Do Surgebinders have gemhearts like greatshells do?
Do Surgebinders have gemhearts like greatshells do?
The Parshmen / Parshendi / Listeners, do they give birth like humans do? Living little Parshendi?
They give live birth, yes.
Did Gavilar see the same visions Dalinar did?
The Iriali Long Trail, is it related to the Cosmere?
And the Fourth Land, the Seventh Land, those...
These are definitely-- They are in the Cosmere. This is where you give me a lot of wiggling, because yes, it is related to the Cosmere.
There is a person on the forums who noticed that Shallan has this awesome Memory thing going on, Jasnah seems to have a really powerful, kind of, geolocation thing going on, Kaladin is a really good fighter - are those just their traits, or is there something supernatural going on?
There is something supernatural going on. Each Order... Well, how about this. If you look at the scholar interpretations, there are some scholars who think that these things are not supernatural, in the past, and some who said they definitely are. But many, if you look, many Lightweavers had powerful mnemonic abilities.
So it's definitely tied to the Orders?
It's tied to the Orders. Now, I am not going to say that you've got them all 100% correct, but each Order, there are things that come with Order, things that do not add up from simple the "you get this power plus this power," there is something else going on. And I would say that for Windrunners, watch the number of squires and the power of the squires... is abnormal for the Windrunners.
And each Order's squires are somehow different from the other Orders'?
Yeeeaaaah... some Orders don't have them, [that] is the difference.
But some have more?
In the different worlds, can you spike people Hemalurgically with materials other than metal? Say, you create a wood spike for Breath, or a gem spike for Surges?
Is normal Awakening and BioChroma an end-neutral system?
Yeah. Yes. Meaning, you don't lose Breath in the [process].
Can you confirm the real names of the Heralds for me? I have Jezrien (ˈjɛzɹən), Nale (for Nalan) - is that right?
Nale (neil) is what-- Nale is, yes, yes.
Chana [pronounced Shana] or Chana...
Vedel (vəˈdɛl), yeah. Chana (ˈt͡ʃænə) is also called Chanarach (ˈt͡ʃænəɹæt͡ʃ). Either one would be alright.
Okay, but her birth name...
Probably-- I think Chanarach is actually her birth name and Chana is the nickname.
Vedel... Pali, for Pailiah?
Yeah, I think Pali (ˈpæli) is the nickname in that case.
No, that's a nickname.
What's the real one?
That's not he just the Vorin...
No, that one was actually symmetrical.
Awesome. Battar (bəˈtɑɹ)?
Kalak (kəˈlɑk), yes.
Talenel (tæləˈnɛl), with a nickname Taln (tæln)?
And Ishar (ɪˈʃɑɹ)?
When a Surgebinder's eye color changes when they Surgebind or have a Blade [out], is the color of their eyes corresponding to their Order? So Windrunners would do blue, and then--
So each Order gets a different eye color?
Each Order does indeed have an eye color representation.
The person who arrived at the gates of Kholinar, the one you refuse to acknowledge as Talenel - is that person the same as the one delivered to the warcamps?
Can the forms of power of the listeners be treated as anti-equivalents of the Orders of the Knights Radiant? Could we consider Stormforms to be anti-Windrunners?
You could consider it that way, but there is not a one-to-one analogue.
Because it seemed like there are ten voidforms, and their abilities are kind of anti-Surges...
Yes, yes, there is definitely something there, but again I say, it's not a one-to-one correlation. They are not going to be exactly opposite.
If I were to impulsively Soulcast pewter, the way Shallan does with the blood in The Way of Kings, would it come out that an Allomancer be able to use it?
You could create Allomantically viable metals, yes.
But is it automatic?
I would say that the pure metals are, but the alloys are not.
Where does the fiber for fabric come from on Scadrial?
[Brandon misunderstands the question to be about Rosharan fabrics] Some of it comes from seasilk. The silk is not the same silk that we [have], most of it is from plant-based textiles. Most of the-- here we have insects, we can use their cocoons and stuff; cocoons on Roshar have rock in them. And so it's a little bit hard. But a lot of the plants do too, and there are a lot of plant-based textiles you can use, so...
Didn't you ask about Scadrial?
Oh, Scadrial! I was thinking about Roshar. Yeah, Scadrial is an Earth analogue. Scadrial is my place that if it's on Earth, you can assume it's on Scadrial. That is not the case for the other worlds, but it is for Scadrial.
