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    General Signed Books 2016 ()
    #11303 Copy

    WeiryWriter

    While imprisoned Kaladin encounters a strange type of spren described as "taut wires crossing before him". When I first read this I instantly thought of the captivityspren Axies is searching for, so I was surprised when someone asked you about it and you were reported as saying they are not captivityspren. What kind of spren is it then?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I must have misunderstood. Those were captivityspren.

    General Signed Books 2016 ()
    #11304 Copy

    WeiryWriter

    To what extent do the Shades of Threnody remember their lives? Silence’s grandmother appears to recognize her but on the whole Shades don’t really act like people. Kelsier however, the other main example of a Cognitive shadow, seems little altered from his living state.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Shades of Threnody are not as self-aware as other shadows.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11316 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    These two chapters–forty and forty-one–are another sequential pair in a triad, like I did before. I wanted to push out of Raoden's viewpoint as quickly as possible here, because he's already seen Elantris and New Elantris. In these scenes, Sarene's view of things will be more fresh–and therefore more interesting. She can experience some parts of Elantris for the first time, and we can enjoy her realization and discovery.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11317 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    This scene where Raoden and Sarene meet on equal grounds is, I hope, something that people have been waiting for. I intended the moment when Sarene lets Raoden take her hand to be a major event in the book. The phrase "For the first time" (I.e., she took his hand for the first time) was added at Moshe's suggestion. I'm personally not as fond of it as I could be–my opinion is often times, making a passage shorter actually emphasizes it more. However, I wasn't so set on those four words that I insisted on not putting them in.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11318 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Forty

    Originally, I had the steps leading up to Elantris from the outside be a construction put there by the people of Kae. I knew I wanted a large number of scenes on the wall–it is such a dominant visual feature of the book that I thought it would make a good stage for scenes. However, I quickly realized that it would be the people of Kae–not the Elantrians–who controlled the wall. The Elantris City Guard grew from this idea, as did the set of steps constructed on the outside, leading up.

    As I worked more and more on the book, however, I came to realize that the pre-Reod Elantrians wouldn't have needed a city wall for protection.

    Obviously, to those who've read more, there is a good Aon-based reason for the wall. However, there is more to it than that, as well.

    The wall of the city is a symbol–it's part of the city's majesty. As such, it made more and more sense that there would be plenty of ways to get up on top of it.

    When we got the cover art back from Stephen, we were amazed by its beauty. A few things, however, didn't quite mesh with the text. One of these was the set of steps–they were so ornate, so beautiful, that it didn't fit that they would have been designed by the people of Kae. At that point, things kind of fell together, and I realized that there was no reason why the Elantrians themselves wouldn't have put a large staircase outside the city leading up to the wall.

    And so, in the final rewrite of the book (the ninth draft) I changed the staircase, and the general feel of the wall, to give the proper sense to the reader. The staircase was placed by the Elantrians as a means of getting up on top the wall. The wall itself became less a fortification, and more a wonder–like the Eiffel Tower. It is there to be climbed and experienced.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11319 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Thirty-Nine

    I did this triad a little differently. You might notice that the Hrathen chapter starts off right where the Sarene chapter ends. Again, I eventually decided to be more loose with the triad system than I'd originally intended. It would have been to limiting to force all three chapters to happen during the exact same time. So, instead I have them all happen on the same day, usually overlapping, but not always.

    Anyway, this chapter was a nice little place for Hrathen to feel proud of himself. You may have noticed that the chapters are speeding up–getting shorter, things happening faster–as the book progresses. This is an aspect of my style, and while it's not quite so noticeable in my new books (I've tried to even out my climaxes and surprised better during the last few years,) Elantris is an "Old School" Brandon novel. My books tend to push toward the endings quite dramatically, and you usually hit a place my friends affectionately call "The Brandon Avalanche." Generally, my books tend to go haywire in about the last ten percent, the pace increasing drastically, the viewpoints going wild.

    That hasn't happened at this point in Elantris, but we're getting closer.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11321 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    You'll notice in the "Sarene prays in the chapel" scene that I take care to describe how high-necked, long-sleeved, and generally enveloping Sarene's dress is. Hopefully, this doesn't look suspicious. However, those of you who are watching carefully probably realized what was going to happen at the wedding. This was just too good an opportunity to pass up–for the surprise factor, for the wrinkles it throws in to the plot, and because it lets me mix Sarene and Raoden again.

