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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Thirteen

    This is easily one of my favorite chapters in the book. This chapter really shows off the core of Raoden's character–lets him be the hero that he is. I've never written another character like Raoden. In a way, he's not as rounded as some other characters (characters like Hrathen.) He doesn't have the flaws or internal battles of some of the more complex characters I've designed.

    That doesn't, however, make him any worse a character in this particular book. Raoden is something of a superman–he does the right thing at almost every turn, and his internal struggles only serve to make him more noble. You can't often get away with this in fiction. However, I do think that there are really people like him in the world–I've known a few of them. By including him in a book with Hrathen and Sarene, each of whom have their foibles and internal problems, I think I avoid making the characters of the book feel too shallow.

    And, there is a certain. . .beauty to a character who is simply noble. Often times, we as authors think that making a character "rounded" or "realistic" means corrupting them somehow. I think Raoden defies this concept. He probably wouldn't be a very compelling character outside of an extreme situation like Elantris. However, confronted by the almost overwhelming problems and tasks associated with the city, his strength only serves to make him feel more realistic to me. A weaker character would have broken beneath Elantris. Raoden can struggle on.

    In this chapter, I do begin to introduce what will become Raoden's main character struggle–that of his burden of leadership. He's taking a lot upon himself, and I think a man of his sincerity couldn't help but pause and wonder if he's worth all of the loyalty he is receiving.

    Elantris Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    As a side note, I'm planning this seon here to make an appearance in the sequel (if I write one.) She would be Adien's own seon, as he would probably be the hero of the sequel. (Along with his brother and sister.) For those of you who think I didn't deal enough with the seons in this book—the sequel would have strong focus on them. In fact, I'm tempted to make this seon a viewpoint character. However, that would bump me up to four characters, which wouldn't let me use the chapter triad system.

    Elantris Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    I didn't originally intend for Hrathen to have a seon. However, as I was working on this chapter, I realized how much sense it made. It lends a bit of hypocrisy to the Derethi religion, and I found that I liked that a great deal. The seon also allowed me to move more quickly with Hrathen's plans. I couldn't have made the storyline nearly as compact if Hrathen didn't have access to a seon.

    Elantris Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Dilaf's outburst in this chapter is my first real hint that things are not going to go well between him and Hrathen. In a way, this chapter is a paradigm for events to come—Hrathen sets up what he think is a perfect, careful presentation. Then Dilaf arrives and throws chaos into it. Yet, despite that chaos, Dilaf has a profound—and arguably successful—effect on those around him.

    Elantris Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    I've spoken earlier about how fantasy books tend to place modern-like characters in more archaic settings. The seons in this book are one of my rationalizations for the way that people act. I believe that a lot of our civility and maturity as a global culture comes from our ability to communicate quickly and effectively with one another.

    Instantaneous communication changes the world. It makes countries seem less distant, and it allows for faster resolution of problems. Often times, when I'm creating a magic system, this idea is one of the first that I consider. Can this magic provide for instant communication or travel? If it can, I can use that to shrink the world, allowing me to place characters in more distant settings and still have them tied to the plot. (This isn't something I have to do often in this particular book. However, the ability to communicate with Wyrn and Sarene's father does have the effect of shrinking the world, making it easier to plot such drastic events in such a short period of time.)

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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Twelve

    The language metaphor I use in this chapter is one of my favorites in the book. Hrathen's attitude can be quickly summed up in the way that he decides it is all right to preach to the people in their own language. He admits that he probably shouldn't do such a thing, but the logical justification is just too strong for him to deny.

    Elantris Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    You'll notice the quick mention of the Widow's Trial in this chapter. This sub-plot was actually added later in the drafting process, and I had to come back and write these comments into this scene. It will become apparent why later on.

    Though, you spoilers already know how it is used. I needed to get Sarene into Elantris somehow, and I wasn't certain how I was going to do it. Somewhere along the way I devised the idea of the Widow's Trial. In the end, it worked quite well, as it provided the means for Raoden to create New Elantris.

    Elantris Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Eleven

    I certainly didn't want this book to turn into a political statement about female-empowerment. I think that sort of thing has been overdone in fantasy–the woman in an oppressive masculine world seeking to prove that she can be just as cool as they are. However, I did have to deal with some cultural issues in Elantris. There's no getting around the fact that Sarene is a strong female character, and I think it would be unrealistic not to address some of this issues this creates with the men around her.

    I actually used several women I know as a model for Sarene. I've often heard women say that they feel like men find an assertive, intelligent woman threatening. I suspect that there some strong foundations for feelings like this, though I would hope the men in question form a small percentage of the population. Still, I do think that it is an issue.

    In my own culture, people tend to get married early. This is partially due to the LDS Church's focus on families and marriage, and partially because I've lived mostly in the west and mid-west–where I think that the general attitude is more traditional than it is in big cities. Because of this, I've seen a number of people–many of them women–complain about how they feel excluded from society because they're still single. Sarene's own insecurity is related to the real emotions I've seen in some of my friends.

    However, I do have to point out that some of the reactions Sarene gets aren't because she's female–they're just because she's bull-headed. She tends to give too much stock to the fact that she's a woman, assuming that the resistance she receives is simply based on gender. I think a man with her personality, however, would encounter many of the same problems. The way she pushes Roial into a corner in this chapter is a good example. In my mind, she handled things in the kitchen quite well–but not perfectly. She still has some things to learn, some maturing to do.

