How many hands has Nightblood passed through since he left Vasher?
Since he left Vasher? More than you'd expect. *later adds* It's been a while.
How many hands has Nightblood passed through since he left Vasher?
Since he left Vasher? More than you'd expect. *later adds* It's been a while.
When Odium and Dalinar were having their meeting in Oathbringer, Odium seemed kinda freaked out by something. Could it possibly be related to how Lift can interact with spren in the physical world, and that might cause some problems for him, <seeing the impossible>?
He is weirded out by Lift, certainly. Lift is something that shouldn't exist, let's just say that. You'll find out why, probably in book 6? But she should not exist.
Did Odium have something to do with Adolin killing Sadeas, 'cause in Thaylenah he said that he had been preparing Sadeas' troops for a long time.
We know that there are spren that are partially of Honor, partially of Cultivation, and Odium. Can there be spren made of any combination of Shards?
Yes. Well, you would have to call them... Under that definition if you call a seon a spren, then yes. If you don't call a seon a spren, if you define a spren as, "On Roshar, related to the natural world of Roshar," then no. Theoretically yes, but it wouldn't really work. But it depends on how you define spren. If a Shard were to come and reside on Roshar like the other ones have, then you could theoretically see other new spren appearing out of them.
Could there be a spren of all 16 Shards combined all at once?
*hands out RAFO card*
So, AonDor is super versatile and powerful.
Yes, but region-locked!
Yes, it is region locked, exactly. If a full Feruchemist using nicrosil were to create an unlocked medallion that allowed an Elantrian to store Connection to Elantris' location, would it let them use AonDor at full power as long as they were tapping that Connection?
Yes. That should work just fine.
Just understand that the medallion's going to have to be usable by everyone in order to work. You're going to have to jump through some hoops, but I think what you want there would work. And for those of you listening, that would be the harder way to unlock AonDor. There are easier methods.
So the Iriali, their religion, the whole the One breaking themselves into the many to experience the universe. You also have Autonomy breaking themselves into many avatars. So I was wondering is Autonomy connected to the Iriali in any meaningful way.
So are the Iriali connected to Autonomy in a meaningful way?
I'd say no. I mean they're slightly connected, but in a meaningful way, no, they're not connected.
Autonomy did not start the Iriali religion.
The concept of bridge warfare and the life of a bridgeman was one of the most horrific things I've ever heard of. Was that inspired by something specific or...?
So, there's a couple of inspirations. One is some of the first-hand accounts of World War One I read, where tactics changed so dramatically that people were being thrown into battle not understanding that this was just terrible tactics, you know, charging machine guns, that's, turns out, bad idea in a lot of situations. And the other half of it is being inspired by actual siege warfare.
One of the things I like to do in my books is, I like to have fantastical versions of things that happen in our world, right? And this gives me a way I can look at history. I can read the accounts of, you know, what it's like to run a ladder, change it to suit my own desires and kind of have a bit more expertise where I can say, "In this situation, this is what they're doing." It allows people who know their medieval history to say, "Oh, that's cool," but also, at the same time, suspend their disbelief, right. Like, if you're a medieval historian and you're reading about actual siege warfare, I have to get it really right, or I'm gonna kick you out of the story. But if, instead, they're running bridges, it allows a lot of the mystique for medieval historians to say, "Oh, this is a different tactic, so we can't say one hundred percent what people would've done in that situation. I can enjoy the story too." And as long as I get enough right, that does that.
So you see me doing that sort of thing quite a bit. Otherwise, I do try to get the things that I do right--as right as I can--but I was just visiting some nice fellows who were showing me their sword fighting in Plate. And you'll see, Shardplate is another thing like this. Actual historical plate combat... I wanted to have Shardplate divorced from that a little bit for the same sort of reasons, right? Number one, it allows me to have the kind of epic fights the way I want to have them, it allows me to draw out the fights. And you'll notice if you watch a lot of historical people reenacting fights, the Shardplate fights will look a lot more like people sparring nowadays and not actually trying to kill each other. And that's intentional, because I can watch a lot of those online, right. I can go to conventions like this and see people doing that. You can't see first-hand two people in plate actually trying to kill each other. And if I can make the fight realistically have a good reason why it would feel like a bout, you know, with Shardplate and things like that, instead of what you'd try to do in a normal plate battle is shove a dagger under someone's armpit, right? Well, that doesn't work in Shardplate, so what do you want to do? You wanna hit them in the same place a couple times. Feels a lot more like a sparring duel in our world, and it just allows me to have this line between realism and theatricality that I really like, and allows people who know a little bit about it to be able to like, "Oh, that feels real, but I can also enjoy it." You see me doing that sort of thing a lot.
That's more than you asked, but that's occupational hazard, going on and on and on and on.
Could the Assassin in White assassinate Prof from the Reckoners?
Could he? Yeah, he could. Depends on what- which place in the books you would put him. But I would lay odds on Szeth in that one, in almost every situation. *laughter* Now, the thing is, it depends also on how familiar he is with Prof's powers, how much he's acting like an assassin, right? Which is what he's generally going to try to do, but... you know, Gavilar got a lot of warning. So, if Prof got a lot of warning... the more warning Prof has, the worse it looks for Szeth. But the further in the series Szeth goes - if you pick him from a different book--the more likely it is he's going to win.
'Cause he gets a hold of something very important. *laughter*
On Roshar, all the alcohol on Roshar is called wine.
Some of it is different from what we have on Earth...
Yep. All of it, actually. Well, not all of it--there's some actual Shin wine that you would call wine.
So, on Roshar, do they have distillation processes, or do they have some sort of super yeast that can go way higher than the 20% cap?
A lot of what you're seeing we would just call spirits or liqueurs here. They do have some grain based things and stuff like that. They're not making beer, they're mostly making spirits.
