Did she use the command to manipulate the Sleepless? He seems pretty surprised it worked...
Rysn did not use the Dawnshard in this story, and indeed is incapable of it.
Did she use the command to manipulate the Sleepless? He seems pretty surprised it worked...
Rysn did not use the Dawnshard in this story, and indeed is incapable of it.
Does this mean that Rysn is immortal now? If so that's going to start causing some questions if she stops aging.
Also, would Hoid be able to tell that Rysn bears a Dawnshard? Solely from having born one before? (Maybe he'd be able to sense it with Breaths or some other mystery Investiture.)
I also want to see what would happen if you stabbed a Dawnshard (/Dawnshard bearing person) with Nightblood.
These kinds of questions are why I gave a preemptive RAFO. :)
IRL there is a condition called aphantasia where someone doesn't have the ability to use their visual imagination. How would that affect Lightweaving, and possibly other forms of Investiture?
It's actually something I've read up on, and something I find fascinating. Like face blindness, it asks some very interesting questions. It would affect Lightweaving, but not really handicap it. Just make it different.
Are the Sleepless a race that predates the Shattering? And with the Big A namedrop by Nikli, does that mean we'll see them in the future with any future Yolen content?
Edit: Now I'm wondering if the Rosharan Sleepless are able to communicate to Sleepless on the other side of the Cosmere
I'm imagining that killing a Dawnshard would work similarly to killing a Shard? As in, depending on how they're killed the Dawnshard either "drops" or is splintered?
From Rysn's observations in the epilogue, it seems like she has a lot of the same aspects of a Fifth Heightening/Returned at the least. Is this because her Dawnshard is particularly connected to Endowment or because the effects of a certain level of Investment result in similar effects?
Interesting. So are actively Surgebinding Radiants or metal-burning Allomancers just not Invested enough to gain those passive effects, or do they not experience perfect pitch/color/etc. because their Investiture is just not as tightly bound to their Spiritweb as Endowment's Breaths or a Dawnshard would be?
Be aware that the two groups you mention don't generally hold much Investiture themselves, at least not in large quantities over time. More in Surgebinding. Almost none in Allomancy.
But RAFO to specifics.
What could possibly have induced Hoid to give up being a Dawnshard? And how could he have trusted whoever he passed it on to?
That's an excellent question.
So were all the Dawnshards picked up by people? Were there 20 people present at the Shattering?
RAFO, I'm afraid.
And as a transgender woman, thank you so much. To see that little detail of the Reshi king transitioning using Stormlight made me so happy.
I wanted to make sure I got the Reshi king another cameo at some point because it feels to me there would be a disproportionately large number of trans people among the Knights Radiant, considering the journey of self-discovery they go on in their lives.
Do you think the Worldsingers will eventually get some time? That's who I'm most curious about. It's just so cool to see new parts of the world/cosmere.
Possibly. Someday, I hope to be able to do more with the connection between them and other groups with oddly similar names across the cosmere.
I always wondered if there was a connection between Worldsingers and Worldbringers. Can I take this as confirmation there is one?
Yes, there is a connection.
From what is described in the end [of Dawnshard], are all the forms of Investiture derived in some way from one of the Dawnshards?
So, the third ideal of the Windrunners. Is it about protecting those you hate or is it more broadly about going against your instincts/wants in order to protect others better?
For most people, it's going to go along the hatred lines--but it extends all the way to what you're implying. Mostly, I think of it as, "I'll get rid of my caveats about those I'll protect."
You're likely to see the more extreme examples as I write out the oaths for others, particularly in-scene, as I don't want it to feel too repetitive. But you can assume that for most of the original members of Bridge Four (who are slowly hitting this ideal) that it had to do with agreeing to protect a group that they in some way dislike. (So long as it's right to do so, as defined by themselves and their spren, of course.)
At or near the endgame of SA do you think you'd release a guide on the specifics of each orders oaths, so that the fans could personalise their own?
Yes, if I haven't gotten to them all by then, I will release them all.
Will we find out Sigzil's or was it just a fleeting mention? If so, are we going to get a personal 3rd ideal story from every Bridge 4 member?
Afraid we won't have a chance to see each and every one of them.
Question that I expect to get RAFOed: Does each Shard correspond to a particular Dawnshard? i.e. are there 4 Shards that correspond to the Change Dawnshard (of which I assume Ruin and Cultivation would be 2)?
RAFO, as expected.
