Recent entries

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #10951 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Weak Aons

    Elantris is like a massive power conduit. It focuses the Dor, strengthening its power (or, rather, the power of the Aons to release it) in Arelon. This far away from Elantris, however, the Aons are about as powerful as they were before Raoden fixed Elantris.

    If you consider it, it makes logical sense that the Aons would be tied to Elantris and Arelon, yet would work without them. The Aons had to exist before Elantris–otherwise, the original Elantrians wouldn't have known the shape to make the city. Their study of AonDor taught them a method for amplifying Aon power.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #10952 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Damsel in Distress

    Now, I'd just like to note here that Raoden's just returning a favor. Sarene is the one who gave him the clue that led to his fixing the Aons, then finally restoring Elantris. Now that she's in danger, he gets to rescue her in turn. Just because someone finds themselves in danger or trouble does not mean that they themselves aren't competent.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #10953 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Sixty-Two - Part Two

    Raoden's Teleportation

    I had to work very hard to make this one work. I think it turned out, but it is a little bit of a stretch. Hopefully, readers will go with me on this one because of the climactic feeling of the near-ending.

    Regardless, I do think I gave Raoden all the pieces he needed here. Adien always existed in the book for this one moment–to give Raoden the length measurement he needed to go try to save Sarene. I've established that seons have perfect senses of direction, and I've talked about how to use Aon Tia. More importantly, I think I've established that this is something that Raoden would do. He gets just a shade foolhardy when Sarene is concerned. (It's all her fault.)

    There is another important element to this teleportation. I thought it important to involve deity in the climax of what has been such an overtly religious book. You may not believe in God, and it is never my intention to belittle your choices. However, the format of this book has been one that dealt with religion and the way that people interact with their faith. And so, I took this last moment of the book, and gave Raoden an opportunity to call upon the aid of providence.

    Raoden arrives safely, despite the odds against his having gotten the distance, direction, and other factors right. You are free to simply think of this as luck, if you wish.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #10954 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Lukel

    And, here we have Lukel joking again. Just like a the end of last chapter, where he faints. Comic relief shouldn't be underestimated, I think. Especially comic relief like this–jests and levity given in-character by people who are trying to lighten the mood of a stressful time. Lukel isn't there simply to entertain the reader, he's there to show a different side of human reaction. I think that if I were in his situation, I'd be trying to find a way to laugh about what happened too.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #10955 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Fjon

    Okay, so not all of the random surprises were cut from the book. I considered writing Fjon's appearance out of the book on several occasions, and I also played with several ways of using this scene. Eventually, I settled on what you see now–which was my original version.

    I realize this is a kind of "out-of-nowhere" shock. If I were writing this book today, I'd probably have cut this one. I'd also have slowed this chapter down a bit–I think the quick viewpoint jumps are getting a bit tired. They work for a short time, but I've been going with them for too long. (Sorry.)

    Anyway, back to Fjon. He has two basic purposes in the book. First is to kind of prove to Hrathen that no amount of logic and planning can prepare him for everything. The second is to set up Wyrn as a more mysterious, and more powerful, character. I definitely meant to imply that Wyrn managed to see, limitedly, into the future and sent Fjon to the place where he'd be able to slay an important traitor to Fjorden. I also thought Fjon's appearance a nice tie back to the early chapters.

    Looking back on it now, I still worry about this scene. Perhaps the book would have felt more professional if I'd just taken Hrathen out with a stab from Dilaf or one of his monks. The Fjon shock just wasn't built up enough to earn its place in the book. However, at the same time, a piece of me likes the fact that this one event is completely random. It doesn't detract from any of the characters–which is my main reason for avoiding random surprises. In battles, wars, and political conflicts, sometimes things happen that are completely unexpected. This is one of them.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #10957 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    The Salvation of Elantris

    Yes, Raoden lets the Dakhor monks go. That's the sort of thing that happens in this book. If you want something more gritty, you can read Mistborn. (Which is gritty for me, though nowhere near the genius sadism of George R. R. Martin's books.)

    I like having this scene from Lukel's viewpoint. If nothing else were gained from his other sections, I think the scene of the Elantrians emerging from the flames would be enough to justify his viewpoints in these last few chapters.

    So, anyway, that's one major plot line finished. Elantris has been restored. Most fantasies, however, are about characters more they are about plot. I love great twists and revelations–but the book isn't over until the characters are fulfilled. So, onward.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #10958 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Edits

    I keep promising that I'll tell you about some of the other silly character revelations I had pop up in the book. This one is particularly embarrassing. To be honest, I have NO idea what I was thinking.

