Recent entries

    Miscellaneous 2018 ()
    #4551 Copy


    Hey Karen, I have a question I hope you can confirm for the Stormlight fans. 

    What are the exact gemstone types Rosharans use in their currency? In The Way of Kings Shallan suggests that only nine out of the ten Polestones are actually used in spheres (or is this wrong?), and while eight of those are accounted for in the books, we don't know whether the last one is a smokestone or a heliodor. Is this something you can and are willing to confirm for us?

    Karen Ahlstrom

    Here's what I have on my wiki page. I'm pretty sure it was written by Brandon before I started to work on things.


    Sapphire: blue (deep)

    Zircon: blue (light)

    Ruby: red (deep)

    Amethyst & Garnet: red (light)

    Topaz: yellow (deep)

    Heliodor: yellow (light)

    Emerald: green (deep)

    Smokestone: grayscale (deep)

    Diamond: grayscale (light)

    Karen Ahlstrom

    Elsewhere I found this list that shows the spheres from highest to lowest value. It says that smokestone coins are very rare.

    Values: Highest - 50 (250, 1000)

    Stone: Emerald

    Color: Deep green

    Essence: Pulp


    Values: Prime Pair - 25 (125, 500)

    Stone: Amethyst

    Color: Pale violet

    Essence: Mineral (Metals/claws)


    Stone: Sapphire (skymark)

    Color: Deep Blue

    Essence: Vapor


    Values: Middle Weight - 10 (50, 200)

    Stone: Zircon

    Color: Pale blue

    Essence: Blood (Water-based liquids)


    Stone: Ruby (firemark)

    Color: Deep red

    Essence: Spark (Fire/Soul)


    Stone: Smokestone (Uncommon as a coin)

    Color: Translucent

    Essence: Smoke


    Values: Less Weight - 5 (25, 100)

    Stone: Topaz

    Color: Pale orange

    Essence: Talus (Stone/Bone)


    Stone: Garnet

    Color: Deep violet (Bloodmarks)

    Essence: Flesh


    Stone: Heliodor

    Color: Light yellow

    Essence: (Sinew)


    Cheapest 1 (5, 20)

    Stone: Diamond (Clear chip/mark/broam)

    Color: Transparent

    Essence: Glass (Crystal/Eyes)


    One thing I am noticing is that the essences don't entirely match what's in the Ars Arcanum of the books.

    Karen Ahlstrom

    Yeah, AA is correct and what we base things on. Like I said, these are probably written by Brandon a long time ago when he was just world building.

    Footnote: These are from an email exchange between Argent and Karen Ahlstrom. Parts of the emails were slightly reformatted or erased in the interest of clarity, brevity, and privacy.
    Miscellaneous 2016 ()
    #4552 Copy


    How do you make up names and words for your fantasy settings?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Mostly, I choose an earth culture (or two) to base my linguistic influences on. For instance, in the Mistborn books, I used French. It's obvious in words like Fellise, Renoux, Blanches, Delouse and Demoux. Less obvious is Kelsier, whose name would be pronounced in-world without the last R sound.


    Do you think you'll ever develop a language like Tolkien did?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Maybe. I did a lot of that in White Sand, which didn’t get published. I’ll do more for other books.


    Do you use Hebrew words?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The name Adonalsium is derived from a Hebrew name for God, Adonai and Aharietiam was derived from the Hebrew/Jewish term for the end of days acharit hayamim or אחרית הימים

    General Reddit 2018 ()
    #4553 Copy


    So what you're telling me is that not only my first edition Words of Radiance, but also my first edition Way of Kings are Dragonsteel guaranteed to be worth at least a sapphire broam in ten years time.

    Peter Ahlstrom

    I wouldn't go so far as that! Looks like 2-carat cut sapphires are going for about $2000. They printed tens of thousands of copies of Way of Kings. They're not that rare.


    Ah, so is that the canon size of the gem in a broam?