It seemed like from the story there is a strong connection between the larkin and the ancient lanceryn. Would you be willing to answer whether these are the same species by two names or if there is some evolutionary step between them?
I was a tad vague on purpose, but you're looking at it the right way. It's KIND OF the same species.
Like a pokemon evolution? Most Larkin are charmanders, Chiri-Chiri is a charmeleon, lanceryn are charizard?
Have to RAFO it from here out. I'll get into it eventually, don't worry.
In the Liar of Partinel samples, we see fain life is covered in skullmoss (and iirc seems to have it inside them, from a few mentions of eating fain-touched animals being deadly). If a fain being were to Ascend, would their body retain this skullmoss when they drop (I mean, Leras and Ati seemed to retain their clothes, so it wouldn't surprise me), or would it be killed off by the process?
(Actually, I'm curious about this with microorganisms and such in general with Vessels, but the fain life is what made me think of it.)
Imagine the body that drops after a Shard dies being the essence being recreated out of energy. It wasn't there all along--it was absorbed into the power, then drops back out as a kind of husk. But it's not literally the same atoms. There has been some strange E=MC2=Investiture shenanigans going on.
Interesting. Is this similar to transitioning in and out of the Cognitive through a Perpendicularity?
And does this recreated thing include microorganisms (like the stomach bacteria or something), skullmoss, foot fungus, clothing, etc? Or just the minimum required to count as the body itself? (Leras and Ati tended to appear dressed, as well as Leras having his knife, but them choosing to appear in the Cognitive might not be the same thing as that body.)
I'll RAFO it here. Good questions as always, though, LTT.
So the Reshi King canonically trans, right? I was hoping so when he was first mentioned, and I know it's been asked before if a trans Radiant would "heal" towards their true gender.
Yes. And this is what happened.
Now, I can share the Dawnshard theory I am currently running with, and you can super RAFO it (while also providing a cryptic teasing hint that will frustrate for years?). But before that, thank you for this book. It's not quite Secret History level stuff, but it's fantastic in a very similar way, and I am genuinely happy, and giddy, and also not a small amount of confused :P
But theory. So, I am thinking that the Dawnshards are Commands in the way "Let there be light" is a command, and the four of them are enough to explain everything. If one of them is Change (something into something else), then other plausible options might be Create (something from nothing), some form of Destroy (something into nothing), and... Stasis? Maintain? Remain? something like that.
Super RAFO! Nice theory.
Ooh, another "identity of the Dawnshards" theory, triggered by OP's "Let there be light" comment: I don't suppose the Dawnshards are in any way related to Maxwell's Equations (of which there are four), which govern electromagnetism? I used to have a t-shirt that said "And God said: <Maxwell's Equations>. And there was light," which is what got me thinking.
That's a big old RAFO, but mostly because I'm trying to stay tight lipped on the subject of Dawnshards.
They are not native to Roshar and yet they fit among the Rosharan cremlings so perfectly... So was Rosharan fauna based off of another planet? Or are the crab species on Roshar invasive and from wherever the Sleepless are from? Or are only Rosharan sSleepless made up of crabs because they melded with the local species? Or do living things in the Cosmere evolve into crabs alarmingly often just like in our universe and its a coincidence?
The ones on other planets will look less like cremlings. Realize that a swarm is always evolving. The first swarm's hordelings were more spider-like when it first came to Roshar.
The theme of generations is also a thing we see with the Kandra, who can also disguise themselves. Were the Kandra perhaps modeled after the Sleepless? Or is there any relation at all between the two?
No direct relationship here.
Was Aimia originally terraformed to be more like their home ecosystem (just like how Shinovar is like the human home ecosystem)?
So are there Four Dawnshards that each split into four more Dawnshards? Or just four? Are there 16 Shards and 16 Dawnshards?
This is intentionally vague, I'm afraid. (Sorry.)
Can you tell us a little bit more about what these things are? The book itself gives us a lot in very little, so it'd be nice to get some perspective on how you think about these. Not necessarily fishing for more information, just... clarity on what we just learned.
By "these things" do you mean the Dawnshards? In this case, I can't say more, I'm afraid. They're plot points in future books, and I maybe already explained more than I should have.
I was mostly wondering what happened in the cave. It's... it feels like the Command to change, to remake, was somehow imprinted or passed onto a mural, and then when Rysn looked at it, it passed back onto, and perhaps into her.
