Recent entries

    Words of Radiance release party ()
    #4001 Copy

    Questioner

    I want to know when we're gonna hear of Denth and his further adventures?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Further adventures. Denth? You probably mean Vasher. Oh, that's... you will get more. It's not in the immediate future, because I feel like spending four years to get the second Stormlight book out was too long. I will write more Warbreaker in the coming years. More is coming. There's very important stories to be told, but I have to... It's not in line until at least I finish Stormlight Three. Which will be my next adult book that I'm gonna write. I'm writing Rithmatist 2 next, during the summer, and then I'm doing Stormlight next. It will be a couple years. But when I do write the sequel, which is called Nightblood, I will post the chapters online as I write them, just like I did with the first book.

    Words of Radiance Philadelphia signing ()
    #4002 Copy

    Questioner

    Is there any chance that we could get a lexicon or grammar book high Imperial?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I can give you a few basic rules. Put everything in the present progressive, number one. Then, you're usually gonna go verb first, and you're gonna throw lots of "to be" in, and you're gonna add extraneous words in order to confuse the people who don't speak it. They actually do this. If you look in the books, it mentions they put in extraneous words. There's one other rule I'm forgetting. But you kinda go through that, and then you say whatever feels right to you as you're speaking it. The thing about High Imperial is it's supposed to evolve, and each little group that was speaking it was kinda making up their own slang of it as they went. And so, even if you met someone from another city who spoke it, you would have a lot of trouble. Now, now it's all been nailed down. But you can get pretty close by doing those things I said to you. There's one other one, I can't remember what it is.

    Words of Radiance Philadelphia signing ()
    #4003 Copy

    Questioner

    So, you spend a lot of time comparing lifespren and rotspren. They're complementary colors, *inaudible*. The rotspren can appear around animals, as well, whereas lifespren only appear around plants. Is that a misnomer? Is there something that we're missing?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No, there's nothing you're missing. It just takes a large number of organisms in the same place. So, in a herd of animals, you could find lifespren. They don't come to people as often. But, the thing you have to remember about spren is: spren are attracted by something. And they have to be nearby, and they have to make their way there. So, sometimes, you will have an emotion, and no spren will appear. Because there's not one nearby enough. Or they just didn't feel like this. I worked this in because I didn't want the spren popping up too much. They're a big symbol of Roshar, they're a way, in very early chapters, for you to realize this is a different place and a different world. But if every other sentence were, "And a spren appeared," it would go crazy way too fast.

    Words of Radiance Philadelphia signing ()
    #4004 Copy

    Questioner

    *inaudible*

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, ideas bounced off of my editor? I needed epigraphs for Part One that increased the tension for the book. Because I was really worried that Part One was very establishing, and I wanted to ramp up the tension. And so, a lot of ideas we bounced off of him. I eventually came up with what to do, but I did a lot of talking on that.

    Failing continuity? Keeping track of how many Shardblades the Alethi has, and how many Adolin had won? I just fail continuity at that completely. That's, like, math, or something! So I just let Peter tell me. I'll write, "How many do they have now?" Or, "Does this guy have one yet?" And then, once I write the book, it all goes in the wiki, and I can just look it up. But until then, I kind of need Peter. And, you know, eye color. I don't remember what people's eye color is. But it's really important to the books what color someone's eyes are! So, I fail continuity at those sorts of things. I'm really good with plot arcs and stories, but remembering what someone's eye color is, I just have to look it up. I did the same thing in the Wheel of Time. It gave them so many headaches. Where they're like, "How can you not know what somebody's uncle is?" I'm like, "I don't care what their uncle is! What's their emotional resonance?"

    Words of Radiance Philadelphia signing ()
    #4005 Copy

    Questioner

    Were you ever influenced by the Silmarillion?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Excellent question. I didn't read Tolkien until late. I tried Tolkien when I was young, and I bounced off of it because I was not a really good reader at the time. And I didn't read Tolkien 'til college. I didn't read the Silmarillion 'til grad school. So, while I would say "Yes," I am not as Tolkien-influenced as a lot of writers are. I'm more influenced by the writers who were influenced by Tolkien. Like Robert Jordan, and people like this, who were very Tolkien-influenced. And I read them growing up. And Tolkien, I was finally able to read and really get an appreciation for, but it was later in my life.

    Words of Radiance Philadelphia signing ()
    #4006 Copy

    Questioner

    I love your books, and I'd like to know (not big authors), but what smaller authors do you like?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I really like Daniel Abraham's work in all its various forms. Tor has a series by Daniel that's been very good. Recently, I've liked Brian McLellan's book that came out. That was very good. I liked N.K. Jemisin a lot, though I'd put a content warning on her books just in case. There is some more explicit content. She's really good. Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay should be something that everyone knows, but a lot of people don't know of it. It is the single best single-volume epic fantasy ever written. Guy Gavriel Kay is Christopher Tolkien's friend in college, who help him put together the Silmarillion. A lot of people think he ghostwrote parts of it, but he's not allowed to say, so we're not sure. He's a fantasy writer into his own right; all of his stuff is amazing. He is lesser-known, and should be better-known than he is. I think there's a Tor book I just covered for, but I can't remember what it is.

    Questioner

    Was it The Emperor's Blades, by Brian Staveley?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, I think it was that. Yeah.

    Words of Radiance Philadelphia signing ()
    #4007 Copy

    Questioner

    In all of your books, except for, like, Warbreaker, there's always a very big symbology to your types of magic systems. Like, with the AonDor, with Allomancy. Is that intentional, is that something you have in your head before you get started on your books?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Is the symbolism, the symbology, the actual symbols in the books important? The magic systems, a lot of them have these... Is this something that I did intentionally? Yes, it is. When I built the cosmere, I built some underlying rules of magic that I would use in all of the books to give a cohesion. And not every one of these books is going to be very obvious. There will be different takes on them. But for a lot of them, they are sharing these attributes. And you can notice similarities between them. Because when I eventually do cosmere-centric books, I want Allomancy and AonDor to share things in common, so it doesn't feel like everything and the kitchen sink just thrown into a book. But there are underlying reasons and rules and things like that.