    Elantris Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    This chapter introduces a couple of minor characters for Raoden's gang. One thing you'll notice here is the good-natured humor I include in the chapter. (Or, at least, I hope you found it humorous.) I had a real worry that Elantris would be too dark a book, considering the things that Raoden has to go through. That's why Galladon's character is so important. In my mind, Galladon fits the most basic definition of a humorous character–he is a juxtaposition. He is a pessimist from a culture of optimists. He is a foil to Raoden, yet at the same time his comedic pessimism lifts the story and points out just how ridiculous their situations are.

    Galladon isn't simply comic relief–I have never used, and never intend to use, a comic-relief character. However, he allows for some farce and some fun-poking, which in turn lightens the air of what could otherwise be a very gloomy book. His relationship with Raoden proves that even in the hellpit of Elantris, things like friendship and trust can exist.

    Because I have three separate storylines in this book, I have to move quickly. (Or, at least, quickly for me.) This allowed me to keep up the pacing, and to have a good amount of tension in every chapter. Of the three viewpoints, however, I think Raoden's chapters seem to move the quickest, though Hrathen has the smallest number of pages.

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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Ten

    Are the Elantrians zombies? I've been asked this question before. The answer is a little bit yes, a little bit no. I very intentionally don't make any references in the story to them being zombie-like, and I certainly don't call them "undead." Both words bring a lot of baggage with them.

    No, the Elantrians aren't "zombies." However, they certainly would fit the standard fantasy definition of being "undead." After all, their bodies aren't really alive, but they can think. Still, I resist comparisons to established fantasy traditions. I wanted the Elantrians to be their own genre of creatures. In the world I have created, they are simply "Elantrians." They are people who don't need to eat, whose bodies only function on a marginal level, and whose pains never go away. For the function they fill in the world and the story, I'd rather that they be compared to lepers.

    That said, I always have wanted to do a story with a zombie as a main character.

    Elantris Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    This chapter is one of the prime "show Hrathen's competence" chapters. Most of what goes on here is in the way of character development for Hrathen. The plot of him swaying some of the noblemen is important, but not specifically so. However, I've always said that the stronger–and more clever–the villain is, the better the story is. By showing how Hrathen deals with the noblemen, I re-enforce his abilities, and justify him as a threat to the city.

    There were a few small edits to this chapter. The biggest one was a change where I slightly-weakened Hrathen's treasonous talk. In the original, he told the noblemen that he was the gyorn assigned to Duladel before it collapsed. Moshe pointed out that this was a little too subversive of him to imply in the middle of a group of men who may or may not end up supporting him, so I made the change.

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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Nine

    This third "chapter triad" is the first one where I do a real intersection of the three viewpoints. Raoden sees Hrathen on the wall, Sarene and Hrathen spar, then Hrathen thinks about his run-in with Sarene on his way to the meeting with the noblemen.

    I'm not sure if I'd ever want to use the chapter triad system again. It made all kinds of problems for writing the book. Almost everything else I've written has been strictly chronological–if you jump from one viewpoint, or one chapter, to the next, you're always progressing forward in time. By jumping backward in two chapters out of three, I gave myself some challenging pacing and coordination issues. For instance, the important events in each of the three storylines had to happen on generally the same days. Also, I had to rotate the chapters strictly, and so I couldn't just skip a character during a given time-frame. That meant I had to have important events happening in all three viewpoints all the time.

    However, the benefits of this situation are moments like you see in this triad, where I could flow from one chapter to the next, having the timeframes play off of each other. You might have noticed from this triad that I had to fudge just a bit. Not all of the viewpoints happen at exactly the same time. The rule I set up for myself is that they had to all happen on the same day–preferably as close to overlapping each other as possible.

    Elantris Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    The scene where the children talk about art is one I nearly cut from the book on a couple of different occasions. I worry that this is one of the scenes that contributes overly-much to the "Kiin's family is out of place" feeling that people occasionally get. In addition, I worry that I made Kaise too intelligent here. Three things make me retain the scene. First, I think it's kind of amusing. The second is a spoiler, so I won't say much on it—just let it suffice that I wanted to give Kaise and Daorn some good characterization.

    For you spoiler readers, those two would be the main characters of any sequel I wrote to Elantris. I'd set the book about ten years after the ending of this one.

    The third reason for retaining the scene is because I put it in, in the first place, quite intentionally. Kaise, and to a lesser extent Daorn, are a small reaction against Ender's Game. When I read that book, and some of Scott's other works (which, by the way, I think are all brilliant) I got to wondering if children who were as smart as his really would act the way they do in his books. Not to disagree with one of the greatest sf minds of our time, but I wanted to take a different spin on the "clever child" idea. So, I presented these children as being extremely intelligent, but also extremely immature with that intelligence. I'm not convinced that IQ brings maturity with it, and think there's only so much "adult" you can have in a kid. So, I put in Kaise and Daorn to let me play with this idea a little bit in Elantris.

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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Eight

    The economy of Arelon is one of the interesting features of this book. Even still, I'm not certain if I made things a little too odd here. The idea of nobility being tied directly to money is described so often by the characters that I worry that readers will think the system too foolish to have arisen. However, I think that by establishing the king as a former merchant—and by pointing out how the system was created quickly, to fill the void after the fall of Elantris—I manage to keep the economic and social situation in Arelon within the realm of possibility.

    I think that too often fantasy writers are content with simply throwing in a slightly-original spin on magic—ignoring the fact that their cultures, governments, and religions are derivative. There is this idea of the "general" fantasy world, and writers draw upon it. However, I think an interesting cultural element can be just as fascinating—and as useful to the plot—as an interesting magic system. In the best cases, the two are inter-woven, like what one can find in brilliant genre books like Dune.

