it has new characters and a new story, but it might help answer some questions left by the end of Calamity.

    It's going to be a little while before I write this. Stormlight 3 takes precedence currently, and after that I'm thinking I should probably write the sequel to The Rithmatist. However, I've been mulling over this new series a lot, and even went so far as to commission some concept art.

    I've only done this before with the Stormlight books, having Ben McSweeney (who ended up becoming the illustrator for Shallan's sketchbook pages) do concept roughs for the characters, so I could have them as kind of a quick reference for how the characters look.

    This was really handy, and so I had it done for The Apocalypse Guard as well. We put the characters together in an action shot, though keep in mind that this was mostly for my internal reference (and kind of as a proof of concept). This isn't the cover art, and isn't intended to be a finished "movie poster" for the books. More a cool piece of concept art trying to nail down character looks and outfits.

    Anyway, enjoy!

    Art by Kelley Harris – Check out her website and Deviant Art Page!

    Brandon's Blog 2015 ()
    #7675 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    If [the Elantris Leatherbound] is popular (and it looks like it will be), then we will do the other books. Our goal will be to have them sell at around the same price, and to make them match on the bookshelf, so you can have an entire Cosmere sequence of leatherbound books.

    The goal will be to proceed with the 10th anniversary idea, doing Mistborn: The Final Empire next year, The Well of Ascension the year after, and The Hero of Ages the year after that. From there, Warbreaker would be next. That’s all I’m willing to commit to now, but we would eventually like to do Stormlight in this treatment. (Assuming people like these editions we’re doing.)

    Calamity Philadelphia signing ()
    #7676 Copy


    I've always wondered...I use Elantris a lot to explain what it’s like with chronic pain conditions, did you base that off any experience or friends you’ve had in real life?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes I did.


    It just felt so accurate and real to me.

    Brandon Sanderson

    …It was one of the major themes I came up with when writing the book […] I want to try and deal with this.

    Brandon's Blog 2015 ()
    #7677 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    As I was developing the Cosmere, I knew I wanted a few threads to span the entire mega-sequence, which was going to cover thousands of years. For this reason, I built into the outline a couple of "core" series.

    One of these is the Stormlight Archive, where we have the Heralds who span ages, and which I eventually decided to break into two distinct arcs. Other series touch on the idea of long-standing characters. Dragonsteel, for example, will be kind of a bookend series. We'll get novels on Hoid's origins, then jump all the way to the end and get novels from his viewpoint late in the entire Cosmere sequence.

    With Mistborn, I wanted to do something different. For aesthetic reasons, I wanted a fantasy world that changed, that grew updated and modernized. One of my personal mandates as a lover of the epic fantasy genre is to try to take what has been done before and push the stories in directions I think the genre hasn't looked at often enough.

    I pitched Mistorn as a series of trilogies, which many of you probably already know. Each series was to cover a different era in the world (Scadrial), and each was to be about different characters—starting with an epic fantasy trilogy, expanding eventually into a space opera science fiction series. The magic would be the common thread here, rather than specific characters.

    There was a greater purpose to this, more than just wanting a fantasy world that modernized. The point was to actually show the passage of time in the universe, and to make you, the reader, feel the weight of that passage.

    Some of the Cosmere characters, like Hoid, are functionally immortal—in that, at least, they don't age and are rather difficult to kill. I felt that when readers approached a grand epic where none of the characters changed, the experience would be lacking something. I could tell you things were changing, but if there were always the same characters, it wouldn't feel like the universe was aging.

    I think you get this problem already in some big epic series. (More on that below.) Here, I wanted the Cosmere to evoke a sense of moving through eras. There will be some continuing threads. (A few characters from Mistborn will be weaved through the entire thing.) However, to make this all work, I decided I needed to do something daring—I needed to reboot the Mistborn world periodically with new characters and new settings.

    So how does Shadows of Self fit into this entire framework? Well, The Alloy of Law was (kind of) an accident. It wasn't planned to be part of the original sequence of Mistborn sub-series, but it's also an excellent example of why you shouldn't feel too married to an outline.

    As I was working on Stormlight, I realized that it was going to be a long time (perhaps ten years) between The Hero of Ages and my ability to get back to the Mistborn world to do the first of the "second" series. I sat down to write a short story as a means of offering a stop-gap, but was disappointed with it.

    That's when I took a step back and asked myself how I really wanted to approach all of this. What I decided upon was that I wanted a new Mistborn series that acted as a counterpoint to Stormlight. Something for Mistborn fans that pulled out some of the core concepts of the series (Allomantic action, heist stories) and mashed them with another genre—as opposed to epic fantasy—to produce something that would be faster-paced than Stormlight, and also tighter in focus.

    That way, I could alternate big epics and tight, action character stories. I could keep Mistborn alive in people's minds while I labored on Stormlight.

    The Alloy of Law was the result, an experiment in a second-era Mistborn series between the first two planned trilogies. The first book wasn't truly accidental, then, nor did it come from a short story. (I've seen both reported, and have tacitly perpetuated the idea, as it's easier than explaining the entire process.) I chose early 20th century because it's a time period I find fascinating, and was intrigued by the idea of the little-city lawman pulled into big-city politics.

    Alloy wasn't an accident, but it was an experiment. I wasn't certain how readers would respond to not only a soft reboot like this, but also one that changed tone (from epic to focused). Was it too much?

    The results have been fantastic, I'm happy to report. The Alloy of Law is consistently the bestselling book in my backlists, barring the original trilogy or Stormlight books. Fan reaction in person was enthusiastic.

    So I sat down and plotted a proper trilogy with Wax and Wayne. That trilogy starts with Shadows of Self. It connects to The Alloy of Law directly, but is more intentional in where it is taking the characters, pointed toward a three-book arc.