    Words of Radiance Philadelphia signing ()
    #4008 Copy

    Questioner

    Do you ever take inspiration for your characters from people you know in real life?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, I do. Usually, it's one small thing about a person that I know. Sarene from Elantris is based on a friend of mine named Annie. And many of my characters have some little attribute... I was just talking online with <?>, who is a guy that I know from Mongolia. I'm LDS, and I served a mission, and he was one of the other missionaries. And he threw shoes at people. This was his deal. Like, when he got mad at you, off came the big old Doc Marten and he threw it at you! So, in Dragonsteel, one of my books that's unpublished but we'll publish someday, there is an entire race that that's what they do when they're offended. The shoes come off. And Hoid once described it as, "When a bunch of them when they get angry, it's like a tornado hitting a cobbler shop." And shoes go everywhere.

    So, definitely, they do.

    Words of Radiance Los Angeles signing ()
    #4009 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    I did start writing on a new novella, just right after I finished Firefight. (Which is the sequel to Steelheart, which is done.) After I finished that, I started writing a little novella. I didn't finish it, but I got a few pages in. Just to try out something I've been thinking about doing for a while.

    So, this is based off of one of the very cool ideas I've had for a magic system for a long time, in which magic is granted by bacteria and viruses. You catch a disease, and the disease has evolved to give you a magical talent for a short time while you have the disease. In order to keep you alive and encourage you to spread the disease. And then when you get over the cold or whatever you've gotten, you lose that power. Which is a really cool idea to me, and the idea of what you would do with that and what culture and society would do with that.

    Words of Radiance Los Angeles signing ()
    #4010 Copy

    Questioner

    Does it mean anything different for you now that this is your own stuff, rather than the Wheel of Time?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Here's the weird thing. The Wheel of Time feels as much my own, even though probably, it shouldn't. The Wheel of Time is Robert Jordan's, let's be very frank on that. But the characters feel as much my own as Dalinar does. And the truth is, I knew Rand and Mat before I knew Dalinar, because I picked up the Wheel of Time in 1990, and I started writing Dragonsteel in '91. And so, I've known those characters longer than I've known any of my own characters. Even Hoid, who was there in that first one. He came after the Wheel of Time. And so, when I said yes to Harriet on the Wheel of Time, I did it... I mean, it was a fantastic opportunity. But I did it because this is something I would legitimately want to be part of. And I've talked before about some of the exciting things. Like, for years I'd been playing with a teleportation-based magic system, like gateways, because I had been reading Wheel of Time books and I'm like, "This is where that magic could go!" And I had it all sketched out in my notes. And then I had written, "I can't ever do this. It is too similar to the Wheel of Time."

    And then the Wheel of Time... I was writing it. And I'd be like, "Well, here are my notes on how to manipulate this magic system," because I'd spent years wanting to do this. And Perrin is, like, my high school friend. I was one of these nerdy, bookish people, who my friends were my characters in the books. (And, yes, I wasn't that lonely. I did have real friends.)

    So, does it feel different to me? No, it really doesn't. I mean, I'm really proud of this. I've been planning forever for this. So, this is my baby. But... When I was offered the Wheel of Time, one thing about it was, when Harriet gave it to me... Finding somebody to finish the Wheel of Time had been a dying request from Robert Jordan for her. She didn't grieve until she found someone to do it, and then she went and grieved for a year, and left me basically on my own. Now, when it came to editing, she then came in as an editor and had a very strong hand and was very important that she do that. But in the process of outlining the three books, writing the first one, and deciding on the plot archetypes and all these things, I did that basically just me and Robert Jordan's notes. And there was a large amount of ownership that Harriet allowed me to take, even though it's made very clear, "The Wheel of Time is not mine." But the characters kind of are mine, in the same way they're all of yours, if that makes any sense.

    So, no. It's a long answer, isn't it? One question I get a lot, people ask me, "Does it hurt to kill off characters? Does it hurt to have characters that you don't get to write about anymore?" And usually, my answer is "No." Because I have built a plot arc for years when I'm writing a book, where I know what risks that character's going to take, and I build into it then the consequences of those actions. And it's like, they demand to be allowed to do this, and then there is a ramification. And when I actually write it, yes, there's a sorrow to it, but at the same time, it's fulfilling what that character wanted to do for years and who they are, if that makes any sense. So, they are then done, and I don't feel a need to write any more about them. I'm not gonna mention any names, not give spoilers, but for a lot of these characters, I'm like, "No, I don't feel a need to write any more stories, because I told the story that they needed to have told, and that feels awesome."

    The exception is the Wheel of Time. Because, in some ways, the Wheel of Time is the only one... Now, I made the decision that no more Wheel of Time books should be written. It really belongs to Harriet, but when Harriet... She actually asked me what I thought we should do, and I was very up front with "No more Wheel of Time should be done." Because Robert Jordan didn't want it to be done. But the only ones that hurt are not being able to write more stories about some of those characters, because I don't feel their stories are completely told, and I don't feel that I can. So, that is painful. I feel it's good. It's the pain of having lost Robert Jordan. So, it's not a good pain, but it's a necessary pain. And it's a pain that I shouldn't relinquish by simply going and writing all these books, but that is a pain. Not being able to tell the stories of these characters that I really feel didn't quite get told. So you'll have to tell them all in your own head.

    Words of Radiance Los Angeles signing ()
    #4011 Copy

    Questioner

    Will Lift become a recurring character in future novels?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Lift is one of the characters which I have seeded to be a main character in future novels. For those who don't know, the Stormlight Archive is two arcs of five. The first five book arc is basically about the characters we're dealing [with] now, and it's almost like its own series. But I really like the idea of the form of the novel. (Sorry if this gets boring to you... I'm a professor.) But I love the form of the novel, and I llike ove doing things with it, which is why I've got that big essay on tor.com, if your read that one, the idea that I plotted Words of Radiance as a series of three books, that I put together in one volume, to force you to read a trilogy bound together. I plotted exactly the same way as I would plot a trilogy. So when you read this book, you're getting a trilogy. But it goes beyond that, 'cause as you're a writer, what you're doing is, you take this... first, you start with a sentence. And you want the sentence to have some sort of contrast in the sentence. You want it to be doing multiple things and have a contrast with itself. And then you build a paragraph. And a really good paragraph has a bit of a rise and fall to itself. You begin with something, and then you go, you dig into an idea, and then you come out of that idea. And you combine those paragraphs into scenes, and the scenes have a beginning, middle, and end of their own arc. And then you combine those scenes into chapters. And each chapter, when it works really well, has its own sculpted feel. And then the chapters come together for character arcs. And the character arcs come together for books. And then those books came together to be bound into what we call Words of Radiance, which is really three books bound as one. And then these become part of a five-book arc, and then those two five-book arcs become a mega arc for what I'm trying to do. This is just me playing with this idea of, "How many brackets can I put in here? How can I make this scope work the way I want it to?"

