Lance Alvein (paraphrased)
Can you tell us the timeline of [The Emperor's Soul] in comparison to Elantris?
Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)
It happens shortly after Elantris.
Can you tell us the timeline of [The Emperor's Soul] in comparison to Elantris?
It happens shortly after Elantris.
The deleted prologue [of The Emperor's Soul] with Hoid in it - is there any chance of that being put online?
It will be online, and it will probably be bundled with the ebook version as well.
Since there are spren of everything on Roshar, is it possible that there is such a thing as a "squeespren"?
They do exist, however, they would be called by a different name on Roshar.
Can you confirm if the scene with Taln at the end of Way of Kings is entirely in Hoid's perspective? There was some discussion that it might not be, since Taln's Honorblade was called a Shardblade.
That entire scene is in Hoid's POV, and the reason for it being called a Shardblade is because Honorblades are Shardblades.
The creatures on the inside cover of Way of Kings - we've had various discussion about what they actually are, and some people are calling them Crabwasps and other Dragonwasps. Can you tell me anything else about them, and can you pick one of the two for us to use?
The decision for that image was made near the last minute to have Isaac make the image. It is an important symbol, and will be mentioned in detail in later books. While neither name is correct, they both could work until the official name is revealed (Brandon wouldn't pick one over the other).
How are people with two different eye colors treated on Roshar?
RAFO - this will be explored in one of Shallan's flashback sequences in Stormlight 2, and is already written.
You've said that "The Pits of Hathsin were crafted by Preservation as a place to hide the chunk of Ruin's body that he had stolen away". How does one Shard steal a portion of another Shard and create a Physical outlet for it, like the Pits were for Ruin's power?
It has to do with clash between the two Shards' power. When pressed, he then said that it was "kind of" like splintering
Does the loss during the withdrawal of large amounts of attribute depend on the rate of original storage?
Does the rate of Feruchemical storage of an attribute affect the total amount stored in a metalmind?
It was not intended to be.
Why are Invested objects like metalminds and Hemalurgic spikes able to be Pushed and Pulled on, but Shardblades and Shardplate, which are also invested, are not susceptible to Pushing and Pulling?
There were a few concepts that he outlined in answering this question.
1.) The ability to Push/Pull an Invested object is predicated to the amount/power of the Investiture.
2.) Further, Invested objects also gain resistance to pulling/pushing based on proximity to soul possibly via the soul. An example given is that a Hemalurgic spike touches the blood of the person, and from there is now part of both the Spiritual Realm and the Physical Realm. This provides what Brandon termed a kind of "soul interference," based on its proximity to the soul.
This further explains why Vin required more than normal power to Push/Pull the metalminds from the Lord Ruler, because of their proximity to his soul, via the Spiritual Realm.
3.) The amount of Investiture is relatively low on Scadrial, whereas worlds like Sel and Roshar are pushing around "high power" according to Brandon. I interpreted this to mean that Hemalurgic spikes and metalminds have low amounts of Investiture compared to Shardplate and Shardblades.
Brandon said that theoretically you can Push/Pull Shardblades and Shardplates but you would need to wield an incredible amount of power. One example he gave that could so such as a thing is that if you were a Mistborn wielding the full power of the Well of Ascension, you could Push/Pull Shardblades/Plate.
Will we ever get to see or experience the Cognitive Realm on any other planets to the extent that we have on Roshar?
Are there inhabitants there like there are in Shadesmar?
If you're burning atium, can you predict the trajectory of an atium (atium, not aluminum) bullet?
Atium? Yes. But aluminum... Maybe not so much. *sly smile*
Are the lines that an Allomancer sees when burning iron or steel are in the Physical Realm, the Spiritual Realm, or the Cognitive Realm.
It is more Spiritual Realm than anything.
We've seen someone with a Hemalurgic spike communicate or under the control of Ruin or Harmony... Can other Shards communicate or control those individuals?
Yes. Good Question. Yes... They can certainly communicate...
To what extent?
Not to the extent that Ruin did. The others could communicate but it'd be vague or faint, not as direct as Ruin was. He connects to us, well, them through the little bit of Preservation that he had or could touch. Because the spike pierces the soul.
What about on other planets than Scadrial?
It'd work the same way. but again probably vaguer or fainter. Might go unnoticed.
Can a Shardblade interrupt iron or steel lines?
*after mulling it over a bit, he was very interested in this question* "It would be theoretically possible, because steel lines manifest themselves on the Spiritual Realm. Also, there are other things that can cut/interfere with steel lines."