Where I'm a little confused is... is the Command, the Dawnshard, "binding" to her as this thing outside of her, or is it becoming a part of her? Or are these two cases, depending on how you look at this, the same thing?
Also, curious based on how the mural was described in terms of four fours, but is the number of Shards being 16 a function of how the four Dawnshards were used to Shatter?
Mostly RAFOs, here, I'm afraid.
To those in-world, she now IS the Dawnshard. Whether that's what the community thinks is another story.
Would that make Hoid a "Dawnsliver", or is there some other fancypants terms for it?
Depends on a variety of things, Phantine. But I'd be okay with that terminology. It's basically accurate.
Does that mean that before she became the Dawnshard that the wall was?
More the mural. But yes, that would be the implication. Note that it was not an ordinary mural.
Can a single Sleepless swarm (say, Nikli, or Arclo) form 2+ humanoid bodies and essentially pretend to be two people at the same time?
Possible, but difficult. Splitting their consciousness risks accidentally birthing another Sleepless, and splitting them into two people permanently. It's much easier if one of the bodies doesn't have to interact in an intelligent way.
Is this the only way for a Sleepless to create a new Sleepless? Splitting an existing one into two, where each of the two retain some personality/consciousness of the combined, but different enough to be two distinct individuals? Is the process extremely painful and hence prevents them from trying to create more?
That's all RAFO material indeed. I will get into it eventually.
In-universe, where did the Sleepless originate? Presumably not on Yolen?
RAFO, I'm afraid.
Wait - there are Sleepless on other worlds?
Have you seen them? RAFO. (Note that non-Rosharan ones can't imitate humans.)
Would the non-Roshar ones have hordelings that look similar to the Rosharan ones, or would they have bred completely differently?
Also, can the Sleepless communicate with the ones on other planets? Do they do so often?
They would look completely different.
RAFO on the second question.
Do you need to read it [Dawnshard]? Like, I went back and read Edgedancer, but it definitely wasn’t required to read the main books. Is this the same, or do you def need to read this to understand ROW?
If I write something as a novella, I consider it non-required reading. It will expand, add context, and will usually give more backstory to a side character or two. Consider them extended interludes.
Will it be coming to audible?
Yes, eventually--probably not for a year or so.
I'm curious - they said there's 20 Sleepless working together in this group. Can you give a (possibly rough) estimate of how many Sleepless are on Roshar, in that one group or not?
Nikli is the youngest (and the twenty-fourth) swarm on Roshar. Originally there was only one Swarm on Roshar. All the rest came from it.
Does that mean there are 3 rogue ones (the text mentions 20 still accept the authority of the First)? Or is the First counted in that 20 and there are 4 rogue?
Edit: the "true traitors", plural, are mentioned. So are the Sleepless factions on Roshar the 21 serving the First, 2 "traitors", and Arclo rogue on his own?
And why did Arclo tell Lift:
“If you ever encounter another of the Sleepless, tell them you’ve spoken with Arclo. I’m certain it will gain you sympathy.”
if he's rogue?
They like Arclo--he's not an "enemy." He just disagrees with them, but they don't hate him.
That's also a pun on his part. In that they'll be sympathetic that the person had to deal with Arclo.
I meant twenty including the first, though it's not clear the way I phrased it, is it?
So this means 4 that do not obey the First? Are all 4 still alive?
All four are still alive, and one is Arclo.
How many of the "true traitors" mentioned are there? (I'm assuming that means traitorous Sleepless.)
RAFO. Keep an eye out in Rhythm of War. (Actually, you don't have to keep too much an eye out. It's kind of obvious.)
What is your favorite portrayal of Hive Minds in SciFi?
My favorite group mind is from A Fire Upon the Deep, which will probably come as no surprise to people.
Hive mind...to be honest, Unity from Rick and Morty was a really interesting take on the concept, and is the one that springs to mind right now. But I don't know where the internet is on Rick and Morty these days. First it was cool, then I think it became cool to hate? Still, I enjoy the way the show took some of standard science fiction concepts and give them a much-needed shake up.
How about the Formics from Ender's Game, particularly the sequels?
I enjoyed them just fine, though I never felt there was anything super distinctive about them. Just a well done hive mind.
Kaladin's new occupation raised a discussion about the use of shardscalpels against tumors in Daniel's Discord, can you clarify what happens with a tumor when it is stabbed with a shard?