    In the original draft of the book, Hrathen turns out to have been from Duladel the entire time. It's revealed in this scene, when he and Sarene are running from the Dakhor. He was of Dula blood, having grown up there, then moved to Fjorden as a teenager.

    Yes, I know. I must have been tired when I wrote that chapter. Anyway, at one point it must have seemed like a good idea. It didn't make even the first cut, however–my first readers rose up in open rebellion, and I joined them.

    I figure I must have decided that it was more dramatic to discover that Hrathen had betrayed his own people by destroying Duladel. (Note, in the early draft of the book, I made more of a habit of pointing out that the Duladen republicans weren't generally dark-skinned.) In the first draft, I always had Hrathen wear black die in his hair and pretended to be from Fjorden.

    Yes, again, I know. It was stupid. We writers do stupid things sometimes. I didn't even pause to think that the drama of Hrathen betraying his own people and religion in the present is far more powerful than a betrayal that happened before the book even started. I denied his entire character by trying to rely on some whim that seemed like a clever, unexpected twist. Don't let yourselves do things like this, writers. Let the twists help develop the character, not exist simply to surprise.

    Anyway, I'll post this scene in the deleted scenes section. It'll keep me humble to know people can read it.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #10959 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Sixty-One - Part Four

    Hrathen and Sarene There is some good, if terse, exposition here with Hrathen sorting through his feelings. I don't think he really wants to come to any answers right now. Logic has lead him astray before, and now that he's doing what he feels is right, he doesn't want to pause to give himself a chance to consider the ramifications of what he’s done.

    Again, Sarene has fulfilled her purpose in the book. She's thrown chaos into Hrathen's otherwise-orderly life. However, her chaos here–just like the chaos she caused in Elantris with her food–eventually proves to be a good thing. It inspires change for the better, even though that change is painful.

    And, of course, I remind the reader here that there is something odd about Hrathen's arm. I've only mentioned it in a couple of places, so I don't expect people to remember what is going on here. I actually forgot to have the sleeve in the original rewrite. I didn't even think to notice that his Dakhor arm would be exposed to Sarene in this scene. . . .
    Elantris Annotations ()
    #10960 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    I'm sorry for killing Karata. It felt like the right thing to do right here, even though my readers universally disagree with this decision. This is a very important series of events. If I didn't have any real danger for the characters, then I think earlier events–where characters did die–would come across feeling more weighty. Karata and Galladon throw themselves at a troop of armed soldiers. There was no way for that to end well.

    (By the way, none of the readers have even batted an eye about Eshen's death. I guess she got on their nerves.)

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #10961 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    The Spirit of Elantris (Part Two)

    So, my only worry about the climax here is that it's a little hard to visualize. Because I never quite got the map to look like I wanted it too, it's hard to see what Raoden is doing in this chapter. Essentially, he adds the chasm line to the Aon Rao that Elantris and its outer cities form. Because Elantris was an Aon, it stopped working just like all of the other Aons did when the Reod occurred. I've established several times in the book that the medium an Elantrian draws in–whether it be mud, the air, or in this case dirt–doesn't matter. The form of the Aon is the important part. By putting a line in the proper place, Raoden creates a gate that allows the Dor to flow into Elantris and resume its intended purpose.

    This is the scene that made me want to write this book. It, along with the one I talked about in the last chapter, formed a climax that I just itched and squirmed to write. (That's always a good sign, by the way.) The central visual image of this book is that of the silvery light exploding from the ground around Raoden, then running around the city. Storytelling-wise, this is the one scene I wish I could do cinematically rather than in text.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #10962 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Sixty-One - Part Three

    Raoden's Run

    Now, perhaps, you see why I was worried that I had Raoden too far up on the slope. In order for the plot to work, I had to get him down to the city in a hurry so that he could draw the Chasm Line.

    If you think about pacing a little bit as you read this chapter, you'll see that a lot more time is passing between sections than I'm implying by the quick cuts. It probably takes Raoden a good twenty minutes of running to get down that mountain. Fortunately, I've established that Elantrians don't get out-of-breath.

    He also runs, dragging the stick, longer than I imply. I think the pacing here is important to keep up the tension. However, if you draw the line, you'll see that he had to cross a good distance of land while dragging his stick.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #10963 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    The Women Fighting

    Talk of the ChayShan leads us into the scene where Sarene's women decide to fight back. Like the ChayShan, this plotting element wasn't intended to be anything spectacular, or to provide last minute salvation. In fact, the actual battle is kind of short. (My editor, by the way, thinks that I should have expanded this scene, letting the women be a little more heroic. I didn't necessarily disagree, but that edit just never found its way into a revision.)

