Recent entries

    Stormlight Three Update #5 ()
    #9402 Copy

    RankWeis

    I've been thinking about the Parshendi and I guess this is as good a place to ask as any - when the parshendi change, there's an obvious change in the physical realm, and there seems to be a change in the cognitive realm as well. Is there a change in the spiritual realm? I know we haven't dug much into it, but it seems like a change in the spiritual realm is very difficult or impossible - if you could change in the spiritual realm is it really the same 'thing' at the end of the process? Mostly I'm curious about the first question...the second question is more of a philosophical train of thought.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Things in the spiritual realm do change, but subtly. For instance, a person's spiritual component knows how old they are.

    Stormlight Three Update #5 ()
    #9403 Copy

    H4rg

    I would have a question about Soulcasting: is Soulcasting an Invested object harder ? And if it is a human (let's say, an Allomancer) but he is not burning any metal, would he be as easy as Soulcast as any "normal" person ?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It is harder to Soulcast an Invested object, but Soulcasters--by their nature--are used to dealing with this.

    When Allomancers aren't burning metal, they are not considered highly-Invested.

    Stormlight Three Update #5 ()
    #9404 Copy

    geoffw35

    You have Jasnah give such a good argument for the atheist point of view that I thought, well Brandon is probably an atheist (as I am). Then I started watching your writing class videos. Oops! In one of them you say that you feel you can successfully draw an atheist character. I certainly agree. ;-) Jasnah does seem to lack compassion to some degree, but I insist that religion is not necessary for one to be compassionate. You draw characters wonderfully!

    Brandon Sanderson

    Kaladin is agnostic, which most people miss in these discussions, and is the series argument for a compassionate non-believer. Dalinar is a liberal theist, and Navani an orthodox theist.

    Stormlight Three Update #5 ()
    #9405 Copy

    BlackEyedInterloper

    So, I've been wondering for a while, which does Surgebinding classify as? Surgebinders don't use their own native investiture to power magic so I suppose that's the case for being classified end-positive, but they do have to go get some investiture and once they use it it's gone and they have to go get more, so that almost seems end-negative. Thanks in advance for any answer even if it's a quick RAFO!

    Brandon Sanderson

    The more picky scholars would argue it is end neutral, because the power must be in the system before the Magic can initiate. But others would admit that the spheres are a delaying response for an end-positive system. You're looking too much past the mark with your read. Look at the work done as part of what is in the system. Investiture is not leaving the system in surgebinding, it is doing work, creating potential energy in most cases.

    Stormlight Three Update #5 ()
    #9407 Copy

    chalkonthewall

    In Elantris did Elantris ever not exist? like before it was built did the Shaod choose people? and if it did was their power the same? I'm mostly asking that if they were to build another Elantris in Teod would Elantrians be just as powerful over there?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, there is a point where Elantrians didn't exist. Excellent question. The rest is a RAFO.

    Stormlight Three Update #5 ()
    #9408 Copy

    TheOneWithWen

    Seeing that "Oathbringer" is looking like the definitive title, I got a small question. I know we all think of the sword when we hear "Oathbringer", but given that TWoK and WoR where titles of books within the books, I would like to know if Oathbringer may be a book too.

    I find it unlikely, but I would really like it. I loved how I could be reading the same book that the characters (I know, not really, but you get the idea)

    Brandon Sanderson

    This will all make sense eventually.

    Stormlight Three Update #5 ()
    #9411 Copy

    Iceblade44

    In a couple of your books you put some epigraphs in the front of the chapters to serve as hints or easter eggs. Most seem as excerpts of a already written book. So here's my question, do you write all the epigraphs at one time and distribute across your chapters or do you just write it when you reach the chapter and the edit it all to make it fit?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I generally write them all at once, though once in a while I put a note on a chapter when writing it to indicate what should go there.

    Stormlight Three Update #5 ()
    #9414 Copy

    IHeartMyKitten

    Would Szeth still have been chosen to be a skybreaker if Nalan'Elin had known that Szeth was willing to kill Adolin "on his own time" unlawfully without being compelled by his oathstone? Or did Nalan'Elin know about that and still think he'd be a good fit?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Nobody is perfect, and Nale knows this--but he has worse days than others. It's not so much the law, as willingness to follow a personal code, that Nale is most interested in. He's also more harsh with people once they join the order than before.

    So, he wouldn't have loved it, but it wouldn't have stopped him from offering.

    Stormlight Three Update #5 ()
    #9415 Copy

    zuriel45

    Jasnah, as I've said, grows more important in the back five.

    I'd say spoilers, but I doubt you'd kill her off..

