Recent entries

    Calamity Houston signing ()
    #14701 Copy

    Questioner (paraphrased)

    I've never actually read any of your books

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    That's okay

    Questioner (paraphrased)

    How would you rate your books versus others?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    I don't pump them up too much or you're sure to be disappointed no matter what. I'd say compared to other books, they're a little bit awesome.

    Librarypalooza ()
    #14723 Copy

    eagle (paraphrased)

    How close are all of the shard worlds in space?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    The cosmere takes place in a dwarf galaxy and all the worlds are close together.

    eagle (paraphrased)

    Close as in say 10 light-years?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    More like 50. (He went on to say that Peter has some harder numbers and that it might have to change a little.)

    Librarypalooza ()
    #14729 Copy

    Paladin Brewer (paraphrased)

    Is Threnody in the same planetary system as Sel?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    [No, they are not]

    Peter Ahlstrom (paraphrased)

    Folks, I hate to be a killjoy, but I just asked Brandon about this, and he says that he answered that question with "No, they are not."

    Brandon says he specifically remembers this question, and he remembers saying that Threnody and Sel were not in the same system.

    In any case, Threnody and Sel do not revolve around the same star. (And they're not in a binary system system either, for those trying to salvage something out of this.)

    The Alloy of Law Annotations ()
    #14733 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Miles as a God

    I had to be careful about the Miles "Are we not gods?" monologue, as I feel this is a theme that's come up a little too often in the Mistborn books. The Lord Ruler had it, Kelsier had it to an extent, and Zane flirted with it. We ran into it with Spook as well.

    I like that it's a running theme—this would be a real concern, I feel. In our world, we talk about one race or gender being superior, but in the end there's really no scientific basis for it. Yes, people are different, but I find no solid argument to one group being better than another. That hasn't stopped a lot of people from trying to prove it.

    Well, what if there were something like Allomancy? It's the only major magic system I've done that is genetic. And in this world, you have the only solid argument of "Well, one genetic line is obviously superior to another." That creates for some troubling things to think about, I should hope. It goes further than skaa and nobility, as talked about in the first trilogy.

    If you were Miles—who, by genetics, was practically invincible and immortal—I think it would be very hard to not to start thinking of yourself in this way. So it keeps popping up as a theme. (Eventually I'll really dig into it, rather than flirting with it as I have in most of the books.)

    The Alloy of Law Annotations ()
    #14734 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Eighteen


    I didn't really intend Ranette to become a kind of "Q" figure, providing Wax with a cool gun. I had written into the outline (once I added her) that he got a new Sterrion from her.

    However, I wanted some more quirk to her character. Beyond that, I felt that one of the things this book should do is show the ways that Allomancy—and dealing with Allomancers—has entered the common consciousness of the world. It makes sense to build guns to deal with them, just as now we build guns specifically to deal with armor, or specific situations a combatant might find themselves in.

    I felt that I wanted to integrate the Metallic Arts more into real society. You may notice, for instance, that I worked hard in this book to work Allomancy and metallurgy into the way that people speak. The metaphors they use, the way they see the world. A person who is up to no good is a "bad alloy." That sort of thing.

    It would be possible to overdo this, of course, but I feel—looking back objectively at the original trilogy—that I didn't do enough of it. That's okay, because in the original trilogy Allomancy was something that you kept hidden, and the common people didn't know much about it. Feruchemy was an underground art, and only the Inquisitors knew of Hemalurgy.

    Now however, at least two of the three are very common in society. I wanted to account for that. Building Vindication, the special Allomancer's gun, was a way to integrate the two halves of this book—the historical western and the fantasy.

    The Alloy of Law Annotations ()
    #14735 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    The train cars get swapped

    I hope this will surprise a few people, but it's one of the more obvious twists I've had in my books. It's pretty well foreshadowed, and it's pretty much the only way this could play out, so I think the "inevitable" part of this twist is more powerful than the "surprising" part of it. That's all right for me, as I decided to give Miles viewpoints, which meant the "How is he doing it?" side of the mystery became less important to the story than his motivations.

    That's part of what, to me, makes this book more of a "Brandon" book than a regular detective story. As I said in a previous annotation, I hope for this to be a fun page-turner, but it's still one of my books—which means that the worldbuilding and the characters are more important to me than the amazing mystery. (Which may not be all that amazing.)

    The Alloy of Law Annotations ()
    #14736 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Seventeen

    The Mists Form

    In writing this book, I had to nail down a few worldbuilding issues I'd been contemplating even before the first trilogy ended. What would happen to the mists, for instance, once Sazed took over and became Harmony?