    You can see why this is sometimes hard to explain. What is Shadows of Self? It's the start of a trilogy within a series that comes after a one-off with the same characters that was in turn a sequel to an original trilogy with different characters.

    Calamity Philadelphia signing ()
    #7678 Copy


    If Steelheart becomes a movie, who would your dream person to play Prof?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I don't know who I pick one. Hugh Jackman would be really good.


    *inaudible* Patrick Stewart.

    Brandon Sanderson

    No, Patrick's too old. Hugh Jackman, as he's moving--that would be a good choice.

    Brandon's Blog 2015 ()
    #7679 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Words of Radiance Tweak

    Moving on to Words of Radiance, as we were entering typo fixes for the paperback of this book, I made changes to a few lines near the end. This isn't anywhere near as extensive as the changes in Elantris, but once again I figure I should be up-front about what I did and why I did it.

    This part is going to have some spoilers for the book, so if you haven't read it, please stop right here. I'll put a number of blank lines here to prevent accidental spoilers. Scroll down if you've finished the book.

    So, in Words of Radiance, I think the scene I worked on the longest both in my head and on the page was the final confrontation between Kaladin and Szeth.

    There was something I wanted to do, and took a stab at it in the text, then backed off because I couldn't make it work. It was important to me that Kaladin refuse to kill Szeth at the end. Kaladin is about protection, not vengeance, and once he realized that Szeth really just wanted to be killed, I wanted Kaladin to hesitate.

    It didn't end up working, and I moved on to a new version and submitted it. But this itched at me, and by the time the book was released, I felt I'd made the wrong choice for that scene. So I've taken this chance to roll it back to the previous idea, and written it in a new way, which I like much better.

    The events are the same, except for that moment. Szeth is now killed by the storm instead of by Kaladin, which I think is more thematically appropriate.

    The question this raises is about Szeth being stabbed by a Shardblade, then being resuscitated. I'm sad to lose this sequence, as it's an important plot point for the series that dead Shardblades cannot heal the soul, while living ones can. I'm going to have to work this into a later book, though I think it's something we can sacrifice here for the stronger scene of character for Kaladin and Szeth.

    Brandon's Blog 2015 ()
    #7680 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Elantris 10th Anniversary

    First, in relation to Elantris, May is the 10th anniversary of its release, my first published book! In celebration, we've been putting together a 10th Anniversary Edition, which is coming out later this year. It will be in trade paperback form (the paperback format which is more the size of a hardcover), and I'm hoping I can get Tor to print at least a few hardcovers for those who want to get them.

    We've packed this edition with some cool extras. It includes a new foreword by Dan Wells, a retrospective by myself, an Ars Arcanum appendix (as this was the only one of my Cosmere books not to have one), brand-new redone maps by Isaac Stewart, and a very short extra scene. In addition, as I mentioned, we've changed a few things.

    Now, this is the dangerous thing I talked about above. We've seen in certain high-profile films that changes done by the creator many years later are controversial. It's a slippery path. Part of creating a work of art is learning when to let it alone—most writers I know could just keep tweaking something forever. The quote (often attributed to da Vinci) that says “Art is never finished, just abandoned” is quite a true statement.

    However, Elantris needed some attention. When I wrote it, I didn't have access to a good cartographer who could make the continuity of my crazy map-based ideas for the story work out. I did my best, but it never quite clicked. The maps didn't match the story, and the conceptualization of the ending was always kind of vague because of this disconnect.

    Well, I have Isaac now, along with Peter who is really, really good with the minutiae of this sort of plotting. We've made two kinds of sweeping changes, then, to the text:

    Map Continuity: We've had to shift the locations of some buildings and events as we've figured out a scale for the maps and for the city. We've tweaked the ending; the events are the same, but where certain things happen has been changed to fit. (Over the years, many of you have asked me about this, and I've had to admit that we just got it wrong.) This shouldn't change the story in any significant way except that now it actually makes sense, but I thought you should know.

    Language Changes: Peter has done a very, very thorough copyedit, and has made some stylistic changes to remove some of the quirks of my earlier prose. (Extraneous commas, for example.) Again, this shouldn't change the story in any significant way except to make it more readable.

    Brandon's Blog 2014 ()
    #7681 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    What Is Altered Perceptions?

    This anthology will collect "altered" versions of published stories—deleted scenes, alternate endings, original concept chapters, and that sort of thing.

    For it, I'm letting people see—for the first time—a large chunk of the original version of The Way of Kings, which I wrote in 2002–2003. This version is very different, and involves a different course in life for Kaladin as a character—all due to a simple decision he makes one way in this book, but a completely different way in the published novel.

    These chapters are quite fun, as I consider what happened in The Way of Kings Prime (as I now call it) to be an "alternate reality" version of the events in the published books. The characters are almost all exactly the same people, but their backstories are different, and that has transformed who they are and how they react to the world around them. Roshar is similar, yet wildly different, as this was before I brought in the spren as a major world element.

    Calamity Philadelphia signing ()
    #7682 Copy


    Where in the publication sequence did you realize everything was going to be part of the cosmere?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Well, when I wrote Elantris I’d already written a draft of White Sand, so I set them in the same universe. And then when I wrote Dragonsteel I told the pre--so these were all unpublished. So by the time I was publishing it was all very well set.

    Brandon's Blog 2013 ()
    #7683 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    On my tour, I frequently read from the first chapter of a new novel in the Mistborn world, a sequel to The Alloy of Law. (In fact, you can watch my entire presentation right here. This reading comes at the 45:45 mark.) Tor, understandably, wanted to know when they could publish this book.

