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    The Hope of Elantris Annotations ()
    #11406 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Conclusion

    So there's the backstory. Now, the question comes up, what do I think of the story itself?

    Well, it's hard for me to separate the backstory and the history of the story from the text itself. For me, this story is a piece of my history with Pemberly, and is intertwined with a lot of the emotions and experiences of that crazy year from summer 2005 to summer 2006 when my first novel was released and I met and married my wife.

    Looking back at this story, I think it might be a tad on the sentimental side. (How could it help but be, considering . . . ?) I'm bringing a lot from my own experiences to the characters, and Dashe and Matisse became full and real people to me. However, I'm not certain I justify their relationship and the characters enough to earn the emotion of the short story.

    I hope that it doesn’t come off as too melodramatic. (Read outside the context of the Elantris novel, I think that it might.) I wrote it quickly, and I'm afraid it's not as polished or as intricate as I might have otherwise been able to make it. I realize it's not the finest piece of work I've done, and I certainly wouldn't suggest it to anyone who hasn't read Elantris itself, as the story doesn't work at all (emotionally or plotwise) if you aren't familiar with the novel. I also think it's not a good introduction to my work.

    But for what the story is, I'm quite pleased with it.

    Thanks for reading!

    The Hope of Elantris Annotations ()
    #11407 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Hope of Elantris

    I'd been itching to write another Elantris story. Because of the nature of publishing, I knew that I couldn't do a sequel to the book at the time, as the Mistborn novels made so much more sense to publish. However, Matisse's project gave me the inspiration that I needed in order to turn my attention back to Elantris. I stopped writing on Mistborn: The Well of Ascension and wrote out this section of the Elantris story.

    Because Matisse had inspired me, I decided that I would name a character after her. I also felt that if I was taking the time to write a short story in the world, I wanted to introduce a new character rather than telling the story from Dashe's viewpoint. (As would have been likely had this section ended up in the final novel.) Therefore, it was reasonable to write it from the viewpoint of the character I'd just named after Matisse.

    The Matisse in the story doesn't act like the real Matisse. I didn't know the real Matisse; I'd never met her. (Though I did have Pemberly describe her so that I could make the character look like her. Matisse was one of my wife's favorite students, as you might imagine from her doing fantastic projects like the Elantris book.)

    After writing the story, I sent a copy with Pemberly to give to Matisse as a gift and a thank you. I can only imagine how surprised she was to turn in a project based on one of her favorite books, then get back a short story written by the author including her as one of the characters in the world. This is the kind of nifty little thing you can pull off once in a while as a novelist, and I just couldn't pass by the opportunity.

    (Of course, the fact that I'd just put one of Pemberly's favorite students into a story for her, then let Pemberly give the gift, did not escape me. I can't help but think it got me a few bonus points. After all, we did start dating exclusively just a short time after that. . . .)

    Matisse gave us the original Elantrisology book she had made as a wedding gift. She still comes to a lot of my signings, and as far as I can tell is still one of the most awesome people alive. (Though I'm biased toward anyone who says nice things about my books.)

    The Hope of Elantris Annotations ()
    #11408 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Holes in the Story

    In any novel, there are decisions you make regarding what to put in and what to leave out. A lot of authors talk about the "iceberg" theory—that for any good book, there's a lot of story and worldbuilding beneath the surface that the author knows, but the reader never discovers. These things give weight and a foundation for the story you do see, allowing it to feel more real and more engaging because the author has thought through so much of what isn't stated.

    In Elantris, there are a couple of these holes. Places where I knew what was happening offscreen, but decided that I couldn't talk about it in the book. In this novel, there were generally two reasons for these holes. One was if I couldn't get a viewpoint character into the right location at the right time; the chapter triad format earned me a lot of things, but also constrained me sometimes. At the end of the book, however, the triad system fell apart on purpose, and so I could show random other viewpoints. In the case of what was happening with the children in Elantris, however, I decided that there was already too much happening during the climax, and these sections were the ones that had to be cut.

    So I knew what was going on inside Elantris when the attack by the Dakhor came. In the back of my mind, I also knew that the children were saved and protected by Dashe and Ashe the seon, kept from being slaughtered in the attack. I didn't want them to fall like the others; Karata had worked so hard to protect them, and letting the children not have to suffer through the slaughter at New Elantris was my gift to her. A kind of compensation for her own sacrifice at the end of the novel.

    The Hope of Elantris Annotations ()
    #11409 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Matisse

    This short story actually has a very interesting backstory.