Have we seen [Khriss] in any of the books out so far? Is Vathi Khriss?
No, someone else. But you'll see Khriss in a soon-to-be-published book.
Does Khriss have a way of changing her appearance?
I asked if Sazed is the only one to hold more than one Shard.
"Sazed is the only one to currently hold two Shards." After a few seconds, he added, "I'm not going to say he is the only one to ever hold two."
Anything you can tell us about santhids?
They're one of a few Rosharan animals with a degree of sentience. It's easier on Roshar for this to happen.
Because of Cultivation?
Also, santhids aren't based on anything in particular on Earth.
Sarene's eye color?
Is it possible to use a Steelpush while wearing Shardplate?
After some confusion re: not Pushing on the Plate, but something else.
Yes. And we… think the mass of the plate would be what determined the force needed, not its (much lighter) effective weight to the bearer.
Is the use of the color red before/during bad events a deliberate pattern?
Give us the name of a Shard's intent we have not seen before.
There is one who just wants to hide and survive.
Is the reason why it is hard to get to Shadesmar on Sel because Devotion and Dominion being Splintered?
That is part of it (a little).
Has to do with the name of that expanse.
Were Cultivation and Honor romantically involved?
Is Cultivation's holder still alive?
Why can Kaladin Surgebind with any gem type but Jasnah and Shallan need specific types?
A lot of that will be explained as the series comes along. It is really the difference between Soulcasting and the other forms of Surgebinding. It's more a quirk of Soulcasting than it is something that is different about about Kaladin. So you've kind of got it reversed a little bit though; Soulcasting has this additional restriction that the other ones don't.
So there are some forms of Investiture that some people can access regardless: like BioChromatic Breath, but there are some that are not like Allomancy—and there are a few exceptions of course—but are there other ways besides [hemalurgic] spikes that you can access investiture from different worlds?
Like if an Elantrian went to-
If you can blank your Identity and create the right Connection you can have it happen.
If an Elantrian showed up on Roshar, they wouldn't bond with a spren?
They can bond with a spren, the spren is up to the spren's choice. The spren can bond with whoever they choose to bond with.
Does military service raise one's nahn/dahn?
Let's say somebody from a very low nahn, who is basically a serf, right? I mean, they don't have the freedom of movement. So, what if a man like that rises to a sergeant and serves 25 years with distinction, does he go back to being a serf when/if he retires from the military? Would he be required to return to his village/town of origin? Can something like this be properly controlled, even? I mean, do they check traveling people's papers?
There's a lot of parts to this. Rising within nahns and dahns happens more easily in Roshar than rising in social status did in most societies that had similar things in our world—for instance India, or even England. To an extent, it is very easy to buy yourself up a rank. What you've got to remember is the very high ranks are harder to attain. By nature, the children of someone of a very high rank sometimes are shuffled down to a lower rank—until they hit a stable rank. There are certain ranks that are stable in that the children born to parents of that rank always have that rank at as well. Your example of the soldier who serves with distinction could very easily be granted a rank up. In fact, it would be very rare for a soldier to not get a level of promotion if they were a very low rank—to not be ranked up immediately. The social structure pushes people toward these stable ranks. For the serf level, if you're able to escape your life of serfdom and go to a city, often getting a job and that sort of thing does require some measure of paperwork listing where you're from and the like. But if you were a serf who was educated, that would be pretty easy to fake. What's keeping most people as serfs is the fact that breaking out of it is hard, and there are much fewer of those ranks than you might assume. The right of travel is kind of an assumed thing. To be lower ranked than that, something has to have gone wrong for your ancestors and that sort of thing. There are many fewer people of that rank than there are of the slightly higher ranks that have the right of travel. It's a natural check and balance against the nobility built into the system. There are a lot of things going on here. Movement between ranks is not as hard as you might expect.
Ditto with the lighteyes—does exemplary service raise one's dahn?
It's much harder for a lighteyes, but the king and the highprinces can raise someone's dahn if they want to. But it is much harder. In the lower dahns, you can buy yourself up in rank. Or you can be appointed. For instance, if you're appointed as a citylord, that is going to convey a certain dahn, and you could jump two or three dahns just by getting that appointment. Now, if you serve poorly, if a lot of the people who have the right of travel leave—which this doesn't happen very often—if your town gets smaller and you're left with this struggling city, you would be demoted a dahn, most likely. If a lot of the citizens got up and left, that would be a sign. They could take away your set status by leaving. That’s something that’s built into the right of travel. So these things happen.