    Pitchwife

    This is entirely from memory so please forgive me if I get this wrong, but I believe [Brandon] has hedged on this topic in the past, e.g. who says she has to be alive (in the usual sense) to be a POV character?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I've said that flashback characters (which are the ones I've announced as having "books" dedicated to them) can die before their book arrives.

    Stormlight Three Update #5 ()
    #9416 Copy

    Balyne

    In WoR, when Kaladin is chasing Szeth through the storm, could he have just Lashed himself to Szeth and followed automatically? I realize he was new to his abilities and may not have thought of it, but is it possible?

    Brandon Sanderson

    One thing about Lashing that is counter-intuative to people who know physics is that Lashings are usually in a direction, not toward an object. It means that physics wise, it's not actually increasing the gravitational pull of an object--but sending you a direction. I did this because of just this type of question; it made the magic too powerful.

    Stormlight Three Update #5 ()
    #9419 Copy

    Argent

    Can tapping enough Feruchemical zinc allow one to match Taravangian's intellect on the day he created the Diagram? Or are the effects different somehow?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The effects are similar, but not exactly the same. Zinc is speed of thought specifically--while what happens to Taravangian increases multiple types of intelligence, not just raw 'processing power' so to speak.

    Stormlight Three Update #5 ()
    #9422 Copy

    Yata

    What is the event showed in the books, that are earlier in the Cosmere's Timeline ? (just to understand if WoK's prologue is before or after Elantris's event)

    Brandon Sanderson

    I believe WoK prologue is before everything else you've seen. Some of the Dalinar flashbacks show scenes pretty early as well.

    Stormlight Three Update #5 ()
    #9425 Copy

    Yata

    Can a Misting hurt himself burning the wrong metals or a bad alloy ?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Not really, but they can swallow something they can't burn and end up with metal poisoning. Kind of similar.

    Yata

    So we may tell that a Misting's Allomancy is "safer" than a Mistborn's one.

    Maybe because it's the original/natural way how Allomancy manifest itself (without godlike interferences)

    Brandon Sanderson

    Sure, you could potentially say that. You can still make yourself sick, though, so I'm not sure. I guess it comes down to your definition of "hurt." But I'd call it safer, yes.

    Stormlight Three Update #5 ()
    #9428 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    In book one, a main character was absent from several parts. (Dalinar and Shallan alternated.) Same with Words of Radiance, where Dalinar skipped two parts, I believe.

    Note that this is an absence of viewpoints from the character, not necessarily an absence of the character entirely.

    The main characters of the first part of the Stormlight are Shallan, Kaladin, and Dalinar. Two more flashback character (Eshonai and Szeth) can be considered important characters without as many viewpoints, though in the above outline, I'd have listed them as tertiary characters in terms of number of viewpoints.

    The actual tertiary characters are Jasnah, Adolin, Navani, and a few that I can't mention as it will be spoilers. These get significant screen time, but only have viewpoints here and there in the first five books. Jasnah, as I've said, grows more important in the back five. Others do as well.

    Stormlight Three Update #5 ()
    #9429 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    All right, folks! Time for the fifth update. This should be the last one that I post before some redditor inevitably beats me to the "It's Done!" post by watching my twitter feed very closely.

    I do hope to post another update or two during the next year, discussing how the editing and publication process is proceeding.

    Part Four is done as of half an hour ago. The part is around 80k words long, and brings the book total so far to 420k words. Final book is still projected at 450k, though I do plan to try to trim it back in revision. (Tor's book binding company can't do a book longer than Words of Radiance, so if I go longer, we have to shrink the font or change binders. I won't cut important parts of the book just to meet this length requirement, but I also generally need to trim significantly in revisions to tighten language.)

    Part Four turned out very well, and I'm very pleased with the book so far. I consider it as strong, or stronger than, book two. I also don't see any major structural or characterization problems that will slow editing. (So far, my editor's comments on Parts One and Two have been minor, save for the slow-down in Part Two that I was aware of--and probably don't mind existing, since Parts Three and Four are much faster, and the characterization in Part Two is strong.)

    If you're following the Visual Outline from the second update, there structure of the book has undergone some revisions as I've worked through it. It now looks something more like this

    Unlisted is that I nudged one flashback into Part Five. Shown is that Secondary Main character #2 had their viewpoint stretched through all five parts, but has a slightly smaller number of viewpoints in all of them. I juggled tertiary characters, making Parts Two and Four the expansive ones (with many viewpoints) and Parts One and Three the narrow ones (with a focus only on the main characters.) Yes, this is complicated, and you don't need to pay any attention to it. I posted this for those who like to dig into these things.