    Peter Ahlstrom

    Yes. 2 carats.


    Oh, I've been curious about this for a long time. One of my hobbies is working with gemstones, so knowing the sizes (and cuts, because of how light is affected by the cut) of the gemstones in spheres and Soulcasters would be wonderful!


    I'm not sure about the cuts, but broams are 2 carats and the other sizes are proportional to their value.


    Thank you, that helps a lot!

    would be happy to offer input on cuts, should that ever be wanted

    Peter Ahlstrom

    The canonization of the cuts is being worked on, just not by me.


    This is great to know, thanks! One last clarification though: is this proportionality linear? In other words:

    * Since there are 4 marks per broam, does that make marks 0.5 carats each?

    * Since there are 5 chips per mark, does that make chips 0.1 carats each?

    Or is there some wonky formula with diminishing returns?

    Peter Ahlstrom

    Yeah, that's it.


    Just to clarify, as a jeweler I think those numbers might be a bit on the small side.

    A 2 carat sapphire (assuming a standard well proportioned round cut) is going to be about 8 millimeters in diameter.

    A 1 ct sapphire is going to be around 5 mm ish.

    A 0.1 carat sapphire would be really tiny. Like, about 1 mm in diameter ish? Depends heavily on how shallow the cut is.

    It just seems way too tiny (and imagine the poor high-precision lapidarists working on making pennies - diamonds require specialized cutting equipment because they're WAY harder than anything else)

    Peter Ahlstrom

    Those sizes are pretty much right.

    General Reddit 2018 ()
    #4557 Copy


    In OB, you explained that the Singers have four sexes. I was wondering... Can the Singers have genders other than those four, like humans? Even as simple as just not going with male, female, or malen/femalen. Could a transgender Singer use their ability to shift forms to change their biological reality? And, finally, could a Spren be non-binary, if it wasn't personified in a typical male/female way?

    Brandon Sanderson

    In the cosmere as a whole, a person's perception of themselves has a lot of power over both their Spiritual and Physical forms. It is possible, with Investiture, to change their biology to match Cognitive perceptions--and while this could be easier for some races (like the Singers) it's not outside plausibility for any race.

    There are non-binary spren, actually--and you should be meeting one important one quite soon in the books.

    Steelheart Seattle signing ()
    #4562 Copy


    As far as I can tell, in The Stormlight Archive, we have seen three different lights: the stormlight, the amberlight in the flashbacks, and the dark light in the stone. Do those correspond to the three Shards?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No, the amberlight is more a function's no different than the stormlight.


    So, you see that in a storm? Like when gems gather that in the storm?

    Brandon Sanderson

    That amberlight is more related to... so, no... you are not seeing something other than stormlight. That is like saying that stormlight in a topaz is a different color than stormlight in a sapphire. It's not different colors; you're just seeing it filtered through something. The dark light of the, um, the gemstone that Szeth was given is indeed something different and distinct.



    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, it is related to a different shard. How about that?

    General Signed Books 2014 ()
    #4563 Copy


    We know that the Cognitive Realm is called Shadesmar, because in the language of the people who "coined" the term, "shadesmar" translates loosely to "cognitive realm." Is there a similar name/phrase for the Spiritual Realm we could use?

    Brandon Sanderson

    There are cultures with a name for the Spiritual realm, but most of them translate to "Heaven" which isn't entirely accurate by our understanding. Some day perhaps I will say more.

    BookCon 2018 ()
    #4564 Copy


    Who is your favorite character in Mistborn?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Hmmm, probably Sazed. The truth is, my favorite character changes depending on who I'm writing, and things like that.


    Okay, I feel better about it now.

    Questioner 2

    Breeze is my favorite character

    Brandon Sanderson

    Breeze is a lot of fun.

    SpoCon 2013 ()
    #4568 Copy

    Shardlet (paraphrased)

    I then pointed out the basis for my theory, beginning with the flashback chapter where Kaladin whales on Jost with the quarterstaff.

