Recent entries

    /r/fantasy AMA 2013 ()
    #9501 Copy

    Nepene

    You've mentioned several philosophical concepts used in the writing of your books, like Jung's collective unconsciousness, Plato's cave. Could you expand a bit on your use of those in your books, and whether you think it is necessary to use philosophy to make a good fantasy world?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I don't think it's necessary at all. The writer's own fascinations--whatever they are--can add to the writing experience. But yes, some philosophical ideas worked into my fiction. Plato's theory of the forms has always fascinated, and so the idea of a physical/cognitive/spiritual realm is certainly a product of this. Human perception of ideals has a lot to do with the cognitive realm, and a true ideal has a lot to do with the spiritual realm.

    As for more examples, they're spread through my fiction. Spinoza is in there a lot, and Jung has a lot to do with the idea of spiritual connectivity (and how the Parshendi can all sing the same songs.)

    Nepene

    Not completely sure where Spinoaza comes in. I guess the shards are part of the natural world and have no personality without a human wielder.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes on Spinoza there, and also the idea of God being in everything, and everything of one substance. Unifying laws. Those sorts of things. (Less his determinism, though.)

    /r/fantasy AMA 2013 ()
    #9502 Copy

    ryanthelion

    I know that you are very meticulous in developing your stories. Were the shardblades, shardplate, mistborn cloaks, or even Nightblood from Warbreaker developed in a similar fashion, or is it a more organic process to making cool weapons and armor? How do you blur the line between what makes sense, and what is just plain fun?

    Brandon Sanderson

    There are connections in the things you mentioned above, though I don't want to speak of specifics yet for risk of spoiling future revelations.

    As for blurring the line between what makes sense and what is fun...I err on the side of the fun. However, part of my meticulous planning is about how to make the fun make sense. I feel that is part of what makes this genre interesting. I decided I wanted to do a story about the Knights Radiant, with the Plate and Blades. From there, I spent a long time thinking about what would make those kinds of weapons reasonable and important to a society.

    You can do anything, but do try to focus on laying your groundwork and being consistent.

    /r/fantasy AMA 2013 ()
    #9504 Copy

    Satsuoni

    You have mentioned that certain spren are an embodiment of concepts. How does that work for the concepts like honour, that can mean opposite things to different culture groups?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Human perception has a lot to do with why spren act like they do...

    /r/fantasy AMA 2013 ()
    #9508 Copy

    Satsuoni

    You said that every person on Scadrial has a bit of Preservation in them. It is possible, then, to accumulate enough Hemalurgic charge from killing normal people by, say, steel spike (at once, or in order), to make that spike grant Allomancy? Building on this, is it possible for the spike to accumulate charge while being imbedded in acceptor body, by killing people with the protruding end?

    Brandon Sanderson

    My, you're making the Scadrial magic systems sound a lot like the one from Nalthis.... Hm....

    /r/fantasy AMA 2011 ()
    #9509 Copy

    phrakture

    You seem to be adept at creating interesting magic systems for your worlds - what is your creative process for creating something of this sort? Any hints as to what the next one might involve?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Next two magic systems you might see:

    1) Disease magic. Bacteria have evolved to the point that they try to keep their hosts alive by granting them magical powers while you have the disease. So, you catch a cold, and can fly until you get over it.

    2) I've got a a very cool 'throwing spheres of light' magic that I'm working on...which, when you break it down, was inspired by seeing how accurate baseball pitchers were and thinking about how that could be weaponized in a fantasy world.

    3) That guy with his ice soap has me thinking about "freezing stuff in water" magic. Like, potions that do things only after they thaw...

    /r/fantasy AMA 2011 ()
    #9510 Copy

    shdwfeather

    One of the things I really like about your books is the creative and immersive backdrop that the stories take place in. I know you spend a lot of time (and words!) on the background material for these worlds. Will you ever publish your world-building notes?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I'd like to someday. The reason I haven't yet is because many of them contain cosmere-related notes that give huge spoilers for other books. I could just expunge those, but I feel it better to let things grow a little more and then do some worldbooks. The Mistborn RPG coming out this year is half worldbook, though, and has a lot of setting information from my notes.