This whole linguistic thing is one of those little clues that I embedded for certain reasons that we won't go into. The reason they call everything wine, the reason that seasons... they call seasons and we're like, "Wait! Those aren't seasons!", and things like that... *with some audience nudging* Chickens is the other big one. This is all there for a specific reason, but the further we get and the better help I get from beta readers... thank the beta readers for the scenes in Oathbringer, where a certain character is getting drunk--they helped me a lot on that. The better information I get from the betas in these things, I write stuff and then they tell me "Ah Brandon, you know nothing about beer!" and I'm like "Well yes, I do not know much about beer!" *laughter* "So tell me..." and the better it gets. I'm trying to give you more and more in the books about that because it is important to specifically several of the characters, and so I wanted to get it right. But most of what they're drinking would be harder than what you might assume.
So, distilled or brewed?
Distilled, mostly distilled.
Are there fermentation spren? *laughter*
I would say yes. There are probably fermentation spren. Because some of the lower... like some of the colors are actual fruit... like *asking back* what do you do when making wine, you're brewing wine, and *with audience help* pressing wine, and you ferment wine. And so, some of them you would drink and be like, "Okay, this is wine-like. It's not made from grapes, but its wine-like." A lot of the... further on the wheel, you'd drink and you'd be like "Oh, this tastes like Vodka! Why're you calling it wine?" Well that's what their word for alcohol is.
The areas where you have highspren living, does it have a connection to <Stormwall? the rift to the former world?>
So where the highspren... specifically?
Basically does it...for example, do honorspren have a--are strong in that area, because...?
Oh right, because they're living in like, Lasting Integrity? So... there are reasons why in Shadesmar the spren build the cities they do where they do. It doesn't always correlate one to one with the type of spren. Once in a while it does, but I would say as a rule of thumb, no. It's more about them finding a place that works for the geography of Shadesmar, and where they kind of just have political power and clout and things like that.
Is Khriss planned to be a major character in the future of the Cosmere, or will she be more of a behind-the-scenes source of knowledge?
I do plan some more--some actual Khriss stories. I mentioned I had a Silverlight story in the back of my head--she would have been one of the viewpoint characters of that if I ever get to write it. She will be in the background of most everything, but I do plan a few stories, that will have her. She will come the forefront the more the cosmere comes to the forefront, and more interaction between them.
For those who were curious, my plan for the Cosmere all along has been - now that I have something to point to, people say is it like the MCU? And, yes and no. I'm not developing specific characters to bring forward, some of them will of course will still be be around. My whole goal with the Cosmere is to push toward something a little bit more like Star Trek or Star Wars, in that lots of different cultures, lots of different things--more Star Trek I guess - interspace situation, the conflicts that come between cultures and ideals and things like that, is what I'm pushing for. Rather than taking like the champions of each book and having them. So the characters are important, certainly, but when you're reading a given book series, that's where your characters are important. If you're thinking about the future of the Cosmere, think more about the clash of cultures, is where I'm pushing that.
If a coppermind was to be split in half, would the contents of it be destroyed? Or would there be, in the two separate halves, <of different contents?>?
You should err on the side of being destroyed, though not permanently, is what I would say on that. There are ways to approach it that wouldn't, but generally if you're ruining a metalmind, the Investiture will stay in it, and if you know what you're doing you can make use of that, but in most cases, it's not gonna fare well.
We see the concept of savantism in First Era of Mistborn books. What does that look like on other systems of Investiture, more specifically Roshar?
So on Roshar, I'm going to RAFO this one for now. It's a little harder to make happen on Roshar for various reasons, but I'll give you a card. I'll just RAFO it.
One of my favorite characters is Kaladin. This is *inaudible* question. I just want to know if he will ever be able to make peace with that, at some point?
You know, you get one of these. Here's you card, you can come up and get it. This is your RAFO card.
Would a Seeker burning bronze be able to tell what order of Knight Radiant someone is? Or what Surges they have access to?
Yes, but they'd have to be actively using it, right? So you could hear somebody -- for instance -- Lashing, but if you just saw somebody who'd drawn in Stormlight, you probably wouldn't be able to tell until they use that Stormlight, which it was. You'd be able to probably hear that they have the Stormlight.
So the pulses are not unique to Scadrial's Investiture?
No they're not. You'd be able to do that. In fact there are other things in the cosmere that are kind of the same sort of "radar detection" here and there, that you can read in the same way. Bronze is just the one of the best... way to do it -- being a Seeker is really handy for these reasons.
Being able to go off-planet with your Allomancy also is a pretty big advantage. It's really hard, for instance, to get a Surgebinder off of Roshar, because of the Connection stuff that's happening. In fact you may have heard in a prologue just recently someone complaining about that.
What would happen differently if a person found a Shardblade and Shardplate that belongs to the same Radiant?
That is an excellent question. It happened way more in the past than it happens now, but certain Blades and Plates are historically kind of linked together. If you were knowing to look for a difference, you would notice a slight difference, mostly if you could speak to or sense the Sword, but it wouldn’t have a very big mechanical difference, if that makes sense.
Was Adonalsium’s power original to Adonalsium?
Yes. As far as anyone knows, there was no predecessor to Adonalsium. Good question.
What's the biological reaction of a limb cut by a Shardblade, because they don't start to rot after being cut?
Yeah they don't start to rot, so the bloodflow is still happening. The limb is still attached, it's not going to rot off, but the soul is dead. This is a thing that can happen in the cosmere that can't happen here. Because you have Spiritual, [Cognitive], and Physical DNA. Your soul's been severed in that part, and it just flops around. You can't feel it, you can't control it. It's something that, again, couldn't happen here.
I recently learned that Roshar is modeled off of the Julia set. This magical fractal concept. I would like to know who of you pulled that off, and are there more things that you are inspired by stuff like that?