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    What you didn't ask was whether Kaladin had ever felt the Thrill.

    He then went on to say that that was not a confirmation or a denial.

    SpoCon 2013 ()
    #4571 Copy

    Shardlet (paraphrased)

    Is the Thrill, with a capital 'T', more than an adrenaline rush or battle rush? (I indicated that it seemed very clear to me that there was a lot more to it.)

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    Brandon wrote the answer to this in my book that he was signing by writing "You are a very smart man!"

    SpoCon 2013 ()
    #4573 Copy

    Shardlet (paraphrased)

    I first asked about Lines of Forbiddance and the timing of the generation of the field particularly in reference to things like a Marks Cross or just general crossing Lines of Forbiddance.

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    Rithmatics was originally designed as a cosmere magic system and is very cognitively (not the terminology he used, but the essence is the same) based. The line (speaking of all Rithmatic lines) takes effect when the Rithmatist thinks it should. A line could begin to take effect before the drawing of the line is completed.

    General Twitter 2018 ()
    #4575 Copy

    Overlord Jebus

    is there a word for baby chulls and if not, can it be chulldren?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The baby form is a chull cremling. Sorry...


    Hold on. Are you saying that when we see cremlings, they are at least some of the time immature forms of other creatures? Or is it just a broadly used term?

    Peter Ahlstrom

    Some of the time they are!

    General Twitter 2018 ()
    #4579 Copy


    Are the Knights Radiant's powers/spren derived from both Honor and Cultivation? As it seems each order has a has a power of nature e.g. light gravity etc

    If yes, what powers would Odium give the Knights Radiants, if he where forced to empower them? And would there be any additional oaths they would need to swear to use these powers?

    Everything in the books is alluding to Damnation and the Tranquiline Halls being one and the same. Is this true or is it more separate countries in the same landmass? And what is the general landscape of this alternate dimension?

    Brandon Sanderson

    These questions stray into RAFO type territory, which I try not to delve too deeply into on twitter. (Because of the short space I have to reply.) But there are some hints in the links [SandersonArmy] included...

    General Twitter 2018 ()
    #4583 Copy

    Pelham TP

    Sadly I am currently suffering with toothache. However as the waves of pain fluctuate through my jaw I am reminded of the two blind men discussion with Hoid and Shallan. I understand the beauty of pain receding. I wondered if you endured a similar experience when you were writing that passage.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Similar, yes, but scenes like that are always part my experience, part my extrapolation of what the character might have experienced.

    General Reddit 2018 ()
    #4585 Copy


    A couple years ago Peter answered in this post that as of May 2015 (3 years ago now), Brandon had sold ~7 million copies (not including Wheel of Time). I am curious now if Peter would be so good as to give us an update, especially after I saw this from his source in that comment that in the first week alone of Oathbringer's release it sold over 300k copies. That number, especially when taken in context with this other comment of Peter's from that thread, means that OB did way better than the average #1 NYT bestseller.

    When a movie hits #1, millions of people saw it that week. On a slow sales week for books, it's possible to hit #1 on the New York Times list and only sell 12,000 copies. (Though that is rare; it's also possible to sell that much and miss the top 15.) The #1 usually sells much less than 100k copies in release week. Publishers don't want people to know, without digging for the info, how small the industry really is.

    I'm sure Oathbringer's sales were pretty frontloaded given it's place in a series and how anticipated it was, but I'd love to know how well the books are doing, and I'm just curious if he could give us an idea of how well Stormlight does compared to Mistborn or anything like that. I assume the SA books are Brandon's top sellers, but I obviously don't know that for sure, and I just wonder if each SA book sells like twice as much as an average Mistborn book, or is it closer to 1.5x, or 3x. I imagine they must sell very well to be worth the huge amount of time and the incredible toll it takes on him to write given they are 2-3x longer than his other books.