    And so, what you end up with is, hopefully, something that feels very cool, even though you have to wait a long time between them because of this. It takes a long time to write a trilogy. I really mean that... I don't know if you know how long this book is. But each of those pieces in there is longer than most novels, each of the three. And then there's a short story collection stapled in there, as well. In the interludes.

    The back five will have different characters, though some of the characters from the first five will still show up. And I'm seeding characters who will be important in the back five, in the front five. And Lift is important. Lift is... In my outline, she's one of those things, I had her in my wiki. (I have an internal wiki. You can't find it. It's on my computers only.) There's entries for characters that my assistants get to, and they're like "Who is this? You have this character being a main character, and they haven't even shown up yet." And I'm like, "Oh, let me tell you about them!"

    Words of Radiance Omaha signing ()
    #4012 Copy

    Questioner

    And [The Silence Divine] is a short story that I started working on right after I finished Words of Radiance. And I was going to finish this, but then Firefight really needed to be done, so I've only written about ten pages of this story. But it's partially inspired by my trip to Costa Rica. I usually write short stories based on places I've traveled.

    Words of Radiance Omaha signing ()
    #4013 Copy

    Questioner

    In Alloy of Law, were you influenced by steampunk stuff?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, I did. I love steampunk. I would say Rithmatist is a little bit more directly influenced. Alloy of Law is more influenced by... When I pitched Mistborn to my editor, I pitched it as a continuum. The idea being that I would take a fantasy world and grow it all the way up straight from epic fantasy, classic times, up straight through science fiction, where the magic is running through all of it. And I'd never seen that done before. So, I pitched it as nine books, it's probably gonna be more than that. But that was definitely an influence on me. A bigger influence are the Edgar Allen Poe detective stories, which are some of my favorites. I would say those were a big influence on me in developing this. So, yes.

    Words of Radiance Chicago signing ()
    #4015 Copy

    Questioner

    When you have written, did you ever write with other people in pairs? Or do you focus on writing solely as a...

    Brandon Sanderson

    Do I ever write with other people in pairs? I've tried it once, and it didn't work so well. So it's not something I'll probably do again. It works very well for some people, and it just didn't end up being something that worked really well for me.

    Questioner

    Was there something that caused it to fail?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No, there wasn't something specific that caused it to fail, other than the fact that I kind of like to be in control of my stories. And not being in control of my stories just didn't end up working out for me. It didn't save me any time, and it didn't save the other writer any time. It made both of us have to do more work.

    Words of Radiance Chicago signing ()
    #4016 Copy

    Questioner

    You do a lot of insider *inaudible* and you have *inaudible. How does that inform your process going forward *inaudible* the new books, knowing that you might someday have to tell people-?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, how does it inform my new books, knowing that I put so much stuff on my website? On there, I have annotations for a lot of my books, chapter-by-chapter. I have a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff. I grew up in the internet era. Well, at least I became a writer in the internet era. So I'm used to having extra information. I remember waiting for Wheel of Time books, and like, "When is this gonna be done?" And nobody knew, it was all hearsay. So, when I developed my website, I'm like, "Let's put a progress bar on so that it's right there, and you can go to the source and find out when the next book is gonna be done." So I just started, from the get-go, doing this extra bonus material. I feel like in this genre... Science fiction and fantasy people are very tech savvy. I'm willing to bet that every one in this room could torrent the books for free if they wanted to. And instead they buy them and support me. It's a genre where I am directly supported by fans as a conscious choice on their part. So I feel that it's my part to give them everything I can as this sort of additional content with the book. Because it's not just the book, it's everything surrounding it that you're buying into. And that's just kind of a personal quest of mine. It does make me more aware of my process. Because I'm like, "Oh, they're gonna ask me where I came up with this character. Where did I come up with this character as I'm designing it?" And I'll write down some notes on, "This is what inspired me here." It gets much harder for me to talk about Elantris and Mistborn, 'cause I can't dig so deep into my my influences, even Way of Kings sometimes, because they go back so far. But books that are newer, I can be, "Hey, this is exactly where my influences came from." Because I am <so conscious> now. Good question.

    Shadows of Self San Francisco signing ()
    #4017 Copy

    Questioner

    With regards to the audiobook, how does it feel hearing Rand and Egwene, and Kaladin and Shallan?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, that's really weird. In regards to the audiobook, how does it feel to hear some of the same voices coming out from my characters that are in the Wheel of Time. That's really weird. But after just a few minutes, my mind shifts over.

    Shadows of Self San Francisco signing ()
    #4019 Copy

    Questioner

    How many books do you read per year?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Not as many as I want. Maybe twelve or fifteen.

    Questioner

    Do you ever stop reading something, or do you always finish a book?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I stop reading nowadays, if it's just not working for me. I couldn't do that when I was younger. But now that I'm a writer... I hit this moment, a lot of writers hit this, where reading becomes less fun for you for a while, while you're becoming a writer. And then, a lot of us just push over it, but it changes you. And what changed me is, I just don't stick with a book that I'm not enjoying. I do always give them twenty percent. 'cause I figure, you need to give a book enough time to get its hooks in you. You can't judge it based on the first little bits. But if by about a quarter, it's just not working for me, I will abandon it.

    Shadows of Self San Francisco signing ()
    #4020 Copy

    Questioner

    Out of all of the covers for any of your books, anywhere in the world, what was your favorite cover?