    The women attack because it fulfills the form of this novel. This is a book about people who resist despite hopelessness, and it is about making use of you limitations to overcome your hardships. It's about the spirit of mankind.

    Not everyone who does things like this, however, is going to be as successful as Raoden. I wanted the women to fight back here–I wanted them to give a nod to the theme of the book while at the same time fulfilling Sarene's "fencing plot" cycle. The women did her proud–the fought back while their men waited to be slain.

    Interestingly, this Lukel scene fulfills the opposite function of what his previous one. Instead of offering a bit of hope when all the other viewpoints look dark, this one turns down while the others are having success.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #10964 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Sixty-One - Part Two

    Shuden's ChayShan

    The several mentions of the ChayShan, along with both of the scenes where Shuden performs it, were added to the book to give a feeling of scope. I wanted the reader to understand that there are things in this world that are different from the increasingly-familiar magic and society of Arelon.

    We'll talk a little bit more about this event in the text. However, realize that the ChayShan wasn't ever intended to be effective or successful–it's not a Deus Ex Machina for the people trapped inside Elantris. It is a hint of things I plan to do with the future of this world.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #10965 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    The Pool

    So, this is a SLIGHTLY contrived mechanic, and I realize that. I let Raoden off easily by having him simply choose not to be dissolved by the pool.

    Partially, I did this simply because I couldn't think of a better way to get him out of it. In addition, however, I think it fits the form of the novel. The pool represents giving in–though it's giving in to peace instead of pain, it is still an admittance of defeat. I've mentioned over and over that the pain has no power against one who doesn't give in to it. I don't see why the peace should be any different. If you can resist one, then you can resist the other.

    Besides, the image of Raoden bursting from the pool in front of Galladon and Karata was too good to pass up.

    I'm honestly not sure what the pool is or how exactly it fits into the theory of this magic system. It was added as a plotting devise, as mentioned earlier, and therefore was never tied directly to the cosmology or theoretics of the world. When I do a sequel to this book, I think I'll try and find a way to tie it in. For now, however, it's kind of a loose thread. The only thing I know for certain is what I mentioned above. Just like the pain of an Elantrian, I think the peace offered by this pool is a supernatural force. It has something to do with the physical form of the Elantrians.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #10966 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Sixty-One - Part One

    Hrathen's Decision

    As I've mentioned, Hrathen has the most progression of any of the characters in this book. It's fitting, therefore, that he should get the best character climax.

    Essentially, Elantris–at least Hrathen's third of it–is a redemption story. It is the story of Hrathen trying to make up for the massacre he caused in Duladel. Beyond that, it's the story of a man struggling to understand what faith is, and what that faith requires of him. In the end, his decision to save Sarene comes as a rejection of the sins of his past. And, in a slight way, it is a rejection of the heartless, logical man he assumed himself to be.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #10968 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Dilaf

    I really wanted to bring these Dilaf scenes in and make them personal. That was my prime reasoning behind sending Sarene with him. I wanted the reader to care, and I wanted Hrathen to care–which, hopefully, would make the reader care even more.

    Dilaf was very interesting to write as an antagonist. By the time he finally came to his own, I didn't have to worry about developing him as a viable threat. His personality through the entire novel had prepared the reader for the awful moment when he finally got the other characters into his power. And, because Hrathen was so sympathetic a villain through the entire novel, I think I can make Dilaf more raw and unapproachable. It's nice to have sympathetic villains, but with Hrathen in the book, I didn't feel that I needed much sympathy for Dilaf. Also, with one such well-drawn villain, I felt that if I tried to do the same with Dilaf, the comparison would make him come off very poorly. So, I went the other direction, and the contrast gives the readers someone that they can just hate.

    If they didn't hate him already, then this last scene with Sarene was meant to push them over the edge. Here is a man who kills for pleasure. No matter how wronged he was in the past, he has no justification for the cruelty and enjoyment he displays in anticipating Sarene's death. This is an evil man.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #10969 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    The Spirit of Elantris

    So, this moment–where Raoden is nearly dead, looking down on the cities, and finally makes the connection–was one of the scenes that made me want to write this book. In each novel I write, I have some important scenes in my mind. They're like. . .focuses for the novel. They're the places I know I need to get, and they're usually very dynamic in my mind. In a way, I tell the rest of the story just so I can make my way to these moments.

    This book had two main Moments for me. We haven't gotten to the second yet, but this is the first. I hope that you, the reader, arrived at the realization just as Raoden did. I've had a lot of trouble getting this balance right. Some readers figured out the secret early, while others (the larger group) didn't even understand what's going on in this chapter.