    /r/fantasy AMA 2011 ()
    #9511 Copy

    luxgladius

    Do you already have a fully fleshed-out idea of all 10 orders of the Knights Radiant, or are you still coming up with them and their Ideals?

    Brandon Sanderson

    All ten orders are finished and worldbuilt. (I feel pretty good about them.) However, I could decide to move some things around as I write.

    /r/fantasy AMA 2011 ()
    #9512 Copy

    unknown

    Was Vallano, Szeth's grandfather, also a Truthless? And if not, what did he do to disgrace the Shin?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No, Vallano was not Truthless.

    Szeth was a very respected member of his society, once. There are clues to what happened in his story, but you won't hear it in full until he gets his book. (Which will include his flashbacks.)

    /r/fantasy AMA 2011 ()
    #9513 Copy

    Renian

    When will we see a book that basically revolves around the concept of the Cosmere and the shard-travelers? Basically, a book revolving around people like Hoid who can jump from shard to shard.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Third Mistborn Trilogy involves a lot of this. I MIGHT do some parallel stories showing more of what Hoid has been up to. He is a primary viewpoint protagonist of Dragonsteel, but that happens before all of the other books.

    /r/fantasy AMA 2011 ()
    #9516 Copy

    blorcit

    I've seen in your answers to previous questions that you are always open to changing aspects of your story so long as it's not already written in another book, or more importantly so that it doesn't contradict what the reader already knows.

    That being said, how much of the Cosmere and its story would you say you already have a plan for? For example, do you more or less already know how each world and story ties into one another, or is that something that changes as you write? Given that there seem to be some constants in this universe (the number of shards, etc.), is there an end to these stories as a whole, or is it an ever-expanding universe?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Things do change as I evolve as a writer.

    There is an end to this story. Dragonsteel-Kings-Mistborn are all fairly well planned out, but I must allow myself flexibility.

    /r/fantasy AMA 2011 ()
    #9517 Copy

    FirstRyder

    This series will apparently be 10 books long, and for in-world reasons having it end up 9 or 11 books long would be inauspicious. Do you think you'll regret setting a pretty firm length on it, fifteen years down the road?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Honestly, I'll let myself drop by a few books if the story demands. I won't inflate it to ten if, in the long run, the story just can't hold it up. Right now, though, I've got a really solid outline.

    It's ten books, though in my mind, there are really two five book arcs.

    /r/fantasy AMA 2011 ()
    #9520 Copy

    Chaos

    Allomancy provides many very dramatic effects, which some have noted is not very much like Preservation. Could you walk me through how Allomancy is of Preservation, though it does dramatic, dynamic things?

    Brandon Sanderson

    One of the 'basics' of the magic in all of the worlds is that the energy of Shards can fuel all kinds of interactions, not just interactions based on their personality/role. I did this because otherwise, the Magics would all be extremely limited.

    The 'role' of the Shard has to do with the WAY the magic is obtained, not what it can do. So, in Preservation's case, the magic is a gift--allowing a person to preserve their own strength, and rely upon the strength granted by the magic. While Hemalurgy has a huge cost, ending in net entropy.

    /r/fantasy AMA 2011 ()
    #9521 Copy

    Chaos

    Can Hoid jump through time? If so, can Shards jump through time?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Hoid, so far, has only moved forward in time. He has not 'lived' all of those years, but has used some time dilation techniques. That said, he is far older (both in relative and real time) than a normal person can live.

    /r/fantasy AMA 2011 ()
    #9522 Copy

    unknown

    How often is a "weeping" in Way of Kings?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Once a year. Opposite it in the year is an extremely powerful highstorm.

    eri_pl

    When, relatively to the events in Way of Kings is/will be the nearest Weeping? (I ask, because I started wondering, if this powerful storm was, coincidentally, the one, during which... you know... the face in the clouds and all that.)