    Brandon Sanderson

    My favorite cover of all of my covers is the first cover of The Way of Kings by Michael Whelan. Because I have this, kind of, emotional connection to Michael's work. The first fantasy book I ever read was Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly, with its gorgeous Michael Whelan cover, and I didn't even know the genre really existed, I just went to the bookstore and found the next book in the card catalogue, and it was Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey, also with its gorgeous Whelan cover. And I read all of those. And so, it went hand-in-hand. The next one I started was Melanie Rawn, which was another Whelan cover. So, the first three series I ever read were all done by him, and were all done by these feminist fantasy writers. And those two things have kind of shaped how I see the fantasy genre. But I would recommend all three of those series, by the way, to you guys, they are fantastic. Dragonsbane, in particular, is still very close to my heart. The first one, in particular. Barbara was kind of depressed when she wrote the rest of them.

    Shadows of Self San Francisco signing ()
    #4021 Copy

    Questioner

    Is there any genre that you really want to do a book for, but you haven't had the opportunity yet?

    Brandon Sanderson

    If I really wanted... you know, I haven't. I've had stories that I haven't had time to do, that I haven't had a chance for. But I've kind of hit the genres I want to, because Legion let me dabble in the police mystery thing, and Emperor's Soul let me dabble in a little more literary. I've done science fiction, I've done fantasy. I'm sure there are other genres, but, you know...

    Shadows of Self San Francisco signing ()
    #4023 Copy

    Questioner

    When designing the Aons for AonDor, how many did you intentionally sneak in sneaky hints about the universe in them, or were those happy accidents?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I snuck in a whole bunch of stuff, but then there's a whole bunch more stuff that was happy accidents. A lot of the cosmere stuff was intentional. Because, when I sold my first book, I had already written drafts of Dragonsteel, which was Hoid's origin story. I had written drafts of the Way of Kings. I had written drafts of Mistborn. I had written all of these things, so I could sit down and say, "Okay, I've got this whole work, let's get it together." So I kinda was able to cheat, because I'd finished all these books before, so I was able to release Elantris with a lot of really cool hints built into it.

    But there are always things that fans point out and say, "Wow, you did this cool thing." And you don't want to say "No, I wasn't that cool." I'll do that one occasionally. Mostly, I'm like, "Ooh, yes. Hmmm." I was smarter than I thought I was, that's okay. Reader response literary criticism means I can say, "Yes, you are right!"

    Shadows of Self San Francisco signing ()
    #4024 Copy

    Questioner

    If you could write a story from another author's character and point of view, who would it be?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It would be Wheel of Time. And I say that a little bit cheekily, and a little bit not. We are not gonna write any more Wheel of Time books. This is because I don't feel Robert Jordan would want it to happen. But if I had my wish, I would summon him back from the dead, and he'd say "What the heck," but I'd say, "Can I really just write this one more?" And if he said yes then I'd love to write it. I would love to tell some more stores, but I'm not going to; knowing what I know and having read the interviews I read with him, he would not approve of it, so I'm not gonna do it. If I were able to make *inaudible* happen, that's the one I would pick.

    If you want something more realistic, I don't know, because all my favorite writers, I'm like, "I want to read what they are working on, I don't want to do it myself." The whole idea of loving it is that they're do it. I have turned down writing for the Marvel universe. They came to me and said, "Hey! Pick a character, write a book on him. We don't care who. Please?" These are the sort of weird things that start happening to you when you're in my position, and you have to say no. 'Cause I'm just like, "I've read comic books. I like comic books. You guys are doing great stuff. I'm doing my own great stuff. You don't need me." Robert Jordan needed me. So, I don't know that I would do anything else unless there were a friend or a series that needed me.

    Shadows of Self San Francisco signing ()
    #4025 Copy

    Questioner

    For people who are not familiar with fantasy and science fiction novels, what novel would you suggest they start with?

    People who are not familiar with your works, which novel would you suggest first, and why?

    Brandon Sanderson

    This is a hard question to answer because, usually, when I run into this, I try to talk with the person and see what they like in their fiction. Because the great thing about fantasy and science fiction is it basically does everything that every other genre does, plus has dragons. That's the definition of fantasy: whatever you love from any other book, we will do, and we will add dragons. Naomi Novik, right? It's Master and Commander, and everything you love about those, plus dragons. So, if someone is on the more literary side of things, I'll find something more literary. Like, I'll give them Urusla Le Guin, probably. But if someone's like, a teen, who just is like, "I don't know what I like, I just like cool stuff," then I'll try to dig out one of the great teen books, like The Blue Sword (which really got my wife into fantasy when she was a teenager) or David Eddings, or one of these things that, you know, if they were published today, they'd probably publish as YA books, but back then they just were published however. So, it depends on the person. If someone likes big historical epics, like they're reading stuff like that, 'cause the big historicals are thick, then I'm gonna give them Wheel of Time. Be like, "This is a historical epic in a world that doens't exist"

    For my own, I kinda do the same thing. If someone is more literary, I give them Emperors Soul. If somebody likes more romance or humor, I'll give them Warbreaker. And if someone likes action adventure, or is kinda like, "I just like all kinds of things," I'll give them Mistborn, 'cause it kind of touches on everything. And if they are masochistic, I'll give them The Way of Kings. Way of Kings is my best work, but it's also the one that hits you in the face the most, particularly at the beginning. I'ts like, "Oh you wanna read this book? Haha, BAM BAM BAM BAM." And then by the end you love it because you're not getting hit anymore.

    Shadows of Self San Francisco signing ()
    #4026 Copy

    Questioner

    On the subject of audiobooks, was there every one you listened to and heard something that was read really differently than the way you imagined?

    Brandon Sanderson

    You know, every time I listen to an audiobook, there are certain interpretations that are different. And I like that. It's like getting cover art that is a different art form. I really like how this different art form goes. So it's not, like, "Oh, they shouldn't have done this." It's a, "Oh, here is how he interpreted it.

    Questioner

    Is there one in particular that springs to your mind?