    Well, it's far from finished, but I do need to be thinking about what comes next. I know that many of you hope that it would be the third Stormlight book, as there has been such a long delay between the first and second. I do promise I'll be more speedy with Stormlight novels in the future—this long delay should, hopefully, be the exception and not the rule. However, my process being what it is, I probably can't move straight into Stormlight Three.

    I've spoken about this concept a lot, so I might be repeating myself for some of you. One of the things that excites me about being a writer is the constant energy that comes from switching projects. I'm not one of those writers who can pick a series and write on it exclusively for years and years. Though I will frequently have one main project, I do other things between those larger books. Usually, these other books are small, quick, and the means by which I refresh myself and keep myself from getting burned out on the large project.

    While writing the original Mistborn series, I wrote books in the Alcatraz series. While working on The Wheel of Time, I wrote a number of novellas—and The Alloy of Law itself. Now that I'm turning my attention to the Stormlight books as my main project, I'm going to need some things to squeeze between books in order to refresh myself.

    For now, that's going to be Alloy-era Mistborn novels. The second and third books in that series will include the same protagonists from the first, and will—if I'm doing it correctly—be exciting, fun, and deep, but not require you to keep track of a lot of characters or plots between novels. This way, I can balance the large, in-depth sequence of the Stormlight Archive with something lighter and more standalone in nature.

    As many of you know, the Mistborn series was pitched to my editor way back when as a trilogy of trilogies, with an epic fantasy trilogy, followed by an urban fantasy trilogy with the same magic in the same world, followed finally by a science fiction trilogy in which the magic had become the means by which space travel was possible. The Alloy books aren't part of this original plan, but in them you will find foreshadowing toward the second trilogy.

    In the teen book realm, I'll be bouncing between doing the The Rithmatist sequel and the sequels to Steelheart. I realize I have a lot on my plate, and I appreciate you putting up with me as I explore the stories I want to tell. My goal for the next five-year span is to finish up a number of these series, rather than starting anything new.

    Brandon's Blog 2013 ()
    #7684 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    The origin of The Rithmatist

    Six years ago, I was writing a book that I hated.

    Now, that's both rare and common for me at the same time. I tire of pretty much every book I work on at some point, usually during the revision process. I push through and get over it. That's what you do as a writer. By the time I'm done with the process, I'm tired of the book—but it's the good kind of tired. The "I worked hard, and now have something awesome to show for it" tired.

    Unfortunately, that wasn't happening for this book. Called The Liar of Partinel, every chapter was a chore to write. Though it had started very well, it continued to spiral farther and farther down the drain. I was familiar enough with my own writing by this point to realize the problems with Liar wouldn't work themselves out. The characters were boring, the plot forced. The worldbuilding elements never quite clicked together.

    It had been years since I'd had such a bad feeling about a novel. (The last time, in fact, was Mythwalker—my sixth unpublished book—which I abandoned halfway through.) Part of the problem, I suspect, had to do with my expectations. Liar, set in the same world as Dragonsteel, was to be the origin story of Hoid, the character who has appeared in all of my Cosmere novels. (Information here—warning, big spoilers.)

    I needed Hoid's story to be epic and awesome. It just wasn't. And so, I ended up "hiding" from that novel and working on something else instead.

    The Rithmatist. It started with some drawings and a purely creative week sketching out a world, characters, and magic. That week is the exact sort that turned me into a writer in the first place, and was a distinct contrast to the grind that had been Liar. I abandoned the book and dove into The Rithmatist (then called Scribbler), and wrote a book where everything just came together. It happens sometimes. It just works, and I can't always explain—even to myself—why.

    I finished the first draft of the book in the summer of 2007. In the fall, I got the call regarding the Wheel of Time, and my world transformed forever. The Rithmatist, though an awesome book, languished for years because I didn't have the time to devote to it. Doing a tour or contract for another teen book was impossible at that time, and beyond that I couldn't commit to writing any sequels or even doing any revision for the novel.

    I did tell Tor about it, though, and they started to get excited. The publisher tried at several times to get me to release it, but I didn't feel the time was right. I couldn't let my attention be divided that far. I was already stretched too thin, and I wanted my attention (and that of my readers) to be on the Wheel of Time.

    The month A Memory of Light was done and turned in, however, I called Tor and told them it was time to move forward. I'm pleased to be releasing the book now, when I can give it the attention it deserves.

    And hopefully someday I'll be able to fix The Liar of Partinel. (At this point, I'm feeling I need to rewrite it as a first-person narrative, though making that switch is going to cause an entire host of problems.)

    Miscellaneous 2012 ()
    #7685 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    "Spoilers," Kelsier said.

    "We'll put a warning at the top," Moiraine replied, settling down on the ledge, sparing not a glance for the plunge. "And don't change the topic. I believe that I would win, as you're actually a corpse."

    "You're dead too," Kelsier said.

    "I got better."

    "You did?" Kelsier said, surprised.

    "Book Thirteen."

    "Damn. I got stuck in Book Ten."

    "It's not as bad as people say," Moiraine replied. "Mat's sections are wonderful."

    "Well," Kelsier said, "I don't think it matters if you came back. We could just say this is me from the middle of the first Mistborn book. Besides, I think I eventually got better myself."

    "Doesn't count. You became a disembodied voice that may or may not have actually been speaking into the mind of a young boy who was probably insane."

    "Yes," Kelsier said, "but my series has a long way to go yet. Who knows what could happen? I've heard that some very remarkable things can happen with spikes . . ."

    Calamity Philadelphia signing ()
    #7686 Copy


    After the Ascension and everything, how the Allomancy got exponentially weaker after generations. Is something happening after that in the current Mistborn?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, but it’s going to hit a certain point of saturation where it’s going to stop weakening. It’s already kind of, the weakening is…


    Evened out?