Denth's Motivations Here
If you're reading through for the second time, pay close attention to the things Denth says here about Lemex. They're having a conversation about how Lemex could be a patriot but still steal from the king. Well, Denth is kind of talking about himself here, and not Lemex. He's hinting that he thinks (or would like to think) that he can both do his job and be a good man at the same time.
These are things he's struggling with. He tries to tell himself that he doesn't care, but he does. He has kidnapped Vivenna here without her knowing it, and is very deftly manipulating her. (By the way, Jewels tails her to the assembly meeting, if you were wondering.) He does feel bad about this, just like he feels bad about killing Lemex. That doesn't stop him from doing things like this, though.
He does plan to get Vivenna's Breath. He knows, however, that in the end he can probably just torture her into giving it to him. In this scene, if you could see into his head, he's trying to figure out how exactly he can get her to give it to him without having to hurt her.
He doesn't really believe he can do it, though. Life has proven to Denth lately that he just has to do bad things. He almost sees it as inevitable.
A few notes here. When Tonk Fah says, "Unless you count pets," in reference to their team only having three members, he's not talking about the bird. He's actually talking about Clod the Lifeless.
Denth Chats with Her about Breath
Vivenna and Siri are beginning their role reversals here. Siri is learning to be more reserved—though it's more that she's learning to act like a queen. Taking responsibility, being active rather than inactive.
Vivenna is being forced, just a little bit, into inactivity. She thinks she's doing things, but she's mostly just reacting. Beyond that, she's experiencing what it's like to lose control of her emotions repeatedly.
What is the gem cut that holds the most Stormlight, and does it vary from gem to gem?
It does vary from gem to gem, and... I've got this written down somewhere... I am going RAFO, because it's more of a "go to my notes and find out."
Timing of This Chapter
My editor threw me a little curveball in the last edit for this book by asking me if I could move the first Vivenna chapter (the previous one) up a few spots so that she was introduced earlier in the book.
This presented a problem, since I had her arriving, meeting the mercenaries, going to Lemex, then going to see Siri all in the same day. (Though across three chapters.) That meant that I had to move two chapters forward, then, since I didn't want to break with the mercenaries telling her that they were there to kill her. I wanted to go directly to the next scene with her.
It took a lot of juggling. One of the revisions I had to make was to move this third chapter a day later in the process. She had to arrive, fall asleep, then get up the next morning and have a conversation about giving the Breaths away. Then she had to go see Siri that same day.
I still worry that this jumble caused timing issues. I think I caught them all, but I worry that at one point Lightsong says, "The presentation of the queen is two days away," then we have Vivenna arrive that same day, then fall asleep and go see Siri the next day. If that's the case, then the explanation is—unfortunately—that the chapters aren't happening quite in chronological order.
Usually, I try to make my chapters all chronological, even across different viewpoints. But once in a while, the story is better if they aren't. The distinction is very hard to pick up. But I think it may happen here. (Note that a lot of authors, like Robert Jordan, don't strive for chronology—they like it better if the chapters are out of order a little. In a Robert Jordan book, for instance, we'll often have characters doing things in one chapter, then jump to other characters doing things a few weeks earlier. The chapters are always chronological by viewpoint, but the viewpoints can be off from one another. In fact, he plays with this concept a lot, setting book ten mostly back during the same time as book nine.)
Ars Arcanum at the back of this book [The Alloy of Law] - who is it written by?
The same person who has written all of them.
Siri Realizes That She Needs to Be Proactive
As I said in the other section, I think that Siri's plot here is just a tad accelerated from what I'd like—but that's necessary. Nothing is worse in a book than a character who never does anything. She needed to get through her fear and her worry and decide to become proactive. It was only then that interesting things could start to happen in her storyline.
So, I pushed through the moments of indecisiveness and inaction as fast as I could, getting to this moment where she decides to change. I feel that her character being what it is (impulsive and determined) justifies her quickly deciding to take responsibility for herself, now that she's been placed into a situation of great stress.
Lightsong Hears Petitions
The concept of petitions—and the gods being able to heal someone one time—grew out of my desire to have something about them that was miraculous. Something obvious, something more than just an ability to make vague prophecies. Their Breath auras are amazing, true, but an Awakener with a lot of Breath can replicate that.