    Brandon Sanderson

    Well, there are ten months in year. If I haven't mentioned dates in the last book (I may or may not have) I am planning to in the next. So a timeline should be possible for fans to figure out...

    /r/fantasy AMA 2011 ()
    #9523 Copy

    sandersonfan

    You've mentioned that other books in the Stormlight Archive will have different characters as their focus, is this linked to the 10 orders of the Knights Radiant? Or is this just coincidence?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It is linked. I may not be able to completely link it, but I'm going to try. The first book's symbol (on the front) is the symbol of the Windrunners.

    /r/fantasy AMA 2011 ()
    #9525 Copy

    sandersonfan

    I've read that you were thinking of 32-36 books total for the Cosmere, but it seems like the series are going to go beyond that if numbers you've given before are published (e.g. Mistborn being a trilogy of trilogies so 9, Stormlight Archive 10, Warbreaker 2, Dragonsteel 6 or 7, and still White Sand and others to come) so has the estimate of 32 been thrown out the window?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Eh...I don't know. My original breakdown:

    Mistborn 9 Wabreaker 2 Elantris 3 White Sand 3 Stormlight 10 Silence Divine 1 Dragonsteel 7 (A two book and a five book.)

    That's the 32, with allowances for a few side stories to get us to 36. There are planets not included in that, however, that I may write stories about. So maybe. But the core cycle is this (in order)

    Dragonsteel Mistborn first trilogy Stormlight - Mistborn second trilogy (around the same time.) Mistborn third trilogy.

    Everything else is important in their own stories, but as we're talking about the connections between the worlds are considered, this is the prime cosmere cycle.

    /r/fantasy AMA 2011 ()
    #9526 Copy

    sandersonfan

    Why are the people of Roshar so much more aware of the Cosmere? They seem to know more than any other world you've written to date.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I believe the people of whom you are speaking are mostly not native to Roshar. On another side, however, it is the first planet we've seen with three Shards, and it is the furthest along in the timeline. One final thing is that they had some very unique experiences early in the planet's history. It involves the Heralds, and various items I think would be spoilers right now.

    /r/fantasy AMA 2011 ()
    #9527 Copy

    Yserbius

    What made you decide on a 10 book length for The Stormlight Archive? Do you have the entire thing planned out, including how it will be paced and plotted?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I had eight characters I wanted to tell a story about, and wanted to give each one a book to include flashbacks and specific character development. Once I got to outlining, I realized that I had material for about ten books, and ten was a very special number in the world. So I settled on that.

    It will be paced and plotted much as the first, though I plan the future books to be a little shorter than the first establishing one. There will be two primary five-book arcs, so you could consider it two series of five, if you'd prefer.

    /r/fantasy AMA 2011 ()
    #9532 Copy

    MindCanaries

    Why did you settle on a Nicrosil Misting for your second Mistborn trilogy? Did you consider any other types?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I considered others, but in the end this was one aspect of the magic system I hadn't explored yet but which is very important for the future of the series. I wanted to start establishing it.

    /r/fantasy AMA 2011 ()
    #9534 Copy

    ISw3arItWasntM3

    Do you plan to write the stormlight archive books with the same POV characters throughout the series (like WoT) or do you think that you give other characters POV (aSoIaF) as the series continues?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Most of the main POV characters have been introduced. Each book will take one major character (Kaladin, Dalinar, Adolin, Jasnah, Shallan, Navani, Szeth, Taln) and give them 'flashback' sequences in the same way Kaladin got flashbacks in the first book. There are some open spots for which I'm toying with other characters being used.

    /r/fantasy AMA 2011 ()
    #9535 Copy

    Dovienya

    Regarding the ending of the Mistborn Trilogy: What was up with Ruin having red hair? Is that significant? Does it mean that Ruin was originally a human who gained his powers somehow? My friend thought that Ruin was actually another red-haired character in the series, though I don't remember his name. I think he was a minor captain or something.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I try to make all of the cosmere stuff "bonus material" so to speak. I don't think it's essential to understanding Mistborn to know Ruin's origin. Those who want expanded information can find it, and theorize upon it. However, I intend to warn people up-front before writing any book where you have to know this to understand it.