    I'm going to power forward into Part Five starting tonight, then do a second draft of Parts Four and Five together. (I'm not sure why I'm treating those like proper nous.) After I turn that in, I will still need to write the prologue, some of the interludes, and the epigraphs. (Those little bits of text at the starts of chapters.)

    And then, revisions. My favorite part. Yay.

    As with previous threads, I'll try to post answers to questions where I can--but I have to balance that with the actual writing, so some questions will go unanswered or get a quick RAFO. I apologize in advance for that. Despite jokes to the contrary, I really am just one person, and I can't do ALL THE THINGS, as much as I would like to.

    Also, thank you to the community for your kind words. I know that people joke about my writing speed, but this book has taken over a year of dedicated writing--and that's not counting the year before of outlining and writing out some of Kaladin's chapters. It's been two full years of work, and then some, to finish this book. With another six months of revision ahead. Together with other projects, that will make three and a half years between books two and three. So I do beg your patience with this series. The books take a lot out of me, and while I'm very proud of the result--and consider this series to be my opus--the novels aren't going to be terribly fast in their release schedule.

    Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
    #9430 Copy

    mathota123

    Also what would happen if I had a LOT of Breath and tried to Awaken something that was still alive...?

    Brandon Sanderson

    RAFO on the second question. You could say that Investing someone with your Breath, however, IS Awakening them.

    crocsandcargos

    Are Commands unique to Endowment and those with Breath, or do other Shards have an equivalent or similar power / ability? The girl Vasher rescues, his statements to Denth, and your quote above seem to point that Commands can be used on living entities for some purposes... I've always wondered if there was more to Dalinar referring to "unite them" as a 'phantom command'. If other Shards use commands or something similar it could also explain the mechanism of the Nightwatcher's boon/curse related to Dalinar's memory loss.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Intent is one of the components of the Magic, as you'll see frequently. These things are related.

    Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
    #9431 Copy

    Argent

    How can Szeth apply multiple Basic Lashings to an object - wouldn't the first one send the object immediately beyond his grasp?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Hold something in your hand. There is a "basic lashing" pulling it downward. How hard is it to keep holding on to?

    Often, though, then I have him Lash multiple times, he either does it all at once or in very quick succession.

    Argent

    I was mostly interested in cases where Szeth lashes really heavy objects - stone blocks or tables - to the side. They are not things he can hold (usually), and my understanding of physics suggests that a second after the first Lashing the object would be 9.81 (well, less for Roshar) meters away.

    Maybe I can find an example where it feels weird.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, please. It's entirely likely I've made a mistake somewhere.

    With the blocks, the ones I remember are where he has to overcome friction.

    Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
    #9432 Copy

    Argent

    When, in Stormlight, Shardblade victims are described as having burned out eyes, do the eyes physically burn out leaving empty eyesockets, or is it closer to a surface burn, maybe just looking like they had burned?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Eyes actually burn. It is an oddity that I might some day explain.

    Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
    #9433 Copy

    Argent

    The name Bleeder - does it come from (the incorrect) idea that bleeding a patient can make them feel better? And so Paalm sees herself as the one who needs to bleed Elendel to make it healthy?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The idea of "bleeding" as we had on earth as a custom of medicine did not exist on scadrial. But the idea in your post isn't too far off.

    Oversleep

    What do you think about translating 'Bleeder' as 'barber surgeon'? It's the Polish translation (and the term is one-word and sounds really well). I think the translators went with the same train of thought as Argent did and since Bleeder has already described herself as a kind of surgeon - her comments about cleaning the wounds being more painful than the cut itself and so on. Is this a "on spot" translation or is it far off?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, that's not a bad translation at all. I like it.

    Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
    #9434 Copy

    Argent

    We know that you can't Lash people in Shardplate, but can you Lash the person inside the Plate? If they had their helm off, for example. At that point Plate should be just dead weight, right? 

    Brandon Sanderson

    There's a bit of an interference envelope. Wearing plate, the person has this big ball of investiture around them, and so pushing any through it--even by touching a person without a helm--is going to be tough. Easier than with the helm on though, I suppose.

    Investiture acts (roughly) like a saturated solution in these cases. Sticking more power into something like a Feruchemical storage or a hyper-invested object like Plate is increasingly hard. The other part is that Investiture tends to interfere with other Investiture, unless there's a familiar resonance. (This is part of what philosophers call Identity.) Slapping your hand through a sand master's stream of sand will cause interference, and make them start to drop. It's not that the sand is supporting them, it's that the investiture holding them up gets scrambled for a moment because of your own investiture.

    Investiture pushed toward someone inside a hyper-invested (supersaturated) system like a person in Shardplate is going to get hard push-back.