I took the idea of being able to die in order to heal from an idea discarded from Elantris. If you look at the deleted scenes (Caution: Spoilers for the ending of Elantris), you can read about how there was originally a subplot to the story where the Seons (the floating balls of light) could expend the Aon at their center and create a miraculous event one time. However, doing so would kill them. I eventually ended up not using this plot structure in the final draft, and so I cut all references to this ability from the book. I felt that it was too contrived in that novel.
I've always thought it was interesting conceptually, however, so I developed it into this book as an aspect of Returned that makes them different. They can create one miracle—and in this world, that one miracle has to be a healing. They can expend their divine Breath to heal someone.
This created another problem for readers, however. It became very difficult in the book to explain to them that a Returned could still Awaken things—but not by using the Breath granted to them by their Return. In other words, if a Returned gained a hundred extra Breaths, they could use them just like anyone else's. But if they give away the Breath they start with, it kills them.
Every person starts with a Breath. Well, Returned start with one too—a divine Breath that can be given away to heal someone else's Breath that is weakening and dying. That's what these petitioners are asking for.
But regular Breaths, they can give those away. They just have to be tricky about it.
Anyway, in this chapter, he's trying to give Siri a seed of worry and doubt. He's hoping that if she feels she's in danger, she'll trust him more and that will let him do what he needs to. At this point, he's not sure that he will kill her. It's more that he's hoping he'll be able to manipulate her to in turn manipulate the Idrians in the city. So he wants to make sure Siri sees the Hallandren as her enemies. He can tell that she's beginning to think her life in the city isn't all that bad, and he's worried about that. Idris and Hallandren won't go to war, in his opinion, if Siri is too content.
However, Denth's success with Vivenna out in the city (and yes, Bluefingers is the one employing Denth) will eventually convince Bluefingers that he doesn't need Siri for that role. Unfortunately for her—and for him, in a way—he realizes that if she were seen as having been killed by the Hallandren priests, it would certainly spark a war.
Origin of Bluefingers as a Character
Bluefingers originated, like most ideas for my books, as a character unconnected to any story or world. I wanted to tell a story about a scribe in a palace who was looked down on by the nobility for his simple birth, but who became the hero of the story. I felt that a scribe would make a nice, different kind of viewpoint character.
And maybe I someday will tell a story like that, but the character evolved to be the one who entered this story. He's much changed from those origins, as you can see, but he's largely the same person in my mind. And I love the name Bluefingers for a scribe character.
Yes, Bluefingers was also planned as a traitor from the beginning. The whole reversals idea required me to build my shadowy villains quite carefully and deliberately.
Just above, I spoke of the original Bluefingers as a hero. Well, the thing is, that's how he still sees himself. The heroic Pahn Kahl figure with his fingers in events, ignored by the nobility (or, in this case, the priests) because of his race and position, he was able to manipulate quite a bit of what was going on in the kingdom.
He was the hero trying to free his people. He just took it too far.
Siri Visits the God King's Chamber Again
To be honest, in a perfect world, I'd probably slow this down just a tad. I'd insert another chapter from Siri's viewpoint with her going to the chambers, the God King watching her, and her being subservient. I wouldn't do this chapter, where she explodes at him, until their third scene together.
But that would only happen in a book where I don't have quite so much going on with other viewpoints. My books are already a tad on the long side, as far as the booksellers are concerned. They'd like it if epic fantasy novels shrank down to about 120,000 words (instead of my average of 240,000).
If I'd really thought it mattered, I'd have put the extra scene in. The real problem is that since Siri is only one of four major viewpoints, I needed to be careful. If this book were only about her, I could have filled her chapters with more political intrigue and added a lot of subplots. That would have made a slower pacing with the God King work. However, I decided not to go that direction with the book, so I needed instead to make sure the pacing was quicker on the main plot she's involved in.
Denth the Traitor
Denth was always going to betray Vivenna. In fact, this is one of the very early concepts for the book—the idea that I wanted a bad guy who was not only likable, but funny. Too often, villains are portrayed as simply despicable people. If they laugh, it's evil laughter.
But people just aren't like that, not most of them. They're real, they have goals and motivations, but they also laugh, cry, and feel. Denth is a mercenary. More than that, he's a man who has caused a lot of pain and death in his long lifetime, and he copes with it by letting himself be hired to do important tasks. So that he doesn't have to feel as responsible.