    Of course, the strange economic/governmental system of the book is only a descendant of another strange economic/governmental system. Sarene and Lukel discuss a few of the problems presented by having a race of people who can create whatever they want through use of magic. I don't get to deal with that aspect of AonDor very much in this particular book, since the novel is set during a time when the magic of Elantris doesn't work. However, there are a lot of interesting ramifications AonDor would present for a book set during Elantris' heyday. What good is gold if someone can create it from nothing? In fact, what good is a monetary system at all when everyone can have as much food as they want? What need is there for invention or ingenuity in the face of a group of people who can re-create any good, no matter how complex, with a mere flick of the magical wrist?

    The truth behind the Elantrian magical abilities is far more limited than Sarene or Lukel acknowledge in this chapter. If one were to go back fifteen years, one would find that the Elantrians who had the skill to fabricate complex materials "out of nothing" were actually quite rare.

    As we learn later in the book, AonDor is a very complicated, difficult skill to master. As I was writing this book, I imagined the complicated Aons that Raoden eventually learns how to draw being only springboards to massive equations that could take weeks to plan out and write. Fabricating something very complex would require a great deal of detail in the AonDor recipe.

    Even still, I think the tension between the Elantrians and the merchants is a natural outgrowth of this situation.

    Elantris Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    This chapter, which Raoden and Galladon crouching atop the rooftop and watching for newcomers, reminds me of the early days of conceiving this novel. The seed for Elantris actually came several years before I got around to writing the book. I knew that I wanted to tell the story of a brutal city filled with people who has some sickness that kept them from dying.

    One of the initial scenes that came to my mind was that of the main character crouching atop a low building, watching the gates to the city. The gates open, and a newcomer is thrown in. At the same time, one of the wretches inside the city snaps–finally giving into his pain, and going mad. This man madly rushes toward the gates, trying to escape. The city guards–who don't have the disease–throw massive spears at the man rushing the gates. One of the spears hits him, piercing him all the way through.

    However, it's quickly explained that the spear wasn't meant to kill, for the man continues to struggle weakly, despite being impaled. However, the spear is so big and bulky that the poor creature can't move any more–obviously, the weapons are intended to slow and immobilize, not kill. After all, the inhabitants of this city can't be killed. The man gives up struggling, and lays there limply, whimpering with the massive spear stuck through his chest.

    At the same time, another sick one approaches the main character. "–Insert name– went mad last night," he whispers to the main character. "You are now the eldest." Meaning, of course, that the main character is now the person who's been in the city the longest without having gone mad.

    You should be able to see the evolution of this scene in the story that I eventually told. Many of the concepts are the same, though I changed the viewpoint character from a person who had been in the city for a long time to a newcomer who still had his optimism. I also shifted much of the focus of the novel to what was happening outside the city, adding the two other viewpoint characters. However, this scene still remains in my mind–it's actually the only real scene I can remember from the very early days of planning Elantris. As an homage to it, I left in the large, bulky spears carried by the Elantris City Guards. Hrathen mentions them in the previous chapter. Though the guards no longer carry them for the same purpose–indeed, the guard probably wouldn't even know what to do with them in case of an attack–I thought this little inside reference to be an interesting one.

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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Seven

    It's interesting that this book would be the first one I publish. Many of you know that when I finally sold Elantris, I was working on my thirteenth novel. By the time Elantris was released, I'd written fifteen separate novels. Very few of these are sequels, and of the fifteen, Elantris is actually number six.

    One of the things I pride myself on as a writer are my magic systems. I spend a lot of effort and prewriting on them, and I strive very hard to make them feel like nothing a reader has ever experienced before. Mistborn, the book that will come out a year after Elantris, is a very good example of this.

    Elantris, however, is very interesting in that I don't actually get to spend much time with the magic. Or, at least, I don't get to spend much time showing it–the magic of this book is broken, and so while we find out a lot about it (and I think it's distinctive in its arrangement) we don't get to see it.

    In the end, when the magic finally gets restored, I think it actually loses just a bit of charm. I developed this magic system to be an interesting and original puzzle–and so, when you finally see it working, I think there's a fulfilling payoff. However, in its actual form, it isn't generally as distinctive as some of my other magic systems.

    Another interesting thing about this book, however, is that the setting includes a mixture of magical wonder itself–kind of as a balancing factor to the fact that we don't get to see the Aons doing anything. I think the problems associated with being an Elantrian, mixed with the interesting setting inside of the city, create an interesting magical ambiance for the book, one that seons serve to heighten.

    Elantris Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    I worry, just a bit, that people will read this book and think that I'm anti-religion. Those of you who know me will realize how opposite this is of the truth–I'm actually rather devout in my own beliefs. However, because of this devotion, that I understand religion and the power it can have over people. I think that something so potentially good also provides great potential for evil. And, as a firm believer in religion–and religious freedom–I can think of few things quite as frightening or as evil as a religion gone bad.

    I am not anti-religion. In fact, I'm not even really anti Shu-Dereth. I tried to construct a religion in Shu-Dereth that had some very interesting, and valid, teachings. However, like some very good religions in our own world, an evil–or even misguided–leadership can transform good teachings into a force for destruction and evil.

    My own religion teaches that contrast is a good thing. Because of pain, we can appreciate joy. Because we understand evil (though we don't necessarily have to partake in it) we can understand and appreciate good. Because we have choices, we have the opportunity to take responsibility for our actions. In this way, I believe that a religion should have no qualms about teaching that it has the truth–and like the fact that we have many options in religions in our own world. When we get into trouble, however, is when we begin to enforce our religious opinions with sword or legislation.

