Was Scadrial visited by any other Shard before the events of Mistborn? If so, which one?
Was Scadrial visited by any other Shard before the events of Mistborn? If so, which one?
In 2014, Brandon said First of the Sun - the planet in Sixth of the Dusk - is a minor Shardworld, in that it does not have a Shard present (https://wob.coppermind.net/events/103-salt-lake-city-comic-con-2014/#e1010). However, we've now gotten a WoB saying that Patji - the Father island - IS a Shard (https://wob.coppermind.net/events/256-oathbringer-london-signing/#e8606). Patji was a Shard, but isn't during SotD? Or did we finally get confirmation on that elusive "Survival Shard"? What do you guys think?
I stand by them. Though, as always, quotes and WoBs at signings aren't always as deliberately thought out as I'd like them to be. Answering questions on the fly can be challenging, and my phrasing can be bad in retrospect.
But no Shard was in residence on First of the Sun during the events of that story. The Investiture on that planet is residue, normal Investiture from Adonalsium. Everything happening there could happen with or without a Shard present. Indeed, I would say that no Shard was ever "in residence" on First of the Sun.
The being called Patji still exists, and is a Shard of Adonalsium. Shards in the past have been interested in First of the Sun, and have meddled in small ways there. (Like they have on a lot of Shardworlds.)
Note that I might have been a little misleading in the first quote by bringing up Threnody, which is a real corner case in the cosmere because of uncommon events there.
That said, I'm sure that every story I write about a planet will bring up the quirks and unusual interactions of the magic there, because that's kind of what I do. (First of the Sun has its own oddities, as mentioned in Arcanum Unbounded.) Every planet is likely to end up as a corner case in some way, just like every person is distinctive in their own way, and never fully fits expectations.
I still consider one of the major dividing lines between "major" and "minor" Shardworlds (other than Shard residence) to be in strength of access to the magic, and control over it. I intend the minor Shardworlds to involve interactions with the magic as setting--coming back to spren, you could have a minor Shardworld with people who use, befriend, even bond spren. (Or the local equivalent--Seon, Aviar, etc.) But you'd never see power on the level of the city of Elantris, the actions of a Bondsmith, or even the broad power suite of a Mistborn.
But, as ever, the cosmere is a work in progress. The needs of telling a great story trump things I've said about what I'm planning. (I do try as much as I can to avoid having two texts contradict one another. And when they do, that's often a lapse on my part.)
So the Investiture on First of the Sun is associated with a Shard or is it residue, normal Investiture from Adonalsium?
Cause the question was a follow up (on this) where you revealed that all Investiture in Cosmere got assigned to a Shard even if it wasn't part of a Shard.
And then you said that the one on First of the Sun is directly associated with one of the Shards (and since later you revealed Patji to be an avatar of Autonomy (also, what are avatars and how do they work?)) we took it to mean that at one point Autonomy Invested in First of the Sun.
But now you're saying it didn't?
If there was no Shard ever on First of the Sun but Patji is a Shard/avatar of a Shard then where is Patji, actually?
Could you please clarify all that?
So the Investiture on First of the Sun is associated with a Shard or is it residue, normal Investiture from Adonalsium?"
The reason I have so much trouble answering these questions (and you'll see me struggling to get an answer in the 10-15 seconds I have when someone asks me in a signing line) is because this isn't an either or. Is this computer I'm using matter associated with Earth, the Big Bang, or such-and-such star that went supernova long ago? Well, it's probably all three.
When people ask, "What Shard is this Investiture associated with" it gets very complicated. Shards influence and tweak certain Investiture, giving it a kind of spin or magnetism, but all Investiture ever predates the Shattering--and in the cosmere matter, energy, and Investiture are one thing.
I always imagine Investiture having certain states, certain magnetisms if you will, associated with certain aspects of Adonalsium. So it's all "assigned" to a Shard--because it's always been associated with that Shard. To Investiture, Adonalsium's Shattering meant everything and nothing at the same time.
We generally mean the term "Invested" to mean a Shard has taken permanent residence in a location, a kind of base of operations--but at the same time, this is meaningless, since distance has no meaning on the Spiritual Realm, where most Shards are. So imprisonment of a Shard like Ruin or Odium is a crude expression--but the best we have.
Autonomy never "Invested" on First of the Sun. But even answering (as someone else asked) if they created an avatar without visiting is a difficult thing to explain--because even explaining how a Shard travels (when motion is irrelevant) is difficult to manage. It's a subject that I intend to be up for debate, discussion, and argument by in-world philosophers and arcanists.
You can see why I have such troubles explaining these things at signings--and why I fail when I try to, considering the time limitations and (often) fatigue limitations placed upon me. These are concepts I intend to spend entire, lengthy epic volumes explaining and exploring.