    This is similar to the reason that it's harder to Push on invested coins. Depends on how invested they are, in that case. It's generally not as hard as doing something like Lashing a person in plate. (This is more about the interference than the saturation of investiture.) But the two principles are what I use to guide the physics in these areas.

    quietandproud

    Can we take that as a hint that the Investiture in the Plates and the Investiture that the Surge of [Adhesion] uses come from different Shards? Or do they interfere because they "belong" to different spren?

    Brandon Sanderson

    You know, I should have realized this one would bring out the follow up questions. Let's leave it at what I posted for now. This is a deep, deep rabbit hole, and I do need to try to get some more writing done tonight. So...RAFO. (Sorry.)

    Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
    #9435 Copy

    Aaronator17

    I was wondering whether any of the Vessels are blood related?

    Aside from the romantic relationship between Honor and Cultivation I'm not sure that we know anything about the relationships that others have with each other within the group of 16, and it would be interesting to know.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I'm saving most of this for Dragonsteel, I'm afraid. So RAFO.

    Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
    #9436 Copy

    heroofpages

    I was going through the compiled WoB and came across two interesting pieces of information. So I guess a lead in question, you said that Hoid isn't quite human, so I was wondering if he wasn't quite human in the same way that inquisitors aren't quite human (i.e. alterations to spiritual DNA etc.)? And if so does he get his many investiture based powers in a similar way?

    Brandon Sanderson

    You are asking the right questions, and are thinking along correct lines.

    Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
    #9437 Copy

    liftfan

    I have a couple of questions regarding Dalinar. We know that he visited the Nightwatcher and it doesn't look like anybody else knows about it.

    1. Have we seen anything in the first two books, which shows the boon he got from the Nightwatcher?

    2. As we see from the preview chapter of Oathbringer, Dalinar was extremely brash and maybe a bit cruel in his youth. Does his change of character has something to do with the Nightwatcher?

    Brandon Sanderson

    These are both questions that, presumably, the Dalinar flashbacks in book three will answer. So RAFO. :)

    Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
    #9438 Copy

    Botanica

    How does the Moon Scepter actually look like? In what shape is it?

    Now we have two understandings of the word "scepter" based on different ways of translation:

    1) 杖: It shapes like a common wand/staff/rod/cane/stick, usually seen in Western countries. [Mainland translation]

    2) 笏: It's kind of a flat scepter of Chinese origin, shaped like a tablet, usually held before the breast by officials when received in audience by the emperor. (Very rarely, the emperor himself holds it.) The officials can take notes on it. [Taiwan translation (I believe the translator once showed you around the Taipei Palace Museum.)] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shaku_(ritual_baton)

    Could you tell us which one is closer to the original design? Thanks!

    Brandon Sanderson

    It's not a Shaku, it's a Ruyi, actually. That's an excellent question, though. It does actually come from my visit to the museam, and while I'm aware of shakus, I hadn't heard them called scepters. But I guess they are!

    Either way, I imagined it as the wavy shape of a Ruyi. (如意)

    Botanica

    Whoa what an amazing answer! Thanks so much for the explanation! I once thought of Ruyi when flipping through some reference materials and now it becomes canon! Hooray! Another question if you don't mind: (Someone just asked this a moment ago.) Why is it called Moon Scepter? Does (perhaps) one side/end of it resemble moon? [Full moon or crescent?] Or is it colored like moon? Or does it contain some moon pattern? (Also a fan art question, sorry ;P)

    Brandon Sanderson

    It has to do with the differences in religion between Shai's people and the Rose Empire. It is colored like the moon, but there's a little more to it than that.

    Botanica

    Ah, I see. Thank you! So what color is Selish moon when we look at it? (I suppose there's only one moon?) Didn't find any specific descriptions about its color in books. Can we assume it is similar to our moon?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I didn't say it was the color of Sel's moon...

    Just kidding. It is, and there is only one. It's a pale white blue, a little more blue than ours, but similar.

    Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
    #9439 Copy

    ebilutionist

    Ah, so Azir has a larger population density, at least. Cosmere-wise, is Elendel the largest, or could say, T'Telir match it?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Azir has a large population density. Cosmere-wise, though, Eldendel is by far the largest. Though I don't have strict population numbers on places like Silverlight. (Which, for years, I assumed I'd have to rename--but I think the program Silverlight is dead, so I can go back to calling the city that.)

    ebilutionist

    And of course, what exactly is Silverlight? I don't think I've ever heard of it before. A Threnodian city?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Silverlight is mentioned in the Cosmere collection, I believe, in one of the essays. It's a city somewhere in the cosmere, with some relevance you will discover eventually.