    The mists, obviously, are a big part of the series. It didn't make sense—either narratively or worldbuilding-wise—to lose them completely. However, they'd been created as an effect of Preservation trying to use his essence to fight against Ruin's destruction of the world. So . . . wouldn't they go away?

    I decided that Sazed would still send them. They're part of the nature of the world now. To acknowledge what had happened, they wouldn't come every night any longer. But they would come. They were changed in that they are no longer simply the raw power of Preservation; they're now a part of Harmony—so they no longer pull away from Hemalurgy in the same way as they used to. They still have the odd effect of being able to power Allomancy. (And Feruchemy as well—if one knows how to do it.)

    The mists are, in part, the raw power of creation. And when one is favored of Harmony, the mists have a greater effect than they might otherwise have. We'll see more of this later.

    The Alloy of Law Annotations ()
    #14739 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Sixteen

    Wayne pretends to be an old woman

    These Wayne scenes really did turn out well. It was very fun to write him putting on new personalities and mindsets as he put on new hats.

    In a lot of ways, this is a much more standard book than I've released before. My biggest worry is that people go into it expecting it to be something other than what it is.

    And what is it? A fun adventure story, told as a detective narrative. I've said that I consider this book more pulp than others I've done. What does that mean? Well, I just wanted to write a fun page-turner that is a quick read from start to finish, and is enjoyable along the way. It makes me wonder if people will call this unambitious. Perhaps that's just the nervous side of me, the artist that worries about what people will say about him, no matter what.

    Still, I think it's a legitimate complaint—on the surface. I don't expect readers to understand what's going on in the writer's mind. It's not their job. I've delivered one type of writing in the past, so they expect I will continue to do so.

    The thing is, there are lots of different forms of storytelling, and I want to learn how to do many of them. A pulp adventure story doesn't seem less ambitious to me than a deep epic like The Way of Kings. It's not about ambition. Yes, The Alloy of Law is far less deep than Kings—but then Alloy is trying to do different things. Sometimes, an artist wants to paint a deep, realistic painting on a canvas. And sometimes he wants to do a political cartoon sketch. They achieve different functions, but they're both forms of art. I want to be able to do both.

    In a way, The Alloy of Law is a reaction to what I'd been doing before. I realize not everyone is going to like the more plodding pace of something like Kings, with lots of characters doing lots of different things. I suspect people will complain that working on The Wheel of Time has influenced me. (I don't think that's a bad thing, but some will.)

    Certainly I have been influenced. At least in one style of my writing. However, The Alloy of Law is—in part—for those who liked the pacing and action of Mistborn and were less interested in the epic scope.

    I simply hope people read the book, accept it for what it is, and enjoy it.

    The Alloy of Law Annotations ()
    #14740 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Wax and Marasi talk in Ranette's house

    There's a tiny bit of sexual tension between the two of them. It's not supposed to be very strong, as Lessie's death hovers over Wax like a shadow. He's not really looking for romance, and I didn't want to push the book too much in that direction.

    I'm assuming that people will pick up on Marasi as a romantic interest from the get-go. And, of course, I therefore hope that they find themselves a little bit upended when Wax stubbornly ignores, or resists, the story cues that he's supposed to be falling for Marasi. Because so far, he's really not. Though who she is looks good on paper for him, it's just not right, and he knows it. Sometimes in real life, you put two people together and they start dating. They seem perfect for one another, but for some reason there's nothing there.

    Part of it is the hero worship that Marasi has. He can sense it, and that makes him uncomfortable. He worries that she's interested in him merely because she has read so much about Wax the lawkeeper. Unfortunately, he's right. She doesn't know him. She could fall for the real him—and she's in the process of doing that—but from his perspective there's still something wrong with this relationship. Too many things wrong, I should say.

    An interesting note here is that my editor took great effort in this scene (for some reason) to shorten "Waxillium" each time it was mentioned to simply "Wax." I didn't catch what he'd done until the copyedit. That was utterly wrong, because this is Wax's viewpoint. And in his head, he now sees himself as Waxillium, and not just Wax. If you never noticed it, read through the book again and pay attention to when he calls himself Waxillium and when he calls himself Wax. It's done very deliberately.

    Peter Ahlstrom

    What name other characters use for Wax when talking to or thinking about him is something to pay attention to throughout this series.