We both pulled that off. The Julia set, when we first did a map-- we almost didn't do a map for The Way of Kings. It was the last thing that we did. And Brandon said, "I think we need a map". And so we put that in and he gave me a picture of the Julia set and he said, "I want you to make this into a map". So we made it into a map, did all the coastlines and things. And then what was the--
The reason being, I had in the back of my head this whole idea with patterns and math and the idea that Roshar is a constructed world, built and grown. And I liked the idea of fractals and the idea of mathematical formulas and these things being the basis for where Roshar came from. Which, you know we've got a base ten world in a universe that's base sixteen. Well, base two, but whatever.
It's this weird thing where Roshar I specifically wanted to have some of these mathematical underpinnings. So when I saw this computation of the Julia set running, it looked like a map to me. But of course, that happens a lot. Mathematical formulas, fractals, these things look like maps because maps are fractals. This is why we see-- Maybe you've seen it when paint peels on the wall, you might look at it and be like, "Wow that looks like a fantasy map". Or when rust forms, you'd be like, "That looks like a fantasy world!" I know that happens to Isaac all the time.
The Mistborn world came about that way. It was from a rust-thing that looked a lot like what Brandon had drawn.
So when I saw that, I thought, "This is a world". And I filed that in the back of my head. Roshar, in the very first incarnation, had a different shape. That was the 2002 version I wrote. When I wrote it in 2009, I wanted a different shape. The map that I had drawn didn't work.
You did ask if there are other things like that. I would just say pay attention to the Shattered Plains and pay attention to the shape of Kholinar. Among other things.
If you could co-author with any author dead or alive, who would it be?.
Wow. Well I already got to do that on my favorite author, right? So if I were going to pick another one-- Oh, I'd write a book with Oscar Wilde. That would be real interesting. That would be a lot of fun.
I teach at university, and I had to grade a paper about Way of Kings. It dealt with Colonial and post-colonial structures, religion, fashion, and language. Did you do that consciously or subconsciously, especially the colonization part?
It's very conscious, that part. The Alethi are in part, based on the Mongols, particularly when the Mongols invaded China, then became Chinese culture, which I find a very fascinating period in history, where the Mongols became a Chinese Dynasty, they actually also became an Arab dynasty over in the Near East. It was just this really interesting thing. So you've got colonialism before colonialism happening there. And I was very aware with the subtext of the Parshendi being a major theme of a people that didn't just enslaved a people, they enslaved them and took away their minds, that I couldn't shy away from dealing with these topics and these concepts. You see as the series progresses, it becomes-- You've got people like Kaladin who are essentially good people, but not understanding at all even their own biases, which is how we all are. These are things I want to deal with, because I find them interesting. They're important now, but it's, I think, important to how humans work and interact and see the world. Because I think this has been happening since the beginning of our history as human beings. And so it's something that is fascinating to me, and something that I think a lot of us wrestle with, and I wanted my characters to deal with that.
Would the works you have not yet published ever be published?
Probably not, because they're bad. I found ways to fix some of them and release them in some form. White Sand was the best of them and we did graphic novels of those. Because the bad parts of White Sand was I went too long on the same ideas over and over. So we were able to trim those out and make graphic novels out of them and it worked really well. It's not impossible that the other good one, which is Aether of Night, could work that way. The problem with Aether of Night is, and you can find this online. We let the forum, the 17th Shard send it out to people. So if you go there and ask, you can get it.
It feels like two books that are woven together. There's a romantic comedy, and an End of the World Apocalypse. And they just don't mix real well. And that's the big problem with that book. You can read White Sand by signing up for my mailing list. Most of them just aren't that good is the problem. Maybe Ill release them for free on my website or something.
There is also a thing with Alcatraz. The first time you wrote the book in third person, he was fourteen years old. And the published version, he is thirteen. And you don't explain that on the website. Why?
The publisher asked me to age him down. Generally, when you're writing a kid's book, the book is usually-- You make the age of the protagonist, minus two years, is about the age that you're writing the book for, when it's for teens. And they felt that about eleven-year-old was about where that book should be. So they asked me to age him down.
Did you do the annotation process while you were writing? Or do you do it after?
When I did the annotations and things. That was back when I had to do my own copyedits. Copyedits are so boring. You've read the book six times at that point. You give it to a copyeditor. They give it back to you, and you're, like, making notes, telling them, "No, I did want this comma here." It's all of that stuff. Now, my assistant Peter handles that. And I was so bored during those, I needed a break to stop and write something, and I did the annotations. That's where those came from. That's why you don't see as much of them anymore, now that I have Peter to do the really boring stuff. And he loves it. He loves it! It's what he lives for. He's an editor, they're weird.
Since you have basically established that spren are at least to some extent alive, how is it possible for a Shardblade to not cut right through a living weapon, like Syl for example.
What you are seeing is: when they are pulling through into the Physical Realm they are creating something that is not 100% physical, not 100% metal, it's like an amalgamation of the two. And that is doing something very special that then prevents other things from cutting through it. It's specifically the way that it's happening. You could make this happen with other things too.
Another big part of it is the amount of Investiture. If something is highly Invested it's going to stop a Shardblade too, because the Investiture is gonna kinda bounce off of each other. It's theoretical, for instance, you could make a Hemalurgic spike that would stop a Shardblade...
So, Invest something highly and it will stop a Shardblade almost always. But, you can cut souls; they are highly Invested also. So you need something in the Physical Realm that is pulling power through from the other Realms.
To what extent would you say Oathbringer picks up on political discussions and debates that are leading today.
Excellent question. I would say that it certainly picks up on them. It can't help but do so, right? Now Tolkien and CS Lewis had a big argument about how much stories should teach. And Tolkien abhorred metaphor. He said, "I'm just trying to write the story that I'm writing. You can interpret it how you want, but I'm not trying to put things into it." And I felt more like him. I do't generally look at books as a method of trying to advocate for anything. But what I'm thinking about, what I'm concerned about, will definitely reflect in the novels.