    If we flash back to January 2006, we find me having been dating Pemberly (her real name is Emily, but she goes by Pemberly online) for about two months. Our relationship was still quite new, and we weren't exclusive yet. (Though I wanted to be. I was pretty sure I wanted to marry her by that point.)

    Well, at one of our dates, Pemberly told me an amazing story. It seems that one of her eighth grade students—a girl named Matisse—had done a book report on Elantris. Now, Matisse didn't know that her teacher was dating me. She didn't even know that Pemberly knew me. It was just one of those bizarre coincidences that happens just to prove to us all that the world is a funny place.

    Now, when I say book report, that doesn't get across the scope of what Matisse did. Being a clever, creative girl, she went the extra mile. Instead of a simple write-up on the book, she did a Dragonology-style book on Elantris. This thing is amazing; it has sketches and bios of the characters, strips of Elantrian cloth stapled in as examples, little pouches filled with materials from the books, all of that. A total multisensory experience dedicated to the novel, all handmade. Pemberly showed it to me, and it was honestly just about the coolest, must humbling thing I'd ever seen. Matisse had obviously loved the book very much.

    That set me thinking of something I could do as a thank-you surprise to Matisse, who still didn't know that her teacher was dating one of her favorite authors. I'd had this idea itching in the back of my head.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11410 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Book Wrap-up

    So, that's my book. It may be about seven years old to me now (it was written in '99), but I still retain a great fondness for it. You have no idea how exciting it is to finally see it in print.

    Hopefully, you enjoyed these annotations. I want to do them for all of my novels, but we'll see how things go. (Note from future Brandon, who is posting this after he wrote it some months earlier. There WILL be Mistborn Annotations starting July, 2006!)

    For now, I've got about 40,000 words here—a good half of a novel for free. Keep coming back to the website for more information, and make certain you check out the other bonus materials. (Deleted scenes will be posted throughout June.)

    Oh, and make sure you go by Mistborn when it comes out! If Elantris was this good and I did it seven years ago, think of what kinds of things I'm working on right now!

    I did most of these annotations while doing the copy edit of Elantris—which is probably the last good read I'll give the book in the drafting process. Ten drafts. And now I turn away from the book and call it complete.

    Thank you so much for reading.

    The Elantris project

    Begun 9-27-1999 (First Word to Page)

    Finished 10-18-2004 (Final Annotation Written)

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11411 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Epilogue

    This is the dénouement to the denouement, I guess. We get to end with my favorite character, tying up some of the small loose ends that were related to her storyline. There is some good material here–she points out that Raoden is doing well as king, how Ahan is fairing, and gives a nice prognosis for the future of Arelon.

    However, the important part of the epilogue comes at the end. I love the last line of the book, despite the fact that Joshua disagrees with it. (He wanted something else there–I can't quite remember now what his quibble was.)

    Anyway, I always intended to end this book talking about Hrathen. He was their savior, after a manner–and he certainly was a dominant force in the book. I wanted to give him one final send-off–to honor him for what he did, both for Arelon, and for the story in general.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11413 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Loose Threads

    You'll notice, therefore, that I pile on the lose threads here. The most important one, of course, is the concept that Fjorden has gained access to the Dor (presumably recently.) The Dakhor are a newer development–Wyrn was just getting ready to use them against Elantris when the city fell on its own. (Dilaf wasn't the only Dakhor plant inside Arelon. But, those are stories for another time.) Anyway, I think I gave myself plenty of sequel room here. There are the questions about the Dor, about Fjorden, and about the seons.

    That said, I can't honestly promise that I'll do an Elantris sequel. When I was writing during this period of my life (some seven years ago now), I was trying to create as many first books as possible. I was sending them all off to publishers, trying to get someone to bite on one of them so I could start a series. However, since I was a nobody, I had to write each book as a stand-alone as well. Publishers, I was told, like to get books from new authors that could stand alone or launch into a series. That way, they’re not committing to anything drastic, but can monopolize on popularity if it comes.

    Elantris turned out to be one of the best stand-alones I did. I kind of like how it doesn't really need anything more to make it feel complete. And, I've got so many stories that I want to tell, I don't know that I'll be able to get back to this one. I guess it will depend upon how well Elantris sells, and whether or not Tor pushes me toward writing more books in this world.