In a lot of ways, I imagined Denth as the anti-Kelsier. Glib, smart, and hired to do impossible tasks. Only in this book he works for the wrong team. In this scene in particular, he was doing his best to nudge Vivenna to give him the Breaths. His job was only to hold her, to keep her captive and in reserve just in case the plots with Siri failed. That way, there would be a second princess to use in the plots. He was assigned to work for Lemex originally just to give him an in with the Idrians in the city, so that he could rile them up to incite the war further. But when he found that Vivenna was coming, he realized that she would be a much better pawn, and so he poisoned Lemex and took her instead. His employers were very happy to have a backup princess.
So, anyway, Lemex's Breaths were secondary. Denth wanted them, but he knew that the most important thing to do here was get Vivenna to trust him. So he tried to subtly manipulate her into giving them to him. (He intentionally acted reluctant to take them in order to goad her.)
In some ways, even though he doesn't have a viewpoint, a big theme of this book is the tragedy of the man Denth. He could have been more. At one time, he was a much better man than most who have lived.
Tonk Fah is a waste of flesh, though. Even if he is funny sometimes.
Vivenna Visits Lemex
In the very early planning of this book, I intended Lemex to live. He was going to become a mentor figure for Vivenna, and have the very personality that she described him as having in her imagination. Spry, quick-witted, intelligent.
So I decided to kill him off.
Why? Well, it's complicated. On one hand, I felt that he was too much of a standard character from one of my books. The witty mentor is not only a stereotype of fantasy, but something I rely upon a lot in my writing. (Though, granted, many of those haven't been published—however, Grandpa Smedry from the Alcatraz books is a great example of this kind of character.)
I also felt that Lemex could too easily be a crutch for Vivenna in the same way that Mab could have been for Siri. The idea was to keep these sisters consistently out of their elements, to force them to stretch and grow.
Instead, I upped the competence of the mercenaries and decided to have them play a bigger part.
Vivenna Meets the Mercenaries in the Restaurant
Denth was planned as an important figure in this book from the early going. I was looking for a type of character I'd never written, someone who could be interesting, but not steal the show too much from Vivenna. But I also wanted someone who would provide some good verbal sparring (a theme of this book) without simply replicating the way that Lightsong makes word plays.
Denth's and Tonk Fah's personalities grew out of this. I wanted them to offer a more lowbrow sort of humor, conversations that dealt with more base types of joking. They aren't supposed to be laugh-out-loud funny, but hopefully they're amusing and colorful as characters.
Parlin as a Character
Any of you who followed the development of Warbreaker as a novel through the early stages know that Parlin, as a character, changed dramatically across revisions. He began with a different name (Peprin) and was much more bumbling and innocent. He provided some comic relief and often said dumb things.
This just didn't work. For one thing, we already have the mercenaries in Vivenna's viewpoint to give us some fun lines. (More on them later.) For another, Peprin was just too dense. I didn't like how stupid he came off. He seemed ridiculous rather than funny. So, I chopped him out and replaced him with a similar character who was more competent.
For instance, in the original draft, Peprin bought a hat because he thought it was cool—but it just made him look stupid. Parlin buys the same hat, but his reasoning is that if you're going to go about in the woods, you dress in woodland colors. If you're going to go about in the city, you want to start dressing in city colors. It's good reasoning, and you'll see him follow it more in the future. The two men do the same thing, but in my head the rationale was completely different, and that changed how I wrote them. (I hope.)
Reading through the book again, I still feel that Parlin just isn't enough of a character. With the mercenaries there to dominate the scene, Parlin gets lost. I feel that if I had the time, I'd probably chop him out again and replace him with yet another character, one who talks more, so that he can be more a part of things. Ah well.
Vivenna Watches the City
One of the reasons I knew that I had to make Vivenna a viewpoint character was that there was such a wonderful contrast between her and Siri. The way they look at the world is so different that it provides excellent opportunities for the story. The way they each respond to their first visit to T'Telir is an example of this.
Beyond that, with Siri and Lightsong locked in the court, and with Vasher doing whatever the heck Vasher is doing, we didn't have any characters who could experience the city itself consistently with a sympathetic viewpoint.
As I've stated, this book began as one about the two sisters who are forced into each other's roles, and how they deal with those changes in their lives. Vivenna is an integral part of this process.
Vivenna as a Viewpoint Character
Generally, Vivenna is the readers' least favorite character in the book. I can see why that is. Siri gets to be the flamboyant younger sister, Lightsong the pithy courtier, and Vasher the mysterious unknown. Vivenna, then, is saddled with the responsibility of being the older sister trying to do what is right. She's not as dynamic as the others, particularly from the start.