    Within the realm of Mistborn only, all you really need to know is that someone was holding this power--and that the 'individuals' of Ruin and Preservation were people, changed by the power they held. It holds to the theme of the story, with what happens regarding Sazed and other characters.

    /r/fantasy AMA 2011 ()
    #9537 Copy

    insertcleverphrase

    I know from reading your blog and various other comments that many of your books are in the same cosmos/universe, specifically Mistborn, Elantris, Warbreaker, and Way of Kings. I also am pretty sure that one day you'd like to do a series that ties all the different series/books together into one super-series. So my question is, would the various magic systems work on different worlds? For example, would a Mistborn be able to use his/her abilities in the world Way of Kings is located on?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It depends on the magic system. They are all related to a kind of "Spiritual DNA" that one gets from their heritage on a specific planet. However, there are ways around that. (Hemalurgy, for example, 'staples' a piece of someone else's soul to your own, and creates a work around to give you access to magic you shouldn't have.) Some of the magics are more regionally tied than others. (In Elantris, you have to access the Dor, which is very regionally influenced.)

    The end answer is this: With in-depth knowledge of how the magics work, and their connection, one could probably get them all to work on other planets. It may take effort for some of them.

    /r/fantasy AMA 2011 ()
    #9538 Copy

    Remagoen

    When plotting a series of books, how do you account for plot changes you didn't foresee you had to do? For instance, I read that Elend was originally going to be a minor character, but the end of Mistborn wouldn't have been the same without him. How did you work him into the plot later on without breaking the story?

    Brandon Sanderson

    After I wrote the first book, and Elend grew more important in my mind, I reworked the three-book-outline. Usually, when I build a series, I spend a lot of time on the first book and then have a few paragraphs on the rest. Then, after finishing the first book and seeing how it worked (and how the tone was) I go and do much more in-depth outlines for the rest of the series.

    When the first book is happening, things are much more 'anything goes' as I don't have any established canon yet. I allow myself to toss the rest of the outlines out the window, and just try to make the first book the best it can be. From there, I have continuity, and I feel it is important to maintain that for the integrity of the series.

    /r/fantasy AMA 2011 ()
    #9541 Copy

    unknown

    Hey Brandon! Thanks for doing this! My question has to do with Warbreaker 2 should you ever choose to write it. Will you be releasing it piece by piece and then in it's entirety for free online like you did with WB1?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, I will be.

    mgowen

    Wait... what!? We already have Warbreaker 1 to recommend to friends as a free trial of your work.

    Not that I'm complaining, but why make W2 free too?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Because it was a part of the experience of writing the book for me. It is something I'd like to try again. (Releasing the book chapter by chapter as I write it.)

    /r/fantasy AMA 2011 ()
    #9542 Copy

    staircasewit

    You’ve mentioned some of the characters who we are going to see throughout the Stormlight Archive series (Shallan, Dalinar, Szeth, Jasnah, etc.). However, I don’t remember seeing you comment on Wit. Are we going to see Wit (or plain ol’ Hoid) more throughout the series? Or less? (Hopefully more! :D)

    Brandon Sanderson

    Hoid has a large part of the story in the Stormlight Archive. You will be seeing much more of him. However, he will not get a 'book' of his own, most likely. He will get his own novels, just not among the Stormlight sequence.

    /r/fantasy AMA 2011 ()
    #9543 Copy

    RankWeis

    You've also mentioned that in Elantris, there was more to Seon's than what came out in the book (as far as a magic system, I believe). When you have to omit something like this, do you still consider it canon to the story? For example, if you were to write a sequel, would you feel obligated to stick with the original magic system you put into place (but never published), or would you be fine with drawing up a whole new one?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, I consider the ideas around Seons to be canon, though I don't always canonize something that is not in the books. If it isn't on paper, I'm usually willing to change it as it needs to in order to fit. One issue, however, is that things like the Seons are part of the greater magic system of the Cosmere (which connects many of my works.) I can't change things too much, or I'll start contradicting myself. (Which I don't want to do.)