    Anyway, I'm just a curious and nosy guy who loves learning about sales figures, I follow every Sunday to see how much each movie makes for no reason whatsoever aside from I'm interested in it. I also, like many of us I assume, wish for the best for Brandon and the rest of Team Dragonsteel and hope his books are kicking ass and flying off shelves.

    Peter Ahlstrom

    Total sales are now over 11 million worldwide (still not counting WoT). Mistborn, with more books, is a higher proportion of that than Stormlight is. Stormlight is catching up, but it still has quite a way to go. Oathbringer has sold more in hardcover than anything except WoT books.

    Mistborn's mass market paperback box set is usually in the top ten box set sales for the year. Way of Kings mmpb has sold more each year than the year previous since 2014. So did Mistborn until 2017, which is also the first time that Way of Kings mmpb passed up the Mistborn mmpb and box set combined. But Well of Ascension is still outselling Words of Radiance by the same metric.

    Those are just print numbers. I don't have the ebook breakdowns handy. Generally ebook has been selling twice as much as print, with audio a bit lower—but with Oathbringer, the print, audio, and ebook numbers are nearly identical. Readers seem to really like the hardcovers, probably due to all the art, and Oathbringer was the most preordered Audible audiobook of all time—which I believe means it had the highest-selling audiobook release week of all time. (It won't pass up books like Harry Potter in the long run.)


    When you say "Those are just print numbers" do you mean the paragraph preceding that statement, or is the "over 11 million" just print? I am assuming over 11 million includes all print/ebook/audible etc, but just want to clarify. Again, thank you.

    Peter Ahlstrom

    The 11 million does include ebook and audio. Though also, that number was from June so it doesn’t include Oathbringer. But that fact doesn’t change anything I said here, yet.


    I wonder - considering the three main Stormlight books are about as many words as all the Mistborn books combined, which series has "sold the most words"?

    Peter Ahlstrom

    Still Mistborn.


    Interesting! I suppose it's somewhat expected considering Mistborn was released first. If you'll indulge me, is it still the same if we rescale for time? Sort of a "word sales rate" - is the average Sanderson reader more likely to currently be reading Stormlight or Mistborn?

    Peter Ahlstrom

    Hard to say right now because the good numbers reporting only happens every January and July. The sales period from July to December 2018 will be best to look at for comparison purposes, since neither series will have a super-recent book out in that period. We'll get those numbers in July 2019.


    That's an insanely long delay for getting good data.

    Peter Ahlstrom

    It's because the publishing industry borrows from the future by paying authors royalties 6 to 11.97 months after book sales take place. And it's the royalty reports that include the actual sales numbers.

    General Reddit 2018 ()
    #4586 Copy


    If you could write a story in any other world/authors work what would it be and why(discounting be obvious of you already did [The Wheel of Time])?

    If you could let any other author write a story in one of your universes, what story, which author?

    Now what if the answer to both those questions where pat rothfuss?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Good questions.

    First one would be tough. I've turned down, for example, writing on a Marvel property--and could likely write a Star Wars book if I wanted, but am not particularly interested in either. Not because I don't enjoy those stories, but because I'm happy doing my own thing, and don't know that I can add in a meaningful way to what is already happening with properties like that.

    I would enjoy working with specific authors. For example, I'd leap at doing something with Pat--but I doubt we'd want to do anything in either of our worlds. But something new.

    General Reddit 2018 ()
    #4587 Copy


    Congrats [Brandon]

    Very happy for him that [Dark One] is getting off the ground but also worries me a bit.

    I've been through the waiting game with George R. R. Martin, J.K. Rowling and Robert Jordan. I started reading wot when I was like 13 and finished when I was 34 or so. I'm worried that some of the stuff that sounds awesome will never see the light of day or be 40 years in the future. The second half of the storm light or Warbreaker 2 for example

    I also wish that this was in the cosmere cause it could be a great tie-in.

    I'm also worried that it fails and kills any chance of his other works being adapted.

