Recent entries

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11951 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Fifty-Five

    So, one thing you should notice from this chapter is that Raoden no longer needs his book of equations to draw his face illusion. He's been practicing and getting better. A subtle hint, but one I decided to throw in.

    I don't know if you, as a reader, have been imagining Sarene with short hair since her departure from Elantris, but this chapter fixes that. The heroine has her hair back–all is right in the world.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11952 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    And, the body count grows. (Ha ha. One of them IS a count.)

    I don't kill for shock value. I don't think that's a good reason to do much of anything. I kill characters because of consequences in the plotting. Eondel, unfortunately, was doomed the moment he decided to exact revenge on Telrii. He didn't have enough men to both get in and out of the king's chambers.

    I think this is a legitimate reaction for Eondel, however, based on how his character. He was honest, straightforward, and he respected Roial a great deal. He knew that Raoden would never condone an attack like this, but he also thought that it would be best for the country if he killed Telrii. So, he went and preformed his "assassination." This is supposed to be a little ironic, considering the events and decisions of the last chapter.

    EuroCon 2016 ()
    #11953 Copy

    Questioner

    Hi. Our question is Cosmere. It's, knowing that Odium destroys whomever may become a menace for him, then is it possible that the Knight Radiant broke their vows not to attract his attention over Roshar?

    Brandon Sanderson

    RAFO. Why the Knights Radiant broke their bonds is something I RAFO, because it is an important, big plot element of the series.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11954 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Fifty-Four

    Poor Hrathen. He's been getting jerked around a lot lately–it's hard for him to react to events before new ones draw his attention. In addition, most of the Mad Prince scenes happened in his chapters. That meant that when I did the revision, he lost the largest number of pages. So, his sections here got even shorter than they had been.

    Regardless, things have obviously changed for him again. The guard switch-out here is one of my favorite moments in the book. I like the urgency of Hrathen's realization, not to mention how this introduces the scene into chaos.

    Originally, the fight scene here took place in the Mad Prince's tent. I had to stretch a bit to keep the dripping flames from above–I just really liked that image. And, I apologize for actually using the words "Time slowed." That mechanic is a bit over-used in fiction, I admit. However, this is one of my early books, so you'll forgive me, right?

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11955 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Some people are very surprised by this chapter. It isn't the most narratively-surprising death I've ever written, but it was one of the more sudden ones. I'm sorry if you really liked Roial.

    I wrote this book to be less of a "violent book" than some others I've written or read. However, on reflection, I realize that what I intended by this was to write a novel where the protagonists didn't rely on violence as much as they did on their wits. I didn't mean that I wouldn't let the bad guys be. . .well, bad.

    (In addition, by the way, this is part of why Raoden and Sarene are such competent people. They don't have swords or magic to perform flashy fight scenes–so, instead, I gave them competence in relation to their personalities. In part, this is what amuses me by complaints that Raoden and Sarene are too flat as characters. Make a man the most brilliant swordsman ever, but make him emotionally incompetent, and you have a "deep" character. Make a man incapable with weaponry, but emotionally mature, and he's flat. Go figure.)

    Anyway, back to the topic at hand, I don't think I'm particularly brutal with my characters. (I'm no David Gemmel, for instance. I swear, the body counts in that man's books. . . .) I am, however, realistic. People die in my books. Sometimes they're viewpoint characters. It happens. From a storyteller's viewpoint, I think it makes the tension more real. There IS danger for the characters. In a more philosophical bent, I think this makes the characters more heroic–they aren't protected from the consequences of their decisions. Even if those decisions are good. Choosing to try and overthrow a dictator like Telrii is a dangerous decision, and if the heroes are going to be considered "heroic" for that action, then I have no right to protect them from harm. Doing so would take away the "will" of my villains.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11956 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Fifty-Three - Part Three

    There has been some confusion about Raoden's line "After I left" to Sarene right before they go back into the kitchen. Right here, he's getting ready to tell her that he's really Raoden. He is implying that, after he left Kae (and was thrown into Elantris) he didn't think his group of noblemen would keep meeting. It was supposed to be a subtle hint–Sarene would catch something too obvious, and I didn't want to weaken the drama of Raoden's appearance.

    This is a very noble, and a very sorrowful, scene. A lot of emotions fly around in this chapter. Again, if I have done my job and made you sympathetic to the characters and their stories, then these emotions will come off as powerful drama. If I've failed, then all you'll get from this scene is melodrama. I hope it worked for you. I wanted Raoden's final revelation–and return to Kae–to be a dramatic and powerful event.