If parents have different nahns/dahn's, how is child’s position calculated? For instance, if Shallan had married 10-dahner Kabsal, what dahn would their children belong to?
The highest dahn determines the dahn of the child, though that may not match the dahn of the highest parent. For instance, there are certain dahns that aren't conveyed to anyone except for your direct heir. The other children are a rank below. I believe that third dahn is one of the stable ranks. If you're the king, you're first dahn. Your kid inherits. If you have another kid who doesn't marry a highprince, and is not a highprince, then they're going to be third dahn, not second, because that's the stable rank that they would slip down to, along with highlords and the children of highprinces.
Or, and another thing—what happens if a lighteyed child is born to darkeyes or even slaves? Which should happen often enough, given that male nobles seem rather promiscuous. Anyway, are such people automatically of tenth dahn?
The situation is very much taken into account in these sorts of cases. Normally—if there is such a thing as normal with this—one question that's going to come up is are they heterochromatic. Because you can end up with one eye of each color, both eyes light, or both eyes dark. That's going to influence it a lot, what happens here. Do you have any heirs? Was your child born lighteyed? This sort of thing is treated the same way that a lot of societies treated illegitimate children. The question of, do I need this person as an heir? Are they born darkeyed? Can I shuffle them off somewhere? Set them up, declare them to be this certain rank. Are you high enough rank to do that? Are you tenth dahn yourself? What happens with all of these things? There's no single answer to that. The most common thing that's probably going to happen is that they are born heterochromatic. Then you're in this weird place where you're probably declared to be tenth dahn, but you may have way more power and authority than that if one parent is of a very high dahn, just as a bastard child in a royal line would be treated in our world.
Would an Awakener be able to awaken a corpse that was soulcast into stone more easily because it used to be living, thereby being able to create lifeless similar to Kalad's Phantoms without having bones in the framework?
Yes. That would definitely work.
In The Way of Kings, we see a lot of worldhoppers on Roshar. Have you already seeded worldhoppers FROM Roshar in your other works?
Yes. You've met several.
When Szeth walked through an area he had lashed in Interlude-9, could he have decided to let himself be affected by his own full lashing? How does this extend to other surgebinders?
Using a full lashing to stick yourself to something is inherently inferior to changing the gravitational pull and being able to move on that plane instead. So I see very rare instances where you would want to. But it is within the scope of the powers to be affected by it if he wanted to be. It will still affect other Surgebinders, and they will not be able to not be affected, unless there is a specific ability or item that is preventing it.
The characters eat all of these crustaceans... do they have some sort of butter to dip into—even without cows, although maybe they have cows in Shinovar? (I can't be the only one who envisions himself on Roshar eating dinner every time I eat crab or lobster)
Their milk products are much lesser used, but they do get cream and whatnot from sow's milk. The pigs on Roshar produce more milk from years of natural genetic modification—breeding and whatnot—in the same way that humans have bred cows over the centuries. So they do have milk products. Some of their curries will have different types of cream. Whether they're dipping the crustaceans depends on the culture. For instance, Horneaters have teeth that break claws. Their back molars are different from standard human molars. To a lesser extent, the Herdazians have the same thing going for them. For those two cultures, they'll chew the shells and eat them. For the Alethi, they're probably dipping the meat in a curry, or just preparing the curry with the crustacean meat in it. There are other cultures where they’ll sauté it or have a sow's milk dipping sauce or things like that.
To what extent has the economy of the world been planned out? Obviously, there's a refreshingly fair amount of economic activity happening in the novels, often times helping to move along the story. But to what extent do you have it planned out already vs. "I'll come up with it when I need it."
That is to say do you know that place A sells to place B, but place B has nothing to sell to place A and so sells to place C, which sells to place A, influencing the trade patterns of ships. And what the price of a horse is in A vs. B vs. C., or the price of an inn for the night, or the price of a pair of well made boots. Have you worked out how people are taxed and tithed, how the trade routes flow, how comparatively wealthy people are around the world, etc?
For a lot of these things I've done some of it, and for others I decide what to do when I need it. One trick in worldbuilding is to focus your attention on the things that are going to be a source of conflict or passion to the characters. It would be very easy to spend twenty years worldbuilding and never writing. So there is a fair bit of both, but most of what I focus my attention on is where is the conflict. Trade deals are a source of conflict, and so where it's a source of conflict to the cultures I have spent more time dealing with it.
Riddle me this: Why did the Horneater couple stop after four kids?
Alright, go for it.
They didn't want to get heir-sick.
A Rioter, a Soother, and a Coinshot all go to buy a car.