    Brandon Sanderson

    When Michael Kramer made the Herdazians from Way of Kings sound Australian. That was kinda different because they're Hispanic. But it's okay, it's a fantasy world. So, they actually aren't Hispanic, and they actually aren't Australian. But, the Herdazians came, because my wife, who teaches ESL, and speaks very fluent Spanish, says, "Why does everyone always put cool Asian cultures and cool western cultures into their fantasy novels? Where are the Hispanics?" And that stuck in my head for, like, five or six years, until The Lopen popped out.

    Shadows of Self San Jose signing ()
    #4028 Copy

    Questioner

    When you're having a hard time writing some of your... for example, the Rithmatist, you said came out of struggling to finish something.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, I was struggling to finish another attempt at Hoid's origin story that wasn't working. So I jumped over and wrote something else.

    Questioner

    I was wondering if you could talking a little bit about how working on another project... Is it the fact that that idea is sitting around in your head that's keeping you from...

    Brandon Sanderson

    Good question. So, the question is, "Working on another project. What makes me jump? What makes me excited? What's going on?" It's very dangerous to get in the habit of jumping projects. And I've trained myself not to do this except in extreme cases. But once in a while, you just hit a funk on a book so much that you don't want to let it become a theme, you don't want it to let it become momentum for you, or the lack of it. And so I would jump to something else that it's just repeatedly, it's just not working for me. And I know my writing style enough to know that that's not common to me. If it happened every project, then it would be a problem I'd need to push past. In that case, the book just wasn't working, and I'm gonna work on this other thing that I'm really excited about, just to make sure I'm recapturing my love of writing, and not getting into a funk. And that, actually, is kind of how I manage my writing overall. I will jump projects after I finish something to make sure I don't get burned out on writing. As soon as I finish something, I look for something very different to do, in order to keep myself fresh. And that's why you see these lots of different things for me, is because that is how my psychology works. I always need to be doing something new.

    Shadows of Self San Jose signing ()
    #4029 Copy

    Questioner

    When you're designing your magic systems, what is it you typically go into?

    Brandon Sanderson

    At that thing I said, brandonsanderson.com/writing/advice, I've got three essays on magic systems that can cover it way better than talking about it right now. That'll get you really into it. I would suggest those, they're called Sanderson's Laws, because I'm really humble. Asimov has them, and Clarke has them; so I can have them, there's not fantasy guys who have laws. So go read those, and they will talk you through how I develop a magic system.

    Questioner

    I was wondering about the background behind one of them. Stormlight.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Background behind the magic system in Stormlight traces back to my early history as a science major. I was a biochemistry major in college, before I jumped ship to English. And I've always been interested in the sciences quite a bit, and you'll see that in writing as a theme through my magics. The magic system of Roshar is based on the idea of the fundamental forces. I love the idea of the fundamental forces. This idea that there are certain interactions between parts of matter and energy that transcend everything else and rule how our entire world works was fascinating. So I wanted to come up with this idea of ten fundamental forces that worked with the magic system of the cosmere. Because there are extra forces, because there's weird stuff in the cosmere. Some of them are one-to-one. Gravitation is just one of the fundamental forces. And the strong and weak forces, I played with and came up with some things for that too, so you'll see that. But on the other hand, we've got things like transcending between the Physical Realm and the Cognitive Realm, which is a very cosmere-type thing. So, I built ten fundamental forces. And then I was playing with the idea (which I have in the cosmere) of pieces of energy becoming sapient. You've seen it happen in Elantris, you've seen it happen in Warbreaker. Way of Kings is one of the places I really wanted to show off how this works. So, the idea of the spren connecting a bond to the force that they're related to in certain ways, that just grew out of that.

    Shadows of Self San Jose signing ()
    #4030 Copy

    Questioner

    If Patrick Rothfuss dropped dead tomorrow, would you finish the Kingkiller Chronicles?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So... if there were no other options. The thing is, I'm not sure how good a match I would be for Kingkiller. I might be able to do it. Thing is, Pat and I have... some similarities; our use of magic is very similar, and our use of viewpoint. We're very similar in those two things. Pat is very different from me in narrative structure. And more importantly (because I could do his narrative structure), he is a prose stylist, that has a lyricism to his writing that is very different from what I try to do. I have spent my life practicing something that in the industry we call Orwellian prose, which is... George Orwell would talk about how he wanted his prose to be a window pane. That through which you saw the story, but didn't distract you in any way. And I try to move my writing, most of the time, away from anything that draws attention to itself. Except for the occasional flourish at, like, the beginning of the chapter, or something like that.

    Pat, every one of his lines is gorgeous. It's part of what makes the Kingkiller work so well. And that is not a skill I have practiced. I would think that somebody like Guy Gavriel Kay, or Nora Jemisin, who are fantastic prose stylists, might be a better match, because that's something you can't just fake. You can maybe work with a bad plot, but voice, it's so different.

    I was a very similar voice to Robert Jordan. I had studied his things. While he's more flowery than I am, I knew his style enough that it was a good match. So, someone like Brent Weeks, who writes like me, then that's something that I could do. But someone like Pat... Pat would be a really tough one for me to pull off.

    One of the weird things is, people joke about me taking over George Martin. Which you shouldn't joke about, we totally want George to make it through... My prose is much closer to George Martin's, but my thematic content is way different. People talk about this like, "Let's just give it to Sanderson." I'm like, "Really? Do you want all these Game of Thrones people to stop swearing and get married, because that's what I..." *inaudible* You don't want me taking over George. You'd rather me taking over Pat.

    Shadows of Self San Jose signing ()
    #4031 Copy

    Questioner

    You mentioned networking. Which, I've always wondered, for things like this, is there any point in me trying to make a connection with you *inaudible* ten years?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It's very hard to make any kind of meaningful connection with the established authors. If you want to network, you can try, but I just don't have the time. People will ask me out to dinner on tour, and I've already got, like, five friends and family I've got to say no to. I can't even go to dinner with Jason. (Hi, Jason.) One of my long-term friends, because I'm just popping all the time on tour. At a convention, you can usually grab an author, if you're at a con, and be like, "Hey, can I ask you questions for a few minutes," and it's less about networking then, and more about getting information. People you should be networking with are your colleagues.