    Brandon Sanderson


    Brandon's Blog 2012 ()
    #7687 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Today we're officially announcing Mistborn: Birthright, an action-RPG set in the Mistborn world.

    To those who have been paying close attention, much of this may not be surprising. The MB:B website went live earlier in the month, and I have tweeted several times about the impending game. In short, we're hoping to do a fun, fast-paced, action game with some RPG elements, cool Allomancy effects, and some (hopefully) killer dialogue. That last part is my job, as I'll be writing the story and most (if not all) of the game's dialogue.

    The game will take place hundreds of years before the events of the books, during the early days of the Final Empire. People have often asked me if I will do prequels to Mistborn, and my response has frequently been that I won't likely write them as novels–but I might consider them for other mediums. We're going to try it here, and this will let us do some very cool things to expand the world. And yes, you get to play as a Mistborn.

    The game is scheduled for fall of next year, and we're still very much in the preliminary stages of game design. That means that I don't have much to tell you other than what I wrote above. (Though the game's website will be posting screenshots and the like as they become available.)

    So, since I can't tell you terribly much about the game quite yet, instead I'll tell you how it came to be. I've been keeping my eyes open for the chance to do a Mistborn game for some time; several chances arose, but they always fell through for one reason or another. I didn't want to give the rights to just anybody. I've been a gamer since my first Atari, and I wanted to do it right.

    When Little Orbit first approached me, I was skeptical. I didn't recognize the company, and though they had worked on some professional projects, I didn't see anything in their pedigree that screamed Mistborn at me. However, I like to at least talk to people who are making offers on my work.

    And so, I chatted with them. I met with them. And I was impressed. Not only did they have a love for Mistborn, they had more experience at this sort of thing than I'd originally assumed. The company is made up of people who have been in the business for a long time, and they had worked on a variety of games I really love. (They even have guys who were involved in the original Fallout and Baldur's Gate games.)

    Their pitch materials were good and very persuasive. But the final thing that convinced me they were right came when we sat down and talked about the type of game we would make. Not only were they eager for me to be involved in the story, our discussions of what would make an awesome Mistborn game were synergistic and exciting. They envisioned the game the same way I always had.

    The longer I've worked with them, the more impressed I've been. They keep their promises; they aren't just willing to let me be involved–they seem dedicated to making certain I'm pleased every step of the way. They don't need to go so far–I've said before that I feel an author shouldn't usually have control of game design, but leave that to people who know how to make fun games–but they have gone well beyond what is required of them.

    These guys really, really want to make a great Mistborn game. I'm thrilled by what is coming your way when this thing is done.

    Brandon's Blog 2011 ()
    #7689 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    The second thing I tried writing was a short story set in the Mistborn world a few hundred years after The Hero of Ages. This one just didn’t work; the characters weren’t gripping for me. More importantly, it just didn’t FEEL like a Mistborn book. I got about one scene into it.

    As I was working on it, however, I did some worldbuilding on this time period in Scadrial’s history. I got to thinking about what was wrong with the short story, and why it didn’t feel right. This grew into an outline regarding a completely different story—with no overlap of characters—set in the same time period. I nurtured this and started writing, and it felt right from the get-go. I had the right tone, so I kept writing, expanding my outline, letting the story grow as big as it wanted to be.

    In the end, I had an 85,000-word novel that I named Mistborn: The Alloy of Law.

    Calamity Philadelphia signing ()
    #7690 Copy


    What limits are there on how fast someone with steel Feruchemy can go? Like is it more based on the limits of what the body can survive?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, I will dig into that eventually because I actually have to run the math and just decide. It’s certainly, *pause* there are hard, very hard limits, let’s just say that. But the body generally is...I fudge Feruchemy a little bit, where I allow the body to adapt to what it’s doing for most Feruchemy. Otherwise I just couldn’t use it for very much.

    Brandon's Blog 2010 ()
    #7692 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    I started writing my first novel when I was fifteen years old. I didn’t have a computer; I had an old, electric typewriter. It would remember your file on a disc, but it was really just a printer with an attached bare-bones word processor. (It had a tiny LCD screen at the top that could display three lines at a time. You could scroll through and edit bit by bit, then you hit print and it would type out the document.)

    The book was terrible. It was essentially a hybrid of Tad Williams and Dragonlance, though at the time I felt it was totally new and original. It did have a wizard who threw fireballs with smiley faces on the front, though, so that’s kind of cool. At its core were two stories. One vital one was the tale of a wise king who was murdered by assassins, forcing his younger brother to take up the mantle and lead the kingdom while trying to find/protect the king’s son and rightful heir. The other was about a young man named Rick, originally blamed for the murder.

    I still have some of these pages. (Not the entire book, unfortunately.) I used to hide them behind a picture on the wall of my room so that nobody would find them. I was so anxious about letting people read my writing, and was—for some reason—paranoid my family would find the pages and read them, then make fun of them.

    Over the years, many ideas proliferated and matured in my mind. I began writing books in earnest (I never finished that one I started as a teenager.) I grew as a writer, and discovered how to make my works less derivative. Most of my ideas from my teenage self died out, and rightly so. Others evolved. My maturing sensibilities as both a reader and a writer changed how I saw the world, and some stories stood the test of both time and internal criticism, becoming stronger for the conflict.

    Rick became Jerick, hero of the book now known as Dragonsteel. (It was my honor’s thesis in college, and will someday be rewritten and published. For now, the only copy available is through interlibrary loan, though it appears to have vanished.) Jared, the man who lost his brother and had to lead in his stead, protecting his nephew, slowly evolved into a man named Dalinar, one of the primary protagonists of The Way of Kings. Some of you may be curious to know that the character many now call Hoid also appeared in that ancient book of mine.