    Originally, this scene happened with the Mad Prince, whom I'd built up as being deathly afraid of spirits and ghosts. When Raoden appears, Eton thought he was a ghost, and ran away. (Ha ha. Another pun off the original title of the book. I felt so clever–then cut it all out.) Anyway, on consideration–and in rewriting these scenes to use Telrii instead–I realized that Telrii's soldiers would never strike down Raoden. His nature as the true king of Arelon would be enough to send them all fleeing in surprise and worry.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11957 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Fifty-Three - Part Two

    Yes, Ahan is a traitor. When building this book, I knew that I wanted one of the characters to betray the rest. I also knew that I didn't want it to be the most obvious one in the group. This left me with a problem. I had to provide a character whom nobody would suspect as a traitor, yet at the same time make it believable that he would turn traitor.

    The first thing I did was throw in Edan as a diversion. He worked perfectly–virtually all of my alpha readers mentioned that they thought for certain that he would turn traitor. I had Edan run off early because I wanted to lull the readers into a sense of security, thinking that their "traitor" character had disappeared already. I also didn't want to throw Ahan's betrayal in with Edan still there–I think that would have made Edan's purpose too obvious to those who could see the two contrasted that way.

    The next thing I did was begin foreshadowing that Ahan acts, and speaks, without thinking through his actions. I mention this a couple of places, including at the eclipse party. I made his character a bit indifferent, a lot blustery, and tried to indicate that he didn't quite see the treason he was engaging in as being as dangerous as it really was.

    Finally, I began having him act suspicious. You can go look through the spoiler annotations if you want notes of where I had him doing things like this. Essentially, he acted odd when Telrii was mentioned, and he was the one who went to visit Telrii when the group wanted one of their party to get in good with the enemy.

    These are small things, I realize. However, I think they work well enough. I wanted to get across a sense of shock and surprise at the betrayal. I always hate it when traitors are obviously oily men with shifty eyes. I don’t think people trust that kind of man.

    Anyway, I think the other thing that lets me get away with Ahan's betrayal is that he doesn't completely change characters with the treason. He isn't a different person–he doesn't suddenly become a "bad guy," like happened in some stories. (Ahem. The TV show 24, first season.) Ahan just didn't think hard enough about what he was doing–he took his actions too lightly.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11958 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Speaking of Raoden's honor and truth, I'd like to note something about assassination and killing in this book. As I've stated in earlier annotations, I wanted this book's conflict to be non-violence focused. I think that the characters in this book, therefore, represent a more mature philosophy regarding social problems–a philosophy that could only exist among a people who have spent so much of their lives not having to deal with death and war. A people who have a valid reason for seeing things more like people in a contemporary culture.

    As my friend Alan likes to say, however, "Violence may not always be the best answer–but it's usually AN answer." Conflict and social commentary should be based on the characters and their beliefs, rather than forced expressions of the author's message. That doesn't mean that I don't let my personal views shade my writing–I think that level of self-removal would be impossible. However, I do think that the themes expressed in a book need to be reflective of the characters.

    I like that I was able to write a novel where the characters came to the conclusion that they'd rather find a way to stop their opponents without resorting to hiring assassins. This, I think, is a noble way of viewing the world. However, the realist in me says that most people–and most situations–won't be so open to this kind of decision. It says something that after working so long on Elantris, I promptly went and made my next heroine (the one from Mistborn) an assassin herself. In her world, life is far more brutal–and these sorts of philosophical problems aren't as difficult to deal with. There, there is too much riding on the protagonists for them to worry about their methods. I think they're still good people. They just have a slightly different philosophy.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11959 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    On a more serious note, I'll get to some of the major events in the chapter in a moment. First, let's talk over some smaller annotations. I like the fact that Lukel doesn't like Kaloo–it seems like a perfect characterization for both of them. I will note, however, that Lukel has much better lines in this chapter than Kaloo does. His crack about Ahan getting sick by sheer laws of probability makes me chuckle every time I read them. Kaloo, on the other hand, spends all of his time trying to be honorable and true. Raoden is a good hero, but he can be dreadfully boring sometimes. Maybe that's why he threw himself into the Kaloo persona so eagerly.

    EuroCon 2016 ()
    #11961 Copy

    Questioner

    Now I would like to ask a question about what comes next, because this is really something that we're very interested in. You have a comprehensive website where we have a list of all your projects, and when you will finish your next novel, and so on, so forth. As far as we know--and maybe Nova, the publishing house, can confirm this--but for January, we have Calamity, for April, by April, we will have White Sand, and then we have The Rithmatist 2, maybe, or The Stormlight Archive. I don't know, maybe you could clarify, give us some insight into these novelties that we have.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, my next book coming out in Spanish is Calamity, the last of The Reckoners, and Spain is one of the few countries, maybe the only one, that is doing White Sand, the graphic novel, in translation. Right now, I am writing the third of The Stormlight Archive. I wrote some here, in Barcelona, and I am going to be releasing that, hopefully, next year, in English. One of our goals is to eventually get to where we're doing closer simultaneous releases, but that puts so much of a weight on our translators, but we've been talking about it, my agents and I. My poor translators. Rithmatist 2 will come eventually. I tried writing it once. It didn't quite work. I had to rebuild the outline, so now I need to find another slot in my writing schedule for it.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11962 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