    If it requires explanation, Raoden is thinking about Aon Rao. Then he notices that Elantris and the cities around it form a pattern–the exact pattern of Aon Rao. The cities form an Aon on the ground. At this moment, Raoden realizes why Elantris fell, and why the Elantrians went with it. If you haven't figured it out yet, I won't spoil it for you.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #10970 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Sixty - Part Four

    Raoden Viewpoints

    It was essential to this chapter that I establish that Raoden can catch glimpses of what's happening around him. I went to a lot of work to get him into place above the city where he could make the connection, looking down on Elantris and the outer cities. The pool, actually, simply grew out of my need to find a way to put Raoden on the slopes of the mountains near the ending of the book. I like how it turned out in the final story–it added a dimension of mysticism to the Elantrian belief system, and it worked very well into the plotting I had developed. My only worry about it is that it was too far away from the Elantris, but we'll talk about that later.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #10971 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Lukel and the Will to Fight

    I wanted to bring the "sheep" idea full-circle in this chapter, and show that people don't just have to go along to their slaughter with docility. I think readers will be rooting for this, and this section–where Lukel and Shuden prepare to attack–gives us a little hope. This is a very tense chapter, and everything is going wrong. I decided I needed a few points of light in the narrative, otherwise it might get too depressing. So, I hint the people won't get killed without a fight.

    Besides, this lets Lukel–the regular guy surrounded by mages, heroes, and politicians–be a bit of a hero himself. He overcomes his fear and his lethargy.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #10972 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Adien's Secret I almost cut this entire twist from the book. I've never been happy with how it worked out, and I think there are–as I've mentioned–still a few too many surprises and twists at the end of the book. (Though, I have fixed it somewhat. It used to be that virtually EVERYONE had a secret past or personality trait that came out in these last four chapters.) Anyway, I don't like the Adien twist–it lacks power since we don't really care about him, and his character–the autistic–isn't terribly original anyway.

    I've left the Adien twist in for a single reason. However, it's a bit of a spoiler, so I'll put it invisible for those of you who haven't read the ending yet. You can come back and read this later.

    Anyway, Adien is my planned hero for book two. I like the concept of a healed autistic being the hero of the next book. And, since he's so good with numbers, he would be incredibly powerful at AonDor. I think he'd be a compelling character to look at, so I left him in this book in case I wanted to use him in the next one.

    Adien has been an Elantrian for some time. That's why Kiin's family knows so much about Elantrians. Read back to the earlier chapters, and you'll see a scene or two where Sarene wonders why they know so much about Elantris and its occupants. They hid Adien's transformation with makeup, and his autism kept him out of social circles anyway, so no one really paid much attention to the fact that he was never around.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #10973 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Sixty - Part Three

    Dakhor Magic

    I actually didn't plan to use the "teleportation" aspect of the Dakhor magic. However, I wrote myself into this chapter, then suddenly realized that I needed to get the group Teod in a real hurry. I couldn't let days pass while Sarene, Hrathen, and Dilaf sailed to the peninsula as I'd originally intended. (I have no idea what I was thinking.) So, I added in teleportation. It ended up working out very well in the book, as it let me add another dimension to the Dakhor magic–that of having it cost a life to create some of its effects.

    This, more than anything, should instill in the reader a sense of disgust regarding the Dakhor. I particularly like Hrathen's story about Dilaf making someone die so he could travel to a place fifteen minutes away. It characterizes Dilaf perfectly while at the same time giving a clue to how strict and obedient his order is. This isn't a group of people you want to mess with. It's the ultimate exaggeration of Derethi beliefs on loyalty and structure.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #10974 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Dilaf's Backstory

    I hope that Dilaf's explanations about his past are suitably creepy. I also hope they give some explanation. He is a man who betrayed his religion when he thought it would save the woman he loved–only to find himself, in turn, betrayed by the Elantrians. His wife became Hoed, and he himself burned her. This would have something of an effect on a man's psyche, I think.

    Now, recall that Elantris was at the height of its power when Dilaf took his wife in to be healed. I mentioned her earlier in the book, in a Raoden chapter. He found a story in one of his textbooks about a woman who was improperly-healed, and it turned her into what the Elantrians now are. This is Dilaf's wife. (Go re-read Chapter Twenty-Five for the story.) I find this little item beautifully circular.