    Tellingdwar

    Is Silverlight the city that exists in the Cognitive Realm, in an area corresponding to deep space in the Physical? And if that's the RAFO I expect it is, will we see an answer in Arcanum Unbounded?

    Brandon Sanderson

    RAFO.

    I believe it's referenced in Unbounded, but I can't remember if I cut it or not. (I have been touchy about mentioning the place since Microsoft took the name in 06 or whenever it was.)

    This one will remain a mystery for a while.

    Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
    #9440 Copy

    ebilutionist

    How would food production be like without soulcasters? Has Alethkar, for example, grown far beyond what it could (population-wise) without them?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The food question is a great one. As far as the Alethi go, it's more a matter of concentration than raw food production. Shipping is SLOW in Alethkar. It's long, which makes getting between north and south difficult, and the rivers aren't as useful as they are on (say) Earth.

    The warcamps, for example, would starve themselves out short order without soulcasters. Supply lines are just not an Alethi strength. Kholinar, while not as big as Scadrian population centers, is also large enough that it depends on soulcasters for some of its food. It could survive without them, though, with northern Alethi food production.

    Really, warfare is where they've learned to extend themselves, and depend on the soulcasters. Remember, gemstones in them DO break, so you do still need a ready supply of emeralds. The larger, the better.

    ebilutionist

    Very interesting on the food logistics of Alethkar - I never did quite imagine Kholinar was smaller than say, Elendel, but the technological progress there explains it.

    Given how slow food transportation is, I would presume fresh food is a no-go. Are spices and preserved food selling well in Roshar, then? As for population centers, is Kholinar the largest around, or are other places a lot larger?

    Brandon Sanderson

    There's a reason that Herdazian food (which makes soulcast meat taste good) is popular these days.

    Azimir is larger in population than Kholinar. Kholinar is big by Rosharan standards, but far smaller than an Earth population center (like London) at a comparable time. The warcamps had it beat by a lot--depending on how you view the warcamps. (As one city, or ten small ones.)

    ebilutionist

    Does that just mean Herdazian food is incredibly spice-heavy, then? Also, why is Soulcast food bland? Is it due to the nature of the object (changing food to food makes it tastier than stone to food), or just because the Soulcaster lacks practice, like Jasnah did with strawberry jam?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Flavorful, rather than spicy. Most western food is already spicy. The Herdazians offer something a little different, and are pretty good with soulcast meat. The portability is also a bit of a revolution.

    Soulcasting anything other than the basic Essence requires some innate knowledge and practice. People could learn to soulcast better food, but it would have to be a Radiant with control over the process. The soulcaster fabrials are far more rigid in what they can create.

    ebilutionist

    As for soulcasting - now that is... interesting. So are Surgebinding fabrials more rigid in general? And what of an Honorblade when a non-Herald uses it?

    Brandon Sanderson

    A soulcaster is built to do a certain thing, and can do that certain thing well, but without as much flexibility. It is the difference between having a computer output a picture of a circle--following some inputs such as size and some changes to shape--and having an artist who can draw what you want.

    Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
    #9441 Copy

    ebilutionist

    Regarding Soulcasting, I have a question - why do people continue to use it post-Recreance? Would it not have been seen as a betrayal, given that the Radiants abandoned them? Why this Surge but not others? Was it simply the only Surge available and people would have kept using the others anyway? I guess it's a matter of practicality but given how devout Vorinism can be it does seem odd.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Good question. You'll notice that Soulcasters aren't the only fabrial that access a Surge, however. They're just the one most commonly used.

    There are plenty of rationalizations. But it comes down to this: they are too useful to give up.

    ebilutionist

    Ah yes, now that I think of it Navani's conjoined-gem fabrials seem to utilize Gravitation and perhaps the heating one uses Abrasion(?) to produce heat. Or are there others I did miss?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I was referencing a Regrowth fabrial, actually, which I believe has appeared several times.

    ebilutionist

    Isn't the Regrowth fabrial incredibly rare? I was under the impression it disappeared with the Recreance and only Nin's reappearance brought it back. AFAIK, only a Radiant in Dalinar's vision and a Herald have actually used it so far.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Their rarity depends on the time period in question. But yes, I'd list them as incredibly rare.

    Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
    #9442 Copy

    PriestOfTheSurvivor

    Based on the current state of the Cosmere, known and unknown, could Kelsier theoretically find enough power/skill/knowledge to have a fair and equally matched fight with Hoid? Assuming they were to meet again and have a rematch?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I'd say that what you posit is indeed theoretically possible.

    Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
    #9443 Copy

    Arkadious4028

    Can Kandra learn to photosynthesize or imitate plants? I'm thinking no, due to the biological differences between animal and plants cells, but I gotta know.

    Brandon Sanderson

    They've toyed with this, and it hasn't worked so far. There are kandra who believe they can figure it out, however.

    Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
    #9444 Copy

    Niceratops

    Not to be too obvious about being a geology dork, but if you can make clear quartz easily with soulcasting as we've seen, and you can also make radioactive materials, wouldn't it be trivial to make smokestone since defects from irradiation are what make quartz black?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Making unstable plutonium or the like is theoretically possible, but not something that Rosharans are aware they could do.

    Emerald and Heliodor are basically the same thing, chemically, but are very different substances on Roshar--with different soulcasting properties. Same goes for quartz and smokestone.

    usuyami

    Is there any significance to some of the gems being forms of aluminum oxide?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Not really, I'm afraid. I tried to work it in, and decided I was stretching.

    Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
    #9445 Copy

    ccstat

    There IS historical precedent of accidentally setting off fission reactions in the cosmere using the magic

    Now this is a story I look forward to hearing :-)

    Brandon Sanderson

    One of the first magic systems I designed for the cosmere was based on the manipulation of sub-atomic particles, and involved the ability to look directly at atoms and interact with them. I decided to back off on this, as it was a whopper of a magic system to get right with my limited (at the time) writing experience. It was fun, though, and is still a canonical Cosmere magic.

    Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
    #9446 Copy

    Phantine

    At the risk of getting too technical, is there anything besides lack of knowledge preventing a soulcaster from turning some rocks into a bunch of plutonium and exploding?

    I know you've got some rules attached to time bubbles to avoid those going nuclear so I wouldn't be surprised if there was something or another.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Well, Soulcasting isn't fission or fusion. It's a spiritual transformation process, not a physical one, and so you don't have to worry about some of these issues. There IS historical precedent of accidentally setting off fission reactions in the cosmere using the magic, but that was a different process. Soulcasting is actually pretty safe. (Well, on a grand scale.)

    You could end up irradiating yourself, though, which wouldn't be very fun.

    If you know what you were doing, making plutonium or uranium on Roshar wouldn't be difficult. The problem is more a matter of knowledge, and room for scientific exploration. They're unlikely to make atom bombs for the same reason they haven't made gunpowder. Once they figure out that some substances are important, they can learn to make them with Soulcasting (assuming they have Radiants) but some substances just don't occur naturally--so discovering them in the first place is difficult, and would require more modern scientific process.

    Phantine

    Okay, just to clarify here (since I'm not sure how up you are on early nuke designs)

    A big enough chunk of uranium or plutonium will explode regardless of whether it's in a bomb or not. Early bomb designs just slammed two smaller chunks together so they'd be one big chunk.

    For plutonium 'big enough' is about 35 pounds in one place - a chunk somewhere between the size of baseball and volleyball.

    If I understand properly, people can soulcast from the cognitive realm into the physical, which implies once we get into a more modern stormlight setting soulcasters will make nuclear submarines look like small potatoes.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Slamming two chunks together so they became one big chunk seems an understatement, from what I remember. I'm under the impression that you had to use a great deal of explosive force to ram them together in order to set off a viable fission reaction. Doesn't it have to be compressed somewhat in order to react with itself?

    I'll admit, it's been a long time since I've looked at this, but I remember glancing it over, and deciding that you'd need more than just soulcasting to get it to happen. Though it's not outside of reason that a soulcaster could learn to create super-dense plutonium. The problem is one of understanding, however.

    Just like it's totally possible that we, with our current technology, could figure out some huge breakthrough in science allowing FTL or other incredible discoveries. But we don't have the understanding to pull it off yet.

    In a modern setting, however, a lot of these complaints go out the window. Let's just say that this isn't the only reason a modern society that can instantly transmute one substance to another is potentially a very interesting place.

    Phantine

    You're totally right that everyone currently uses an 'implosion' style compression design. It's a lot more bang for your buck, and you need less radioactive material to work with. They're also a lot safer, because just sitting around they're well below critical mass - without the power-boosting tricks they basically can't go off.

    The old "nobody uses these anymore" designs were 'Gun-Type'. Very simple - shoot a uranium bullet into the center of a uranium ring (or vice versa). Inefficient as heck (the Hiroshima bomb only fissioned 1.4% of its uranium), but also super simple to put together.

    Despite being simple to build, gun-types were also super unsafe relative to modern implosion devices (among other worries, dropping a gun-type device into the ocean could potentially set it off because of how neutrons react with water). Also, getting the timing perfect on the fissile 'bullet' was a problem, so practically speaking it could only be done with uranium.