    These two epics—Dragonsteel and The Way of Kings—have shaped a lot of my passions and writing goals over the last two decades. For example, in my last year of college I took an introductory illustration class to try my hand at drawing. My final project was a portfolio piece of sketches of plants and animals from Roshar, as even then I was hoping to someday be able to publish The Way of Kings with copious in-world illustrations of Roshar and its life. (At that time, I was planning to have an illustrated appendix, though I eventually decided to spread the pages through the book.) Fortunately, I was able to hire artists to do the work in this book instead of forcing you to look at what I came up with . . .

    Well, finally—after two decades of writing—Tor has given me the chance to share The Way of Kings with you. They’ve taken a risk on this book. At every juncture, they agreed to do as I asked, often choosing the more expensive option as it was a better artistic decision. Michael Whelan on the cover. 400K words in length. Almost thirty full page interior illustrations. High-end printing processes in order to make the interior art look crisp and beautiful. A piece of in-world writing on the back cover, rather than a long list of marketing blurbs. Interludes inside the book that added to the length, and printing costs, but which fleshed out the world and the story in ways I’d always dreamed of doing.

    This is a massive book. That seems fitting, as it has been two decades in the making for me. Writing this essay, I find myself feeling oddly relieved. Yes, part of me is nervous—more nervous for this book than I have been for any book save The Gathering Storm. But a greater part of me is satisfied.

    I finally got it published. Whatever else happens, whatever else comes, I managed to tell this story. The Way of Kings isn’t hidden behind the painting in my room any longer.

    Brandon's Blog 2010 ()
    #7693 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    I started working on THE WAY OF KINGS fifteen years ago. I wrote the first version of the book in full back in 2003. It was always planned to be big. You don’t grow up reading Robert Jordan, Tad Williams, and Melanie Rawn without wanting to do your own big epic. When I showed it to my editor back in ’03, he thought it was too ambitious to be published, at least as my second novel.

    There are thirty magic systems in this world, depending on how you count them, and around six thousand years of history I’ve mapped out. There are dozens of cultures, a continent of enormous scope, and a deep, rich mythology. However, when I say things like that, you have to realize that very little of it will end up in the first book. The best fantasy epics I’ve read begin with a personal look at the characters in the early books, then have a steady expansion into epic scope.

    I’ve spent many years thinking about the epic fantasy genre, what makes it work, what I love about it, and how to deal with its inherent weaknesses. And so I’m trying to make use of the form of the novel (meaning how I place chapters and which viewpoints I put where) in order to convey the scope without distracting from the main stories I wish to tell.

    Anyway, I don’t jump between dozens of characters in this novel. There are three central viewpoints, with two or so primary supporting viewpoints. I intend the first book to be its own story, focused and personal. I don’t want this to be the “Wow! Thirty Magic Systems!” series. I want it to be a series about a group of characters you care about, with a lush and real world that has solid and expansive depth.

    In other words, I promise you a variety of magics, mythology, history, and cultures . . . but not all in the first book.

    Brandon's Blog 2009 ()
    #7695 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson


    This was the book I was working on for a 2010 release. Epic fantasy. I wrote it in 2007, then put it aside when the WoT was offered to me.

    Frankly, I was never pleased with how this book turned out. It was a rough, rough draft—and though I finished it, it wasn’t really ever ‘finished.’ I’ve tossed it back into the wood chipper of my brain. I can do better, and I just can’t ask you to buy this book, as I don’t feel satisfied with it. I could revise it, but that would take about six months of work—delaying the second WoT book for six months. That’s unacceptable, particularly for a book I feel so unsatisfied with. You’ll get a revision of this someday, perhaps.

    Brandon's Blog 2008 ()
    #7697 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson


    I’ve been thinking that I should give a little bit of an explanation of my history as a writer for those of you who don’t know. I think it might give you some context for some of the posts I’ve made, and things people are saying in the forums about my unpublished novels. Read on if you want a little context.

    This all started in earnest when I was 21, about eleven years ago, back in 1997. That was the year when I decided for certain that I wanted to write novels for a living.

    My first goal was to learn to write on a professional level. I had heard that a person’s first few books are usually pretty bad, and so I decided to just spend a few years writing and practicing. I wanted time to work on my prose without having to worry about publishing.

    You might call this my “apprentice era.” Between 97 and 99 I wrote five novels, none of them very good. But being good wasn’t the point. I experimented a lot, writing a variety of genres. (All sf/f of course—but I did some epic, some humor, some sf.) As you can probably guess by me writing five books in two and a half years, none were very well edited and while I had a lot of fun writing them, they were done very quickly, and had a lot less planning than my later books. Not many people read any of these novels, and I only ever sent one out to publishers (the second one, STARS’ END.)

    Around 1999 (I can’t remember the exact date) I started attending the science fiction magazine THE LEADING EDGE at BYU; I also took an important writing class, less because of what I learned about writing (though I did learn a lot) and more because of people I met. Through TLE and the class, I ended up as part of a community of writers, editors, and science fiction/fantasy readers who were serious about what they were doing. During this time, I founded a writing group with Dan Wells and Peter Ahlstrom (Fellfrosh and Ookla over on the TWG forums.) Other members included our friend Nate, who doesn’t hang out here any more, and Ben/Tage, who used to be one of the board’s mods and who is still often one of my alpha readers. Eric (St. Ehlers) was another of our good friends, as was Kristy (Brenna), among numerous others, many of whom don’t hang out here very much any more.

    You might call this the “Golden Era” of my unpublished career. I was getting to one of the most creative points in my life, and was very energized and excited about the writing I’d learned to do. After practicing for five novels, I felt that I was finally in a position to do justice to an epic fantasy story. In 1999, I started a book I called THE SPIRIT OF ELANTRIS, which eventually just became ELANTRIS.