    Anyway, we now have an explanation for Dilaf's instability and his hatred. I really like how Dilaf, normatively, grows into being the prime villain for this book. He comes to it slowly, kind of stealthily, while the reader is focusing on Hrathen. Yet, Dilaf is there from the first Hrathen chapter, always dangerous, always trying to destroy Elantris, always making his own plans. I worked hard to bring about his rise to power in the book, and I hope that it worked. Puling off the Dilaf/Hrathen reversal was one of my main goals in the story.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #10975 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Sixty - Part Two

    Lukel

    Lukel isn't as interesting as Galladon, but I still enjoyed giving him a viewpoint. He has the perfect personality to show what I wanted in these chapters. He's not a warrior–like Kiin–or a king–like Raoden. He's just a regular person caught in a nightmare.

    I wanted to deal a little bit with prisoner mentality in this scene. People allow terrible things to be done to them in situations like this. Part of it is because they fear what COULD happen more than they fear what IS happening. In this case, hope proves their enemy. The Dakhor stop killing the people and start rounding them up instead. The reason for this is simple–after seeing and hearing such terrible things, the people would run and fight. However, if the Dakhor back off, the people can hope that the worst is over. For this reason, they let themselves get rounded up and gathered in Elantris.

    It may seem convenient that the soldiers wait to kill the people, but I think it makes sense. You want to gather everyone in an enclosed place, where they will be trapped, before you begin your slaughter in earnest. That way you can be certain there are no escapees. The only one I fudged here was Kiin. A Dakhor probably should have killed him. However, I've had enough corpses in this book. Randomly killing off Kiin seemed like too much. (Some readers are already in rebellion over the people I've killed–or, rather, will kill shortly. . . .)

    Anyway, I get past part of this concern by throwing in the "purification rites" line. This hints that there is some sort of ritual that needs to be preformed before the people can be killed, and therefore explains why the Dakhor don't just slaughter them immediately. (I still think that control is the greater reason, however.) Another explanation of why the slaughter starts is mentioned by Lukel. Most of the Derethi left in Arelon are regular soldier-monks, not Dakhor. They don't have the same. . .zeal for destruction as Dakhor.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #10976 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Galladon

    I like finally having a chance to characterize Galladon internally. My sense is that you can never really get to know a character until you can see their thoughts. So, I gave a nice little series of viewpoints to Galladon, partially to show what was happening to Raoden's body, partially so that I could have some last-minute introspection and philosophizing regarding what is happening in the chapters.

    Galladon's hope monologue in this chapter is probably the most powerful, and most interesting, section he gets in the book. This piece is supposed to mimic what the reader is feeling–things are going terribly, but Raoden has always managed to pull out a miracle. He may look bad now, but he can still save them. Can't he?

    I think Galladon is more pessimistic–naturally–than the reader will be. However, he raises good questions, and his talk about hope–how Raoden's gift to him is the inability to give up completely–is one final showing of the power Raoden's personality has in this book. Perhaps the most amazing thing Raoden does in this book–more difficult a task to overcome than the gangs, more rewarding than taking the throne of Arelon–is make a believer out of a man like Galladon. A man who had given up on hope, but who now continues to believe, even though all is lost.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #10977 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Sixty - Part One

    Form

    From here on out, the chapters get longer. It's interesting to try and work with pacing. I think the shifting viewpoints achieve the sense of drama I want, and coupling that with lots of new chapters would be repetitive, I think. So, I waited for the most dramatic moments possible to end chapters. I think this ending counts.

    The triad system breaks down completely here. Everything is falling apart, and we're getting wild viewpoints from all over the place. (Well, not exactly–we only add Galladon and Lukel. However, I think that after fifty-nine chapters with only three viewpoints, suddenly adding two more will be disorienting enough to have the effect I want.)

    Part of the reason I add the viewpoints is so that I can show the breakdown of the form of the book. However, another–perhaps more important–reason is so that I can show what is happening in places that don't involve one of the three viewpoints. Raoden is off in his own little world of pain, and Sarene and Hrathen have gone to Teod. If I want to show what’s happening in Arelon, I need some new viewpoints.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #10978 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    "Failed my love. . . ."

    Poor Sarene. Her weddings just never work out. Honestly, I think this might be one of the most traumatic sections of writing I've ever done. (Traumatic for the characters, that is. Like most writers, I'm a closet masochist, and enjoy making my characters–and my readers–squirm.) Things aren't looking too good. Maybe they'll get better in the next chapter.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #10980 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Fifty-Nine - Part Two

    Kiin gets a little over-confident here by letting the two of them go on top. However, he doesn't know how powerful the Dakhor are. He assumes that his roof is unscalable.

    In addition, he realizes how difficult a situation he is in. Dilaf has an army–Kiin's fortress house, no matter how well fortified, can't defend against them for long. He needs to do something, and thinks that maybe the negotiations will offer a way. So, he takes the chance.