Perhaps this should have made me want to put more into her viewpoints. Change her to be more dynamic, perhaps. However, I resisted that. Of the four, Vivenna is the most like me. The older sibling who gets into other people's business, ostensibly for their own good. I was a lot like that when I was younger.
For me, Vivenna is the most interesting character in the book. Yes, Lightsong was the most fun to write—but Vivenna is the one who has the most potential for growth and change. Particularly because she isn't instantly appealing like the other three. Much like Hrathen in Elantris, Vivenna begins very far from where she would need to go if she wanted to gain the rooting interest of readers. You'll have to read on and see if she actually gets there.
Siri Wakes Up Untouched, Then Explores the Palace
These Siri chapters presented a little bit of a problem to me in that I generally focus my writing around conversations. A given chapter will have some action and description, but usually the series of scenes revolves around important discussions between characters.
But in the palace during the Jubilation, Siri has almost nobody to talk to. She just doesn't have anything to do. A note to aspiring writers: A character not having anything to do is bad. You want action, motion, and conflict in your stories. That's what keeps them moving and interesting.
But in this case, Siri's lack of direction was necessary to make the plot work. In these chapters, Siri is just reacting—trying to stay afloat in a world very different from her own. So I had to focus on other ways to make the scenes interesting.
A lot of times, in writing, needs like this end up defining aspects of the books. I hadn't intended the palace to work as it did—with each room being modular, any of them able to transform into any type of room. I intended to give Siri her own set of chambers, as might be expected in a situation like this.
But when I reached this point in the book, the chapter was looking dull, and I knew I needed some little twist to the palace to make it original enough to hold Siri's—and the reader's—attention here. It's a very small thing, but I think that one change added a lot to the chapter, and therefore the book.
Blushweaver was the first of the gods who I named, and her title then set the standard for the others in the Court of Gods. Lightsong was second, and I toyed with several versions of his name before settling. Blushweaver's name, however, came quickly and easily—and I never wanted to change it once I landed on it.
When developing the Court of Gods, I wanted to design something that felt a little like a Greek pantheon—or, rather, a constructed one. Everyone is given their portfolio by the priests after they Return. Blushweaver was given the portfolio of honesty and interpersonal relations, and over the fifteen years of her rule, she's become one of the most dynamic figures in the court. Few remember it anymore, but she was successful at having her name changed during her first year. She used to be Blushweaver the Honest, and she became Blushweaver the Beautiful through a campaign and some clever politicking.
Many think of her as the goddess of love and romance, though that technically isn't true. It's just the name and persona she's crafted for herself, as she saw that as a position of greater power. She actually toyed with going the opposite direction, becoming the chaste goddess of justice and honor. However, in the end, she decided to go the direction that felt more natural to her.
After these fifteen years, it's hard to distinguish when she is being herself and when she's playing a part. The two have become melded and interchangeable.
When designing this story, I knew I wanted to have a beautiful goddess to give Lightsong some verbal sparring. However, I realized early on that I didn't want to go the route of having a disposable, sultry bimbo goddess of love. I needed someone more complicated and capable than that, someone who was a foil to Lightsong not just in verbal sparring, but someone who could prod him to be more proactive. And from that came Blushweaver.
In the original draft of the book, this chapter had a slightly different tone. Lightsong didn't look forward to sparring with Blushweaver; he cringed and wished she wouldn't bother him. That artifact remained until the later drafts, though it didn't belong. I wrote the later chapters with them getting along quite well, so I wanted to revise this first chapter to imply that he looked forward to their conversations.
Siri Enters the God King's Chambers
This is one of those chapter breaks that is there for stylistic drama more than anything else. Thematically, these two chapters are really the same chapter. However, I wanted to break before she steps in because it works so well as a dramatic turn in the story.
I've had e-mails asking me about how to decide when to break a chapter. Honestly, I'm not sure how to answer this one. Breaking chapters isn't something I plan; it's something I just do. A good chapter should have a nice arc of its own, with rising action, a climax, then perhaps some brief falling action. (And thinking of that, you can probably see why chapters five and six can be considered a single chapter in this regard.) But there's not a real science to it—break where it feels right.
Anyway, Siri's entrance here is probably the first big climactic moment of the book. It's where I've been pushing the novel since the beginning, and is one of the focal scenes for this book. (The scenes that I imagine and develop before I being writing, which then propel their section of the novel.)