    Here's an interesting story. So, I took a class in 2000 at BYU as an undergraduate. And it was taught by David Farland, who's a fantasy novelist. I'm like, "Oh, there's a real novelist teaching a class. I'm gonna take that." Some of my friends felt... people I didn't know, but other people like me, went and took this class. In this class, I met a man named Dan Wells. I met another man named Peter Ahlstrom. A woman named Kaylynn ZoBell. A group of our friends, the people who became my friends, I started a writing group with them. Well, I sold a book, went full-time. Dan sold a book and went full-time. Peter became an editor at TokyoPop and went full-time. And Kaylynn sold a book. She hasn't gone full-time because that panics her. But, of the people in that class, we are the only ones who went pro. And all of us did. Which should tell you something. And that is, having a community of people who support you as writers... I don't think we were the best writers in that group. I think we're the ones that supported each other, kept practicing, and we became the best writers. But that's that support group. And what happened is, Dan came up to me at a con, and said, "Hey, I found this guy, Moshe Feder. You should come talk to him." So Dan pulled me over and I talked to Moshe. I sold a book to Moshe. Years later, Dan had written a book I thought Moshe would like, and I called Moshe and said, "Hey, the guy who introduced us has a book. You should read it." And Moshe bought Dan's book. And you kind of help each other out, and things like that.

    You should be networking with those people. And the other people are the editors and agents. They're at conventions and conferences to work with new writers. That's the purpose. They're always hunting for new talent there. An editor and agent, because they love science fiction and fantasy, and are looking for people to bring out to the world. Every editor wants to be Hugo Gernsback, who discovers these new writers, and things like that. So those are the people to network with.

    Shadows of Self San Jose signing ()
    #4032 Copy

    Questioner

    So, [Shadows of Self], when they were doing the PR for it, Tor put out, like, six or eight free chapters. At some point, don't you feel you're just slowly...

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, here's the story behind that. They're like, "We're gonna start our PR!" and they released three chapters in July. And I wrote to them, and I'm like, "The book comes out in October. And if you want to get people excited about the book, why did you release all the chapters in July?" And they're like, "Oh, yeah... Right." So, then they said, "I guess we'll just release three more in October leading up to the launch. I'm like, "Okay, sure." You now, I'm the one who released Warbreaker for free on my website. If you haven't read that one, it's just there for free under Creative Commons, because I figure people who enjoy my writing are going to start supporting me as a writer, either by giving my books to their friend or buying them or coming to events like this, so... Part of me wouldn't mind if Tor just gave away every one of the books, because more people would actually go buy them if the people who wanted to buy them could try them out for free. We've got this weird thing in with books entertainment where you don't know if you're gonna like it until you get to the end. But we expect you to pay for it up front. You know, that's not unusual, but at the same time that's like going to a restaurant and having a big list of things that you don't know what they are, and not telling you what they are, just saying "Oh, you'll love them." And then expect you to order a meal kind of randomly. Once an author has his track record, I think that it's a little bit more... makes sense for people to say "Oh, I trust Sanderson, I'm gonna like this book. I can buy this book and enjoy it and read it." When they came and said "We're thinking of giving The Way of Kings away free for six months on Amazon," I said, "Yes, give it away. Get people to read the book." That's kind of the opposite of stopping people from reading it. I'm for it.

    Shadows of Self San Jose signing ()
    #4033 Copy

    Questioner

    How did the name Bridge Four [come about]?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, I stole Bridge Four (there's an interesting story to it)... Dragonsteel was my seventh novel, and it's Hoid's origin story, and it takes place... the series is Hoid's origin story, though that book doesn't really get into it. We have a few viewpoints from him, but it's not really about him. And the idea was, I was gonna kind of lead into this epic fantasy, and then start talking about this mysterious character who was a big part of it. And the main character I decided to lead in with that was this person who got stuck in a bridge crew. It's not Kaladin, it's a very different character, but the idea of the bridge crews. Well, eventually, I took Dalinar out of... even before I was writing Dragonsteel, I pulled him out, set him for a different book. And eventually it became clear to me that I needed to pull the bridge crews out and move them to Roshar because they just worked better. I had this great idea for these bridge crews, but the world they're in just didn't match. And the chasms and things matched very well. So I moved them out and made them a part of Kaladin's story. What I'm getting at is, I came up with the bridge crews, like, twenty years ago, and I have no idea why I picked four, other than... I have no idea. Bridge Four has been Bridge Four to me for years. In fact, if you read Dragonsteel, you can still find Rock in Bridge Four from twenty years ago, acting kind of the same. And a few of the other characters are still there, as well.

    Firefight Miami signing ()
    #4034 Copy

    Questioner

    A little while ago, you had a little competition thing with James Dashner... I was wondering, is there some secret writer club where you guys all send each other emails saying, "Oh, in my book, my newest character does this cool thing."

    Brandon Sanderson

    The truth is, there are kind of some things like that. We have some listservs. But more, it's not on email, it's having dinners, things like that. Particularly people who broke in when I did, like [Patrick] Rothfuss, [Joe] Abercrombie, and some of these guys, we end up at cons kinda the same time, running the same rounds, and end up chatting with each other, and just-- We've become friends that way, and also slightly rivals. You see us doing things like this.

    My Abercrombie story. Did you guys see on my Twitter feed? ...I was in Amsterdam, I was running to catch a plane in Amsterdam. I started in London, I had a signing in Calgary. I don't know how that happened, but I needed to do a signing in Calgary. So, I'm through passing Amsterdam. This sounds a lot more glorious than it is. I'm passing through, and I found my book at an English language bookstore in the airport in Amsterdam. So, I did my normal thing, I hurriedly signed it, I stuffed some goodies in it, I took a picture, and tweeted my fans, "Anyone passing through Amsterdam airport, look what you can find!" And then I get a text from Joe Abercrombie where he's like, "Dude, my book was next to yours." I'm like, "Oh, great, nice. Great." And he's like, "No, no. Go sign that." *laughter* Pardon my French but, he might have said, "Go sign that bitch." (That's not me. I don't use language like that.) I'm like, "I'm gonna be late to my flight." He's like, "I don't care, go sign that book!" So I had to run back-- He'd done this over Twitter, so everyone knew he was doing it. So, I had to run back to the bookstore, sign Joe Abercrombie's book. You know, people ask me a lot, when I do these stealth signings, do I ever get caught? No, they never-- If someone starts signing a book, if they see me, what they say is, "Oh, are you the author?" They're used to authors coming through. I've had to show ID once, and it was my picture in the back of the book. But I was sure that this time, they were gonna be like "Oh, Mr. Abercrombie!" And then see the picture in the back of the book and be like, "What are you doing?!?" But that didn't happen, and I made my flight, though I had to-- I was so late, I had to check my bags, there wasn't enough space. That's Joe Abercrombie for you.