    Whoops.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #10981 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh, and yes, Elantrians can go unconscious. They can fall asleep, after all. The Elantrian brain is the one organ that continues to work very similarly to the way it did before the Shaod. So, taking a large amount of trauma can make it black out. The Elantrian won't remain unconscious forever–but when he wakes up, the actual physical damage will be there. That's why Raoden loses his sense of balance and everything gets fuzzy.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #10982 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Fifty-Nine - Part One

    I think I've noted that my viewpoints tend to speed up as I approach the endings of books. Well, Elantris is a perfect example. We're hopping viewpoints like a crazed body-snatcher. At the risk of sounding redundant, I did this to increase pacing and tension. Quick-rotating viewpoints give a cinematic feel to the story, in my opinion–kind of like cameras changing angles. This keeps things quick and snappy, and keeps the reader reading.

    It should be noted that writing and filmmaking are two completely different arts. What works in one doesn't work in the other–action sequences, for instance, have to be written completely differently in a novel than they would be displayed on screen. However, both storytelling forms try to evoke similar feelings in their audiences. So, you can't do the same things in writing as you can in filmmaking–but you can get a similar effect by using different tools. Here, I use viewpoint shifts, which is something a filmmaker can't really access without first-person voice-overs. Viewpoint is, in my opinion, one of the prime unique tools that we have as writers. That's why I think it's important to understand, and to manipulate.

    If you're paying attention to such things, we actually get two complete–and well-rotated–viewpoint triads in this chapter. Again, this is to increase the sense of urgency and pacing.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #10983 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    And, yes, Dilaf always had bones that were deformed. That's why I mention that they're not terribly disfiguring–they would be quite easy to hide under robes. And I often pointed out in the book that Dilaf was wearing his enveloping robes.

    Hopefully, these moments–Dilaf's unleashing–have been building for you through the entire book. By now, you should have realized that Dilaf was always the main villain of the story. He's the one with true hatred, and true instability. Hrathen is an antagonist, but he's no villain. Dilaf, however, has been built-up as someone who can do some truly terrible things. Now he’s unleashed, and he has an army of demonic monks at his control.

    And yes, we'll get to more about how Dilaf was able to imitate an Arelene later.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #10984 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    I've only mentioned Gragdets a couple of places. Hrathen never thinks much about them, since he doesn't consider them part of the traditional Derethi structure. In truth, they aren't–but they do have authority over a Gyorn in their own small sphere. I don't think that the reader needs to understand the entire social structure of the religion, however. Hrathen understands what is happening, and knows that he should probably let himself be under Dilaf's authority. That should be enough for most readers.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #10985 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Fifty-Eight - Part Four

    I don't know if you've noticed this, but this chapter forms a mini-triad of its own. It shows all three characters in their traditional rotation. It's something fun I decided to, playing with my own format. The idea was to give an unconscious sense of urgency to the reader by giving them a whole triad compacted into one chapter. I don't expect anyone to pick up on it–actually, I don't want them to. For it to work right, the reader will be paying so much attention to the text that they don't consciously notice the speed up. However, I hope that it will make them read faster and faster as the book progresses.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #10986 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Torena

    So. . .in the original draft, Torena is Eventeo's new spy in Arelon. Do you remember the conversation that Sarene and Eventeo had a little ways back? The one where he told her he had a new spy in Arelon, and refused to tell Sarene who it is? Well, yes. Torena.

    When I was writing this book, I went a little bit too far with the hidden pasts and amazing discoveries. I had Torena being the one who came to rescue Sarene from the Dakhor. (She arrived in a second carriage, I think.) However, the Dakhor caught up to them again, and suddenly Kiin appeared to save them.

    This scene was terrible. It's not that any of the pieces were bad. It's just that it was too repetitive. First you find out Torena has a secret past, and that she's come to rescue Sarene. Then we find out that Kiin has a secret past and he's come to rescue Sarene. It just didn't work–and the Torena surprise, which was only mildly foreshadowed, ruined the much better Kiin surprise.

    So, I cut the Torena parts–and I'm very glad that I did. My early alpha readers said that the worst part about the book was how all of the surprises at the end interfered with each other. Looking back, some of the things I did are embarrassing. I was adding surprises just for the sake of surprises. This is always a bad idea–surprises should be integral to plot and character, just like everything else. We want to find out about Kiin because we like him and are interested in him. We don't really care about Torena.

    (In my defense, I originally intended Torena to be a female friend for Sarene, kind of a second sidekick. However, there were already too many people hanging out with Sarene, and I just couldn't work Torena in without complicating things even further.)