The Soother goes up to the salesman and is like "hey can I buy a car" and the salesman goes "No, every time I sell to you people I always end up wanting to please you too much: I don't want to sell you the car, get out of here."
The Rioter walks up. He's like "hey, can I buy a car?" and the salesman goes "No, every time I try to sell to you folks I always end up wanting to try and *garbled* too much, get out of here."
The Coinshot walks up and the salesman goes "No you gotta *garbled* too, get out here." The Coinshot's like "what!? I can't mess with your emotions." The salesman goes "well yeah, but you guys are way too pushy."
One of my favourite parts about Roshar is the diverse set of cultures that exist in the world. Could you talk about some of the inspirations for the complicated cultures such as the Alethi?
Building Roshar, I wanted to make sure that I was doing a little extra worldbuilding work. I don't want to say that for something like Mistborn I'm not doing worldbuilding work, but my focus was in other areas. I wanted Mistborn to be accessible, so I made it an Earth analogue.
I consider Roshar my showpiece for worldbuilding, and as such I wanted everything about it to display some of the best of what science fiction and fantasy is capable of: new ecologies, new cultures, cultures that feel real but that at the same time are not just earth analogues. Because of that, I've done a lot of work to individualize and distinctify a lot of the various cultures on Roshar.
Now, that said, creativity is really the recombination of things you've seen before. We as human beings, by our very nature, can't imagine something we've never seen. What we can do is take different things we've seen and combine them in new ways. That's the soul of creativity. It's the unicorn idea—we've seen things with horns, and we've seen horses. We put the two together and create something new, a unicorn.
Because of that, I don't know if it's possible to create a culture in a fantasy book that isn't inspired in some way by various earth cultures. I'm trying not to be as overt about it as The Wheel of Time was, because one of the cool things about The Wheel of Time was its twisting and turning of Earth cultures into Randland cultures.
That's a big preface. What are my inspirations for the Alethi, for all of the different cultures? There's definitely some Korean in there. There's some Semitic cultures in there. The magic system table, the double eye, is based on the idea of the Sefer and the Tree of Life from the Jewish Kabbalah. That's where I can trace the original inspiration of that. I can trace the original inspiration of the safehand to Koreans not showing people the bottom of their feet because they felt that that is an insult—that's not something you do. I can trace the Alethi apparel to various different clothing influences. I'm hoping that a lot of where I get the cultures is based off the interplay between the setting, the histories, the idea of the highstorms, and the metaphor of the desolations. My influences come from all over the place.
Dalinar can't hear his wife's name (or at least it seems to be magically censored to him, anyway), nor can he recall anything about her. But what happens if another woman with the same name is mentioned. Can he not hear her name? Or will he instead be unable to retain the fact that that name is the same as his wife's name?
It would be more the second.
How well do Elhokar and Jasnah get on?
Fine, I would say. This is a bit of a spoiler for the end of Words of Radiance, but you will eventually see that they're the sort of siblings who are both used to doing their own thing and getting their own way. They've both learned to stay out of one another's business. That said, Elhokar is also used to being surrounded by domineering people of various sorts. So having a domineering sister is really nothing different to him.
As a man of many projects, you seem very good about compartmentalizing your workload to be able to complete or advance a project independently while midway through even larger commitments. That being said, even authors such as Stephen King have viewed a certain project as their 'life work'. Would you consider The Stormlight Archive to be this to you (or at least your early life's work-being as young as you are) or rather does your ability to compartmentalize extend to your accomplishments as well as your workload in that you can view your achievements independently?
I consider the Cosmere sequence to be my life work—of which the Stormlight Archive is a major part, but it's not the only part. Compartmentalizing projects is the nature of how I work, to keep myself fresh, but the interconnection of the cosmere means it's not entirely compartmentalized.
How is Kaladin able to consistently recognize Syl, even when she's in different forms?
This has to do with their bond.
One thing I've noticed around the release of Words of Radiance was you pointing out that The Stormlight Archive is really two series of 5 books each. Was that something you wanted to make clear so as not to be daunting to perspective readers or just more about how the story has developed since you began?
It's a mixture of both, honestly. I do want to be wary of not being too daunting to readers who are jumping into this thing and have been reading The Wheel of Time. They might think, "The Wheel of Time was 'promised' to be six books and it ended up at fourteen. If you promise six, how long is this one going to be?"
But it's also because I want to start preparing readers for the break that's going to happen at book five. I'm going to stop writing the series for a few years, and then the "back five" (as I'm calling it) will focus on some different characters than the front five. So I have a lot of good reasons to be preparing people for what's going to happen there. Our expectations are a very big part of our enjoyment of all different kinds of entertainment mediums.