    I guess this belief is the main basis for my painting of Hrathen as an antagonist in this book. Yes, his logic is good–Arelon probably is going to fall. However, that doesn't give him the right to speed that collapse, or even manipulate it to his own good. It doesn't give him the right to overthrow or suppress the beliefs of others. Resisting him as he tries to destroy the belief system of an entire people is a good far greater, in my mind, than the good of self-preservation.

    (Man. That last bit seems a little melodramatic, now that I look back at it. Forgive me a bit of that on occasion, if you please. Occupational hazard.)

    Elantris Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Six

    In this chapter, we first get to see some of the scars that Hrathen is hiding. Part of what makes him such a compelling character, I think, is the fact that he considers, questions, and seriously examines his own motivations. The things he did in Duladel are a serious source of guilt to him, and his determination to do what is right–even if what is "right" to him isn't necessarily what we would consider right–gives him a strength of character and personality that is hard to resist.

    He combines with this sincerity an actual force of logic. He's correct in his examination of Arelon. It has serious problems. It has weak leadership, weak military forces, and a weak economy. Hrathen's logical explanations in this chapter of why he feels justified in trying to overthrow the government should sound fairly convincing.

    On the other hand, we have his whole "Tyranny in three easy steps" discussion with Dilaf. It's this sense of twisted goodness that rounds out his personality as a villain. He's not just earnest, he's not just logical–he also has an edge of ruthlessness. That's a very dangerous combination in a character.

    Speaking of the "I will show you the way to destroy a nation" line, this concept–that line, actually–was one of the first things I came up with in my mind while imagining Hrathen. The way that he logically approaches something that would seem daunting–even impossible–to an outsider is a strong part of what defines who he is. I also really enjoy finding opportunities to show how Hrathen sees the world. Whenever I place him on the Elantris city wall and let him inspect the defensibility of the city, I give a clue as to how he was trained, and how he thinks. I don't believe that Sarene ever pauses to consider just how weakly fortified the city of Kae is–but Hrathen thinks about it on at least three separate occasions.

    Elantris Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    The second important part of this chapter, obviously, is the introduction of Kiin's family. Sarene's personality makes her less independent than Raoden or Hrathen. It isn't that she lacks determination, or even stubbornness. However, her plots, plans, and personality all require other people–she needs politics, allies, and enemies. Ashe provides a wonderful way for her to talk through her problems. However, I felt that she needed someone within the court of Arelon with which to work and plan. As the book progresses, you'll notice that Sarene's chapters include far more side characters than Hrathen or Raoden's chapters. In fact, I'll bet she has more than the other two combined. This is just another manifestation of her communal personality–she excels in situations where she can coordinate groups, and she needs a lot of different people to interact with to make her personality really come out.

    I have gotten a little grief from readers regarding Kiin's family. Some think that the family as a whole feels too "modern." It is an anachronism that, to an extent, I'll admit. One of the quirks about the fantasy genre is how it generally prefers to deal with ancient governments, technologies, and societies without actually making its characters conform to more ancient personality patterns. In other words, most fantasy main characters are people who, if dusted off a bit and given a short history lesson, could fit-in quite well in the modern world.

    I'll be honest. I prefer the genre this way. I don't read fantasy because I want a history lesson, though learning things is always nice. I read for characters–and I want to like the characters I get to know. I like putting characters in situations and exploring how they would deal with extreme circumstances. I just don't think this kind of plotting would be as strong, or as interesting, if the characters weren't innately identifiable to a modern readership.

    My in-world explanation for this is simple. Just because our world placed a certain kind of cultural development alongside a certain level of technological development doesn't mean that it always has to be that way. In many of my worlds, culture has out-stripped technology. This does have some rational basis; I write worlds that involve very distinct–and often very prevalent–magic systems. Because of the benefit of these magics, many of my societies haven't been forced to rely as much on technology. There is more leisure time, more time for scholarship, and–as a result–the societies are more developed.

    That said, Kiin's family is a bit extreme, even for me. However, the honest truth is that I wrote them the way I like them. They work, for some reason, to me. They stand out just a little bit, but I'd like to think that it's their brilliance and forward-thinking–rather than a mistake in narrative–that makes them seem so much like a modern family.

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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Five

    This chapter includes two very important events. The first is the establishment of Hrathen and Sarene's relationship. The "dramatic eye-lock" is, admittedly, over-used in fiction. However, I found it appropriate here, since I later have Hrathen remark on Sarene. I wanted to establish that the two had an understanding, and I needed to introduce an overplot for Sarene. Hrathen got his thirty-day timebomb in chapter three, and Raoden not only has his exile, but the problems with the gangs established in the last chapter. So far, Sarene only had her suspicion regarding Raoden's death, which really isn't enough to carry her sections of the novel.

    One of the plotting elements I had to establish in this book was the fact that a single man–in this case, Hrathen–can have a serious and profound effect on the future of an entire people. If I didn't establish this, then Sarene's sections would lack a sense of drama, since Hrathen himself wouldn't seem like much of a threat. You'll have to judge for yourself if I actually manage to do this or not.

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    Brandon Sanderson

    Other than that massive tangent, I don't know that I have much to say about this chapter. I thought that it was necessary to set Raoden up with a firm set of goals to accomplish–hence the three distinct gangs he has to overcome. Since Sarene and Hrathen's storylines were going to be a little more ambiguous plot-wise, I wanted a conflict for Raoden that could show distinct and consistent progress.

    I knew from the beginning that I wanted him to set up a new society for Elantris, and the gangs represented a way for him to approach this goal in an incremental manner.