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #10987 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Fifty-Eight - Part Three

    Kiin's Background

    So, call me melodramatic, but I think the Kiin surprise is one of my favorite in the novel. I've been foreshadowing this one from almost the beginning. And while it isn't a major part of the plot, it does suddenly explain a lot about Kiin's character.

    So, in case you couldn't infer it from the text, Kiin is Eventeo's (Sarene's father) older brother. He should have inherited the throne, but he wasted his youth on pleasure voyages and exploration, visiting foreign ports while his little brother stayed behind and helped rule the kingdom. (Their father was ailing, and often Eventeo would have to hold court for him and attend the other tasks of king.)

    Some minor crisis arrived at the same time as their father died, and Eventeo–thinking his brother unworthy of the throne–eased into the role of king and was crowned before Kiin was the wiser. Eventeo dealt with the problems of state, and generally was a good king. When Kiin got back from his latest trip, however, he was furious to find that his crown had been stolen from him. He demanded it back; Eventeo refused, and had Kiin banished.

    Kiin was popular with the military men, however, because of the heroic figure he cut. He was the adventuring sailor, while Eventeo was a scholarly bureaucrat. Over the next few years, Kiin managed to gather a naval force from pirates, deserters from Eventeo's armies, and mercenary forces. It was during this time he nearly died to the accident that crushed his throat. He took the name "Dreok," after Aon Reo, and sailed against Teod, trying to take the throne by force.

    Eventeo won (barely) and Kiin escaped with his life (barely.) He went to Arelon to recoup and plan his next invasion. However, he fell in love with Daora, and slowly began to loose his hard edge. A decade or so later, we have Kiin the chef and home-maker.

    I think it's a great backstory because of the questions it leaves. Eventeo did something that might have been right for his country, but something that was legally incorrect. All excuses aside, he usurped the throne. Kiin wouldn't have made a good king–he didn't have practice at administration, and he was a brusque, impetuous young man. However, the throne still should have been his.

    Moments like this one–when the secrets, foreshadowing, and hints all click together–are one of my greatest joys in writing. We've got a few more good ones coming up in the book. However, I did go a little overboard in places. We'll talk about that next.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #10988 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, this is where the book turns a little violent. You can read some of my earlier annotations on the topic. I was a little bit worried about putting any strong violence in this book, since it was generally focused around politics and other, more subtle methods of building tension. However, I decided to go with contrast instead. So far, nearly everything in the book has been surprisingly peaceful. We didn't even see Shaor's men kill many people.

    Now things are going very wrong. An evil that nobody was expecting has come against the city, and it's controlled by a demented, hateful creature. I don't see how we could get around having these scenes be particularly dark. I think there is an element of realism here too, however. This is what happens with all of the politics and the maneuvering breaks down.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #10989 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    In the original drafts of the book, I had Sarene feeling a sense of foreboding here at the beginning of her section. My thought was that we'd just seen the Dakhor attack Raoden–the reader is going to be feeling some tension, so I thought I'd like to keep it up in the Sarene scene.

    There's still a little bit of it there, but I cut most at Moshe's recommendation. He felt that having Sarene feel an unnatural eeriness about this particular night was too melodramatic, and implied a kind of psychic link. Personally, I think there's nothing psychic about it–it's just a general storytelling convention that characters can sense when something is wrong.

    Either way, I do think the more subdued tone of this first part has its own advantages. By having Sarene completely ignorant, even unconsciously, of what is coming, I think I build a sense of tension. The reader knows danger is approaching.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #10990 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Fifty-Eight - Part Two

    I don't know if you remember or not, but there was some small confusion on Raoden's part earlier about who Sarene was getting to bring supply shipments into Elantris. They always came and left at night, and didn't want anybody there to greet them. I realize we haven't seen the beggars very often, but I thought I'd use them again in this section. It made sense that they would be the ones Sarene used, assuming she knew about them. I'd say that Ashe found them in one of his information-gathering excursions.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #10991 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    My only sadness concerning the Dakhor is that I had to wait so long to reveal them. I think that visually, they are very interesting. The concept of a group whose bones have been twisted and deformed by powerful magics brings interesting images to mind.

    The Dakhor aren't majorly deformed, however–they still have all the pieces in the right places. Their bones have simply been. . .changed. Expanded in places, simply twisted to form patterns in others. Because of this, of course, they have to run around shirtless. It's more dramatic that way. Besides, we spent all this money on special effects–we might as well show them off.