    /r/fantasy AMA 2011 ()
    #9544 Copy

    RankWeis

    The characters in Mistborn all have very French names. My girlfriend insists Vin's name is pronounced almost "Veh", as it would be in France, and I'm almost convinced. How do you pronounce it?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The Central Dominance is intentionally French sounding. I say Vin's name like an American would, but everyone in world would say it with a French accent. Same goes for Kelsier, (which they would say Kel-syay.) Again, I say it as an American would, but then I'm not from the Central Dominance.

    unknown

    One further question on pronunciation- Sazed. Is it sayzd, sayzed, or sah-zahd? I always pictured the Terris people as somewhat Arabic so Sah-zahd came more naturally to me, but I'm curious as to what the intended pronunciation is.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I say Sayzed, as does Kelsier. The Terris a is not as harsh as that, but it's not quite a soft "a" either.

    General Reddit 2017 ()
    #9546 Copy

    Shagomir

    Here's the best I can do at what each of the dahns includes, without spoilers. Stuff in italics is unconfirmed but is reasonable to guess based on the information we have from the books and Brandon.

    • 1st Dahn: The King and the King's direct heir.
    • 2nd Dahn: Highprinces, their direct heirs, and the King's direct heir*.
    • 3rd Dahn: Generals?, Highlords, and the non-inheriting children of 1st and 2nd dahn lighteyes.
    • 4th Dahn: Battalionlords, Citylords, Shardbearers, and other mid-ranked nobles.
    • 5th Dahn: Companylords?, along with lower-ranked nobles.
    • 6th Dahn: Captainlords, along with the lowest-ranked nobles and landholders?
    • 7th Dahn: Lower-ranking landless officers, along with higher-ranking (or very wealthy) landless lighteyes?
    • 8th Dahn: Soldiers, along with high-ranking (or moderately wealthy) landless lighteyes?
    • 9th Dahn: Landless lighteyes with some wealth, like merchants and master craftsmen.
    • 10th Dahn: "Tenners", essentially any lighteyes who has to work for a living.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I'm very impressed by this list. You did a great job. Note that only the king is first Dahn under the Alethi system, however. His heir is second, until crowned. Sixth Dahn, as you've identified, is the "landed" cutoff--if you have land, even a little, you're at least Sixth Dahn.

    If you were of a specific dahn (say, seventh) but were elevated by something unusual (say, you got appointed to an appointment that would raise you above this) your children will often be elevated to a rank just beneath you. So, for instance, if a tenner got a shard, he'd immediately be elevated to fourth, and his family would likely be elevated to fifth.

    The only thing I'd offer a warning on is that sometimes, people shortcut "Captainlord" to just "Captain" which drives Peter crazy, and so it can be hard to pick out rank from title.

    Oudeis16

    That's interesting... so, is the dahn system new since Alethkar was unified? Or was it modified once they got a king? Or was it always this way, and there just used to not be someone at the 1st Dahn?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Kings existed in other places, and had existed in Alethkar before. (Dahn is a Vorin cultural ideal, not just Alethi.) So the system is not new, but for many years, the Alethi refused to accept a king. (Following the division of the kingdom among the Sunmaker's sons.)

    Oudeis16

    Oooooooh... fascinating. So, this implies that before Gavilar unified Alethkar, King Taravangian and the King of Jah Keved would both have been First Dahn, while the highest-ranked ten people in Alethkar were only Second Dahn. Interesting. In the interests of adding a few more names to the list of "known people of the First Dahn" on the Coppermind, would you be willing to confirm if King Taravangian (let's say at the start of the Way of Kings to avoid spoilers) was First Dahn?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Traditionally, the monarchs of city-states (like Kharbranth, Bavland, and at some points Silnasen) do not claim the first dahn. There have been leaders of New Natanan who have, same with Herdaz. Depends on how much they want to aggravate the Alethi.