With training, it could be made to cut out a tumor--but that wouldn't be the natural result.
Cosmere surgery stuff is going to be...odd, at least on the magical side. How the person views themselves and the disease could influence things in interesting ways.
If Rysn's Dawnshard is about Change or Remaking or something like, how do we refer to it? The Dawnshard of Change? The Change Dawnshard? I am asking purely from a semantic standpoint.
I haven't honestly decided yet, Argent. I am playing with several themes for the Dawnshards even still.
It seemed from the way the mural was done in the book that you were implying that there are four Dawnshards, one for each four of the shards, considering the sun was split in four, then each quadrant was then further split into four more.
RAFO, I'm afraid. As I said somewhere else, this was written as it was deliberately--but also somewhat vague on purpose.
Jasnah is married? I may have misread it, but I'm pretty sure she refers to her husband in the negotiations
I think you might be mistaking Jasnah and Navani, as Navani refers to her husband (Dalinar) during negotiations. Jasnah doesn't appear on screen, though she does have a few lines via spanreed.
It's a little confusing because by this point, Dalinar and Navani have started using king/queen for themselves in reference to Urithiru as a separate kingdom. Jasnah is queen of Alethkar, but Navani is also Alethi and a queen--but not of Alethkar...so once in a while, I found alpha/beta readers getting tripped up by the terminology.
So Dalinar dropped his 'I must never be king' resolution? Kinda weird, that felt like an Oath to me.
You're referring to young Dalinar realizing that he couldn't want the throne, lest it lead him to turn against his brother? I didn't intend that to be a capital O oath.
For what it's worth, in the months after Oathbringer, he realized that as long as he wasn't putting himself on the same level as the others, they would worry he wanted more. So being named king was a way for him to calm the coalition.
Let's say we have a hypothetical situation with Miles Hundredlives. In this scenario, he is wearing a gold metalmind filled to the brim with stored healing power. He is then spiked with a cadmium spike and loses his gold allomancy.
Now, if I recall from various WoBs, he would be able to heal using the gold metalmind and regain his gold allomancy. I could be misremembering and he cannot heal it, but I believe he would be able to since it is part of his Identity.
However, one question I have never seen the answer to is this: what happens to the ability in the spike? Is the allomantic ability still contained in the spike, leading to a duplicate? Or is the spike's ability lost? Or maybe I have this whole thing wrong and Miles could never have regained the ability in the first place.
If the ability duplicates (which I doubt), that could lead to some crazy things. Also, this applies to any Twinborn with gold Feruchemy, I just thought Miles was a good example I guess :)
I'd like to see the exact WoB's here to make sure I'm being consistent, as I don't know that I confirmed you could regain lost powers--only that you could heal from hemalurgic soul damage. Most likely, what you'd end up with is a person who has been healed and can remove the spike from their body without damage, and without needing it to hold their soul together--but who has lost the ability in the spike.
Regardless, though, what you want here (the mass production of spikes charged and even blanked) is possible with the right levels of investiture. It's an energy, like things in our world. The difficulty is finding out how to 1) get enough investiture and 2) key it to the right people and/or magic.
Hope that's a little more clear.
That said, a lot of times people just ask me if something is possible--and a lot of things are possible, but just very difficult. And with the right boost of investiture, in the right circumstances, it WOULD be possible to regrow lost (to spikes) powers. It's just highly unlikely.
I'm not sure if the questions people are asking me are ones I've qualified, or not, in these instances. Also, this is all something I'm playing with still behind the scenes as we enter the modern age of Mistborn.
As requested, here are the WoBs I believe are related. They might be obsolete, however. And I assume things will get changed a lot before Era 4, but hey, it's fun to ask anyways :)
This one states that as long as Miles still has his Identity, he would be able to use his Feruchemical metalminds after being spiked and would be able to heal.
This one says that Miles would be able to heal his soul using Feruchemical healing and regain his gold Allomancy (assuming he survives the spiking). I think this is the most essential one!
This one is only somewhat related - implies that the Feruchemical and Allomantic powers are spiritually part of him.
Also tangentially related - damage to the soul from Hemalurgy can be healed (Although this might just be a Hoid thing). I guess the question could be expanded to include non-Feruchemical healing as a way to repair the soul after being spiked.
Well, I don't think any of those are specifically inaccurate. I just didn't quite understand what people were trying to get out of me. A lot of times, I don't know quite what people are trying to get out of me. I can see now they're trying to figure out.