    After WWII, the only use the US ever had for gun-types was in bunker busters and nuclear artillery (because of course that was a good idea).

    Darn, that post turned out longer than I expected it to.

    Anyway, I'm looking forward to see you make something really cool out of a post-scarcity transmutropolis setting (especially since the liespren would be in charge of nuclear treaties), and also my roommate just pointed out all the laying out of nuclear bomb details is pointless if they could just make antimatter instead. D'oh.

    Brandon Sanderson

    This is useful information for me, but my gut says that Rosharans couldn't get this working with their current tech level. That said, the REAL issue (as you mentioned in your original question) is knowledge, not feasibility. They'd have to know how to make the right kind of Uranium or Plutonium--and would need to be able to get this across to a soulcaster in a way that works, then THEY would need to get this across to spren. Cross that hurdle, and I suppose it's not at all implausible to imagine Alethi during Dalinar's era with nukes. I suspect the right kind of fabrial could make a trigger device to match ring and bullet at the right time. Depends on how quickly it needs to be going, though.

    Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
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    Aurimus

    I dont really understand what you mean by sympathetic magic. All that comes to mind is Kvothe, which certainly isn't part of your work. :p

    Brandon Sanderson

    Sympathetic magic is the classical science idea that "Like influences Like." Voodoo dolls are a more contemporary example, though even spontaneous generation and the humors connect to the idea slightly. It was the basis for Awakening, and (I believe) Rothfuss's sympathetic magic. It's a common theme in fantasy magics, though, much like alchemy and astrology.

    Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
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    Aurimus

    Are you saying that Elantris has other worldhoppers in? I just finished the prose version of White Sand as well (i've never been a fan of graphic novels but didnt want to miss anything from the Cosmere) and didnt even notice Hoid in it, let alone other worldhoppers there.

    So you created Vasher and then made them a worldhopper, and the magic system and Nalthis stemmed from there? I actually have another question related to that. Have you ever thought about something you wanted to add to the Cosmere - say, an idea or an ability or something - and then built from there, or do you always write a cool story because its a cool story and the Cosmere stuff comes after?

    For example, did you write Mistborn E1 to introduce the idea of Shards or did you write the plot and then realize you can wiggle the shards in there?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Hoid's part in White Sand was very minimal. I believe he's only referenced, and doesn't even appear on screen. Though Elantris has the famous mural depicting worldhopping.

    You have it right. I was designing Vasher, decided he was a worldhopper, and then filed away "I'll tell his backstory some day" in the back of my brain. The magic for Nalthis grew more out of the idea for a sympathetic magic than it did for him, but the book was always intended to be his backstory world, so knowledge that Shardblades (or a version of them) being involved was part of my core creation of that setting.

    Every story happens differently. Shadows for Silence happened from a writing prompt, for example. But at the same time, I'd been imagining for years a world to delve more into Cognitive Shadows. These things just kind of fit together as you work on them in your brain. But I've started with story first, and I've started with world first. Mostly, though, it's a mixture of both.

    By Era One of Mistborn I was already very certain what I was doing with Shards, and so they were there from the get go. I'd say in the cosmere canon right now, White Sand is the most oddball, since it was the only world I designed and wrote a book in (the 1997 version, which is different from the 2000 version) before I had settled on the mechanics of the cosmere. I then placed it in the cosmere when writing the new version.

    All of the published novels were written with the cosmere mechanics fully locked in, however, and the interactions of the Shards set forth.

    Aurimus

    Where is that [Hoid's part in White Sand]? I totally missed it? Is it possible to read the 97 version too, and LORD MASTRELL as well?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I don't send out the 97 version. It's just too bad. (Sorry.) Maybe some day, but not right now. It's the first book I ever wrote.

    Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
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    Aurimus

    As you (probably) know/remember, I'm really interested in the early parts of your creation process. The ideas basically. What was the first idea that created Zahel in WoK prime? What came first, Zahel or Nightblood and what were they like originally? Was it through them that you came up with the idea of worldhoppers or did you just want another worldhopper to appear to show that Hoid wasn't the only one?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The idea was actually writing Kaladin's swordmaster in TWOK Prime. By then, worldhoppers were already quite well established. (I'd written Elantris in 99, along with Dragonsteel to be a prequel to the entire cycle. That was followed by White Sand and Aether of Night in 2000 or so--and Aether has the first on-screen appearance of a Shard.)