I reread Words of Radiance, and I was wondering about the timing of the bond breaking. It started to weaken after he had that incompatible oath. And it really broke after he tried to protect someone, so that made no sense for me, because that's what h's doing, and he would have been able to protect even more people if he could have used his powers. We had some theories about that. If it's just the time, because he didn't find the words, or if the Stormfather took it actively from him. Or if he just tried to use too much power, and that broke the bond.
So it's a little spoilery, so I don't want to dig into it too much, in case people haven't read the book. So... imagine there's a hose with a kink in it. You've caused the kink, and now you're trying to force water through the hose. And then you break something, because you're still holding the kink down. Basically, you want the power, but to not have to go through the proper channels to get it. That's was what was dangerous there.
The way the Stormlight magic works is, there are certain restrictions placed on you. And you can't access the power without those restrictions. And there is also the will of another individual involved, which is important to it, as well. So imagine the kinked hose, if that helps.
When you're writing maps for grand scale things like atlas style maps, they're presumably fairly straightforward because you rarely would say, "This character is moving north." You would say, "This character is moving toward the town." When you're writing (or rather when Isaac is drawing) town maps, you often presumably would say, "This character is going to dart left, down an alley." Do you wind up having to path out where a character would go in order to make the map at least somewhat accurate?
I do keep this in mind when I'm reading the books, and I'll write it down. If something doesn't quite work I'll tell Brandon about it. There's a bit of what we call handwavium on that, with the city blocks. I'll put enough city blocks in there that-- Sometimes it doesn't matter because it will work out, if that makes any sense. But we did, on this map right here, the map of Kholinar-- Down at the bottom we have a map of one of the levels of the palace in Kholinar and we did have to do a lot of reading and going back to-- Our continuity editor, Karen, went back and found every instance of where people were at in the palace in the previous two books and then we used that to draw out this map. So we did have to make sure that left was left and right was right on this particular one.
Do you already have a design for the Krell? Anything physical about them?
Yes, the Krell actually are a species from an earlier story I wrote in the universe, Defending Elysium. Second book, I'll delve into that. You will have met them if you've read that earlier story. But I go into a bunch of different races from where the Krell are from, and we deal with a lot of that. So, you're gonna meet some aliens in the next book. Quite a number of them.
I don't know if you knew all the Mistborn metals at the beginning when you designed them or if you really have to think about a new one if Brandon says, "Yeah, well there's going to be another metal."
Right now we have twenty-four symbols because we added the symbol for lerasium, which is also the symbol for-- No, that's not the symbol for lerasium, that's the symbol for Scadrial. So we have twenty-four symbols. Twenty-three of them correspond to the Scadrian alphabet--or at least in the Elendel region. Right now we have sixteen metals and then we had two more that got shifted off the chart. So we have four or five symbols that when Brandon comes up with a new metal we'll just assign that. Assign one of those symbols probably. But when we run out of that we'll find other ways to make the symbols look right.
Can a full Radiant summon his Shardhelmet even if there is already one physical manifestation?
Do the names of the Unmade correlate to the fragmentation of their spirits?
No. Good question.
Would you ever consider doing another Writing Excuses anthology?
Ooh, you're into the obscure stuff. For those who don't know, my friends and I run a podcast called Writing Excuses. We did something weird where we all brainstormed a story and recorded the brainstorming session, and then went and wrote the story. And did workshops of it on the podcast live, also. The collection has the brainstorm session, the workshop session, the first rough draft, and the last draft of the story. It's an interesting thing for writers to pick up.
Probably not. It was a whole lot of work, and everybody complained about it a ton when I was making them doing it. And they all did it, and they're all wonderful people and excellent writers, but man, it was a big headache. So I don't know if I'll put myself or them through that again.
I think [my class] enjoy [Skyward] because you have space fights for boys, and for the girls you have a female protagonist. We wondered if this was your intention for choosing a female protagonist?
No, it really wasn't. My intention for choosing a female protagonist was, she was the character I was most interested about writing in this world. I do try to make sure I have a balance, kind of in vague terms. But mostly I'm like, "Who is the character that this story matches best?" And Spensa, she was raised on Conan books, and she wants to be a warrior like that. And she's very different, she's very weird, in the sort of weird way I like to write people. And she's just somebody that I was kind of bursting at the seams to tell her story and to get her into a book.
The original idea for Skyward came from my love of stories about boys and dragons. There's this classic story that gets told. Kid finds a dragon egg, and then they hatch the dragon egg in secret and become this dragon rider. It's the story of How to Train Your Dragon. (Not a dragon egg, but he finds a dragon.) It's the story of Eragon. It's the story of one of my favorite books of all time, Dragon's Blood by Jane Yolen. There's just a ton of this type of story. And one of the things I like to do is isolate a story's archetype, kind of try to break it down to "Why do I love it? What makes it work?" And then try to build it up in a new and different way.
Stormlight, the Bridge Four sequence, I built off of an underdog sports story. Like, if you've seen Hoosiers or Miracle or any of these stories about an underdog sports team who takes on the world. That sort of archetype became the Bridge Four sequence. And Skyward came from the kid and his dragon stories. And that was the seed of it. But Spensa was always going to be the protagonist of that. She was just a character I knew I needed to write.
Are there plans for some more books for The Rithmatist?
...Rithmatist was the book I was writing when the Wheel of Time call came. And I was required, by my kind of own determination, if I was gonna do this, I had to drop everything and do it. So I finished The Rithmatist, I gave it to my publisher, and I said, "You can't publish this yet. Because I don't know when I'll be able to do sequels." And then I went to work on The Wheel of Time. Eventually the publisher just couldn't hold-- help themselves. They're like, "We have a Brandon Sanderson book. They sell really well. He says we can't publish it." And then they begged and they begged and they begged, and I said, "All right. You can publish it." But I had no idea when I'd be able to do the sequels. And I still don't quite know that. I did sit down a couple years ago and try to write one, and it just didn't work at all. There are just multiple problems with getting that sequel to work right. I still think I will be able to do it. And think I owe it to you, because the ending implies sequels. But I have no idea when.