I see now, and I appreciate you putting this all together for me so I can see what the fans are trying to figure out. So the answer is a cautious yes. The problem here is that he'd need to compound a TON of healing first--but yes, it would work. You could theoretically turn someone like Miles into an invested spike factory.
If he didn't have enough healing stored, though, he'd end up with a healed soul but a gap (like a scar on his soul) where his spiked-out abilities were. That could theoretically be healed with application of more investiture, depending on things like how he views himself, and if you could get the right type of investiture.
Huio is based, partially, on someone I met while touring. I had a driver who was from Pakistan, originally. (It's not uncommon for the publisher or convention to assign me a driver to get me to all the places I needed to get.) We had a good time chatting, and I discovered he had a Ph.d. in mechanical engineering. However, for various reasons, his life in his home country was really difficult--so he took the chance to start over in a new country with a new life. (More, he wanted to get his children out of a bad situation. I believe he was Sikh--though he might have been Jain--and his family was suffering some persecution for it.)
He couldn't get work as an academic, despite being a professor, as his mastery of languages was really bad--and couldn't teach in his new country. He couldn't get a job in his field either, since both the language barrier was a problem, and also he had trouble getting businesses to accept his credentials since they didn't think highly of the programs in his country. (At least, not the ones he'd attended.)
So here was this man who was obviously WAY smarter than I was, doing an entry-level job. And he considered it an upgrade for certain personal reasons, but I could tell he was really frustrated by the language holding him back. I've always remembered the experience, and the lesson it taught me about assumptions I sometimes make.
The Sleepless are one of the very first fantastical races I developed, and they made an appearance in Stars' End (my second--very bad--novel, which never was published.) I migrated them to the Cosmere after I started designing it, as I wanted some truly alien species. I was interested in an entity that could have "generations" within its own swarm of beings, breeding to evolve parts of its body, and spreading consciousness across a large number of individual pieces. I'd seen a lot of hive minds, and some group minds, in science fiction--and wanted to play with something that was a hybrid between the two.
However, in order to properly integrate them into the Stormlight story, I decided to make them be able to imitate humans. (And through these efforts, they are slightly more humanoid in the way they perceive the world.) That made them able to play in the events of Roshar more directly.
There are plenty of swarms in the cosmere who are not connected to those on Roshar, however.
Hoid was a Dawnshard at some point in the deep past, and the reason he (even still) cannot physically harm people, or even eat meat, is related to the changes this made to his spirit. (Consider this the same fundamental principle as savanthood.) The few of you who have read Dragonsteel know that him being a Dawnshard was also the source of his immortality in that book, though the terms were different back then. (The word Dawnshard was never mentioned, for example--though the primary story of Dragonsteel (which is no longer cannon) was about several people who unwittingly become Dawnshards.)
And a preemptive RAFO to all questions on this point. :)
You feel as strongly about Dawnshard's relevance to the series as you did about Edgedancer?
It's a little of an odd duck, in that it's super relevant to the cosmere, but less so in relation to Stormlight. Unlike Lift, Rysn's story isn't directly intertwined with that of the main Stormlight characters.
What can you tell me about Rysn and her Larkin?
That larkin is kind of a stinker.
I love the increased involvement Rlain is getting already in this book! Any chance we'll get a glimpse into his viewpoint?
Yes, there is at least one Rlain viewpoint in the book.
So there's speculation in this thread about whether the Singers have a Fishform relating to the Thrill getting tossed into the sea...
and that makes me wonder - are all Singer forms predetermined by whatever deity created them or evolution, or can new ones arise spontaneously when new spren are created?
New forms could exist.
Related to Kaladin's abilities and their application to medicine, is a Shard-scalpel possible, or does a Sylblade of any kind have to do the whole burning-eyes deadened-limbs thing that Shardblades do?
(actually, I bet this is going to be addressed in the book, unless my memories of lore are insufficient and this is a silly question that is already answered if I look closely enough.)
It's not a silly question--and while it's not answered in the books, the topic (or at least ones similar to it) is discussed. So I'll RAFO for now.
What would happen if you tried to soulcast a shardblade-wounded limb back to regular flesh with a heliodor? Would it regain function?
That's a partial RAFO, I'm afraid. Soulcasting to flesh is complicated, and the level you're asking for is well outside the skills of any living soulcaster. Most likely, you'd end up with a lump of nondescript meat instead of an arm.