    The cliffhanger at the end of this chapter, by the way, is one of my favorites. The chapter-triad system gave me some amazing opportunities for cliffhangers–as we'll see later.

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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Four

    Moshe and I agreed on just about every edit or change made to Elantris. There is one small thing, however, that we kind of went the rounds about. The word Kolo.

    Galladon's "Kolos" are, in my mind, an integral part of his personality. I characterize him a great deal through his dialogue–he doesn't really get viewpoints of his own, so everything I do for him at least until the ending I either have to do through Raoden's thoughts or through Galladon's own words. When I was coming up with Galladon's character, I realized I would need a set of linguistic features that would reinforce his culture's relaxed nature. So, I went with smooth-sounds, and gave their dialect a very "chatty" feel. The Dula habit of calling everyone "friend" came from this–as did their habit of softening everything they say with a question tag. Linguistically, questions are less antagonistic than statements, and I figured a culture like the Dula one would be all about not antagonizing people.

    A number of languages in our own world make frequent use of similar tags. Korean, the foreign language I'm most familiar with, has a language construction like this. Closer to home, people often make fun of the Canadian propensity for adding a similar tag to their own statements. I hear that Spanish often uses these tags. In many of these languages, a large percentage of statements made will actually end in a softening interrogative tag.

    Anyway, enough linguistics. I'm probably using the standard "literary" posture of falling back on facts and explanations to make myself sound more authoritative. Either way, I liked having Galladon say "Kolo" a lot. In the original draft, the tags were added onto the ends of sentences, much like we might ask "eh?" or "understand?" in English. "It's hot today, kolo?"

    Moshe, however, found the excessive use of Kolo confusing–especially in connection with Sule. He thought that people might get the two words confused, since they're used similarly in the sentences. Simply put, he found the kolos distracting, and started to cut them right and left. I, in turn, fought to keep in as many as I could. It actually grew rather amusing–in each successive draft, he'd try to cut more and more, and I'd try to keep a hold of as many as possible. (I was half tempted to throw a "kolo" into the draft of Mistborn, just to amuse him.)

    Regardless, we ended up moving kolo to its own sentence to try and make it more understandable. "It's hot today. Kolo?" We also ended up cutting between a third and a half of the uses of the word, and losing each one was a great pain for me. (Well, not really. But I'm paid to be melodramatic.) So, if you feel like it, you can add them back in your mind as your read Galladon's lines.

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    Brandon Sanderson

    I can only think of two books I've written–out of sixteen–that use a literary "timebomb" as strict as the one in Elantris. Three months to convert the kingdom or Wyrn will destroy it. That's a pretty heavy motivator. Sometimes, timebombs can feel contrived, and I tried to make this one feel as realistic as possible.

    Later, when we discover that Hrathen was never intended to succeed in his conversion, I think this three-month limit makes a lot more sense.

    Elantris Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter three marks the end of the first "chapter triad."

    The chapter triads are a major structural element of this novel. The viewpoints rotate Raoden-Sarene-Hrathen, in order, one chapter each. Each of the three chapters in the grouping cover pretty much the same time-frame, so they can overlap, and we can see the same scene sometimes from two different viewpoints. (Note the point in chapter two where Sarene sees Raoden being led to Elantris, wearing the sacrificial robes.)

    We always follow this same format, going from Raoden, to Sarene, to Hrathen.

    Until, that is, the system breaks down late in the book–but we’ll get into that.

    And, you might have noticed that the Aons at the beginnings of the chapters stay the same for three chapters before changing. Each triad, therefore, has a different Aon to mark it. (I did a little bit of fighting to get this through at Tor. The final decision was theirs, but once they realized what I was trying to do, they liked the idea and approved it.) The placing of the Aons is a little bit obscure, I'll admit, but it might be fun for people to notice. (They also grow increasingly complex, built out of more and more tracings of Aon Aon, as the triads progress. There are some special Aons marking the beginnings of sections.)

    I'll talk more on chapter triads later. You can read more about my theory on the format in the critical afterword to Elantris (which should eventually be posted in the Elantris "Goodies" section.) I might also do essay specifically about the format and the challenges it presented.

    Elantris Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Three

    There is some division among readers regarding their favorite viewpoint character. One group chooses Raoden, but I think the majority go with Hrathen. All things considered, I think he's probably the best villain I've ever written. His personality comes off quite well in this first chapter, and I think he might have the strongest introduction–at least personality-wise–of the three.


    Anyway, back to Hrathen. My hope in creating him was to present an antagonist for the story who would be believable, understandable, and sympathetic. He's a good man, after his own fashion–and he's certainly dedicated. He doesn't want to destroy the world; he wants to save it. It's not his fault he's serving an evil imperial force.

    Regardless, Hrathen certainly has the most interesting character progression in the story. Raoden and Sarene, despite many interesting attributes, are two of the most static characters I've designed. This book isn't about their growth as people, but rather their ability to overcome their desperate odds. Hrathen, on the other hand, has a real opportunity to grow, learn, and change. Perhaps this is what makes him people's favorite. It certainly made him the critic's favorite.

    Elantris Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Two

    So, this chapter gets the grand prize for most edited and revised chapter in the book. There are other chapters that have more new material–but only because they were added in completely after the original draft. This chapter, good old chapter two, was the one that underwent the most tweaks, face-lifts, additions, and edits during the ten drafts I did of Elantris.

    And, I think poor little Sarene is the cause of it.

    You could say that she played havoc with the book in much the same way she did with Hrathen, Iadon, and Raoden in the story.