    Of all the things in the book, this one worries the most with its sudden appearance. I really did try to foreshadow this as best I could. If it’s still too sudden for you, I apologize. My suggestion is to just sit back and enjoy the ride.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #10992 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Okay, so I'm a prude. I'll admit that. I like my characters to be married before they have sex. Besides, Sarene is right–she deserves a wedding. She's waited since chapter two to have her big, princess's wedding. She deserves something official. So, Raoden and Sarene spend this night apart. Besides assuaging my moral sense of decency, it works much better for the plot to have them apart.

    Notice that Raoden awakes here, much in the same way that he did in chapter one. I kind of wanted this chapter to call back to that one. Both chapters open with a slight sense of peace, followed by awful discovery. Both end with Raoden being cast into hell.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #10995 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Ah, and Hrathen's three month timebomb. It's always nice when you can have a timebomb go off early. Hrathen thinks in this very chapter about how he's got a month left on his deadline. However, I suspect that readers will look at the book and realize that there's less than a hundred pages left. Hopefully, with these chapters–Raoden crowned king, Hrathen apparently beaten–I invoke a sense of confusion in the reader. They'll be expecting something big, something they weren't looking for.

    The arrival of the Dakhor monks is it. You'll get some more explanation of this later, of course. Anyway, now you know why I kept mentioning the Arelene market and how unprofitable it seemed. The merchants there weren't even really merchants.

    In the first draft, I had the monks hiding on the merchants' ships. In a later rewrite, however, I realized that this wasn't as powerful as if I had them actually playing the part of the merchants. If I had them on the ships, I had to have Hrathen follow Dilaf all the way to the docks. In addition, those monks would have had to spend weeks cooped up in the holds of a bunch of merchant ships. So, I changed it so that the monks were impersonating the merchants themselves–a better plan, I think, on their part. This lets them infiltrate the city, move around and scout the area, and essentially hide in plain sight.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #10996 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    I use this chapter as a strict triad chapter–it covers the same space of time as the other two chapters. With Sarene and Raoden running around together now, the triad system has been easy to forget. While I still start each chapter with the correct character, I often let the viewpoints intermix after that.

    Again, this is intentional. After this last Hrathen chapter, I have the triad system break down completely. It's supposed to be a subtle indication of the chaos of these last few chapters. I'll even start throwing in viewpoints that aren't of the core three, which I hope with give the reader a sensation that something different is happening. The world, even the narrative structure of the book, is breaking apart. None of the old rules hold any more.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #10997 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Fifty-Seven

    As I've mentioned before, I didn't want Hrathen's affection for Sarene to ever be overt in the book. He's not a man of passions, and I think he would be very good at keeping his interest unacknowledged, even in his own thoughts. He has "learned to ignore" the passions of the flesh. We only get a few small clues as to his attraction to Sarene, and this chapter is probably has the most of those.

    Still, hidden though they are, I wanted it to be obvious that Hrathen is a man, and does have masculine desires. He's found a woman whom he considers his equal–the fact that she is of a heretic religion would only make her more appealing, I think. Hrathen is attracted to challenges, and Sarene is nothing if not challenging.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #10998 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    If we were in Sarene's viewpoint here, we'd probably see her thinking about the time this very thing happened to her–at her wedding.

    I think her speech makes some good points. However, I think the people of the city have also been through so much lately that they're ready to accept anything. The combination of moving speech and unresponsive crowd is what let them get away with making Raoden king. Honestly, so many people have been popping in and out of Elantris lately that I suspect the people of the city are beginning to lose their edge of fear. They know that the Shaod isn't contagious, and they now know that many Elantrians aren't dangerous. The would see the illusion drop, and finally make the connection between Raoden and the Elantiran Spirit that helped them distribute food.

    In this case, hope overcomes fear.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #10999 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, Dilaf manipulating the Dor is supposed to be a major "What the. . . ?" moment in this book. I'm sorry–I didn't really give you much foreshadowing on this one. There really wasn't an opportunity; this isn't the kind of thing that Dilaf would use very often, for fear of betraying his secrets.

    I think it works, however, since this scene is actually supposed to be foreshadowing itself. You'll find out more about Dilaf, obviously, in the next chapter.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11000 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, this section marked one of the biggest changes to the text during the revision process. In the Mad Prince version of the novel, the soldiers who ride up to Kiin's house were members of the Mad Prince's army. They arrested Raoden–he went willingly–and tried him for the death of their leader. This took the better part of two chapters, and ended with Raoden almost getting beheaded.

    Overall, I kind of happy to lose the scene. The trial was a big distraction, and I'm not sure that I ever pulled it off narratively. There were a few interestingly tense moments, and it did let Raoden show his honor in his defense (he accepted the judgments of the army assuming they promised to make Sarene queen.) However, I sense that the scene in general was just over-written.