I got a question about this and last week's epigraph.
The metals Fused use. How come nobody knows, guesses or even suspects that aluminium and its alloys are Investiture resistant? They know you can Soulcast something into aluminium, so they should also know it's impossible to Soulcast aluminium into something else.
And once they know about metal that cannot be Soulcast, they start experimenting with fabrials - they used that in construction of Fourth Bridge - and then the logical step is to test it against Shardblades.Probably experimenting with alloys of aluminium, too.
Yet the metal Fused use to make weapons resistant to Shardweapons is a mystery to them?
I feel like I'm missing something here.
They're getting to answers here. Problem is, metallurgy just isn't a big science on Roshar. I feel it's one of those things that is more easy to see externally than internally--and do remember that there are things like god metals (Shardblades, for example) that also behave strangely around investiture. They have far more experience with those than aluminum, which is more of a little historical oddity to them than a big revolutionary part of science. Add to that the fact that some of the metals the fused are using aren't aluminum, and...well, I don't think it's as obvious a leap as you're making it out to be.
So the Fused's fabrials are not 100% aluminum based? Or they are and they are struggling to reach that conclusion?
I think what you're asking will be answered in the book, so I'll RAFO for now.
That line, about Kaladin trying to take on ardent job, then general one, and then on running away. Did you mean surgeon job being in certain way the running away way for Kaladin? Or you will leave it for readers to decide?
p.s. to me it felt like very sad decision tonally and probably the lowest point of Kal's regression.
So, right now, Kaladin views this as somehow giving in. That he should have been able to find a better option, a way to keep doing what he'd been doing. It is supposed to be sad tonally because Kaladin is sad about it.
However, this is partially Kaladin not being quite able to see clearly. So I suggest waiting for a little bit and seeing what happens next.
Someone posted about Kaladin spending 86 days as a bridgeman. Is this accurate?
That's a question for Continuity Editor Karen. She'd have the specific number of days.
You’ve mentioned a few times the concept of the “in-between” book. Did you plot the events of that time skip out in detail to give yourself the starting point when planning RoW? Or did you just know where you wanted the characters and the world to start from?
It's not as detailed as a full book outline, but at the same time, it's more than just starting where I felt was right. So kind of between the two ideas you offer?
All right, so I talked earlier about the odd structure of this book. You can see it manifesting in this chapter, and the next one, which are the last chapters of the part. In a regular Stormlight Book, at this point in the novel we'd be pushing toward a more action-oriented or mystery-oriented climax (such as Shallan's confrontation with the Midnight Mother in Oathbringer.)
The reversed structure of this book's first part--which began with the climax of the "in between" book we didn't see, instead comes to a more calm, character-oriented climax here with Kaladin making his decision to become a surgeon. (Along with, in the next chapter--which is a calm, introspective Navani chapter to end out the part.)
We released the Syl Interlude early through my newsletter (that comes after the Navani chapter) and tried to edit out any big spoilers--but forgot one line that indicates Kaladin has become a surgeon again, so I suspect many of you have been anticipating the decision Kaladin makes here.
Still, it's an important moment for Kaladin, one I've been pushing him toward for a while now. Though he's always been the surgeon's son, he hasn't had a chance to truly be a healer, and see how it fits him as an adult.
As I was working on the annotation for last week’s chapter, I realized it was touching on something I wanted to talk about in a more substantive way. So I decided to put that annotation off and make a separate, longer and more in-depth, post about it. This WILL have some small spoilers for the book, specifically some things to do with Jasnah and her sexual identity. If you’d rather just read it as it comes up in the story, then I’d suggest you head away now--and you can come back to this in a month or two after you’ve read Rhythm of War.
However, good communication with fans--particularly when it comes to expectations--is something I consider a foundational principle of my career. During the beta read, I had the chance to get a glimpse of how readers might respond to some aspects of Jasnah, and at that time I determined I’d do a post like this before the book came out.
So, here’s the problem: through the course of the series, people have been asking me about Jasnah’s sexuality. Gay, Bi, Straight, other? I usually answer with some variation of the following: “Jasnah would prefer you focus on other aspects of her identity, rather than her sexuality.”