    So, yeah, we just kind of end up in the same circles, and things.

    Firefight Miami signing ()
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    Questioner

    How much do you see your family every day?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, my family is at a hotel right now. All of them, including the two-year-old. So, I had a very fun airplane flight. Normally, when I'm tour, I'm in first class. I'm not ashamed to admit that because I can write in first class. In coach, I just can't get that done. So I'm up there in first class, typing away. This time, I was in coach with a two year old on my lap, watching Elmo.

    You know, it's not as bad as it looks, because every day that I'm not on tour, I'm home all day. And my schedule still being what it is, I still generally write at night. So I get up at noon. And I go the gym, I check my email, and I only really get, like, three hours or so of good writing in before 5:00 rolls around, and I go out and I play with my kids, and I spend time with my wife. And at about 8:00 or 10:00, depending on the night, I go back in to work, and I work from 10:00 to 4:00. And that's when the real work happens. My wife, being a more morning person (she was a schoolteacher; I did marry an eight-grade English teacher, as well), she, more of a morning person, goes to bed at, like, 10:00 or 11:00. So she can go to bed, and I can go to work. And it's pretty awesome, honestly. Once she got used to the idea that I'm gonna go to bed at 4:00 AM (I tried to go to bed at her time, and I just laid there at bed; I'm a night person.) But it can be pretty awesome. For instance, when the kids were babies, we didn't have the whole sleep-deprived thing. Because I would stay up with the kid, I would just stay up a few extra hours, and I'd do the 2:00 feeding and the 6:00 feeding with a pumped bottle or whatever, and then she would get up and take over. And we both got full nights of sleep. So, it was pretty awesome.

    I do see my family quite a bit, although I do feel I've been touring a bit too much lately. It's the idea of having two publishers, because Random House does my teen books, The Reckoners, and Tor does the rest of my books. So when I go on tour for one, the other one, like, shows up on my doorstep, like a sad puppy, like, "We want a tour, too." And then the Brits show up, and they're all, like, charming and stuff. And they're like, "Chip chip, wanna go on a tour?" A free trip to London? Okay. It's kind of hard--  I shouldn't make fun of the Brits, but the fun thing is, when you're touring there, all of the Sarahs, every Sarah that I had to sign a book, I'd say "What's your name," they'd say "Sarah with an haitch." Every time. I got used to saying "with an haitch."

    I tour too much, but I like going to these places. It's the awesome part of my job, that we get a phone call, like, "Do you want a free trip to Taiwan, because we'd love to have you sign here." I'm like, "Taiwan is cool. Dumplings..."

    Firefight Miami signing ()
    #4036 Copy

    Questioner

    Did you, in Wheel of Time, at any point, want to just change something?

    Brandon Sanderson

    You know, when I got The Wheel of Time, when I was offered it... one of the things they were looking for-- that Harriet (Harriet was Robert Jordan's widow. She was his editor first, then she married him. And we always joked that's how she made sure her editorial advice got taken. So, she discovered him, basically fell in love with him, and they got married. It's actually a really cool story. She was Tor's editorial director. She was the person who edited-- found and edited Ender's Game. Glen Cook's Black Company. She is amazing as an editor. And she discovered Robert Jordan, as well.) So, she was the one looking. When she called me, she found me when read Mistborn. I didn't know I was being considered, it's not like I sent in an application or something. She came to me, and she said, basically, after she decided she wanted me for sure, she said, "I need somebody to be the writer on this. That means complete creative control." Now, she was going to edit it, and her word was gonna be final. Which is not normally the case with an editor. But in this case, what Harriet said, she told me, "Whatever you feel needs to be done, do it, and sell me on it. And if I'm sold on it in the writing, then we keep it. And if I'm not, then we'll talk about how to revise it and fix it."

    Because the notes and the outline were very free-form. Robert Jordan was not an outliner. He just had chunks and little bits of scenes here and there, and interviews with his assistants where he said "I'm thinking of doing this, or this thing that's completely the opposite, and I might just do a third thing that I can't decide on yet." Like, there was a ton of that. Going in, one of my mandates to myself was, when we did have something from Robert Jordan, we wanted to be sure to keep it. When we had something firm from him. And in that case, we kept basically all of it, except where it contradicted itself. Because his notes sometimes, he would change, he would be working on Book, like, Nine. And he writes a note for what he wants the ending to be. And then by Book Eleven, he's like, "I want this to be the ending." And those two, we don't know which one he would have settled on, so sometimes I'm just like, "I'm gonna strike this out and do a different thing." Like, he wanted to use the Choedan Kal in the ending. Both of them. But one, he destroyed. So, that note was from a previous... he'd written that before he decided to destroy it. Stuff like that.

    In the end, there was only one thing I wanted to change that I didn't, and that was the spanking scene. With Cadsuane and Semirhage. Which, you know, I'm not big on the whole spanking thing, but he said write it, and I'm like, "All right, Robert Jordan, I'll write it."

    Questioner

    What was your favorite bit that you added?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Probably Aviendha going through the glass pillars, or Perrin forging his hammer. Those were both things that I felt the story needed. Perrin, there was very little on. He didn't leave any notes for Perrin, basically, at all. And so, Perrin, throughout the whole thing, I basically had to do. But Perrin was my favorite character, so I was very excited about that. He left a ton on Egwene. She was the one he'd almost finished her whole plot through the whole thing, and he was about halfway on Rand and Mat.