     

    It may seem odd that Roial invites Kaloo to the meetings after just a short time. Remember several things, however. First, Sarene wasn't in the town for very long before she herself got into the meetings. Second, they're desperate for help and new perspectives. Third, Kaloo has been living with Roial, and Roial knew Raoden quite well. I'm not saying that Roial saw through the persona, but he undoubtedly sensed some of the same things in Kaloo that he liked in Raoden.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11963 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    The saddest part about Kaloo, I think, is that he's not a real character. I had a lot of fun writing him, and when I was done, I wished that I had a full character to play with. Even in these few chapters, I got across a complexity for him that I thought was most interesting. (His line about acting the fool on purpose, as well as the one "The revolution rolled over us while we were still discussing what to have for dinner" are some of my personal favorites.)

    Unfortunately, all of this characterization is undermined by the fact that Kaloo is really just Raoden playing a part. I often develop characters in my mind based solely on their dialect–and everyone has a dialect, despite what you may think. Galladon's might be the most obvious, but–in my mind, at least–everyone in the book speaks a little differently. Roial is dignifiedly mischievous, Ahan favors flamboyant words, Kaloo favors frivolous words, and Ashe likes words that make him sound solemn. Karata is curt, Lukel likes to quip, and Raoden firm.

    That's probably why I grew so attached to Kaloo–he had a lot of dialogue, and through that I created who he was in my mind. This tendency of mine to characterize through dialogue is why I had so much trouble cutting Galladon's frequent use of "kolo", which always bothered Moshe. Galladon's dialect is so much a part of who he is that each cut made me cringe.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11964 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Fifty-Two

    In a later draft, I added a bit of padding to this chapter–in particular, I included more explanations by Raoden regarding how he'd been trying to meet with Sarene. I was worried that I was pushing the bounds of plausibility too much with Raoden's false persona. One of the main reasons that he left Elantris was to see Sarene again, and it just didn't make sense that he would try to keep fooling her. Moshe noted this as well.

    So, we have Sarene refusing Kaloo's letters, and not wanting to let him get her alone. Perhaps this is a little implausible as well–I can't see Sarene avoiding anything that smells of politics. Fortunately, Sarene is also far more impetuous than other "political" character's I've used. I can see her sending away Kaloo's letter because of a mood, or simply because she thought he was trying to taunt her.

    Either way, I had to find a reason to maintain the charade through this chapter, otherwise I wouldn't have been able to pull off Raoden's dramatic appearance in the next chapter.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11965 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    This scene ends with a question. Hopefully, the reader is reminded that we haven't really seen anything from Dilaf in the last few triads. Hrathen has been in control ever since he left Elantris, and what we've seen of Dilaf has been cursory and ignorable, for the most part.

    Now, however, he's back. His low profile in the last chapters was intentional. My hope is that the reader will hit the last few lines of this chapter and think "Oh, wait. I've been ignoring Dilaf lately. That's not a good thing. . . ." In other words, I want them to feel like Hrathen does. He's suddenly realized that he's let a foe slip under his notice for a time, and now he's worried about what Dilaf has been planning.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11966 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Fifty-One

    This is a different kind of Hrathen chapter. With it, I wanted to set the tone for the final section of the book. Only about 15% of the novel remains, and things are going to change for the last bit. You may have noticed a slight tone shift in this chapter–I made it a little darker, filling it with death imagery. (Incense, ash, darkness, Svrakiss.) I wanted to subtly get across that things are growing more dim for Hrathen and Arelon.

    Originally, this scene happened outside, at the Mad Prince's pyre. I liked the death imagery there a little better–Dilaf sifting through the ashes of a funeral pyre made for a very interesting image. However, the visuals in this newer version have their own advantages. I was able to use the lantern to half-light Dilaf's, and the smells from the tent make a nice sensual addition to the section.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11967 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Fifty

    Joshua absolutely hates it when I use plots like this.

    I don't know why I insist on putting things like this (mistaken identities, people pretended to be someone else, that kind of plot) into my books. I think, deep down, I've got a weakness for old-school Shakespearean farces. Storytelling is just more fun when people can do a bit of pretending.

    Anyway, I'd been wanting to show a real Dula ever since I started writing the book. Galladon is such a "bad" Dula that I was very pleased when I found an opportunity to work Kaloo into the plot. You've been hearing, through various asides, about Dulas for most of the book. Now you actually get to meet one. Or, at least, someone pretending to be one. (Uh. . .I hope I'm not giving anything away by letting you know that Kaloo is really Raoden. It wasn't supposed to be a surprise.