    Kings Prime was 2002-2003, and I wanted Kaladin's swordmaster Vasher to have an interesting backstory. That was the origin of the idea for a worldhopper who was very interested in Shardblades. From there, wanting to do a sympathetic magic, and (years later) my editor suggesting a world more "colorful" drove me to try out Warbreaker itself.

    Here is his first appearance in TWOK Prime. Note, none of the names are changed in this, so you get Kaladin and Adolin's original names, among others.

    After a few moments, one of the monks noticed him watching. The man paused, regarding Merin with the eyes of a warrior. "Shouldn't you be practicing with the other lords, traveler?"

    Merin shrugged. "I don't really fit in with them, holy one."

    "Your clothing says that you should," the monk said, nodding to Merin's fine seasilk outfit.

    Merin grimaced.

    The monk raised an eyebrow questioningly. He was an older man, perhaps the same age as Merin's father, and had a strong build beneath his monk's clothing. He was almost completely bald, save for a bit of hair on the sides of his head, and even that was beginning to gray.

    "It's nothing, holy one," Merin said. "I'm just a little bit tired of hearing about clothing."

    "Maybe this will take your mind off of it," the monk said, tossing him a practice sword. "And don't call me ‘holy one.'"

    Merin caught the sword, looking down at it blankly. Then he yelped in surprise, dropping his Shardblade and raising the practice sword awkwardly as the monk stepped forward in a dueling stance. Merin wasn't certain how to respond--all of his training in the army had focused on working within his squad, using his shield to protect his companions and his spear to harry the opponent. He'd rarely been forced to fight solitarily.

    The monk came in with a few testing swings, and Merin tried his best to mimic the man's stance. He knew enough not to engage the first few blows--they were meant to throw Merin off-balance and leave him open for a strike. He retreated across the cool sand, shuffling backward and trying not to fall for the monk's feints. Even still, the man's first serious strike took Merin completely by surprise. The blow took Merin on the shoulder--it was delivered lightly, but it stung anyway.

    "Your instincts are good," the monk said, returning to his stance. "But your swordsmanship is atrocious."

    "That's kind of why I'm here," Merin said, trying another stance. This time he managed to dodge the first blow, though the backhand caught him on the thigh. He grunted in pain.

    "Your Blade is unbonded," the monk said. "And you resist moving to the sides, as if you expect there to be someone standing beside you. You were a spearman?"

    "Yes," Merin said.

    The monk stepped back, lowering his blade and resting the tip in the sand. "You must have done something incredibly brave to earn yourself a Blade, little spearman."

    "Either that, or I was just lucky," Merin replied.

    The monk smiled, then nodded toward the center of the courtyard. "Your friend is looking for you."

    Merin turned to see Aredor waving for him. Merin nodded thankfully to the monk and returned the practice sword, then picked up his Shardblade and jogged across the sands toward Aredor. Standing with Dalenar's son was a group of elderly, important-looking monks.

    "Merin," Aredor began, "these are the monastery masters. Each of them is an expert at several dueling forms, and they'll be able to train you in the one that fits you best. Masters Bendahkha and Lhanan are currently accepting new students. You can train with either one of them, though you'll need to pay the standard hundred-ishmark tribute to the monastery out of your monthly stipend."

    Merin regarded the two monks Aredor had indicated. Both looked very distinguished, almost uncomfortably so. They regarded Merin with the lofty expressions of men who had spent their entire lives practicing their art, and who had risen to the highest of their talents. They stood like kings in their monasteries--not condescending, but daunting nonetheless.

    Merin glanced to the side, a sudden impression taking him. "Holy ones, I am honored by your offer, but I feel a little overwhelmed. Could you tell me, is the monk I just sparred with accepting students at the moment?"

    The masters frowned. "You mean Vasher?" one of them asked. "Why do you wish to train with him?"

    "I. . .I'm not certain," Merin confessed.

    ebilutionist

    Is the payment to a devotary while training under an ardent still canonical? And given that Vasher had a reputation for being a bad duelist in Warbreaker, exactly how good is he with a blade? Is it just a case of Nalthian swordmasters being better or did Vasher learn from his experiences?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It's been a while.

    And Vasher isn't as bad as the text implies.

    Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
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    Iceblade44

    Something that i've been wondering, you said before that Nightblood was modeled after Shardblades intentionally so my question is, did Vasher create his Phantoms with Shardplate in mind?

    Brandon Sanderson

    He was aware of Shardplate, but I wouldn't call them a conscious influence.

    Phantine

    Any sort of influence from the Soulcasting-to-Stone burial customs?

    (If Vasher were a little more sneaky I'd think he had created the custom in case he needed a ready supply of Phantom material)

    Brandon Sanderson

    Let's say that yes, Soulcasting was very interesting to Vasher.