    This prayer scene also offers our first, and only, real look into Sarene's religious mindset. Her faith is probably one of the only simple aspects of her personality–she believes, and it doesn't need to go much further than that for her. That's why I had this prayer be so simple. Sometimes, a simple thing can be far more powerful than a complex one.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11322 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    This chapter is supposed to be something of a small redemption for Iadon. First off, we have his proclamation, which gives validity to his structure of rule. I think everything in the Arelish government makes a lot more sense now that we understand why Iadon did what he did.

    The second bit of redemption comes at the burial site, where Sarene watches the barrow being built. Her thoughts don't excuse what Iadon did, but I hope they give something of an explanation. I like this scene because of the way it feels–there is a reverence about it which gives the proper atmosphere for a funeral.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11323 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    By the way, in the original draft, when Sarene gives her "All of Arelon is blessed by your presence" line when the Patriarch is on the docks, the Patriarch originally said "I know." Moshe thought this was a little overdone, so I cut it. In my mind, however, the Patriarch IS overdone and cliché–that's part of his character. But, anyway, one other item about this scene is the storm. I threw it in so that I could fudge the time of the Patriarch's arrival–the triad structure requiring me to have had him on the boat longer than the trip should take. This might actually not be necessary any more–in the original, I had him leave before he found out about the king's death. (I'm. . .not exactly sure why. Something to do with pacing and the triad structure. However, it was always my intention to have him read the proclamation at the funeral, so I had to have him ASSUME that Iadon would be executed, then take off with the proclamation. Either way, I eventually fixed this, smoothing things out considerably.)

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11324 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    I brought in the Patriarch for a couple of reasons. Though Joshua wanted to cut him (my agent is quite the headsman) and suggested that I have Omin reveal the proclamation, I felt that I needed someone with a little more authority to fill that role. Plus, Elantris is a book about religion, and I wanted to look at the idea of having a religious leader who isn't necessarily as. . .wise as his people would like. By giving the Korathi religion a man like the Patriarch at its head, I could show a different aspect of faith in the book–the idea that a religion is more than its leader, and faith is more powerful than one man. I think that for any religion to last, it needs to be able to survive IN SPITE of the people who run it, rather than just because of them.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11325 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Thirty-Eight

    Ah, we needed some more Lukel. He hasn't been around enough lately. I'm glad I had the presence of mind to throw in a character to balance out Shuden and Eondel's solemnity. Lukel doesn't really have much part in the plot, but he's always there to throw in a nice quip or two. His annoyance at being told his face is too pink here is probably one of his best moments.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11326 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Another big nod of thanks goes out to my thesis committee for their suggestion regarding this chapter. I'm not sure how I missed it, but in the original drafts, Raoden and company never acknowledge the fact that Hrathen had been healed. They never even mentioned it, and they certainly didn't give their thoughts on why it happened.

    The fix was an easy one–you can read it in a few paragraphs in this chapter. However, the fact that it hadn't been there before was indeed a problem. Moshe was dumbfounded when I mentioned the oversight to him.

    So, thanks Sally, Dennis, and John. You saved me from some embarrassment.

    I like the explanation that Raoden gives here for Hrathen's healing. It seems like it would make sense to the Elantrians, and it saves me from having them suspect what was really going on.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11327 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Thirty-Seven

    We've entered the section of the plot where Raoden has a few short chapters (this one and the one before.) As I mentioned, his major plot cycle–the three gangs–for the first part of the book is over. Right now, the most important things are happening on the outside of Elantris, so Raoden gets a slight breather to study.