    The Alloy of Law Annotations ()
    #14741 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Fifteen

    Miles talks with Suit, gets two minders, then burns gold to see two versions of himself

    One curiosity of dealing only with Mistings, rather than full Mistborn, was what to do with the less powerful metals. Certainly a Pewterarm or a Tineye can be useful. We've seen them in the series do plenty of interesting things.

    But what about a person who can burn only gold? I think there's just one place in the entire first trilogy where someone does it, the time Vin burns it in the first book. (I may have put a second time in; I don't recall.) Gold, as a power, was placed into the schematics to give a clue as to what the Eleventh Metal was. Beyond that, I wanted some of the powers of Allomancy to be more metaphysical, more thoughtful, and less about combat.

    I'd already decided that Miles would be a Gold Compounder, capable of the Lord Ruler's healing. That meant he had to be a gold Misting. What would one do, with this power? Ignore it? Was there a way to use it? His nature as a gold Misting is a large part of why Miles is such a thoughtful, introspective person. He is not a good man, but he is a self-reflecting one.

    There's more going on here, of course. Pay attention to the name he mentions: Trell. This is one of the gods from the ancient religions Sazed talked about. You might think that the spikes in Miles will let Sazed influence him directly, and they would—except that Sazed has taken a complete "free will is needed" perspective on life. He won't let himself take control of people directly unless they've "given themselves" to him, as most of the kandra have at this point. Even then, he usually only nudges.

    But there is something odd going on with Miles.

    The Alloy of Law Annotations ()
    #14742 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson


    In the summer of 2010, my wife and I visited New York. My editor, Moshe, is a life-long New Yorker and a repository of details and facts. (I've found this is a common thing in a lot of editors; they tend to be the type to pay attention to details.) The result of this was him towing us all over the city, telling us little tidbits about this building or that one.

    Well, one of the stories he told us was about the early days of skyscrapers, and how people would race to build the highest building. He talked about some of the famous rivalries; I think that's the first time I began to envision a cool Allomantic fight taking place in the heights of an unfinished skyscraper. Five months or so later, I wrote this scene.

    The Alloy of Law Annotations ()
    #14743 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Fourteen

    They Visit Ranette

    Ranette was a late addition to the story. I didn't start building her until I was working on chapter ten or so. (All earlier references to her were added in during revisions.)

    I was feeling there was a hole in the story, that it needed one more character, probably a woman. I also wanted to add a gunsmith to the book, and so I started working on who she would be. Some hints of her personality came from the other character from the original short story. (Remember, the person who became Wayne was riding into town on a kandra with a horse's body. That kandra was female.) The personality I'd been developing there eventually jumped rails to become Ranette.

    She's not kandra any longer, and I shifted some pieces of who she was to make her a more complete person. If you didn't catch the hint from Wax, she is indeed a lesbian, though it's not much of a big deal for the book. I try to find places for LGBT characters in the novels. (There's another one in The Way of Kings.) However, I back off from making much of an issue about it.

    I guess I could be accused of not giving them full representation because of the fact that they usually have minor roles. The truth is that I'm worried I'd just do a poor job of it if I tried to write from their viewpoint; being gay is one of those things that tends to be very dominant in a person's way of seeing the world. It seems that there are a lot of pitfalls that I could saunter right into. I've think I've learned, after a lot of work, how to write female characters who (hopefully) don't feel wrong. However, I haven't taken the dive in trying to figure out how to write a gay or lesbian character.

    But that's only one reason. There's a deeper one for me. Ranette will likely get viewpoints in the series, when I do more Wax and Wayne books. However, the books aren't about sexual identity, so I'll probably steer clear of that topic. In a way, I think that making a big deal of it could be more harmful. One of the reasons I put LGBT characters in my books is because they are a part of our world, and deserve representation in fiction. It's strange to think that in our world, LGBT people make up a significant minority of the population, yet in fiction (particularly fantasy fiction) they tend to either vanish completely or the story has to be all about who they are and their sexuality.

    This strikes me as a bad way to do things. Just like not every book including women characters should be about feminism, not every book including LGBT characters should be about sexual orientation or gender identity issues. If they are, then that just highlights the supposition that they're out of the ordinary—it draws attention to that idea, rather than simply letting them be characters with a larger role in the story. We don't care about Lord Harms's sexuality, or Mister Suit's, or that of Miles. Why shine a big spotlight on Ranette's? It just seems divisive to me.

    Anyway, those are just a few of my thoughts on the topic. Perhaps they will change as I ponder on it more.