    As I worked on the novel, Sarene as a character took on a much more dominant role in the plot than I had intended. Perhaps it's because she's the intermediary between the other two characters, or maybe it's because I liked her best of the three characters. Either way, in my mind, this book is about Sarene. She's the catalyst, the force of change.

    In the end, she's the one that provides the solutions to both Raoden and Hrathen's problems. She gives Raoden the hint he needs to fix Elantris, and she gives Hrathen the moment of courage he needs in order to turn against Dilaf.

    However, I've found that Sarene is many people's least-favorite of the three characters. I had a lot of trouble in the original drafts of this book, since many alpha readers didn't like her in this chapter. They thought she came off as too brusque and manipulative. It was always my intention to show a more sensitive side to her later in the novel, but I didn't intend to lead with it quite as quickly as I ended up doing.

    The first edit to the chapter came with the addition of the Sarene-and-Ashe-travel-to-the-palace scene. This is the section were Sarene sits in the carriage, thinking about her anger at Raoden and her insecurity. This counteracts a bit of the strength we see from her in the first scene at the docks, rounding her out as a character.

    The second big addition came in the form of the funeral tent scene. This was added as a tangent to one of Moshe's suggestions–he wanted us to have an opportunity to see Sarene investigating Raoden's death. In the original drafts of the book, we felt the narrative made it too obvious to outsiders that Raoden must have been thrown into Elantris. Moshe and I felt that it seemed silly that people wouldn't consider the possibility that Raoden wasn't dead. This wasn't what I wanted–I wanted most people to accept the event. Only someone as overly-curious as Sarene would have been suspicious.

    So, I revised the story to downplay the suspicion around Raoden's death. Instead of having Iadon rush through the funeral (an element of the original draft) I added the funeral tent and had Sarene (off-stage) attend the funeral itself. These changes made it more reasonable that very few people would have suspicions regarding the prince's death, and therefore made it more plausible that people wouldn't think that he had been thrown into Elantris.

    Other small tweaks to this chapter included the removal of a line that almost everyone seemed to hate but me. After Sarene meets Iadon for the first time, she is pulled away by Eshen to leave the throne room. At this time, I had Sarene mutter "Oh dear. This will never do." Everyone thought that was too forceful, and made her sound to callous, so I changed it to "Merciful Domi! What have I gotten myself into?" A piece of me, however, still misses Sarene's little quip there.

    Elantris Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Everything else in this chapter pretty much stayed the same. In the original draft, Galladon was actually named Galerion. I made the change because the name "Galerion" just didn't fit the eventual linguistic style I devised for Duladel. Again, I didn't do as much planning for this book as I do for books I write now, and I just kind of let the names and cultures develop as I wrote. In the end, Galerion's culture out-developed his name. I figured that the main Dula in the book needed to have a Dula-sounding name. Interestingly, Moshe–my editor–independently decided that he really didn't like Galerion's name. When I made the suggested change, he was very pleased. Originally, he didn't like Raoden's name either–but this came, mostly, because he had trouble pronouncing it. I actually really like the name, but understand that it can be difficult if you don't understand the Aonic language. Remember–two hard vowel sounds formed by the Aon, every other vowel is soft. RAY-OH-den. (Read the pronunciation guide for more.)

    Galladon/Galerion originally spoke with a much stronger dialect in this chapter. However, these dribbled off after the first few chapters, and I decided I didn't want him to be quite as difficult to understand. So, I went back and cut them. You'll notice, however, that Galladon still hits the dialect pretty hard in this first chapter.

    Elantris Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter One

    There are a couple of interesting things about this chapter. First off, it didn't originally start with Raoden waking up. When I first wrote the book, I threw Raoden directly into the city, line one. That original line was: "It wasn't until Raoden heard the gate swing closed behind him, booming with a shocking sound of finality, that he realized he had been damned."

    While this line worked pretty well, I found I had to do an extended flashback showing him waking up and frightening the maid, etc. In the end, I realized that this was a bulky construction that didn't really speed the novel up–but rather slowed it down. So, I rewrote the first scene to have Raoden waking up, seeing Elantris, and then realizing he'd been taken by the Shaod.

    My books tend to have what are called "steep learning curves." In other words, they take a little getting used to. Fantasy in general has a steep learning curve, and I don't tend to write very standard fantasies–I like to push the genre a little bit, introducing strange settings and irregular magic systems. Because of this, I have to be very careful at the beginnings of my books not to overwhelm the reader. This book was a good example–taking it a little easier, giving the reader a more cautious ease into Elantris, proved the better route.

    Happily, I eventually managed to preserve the original line with its catchy feel. I don't usually do things like this–I don't believe in the standard "hook" idea. However, when I was thinking about this book, the first lines of the first three chapters were some of the first things that occurred to me. These three lines became the foundation for how I characterized the separate viewpoints, and they were part of what drew me to writing the book in the first place. If you go through and read them, I think they each have a little bit of zip, and hopefully invoke a sense of curiosity. These three lines introduce each character and one of their primary conflicts, and do it in a simple, clear way.

    Maintaining this feel with the new first scene was important to me, even though it could be argued that the first line of chapter one is a bit of POV error. I'm revealing information that the viewpoint character doesn't yet know. I avoid these, but in this case, I felt that cohesion was more important than strict POV, right here.

    I also did a second massive cut just after Raoden was thrown into the city. If you read the earlier draft, you'll see that he struggles with what has happened to him a bit more. There's even a brief section where he thinks about Ien and some of the seon's words of wisdom. I cut these sections because they just slowed the book too much. I figured Raoden's shorter soul-searching at the beginning, where he quickly comes to the decision to "look damnation in the face," helped the story move along. Again, I worry about my beginnings–perhaps too much–because they have a history of dragging just a bit. By pushing Raoden into walking through the city, I kept the pacing up.