    That said, the realization that happens here–that Raoden isn't bad at dealing with the pain, he's simply facing something that the others don't have to–is an important one. There needed to be some progression here, even if it does take away Raoden's main character conflict. (Now he doesn't have to worry that he's inferior.) However, this conflict is replaced by another little timebomb–now Raoden has to worry about being destroyed by the Dor before he can finish his studies. It gives him a sense of urgency, makes things a little more difficult–which is why I introduced this plotting structure in the first place. As I've mentioned, I was worried that there wouldn't be enough tension in his chapters once the gangs were defeated. Hence the Dor attacks.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11328 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    This chapter asks the question "What is a miracle?" You've heard me wax pontificatory too much on religion, so I'll hold off here. Instead, I'll just point out that what Hrathen thinks–that something can be a miracle even if there was nothing "miraculous" involved–makes perfect sense, I think. Look at it this way. A) Hrathen believes (as many in our world do) that God controls everything. B) Hrathen believes (as many in our world do) that God can do whatever he wants without expending any resources or weakening Himself. C) Therefore, it doesn't matter to God whether or not He has to "magically" cause something to occur or not–as long as an event is made to coincide with what He wants to happen, it is miraculous. It's just as easy for Him to make something occur through the natural flow of the universe as it is for him to make it occur through breaking of normal laws.

    (This, by the way, is why "miracles" such as faith healings or the like should never, in my opinion, form one's grounds for belief in a particular religion.)

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11329 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, all this time Hrathen was under the effects of the potion. It was a little bit contrived not to tell the reader that Hrathen had asked for the effects to be temporary, but I figured the drama was worth it. You should have been able to figure it out anyway–it was the only logical reason Hrathen would drink the potion.

    Of all the politickings, maneuverings, and plannings in this book, I think this is the best one. In a single brilliant gamble, Hrathen managed to make himself into a saint who is seen to have power over Elantris. He out-witted Sarene and Dilaf at the same time, gaining back everything he'd lost during his arguments and self-questioning. This isn't really a "twist," in my mind–it's something better. It's something that makes logical sense, something that carries the plot forward without having to trick the reader, yet still earning wonder and appreciation.

    In my mind, this sort of plot twist is superior to gimmick surprises. I don't often pull it off, but there's something. . .majestic about a plotting device that is obvious, rational, yet still surprising.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11330 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Thirty-Six

    Dakhor. One of the better words I came up for this book, I think.

    Be patient with me–I'm going somewhere with this whole Dakhor monastery thing. We'll get there eventually. For now, enjoy Hrathen's visions. Or, rather, be disturbed by them. (Dakhor, if you haven't noticed, isn't a very friendly place. . . .)

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11332 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Boy, I have a lot to say on this chapter. Let's talk about Sarene's engagement to Roial.

    Some moments, when you're writing, things just click together. The moment when I came up with this plotting element was one such moment. I hadn't actually planned this into my outline. Suddenly, as I was writing, I realized just how much sense it made, and how wonderful it would be to force the characters to have to go through this. Even still, this is one of my very favorite twists in the book.

    The scene in the carriage has been there from the beginning, but I did change it slightly in the last draft, adding the section where Roial talks to Sarene about herself. His line "You're an excellent judge of character, except for your own" is something I think needed to be said to Sarene at some point in the book. The actual suggestion that it happen came from my Master's Thesis committee. They–correctly–saw Sarene as someone who had an unrealistic image of herself.

    She really isn't as unmarriagble, or as unwantable, as she thinks she is. Even back in Teod, she wasn't regarded quite as harshly as she assumes. However, she's very hard on herself. Someone needed to sit her down and tell her–at the same time acknowledging to the reader–that she isn't half as bad as she seems to think.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11333 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    About here, I decided to start having Ahan be less helpful in these meetings. The subtext here is that he's been playing both sides, intending–yet never quite managing–to overthrow Sarene's group. Early in the book, he was having fun just playing the game–and he never did anything incriminating against the king. Now, with Iadon gone, he's reworking his motivations. So, that's why he's a bit less communicative in this chapter.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11334 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    One interesting note about this book is how small the armies are. Often in books, I'll deal with armies in the tens and hundreds of thousands. Those, however, tend to be war epics–it makes sense to me that in Elantris, they're talking about hundreds of men, rather than thousands. This may seem like a ridiculous number for a defense force, but I imagine Arelon being a small country, quite isolated and–as noted in the text–rather innocent. They really only need policing forces.