    Either way hoping that my fears are unfounded and it's awesome. Sounds cool

    Brandon Sanderson

    I think that we want this to not be cosmere--because that should both give me a chance to dabble in Hollywood, but also not risk the continuity of the cosmere until I have more of a reputation there.

    Also, I don't think you need to worry. So far, this hasn't divided my attention too much from other projects. I've spent maybe a day ever few weeks or so on Dark One--and I don't anticipate letting it consume me too much.

    General Reddit 2018 ()
    #4588 Copy


    What is the [Dark One] podcast piece going to be like? An old-style radio serial or something?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The original pitch was for something more contemporary, like a fake version of the podcast Serial--but in-world and dealing with a specific character. But a lot will depend on how the series develops.

    General Reddit 2018 ()
    #4589 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    I've had to hide this news for a long time. It was almost one year ago that the Dark One outline finally snapped together for me at long last. We had interest almost immediately from Fremantle, and I've done multiple flights to LA to chat with them about it. I think this one might finally be the real deal when it comes to a Sanderson adaptation--which is amusing, considering we don't have any books for Dark One yet. But if this goes forward, I'll be sure to write some.


    I'm a big fan of this multimedia approach, but I'm wondering what inspired it. Was it your idea or Fremantle's? Is this an experiment for other properties in the future at all? A lot of us on the 17th Shard discord have discussed the sheer size of Stormlight, for example, and worry about DMG either going the Hobbit route (hours upon hours of content for a single book, which'll really rack up even by the time we reach OB), or missing out on a ton of content. If Dark One pans out well, would you use this multimedia approach for Stormlight? (I'm a big fan of the idea of a Black Mirror style show for the interludes, but straight up separating them from the rest of the books would take a lot away, especially with characters such as Szeth and Venli)

    Brandon Sanderson

    With Dark One, I've pounded myself against the idea for years. Finally, I sat down with it and said, "What if I were going to design this for a television show or graphic novel first?" Using Stranger Things and the recent Westworld reboot as guides, I dug into a parallel narrative--half in our world, half in another world. A kind of dark "portal fantasy" story.

    It came out as an eight episode outline that I really liked, with a solid outline for two prequel novels about the previous generation. (Characters still important in the episode outline.) With this in hand, I took it to Hollywood and said, "If you guys are interested in doing the episodes, I'm interested in writing these books--and we can intertwine them in a (hopefully) very cool way."

    Fremantle was on board immediately. (They'd been intrigued by Dark One from a one-page outline they'd seen, back before I did this new treatment.)

    Warning: I can't say how much of my original outline will end up in the show; I've never written for a television show before, and the showrunner will know better than I will what will or won't work. But (theoretically) the graphic novels will follow the outline pretty closely.

    If this works, will I apply it to the Cosmere? That's the goal. I do like the idea of getting some experience with TV/Film through non-cosmere projects, particularly as we see how things shake out these next few years in regards to TV/film distribution.


    Brandon, I'm curious how you see the same scenario playing out with Cosmere material considering the material already exists and the opportunity for the same intertwining wouldn't be quite the same. Unless of course you go back and interweave new stories with the already completed books?

    Very excited to see what comes of this venture! I've loved the concept from the moment you first mentioned it and I can't think of a better way to see it come alive than how you're doing it here.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I can't really say at this point. There are just too many variables. There are a lot of ways these things could be approached, however.

    General Reddit 2018 ()
    #4590 Copy


    There is that scene where Kaladin takes a sharp turn at high speeds and he almost blacks out. That is normal for jet pilots, since they experience high G forces when their airplane tries to accelerate them by their backs and bottoms.

    But Lashing doesn't work that way, it generates fake gravity. Accelerating your whole body shouldn't cause you anything, you can't even feel it.

    Is this something that is an admitted physics hiccup or I misunderstood this kind of Investiture usage?

    Brandon Sanderson

    This one is actually in the process of flux, as I do more research on the effects of acceleration (including interviews with fighter pilots, which has been fun.) Basically, I realized I needed to beef up my understanding of all this, and then make some decisions on exactly how this all works, because I've been relying on instinct too much in some of these sequences.