    As I said, this was the golden era of my unpublished career—though I think the ‘unpublished’ part of that statement is important. I hope that I’ll grow and progress, and think that the books I’m writing now are better than the ones I wrote then—just as I hope that the books I’ll do in ten years will be better than the ones I do now.

    However, the three novels from this era—ELANTRIS, DRAGONSTEEL, and WHITE SAND—represent some of the best worldbuilding I’ve ever done. Of the three, ELANTRIS turned out the best by far. WHITE SAND was good, though it will feel dated now if you read it, since my writing skill has improved quite a bit since then and it never got the level of editing and revision that ELANTRIS did. DRAGONSTEEL has moments of brilliance surrounded by some really boring sections; it had trouble because of the scope of what I was attempting. I think any of the three could have become publishable if they’d gotten the right editing and revisions.

    Anyway, I wrote these books in 1999–2000. By 2001, however, this era was lapsing. I finished at BYU, and since TLE was for students, a younger crowd was taking over and I no longer quite fit in there. I continued my writing groups in various forms, and we started the Timewaster’s Guide as a project and forum for those who had worked together during that era of the magazine.

    I was collecting rejection letters for ELANTRIS, WHITE SAND, and DRAGONSTEEL. I felt these books were good—very good. But nobody was giving them much attention. At the conventions, editors kept saying that fantasy novel submissions were too long, and that new writers shouldn’t be trying such beastly first books. I sat down to write MYTHWALKER, by ninth book, and halfway through just couldn’t continue. (It remains the only book I’ve ever given up on.) I was trying another epic fantasy, but I was increasingly disappointed in how poorly the first three had been received. MYTHWALKER felt like an inferior knock-off of my own DRAGONSTEEL, and needed to be rethought. So I stopped working on it. (Though one side story in the book about two cousins named Siri and Vivenna really interested me; they would later get their own book as WARBREAKER.)

    The next little time is kind of the “Dark Era” of my unpublished writing career. After giving up on MYTHWALKER, I decided that New York wasn’t looking for my brand of epic fantasy, and that I’d try to see if I could write something else. I wrote three books during this era. MISTBORN PRIME (I added the prime later to differentiate it), THE AETHER OF NIGHT, and FINAL EMPIRE PRIME.

    In MISTBORN PRIME, I tried to write a dark anti-hero involved in a story that was NOT epic. I tried to write something much shorter than I’d done before, forcing myself to stay away from grand stories or epic style plotting. The result was a 100k work (which is half the length of my other fantasy novels) which just . . . well, wasn’t very good. The magic (a preliminary form of Allomancy) was awesome, and the setting had great points to it. But the plot was unexciting, the character uninteresting, the story uninvolving.

    Depressed by this failure, I didn’t send the book to a single editor. (Though I did show it to Joshua, who is now my agent, as he was curious and following my career at that point. He agreed that this book wasn’t publishable. He never saw ELANTRIS, he’d given up halfway through DRAGONSTEEL—which means he never got past the boring part—and had really liked WHITE SAND, but had wanted to see more from me before picking me up. He felt I still had room to grow, and he was right.

    After MISTBORN PRIME, I wrote a book called AETHER OF NIGHT, which was far more successful. I think it’s the best of the four “Brandon tries to write more toward the market” books. At 150k, it was only 50k shorter than what I’d been doing during the ELANTRIS era, and I let myself play with slightly more epic stories and scope. At this point, I was trying for something with a little more humor in it, something with lighthearted, fun characters in a situation that was at times ridiculous and at times adventuresome. (A more David Eddings like approach, if you will.) It’s not a bad book. I probably won’t ever rewrite it, but it’s not a bad book. Joshua liked it just fine, and thought it was a step forward from Mistborn Prime.

    At this point, my epic fantasy books got another round of rejections, including ELANTRIS rejected by DAW and DRAGONSTEEL rejected by ACE. I’d just sent ELANTRIS to Tor, but figured I’d never hear back. (They’d had WHITE SAND for several years at that point and never gotten back to me.)

    Feeling uncertain about my writing and my career again, particularly since I felt that AETHER hadn’t come together just as I’d wanted, I turned my attention to trying the most basic of fantasy stories. Prophesied hero, orphaned, goes on a travel-log across the world to fight a dark lord. This was THE FINAL EMPIRE PRIME. Of course I was putting my own spin on it. But my heart wasn’t in it—I just couldn’t convince myself that I was adding anything new to the genre, and I was again trying for a ‘half-length’ story. Though there were no dragons, elves, or mythical objects to rescue, I felt that I was just plain writing a bad book. (Note that I was probably too down on this book, as it had some very inventive concepts in it, including a precursor to Feruchemy.)

    I got done with FINAL EMPIRE PRIME and was just plain disappointed. This was the worst book I’d ever written. (And it is, I think, the worst—though MISTBORN PRIME is close.) Here I was, having written twelve novels, and I seemed to be getting WORSE with each one. I wasn’t selling, I was out of school working a wage job graveyard shift, and my social life consisted pretty much of my friends taking pity on me and coming to hang out at the hotel once in a while.

    I think this was one of the big focus points of my career. That year, 2002, I made three decisions. The first was that I was NOT going to give up on writing. I loved it too much, even when I was writing books that didn’t turn out right. (I think this is important for every author to decide.) The second was that I was NEVER AGAIN going to write toward the market. It was killing my books. If I never got published, so be it. At least I would stop writing terrible stories mangled by my attempts to write what I thought people wanted. The final decision was that I’d go to graduate school in creative writing to get myself into that groove of being around writers again, and to also ‘delay’ for a few more years having to get a real job.