Let's say you were Autonomy, and you have--through expanding and exploring your understanding--found a gathering of Investiture that has always been there, you always knew about, but still didn't actually recognize until the moment you considered and explored it. (Because even though your power is infinite, accessing and using that infinity is beyond your reach.) Were you "Invested" there? No, no more than you're Invested on Roshar, where parts of what were Adonalsium still exist that are associated with you (in the very fabric of mater and existence.) But suddenly, you have a chance to tweak, influence, and do things that were always possible, but which you never could do because you knew, but didn't know, at the same time.
And...I'm already into WAY more than I want to be typing this out right now. If it's confusing, it's because it's practically impossible for me to explain these things in a short span of time.
I'm going to leave it here, understanding that no, I haven't fully explained your question. (I didn't even get into what avatars are, what Patji was, and what happened to Patji the being--and how that relates to Patji the island.) But hopefully this kind of starts to point the right direction, though I probably should have just left this question alone because I bet this post is going to raise more questions than it answers...
You've confused things so much now. We thought we had a pretty good grasp of this whole Patji situation (Autonomy visited the planet at some point, got themselves all Invested and created an avatar which is called Patji by the locals).
Now you're saying no Shard has ever visited there? And that the pool would have existed if no Shard had ever interfered? But that Patji still exists and is a Shard?
Does that mean Autonomy edited First of the Sun from afar without actually going there? And that the pool would have already existed without any intervention? Does this mean it was associated with Autonomy from the beginning? I'm really confused now.
I don't believe I said no Shard had visited. I said no Shard was there during the events of the story.
Investiture on First of the Sun predates any Shards fiddling with it.
Shards have fiddled with it by the time of the story.
I think fandom might be going down too far a rabbit hole on this one.
Are you saying here that Patji is an avatar of Autonomy, or is it a separate Shard and not an avatar of Autonomy?
When I said Patji was a Shard, I was meaning Automony--but it is not quite that simple.
Take this post to mean "no, you should not be looking toward another Shard for Patji's origins. Autonomy is the one relevant." But Autonomy's relationships with entities like this (not sure entity is the right word, even) is complex. I'm not trying to confuse the issue, though.
What other projects do you have planned or in the works?
My novella Legion just came out from Subterranean Press and I'll do a signing for it at the Missing Volume booth at noon on Saturday; it's a modern-day story about a guy who has something like schizophrenia, but he's a genius. He himself can't do anything special, but all of his hallucinations are experts in their respective fields. People come to him with problems they need solved, and he brings a few of his hallucinations along with him to help solve them.
In November I have another novella, The Emperor's Soul, coming from Tachyon Publications—it's more like my fantasy books, in a world where trained Forgers can change reality, and the main character has to Forge a new soul for the Emperor, who was left brain-dead in an attack.
Next summer I have two YA books coming out: The Rithmatist, which is about fighting with magical chalk drawings, and Steelheart, which takes place in a world where all the superheroes are evil; the main character is a boy who knows the weakness of the Emperor of Chicago and wants to hook up with a team of assassins to hunt him down.
Then my next book that will come out after those is the sequel to The Way of Kings, which I'm working on the outline of right now.
According to your blog, an RPG video game called Mistborn: Birthright, based on your Mistborn series, will be coming out in 2013. Can you give us a teaser?
It's set hundreds of years before the first trilogy. I'm writing the story, and it's about a young nobleman who gets entangled in events he did not expect at all. It should be a whole bunch of fun, and I'm trying to work into it things like the origins of the mistcloak and fun stuff like that, [so] we can dig into the past of the world and see the origins of a lot of things that we see later on in the series
With all the focus on social media these days, what impact do you think fans might have on story development in the future?
Boy, I think that they will have some impact. What, I'm not sure. With Warbreaker I was able to read perspectives on the book online as I was working on it, and that certainly did inform how I did my revisions. Maybe you'll see more crowdsourcing on editing and that sort of thing. I do think that the ability to directly connect with fans helps me understand the way a reader's mind works. Usually that doesn't translate one-to-one to changes in a novel, because there are a few steps in between in deciding what the reader really actually wants and what they say they want—working on The Wheel of Time as both a fan and a writer has helped me figure that out, because there are things that as a fan I would have said I wanted, but looking at it as a writer I can say, "Oh, if I gave that to the fans, it would actually in the long run make the story less satisfying." So there is some work to be done there, but I think social media is a great resource.
You posted the chapters of Warbreaker on your website at BrandonSanderson.com as you wrote them. The first and some subsequent drafts of the novel are still available for download to help aspiring writers study your revision process. What are some of the positive and negative consequences of posting your work in progress?