    The Alloy of Law Annotations ()
    #14744 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    The Book's Title

    It's from this chapter that we get the title of the book. The Alloy of Law. I realize it's an odd title. However, something about it strikes me. I don't think everyone is going to like it; it's certainly not as immediately powerful as something like The Way of Kings. But then, it's also a little more unique. It does, in my mind, encapsulate the theme of the novel. The idea is that these two men—Wax and Miles—are both taking their own interpretations of what it means to follow the law, and mixing it up and making something new of it. This book is a confrontation between their two different ideals.

    The working book title was simply Wax and Wayne. (As I was writing the early chapters, that was how they were titled.) I knew this title wouldn't stick, however, as it's a pretty lame pun. Now, I happen to be fond of lame puns. But they don't belong in book titles unless you happen to be writing Xanth or Bob Asprin-type novels.

    I can't honestly remember which name—Wax or Wayne—I came up with first. I had Wayne as a character first, but he had a different name. Wax's name came from the Mistborn ideal, where the characters frequently had strange fantasy names that abbreviated to fun terms. (Like Hammond becoming Ham or Dockson becoming Dox.) Wax just fit well with those. Wayne, on the other hand, is a name that feels Western to me, for obvious reasons. As soon as I began thinking of the character by that name, he started to become complete to me—and so I had to keep it, even though the "Wax and Wayne" pun will probably make people groan.

    The Alloy of Law Annotations ()
    #14745 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    The Church of the Survivor

    Another aspect of worldbuilding had to do with building all of the religions. Kelsier is still around, by the way. I'll tell you eventually what he's been up to, but if you look through the original trilogy you'll find hints of it.

    I wanted the religions of the world to all be grounded in fact, but all have different motivations. I wanted them to be realistic, however, in that they don't always get along. Harmony may be there watching, but I didn't think he'd interfere too much. That comes from holding two opposed powers; he's got more of a Zen outlook on things.

    The Alloy of Law Annotations ()
    #14746 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Thirteen

    Train-Top Fight

    Yes, I had a fight atop a moving train. DON'T JUDGE ME.

    I couldn't help myself, honestly. This fit perfectly with the narrative, and while I realize it's a bit of a stereotypical place for a fight sequence, I really wanted to see it happen. So there you go.

    This is a rather cinematic book—meaning I see it as translating easily to film. Unfortunately, I doubt that will ever happen. Not because I'm pessimistic about having films made in the first place (which I am), but because this is essentially book four in a series. Beyond that, it's a very odd book four, one that departs wildly from the previous trilogy in setting and (in some cases) tone.

    What that means is that we'll probably never see a film. We couldn't start with one just of Wax and Wayne, because the setting is too much of a mismatch. Magic, plus the wild west, plus urbanized early 1900s, but it's not on our world and has three books worth of mythology to it? This sort of thing can work on paper, but I find it unlikely that studio executives would look at it and say, "Yeah, that sounds like a surefire hit to fund."

    Still, we can still hope for the original trilogy making it to film. Perhaps if they’re really successful, we could see something happen with these books.

    The Alloy of Law Annotations ()
    #14747 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Twelve

    The group investigates the railroad tracks and canal

    So, let's talk about the realities of speed bubbles. I did research on this, and got different answers from people on what really should happen if you could slow time like this. One of the issues is that light doesn't change speeds based on this sort of issue, so there was discussion of what things would look like inside looking out or outside looking in. It seems likely that there'd be some sort of red shift, and also that things might grow more dim inside a speed bubble. This is all really very theoretical, however, and so, in the end, I decided that there was enough disagreement among scientists with whom I spoke that it wouldn't be glaringly irregular if I just had the shimmer at the borders and stayed away from dealing with speed of light issues.

    There's a much larger issue dealing with slowed time that rarely gets addressed by this type of fiction. I considered using it, and it's this: conservation of energy. Inside the speed bubble, Wax and Wayne are moving far more quickly, and therefore have a ton of kinetic energy compared to those outside of it. And so, a coin tossed from inside the bubble going outside would suddenly move with a proportional increase in speed (proportional to how much slower things were outside).

    In essence, speed bubble = railgun.

    This is dangerous for narrative reasons. I've often said that the limitations of a power are more interesting than the powers themselves. (It's Sanderson’s Second Law of Magics: Limitations > Powers.) One of the reasons for removing Mistborn and Full Feruchemists from the setting was so that we could focus in on the usefulness of the individual powers in Allomancy and Feruchemy. That falls by the wayside if any of the individual powers become too strong on their own.