    Anyway, we'll get an explanation from Raoden later about why he didn't come clean immediately. If he were truthful, however, he'd have to admit something: Though he sometimes teases Sarene for being too fond of political games, he likes them just as much as she does. The opportunity for him to meet her for the third time for the first time was just too tempting to pass up.

    In order for "Kaloo" to appear in this chapter, he and Galladon had to do some serious moving. (Realize that this has to be the same day as the last chapter.) I imagine that they made their discovery early in the morning, and Raoden was extremely eager to get out of the city and find out what was happening. They put on new faces, snuck out of the city, and went to the Arelene market to buy some costumes. After that, they went looking for Roial–whom Raoden wanted to contact first. Instead, however, he found Sarene and company fencing in the backyard. As mentioned, Raoden couldn't resist the opportunity to see her–and the opportunity to try out his Dula impersonation.

    By the way, you might remember that I've mentioned Raoden's fencing ability before. Very early in the book, I note during one of the fencing practices that Raoden had Eondel teach him to fight simply to spite Iadon. He's actually surprisingly good–Raoden, however, is the type of person who is surprisingly good at a surprising number of things.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11969 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    If you were wondering, most of the explanations we get in this chapter are true. The reason that Raoden was subject to the Dor attacks was because he spent so much time practicing with the Aons. He began to make a bridge between this world and the Dor, and because of that, he gave the Dor a slight opening into his soul. I imagine that he isn't the first one to suffer something like this during the ten years that Elantris has been fallen. Other Elantrians probably practiced with the Aons, and the Dor eventually destroyed them. When it was done, they simply became Hoed.

    By finally using the Dor effectively, Raoden relieved a little bit of the pressure, letting the nearby buildup of the Dor (the one that he himself had created by practicing so much) rip through him and fuel that single Aon.

    Originally, I had Raoden's conflict with the Dor continue on after this scene–I had it continue attacking him. In a later draft, however, I realized that I'd made a mistake. Raoden has other things to worry about in the upcoming chapters–he doesn't need the Dor attacks to create conflict and tension. So, after this chapter, the Dor attacks actually became distractions. I also realized that the way I'd set up the magic system, this chapter was probably the place where the Dor should stop attacking, since Raoden had fulfilled what he wanted it to do.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11970 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Forty-Nine - Part Two

    So, in this chapter we get to have a nice look at the "mathematical" style to AonDor. To be honest, I'm not really a math person. I did well in my classes, but I never pursued the skill long enough to get deeply into theoretics. That's why there aren't any specifics in these chapters–I try to give enough to imply that AonDor works like mathematical proofs, but I don't include any specific ratios or equations.

    My goal was to get across the "Feel" of the magic without actually having to get into number crunching–which is something at which Raoden's much better than I am. (Though, it's less numbers and more of an understudying of length, location, and combination.)

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11971 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    You'll notice that I start this chapter with a block of narrative, going over what has been happening since our last triad. I do this with some frequency in the Raoden chapters. Not everything in a book can be "in scene," and I sometimes find myself throwing in these narrative sections at the beginning of chapters. It's a bit of a triad-break, but not a huge one. After all, you can just assume that the narrative is coming from Raoden as he thinks back about previous events.

    Speaking of that, I haven't really talked much about viewpoint in these annotations. You may or may not have noticed that I'm a big fan of strictly-limited third-person viewpoints. Third person past tense has pretty much become the industry standard during the last fifteen years (before that time, you saw a lot more omniscient–look at Dune, and to a lesser extent, Ender's Game.) You almost never see it these days, though, and I personally think that's a good thing. Omniscient is a little better for plotting in some places, but limited is far better for characterization.

    Any time you read one of my books, you should remember that I'm almost always in strict limited. Whatever you read in the text, it is something that a character feels or has observed.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11972 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Forty-Nine - Part One

    My biggest worry about these chapters is that people will look at the map we put in the front of the book and realize that it doesn't match the text. I really do like Jeff's map–it's well-drawn, and it has a very cool feel to it. I love the little city designs; they give the map a different feel from many fantasy maps. Overall, I think this map fits the "mood" of the book quite well.

    However, I myself didn't give him good enough instructions on how to develop the map, and now it doesn't completely fit what I talk about in the text. Since the landscape of the land is so important to the development of the book and the magic system, this could be a problem for some readers.