    Warsaw signing ()
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    Oversleep (paraphrased)

    People with mixed Investiture, coming from different Shards, with heritage from different worlds. Will we see them and how would they interact with magic systems?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    You have already seen them. How they're gonna... it depends on the magic system.

    Warsaw signing ()
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    Oversleep (paraphrased)

    Back in Mistborn Marsh said that there is a pattern for higher metals. So that would mean that atium and gold would share a pattern but they're not really part of the same quadrant...

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    Humans see patterns everywhere, that's it.

    Warsaw signing ()
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    Oversleep (paraphrased)

    I asked about Radiant Surgebinder who would tap his Connection to the spren and would he be able to summon Shardblade even at First Ideal?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    He said it's possible but spren wouldn't like it. IIRC he said something about increasing flow of power (???)

    Warsaw signing ()
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    Oversleep (paraphrased)

    I asked whether we could call the Bands of Mourning the Survivor's Spearhead and whether it did have all 16 basic metal metalminds.

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    He hesitated a little but eventually said yes, there were all 16 metalminds.

    Oversleep (paraphrased)

    I asked whether Marasi tapped all of them, because she would tap Kelsier's Identity and memories.

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    He said intentions are important and she didn't tap all of them.

    Warsaw signing ()
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    Oversleep (paraphrased)

    Allomantic strength. There are stronger Allomancers, they can burn metals faster, right?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    Yes, they can also squeeze more power out of it. They can use it more efficiently.

    Oversleep (paraphrased)

    So there is some loss of power along the way? How do savants work into that?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    Savants can use it way more efficiently. They are more Connected to the Shard. Closer to Spiritual Realm.

    Warsaw signing ()
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    Strumienpola (paraphrased)

    Can you slatrify sand into other liquids?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    *thinks a moment* I admit that slatrification is one aspect of Sand Mastery I'm the least fond of, because it doesn't mesh well with the rest of Cosmere magic. The comicbook writers are working with my original script, with very minor changes, but if we ever release White Sand in print - which we might do - I might end up changing it. So - I won't answer that, because I'm not yet sure if slatifying into water is possible. *laughs* You can think of the comic as sort of in-universe story about those characters, then.

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    About slatrification, he said that if he ever writes the novel, he'll make slatrification an in-world legend.

    /r/fantasy AMA 2017 ()
    #12546 Copy


    Would the metal an Allomancer burns if he was charging Nightblood with Investiture affect the relative power of Nightblood, say if you are burning duralumin or atium Nightblood would be more powerful than if you were burning bronze or zinc?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Excellent question, actually!

    Nightblood, as I've written him now and as I intend to keep him, feeds of the investiture--but isn't really strengthened by it. Meaning, it doesn't matter to him what the food is, it's all just food to him.

    Elantris Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson


    I'm a very sequential writer. When I write a book, I usually start with the prologue and write straight through until I hit the epilogue. Though I can't remember for certain, I'm pretty sure that this prologue was the first thing I ever wrote for Elantris.

    Back in those days, I didn't outline as much as I do now. When I first put fingers to keyboard, I really didn't know where this book was going to go. I had some vague idea of what I wanted it to be, but I didn't know how I was going to get there. However, this prologue really helped solidify things for me.

    I love how it works in the story. It's quick, descriptive, and gives a marvelous outline of the magical setting of the book. It's also one of the most heavily-edited sections of the book. Moshe didn't like my original draft of it because he thought it was over-written. The original first line of the book was "Whispered are the days when Elantris was beautiful." I kind of still like this line better, but it may just be nostalgia. The line kind of has a faint. . .flowing quality to it. An etherealness.

    Regardless, "Elantris was beautiful, once" made for a nice compromise. I'll probably post the entire, first-draft version of the prologue in the "deleted scenes" section of the website, if you want to compare.

    Despite my preference for the old first line, I like the other changes we made to the prologue. Over all, it became more descriptive and easier to understand. It's a nice springboard to the story, and we've used it several places as a kind of quick teaser to get people to read the book.

    (Including putting it on the back cover of the hardback.)

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #12548 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson


    I've had a few complaints about this page–but not the complaints I expected. When I was writing the acknowledgments, I was worried that I'd leave someone out who gave me good comments on the book. It took me a lot of searching through old records, but I think I finally found pretty much everyone. However, I assumed that if I did leave anyone out, they would complain. (It's been five years since I wrote Elantris, and a lot of people have read it during that time.)

    However, most of the complaints I got weren't from people I forgot to put on the acknowledgements page. The complaints were from people who were on the page, but didn't think they deserved to be there!

    You see, I added a few names to this list. These were people who hadn't read Elantris as an alpha reader, but who had been part of one of my writing groups or who had otherwise given me support during the days when I was trying to get published. These people read other books of mine, even if I wasn't working on Elantris when I met them. So, on this acknowledgements page, I wanted to give a general thanks to all the people who have helped me over the years. That means if you're on the list and don't think you belong there, tough!

    You get my acknowledgement whether you want it or not!

    Anyway, you can see that there are a lot of names on this list. These are a great bunch of people–good critics, great fans, and many of them pretty good writers in their own right. Though at this point, only one of them has a professional novel publication (Rob Wells,) I'm sure that others will eventually join him. When they do, buy their books!