I'm kind of trying to clear my plate of all the things I was working on before The Wheel of Time, which is now almost ten years ago that that started. I was working on Legion, I was working on Alcatraz, I was working on The Rithmatist. Legion, I managed to finish up. Alcatraz book six... the rough draft is done. So those two will be done. Then I just have to find a way to fix Rithmatist. But I don't know. Wax and Wayne four has to be written before that. Skyward probably has to be written before that. So then we'll see where I sit. I apologize. That's the one that I have to be really vague on.
I was wondering if there will be any follow-up books to Elantris?
Follow-ups to Elantris. Yes, I would like to do some sequels. They are probably the sequels to the world rather than sequels to the characters. One of the reasons I didn't do them, or haven't done them yet, is when I first published, Elantris was my sixth book. It was the first published of those thirteen I wrote. It's the only one of those thirteen that got published. It was the only one that was worth being published. And when I wrote it I was really excited by Mistborn--or when I published it, because it was years later. I thought I could do a really good job with a trilogy. When they said, "Do you want to do a sequel to Elantris?" I thought, "I really like that there are sometimes really great standalone books to try an author out on, and I would rather people be able to have a standalone to try me out." Because back then I remember looking at new authors coming out and saying, "Brand new author. Book one of twenty," and thinking, "I don't know if this author can pull it off," right? I would rather try them out on a single book, or maybe a trilogy, and see if they can really tell a good story before I commit to something huge. So I figured doing a couple of standalones--I did two standalones and one trilogy before I launched into anything big of my own, because I wanted people to be able to try me out. And I really like how Elantris has stood on its own as a single book.
I do have plans for some follow-ups. Elantris, that world, is pretty important to the cosmere. I need to bring it up to speed with the other things. So there will be sequels, but like I said they're going to be world sequels. Like Sarene and Roaden may get mentioned and you may see them, but they won't be the main characters.
So if there *inaudible*.
Yeah, yeah. Maybe a little closer to like-- For years I wanted to do the sequel about Kiin's children (that's Sarene's uncle). Like after they're grown up have them be the main characters, and I was kind of seeding that. We'll see if that's still the way I go, but that's the plan right now.
I would like to know the process of working with other artists, like Isaac. And I saw there was a very big list of credits in the start of Oathbringer. Does the artist also affect your writing? Or you write first, and then the artists do their artwork?
For each Stormlight book, we have twenty or thirty pieces of art, and I can't do them all myself. We've had a bunch of people waiting in the wings, a bunch of artists that we send the art to. I read the book, I make notes, Brandon gives me notes of what he would like to see in the book. We combine it into a big list. I assign out to different artists. And then we have art reviews, where I get art from the different artists, and Brandon and I go over it and say what they got right, what maybe they could change. And then we go back and forth with the artist until it's just exactly what we want it to be for the book. The same thing happens when Brandon and I are working on maps or symbols. That's basically the process.
So it never affects your writing?
It does affect my writing. I can give a couple little examples of this. The American cover for Elantris, I love. It's done by Stephan Martinière. It's this gorgeous cover, it’s a very distinctive, different sort of style. But the actual scene he painted wasn't in the book. And I liked it so much... And that doesn't matter that much. The cover of the book, think of it more like a movie poster for the book. The actual scene doesn't have to occur, that doesn't bother me. But I realized I could change one little part, and have Sarene and Hrathen on the wall, looking like they did on the cover. So I rewrote the passage to match the cover. So that has happened before.
For instance, Isaac has inserted a character named Nazh into the books, who is kind of one of the people in-world-- It's important to me, particularly in Stormlight, that all the art you're seeing is something from in-world. I don't want it to be-- The covers are different. The covers are one thing. But the other stuff that we wanna have in there, we want it to be what we call ephemera. It's a map that actually existed in Roshar. It's sketches done by a character from the books. This is to not break the immersion. You're not going into the book and getting it illustrated for you. You are getting the scraps of drawings and things that were in-world. Because I feel like-- Tolkien started this. The map that you got in The Hobbit was the map they carried. It's not like someone came along and drew a map. And I liked that way better. So Nazh is one of the characters gathering these maps, and bringing them together. So I wrote him into the books.
Other things that Isaac has done like that, or an artist has sent us something and I'm like, "This is really cool. Let's work this in somehow." It does happen, certainly. And we do get the art early enough, in a lot of the cases, where I'm still doing revisions, and I'll add tweaks and things like that.
In The Way of Kings Drehy says, "By the Brightcaller's rays."
Uh-huh. Oh, you want to know what that is? RAFO.
What happens in cosmere terms with Parshendi? Like, they Connect to a spren. And then, by it do they change their Identity, or what?
Yes. Basically what's happening is, that symbiosis has a similar effect to Hemalurgy, but not so nasty. And it's being reflected there in the Physical Realm.
We know that Hoid is able to do some kind of travel forward in time. Is this ability something to do with Connection with time?
No, not in so many words.
I wondered if an Inquisitor had children, if they would inherit stronger Inquisitor abilities, or if they would just inherit the lesser lines from being a Seeker, for example?
Excellent question. I don't think I've ever been asked this before... The way Hemalurgy works, if you're not aware, you are taking someone else's soul, and you are basically nailing it to your soul... That won't affect the children. So you will have the weaker lines.
They have tried that. Unfortunately.
If a non-Radiant brought Shardplate to Shadesmar, could he easily bring it back?
They would not have too many problems with this. There might be some weird things. But bringing it back and forth is not going to be the problem.
You were mentioning outlines before. I was just wondering, when you start your outlining and you're done, is it usually a very clear process of outline and writing, or do you go back and forth and back and forth?