    Anyway, yes, Raoden makes the connection here. The Chasm line is what has been missing all along. I tried to emphasize the Chasm several times in the text, reminding people that it's around. However, as I may have said in other annotations (the spoiler sections), I now worry that the Chasm is TOO obvious. Anyway, I suspect the discovery will work for some people, and not work for others. Hopefully, the characterizations and the events in the book are interesting enough that even if some people think this discovery is obvious, they'll enjoy reading anyway.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11973 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, all of Telrii's characterization through the novel has been pushing toward this chapter. I knew I wanted him to throw a huge wrinkle into Hrathen's plans, and so the basic thing I had to decide was what Telrii could possibly do that would be as disastrous as the Mad Prince's uncontrollability. In the rewrite, then, I made certain to make Telrii a more unpredictable character. He's not just wasteful, he's arrogantly wasteful. At the same time, however, he's not as much a fool as people assume. He likes his spending, but he also likes how that luxury makes him look. It makes other people underestimate him, and makes them assume that he's predictable. That lets him pull little coups like the on he throws at Hrathen in this chapter.

    Hrathen is, of course, right. Telrii doesn't have any clue how great a misjudgment he just made. The idea is not that Telrii is brilliant–he's just smart enough, just wily enough, to be surprising. He's just dangerous enough to do something disastrous like this.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11974 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Forty-Eight

    Now we're getting into the most heavily-edited chapters of the book. From here, if you're curious about the Mad Prince version of the book, look in the "Deleted scenes" section. For the rest of the annotations, just realize that what the Mad Prince once did, Telrii now does. There is, of course, a lot of cut material–however, all of the essential elements of the plot still occur.

    Basically, the Mad Prince gave aggravation and problems to Hrathen in these late chapters. He'd had so much success with his Elantris-poison plots that I knew I had to give him a few more wrinkles during these chapters. In the original draft, he instigated the arrival of the Mad Prince, then realized that he couldn't control what he'd unleashed.

    These were all difficult edits. I still think the Mad Prince worked better in the role than Telrii does–however, the book as a whole works better without the Mad Prince in it. Sometimes you have to cut something good in order to achieve a better over-all effect.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11975 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    I think this final scene with Sarene in bed is much more powerful since I didn't show the actual conversation with Eventeo. Having it begin with a depressed Sarene, the seon link disappearing, leaves an air of melancholy on the scene that is more telling than the sense of sorrowful confrontation that would have come from having Eventeo explain himself to Sarene.

    Obviously, poor Eventeo isn't in a very easy position. I didn't want him to have an easy answer; I think this is a very difficult decision for him to make, and I don't really think there is an obviously right answer–even though Sarene thinks that there is. We'll see later that Sarene doesn't look at things the same way a person who actually has to be a leader does.

    I wish I could have made Eventeo a viewpoint character–he goes through a lot of conflict and trouble in the book. Unfortunately, there's never enough room to do all the things that you want to, and I like how tight the book feels with only having the rotating viewpoints.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11976 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    You get a couple nice foreshadowing hints here. First, there's the scene that reminds us that–for some reason–Kiin's family knows an awful lot about Elantrians. We've gotten other hints, but they were back a long time ago. The one I remember best is when Sarene was with the twins on the wall. Kaise and Daorn had some things to say about Elantrians that surprised Sarene, I think.

    Also, notice that Ahan is with Telrii. Though it's presented that the group decided that he should go see Telrii, the actual backstory is that Ahan manipulated himself into the position. It's just another small clue as to what he's planning to do.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11977 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    By the way, I'm still fond of the fact that Hrathen is more skilled a warrior than Eondel. Eondel's good, but he's not in the same league as a warrior-priest. Besides, Eondel is a leader, trainer, and general–his skillset is different than Hrathen's. If the two were to spar, Hrathen would win nearly every time.

    Interestingly, this is one of the first real action sequences we've gotten in the book. So far, all we've really had are: the fencing match between Sarene and Eondel, the place where Hrathen fights off Shaor's men, and a couple of short battles between Raoden's men and Shaor's wildmen. Really not very much. I'm quite proud, actually, of how well I managed to keep up the tension and pacing in a book without much physical action.

    Of course, that doesn't mean that I'm not a sucker for some good action. Go read Mistborn if you want to see what I mean.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11978 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Forty-Seven

    I love this exchange at the beginning of the chapter. We actually don't get many scenes in the book where Hrathen gets to interact with Sarene, let alone her friends. The dialogue in this section is rather spiffy, if I do say so myself. The exchanges feel quick, poignant, and telling of character.

    One part of that is probably due to the pair of extremely good metaphors Hrathen makes during the scene. The crushing mountain, the bird banging its head against a stone–these are didactic metaphors, exactly the kind of thing you'd expect a priest to say. He places them quite keenly, and his oration has an effect on Sarene and the others. I'd call this scene the final cap of Hrathen's victories during the last few chapters.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11980 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Forty-Six - Part Two

    As I've said before, I worried about the Sarene-Raoden plot falling too much into "romantic comedy" stereotypes, so I took measures to try and make them act more honestly. In this chapter, Raoden tries to push Sarene away–but, of course, she doesn't believe him. Honestly, I think people in a lot of such plots TRY to find ways to misunderstand each other. That's the only explanation I can give for why such ridiculous things occur.