I said this for various reasons. First, I felt it is in line with the character, and what she would want. Second, I’ve avoided talking too much about Jasnah as a general rule, since I plan her to be a major (perhaps the major) character of the back five books, and so it’s best to keep focus off her for now. There will be plenty of time for discussions about her later. Third, I generally don’t force relationships upon my characters as I write. It depends on the character, of course. (Navani/Dalinar, for example, had a romance planned as a main part of their storyline.) But for many characters, I give myself wiggle room to see what I feel works best as the story develops.
The end result of me being vague on this, however, was that I seem to have led a lot of people to think I was playing the Brandon game of: “If he won’t say anything about a topic, it must be mysterious, and therefore something we should theorize on a ton!” This is, obviously, my own fault.
I’ve heard a lot of different things via email and in person from people that have made me realize that a lot of people are wanting some mutually exclusive things from the character in this regard. As I started work on this novel, I decided I should say something in the book in order to pull back the shroud on the mystery a little, as I never intended it to get as big as it did.
I tried a few different things to see what worked and was most genuine for the character. In the end, I settled on what I felt was best and most in-line with how I view Jasnah. For those who want to know, and I’ll put this next part behind extra spoilers. Jasnah is asexual, and currently heteroromantic. Her feelings on physical intimacy are very neutral, not something she's interested in for its own sake, but also not something she's opposed to doing for someone she cares about. I tried several different things with the character, and this is what really clicked with me--after getting some advice, suggestions, and help from some asexual readers.
One of the reasons I wanted to make this post is because I wanted to address some of the people who are going to be disappointed as I worry that I (by making her a blank slate in this regard) accidentally led a lot of people to theorize and attach ideas they wanted to her--and so I’ll inevitably disappoint these people. (Though, hopefully, others will find the depiction I ended up with in line with the characterization and with Jasnah’s overall character mode.)
For the main body of the annotation, I wanted to talk about how Jasnah came about, and my inspirations. So if you’ll forgive me for a moment, I want to walk you down that path--and I think it might explain some of why I ended up making the decision that I did.
When I was first working on the Stormlight Archive back in 2002, I decided early on that I wanted a character like Jasnah in the books, as I was dealing with some gender politics and social structures. (I actually pitched Jasnah to myself as “The woman Serene thinks she is.” No offense to Serene, she’s just young--and I wanted to take a stab at a true scholar and master of politics.)
This decision made, I dove into reading a lot of work from feminist authors--and made certain to talk to some of my feminist friends in depth about how to accomplish an accurate depiction. A lot of times, when I’m developing a character, one or two things will leap out at me from readings, and I’ll start to use that to make up the core of the personality. (Much like the idea of Kaladin came from the idea of a surgeon, trained to save people, being sent to war and being trained to kill.)
Jasnah’s atheism was one of these things--specifically I wanted a rationalist humanist character as a counterpoint to the very mythological setting I was developing with the Heralds. I was extremely excited by the opportunity to have a character who could offer the in-world scientific reasons why the things that are happening are happening.
At the same time, one key takeaway I got from these studies was this: several authors and friends be frustrated with the idea that often in media and discussion, people pretended that a feminist couldn’t also be feminine. As it was explained to me, “Saying you shouldn’t have to play into society’s rules for women shouldn’t also mean no women should ever decide to play into some of society’s rules for women.” It was about choice, and letting women decide--rather than letting society pressure them. This was central to my creation of Jasnah.
And so, fundamental to my view of the character is the need for me to not force her down any path, no matter how much some fans may want that path to be the right one. Jasnah being as I’ve written her was just RIGHT. I’ve always viewed her as sharing some aspects with myself, and one of those is the clinical way I approach some things that others approach emotionally. While I wouldn’t say I identify in the same way as her, this part of me is part of a seed for who she is and how she acts. And with help from betas, I think I found her true voice.
All of that said, the people I’m most sad to disappoint here are those who I know were hoping for Jasnah to be gay. Out of respect for these readers, and to be certain, I did try writing the character that way in this book--and I felt it didn’t quite fit. Obviously, this is a character, and not an actual person--and so it’s all a fabrication anyway. I could absolutely write Jasnah as gay, and it wouldn’t undermine any sense of choice for a real woman.
However, it didn’t feel authentic to me. Plus, now that Way of Kings Prime is out, you all can know that a relationship with a man (Taln) was a plot point to her initial characterization. (I can’t say that I’ll stick with this, to be honest. It will depend on a ton of factors.)