The question is, "Is it a clear cut process of finishing an outline and then writing, or do I go back and forth," and it's the "go back and forth."
Usually what I can do is I can get an outline about three fourths of the way there before I need to start writing. The issue is, I share a little bit with the discovery writers in that I tend to discovery write my characters. I don't usually outline my characters nearly as much as I do my world and my plot. But the problem is, characters then can evolve to being people that wouldn't do the things the plot calls for them to do, and in that case I have to rebuild my outline to fit who the character is becoming. I find if I don't give myself that flexibility, the characters start to feel wooden, and start to feel like they're cardboard instead of real people. So this requires jumping back and forth with that outline, and changing things and knocking out walls so to speak.
So an outline is not a rigid structure I have to follow. It's a guide map to where I want to go, but sometimes I might change the destination or I might want to take a deviation. And at that point I put down the book, and I go back to the outline, and I rebuild the outline, and then I go back to the book.
I also have something I call the floating outline, which is-- It's a separate document that's the next three chapters in detail, outlined out. The main outline may just say, "Bullet point: characters go here and accomplish this." But then the floating outline has, "Well I need to work in this character relationship, and this scene, and this little part of the worldbuilding. And this part over here is an info dump and boring, so let's do that in an interesting way. And let's have Shallan stab herself in the leg while she's doing it," or things like that in order to build an actual scene rather than just a lot of info dump.
Regarding Stormlight. You said five books, five books. In your mind, how is the best way to read these? With the gaps in between, for waiting? Or straight through?
Boy, I have no idea. I would say, it’s intended to have little gaps in between. Stormlight Archive books are different, even among my other books. When I sit down to write down a Stormlight Archive book, I actually outline it like I would a trilogy. So the outline for a single book of Stormlight looks a lot like the entire outline for Mistborn or for Mistborn Era 2, or things like that. Or for, like Skyward. All three books of Skyward (there might be four, but--) Let’s do Steelheart. It’s done, I know it’s three books. So all three books of Steelheart are, together, shorter than one Stormlight Archive book. So I outline a Stormlight Archive book as a trilogy with a short story collection embedded in it. That’s the interludes. So the structure of these is really different and really interesting. So I intend reading a Stormlight book to kind of be like a massive undertaking. They are big and thick. In Germany, they are published as two thousand-page volumes. So, it’s like, very-- And I kind of expect people will take breaks in between those, and maybe pick up something that is a little less daunting. But, I might have said the same thing, growing up, reading The Wheel of Time. And when I read The Wheel of Time straight through-- because I read them all a lot, but I hadn’t read everything straight through. When the first book came out, I read it, I was fifteen. When the second book came out, I read book one and book two again. And when the third one came out-- I couldn’t keep doing that, though, because it would take so long. So, eventually, I got to, when the new book comes out, I read the new book, and if I’m lost, I go read an online summary of the previous books But when I got handed the project and asked to finish it, I sat down and I read them all straight through. And I’m like, “Wow, this is so nice! Not having to wait!” As a Wheel of Time fan, I had complaints about, “Oh, this plotline doesn’t seem to go anywhere.” Well, when you read them straight through, it doesn’t feel like that at all... It’s annoying when you’ve got a gap, and then the book, and then a gap. And you don’t know when it’s gonna end. But reading it straight through, it’s like-- Anyway. So, I wonder if Stormlight will be the same way. If reading it through, at least in the five book arcs, will maybe take away some of the annoyances of having to read a character you’re not quite as interested in, because you know you’re gonna get back to your character that you love the most later on. I don’t know. Maybe that’s the case.
Does it feel like your own work when you hear [a translation]? Is it recognizable in any way? What do the translations do with your work? I suppose you get a lot of questions by your translators about the magic, about invented words. How does this reflect on your writing?
You know, I’m not sure if it changes the way I approach my writing at all. But I do find it fascinating. Hearing a reading, in particular, is in some ways, it’s a double interpretation. Because first, you have the translation to German. And then you have the narrator... will give an interpretation, as well. But one of the things about writing that I believe is that I’m not completing the story. What I do is, I write a script. And every person who reads that book is going to finish the story in their head. I give descriptions of the characters, but even with those descriptions, every person who reads the book is going to imagine those characters [in a] slightly different way. So I’ve always viewed myself, as a writer, as kind of like the screenwriter. Where the reader is the director, who’s going to finish the story. And I don’t think a book really lives until it’s been experienced by a reader. And so it doesn’t bother me, the idea of going through translators or getting different interpretations by the audiobook narrators, because I feel like my text is going to be interpreted by whoever experiences it, in different ways. And in some ways, as soon as it gets experienced by a reader, it becomes their story. They finish it, and it doesn’t really ‘come alive’ until they’ve done so. So, it’s not finished anyway. I think it’s just really cool. I like seeing fan art, even though each drawing of a character looks different from another one. It lets me see a little bit how that book was finished in that reader’s mind.
Of course the Parshendi wanted to play their drums. Of course Gavilar had told them they could. And of course he hadn't thought to warn Navani.
"Have you seen the size of those instruments?" <Hratham> said, running her hands through her black hair. "Where will we put them? We can't..."
"We move to the upper feast hall," Navani said, trying to project a calm demeanor. Everyone else in the kitchen was close to panicking, cooks running one direction or another, pots banging. Gavilar had invited not just the highprinces but their relatives. And every highlord in town. And he wanted a Beggar's Feast. And now... drums?
"We've already set up in the lower hall," <Hratham> said, "I don't have the staff to..."
"There are twice as many soldiers as usual loitering around the palace tonight," Navani said, "We'll have them move the tables." Gavilar never forgot about things like posting extra guards. Projecting strength, making a show of force? He could always be counted on for that. For everything else, he had Navani.
"Could work, yes," <Hratham> said. "Good to put those louts to work rather than having them underfoot. Alright, deep breaths."