    In cutting the Mad Prince, this section in the Sarene/Raoden chapters was one of the things I was sad to change. As I mentioned in a previous annotation, in the Mad Prince version of the book, Sarene thought that Raoden had returned with an army to try and take the city. I started this chapter out with a scene of Raoden thinking about the problems Sarene's realization caused. I’ll just stick it in here:

    One side effect of her mistaken supposition was that she hesitated in regards to their own relationship. He could see the conflict within he–the two of them had grown very close over the last five days, acting on the feelings they had both been forced to hold back during the weeks of Sarene's food distribution. Yet, now, Sarene thought that her husband might actually be alive and, a truly devout daughter of political necessity, she felt that getting any closer to Raoden would betray her vows. With surprise, Raoden realized that he was competing with himself–and losing.

    I really hate to lose that last line. It always struck me as ironically clever. However, there was another loss that was even tougher to lose. It comes in where Raoden and Sarene are at the city gates:

    Raoden fell still. He wanted her to stay–he longed for her to stay. But, at the same time, he knew he had to do whatever it took to get her out of Adonis. The city was death. As much as it pained him to think of her leaving, it pained him more to think of her staying.

    "He will be there," Raoden said enticingly, his voice suddenly growing quiet. "Raoden. The man you love."

    Sarene's hand grew slack, and she waved uncertain eyes towards the Elantris city gate. "No," she finally said. "That's not what I want any more."

    I think the reason I hated to lose this scene is obvious. Right here, Sarene gets to choose "Spirit" over the images she has in her head of the perfect Prince Raoden. It's an opportunity for her to show that she really does love him, despite what he is, despite what the other options might be. It's love offered against logic and against wished-for dreams. In other words, it's realistic love. Of all the scenes I had to cut, these few paragraphs make me the saddest to lose, I think.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11981 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Anyway, back to the chapter. I planned from the beginning for Sarene to give Raoden this vital bit of information about the magic system. As I've said before, she represents chaos–and chaos isn't always a bad thing. She is able to give Raoden the one simple bit of information that, despite all of his studying, he hasn't been able to find.

    I worry, now that we have the map, that the Chasm answer is too obvious. Jeff made the Chasm a lot bigger than I intended it to be. And, since we zoomed in on the map so much, the Chasm dominates a large section of what we see.

    Fortunately, I think it's the very next Triad where Raoden figures out how to use Sarene's bit of information. We don't have to wait long for him to figure out the secret–so, hopefully, if the readers figure it out, they won't feel Raoden is too stupid for taking so long.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11982 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Forty-Six - Part One

    Raoden's reaction to Iadon's death is just a little bit cliché, but I think that cliché exists for a reason, so I wrote the scene this way.

    Sometimes, I have difficulty in my writing because I try to be TOO original. I react pretty strongly against anything I've seen before, and don't want to include it in my books. This has served me well in some ways–Moshe bought Elantris partially because he found it refreshingly different from other fantasies on the market. I generally have a strong element of originality to my worlds, my magic systems, and my plot structures. This is part of what draws people to my work.

    However, sometimes I go too far. If I see something written one way–even if that way is good–then I react against it, trying to find another way. I've stayed away from "Eternal Apprentice" plots (Thank you Craig Shaw Gardner for the name) even though they are extremely popular in fantasy–indeed, they are what got me into fantasy when I was younger. But, because of some things like this, my books can be more difficult to get into. The extremely steep learning curve of my works, the focus on strange settings and odd magic systems, might be off-putting for some readers. (Elantris, by the way, is only a hint at these kinds of things. Mistborn is a much better example.)

    I try to walk a fine balance in my works. The trick is to write something that is original and new, breaking convention and tradition–yet at the same time have it FEEL like a fantasy. People read in the genre because they like the things it can do. I have to add the new, Sanderson, spin to things without tossing out all that is wonderful and resonant within the genre.

    That's why you'll see some old archetypes showing up in my works occasionally. In a way, Mistborn is an old-fashioned "overthrow the evil empire" fantasy. When choosing my next project, I decided that I had enough sufficiently new material–both in setting and in plot–to tell the story in a way that would be fresh. I think it adds something to the genre, rather than just recycling what is there. So, I went ahead with it, hoping that the familiar and the original would work together.

    Elantris is similar. I threw in odd (for fantasy) plotting structures, but I let the air of "standard medieval culture" remain in the book. (In fact, as I've noted, this is probably my most like-Earth book in that way.)

    The balance between the new and the familiar. That's what it's all about.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11983 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Hrathen's deal with Eventeo here is the final piece of his most brilliant plan in the book. He milked those two vials of poison for a whole lot. He managed to regain his own faith, defeat Dilaf, turn himself into a hero, and get Eventeo's promise all with a few clever political twists. After he's pulled off a few tricks like this, three months suddenly doesn't seem like an unrealistic amount of time to convert a nation. (Or, at least, convert its nobility–which, as Hrathen has pointed out, is the same thing.)