For one thing it lets people see all of the pops and bells and whistles that go into a book, meandering, sometimes, toward becoming a better novel. My agent and editor's big worry is that readers would read an unfinished work and therefore have a wrong taste in their mouth for how my books are. So I'd say that's the biggest disadvantage. I don't think personally that there has been any sort of sales repercussion. I can't say for certain.
I would like to say that it has been better for my books, particularly releasing it when I did, when a lot of Wheel of Time fans were discovering that I was taking over their series and wanting to know what kind of writer I would be. They were able to download the book for free and know a little about me and my writing. I think it was helpful. I think the big advantage is that I was able to give something back to my readers. I'm always looking for something I can give back. They support me; I get to do this job because of them, so I like to add as much value as I can to the books for them.
If you could have one Allomantic ability, which would you choose and why? (I still have my suspicions about you and speed bubbles.)
I would pick Steelpushing, because who doesn't want to fly, right? That's as close to flying as any of the powers get. As I'm walking or driving around I'm often noticing where the sources of metal are and considering where I could push off them to go where I want to go, and that's always exciting to think about.
The light-hearted banter in your recent standalone Mistborn book, The Alloy of Law, is an unexpected yet delightful change from the more serious tone of the original trilogy. Why did you decide to make such an abrupt shift? Will we get to read more about Waxillium and Wayne?
This was quite conscious on my part. One of the reasons I ended up writing The Alloy of Law as I did is because I personally wanted something to balance The Stormlight Archive, which is going to be more serious and have a tone more like the original Mistborn trilogy. I'm planning a five-book sequence to start off The Stormlight Archive, so I wanted something to go between those books that was faster paced, a little more lighthearted, and more focused.
I love The Stormlight Archive—it's what I think will be the defining work of my career, but that said, sometimes you want a bag of potato chips instead of a steak. Sometimes you want to write that, and sometimes you want to read that. I knew not all readers would want to go along with me at the start on such a big, long series; they may want to wait until it's finished. So I wanted to be releasing smaller, more focused and more simply fun books in between, both for my own interest and for my readers. And I will keep doing this; there will be more Wax and Wayne books in the future, spaced among my bigger epics.
Your work is often praised for unique magic systems with interesting limitations, like the application of the laws of physics to the abilities of a Coinshot in the Mistborn series. What kinds of limitations do you think have the most potential?
There are lots of ways to go with this answer. It depends on how creative you are with your storytelling. I like to found my magics with certain rules so that I can force myself and my characters to be more creative in their application. I think that a good magic system is going to have some of this. Granted that my way is not the only way; there are a lot of great stories that don't do magic the way I do it. But if you're trying to tell a story where the way the magic works is a very big part of the story, then limitations are vital. I would say the best limitations are ones where creativity is forced on the part of the characters.
I don't like limitations such as kryptonite—this one thing negates the magic, which focuses the story around having it or not having it. I like limitations that are intrinsic to the magic and have a logical sense. When I can, I like the limitations to be bounded by the laws of physics—what requirements will physics put upon this magic that will make the characters have to use it in a more natural way.
The other big thing is that I split out costs and limitations in my head. A limitation is just what the magic can or cannot do, just like we have limits in our own world to what a physical body can achieve. Costs are what you pay for the magic, and these can add an economic component to a book and a magic system; they can add a lot of ties into the setting, and a great magic, I think, has a lot of ties into the setting.
Shallan's sketches in The Way of Kings are terrific additions that enhance the epic feel of the novel. What inspired you to push for these illustrations?
I wanted to use the form of this novel to try and enhance what epic fantasy can do, and downplay the things that are tough about it. One of the tough things about epic fantasy is the learning curve—how much you have to learn and pay attention to, how many things there are to just know. I felt that occasional illustrations could really help with that. For instance, how Shallan's sketchbook, or uses of multiple maps, could give us a visual component to the book. Pictures really are worth a thousand words. You can have on that page something that shows a creature much better than I can describe it. And so I felt that that would help deemphasize the problem of the learning curve, while at the same time helping to make this world real. Epic fantasy is about immersion, and I wanted to make this world real since that's one of the great things we can do with epic fantasy. We've got the space and the room to just build a completely real world, and I felt that the art would allow me to do that, which is why I decided to do "in world" art.
I didn't want to take this toward a graphic novel. I like graphic novels, but it wasn't appropriate here to do illustrations of the scenes and characters from the books because I don't want to tell you what they look like. I want that to be up to your own imagination. And so we wanted that in-world ephemera feel to it, as though it were some piece of art that you found in the world and included.
I think it goes back to Tolkien. There's a map in The Hobbit, and that map isn't just a random map, which has become almost a cliché of fantasy books and of epic fantasy. "Oh, of course there's a random map in the front!" Well, Tolkien wanted you to think this map was the actual map the characters carried around, and that's why he included it. He wrote his books as if he were the archivist putting them together and translating them and bringing them to you, this wonderful story from another world, and he included the map because the map was there with the notes. That's what I wanted the feel for this ephemera to be. As though whoever has put this book together—done the translation and included pieces of art and maps and things that they found in the world that had been collected during these events—that's what you're getting.