A short palace organizer stumbled away, narrowly avoiding an apprentice cook carrying a large bowl of steaming shellfish. Navani stepped to the side and let the cook pass. The man nodded in thanks. The staff had long since stopped being nervous when she entered their kitchens. She made it clear to them that doing their job sufficiently was superior praise to her than a bow. Fortunately, this staff was the kind of middle ranked lighteyes who understood the need for a little practicality.
They seemed to have things well in hand now, though there had been a scare earlier when three barrels of grain had been discovered with worms in them. A little creative thinking had reminded them that Brightlord Amaram had stores for his men and Navani had been able to pry them out of his grip. For now it seemed that with the extra cooks borrowed from the monastery they might actually be able to feed all the extra people Gavilar had invited.
"I should leave some of the tables set up in the lower hall," she thought, slipping out of the kitchens and into the palace gardens. "Who knows who might show up with an invitation." At the very least she might need to feed some military officers who couldn't be seated in the main feast hall.
She turned to hike up through the gardens and entered the palace through the side doors. She'd be less... out of the way, and wouldn't have to dodge servants if she went this way. Maybe she could...
Navani slowed. The Kholinar palace was brightly lit tonight, with spheres adorning every hallway and all the garden walkways. By that light, Navani could easily make out Aesudan, her daughter-in-law, Elhokar's wife, standing just near the fountains. The slender woman wore her long hair in a bun, which was lit with gemstones of each shade. All those colors were gaudy together. Navani preferred a few simple stones themed to a color, but it did make Aesudan stand out as she chatted with two elderly ardents.
Storms bright and brash. Was that <Rushar Kris>, the artist and master artifabrian? When had he gotten into town? Who'd invited him? He was holding a small box with a flower painted on it. Could that be one of his new fabrials? Navani found herself drawn to the group, all her thoughts fleeing her mind. How had he gotten the heating fabrial to work? How had he captured a flamespren? How did he make the temperature vary? She'd seen drawings, but to talk to the master artist himself?
Aesudan saw Navani and then smiled brightly. The joy seemed genuine, which was unusual, at least when she directed it at Navani. Navani tried not to take Aesudan's general sourness to her as a personal affront. It was the prerogative of every woman to feel threatened by her mother-in-law, particularly when the girl was so obviously lacking in talents. Fortunately, Elhokar liked her and she was of a good family. Navani smiled at her and turned, trying to enter the conversation and get a better look at that box. Aesudan, however, took Navani by the arm.
"Mother! I had forgotten completely about our appointment. I'm so fickle sometimes. Terribly sorry Ardent <Kris>, but I must make a hasty exit," Aesudan tugging Navani forcefully back through the gardens toward the kitchens.
"Thank Kalak you showed up Mother. That man is the most dreadful bore."
"Bore?" Navani said, twisting to look over her shoulder.
"He was talking about gemstones, and another gemstone, and spren, and boxes of spren, and... storms, what a night! You'd think he would understand we have important people to meet. The wives of highprinces, the best generals of the land come to gawk at the wild parshmen. Then I get stuck in the garden talking to ardents! Your son ditched me there, I'll have you know. When I find that boy..."
Navani extricated herself from Aesudan's grip. "Someone should go entertain those ardents. Why are they here?"
"Don't ask me," Aesudan said. "Gavilar wanted them for something, but he made Elhokar entertain them. Poor manners that is, really."
Gavilar had invited one of the world's most prominent artifabrians to visit the palace, and he hadn't even bothered to tell Navani? An anger stirred deep inside her, a fury she kept carefully penned and locked away. That man. That storming man. How could he...
Calm, Navani, the rationalist inside her mind said. Maybe he intends to introduce you to the ardent as a gift. He knows how interested you are in fabrials. Perhaps that was it.
"Brightness!" a voice called from the kitchens. "Brightness Navani, oh please, we have a problem!"
"Aesudan," Navani said, eyes on the ardent who was slowly walking away toward the path to the monastery. She could catch him. She could spare a few minutes. "Could you help the kitchens with whatever they need. I'd like to..."
But Aesudan was already hurrying off towards another group in the gardens, one attended by several powerful highlord generals. Navani took a deep breath, shoving down another stab of annoyance. Aesudan claimed to care about propriety and manners, but she'd butt into a conversation between men without even her husband as an excuse.
"Brightness!" the cook called, waving to her. Navani took one last look at the ardents then set her jaw and hurried back to the kitchen, careful not to catch her skirt on the ornamental shalebark. "What now?"
"Wine", the cook said. "We're out of both the <clavina> and the ruby <bench>."
"How?" Navani said. "We ordered..." She shared a look with the cook and the answer was evident. Dalinar had been at the wine again, it appeared. "I have a private store," Navani said, pulling a notebook from her pocket. She gripped it in her safehand through the sleeves, scribbling a note. "I keep it in the monastery, with Sister <Nama>. Show her this and she'll give you access."
"Thank you Brightness," the cook said, taking the note. Before the man was even out the door, however, Navani spotted the house steward, a white-bearded man with too many rings on his fingers, standing in the stairwell up to the palace proper. He was fidgeting with the rings on his hand.
"What is it?" she asked, striding over.
"Guests have started to arrive, Brightness, including Highlord Vamah, who was promised an audience with the King regarding the border disputes. You know the one..."
"...about the misdrawn maps, yes," Navani said, sighing. "And my husband?"
"Vanished, Brightness," the steward said. "He was seen with Brightlord Amaram and some of those... uncommon figures." That was the term that palace staff used for Gavilar's new friends, the ones who seemed to arrive without warning or announcement, and rarely gave their names.
Navani ground her teeth, thinking through the places Gavilar might have gotten himself to. There were a few rooms he tended to use. He would probably be angry if she interrupted him. Well, good. He should be seeing to his duties rather than just assuming she'd handle it all. Unfortunately, at the moment, she... well, she would have to handle it. Brightlord Vamah couldn't be left waiting.