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11984 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    In the Mad Prince drafts of the book, I was still holding off on revealing him to the readers. His army was out there in this chapter–visible because of its fires in the night. I revealed that Hrathen considered the newcomer an ally, but I hadn't yet given away who the newcomer was.

    The Mad Prince's disappearance was probably the most time-consuming cut I made, not to mention the one most difficult for me personally. I'm happy to know he lives on in his web presence–he's practically the star of the "Deleted Scenes" section. The cut came at the suggestion of Joshua "Axe Man" Bilmes. The stark truth is, the story didn't need another random diversion here. We're getting very close to the climax, and introducing another whole character–with his own plot, problems, and tangents–just wasn't good for the pacing. Eton was, in my opinion, a brilliant character. However, he just didn't belong in the book.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11985 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Forty-Five

    I figured the rats metaphor in this chapter was appropriate. It seemed like the kind of connection that Hrathen would make–and it says something about him that he would think this way. He might be a sympathetic villain, and he might have some measure of nobility, but he isn't by any means unprejudiced. He is, in that way, a product of his culture. You can be a good man and still be prejudiced–I know a lot of people, good people, who simply don't seem to have the ability to see beyond their own assumptions.

    So, I contrast this bit of prejudice from Hrathen with a sincere measure of humanity on his part. He's worried about Sarene. Not worried simply because of his desire to use her, not even worried simply because of his latent affection for her–though both are motivations for his actions. He's worried because he feels guilty for using her like he is. It's that pesky conscience of his, messing things up again.

    And yes, Hrathen does have some feelings for Sarene hiding inside that armored chest of his. I'm always very subtle in the way I have him show them–for instance, his coming up to the wall to try and see if she’s all right.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11986 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    I like how Raoden and Sarene's relationship is progressing in these chapters. I realize that it's probably moving just a bit too quickly to be natural, but remember that they don't really have much to do all day besides spend time with each other.

    All in all, I like that their relationship has an opportunity to really develop and progress naturally. They don't fall in love because they fight all the time (which seems to be the only reason some fantasy characters hook up) or because they're possessed by hormones. Their personalities really do compliment one another, and they get along. They both like politics and keeping secrets for the game of it, and they are both sincere, intelligent people.

    In other words, they don't just hook up because–as my friend Alan likes to say–"One of them is the male lead, and the other's the female lead." I'd like to think that there is more to it than that.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11987 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Forty-Four

    Cutting the Mad Prince forced me to rewrite a bit of this chapter. As I mentioned, in the original draft, Raoden and Galladon saw Eton's army crouching outside the city. At first, Sarene didn't know what to make of this news. She decided it couldn't be a Fjordell army–one could have never arrived so quickly. She knew it wasn't Teoish.

    The chapter used to end with a startling realization from Sarene–she decided that the phantom army must belong to Prince Raoden. She decided that he hadn't died or been killed, but had instead fled to raise an army to take the throne from his father. I thought this was a very clever twist, and it was one of the things I was most sad to lose by cutting the Mad Prince.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11989 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Okay, now, I know you're going to laugh at me here. However, I suppose you deserve to know the whole story of this book. After all, I told you about the whole "Adonis" thing.

    Well, the thing is, the first version of the book included about two pages of poetry from Wyrn the King. I think every prose writer goes through a stage where we think, for some reason, that we have a talent for poetry. It's doubly bad in fantasy, where we've all read Tolkien, and felt like adding poems, songs, and the like to our stories.

    The thing is, most of us aren't very good at it. Wyrn the King was a narrative alliterative poem patterned after Beowulf, and it was TERRIBLE. I might be masochistic enough to post it in the "deleted scenes" section of the website. I'm honestly not sure yet. (Actually, I wrote the poem as a college assignment. I wiggled out of doing something research-oriented by somehow convincing my teacher that I deserved to do a creative project instead. When I finished, I felt a little bit obliged to stick it in my current book, as I'd told my teacher I would. Sorry, Dr. Thursby, but. . .uh. . .it didn't make the final cut.)

    Anyway, there was a point behind sticking the poem in the text, even if I completely overshadowed it by including so many lines of poetry. This section is really all we get in the book itself about Fjorden's past. As I've explained in the annotations, Fjorden switched to Shu-Dereth to do its conquering, relying on religion rather than armies. When they did so, they went back and rewrote many of their great classics. (Orwell would be proud of them.)

    This is actually based on some events in our world. Some scholars think that Beowulf underwent similar revision, the monks who copied and translated it adding Christian symbolism to the text. After all, no great artist could possibly have been a true pagan. Everyone knows that Aristotle was a Christian–and he died before Christ was even born!