    The top list of people includes my closest and most helpful writing groups. The first group, named "Here there be dragons" actually started when I was writing Elantris, and that was the first book the group dealt with. Though we didn't spend much time on Elantris, I remember meeting in Ben's office in the BYU alumni house and chatting about the book's terrible title (see the title page annotation,) among other things. The founding members were Dan, Ben, me, and Nate. We added Peter a bit later on, and he went on to become an editor at Tokyopop. A couple of other people–Krista Olson, Alan Layton, and a few others–did short stints as dragons, but I ended up acknowledging them in other places on the list.

    Of those three writing groups, only one is still going. The one with Alan Layton and Kaylynn ZoBell. We meet in Salt Lake every Friday night (yes, I know. That's the best thing we writers often have to do on Friday nights. . . .) Anyway, they're a great support and help to me.

    Another interesting note is regarding my professors. I intend to dedicate a book some day to the teachers that have helped me over the years. It was a school teacher–the appropriately named Ms. Reader–who gave me my first fantasy book . I can think of few professions as noble as that of teacher, and I am deeply thankful to all of those who have helped me–not just the few names I had room to mention on this page.

    Elantris Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    The Dedication

    I've always intended to dedicate my first published book to my mother. I poke a little fun at her here, since I can't resist. However, I really do owe a lot of who I am–and what I've accomplished–to her. When I was in elementary school, I had mediocre grades–and my test scores placed me as "below average" on several occasions. Well, she was bound and determined to prove that I was "gifted" despite those scores. She worked hard to get me to improve in school, and she was a prime motivator behind my reading habits.

    Now, my mother is a very practical person. She believes strongly in practical professions that pay well and are stable. Writing is neither one of these. I think she realized early on that despite her hopes, she wasn't going to have a doctor or a business man–or even a scientist–for a son. She did convince me to major in biological chemistry as a freshman–though she said this was simply to put me in a better position for getting a scholarship (which I did get, by the way). However, I've always assumed that a little piece of her hoped that the bio-chem influence would persuade me to go to med school, or to at least become an engineer.

    That, obviously, did not happen. The big bad English monster took me in my sophomore year. However, my mother has always been supportive, and it was her sense of dedication, excellence, and assiduousness that forged my determined personality. Without that sense of self-determination, I would never have lasted in this field long enough to publish.

    So, thank you mother. Thanks for being proud of me.

    Elantris Annotations ()
    #12550 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Title Page

    You'd be surprised how much can be said about the title of this book. Naming books is one of the most frustrating, and most fulfilling, elements of writing. I'm more fortunate than some authors I know–for most of my books, the names came easily. Sometimes, I even came up with the title before I wrote the book. (This has actually only happened once, when thought up the phrase "The Way of Kings," and thought "Man! That would be a great title for a book!")

    Elantris has had several titles. During the rough draft phase, I simply called it "SPIRIT." I knew that the main character's name would be based on the character for Spirit, and that would also be the name he took for himself when he was in exile. I never intended this to be the final title for the manuscript, but it was what I named all the files when I was typing the work.

    Those of you who've read the book realize the special significance of "Spirit" (or Aon Rao as it eventually became known) to the climax of the story. I'll talk more about this in a bit.

    Well, as I was writing the story, I realized I needed a better title. The most obvious choice was to somehow work in the name of the fallen magical city that was the focus of the book. Now, I'm a little embarrassed to admit this, but the city "Elantris" was actually originally named "Adonis." I'm not sure what I was thinking. Sometimes, when you're coming up with a lot of fantastical names, you create words that have a certain, unforeseen connotations or connections. In this case, I wasn't even thinking of the Greek myth. "Ado" was simply the Aon I chose to base the city’s name around, and "Adonis" (Pronounced with a long "A" and a long "O") was the word that came out of that Aon.

    So, I named the book The Spirit of Adonis, hoping to play off of Raoden's name.

    It was, however, actually a three-fold pun. I included this line–"The Spirit of Adonis" at the climax, when Raoden realizes that the city itself formed an enormous Aon Rao.

    I didn't realize what I'd done until my writing group met for the first time, and they said "I like the beginning of the book. I'm having trouble figuring out what this has to do with the Greeks. Is it because the god-like people were so arrogant?"

    Then it hit me. Adonis, from Greek mythology, was a beautiful man loved by Aphrodite. The word has become a kind of paradigm for a beautiful–almost perfect–specimen of the male species. And I had unwittingly named my book after him.

    Let's just say I changed that pretty quickly. However, I needed a new name for the city. I played with a number of different combinations of Ado, but somehow ended up trying up different sounds and combinations. Thankfully, I came up with the word "Elantris." As soon as I wrote it down, I knew this was my city. It sounded grand without being overbearing, and it had a mythological feel to it (hearkening slightly to "Atlantis".) I renamed the book "The Spirit of Elantris," and proceeded.</p>

    Then came time to send out the manuscript. I had had some comments on the book–people liked "Elantris," but the "spirit of" was less popular. I tried several iterations, and even sent out some query letters calling the book "THE LORDS OF ELANTRIS." That just felt too cliché fantasy for me, however, and I eventually returned to "The Spirit of Elantris."

    Finally, the book got sold. At this point, my editor (Moshe Feder) suggested that we shorten the title to simply Elantris. Remembering how other people had been unimpressed with the "spirit of," I agreed. Now that I've seen the cover lettering and worked with it as "Elantris" for some time, I'm very pleased with the change. The new title has more zip, and makes the book sound more majestic. I still get to have a reference to my old title, as Part Three of the book is called "The Spirit of Elantris."

    Of course, even this title isn't without its problems. People have trouble spelling it when I say the title, and some think of the car named the "Elantra." At one panel, I even had one person miss-hear me, thinking the name of the book was "The Laundress." That would certainly be a different book...