She let the anxious steward lead her up to the grand entryway where guards were being entertained with music, drinks and poetry while the feast was being prepared. Others were going with master-servants to view the Parshendi, the night's true novelty. It wasn't every day that the King of Alethkar signed a treaty with a group of mysterious parshmen who could talk.
She dealt with Vamah, offering apologetic words, even going so far as to review the maps herself and write them a judgement. From there, she was stopped from locating Gavilar by a line of needy men and women who had come specifically to get the King's attention, a privilege that was growing more and more difficult these days, unless you were one of the uncommon figures. Navani assured Brightlords their petitions were being heard. She promised to look into injustices. She soothed the crumbled feelings of those who thought a personal invitation from the King would mean they'd actually get to see him. It was emotionally taxing work, but nothing new to her, and fully within the Queen's expected duties.
Navani didn't resent her station. Perhaps some day she'd be able to spend her days tinkering with fabrials and pretending she was a scholar. For now, she had duties. The only thing that truly bothered her was the fact that she shouldn't have to do it alone. She was unsurprised at asking that unexpected guests were indeed still showing up, ones that weren't even on the list an annoyed Gavilar had provided for earlier that day. Vev's Golden Keys! Navani kept her increasing fury under control, painting an amicable face for the arriving guests. She smiled, she laughed, she waved. Using the cheatsheet she kept in her notebook, she asked after families, new births and favorite axehounds. She inquired about trade situations, took notes on which lighteyes seemed to be avoiding others. In short, she acted like a queen.
She always felt like an imposter, and with good reason. She hadn't been born to the station. Gavilar, Navani, Sadeas, Ialai, they'd taken these mantles upon themselves. And however prestigious her ancient lineage, Navani had to work hard to suppress her anxiety that whispered she was really just a girl wearing someone else's clothing. Those insecurities had been stronger lately. Calm calm, no room for that sort of thinking.
She rounded the room and was happy to note that Aesudan had found Elhokar and was chatting with him for once, rather than other men. Elhokar did look happy presiding over the pre-feast gathering in his father's absence. Adolin and Renarin were there in stiff uniforms, the former delighting a small group of young women, the latter looking gangly and awkward as he stood by his brother.
And there was Dalinar, standing tall. Somehow taller than any man in the room, but with those haunted eyes, simmering with passion. He wasn't drunk yet, but people orbited him, like they might a fire on a cold night, needing to be close, but not daring to step up and face the true heat of his presence. Storms. She complained to her current conversation partners that she was feeling a little faint and, after assuring them that she would be fine, made a brief exit up the steps where she wouldn't feel so warm.
It was probably a bad idea to leave. They were lacking a king, so if the Queen vanished too, questions were bound to arise. But surely everyone could get on without her for a short time. Besides, up here she could check on one of Gavilar's hiding places. He probably had come this direction, away from both the guests and the location of the new feast hall.
Parshendi with their drums passed nearby, speaking a language she did not understand, though one of the young interpreters was with them, so Navani could have asked if she'd wanted. Instead, she twisted her way through the dungeon-like hallways. Why didn't this place have a little more light, a few more windows? She'd brought the matter up with Gavilar but he liked it this way. Gave him more places to hide.
There, she thought, stopping at an intersection. Voices.
"Being able to bring them back and forth from Braize doesn't mean anything, Gavilar," one of them said. "It's too close to be a relevant distance."
"It was impossible just a few short years ago," said a deep, powerful voice, his. "This is proof. The Connection is not severed, but can be warped to allow for travel. Not yet as far as you'd like, but we must start the journey somewhere."
Navani inched forward, looking around the corner. Yes, there he was, right where she'd expect him to be, in her study, a place she rarely had time to visit but also a place where people weren't likely to search for the King. It was a cozy little room with a nice window, tucked away in a corner of the second floor. He'd left the door cracked and she inched to peer in.
Gavilar Kholin had a big enough presence to fill the room all by himself. He wore a beard, but instead of being unfashionable on him it looked classic, like he was a painting come to life, a representation of old Alethkar. By wearing the beard, someone thought he might start a fashion trend, but nobody else had been able to pull off the look. Others didn't have Gavilar's strong features. Beyond that, there was an aura of distortion around Gavilar. Nothing supernatural or nonsensical. It was that, well, you accepted that Gavilar could do whatever he wanted, in defiance of tradition or logic. For him, it would work out. That was just the way of things.
The King was speaking with two men that Navani vaguely recognized. 'Ambassadors from the West' were what they'd been called, but no kingdom had been given for their home. They were simply among Gavilar's uncommon visitors.
Compared to Oathbringer, how much Szeth are we going to see in the book?
This one, probably less Szeth than Oathbringer. Mostly, because we're going to get his big plot in the next book. There's some cool Szeth stuff in this still, but we're looking more like first book Szeth rather than third book Szeth, where I give him his own micro plot in book 3.
I was kind of imagining, he's like the first character expected to die in the first five books.
He starts in jail, in book four. Because Dalinar told him to go there.
/u/mistborn what do you think about an eshonai novella, something along the lines of Edgedancer? maybe in between book 4 and book 5?
This is plausible.
Others have suggested both Eshonai and Venli flashbacks in this book--and I considered that too. It is something I intend to try, but I'm not 100% sure I like it. We'll see.
Thank you for the update u/mistborn I always enjoy these and has the title been confirmed as The Rhythm of War?
I'm 90% sure that will be it, but I will need to finish the book before I'm absolutely certain. It has to work as an in-world text.
Ah, so does it need to be a written text or could it be an oral collection?
Oral would work in a pinch, but I'd prefer them all to be written works. These books are the "archive" part of the Stormlight Archive, after all. (The word IS intended to have multiple meanings, mind you. This is the most overt one.)
Have we seen a Dawnshard in any Cosmere book?
Yes and no. *hands RAFO card*