    My copy editor was worried about my use of the word "legion," actually, for Eondel's personal force. She said that a legion, dictionary wise, was usually much larger. While this may be true, I think the fact that they call it "Eondel's Legion" makes it a proper noun, and is usable. This is a kind of honorary title, rather than a descriptive name. Besides, in Arelon, a couple hundred men really is quite big.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11335 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    The Jindoeese food section is another one of those potentially out-of-place sections of the book, but I certainly had a lot of fun writing it. I'm interested in the fact that some more "primitive" cultures often understand the same things that modern medicine and science do, they just can't quite explain themselves to our satisfaction. It makes sense to me that a culture like the Jindoeese might figure out that a diet lower in fats is good for you, but they might not completely understand why. Anyway, poor Eventeo doesn't get to eat butter any more.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11337 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Thirty-Five

    The joke is, of course, that Eventeo told Sarene not to do this very thing–not to overthrow Iadon and put herself on the throne. It was back in chapter two, the first Sarene chapter, and he said it in jest. (She broke her promise, though–she said she'd wait at least two months to put herself on the throne. Go read the last page of that chapter if you want to see what I'm talking about.)

    Anyway, yes, I killed Iadon off-stage. I didn't see any reason to go on with him at this point. He'd done his damage, suffered his defeat. The best thing for him was to disappear without causing any more trouble, I think.

    Well, not without any more trouble, I guess. There is that funeral scene. . . .
    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11338 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    And, as for the seon explanation here. . .well, I'm afraid that's all you get for this book. I think this is the last (or, rather, only) discussion the characters have about the origins of the seons. It's not much, but that is intentional. When I wrote Elantris six years ago, I wasn't sure if I'd ever even sell the book. Therefore, I didn't want to invest too much thought into a sequel right then. I wanted the book to stand alone, yet I wanted to give myself plenty of room to do interesting things in a series, if it ever came to that. Therefore, I intentionally left a few open spaces in the worldbuilding–things the characters didn't even know.

    One of these holes is the origin, and even workings, of the seons. I have some ideas, of course, but you'll have to wait for another book before they get explained. (You can thank Moshe for what you got in this chapter–he was very curious about seons, and he wanted a little bit more. That's why we had the discussion of Passing, as well as the explanation that you don't have to be noble to have a seon.)

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11339 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    My explanation for the slime, admittedly, relies a bit heavily on "fantasy writer's license." Usually, I resist overdoing things like this. (I.e., simply explaining away events in the world with magical answers.) Though there is a slight logic to Raoden's explanation, it isn't something that would have been intuitive to a reader, given the facts of the novel. That makes it a weak plotting element. However, the slime explanation isn't part of any real plot resolution, so I decided to throw it in. Its place as an interesting world element, rather than a climax, gives me a few more liberties, I think.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11340 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Now that the three gangs have been dealt with, Raoden's storyline has had some major resolutions. The increasing pain of his wounds, however, is something I introduced into the book for fear that he wouldn't have enough pressing conflicts. As stated in previous annotations, his personality is uniquely strong and stable amongst characters I've created, and I figured that giving him a small problem in the area of self-confidence wouldn't be remiss. He feels that he's worse at dealing with the pain than everyone else, and that makes him worry that he isn't the leader he should. We'll have more on this later.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11341 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Thirty-Four

    I know it seems like I'm setting Shaor up for a return, but I really don't intend to bring her back. At least, I didn't when I wrote this chapter. The truth is, I just didn't want to write a scene of the madmen returning with the torn up body of a little girl.

    However, every time I read this section, I can't help noticing that I left one of the book's most dangerous villains alive (potentially.) Ironically, because it seems so obvious from the text that Shaor is still alive, I think I'd avoid doing anything with her in a sequel. It seems like in fiction, any time you don't see a body, you automatically assume (often correctly) that the villain is still out there somewhere.

    However, in this case, it really doesn't make sense to use her again. Shaor wasn't a threat because of any special skills on her part–I see no reason to bring her back.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11342 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    When I was designing this book, I knew I wanted a religious antagonist. Actually, the idea for the Derethi religion was one of the very fist conceptual seeds for this novel. I've always been curious about the relationship between the Catholic church and the Roman empire. While Rome itself has declined greatly in power, the church that grew within it–almost as a side-effect–has become one of the dominant forces in the world. I wondered what would happen if an empire decided to do something like this intentionally.