    Enter THE WAY OF KINGS era. The last book I wrote before I got published was actually pretty darn good. I tossed out everything I was being told about how to get published, and just wrote from the heart. Over 18 months between 2002 and 2003 I wrote a 300k word book with a 180k outline/backstory/worldbuilding document. (Yes, the setting guide itself was LONGER than the previous three books I’d written.) Beyond that, I plotted the book as the first of TEN in a series.

    KINGS was good. It had problems, but they were fixable problems, and I was extremely proud of the novel. I felt I’d found my place in writing again. I honestly think it’s the best of my unpublished books; almost as some of the published ones.

    In 2003, I got the call from an editor wanting to buy ELANTRIS.

    I suppose the story of my unpublished career ends there, though there’s one more side note. Why did I not published THE WAY OF KINGS? Well, a couple of reasons. First, my agent (Joshua) felt it needed a lot of work. (It did.) Secondly, it was so long that I think it scared Tor to consider it. They have published books longer before, but the market has changed since then, and approaching a book that length as an author’s second book made my editor apprehensive. He’d have done it, but he was already talking about how we’d need to slice it into two novels. (And I really didn’t want to do that.)

    But more than that, I felt that it wasn’t time for KINGS yet. I can’t explain why; just gut instinct, I guess. I wanted to follow ELANTRIS up with a fast-paced trilogy. Something that could prove to people that I could finish a series, and that I really could write. I felt that launching from ELANTRIS into KINGS would be asking too much of my readers. I wanted to give them time to grow accustomed to me and my writing, and I wanted to practice writing a series before getting myself into something enormous.

    And so—perhaps brashly—I looked at the two greatest disappointments of my career and said “Let’s do these the way they SHOULD have been done in the first place.” I took the best ideas from both, I added in a greater majority of other new good ideas, and I planned out a 600 thousand word epic told in three parts. My goal: A kind of calling card to fantasy readers. A trilogy they could read through and get a feel for who I was and what my writing was like.

    Of course, then the WHEEL OF TIME came along and changed everything. I’m even more glad I did what I did, as I didn’t have to stop a series in the middle to work on AMoL. Plus, working on the WHEEL OF TIME has given me an unparalleled insight into the mind of the greatest master of the long-form fantasy series of our time.

    Anyway, that’s a bit of history for those who are curious. Thanks for reading.

    Brandon's Blog 2008 ()
    #7698 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson


    Aon Ene represents wit, intelligence, and cleverness. In recent years, the Aon has also begun to be associated with prosperity and wealth as well. It was once a popular Aon for names, though in recent years it has fallen out of favor in this regard, and names using it are now considered a little old-fashioned.

    The Aon has become a favored symbol of merchants in recent years, as cultural bias looked unfavorably on a shop using the symbol for gold or jewels. (Such symbols on a shop were seen as lavish or presumptuous by some.) Instead, many bankers instead use this Aon on their door to indicate their profession. The appropriation of the symbol is a reference to a quote from the appropriately named Enelan, a scholar who lived about a hundred years before the fall of Elantris: “No wealth of gold and silver can purchase a keen mind, but the man of wit will often find treasures beyond what mere lucre can provide.”

    More traditionally, the symbol was used–and still is used–as a representation of books and scholarly research. Indeed, many scholars, scribes, and illuminators have grown upset by the banking industry’s tendency to use this Aon, as they see it as an appropriation of what they believe to be their own symbol. Part of the tension between the groups has made the Aon fall out of favor for names, though others–generally those who are more traditional–still favor it.

    The shape of the Aon is said to represent two sides of an argument, interacting together in different ways. If one looks closely, one can see that there are, indeed, that the two halves are simply the same set of symbols reversed.

    History And Use

    Some scholars have expressed amusement that this symbol should come to mean intelligence in a broad sense, as the classical meaning of Aon Ene was far more narrow. Ene was the Aon which represented cleverness, the ability to out-wit and out-think opponents. It was often applied in stories and tales to those who had a slyness about them, and often was the symbol which represented the trickster figure. Indeed, those who plaid tricks on others were said to be Enefels–literally, Wit Killers, or those who kill with wit.

    During the Middle Era, when Elantris’s influence expanded and the kingdom of Arelon began to take shape, Aon Ene was attributed to the guild of storytellers who brought tales of the marvels in Elantris. It was often rumored that these people, who took upon themselves the Enefel name, were agents of the Elantrians. Their purpose was to spread good will about the city and its inhabitants, calming the rural populace, who regarded Elantris and its magics with suspicion.

    Over the centuries, this guild of storytellers transformed into a more scholarly group who gathered stories and histories from the people. By the dawn of the Late Era–about two centuries before the fall of Elantris–the group had burgeoned beyond its origins into several distinct sects of scholars and philosophers. By the time of the fall of Elantris, the constant association of this group with Aon Ene expanded its meaning into the more familiar use, representing scholarly intelligence and study.

    Some still remember the original meaning, however. Though most of those are themselves scholars, and find the entire transformation to be something of a humorous joke played by history itself.

    Naming and Usage in ELANTRIS

    As use of the name is out of favor recently, the only character in Elantris who appears with Aon Ene in their name is Sarene herself. Eventeo, Sarene’s father, is not only a traditionalist, but a scholar himself. He is well aware of the ancient meaning of the Aon, and has remarked on occasion that he finds the choice particularly accurate when applied to his daughter.

    Ene is one of the primary constellations in the Arelene sky, and the star pattern is the most easy to pick out. It contains the pole star of the world, a concept which as fascinated philosophers throughout history.

    Eventeo’s use of the simple word “Ene” as a nick-name for Sarene is another traditional association with names attached to the Aon. Much as some cultures shorten words or names into common nicknames, Ene–pronounced Eeenee–is a commonly applied term of endearment for someone who has this Aon in their name.