When I discussed all this all with a good friend of mine who is far more involved in feminist discourse and the LGBTQIA+ community, she suggested that I make Jasnah bisexual or biromantic. I resisted this because I knew the only planned relationship I had for her was with a man, and it felt disingenuous to try to imply this is how I see her. (Though, in your head canon, there’s certainly great arguments for this.) The problem is that Shallan is leaning very bi as I’ve written her more, but she’s in a relationship with a man. I don’t know if this is a big issue in fiction, but it would feel somehow wrong to for me to write a bunch of bisexual characters who all only engaged in relationships with people of the opposite gender. It feels I could do more damage than good by trying to pretend I’m being inclusive in this way, without actually giving true representation.
This all might beg another question: will there be other characters in the Stormlight Archive (or cosmere) who are LGBTQIA+. Yes. (Including major viewpoint characters.) However, I worry that by talking too much about that here, I would imply a tone where I’m trying too hard to deflect. (One person I chatted with about this warned me not to send the “wrong message that queer characters are like representation tokens that we can exchange for each other for equal credit.” I found that a very astute piece of advice.)
I am quite happy with Jasnah’s depiction in this book, and while I’m sorry she can’t be everything everyone wanted, I’m excited for her development as a character in the back five books. My promise to you remains the same: to make the Cosmere a place where I explore all aspects of the human experience. And a place that represents not just me, but as many different types of peoples and beliefs as I can--depicted the best I can as vibrant, dynamic characters.
Many thanks to those in the LGBTQIA+ community who have written to me with suggestions, criticisms, and support. And thanks to everyone for being patient with me, and this series, as I continue to shape it.
There are certain things that I do in Stormlight Four that I will not give as spoilers, but they're gonna make the writing of Stormlight Five particularly difficult.
Poor Karen. That's all gonna be stuff for Karen and me. It's gonna be headaches for us. Not as much for you [Isaac].
Where did the idea of pooping in Shardplate come from?
Because I wondered how it happened with knights on the battlefield and thought, "This is the sort of thing that just doesn't show up very often in fantasy books."
Or in history books, probably.
It's there in history books. The historians are very interested in this sort of thing.
One of the ways that I wanted to ground some of the conversations in Stormlight was to talk about some of these things. And it turns out that Shallan and Adolin's conversations tend to be very good places to talk about this sort of thing.
What is your favorite part about worldbuilding?
Probably the magic system. Surprise, surprise, surprise.
That, or finding connections between different stories I'm working on. I really enjoy when I can make the worldbuilding for one book be foreshadowing for the worldbuilding of another book, and things like that. And where I can sneak in combinations between things in the cosmere, and stuff like that. That's really satisfying for me. I don't know why, but it's one thing that really excites me.
Is there an update to the combined volume of White Sand?
This has been a hectic year. We've had a lot of things going on. I've had to prioritize things like the Kickstarter and the manufacturing of all of the goodies for that. In addition, I've had Rhythm of War and all of the art and art direction that comes along with that. It's just been a really big year. As things are tying up (as far as my involvement on the manufacturing side of things, we're getting close to having everything approved and in process there), I will be able to spend more time on the omnibus.
In the background, though, I have kept the letterers working and the artist working as much as I could, and I think all of the minor fixes... a lot of people know, there were electric lamps. And I hired my brother (who is also an artist), and he, in the latter half of those, erased a lot of those. There was a modern IV in one scene that we needed to erase. But I think that changes to the art, small things like that, are pretty much almost done.
There are a few other things that need some attention, and I'll be able to turn my brain to that here soon.
You're adding some pages and things, right?
Yeah, there will be 38 more pages and a prologue to introduce characters a little bit more. Those are almost completely done. The writing on those is done.
There are some pages that are more world-building that are written by Khriss, and I have to find out where we have room for those so I know how many of those that we have, and then write out some of the worldbuilding. And that's what I'm in the process of doing right now. Getting really close to being done with that.
So that's where we're at on that. And as soon as that's done, we will discuss that with Brandon's agent and with the publisher and figure out where to go from there.
Right now I'm writing Skyward 3, which I'm calling "Nowhere." Which I know the publisher is not terribly fond of, and I'm only so-so on it, so it might change before we go to press; we'll have to see.
I originally had planned Starsight to be something that had "Fort" in the title, or "Fortress" in the title. "Star Fortress," or something like that. And the publisher came back and said, "That sounds too fantasy-ish. And it's science fiction." And they just didn't like the sound and feel, and so I came back with Starsight, and they liked that, and I liked that, so we just went with it.