    The early Derethi leaders, then, were a group who realized the problems with the Old Fjordell Empire. It collapsed upon itself because of bureaucratic problems. The Old Empire was faced with rebellions and wars, and never managed to become stable. The Derethi founders realized the power of religion. They decided that if they could get the nations of the East to believe in a single religion–with that religion centered in Fjorden–they would have power equal to, or even greater than, the power of the Old Empire. At the same time, they wouldn’t have to worry about rebellion–or even bureaucracy. The people of the other nations would govern themselves, but would give devotion, loyalty, and money to Fjorden.

    So, these men appropriated the teachings of Shu-Dereth and mixed them with some mythology from the Fjordell Old Empire. The resulting hybridization, added to the Fjordell martial work ethic, created an aggressive, intense religion–yet one that was "constructed" with a logical purpose in mind. The Fjordell priests spent the next few centuries converting and building their power base. The result was the New Empire–an empire without governments or armies, yet far more powerful than the Old Empire ever was.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11343 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Thirty-Three

    Another short, but powerful, Hrathen chapter. This is the head of Hrathen's character climax for the first half of the book. He has been questioning his own faith ever since he first met Dilaf. It isn't that he questions the truthfulness of the Derethi religion–he just has become uncertain of his own place within it. I wanted this moment, when he's semi-consciously watching the eclipse, to be the moment where he finally decides upon an answer within himself.

    This is a major turning-point for Hrathen. His part in the book pivots on this chapter, and the things he does later are greatly influenced by the decisions he makes here. I think the important realization he realizes here is that not every person's faith manifests in the same way. He's different from other people, and he worships differently. That doesn't make his faith inferior.

    In fact, I think his faith is actually superior to Dilaf's. Hrathen has considered, weighed, and decided. That gives him more validity as a teacher, I think. In fact, he fits into the Derethi religion quite well–the entire Derethi idea was conceived as a logical movement.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11344 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    There are a couple of important foreshadowings in this chapter as well. One is the seon sense of direction, which plays a very small-yet-important part in the climax of the book. The other is Sarene's insight into Ahan's character here at the party. If you've been following him, you realize that he is like she explains–a little too quick to act, not quite as politically shrewd as he'd like others to think. It's this scene, however, where I really wanted to lay the seeds of understanding in my readers, preparing them for his eventual betrayal.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11345 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Some notes about the party. First off, I had a lot of fun sticking the sickening young couples into this book. I'm not sure why I like to make fun of them like I do, but I certainly have a bit of fun in the Sarene chapters. Ah, poor Shuden. He didn't hold on as well as he thought he might. Anyway, the contrast here is very nice for Sarene, and I like how she and Roial move through the party, mingling. There's just a. . .natural feel about some of the scenes in this book that I haven't quite been able to capture in my other works.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11346 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Showing Roial's seon was important, I think. First off, I wanted to give some evidence that there are indeed seons in Arelon who aren't mad. (So far, I believe that the only named seons we've seen in the book are Ashe and Ien.) Secondly, Opa is a nice little foreshadowing–it's through him that Ashe manages to contact Sarene's friends. Actually, Sarene's interaction with Ashe is quite interesting in this chapter, as it's somewhat more strained–and therefore a bit more true–than what we've seen before. When under stress, Ashe isn't quite so accommodating and straightforward as normal–but he still does retain Sarene's best interests at heart.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11347 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Sarene's extended internal narrative about Graeo remains in the book despite a slight dissatisfaction on my part with the section. It feels a little expository, and we've gotten implications regarding these things before. I'm not sure that we really learn anything new about Sarene's character here, we just get a few specifics about her past.

    However, one of the nice things about a book like this–or, even, books in general, as opposed to movies –is that you don't have to worry TOO much about every scene and moment. I don't have to shave seconds quite as intensely as a film-maker might, or even shave words as much as an author of a shorter work might. I can afford a few diversions like this one, even if they ramble just a bit.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11348 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    There's a tie for best line of the chapter, in my opinion. The first one goes to Sarene, and it's in her thoughts. " 'The problem with being clever,' Sarene thought with a sigh, 'is that everyone assumes you're always planning something.' " This was an original line from the first draft, and it's always struck me as a rather true statement. The other line goes to Roial, and it was actually added in one of the last drafts. "Mean young men are trivial, and kindly old men boring."