How did you find the time and energy to work on The Way of Kings while you were immersed in Jordan’s Wheel of Time? Are you a hidden Allomancer, a slider like Wayne in The Alloy of Law, with the ability to set up a mind-boggling speed bubble?
I wish I could magically create bubbles of time to give myself more space to do these things. After working on The Gathering Storm, I felt more and more that I needed to do The Way of Kings—I had done it and failed once, and I began to see all of the places where it went wrong and how I could fix it. When you get excited about a book that way, you kind of have to write it—strike while the iron is hot. It's something I never want to do again—working on that and Towers of Midnight at the same time just about killed my entire family. The hours were very long, and I'm still kind of recovering from that. How did I find the time? I didn't do much else during that year when I was getting those both ready. I think it was really good for me to do, and I don't think I'll ever do something like that again.
Your new epic fantasy series, The Stormlight Archive, has been in the works forquite some time. In an interview earlier this year with Fantasy-Faction.com, you said that you set the project aside in 2003 because you needed to "get better as a writer." During the interim, as you worked on other projects such as the Mistborn trilogy, Warbreaker, and your middle-grade Alcatraz series, which skills did you improve the most?
I would say that I learned to juggle multiple characters a lot better. That's one of the places where I needed to grow, and it's one of the aspects where the original Way of Kings that I wrote in 2002 flopped. I wasn't good at juggling all these viewpoints. Working on The Wheel of Time really forced me to learn that, and I think I've gotten much better at it. I've also learned to be more subtle with my writing; Robert Jordan was incredibly subtle in his foreshadowing. Going through his notes and rereading the books and seeing how he set up things for many books later, it impressed me quite a bit that he was able to do that. I think I've been able to learn from that.
We'll have the Skyward beta coming up soon.
Oh cool. Yeah, I'll bug Kara and Peter. See if they need some help with that.
Mmhmm, yep. We need teenagers for that one. We're going to have a separate teenager one, because it's a YA, and an adult one. And the adult one is to find all the nitpicky stuff, and the teenager one is just "respond to each chapter, what did you think of it?"
Is the perpendicularity that Dalinar made--is that one going to become permanent...
That one is not permanent, but I haven't said whether or not it can be done again.
We will have-- we will be involving Shadesmar a lot in the... I had a lot of fun with Shadesmar and planned it for a while.
Who is the fans favorite character, from your perspective, everybody that says it to you?
I would say that Kaladin tends to be the fan favorite viewpoint character in that he is the least controversial. Meaning most people just like Kaladin even when they are annoyed with him, it's just like "I get Kaladin." Shallan is the most divisive. The people who like Shallan scenes love Shallan scenes. The people who don't like Shallan scenes, she is their least favorite character. And that's a sign that I'm doing a character right. I really like-- I ran into this too, like, in any book where you have a wide cast you are going to have this sort of thing. But yeah, I would say, if you're just going ask, "Who's your favorite character?" it's probably The Lopen. Everybody should say that. But if it's not The Lopen then it's probably usually Kaladin.
I wanted to ask you question about your worlds in general. I've read Mistborn and Elantris, and now I'm reading The Way of Kings, and you seem to always associate such important parts of your magic system or your personality system or your dating system with the land, with the geography of wherever they live. Do you have a secret geography degree or...
No. The reason I do this comes down to a fundamental philosophy I have about epic fantasy. Epic fantasy is the genre of discovery and immersion. Grandpa Tolkien did this by taking a map and putting it in the book. And it wasn't just a map, it was the map they had. So the map becomes an artifact of the world. And I love that. I love the idea that you can have a map that's wrong, that it's not an exact map. I love that you can have a scientific table in the back of the book that represents their understanding and human beings' attempt to organize the world, but is actually flawed because it just represents their attempt at organizing things. And I love these ideas. I love the idea of the land and the artifact and the story all being one. I really--
One of the books that I love, even though the maps aren't the thing, is Dune. Dune is about how your environment shapes your culture, and how your culture in turn interprets your environment. And I love how that works. I think it really influences how great epic fantasy creates its sense of immersion. I love how Watchmen did this with including ephemera in its books. By saying, and creating a form where one issue does this certain thing to enhance the feel of the issue. I love when the form and the shape of the book does the same thing, so this is all kind of my nerdy writer loving-the-shape-of-things-ism that I have, whatever that is.
Do you ever take inspiration for some of your characters from people you know, in your life?