The Royal Locks
A group of people whose hair changes color based on their emotions is another one of those little story seeds that had been bouncing around in my head for years before I wrote this book. I even did a few test chapters in other settings with characters who had this physical attribute. (Dark One, which I don't know if I'll ever finish, toyed with it. As did a book set in the Aether world.)
Eventually, this attribute slid into Warbreaker. I'm glad I found a good home for it; I love how it adds a little bit of flavor to Siri and Vivenna, making them distinctive in a way that doesn't have much of anything to do with the plot. I always talk about making things connected, and that's very important. But you have to be careful not to make everything too neat. That leads to its own problems, as I mentioned in an earlier annotation.
The Royal Locks do work into the worldbuilding, as you'll find out eventually in the book. However, mostly they're around to give a distinctive feel to the world and the royal line, to show you that there is something unique about the royals. It hopefully enhances your understanding of why Hallandren would work so hard to bring them back into their own line of kings.
Siri Is Bathed, Then Sent to the God King
This was a strange sequence of chapters to write. I've spoken before on writing characters of the opposite gender. This has grown easier and easier for me over the years, partially—I think—because I started out so bad at it that I insisted on forcing myself to practice and practice. Now, it's usually as easy for me as writing men. In fact, I don't even think about the gender of the character when I'm writing—I think about who the character is. What their motivations and conflicts are. How they see the world and how they react to things. True, their gender does influence this—just as it influences their personalities. But I don't sit down and say, "I'm going to write a woman now." I sit down and say, "I'm going to write Siri." I know who Siri is, so I can see through her eyes and show how she reacts.
All that said, I'd never before tried writing a wedding night from the viewpoint of a woman. It presented a few interesting challenges. For one, there's a whole lot more nudity in this book than in my other books. I don't shy away from this (even though I myself am probably more conservative than most of my readers in areas of sexuality), as I feel that what you do with your imagination is your own business. This scene could be done in a PG way, a PG-13 way, or an R way. It's completely up to you how you want to imagine it.
One interesting thing to note is that my own wedding happened during the process of writing this book. I wrote this chapter before then, but I was engaged at the time. While working on the novel I got to go through the entire progression of awkward moments of a wedding night myself. (Yes, it was our first time, by choice.)
I think that probably colored how I wrote Siri's viewpoints throughout the entire book.
The other major Lightsong revision happened in the form of a humor upgrade. My editor didn't complain about the same thing as my agent—instead, my editor wanted to laugh more. He wanted more witty lines from Lightsong. I resisted this at first, as I worried that making him too snappy would undermine his internal conflicts. I wanted him to be droll, but not necessarily brilliant.
Eventually, however, my editor prevailed upon me. He was always of the opinion that a few extra witty lines wouldn't undermine anything. I have to say, I like the lines, and I'm mostly glad to have them. But I do worry about overloading the humor in Lightsong's chapters, and therefore diluting his internal conflict.
Chapter Five - Part Two
The Lightsong sections received two major upgrades during the last few drafts of the novel. The first was the enhancement of his memories of his dreams. We don't get to see the dreams, just their effect on him.
In the original draft, these dreams were far less ominous, particularly at the beginning of the book. My agent complained that the book felt like it lacked direction, particularly in the Lightsong sequences, and asked me to find a way to make it more tense. He didn't care if Lightsong joked; he just wanted to feel a tension underneath. A sense that all was not right.
The dreams came from this. Originally, Lightsong just dreamed about the ship leaving the port. In the later drafts, I added him remembering more in this chapter—the city on fire, the flames causing a red reflection on the ocean.
This actually wasn't a change to the dream. That's what I'd intended him to have dreamed; I just originally had him forgetting. I didn't start getting into the violent dreams until much later in the book, one chapter in particular. But because of Joshua's requests, I moved the sense of danger up from those later chapters to here to begin foreshadowing earlier.
Originally, I had Vasher make an oblique comment about Bebid's daughter as a way to get him to talk. However, I shied away from this in later drafts, moving to more nebulous indiscretions instead. I felt that a comment about a daughter might sound too much like kidnapping on Vasher's part, even though I was thinking that his daughter had done something embarrassing that, if revealed, would get the priest into trouble.
Vasher Meets Bebid the Priest for Food
Restaurants. They didn't really exist in a lot of medieval cultures. Now, most of my books don't take place in medieval times—they're more preindustrial uchronias, late renaissance if you will. Warbreaker is no exception.