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11990 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, why does Raoden keep his identity secret from Sarene? I think his explanation here is earnest–he wants to get to know her without the truth of his identity throwing a crimp into the relationship. He, of course, intends to tell her eventually. At the risk of giving a spoiler, however, you needn't worry that this is going to turn into a "I'm mad at you for lying to me" plot. Those always annoy me too. (Chick flicks are famous for them. "Oh, you're really a rich prince? Well, I hate you for pretending to be a pauper to win my love!")

    I'm a little bit chagrined at how much faking I have going on in this chapter. Sarene isn't telling Raoden about the outside world (a necessary plotting device because of the triad–three days have passed, and I had to have a reason why she hadn't told Raoden about events outside the city yet.) Raoden isn't telling Sarene who he really is. On top of that, I'm keeping the secret of Hrathen's potion from my own characters, and I have to do some more rationalizing in this chapter–explaining why Sarene has enough food, and why she can't do AonDor–to make it all work. Ah. . .why can't we all just be honest.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11992 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    "Hama," Galladon's word for grandmother, is actually another theft from the real world. One of my cousins has a little son who calls his grandmother "Hama," and I always thought it was a cute nickname. The really funny one, however, is when he refers to my grandmother–his great-grandmother. She's Big Hama. (In keeping with this tradition, Sarene's childhood nickname for Kiin is "Hunkey Kay," a child's version of "Uncle Kiin." This is a spin off of what that same little kid in the real world calls my mother. She's "Hunky BaBa," or "Aunt Barbara.")

    What did I warn you about we writers and filching things?

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11994 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    The only other thing to say about this chapter is that it's about where the Mad Prince subplot began in the original drafts of the book.

    Though this is explained other places on the site, I should probably note it here. The Mad Prince, a character who has been cut from the book, dominated about three or four chapters in the last quarter of the manuscript. Originally, Raoden wasn't an only child–he had a brother who was something of a madman. Eton–the Mad Prince–was sent away by his father to live in seclusion. He was mentioned several places in the text, foreshadowing the time when Hrathen decided to pull him back into Arelish politics to try and use him as a pawn.

    In this chapter, the Mad Prince arrives in the area–though we don't know it. Hrathen finds out that Eton has arrived, and goes to meet with him off stage. The reader doesn't know what's going on yet–you only know that Hrathen has some other little scheme he's been cooking up since Sarene's fall. (Remember, in the original draft of the book, Telrii was far less of a character. Hrathen gave up on him early in the book, after the plan to sink Iadon's ships ended up being a wash.)

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11997 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    It's a tie–best cheesy line from this chapter.

    FINALIST NUMBER ONE:

    He half-smiled, his eyes unconvinced. Then, however, he regarded her with an unreadable expression. "Well, I suppose the time during your Trial wasn't a complete loss. I gained something very important during those weeks."

    "The supplies?" Sarene asked.

    "That too."

    FINALIST NUMBER TWO:

    "When I opened my eyes, I thought that time I had died for certain." (Remember, when this happened, Raoden was laying on his back. He opened his eyes, and the first thing he would have seen was Sarene's face hovering above him.)

    What can we learn from this? That people who are falling in love are utter cheese-heads.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11998 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Interestingly, I’ve never annotated about Sarene's nickname before. Only her father uses it, and when Moshe read the draft, he had trouble understanding how to get 'Ene from Sarene. That's probably because he, like most people, pronounced her name like the word serene. That's all right–I don't really mind how people pronounce the names in my books. When I read, I see a name, come up with a pronunciation in my head, then go with that from there on. Nothing can convince me that I'm pronouncing it wrong, not even the author him/herself. (Even still, the names of Anne McCaffery's dragons are jumbled, meaningless noises in my mind. That seemed right at the time.)

    Anyway, if you're interested, there's a pronunciation guide for Elantris on the site. Sarene's nickname comes from the Aon in her name: Aon Ene. While in our world, we tend to choose nicknames based on the first syllable of a name, nicknames in Arelish come from from the Aon. Since Sarene's Aon comes late in her name, that's where the nickname comes from. "Ene," by the way, is pronounced "Ay-nay."

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #11999 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    By the way, I took the bit where Sarene judged Raoden's height from real-life experience. My friend, Annie Gorringe, always used to talk about how her near 6' height sometimes made it difficult for her to find men to date. Often, the first thing she'd do when she was interested in a man was judge his height compared to her own.

    Watch out, folks. If you know an author, you have to watch your tongues. Anything you say is fair game to be used in a novel, as far as we're concerned.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #12000 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    In these chapters, I had to be very careful during the Sarene viewpoints. As I was writing, I had a habit of accidentally referring to Raoden by his real name, rather than calling him Spirit. Sarene, of course, doesn't know who he really is. I found one place where I called him "Raoden" that somehow lasted all the way to the final edit–hopefully, that was the last one.