Yes and no, meaning generally I don't base characters exactly on people I know. There are a few exceptions. Skar from Bridge Four is Skar my friend, Ethan Skarstedt, who is a person in my writing group, he's in the military, and he's the only person I knew who actually would do a good job in that situation I put him in. But most of the time what I'm doing is I'm taking some interesting aspect about a character. When I was writing Elantris I knew a woman who was 6'1" and she complained about her height a lot. And had never heard that, I'm like, "Wow, that's really interesting." I'd never considered that being 6'1" in our society as a woman would have all these extra associated problems, and I took that and used it in a character and then had her read it and said, "Does this feel right?" But it's not as if that character represents Annie. It means that one aspect of Annie sent me into an interesting character conflict or interesting trait a character could have that I found fascinating. That happens a lot.
Why do you have to make so many of your terms and names in your books so confusing? I'm going to be using Mistborn as an example: Feruchemy, Hemalurgy--
I think they're cool. Part of the answer is I look for the way languages are built. I try to do things in the way that it's going to feel natural but also foreign, and that is really tough. Like, it's going to feel alien, it comes from a different world, but it's natural to do and remember, and it is also based on the world.
If you think Mistborn is hard, read Elantris. All of those names are based on some linguistics that, I realized as I wrote the book, this is one is even tougher. So sometimes I'm looking for things that are more familiar and less strange, sometimes I'm looking for things that are more strange. At the end of the day it's just whatever I think sounds cool.
Was Honor just talking about the people on Roshar when he told Dalinar to "Unite them?"
RAFO. *taunting hum* Read and find out.
Do you ever find that you are producing content so quickly that your mind comes up with a better idea after percolating for a while, and the book is already published? And if that does ever happen, how do you handle it?
This is dangerous, right? I think every author wants to go back and tweak things. And there is a fine line between pulling a Tolkien, where you go back to The Hobbit and you revise the ring conversation so it matches The Lord of the Rings, which has now become a classic conversation, we're all glad he did that, right? It ties The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings together better, it was a good revision. There is a fine line between that and Lucas-ing your work, right? Where instead of taking something and tweaking something to make it better, you tweak it just to make it different. I think there is a fine line there. There is a quote often ascribed to da Vinci, that a lot of people say it isn't his, but it's the idea that, he (maybe) said "Art is never finished, it is only abandoned."
You really have to take that perspective as an artist, you have to eventually just let things go. Not to sing an Elsa song, but you just gotta be willing to say "I'm done." And you are always going to have better ideas later on or ways you could tweak it. And more, it's not that you have better ideas. What happens is you change as an artist, and your goals change over time and the way you would approach something changes over time. While I've played in this realm, I've settled on that I should just avoid this most of the time. You could always tweak it to be better, and you've got to release something sometime.
I do find it very useful to finish something, write something else, then come back to the thing I've finished, because that gives me the right amount of balance between giving it time to rest so that I can approach it with fresh eyes, and also being regular with the releases. I haven't ever felt like I'm going too fast. I have had things that don't turn out too well, but those I just don't release. That happened with Apocalypse Guard last year where I wrote the book, I gave it some time, I came back and looked at it and it just wan't-- it didn't work. It was broken, it was not good, and I'm just like, "I've got to set this aside and think about it."
It's weird. Writing has a little bit more performance art to it than as a non-writer you might think. Meaning who you are in the moment, when you are creating this thing, the connections you make while you're making it are deeply influential to how the piece of art turns out. It's like you're freezing a moment in time for that author. Rather than trying to create the perfect work you are creating a reflection of who they are when they made it, and you have to kind of be okay with that as a writer.
This is a bit of a technical question, but if somehow Sazed were to die and another Shard picked up Harmony, what would happen to their intent.
It would be influenced by them over time, but they would be influenced more by it.
You mention Adonalsium as a being, and that they were split. Where one supposedly supreme being exists, are there others?
That's a RAFO.
Where are the rest of Roshar's named gems? Like, we have the Hope diamond, we've got dozens of--
A lot of them are in the [Thaylen Gemstone Reserve] ...There's a lot of them around and there are places like that. One of the tricks, and I actually kind of was aware of this, particularly in book three, I was like "Yeah, I maybe should have named some of these things earlier." One of the tricks with a book like Way of Kings, there are already so many new names and terms that oftentimes I find myself finding ways to not include a new name or term because the overwhelming nature of the learning curve is so big. And I will admit, writing book three I'm like, "Ah, I should have named some of these earlier," this is what they would do.
But it's kind of this Occam's razor, well, that's the wrong term. It's this idea of "Let's try to keep it as simple as possible for that fact that it's really complex." and that's why I naturally just didn't do it.
I would say in-world a lot of them are named. But you've also got to remember that gems are not as eternal on Roshar as they are. They are a little more ephemeral, you will often end up using them for something and they are wearing out, so to speak. So the idea that a diamond is forever is more of an Earth concept than a Roshar concept.