    Firefight Miami signing ()
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    Questioner

    What was the first magic system that blew you away as a reader?

    Brandon Sanderson

    As a reader, the first magic system that blew me away would be Melanie Rawn's Sunrunner magic system, which I-- still to this day is one of my favorites. I think the pieces of it came together very well, and it has metaphors for art, and it was well worked in society. Anyway, it was really cool.

    Firefight Miami signing ()
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    KChan

    Just a random piece of worldbuilding, could be big or small, from the Final Empire, that we did not get to see in the books.

    Brandon Sanderson

    There's a whole bunch of stuff. Let's see what's good. Have I told people this one yet? There used to be very little water on [Scadrial]. In fact, it was mostly a dry planet; if you saw it from space, it looked like Mars, with little patches...

    KChan

    Did Preservation change that?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No, that was just the heat, and the things that were going on with moving the planet boiled off a lot of water.

    KChan

    I mean, putting the water back?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh, with Sazed? Yes, Sazed did. So, like, with the bodies of water you see in the map, are actually not really oceans... I mean-- like, that is the extent of it. Like, it's not actually-- I know people think that's a sea, but it's not. Well, it's an inland sea.

    Questioner

    It's just not that it's very habitable beyond that point?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah.

    Firefight Miami signing ()
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    Questioner

    How would you have changed Steelheart from Young Adult to Adult.

    Brandon Sanderson

    More viewpoints. I probably would have shown other peoples-- like, a Prof thread would have been a big part of it. The big difference for me, for the Adult and the Young Adult is the characters you're focusing on, and the number of viewpoints. That's the basic thing I change.

    Questioner

    Not so much about violence, or anything along those lines?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No, not really. For a middle grade, I will probably hold back a bit. That's why Rithmatist, which I consider middle grade, is a little less. But Steelheart-- Generally, in the business, we consider YA to be the genre that is not edited for content, and middle grade to be the one that is. And that's just-- Based on what's going on with teens, and things like that.

    Firefight Miami signing ()
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    Questioner

    So, did Sazed change that no more Mistborn are born? Because I noticed that--I know he made Spook one-- in Alloy they talk about Mistborn...

    Brandon Sanderson

    The idea is-- I won't say absolutely no to Sazed's manipulation. But, there weren't any Mistborn other than him that survived. The Allomantic lines were very diluted. So, his direct descendants-- you might be able to even find one potentially now. Someone might be born, or one might have been born that didn't tell people about it. But in the general public and population, it's just, there's not as much Allomancy around... He did also change Snapping, which had an effect on it.

    Firefight Miami signing ()
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    Questioner

    When is the official timeline gonna get released for the whole cosmere?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, I only gave it to Peter, who is my continuity editor, like, in September. And that's the first time he'd seen it. I think it's gonna take a little while, he says he wants to go through in minutia and make it work. Plus there's major spoilers for things that Odium has done, and stuff like that.

    Firefight Miami signing ()
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    Questioner

    The Mistborn RPG. How involved are you still in that? Are they still making-- I got the two supplements they made.

    Brandon Sanderson

    The first one, I was very involved in. The second two, I let my assistants take over. Because I just have too much to do. So, I'm only involved as much as I like-- the original core, and then I've given the okay to go forward. But I made them put, particularly for the second two, the disclaimer at the front that says "This isn't canon, guys. It's canon for your version of the universe, that you're roleplaying." And I think that's just fine, because your roleplaying stories are only canon for your group anyways. I mean, I will have to have the freedom to come up with things I need to come up with, and I told them that. I said, like, Alloy, I was not planning to do this era, so I don't have the detailed notes I can give you on the other ones about all the houses and things.

    Questioner

    Are they looking to do Elantris and Stormlight?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No, right now they just want to do Mistborn. I think Stormlight would be the next they would do, but I think they want to cover Mistborn.

    Questioner

    There's stuff in their forums where people I've seen are throwing stuff out, like "Here's what I would do for Shardplate." I didn't know if there was anything official that they were--

    Brandon Sanderson

    Nothing official. No, we are doing a Shattered Plains board game. War game board game things. Someone came to us with a really cool proposal. It's a little ways off, 'cause we just signed on it in September. They had a great proposal, it's gonna be so much fun. One of these German style, with all the pieces and things.

    Firefight Miami signing ()
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    Questioner

    I can't really remember very well, but I think only Kaladin really says Radiant Oaths in the books, at least. So, for Shallan to have as many powers as she does, has she already said one of the ideals, and we just don't know?

    Brandon Sanderson

    ...You have her glyph whisper one. And you have seen Dalinar say one. So, most of them say them. Shallan's Order, they admit truths. Their Oaths are a very different sort of thing.

    Questioner

    'Cause I know, I did read that, but I was wondering-- it said somewhere else that all the Knights Radiant have to say the First Ideal.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, they do have to do that.

    Questioner

    So, she has said that.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh, yeah, she has said that. That is somewhere in her past.

    Questioner

    Which, presumably, we'll find out about some other point in time?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Possibly. I think that can be inferred.

    Firefight Miami signing ()
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    Questioner

    Shards. Is it possible for them to think outside-- without having a person they're working through?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The power left alone around people will eventually gain a kind of sentience.

    Questioner

    Kind of like the Stormfather?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes. So it is possible. It doesn't always happen, and sometimes it takes a while. For example, the Dor? Basic, rudimentary, feeling only. It's not-- you know.

    Firefight Miami signing ()
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    Questioner

    How far does Sazed's power actually extend?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It is mostly limited to his immediate sphere of influence, so the planet.

    Questioner

    ...But doesn't he move stars at the end?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No, he moved the planet. His solar system, he can definitely have influence on the whole solar system. But none of the other planets around Scadrial are inhabited.

    Firefight Miami signing ()
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    Questioner

    Assassin in White. He's still working for the bad guys, right? Because he doesn't have a spren attached to his sword? *pause* You don't know?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I know. "Bad guys" is an interesting definition in the cosmere. Right now... he is directly under the influence of the Skybreakers. Who were an Order of Knights Radiant.