    This Aon has a powerful and unusual AonDor counterpart. A properly drawn Aon Ene puts forth a light, known by many as the Light of the Mind. When sitting in this Aon’s light, one’s mental abilities are enhanced. The Elantrian–or anyone else who happens to be close to the Aon–can memorize more quickly, think more clearly, and stave off mind-clouding effects of tiredness and sickness.

    Used in conjunction with other Aons, Aon Ene is what is known as a “Linking Aon.” Using it properly in the Aon equation will link subsections of Aon lists together, coordinating which effects take place at which times during the Aon List’s progression. It is an important Aon to learn to use well for complex Aon Linkings, and no true AonDor master is without substantial practice in its use.

    Calamity Philadelphia signing ()
    #7699 Copy


    I teach economics at Rutgers and in general I love the books but *inaudible* I like to tease him because he loves them, and say it doesn’t really make sense to have a fixed price for Breaths and it doesn’t make sense that if you give it away when you’re young, and his claim was that somewhere in the book it talks about how the Breath actually gets weaker as you get older.

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, dying Breaths can be much weaker, but not middle aged ones. So, you have a legitimate thing, my counter to you is, having listened to a ton of Freakonomics, economic people do not do what is logically economic, particularly in a closed system. You might find that Breaths sell for different things, or are treated differently, in other countries.


    In the Warbreaker world.

    Brandon Sanderson

    But I do think about these things.


    Oh no, it’s obvious you do. It’s pretty clear when you start looking at it, and that's not something...

    Brandon Sanderson

    Here’s the thing, there are fantasy writers who are actually economists, L.E. Modesit is the most famous one, and he-- I’ve been on panels where he’s complained about how writers, fantasy writers ignore economics, basic economics, all the time. So I try to listen at his feet a bit.

    Brandon's Blog 2008 ()
    #7700 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson


    Aon Ehe represents the primal force of Fire. A complex Aon with only basic symmetry, its form has often been likened to wisps of tickling fire burning out from a central coal.

    While the many poets in history seem to have preferred the overall symmetry of an Aon like Aon Omi or Aon Rao, not a few preferred Aon Ehe for its distinctive look and feel. (Much like Aon Shao, this Aon breaks with traditional Aon form in appearance.) For this reason, and because of the destructive yet vital power of fire, the Poet Lenehe of the fifth century named Aon Ehe “The most inspiring of all Aons, a symbol for those with a creative heart and an unhindered mind.”

    Recently, this Aon–easily recognizable, even to the uneducated–has become synonymous with ‘Danger,’ and is used as a warning. In many cases, in fact, it is printed on warnings which have nothing at all to do with fire. One might find it upon an unsteady bridge or a wood hiding dangerous wolves just as easily as one might find it referencing actual flames.

    History And Use

    All Aons exist independent of humankind, their symbols inherently tied to their meaning, but few have distinct origin stories explaining how the Aon was first discovered. Some modern scholars scoff at such tales, but Aon Ehe’s origin myth is well known among the common people and believed by most.

    The story tells of the first princess of Arelon. This was some years after the founding of Arelon following the migration of the Aonic people from other lands. Elantris, of course, had already existed as a city when that migration occurred, and had been discovered empty. While some people assumed it haunted, Proud King Rhashm (later renamed Raoshem) determined to conquer the fears of his people and set up a kingdom centered on Elantris.

    The transformation of the first Elantrians happened beginning several decades later. Princess Elashe–the first of Raoshem’s line to be chosen as an Elantrian–claimed to have seen the pattern of this Aon inscribed on a coal in her hearth the day after she underwent the transformation. Whether or not this story is true, a coal or rock written with Aon Ehe on it is considered good luck and a ward against winter spirits. (Though this kind of superstition is frowned upon by the Korathi priests.)

    Other uses of Ehe are plentiful. It is one of the primal elements, and is often used in scientific writings. It is a ward and warning against danger. It is used on signs in conjunction with other Aons to mean warm food or warm beds available. Some artists and poets choose it as their symbol, both to hint at the dangerous nature of artistry and to speak of the passion of artistry.

    Naming and Usage in ELANTRIS

    Aon Ehe is often mispronounced as “E-hay.” Though scholars of Aonic insist that the proper term, “E-Hee” is more accurate, the former is slowly being acknowledged as an acceptable pronunciation as well. It is infrequently used in names during modern days, as the meaning ‘Danger’ is seen as unfavorable. However, historically, it was a favorite Aon for poets and artists (who often took new names for themselves when entering into their maturity as an artist, a tradition by which they removed themselves from their old body of work and indicated that they were beginning anew.)

    Some famous examples of names from Aon Ehe include the poet Ehen, the artist Ehelan, and Mehen the philosopher.


    Aon Ehe is one of the most spectacular, useful, and awe inspiring of base Aons when used by an Elantrian. There are many Aons which have destructive or powerful effects, but none are as strong without modification as Aon Ehe.

    Drawn simply, the Aon creates a column of flame, acting as a direct and primal conduit to the Dor itself. The diameter of the column depends on the size of the Aon drawn, and the direction the column is launched depends on the direction the Aon is facing. Often, this Aon is drawn on the floor so that a column of pure fire can be launched up into the air. The column is brief–only lasting a few seconds–but incredibly powerful.

    With some enhancement modifiers, this Aon can be made to last longer. The pre-Reod AonDor scholars crafted lamps with flames that continued to burn no matter which way they were turned. They would even continue to burn beneath water. This Aon can be used in warfare, if necessary, though Aon Daa is generally a better weapon.

    As a modifier, Aon Ehe can be used to create a ward that sets off other Aon chains. It provides one of the more useful tools in an AonDor practitioner’s repertoire, though the difficulty in drawing it can make it difficult to use for the less talented.