Shards. We started with fairly obvious ones, magic wise. Trying to keep this spoiler free, so: Ruin, Preservation, this kind of thing. Then we get the weird ones. Why do we have Shards that can only exist in the mind of a sentient creature? ...Like the concept of Honor can only be done when it's carried out, essentially, by a sentient creature.
So when I split Adonalsium I said, "I'm going to take aspects of Adonalsium's nature." And this involves personality to me. So the Shattering of Adonalsium was primal forces attached to certain aspects of personality. And so I view every one of them this way. And when I wrote Mistborn we had Ruin and Preservation. They are the primal forces of entropy and whatever you call the opposite, staying-the-same-ism-y. Like, you've got these two contrasts, between things changing and things not changing. And then humans do have a part, there's a personality. Ruin is a charged term for something that actually is the way that life exists. And Preservation is a charged term for stasis, for staying the same. And those are the personality aspects, and the way they are viewed by people and by the entity that was Adonalsium.
So I view this for all of them. Like, Honor is the sense of being bound by rules, even when those rules, you wouldn't have to be bound by. And there's this sense that that is noble, that's the honor aspect to it, but there's also something not honorable about Honor if taken from the other direction. So a lot of them do kind of have this both-- cultural component, I would say, that is trying to represent something that is also natural. And not all of them are gonna have a 100% balance between those two things, I would say, because there's only so many fundamental laws of the universe that I can ascribe personalities to in that way.
So I find Honor very interesting, but I find Autonomy a very interesting one for the exact same reason. What does autonomy mean? We attach a lot to it, but what is the actual, if you get rid of the charged terms, what does it mean? And this is where you end up with things like Odium claiming "I am all emotion." Rather than-- But then there's a charged term for it that is associated with this Shard. I'm not going to tell you whether he's right or not, but he has an argument.
What was your inspiration for Kaladin? What made you want to make him?
Kaladin's origin was in me reading about the interesting lives of surgeons in pre-industrial eras. Surgeons who were at times treated no different from a butcher, and at other times straddled this line between superstition and science in a really interesting way. And I wanted to write a surgeon who straddled that line. Where the superstition was against them, but in some ways the science that they knew also worked against them because the people didn't trust it. That's a really fascinating character. He started more as his dad, and as I worked the books he became Kaladin the son of a surgeon instead of the surgeon himself.
What was your inspiration for Steelheart's weakness...
Without spoiling Steelheart, the inspiration for the weakness was a direct outgrowth of who I saw him as a character before he gained powers. Kind of the bully sort of person given a little bit of power, exercises all kinds of terrible, just really mean to people with just a small amount of power. That character was really fascinating to me, the person who really doesn't have any authority, but still what little bit you give them they misuse. And I grew out of that, that idea. So, I kind of wanted to connect--slight spoilers for the series--but I kind of wanted the weaknesses to connect to the personalities of the characters in interesting ways, so it was a natural outgrowth there.
I just came off of the VR experience, and I thought it was really exciting. Glad I got to be a part of that. How much of that were you actually part of?
What happened is they came to me a couple years ago, and we brainstormed the experience. They had the pitch of being in the chasms and I was cool with that. I thought that was a good idea. We brainstormed, they picked my brain about what things looked like. They wrote it all down, they showed me some concept art, and they did show me the script when they had it. So I was involved, but it wasn't like I was completely overseeing it, and that's how I kind of prefer to do things. I prefer with the media interpretations that people listen to me and listen to the pitfalls and things they might be making, but at the end of the day I want them to be free to make the piece of art they want to make.
So for instance the Parshendi don't look 100% like I imagine them, but the chasms look very close to how I imagine them. But I kind of like that. I like how different artists interpret different ideas in my work. It's kind of exciting to me. So that's where I would go on that.
For the creatures on Roshar... where do you start in your worldbuilding for that kind of hting?
So where I started for Roshar was the highstorm. So I knew I had the highstorm and I was going to want to build out from that, and I would want an ecology that incorporated the magic. Those were kind of the two things I was looking for. I wanted everything to deal with the storms in some way and be affected by them, and I wanted Stormlight and spren to be integrated into the way that the worldbuilding happened because this was my big worldbuilding epic. So I started along those two lines, and that's where gemhearts came from. That is where-- The [singers] grew naturally out of that. A lot of the creatures and things I looked toward tidal pools because I figured this was kind of a similar sort of thing, an environment that has to deal with a drastic change, a biome that deals with this repeatedly every day.
I appreciate the comment on Steris. I kind of feel that when I did Elantris, I was really interested in this, and i maybe didn't-- I kind of approached things in, like, a pop culture sort of way without really understanding it. And then I came to know some people with autism, and I'm like, "I need to do this better. I need to do this realistically and kind of help with the presentation rather than contributing to one narrow definition that is the pop culture definition." So I'm glad that that has worked for you.