T'Telir seems the kind of place that would have restaurants. Places to sit idly, eating and chatting. It is a successful port city with a lot of trade and a great deal of wealth. There's even something of a middle class, another concept that didn't exist during a lot of periods in time.
I've been wanting to do a book with a talking sword for some time. Sentient objects are a favorite theme of mine from fantasy books I've read, and I think you'll probably see more of them in future books from me.
The magic sword is its own archetype in fantasy, even if there haven't been any good magic sword books among the big fantasy novels of recent years. Perhaps that's because Saberhagen and Moorcock did such a good job with their books in the past. I'm not sure. (I don't count appearances of magic swords like Callandor in the Wheel of Time. I mean books with major parts played by swords.)
Anyway, that's a tangent, and I'm certain that half the people reading this can think of examples and exceptions to what I just said. Either way, this is a theme I wanted to tackle, and the magic system of this world lent me the opportunity.
Nightblood is another favorite character of the readers. I think his personality works the best out of any non-viewpoint character I've ever written. He doesn't get that much dialogue in the book, but it is so distinctive that it just works.
Chapter Five - Part One
Vasher Watches Siri
We get back to Vasher. Showing his viewpoints in the book was tricky. I wanted him to remain an enigma—I didn't want you to know if you were rooting for him or not. But I did want you to think he was interesting.
A related question. When you add to the wiki, do you soften the writing to add more information to the wiki?
Occasionally I do. Usually it’s at the end of a scene; I’ll go and add things. Or now that I have a Peter, I will say “Peter, go put this chapter ino the wiki, and fix whatever problems that don’t fit. That’s what he’s doing right now with his time is he’s going through the whole Way of Kings and making sure that the wiki matches, because the wiki actually contains like 5 or 6 iterations as I was building the world of “No, let’s rewrite the creation myth”, “No, let’s rewrite where this came from”, “No let’s rewrite this.” And it has all the old versions there as well as the newest version, and as I’m writing, I’ll change things because I’ll say “You know, this doesn’t work. I’m going to alter this.” Then I’ve got to stop and make sure that the continuity gets kept.
Also, just in case you're wondering, the Bright Sea and the Inner Sea are both the same place. It's another Idris/Hallandren thing. Most mountains, oceans, and lakes have two names—the Idrian one and the Hallandren one. Originally, this happened because there was bad blood between the two kingdoms, so they'd call things different names in order to differentiate themselves. Ironically, in a lot of cases both names have stuck, and both kingdoms have found themselves alternating between the two names.
Inner Sea was the Idrian name for the body of water, renamed because they wanted to downplay how important it was. (Idris is landlocked, after all.) Bright Sea was the original name.
In the Way of Kings, you have all of these different characters, how do you keep your characters’ personalities straight?
Good question. Keeping characters straight—the thing I do that deviates from most of the way I normally write. I normally plan quite a bit. I normally—my worlds are very intricately planned out, with their histories, and usually the plot of what’s going to happen are pretty intricately planned out before I start the book. The characters are not. And this is why a book fails, like the original Way of Kings did in 2002, it’s because one of the characters is not who they need to be, and they are failing.
This is something I do by instinct more than by planning. I grow my characters, so I often describe it as I “cast” my characters, I’ll put different people in the role, I’ll sit down and say “okay, here is a character to play this role.” I’ll start writing them, and seeing their personality, and seeing the world through their eyes, and I’ll see if that works. If it doesn't, I’ll actually drop that and rewrite that scene with a different personality, a different character, have someone else walk in and try the role. I’ll do that a couple of times till they click. When they click, I basically know who they are. From that point on, I don’t have any problems keeping them right. When I write a book when a character doesn’t click, then that book often fails. Sometimes they click halfway through, and I have to go back and fix them. Sometimes they’re just 90% there, and I just need to keep writing and figure it out as I go. But sometimes, that never quite works, and this is the reason sometimes—there is this book named Liar of Partinel, which I never released, because the character never clicked. And people will say “Let me read it, let me read it!” but it will predispose you to that character, and that character, that personality is the wrong person. So I don’t know how I keep them all straight. It just works with characters.
But that’s just with characters. With plot and things I’ve got to write it down, for setting I've got to write it down. I actually have a big wiki that I build that I reference to keep everything straight. Characters I never have to be that way. They just work.
So I can’t give you good advice on that, because it’s simply how I do it. And they just grow into their own person.