    I didn't want Wayne to be able to slow time, then sit inside his bubble and leisurely pick off enemies one at a time. And so, I had to place strong limitations on the speed bubbles. (Much stronger limitations than on other aspects of Allomancy. Pushing and Pulling, for example, have their limitations based in solid science. With speed bubbles, I eventually decided that solid science made them way too powerful. So I had to change things.) Therefore, the rules became: No shooting/throwing things out of speed bubbles, no moving speed bubbles, and a required couple second cool-down between creating different speed bubbles. The first rule broke required objects to be deflected when leaving the bubble and that we have the bubble absorb excess kinetic energy when something leaves it.

    Disappointing for the scientists, I know, but it makes for a stronger story.

    The Alloy of Law Annotations ()
    #14748 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Marasi is an Allomancer

    One of my big goals in these post-epic Mistborn books is to give a chance for more limited-power people (Mistings and their Feruchemical cousins, Ferrings) a chance to shine. In the previous trilogy, the focus really was on the Mistborn. Vin and Kelsier fit the epic fantasy mindset I wanted, powerful in an epic sort of way, broadly capable with abilities in a lot of areas.

    For these books, I wanted to show people who had one or two powers, instead of sixteen, and show how specialization can achieve some incredible results. Because of that, I intentionally held back in the first trilogy in letting Vin do a few things. (Note how much better Zane was with minute steelpushes and ironpulls than she was.) Vin was incredibly skilled, but because she had so many powers to work with, she didn't home in as much on any one of them. Things like Wax's steel bubble are tricks I wanted to save for people like Wax. (He's what we’d call in the Mistborn world a steel savant, so capable with his metal—and having burned it so long, for so many years—that he's got an instinctive ability with it that lets him be very precise.)

    And so we come to Marasi, who has the power opposite—but paired with—Wayne's ability. Both she and Wayne have powers I wanted to delve into. Indeed, I kind of promised that the last metals would get highlighted in these newer books. Matching that, I've given Miles the same power the Lord Ruler used to heal himself from so many incredible wounds. I wanted to explore more of what this skill was capable of when not overshadowed by so many other powers and abilities.

    The Alloy of Law Annotations ()
    #14749 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Eleven

    First Miles Viewpoint

    Dan, from my writing group, thinks that this Miles scene is misplaced, and thinks I should have held off from putting one in for a few more chapters. (He thinks the second one is better placed.) Dan usually has a good eye for these sorts of things, so I'll admit I'm not a hundred percent sure that I like this scene being here.

    However, that said, in the draft that Dan read, Wax wasn't sure it was Miles until he saw the cigar box. Even then, there was a question. I decided, because of feedback, that wasn't terribly realistic. Wax would have recognized the voice well enough from the start to begin suspecting Miles, so keeping that suspicion from the reader lacked authenticity. For that reason, in a later draft I revised so that Miles' name is mentioned in the first chapter where Wax starts suspecting him.

    Miles is the most erratic character in this book, personality-wise. He's an interesting guy on several fronts, but I worry he's got too much going on in that head of his to present a compelling bad guy. He's got a lot of different motives, and he's not certain about many of them. We will see how the reaction to him is; I acknowledge that he's no Zane, however. That's probably a good thing . . .

    It may sound like I'm dissatisfied with Miles, but I'm not. I just happen to like what he does to Wax more than I think Miles himself is compelling as a villain. I'm pleased with his role in the book.

    The Alloy of Law Annotations ()
    #14750 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Wayne's Backstory

    This was the final piece of figuring out who Wayne was. When I'd toyed with him as a character in the original short story, I'd intended for there to be something like this in his past. In the case of this book, however, I didn't decide upon it until I was quite a ways into the story.

    I've mentioned that when it comes to characters, I often "discovery write" who they are. Meaning, I work my way into them as I write. With plots and settings, I tend to do a lot of planning and know pretty much where I'm going from the beginning. But with characters, I do a lot of exploring. If a book isn't going well for me, it's often because I can't get the characters down the right way.

    That stated, one might wonder why I don't just plan them out like I do my plots and settings. It's because it doesn't really work for me to do it that way—the characters don't stick to the plan in the same way that plots do. I've found that I need this element of improvisation in my writing to give it authenticity. The characters have to breathe in a way that the plots don't need to, for me. I have to let them be more real, in a way, though I'm not certain if it's possible to explain this process.

    Anyway, my instincts said there had to be something in Wayne's past like this, and I had felt for a few chapters it had to do with why he didn't use guns. But until I wrote this chapter, I hadn't settled on how it was actually going to have played out.