Are the [singers] living computers, and are spren variables in a computer system?
Excellent question. The answer is: I would say no, I wouldn't consider this. But I have considered this idea, and there is a place in the cosmere where people are using spren-- not spren but something similar on another planet, for a little bit of computation. Which I want to be able to write that story some day, but-- It's a very fun thing that I dug down a rabbit hole in one time. You might see this somewhere in the cosmere, but it's not actually Roshar. I wouldn't call them that.
In the cosmere we've seen Investiture manifest in different ways all across the systems. So I was wondering, when it comes to the powers of Dalinar, is it possible for that power to open a Perpendicularity anywhere, say on Scadrial or any different planet? In a different way, where you could potentially combine all the Realms, open the doors for the Realms.
Let me say this very carefully. I'm being recorded now... Any time where you gather the right amount of Investiture in the right way, you are going to have kind of a version of a cosmere singularity, right? Which is where you are pulling the different Realms together into a kind of-- you are piercing between them with a large amount of Investiture. So what's happening with Dalinar is both the bug and the feature at the same time. But it is not necessarily the only way. And once things are kind of, once the Spiritual Realm is being involved, time and space don't mean anything anymore on the Spiritual Realm. That's your answer.
Who had custody of Nightblood before Nale?
Read and Find Out.
I was wondering, in Stormlight, what kind of gem the [singer] gemhearts were, or do they just, do they hold Stormlight well?
So, this is a good question. This is one that people have been asking me since the first book, if they had one, and I've finally kind of confirmed it in book three. So the reason people don't think [singers] have a gemheart is it is milky white, and looks like bone.
But aren't their bones red?
Their bones, well-- Their bones are red-- not completely. If you're going to pull out the bone, what you're going to see-- I'll explain it in the next book. So what you're going to do is, if you break open the bone, you're going to find this white-- It's not marrow but it is, yeah I guess it's marrow. Anyway at the center kind of in their sternum there is a gemheart there, but it is fused to the bone and it is grown into the bone, and you have to kind of snap it open and find it inside, and it kind of just looks like marrow, but there's a gemheart in there. And it kind of relates to some stuff in Dragonsteel that I'm not gonna get into. But you'll see in the next books. But there's a good reason people just don't think that [singers] have a gemheart.
So they must not glow much then, I'm assuming.
Yeah, well, it's surrounded by bone. So it's a different special thing. We'll bring it out in the following books. It might not be the next one.
Have you ever been to the Free Kingdoms, and if you have what was it like?
I have not been to the Free Kingdoms. They won't let me in. They think that I'm a Librarian agent, which I keep telling them I'm not but they keep pointing to the fact that I write lots of books and I go speak at libraries, and I hang out with librarians, and some of my good friends are librarians, so the don't trust me. I can't get a pass.
In that same chapter, with the wedding, the Stormfather says, YOU HAVE BROKEN OATHS BEFORE to Navani. Will we ever learn more about that?
In the... wedding, Dalinar suddenly remembers Kadash... retching... My theory is that the reason he was upchucking everything since yesterday was that he just realized that it was Evi, and he did it. Everybody's like, "No, it's just because it was such a brutal attack and it was horrible, and he's beyond it." And I'm like, no, I think it was was because he realized who's down there, and he was the one who lit the match. That's my theory...
I will not confirm or deny, but you did see me going like this *nodding*, so--
You've said the Sleepless are inspired by the Tines in A Fire Upon the Deep. They were very relient on being close to each other to survive. Are the Sleepless under the same restriction?
I would say not nearly as strict.
Are you going to make a Stormlight Archive RPG by chance?
Likely someday. The idea is we want to support Mistborn while we're supporting it. Maybe eventually we will do Stormlight as well.
And is Hoid now, like he can already basically Lightweave...
He can already-- I will have to delve into that during Hoid timed, but he was limited, and he's still limited. But there's stuff that he's been trying to do for a while that he can't quite get working.
'Cause it seemed like when he and Shallan were creating that story together of the wall--
Right, he was using her power, right? And guiding it, he wasn't doing it himself.
Is that something he can do in general, just help people with their powers?
Not necessarily. That was pretty special circumstances.
The spren that Hoid picks up, is that the one meant for Elhokar?
It is, yep.
I'm gonna take a stab at Kaladin's fourth oath. Is it, "I will not feel bad about slaughtering my enemies?"
...You know I'm not going to answer that. But I tell you what, it's been recorded by the fan sites, everything I say, so if you're right you're on record. But I'm not going to tell you.
The Sharders have asked if I can find out if the Ars Arcanum for Elantris written at any specific time. Like, was it during the events of Elantris?