    Unification era, there'd be two people of the first dahn: The queen of Thaylenah and the king of Jah Keved. Non-vorin monarchs in the west would be treated like first dahn, sometimes, depending on the situation.

    Oudeis16

    Did we know that Thaylenah is currently ruled by a Queen, or is this a small tidbit you have just given us?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I'm not sure if I've mentioned it or not, honestly. Queen Fen. You'll get to meet her soon. Note that Thaylenah is kind of a plutocracy, with merchant councils holding a lot of power, which changes its dynamic a little when compared to Alethi or Jah Keved.

    Shagomir

    I see you may have sneakily included an explanation for the 4th/5th dahn thing I noticed in a certain father-daughter duo. I promise not to read too much into it....

    Brandon Sanderson

    Note that getting a Shardblade isn't the only reason someone could be elevated, and isn't the only reason why children might not be the same dahn as their parent. Most of it has to do with titles, and who inherits, and that sort of thing. The answer is probably more boring than you're hoping.

    xland44

    Not sure if this is entering RAFO territory, but are highprince candidates (that is, people who can be elevated to highprince status if the post is empty) only people from the 3rd dahn? Or can a 4th dahn also be elevated to highprince, for example?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Highprince is a tricky one, as the definition of "highprince" is a person who can convince others to call him by the title. I guess that's the same for all of them, but as highprinces tend to be near the top of the pecking order, it's more about military than anything else.

    Gavilar was 4th dahn before becoming highprince, for example. His branch of the Kholin family wasn't considered a prime contender for the highprince throne--until he took it for himself.

    Enasor

    His branch of the Kholin family? Does this imply there are other branches of the Kholin family? Meaning, there are other Kholins elsewhere?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Well, not as many as there once were...

    uchoo786

    So if I'm understanding this correctly, before Gavilar's branch of the Kholin family started their conquest of Alethkar they conquered Kholinar?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yup. (There's some minor mention of this in Book Three, I believe.)

    General Reddit 2017 ()
    #9547 Copy

    Chapmello22

    Brandon Sanderson's city of Kharbranth from "The Way of Kings" looks jus tlike Positano, Italy.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I actually wrote the book without a specific place in mind--just trying to build off of the setting, and create cities that would work with the highstorms. Once I gave the book to Isaac (my mapmaker) he went and looked for real-world inspirations for drawing out cities. I'm pretty sure this is one of them, though I'd have to grab him and get the photo references to know for certain.

    It was actually one of those gratifying moments, when something I've imagined and described turns out to not only be plausible--it turns out to have been done in our world.

    Standard disclaimer, though: It's totally possible I saw a picture like this at some point in my life, and drew inspiration without remembering.

    General Reddit 2017 ()
    #9548 Copy

    RobotAztec

    Is all the chickens who are not chickens in Stormlight a big fat joke about [Terry Goodkind]?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No. Loan words into Alethi (chicken, wine, hound, etc) are a little bit of linguistic worldbuilding I am using for quite a different reason...

    muther22

    I'm guessing you aren't willing to elaborate on that point?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Book three will make it clear, but it is not so hard to guess right now. I will avoid saying more until November.

    General Reddit 2017 ()
    #9550 Copy

    ElonSv

    One thing about the sex scenes (or hints of) between Vin and Elend that strikes me, and those I've discussed it with, as odd is that there seem to be no contraceptive in the Final Empire. That'd be the most logical conclusion, seeing as skaa raped by Noblemen needs to be killed, there seem to be no other way to handle it. But that means that, to our understanding of the character, Vin wouldn't have sex unless she actively wanted to get pregnant. She's all too paranoid in general to just leave a thing like that to chance it, even despite loving Elend. How does it work?

    Brandon Sanderson

    There are indeed contraceptives, but noblemen tend to not trust them. After all, they can be executed for making a mistake.