    Anyway, I've got plenty of things I could talk about if I do come back.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11414 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Sixty-Three

    Wedding

    Well, Sarene finally gets her wedding. I hope the women don't kill me for showing it from Raoden's bored viewpoint rather than Sarene's excited one. However, there were a lot of things I needed to go over in a relatively short period of time here.

    When I was younger, I always got mad at authors for having denouements that were too short. Perhaps I'd be angry at myself, if I were to read the book. (I've always wondered what Brandon the teenage reader would have to say about my current works.) Regardless, I've since become a fan of terse endings. I try to wrap things up thematically while still pointing out all the different ways the plot could go, if more were to happen.

    Stories never really end. Any author will tell you this–we've always got more to say. That doesn't mean that there will certainly be a sequel to this book. (See below) It just means that the characters live on in my mind, and that I want to give a sense that the world continues.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11415 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Hrathen

    So, Hrathen wasn't really dead. (Ironically, while many of you are probably saying "yeah, yeah. That was obvious," I actually didn't have him appear here in the first eight drafts of the book. I'll explain later.)

    I think this is my favorite scene of this chapter. Not only is it written a little better than the rest of the book (I added it quite late–just this last summer) but it gives final closure to the Hrathen-Dilaf relationship. It uses Hrathen's time in Dakhor as an ironic twist against Dilaf. In short, it is a pretty good scene. Fulfills character, plot, and theme at the same time–while giving us a nice image to boot. (Though I do hate to do the "Hey look, a guy we thought was dead is really alive" twist.)

    The story behind this scene is pretty recent. One of the original rewrites Moshe asked for was a fix of the ending, which he thought was too Deus Ex Machina. (Which, indeed, it was.) I don't think I'll go into the entire original version here–it was quite different. You can read the alternate ending in the deleted scenes section, when I throw it up next month. The short of it, however, is that Ien (Raoden's seon) showed up to save Raoden and Sarene from Dilaf. I used a mechanic of the magic system that I have since pretty much cut from the novel (since it was only in the book to facilitate this scene) that allowed Ien to complete his Aon, "healing" Dilaf. Except, since Ien's Aon was broken, it turned Dilaf into an Elantrian instead. (A non-glowing Elantrian. One like Raoden the group used to be–like Dilaf's own wife became after she was improperly healed in Elantris.)

    I know that's probably confusing to you. The scene, over all, was just kind of weak. It relied on a barely-explained mechanic mixed with a tangential character showing up at just the right moment. When Moshe asked for the change, I immediately saw that I needed to bring Hrathen back to life for a few more moments. Letting him die on the street just wasn't dignified enough (though originally I wanted him to die this way because it felt more realistic.) I wanted a final confrontation between Hrathen and Dilaf, since it would give most people's favorite character a heroic send-off, and would also let me tie in the aforementioned Dakhor irony.

    In the end, I was very pleased with the rewrite. It's good to have an editor.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11417 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Raoden and Sarene vs Dilaf

    There's really only one way this battle could have ended–Dilaf had to win. Raoden might know his Aons, but Dilaf has been a Dakhor for decades. Sarene has practiced fencing, but Dilaf is a warrior monk with a supernaturally fast and powerful body. It makes sense to me that this little battle wouldn't even be much of a contest. Both Sarene and Raoden are people who succeed not based on their ability to beat up their enemies, but on their ability to manipulate their surroundings. By having the heroes defeated in combat by the villain at the end, I think I give a final nod to my desire to write a book that didn't use violence as the solution to problems.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11418 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Sixty-Two - Part Three

    The Dakhor Monks

    In the original write of the book, the Dakhor broke and ran before the Elantiran attack. My thought was that the Dakhor always been so much more powerful than their opponents that they didn't know what to do when faced with someone more powerful than they were. In a rewrite, however, I changed this. I'd spent too much time establishing that he Dakhor were fiercely loyal. I see them as fanatics–people who were either originally like Dilaf, or who became like him through their conditioning. They wouldn't break before a superior force–they'd attack it, even if it meant getting slaughtered.

    This revision works far better for me–especially since I can have the scene where Dilaf wishes he could join them. Death is not something that scares a group like this.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11419 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 ()
    #11420 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 ()
    #11421 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 ()
    #11422 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 ()
    #11423 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 ()
    #11425 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 ()
    #11426 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 ()
    #11427 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 ()
    #11428 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 ()
    #11429 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 ()
    #11430 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 ()
    #11431 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 ()
    #11432 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 ()
    #11433 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 ()
    #11434 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 ()
    #11436 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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    "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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.