The Ars Arcanum is around the context of then, yes. It should be around the events of the first book. I would have to look at it and double check that. But you can take that as canon unless I look at it and find--
Why are you a plant in the back of the book?
Well, here's the thing. When I wanted to do a picture in the back of the books, the original versions that the other publisher did, I said I wanted a silly picture. And they wouldn't let me put a silly picture. So I wrote that I was a potted plant, and then put my own picture. But when we did the reissues, the new publisher's like, "Eh, I guess we gotta use a potted plant," and then they went and got one and put it there instead. And I was totally fine with it. The joke was that it was just me but it said it was a potted plant, but now it is a potted plant.
In Stormlight Archive before the full disadvantaged duel, there's foreshadowing of Shardblades being spren and Adolin talking to his Blade, tradition. But then also... Adolin says, "Oh I forgot my mom's lucky necklace," and I don't think there's ever a reference to that again. Do we see something come back up about that necklace?
The necklace is just pure superstition on his part, it's not seeding something in... I have to sometimes make certain things not relevant, otherwise everything is relevant. So the chicken and the necklace mean nothing, but obviously the talking to the sword is a tradition that has a meaning, and it comes into play in Oathbringer.
Dalinar can learn languages with the people he contacts. Venli knows all the languages. Could he learn all the languages? And how long would that last?
His Connection is going to work-- He has to kind of be active about it, so it needs to be-- let me see if I can get the specific words right...
The mechanics I have in the notes is he has to touch someone and will learn to speak the language of their native country, that they spoke as a young person. He's making a direct Connection to that specific person and their way of speaking. So if you have learned another language and Dalinar shakes your hand and activates his Connection ability, he will Connect not to that language you've learned, but to your native language.
How long does it last?
I have it lasting-- it does need to be renewed, but I have it lasting basically as long as-- days not months. But I didn't actually put a define on it, so I'm going to say that's not canon. I'm not canonizing that. But I didn't want him to have to keep renewing it every couple of hours. But he would have to do it again if he left and came back.
So, when there's wordplay in The Stormlight Archive, we know they aren't speaking English, so are you to assume that that is a translation of the...
This is what Tolkein said, and I always rely upon this. You're reading the book in translation, and the person translating it is going to try to use the closest in feel, but to also make it translate to English. So even when they use idioms and things like that, sometimes they translate and the translator can drop them in. Sometimes they just don't translate, so the translator comes up with something that works in English... It gets you a lot of loopholes, like if you accidentally call something an ottoman and people are like, "But there's not an Ottoman Empire in this fantasy world!" But you're like, "Yeah, all words work that way." It's in translation. This is why when you read something like Allomancy, and they're like, "Well, it's got Latin roots, right?" Yeah... it's just the roots in their language would be something old Terris, and the easiest way to convey that feeling is to use something that's got-- you know. Stuff like that.
What do you think of the VR experience.
I thought it was a lot of fun. I liked the feeling of the world quite a bit. The version I played was a little buggy, so I hope that they got the build working where it's not as buggy. But I thought the visuals were great, like the chull, the feel of the chasms. I think they did a great job with the feeling.
Anything about Jasnah.
Jasnah, I would say, is the character who changed the least between the draft I wrote in 2002 and the final version. I always knew who she was and how she was going to turn out, and she stayed really consistent. So I'm really excited, particularly for the back five, which will have more of a focus on her. I've started to tease in some viewpoints, but you'll really get to know her starting in like books six, seven.
One of the characters in this book replied with "I've got this," or "I got this." It seemed really modern, like colloquially modern.
I've got an answer for this. So here's the thing. I use Tolkien's philosophy on this, which is that you are reading the books in translation, and the person translating the English tries to use the closest English approximation to the same sentiment that would happen in the books.
And we try to move away from being too modern colloquial, and things like that, but the actual answer is they said something that's a similar saying in this, and people did talk colloquially even if they didn't have modern slang. Like, the name Tiffany is a medieval name, people don't know that. There's all these sorts of things that people did even back then. But we try to find something that is not going to kick people out. We are less worried about historical accuracy, and more about what's going to convey the right idea. So just kind of pretend that. Pretend that it's being translated by someone like me, Brandon Sanderson, who can read the original Alethi and be like, "Oh, they said something that means this. What's the modern equivalent?"
You know the artwork... the arches with the faces? What are those?
Those are each of the Heralds. And those archways, Isaac picks based on what he thinks the themes of the chapter are. I don't pick which faces go on there. He reads the chapter... he tries to align what's happening with the emotions represented by the various characters.
And the thing underneath it is?
Generally the symbol of the viewpoint character. But those shift. Like for instance we sometimes start with a general one, and as the characters get more individual we add ones specifically for them. Usually you'll have one that's the viewpoint character, and then like for instance the ones for Jasnah and Shallan split apart when originally they just had one, and stuff like that.