Yes, there are Returned in Idris. There are Returned everywhere in this world that there are people. (The name of this world is Nalthis, by the way. Mistborn takes place on a world called Scadrial, and Elantris on a world known as Sel. See the fun things you learn by reading annotations?)
I'd like someday to do a sequel to Warbreaker, in part because I want to show off all of the different ways people in Nalthis deal with the Returned. They're treated in very strange ways some places. For instance, just across the mountains there's a kingdom where when someone dies in a way that might be heroic, the corpse is immediately purchased by a nobleman hoping to hit the jackpot and get a Returned. You see, since Returned can heal people, keeping one around to act as an emergency insurance plan to restore your health is a great idea.
I'd been toying for a long time with doing a book with "technological" undead in a fantasy world. A place where a body could be recycled, restored to a semblance of life, then set to work. I'm always looking for ways to explore new ground in fantasy, and I've seen people sticking to the same old tropes with undead. (Mindless, rotting zombies or dynamic, goth-dressed vampires.)
I wanted to play with a middle ground. If you've got a magic that can make a stick figure come to life, what could it do with a dead body? How could a society make use of these walking corpses, treating them as a realistic resource?
The Lifeless grew out of this desire. I developed something like them for use earlier in a completely different novel, but I abandoned that plan years ago. They returned to the scrap pile of my mind, from which I draw forth and recombine ideas to create novels.
Chapter Four - Part Two
Why, yes, I did visit Hawaii in the middle of writing this book. Did you notice?
Following Mistborn, I wanted to do a book set in a place that looked very different from the Final Empire. What's different from a burned-out wasteland? Why, a tropical paradise of course! One of the great things about being an author is the ability to justify going to Hawaii just so I could do research on how to properly describe the plants, landscape, and atmosphere in a place like that. It's really a tough job, but I'm willing to sacrifice for you all. No need to thank me.
What happens if you create a time bubble in a time bubble?
Lots of people are theorizing about that. The time bubble would not collapse, I’ll answer that much.
I think that you said at the Alloy release that it was mul—de...
I may have given an answer to that or not. I’m not going to say anything about that. Time travel and find out.
Siri Approaches T'Telir
And we finally get to see T'Telir. I'm still a tad bothered that it's chapter four before we get to see the city. I worry that people will read the book and have trouble getting grounded in it, since we've now had five viewpoints across five chapters and have been in a lot of different locations.
However, I think that the groundwork in the first four chapters is needed to make the book work. I just couldn't figure out a way to cut it all out and still have things work. Perhaps (just perhaps) I could have moved the Vasher prologue into the middle and made it a regular chapter, then moved the original Siri/Dedelin chapter to a prologue. Then, with the decision to send Siri into the city made, I could have jumped straight to this one. However, we'd have lost too much in that. Doing it this way isn't perfect either, but I think it's still the best way the book could have been done.
Chapter Four - Part One
Naming in This Book
The names in this novel, particularly in Hallandren and Idris, follow the concept of repeated consonant sounds.
I wanted to try something a little more distinctive in this book than the names were in Mistborn. In that book, I intentionally backed away from the insane craziness of the names in Elantris. I've written entire essays on how I devised the languages in that book. The names were appropriate for the novel, since the language was so important to the story. However, I know that the number and oddity of many of the names in Elantris was off-putting.
So, instead, in Mistborn I chose names that were much easier to say, and gave everyone a simple nickname. When it came time for Warbreaker, I wanted to try something else, to take a step back toward distinctiveness in the language, but not go as far as I had in Elantris.
I've long toyed with using double consonants as a naming structure. I played with a lot of different ways of writing these. I could either use the letters doubled up, with no break (Ttelir). I could slip a vowel in the middle and hope people pronounced it as a schwa sound (Tetelir). Or I could use the fantasy standard of an apostrophe (T'telir).
In the end, I decided to go with all three. I felt that writing all the names after one of the ways would look repetitive and annoying. By using all three, I could have variety, yet also have a theme. So, you have doubles in names like Llarimar. You have inserted vowels like in Vivenna. And you have apostrophes like in T'Telir.
I think it turned out well. Some members of my writing group complained about fantasy novels and their overuse of apostrophes in names. My answer: Tough. Just because English doesn't like to do it doesn't mean we have to eschew it in other languages. I like the way T'Telir looks with an apostrophe, and the way people will say it. So it stays.