Can I ask you about the body of a Shard in the Physical Realm? About the different states of matter. What determines the state of matter that they are in? Because I've been reading the bits very carefully, and I haven't noticed much in terms of temperature difference.
The idea for me working on this was that they transcend-- They permeate everything, right? They permeate all life on all the Realms. And that there are manifestations of them that leak out, and it's kind of like they make-- they appear there in the various states but-- When you say that you've got the gas, you've got the liquid, you've got the solid: but you've also got inside of you, and inside of that plant, and like-- they're everywhere. And so what determines it? In my head it's just like when some of that power permeates, some of it distills, just like water. There's some water in the air, there's some that freezes: that's temperature. But it's not always temperature whether it's in the air, or whether it's falling. Imagine a Spiritual version of humidity, that is influenced by what's happening on the Spiritual Realm and the Cognitive, and that's what you'll get.
In Words of Radiance, we have Vasher showing up... One of his aliases on Nalthis is Kalad, which is very similar to the name of one of the Heralds on Roshar. So I was wondering how far back this connection between him and Roshar goes.
It goes pretty far back, in fact when I wrote Way of Kings, the 2002 version; he was a main character and was Kaladin's swordmaster. I wrote Warbreaker to jump back and write out his backstory, Vasher's. So to me Warbreaker actually came after Way of Kings. But the connection goes back pretty far, further than you would first guess.
Did he actually come from Nalthis and not Roshar?
I'm not going to actually answer that one-- Well I can answer that: yes he does come from Nalthis. It's pretty obvious that the way that the Breath's working, the reason he moved is because it's easier to get Stormlight than Breaths, and Stormlight can fuel being a Returned like him. And so yes, he was born on Nalthis. Becoming Returned without being born on Nalthis would be really hard.
What does the Stormfather think of Cultivation?
He thinks the same as Honor thinks.
The compounding trick that the Lord Ruler performed. When you're storing Investiture, are you storing your "Mistborn-ness" or all the powers individually?
All of the powers individually.
Yeah, the compounding trick. Really what's happening is you're fueling Feruchemy with the power of Allomancy, but you're filtering it through you, and then you're storing it.
So it's not that you're a more powerful mistborn when you've tapped [investiture]
No, good question.
Is Taldain orbiting at a Lagrangian point? *Brandon laughs* It would make the orbits work.
*long pause* I'm not sure the implications, I have to think through implications before answering questions.
The situation I'm thinking of, it would orbit the big star but at the same period as the smaller star.
Yeah, well, I'll just say "yes", but I want to make sure I'm not saying "yes", without...well, yes that's how it has to work.
Because [Taldain] I want to be not like Roshar where we have unstable orbits and things. Uh, but I… I'm saying yes, but I hope that doesn't get me into trouble scientifically.
Could a double-nicrosil Twinborn compound Breath or Stormlight?
Uh, you’re getting a RAFO card on that. You're getting SUCH a RAFO card on that!
One other speed bubble question. Is the speed of light the same inside and outside a speed bubble?
Um, yes. The speed of light is the same. Good question, you're trying to figure out the FTL.
Also, it would eliminate the redshift if the speed of light…
If the speed of light were similar. That's one thing we considered, but it felt too unintuitive, plus it's just not how I imagined things working. So, no it is not, but that's a good question. It is something we considered.
Now, do things actually move unpredictable at the edge [of a speed bubble] or do they refract out? Is it just that geometry is hard?
No, I have a level of unpredictability, I mean we're Chaos Theory. The idea being, you could predict if you had a perfect closed system and things like this, but it's unfeasible for most technology and minds to be able to predict.
So my quick question: Can you use Identity (I love the speed bubbles!) to anchor speed bubbles to yourself?
Uh, this is possible. That's less a matter of Identity. What’s gonna happen there, like, the more someone uses the powers, the more familiar and intermingled with their soul the powers become, and they are able to accomplish things that others can't. This would be like a Mistborn learning to hover a coin, right, which they can do, but most think you can't. That's the sort of level we're going with.
So a savant could?
A savant could totally do that. The problem is, things moving in and out of a speed bubble, there's a transference of energy. This is how we keep speed bubbles from irradiating people when light moves through them, right, red shift. And so there's a transfer of energy directly from the Spiritual Realm, which means that moving with a speed bubble, you're gonna run into that, and it's gonna be, it's gonna cause all kinds of problems, but it would be possible.