    So...that's a RAFO, I'm afraid. More because I'm still tweaking some of the little details of how I want this all to work. (In ways that become increasingly relevant as I look forward toward things like Windrunners in space.)

    There are a ton of details to consider, even if I eventually hand-wave some of it with the magic. (For example, the heart pumping blood in a high-g environment. How does that interact, if at all, with stormlight? And the direct oxygenation of the brain implied by not needing to breathe while holding stormlight...)

    We have several very large math-ish projects going on behind the scenes.


    I think it depends on if lashing independently impacts each atom within your body simultaneously, or if it is only a subset.

    Brandon Sanderson

    There's one important fact you're not considering, but which is vital: reader expectation.

    One of the questions I have to ask myself is this: What will the reader expect to happen? How will they expect to feel? Granted, none of us have ever flown like this before--but we generally imagine similar things, similar feelings.

    As a writer, one thing I need to balance is when I go against reader expectations and when I don't. Going against the expectations can be interesting, but often takes a large burden of words and explanation to keep reminding them something is not how they'd imagine it to be.

    For example, it took a relatively large amount of reader attention (and explanation) to keep reminding people in Mistborn that plants weren't green and the sky wasn't blue. In many ways, making something new (like a chull) is easier on readers than making something familiar into something strange (like the horses in Dragonsteel, which were smaller than Earth horses--and kept causing confusion problems in my alpha readers.)

    As annoying as this example can me, this is why Lucas had sound, fire, gravity, etc in space. Starships banking in formation felt real to the viewers, even if it didn't make sense in context. I hope to not go that far, but these questions are something in my mind.

    I try to be careful not to remove the sensations of magic, in order to keep the movements of characters grounded. Windrunning has left me having to decide how far I want to go with things like this, in order to preserve the visceral feelings for the reader.

    General Reddit 2018 ()
    #4591 Copy


    Did "dun spheres" start as a typo of "dim"?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, as has been noted, it's an actual word in English. There was no typo, though I have adapted it to mean something slightly different in the books.

    I still can't remember for certain where I got crem from, though.

    General Reddit 2018 ()
    #4592 Copy


    So once upon a time Brandon was going to write Szeth as the flashback character for book three, but then Brandon changed his mind, decided to write Dalinar's flashback chapters to see how that would go, and then after writing them made book 3 Dalinar's book instead. Here is a quote from the first Stormlight Book 3 Update post Brandon made in this subreddit

    As someone else has posted, I have finished the rough draft of Dalinar's flashbacks for Stormlight Three. I consider the experiment of writing his flashbacks for this book, instead of waiting for book five, to be a success. Therefore, I'm proceeding with the Dalinar/Szeth flip.

    The reasoning for this is something I can't discuss in detail until the book is released. I'd be happy to revisit this topic once you all have a chance to read the novel.

    Now that the book has been out for 6 months or so, I'd love to hear Brandon discuss the reasoning behind this. Personally, I have a very tough time imagining how this book would have played out if Szeth had been the flashback character. Clearly we wouldn't have had to Dalinar/Odium confrontation if we didn't have Dalinar's flashbacks, as those were integral to the overall storyline. I'd love to hear what the plot of this book was originally supposed to be when Szeth was going to have the flashbacks. Does anyone know the answers to this, or am I going to have to hope Brandon sees this post and decides to answer more than a RAFO? :)

    Brandon Sanderson

    Hmm. This is going to be difficult to answer without straying into spoilers for books four and five. It's also hard to say how the books would have played out if I'd swapped these back.

    The Dalinar/Odium confrontation would still have happened, as that was something I'd been planning for a while. But how would things have played out? Hard to say, as an outline is only a rough guide--even for someone like me. It's when you get to the nitty gritty of the story that things come together.

    Having finished the book, it's hard for me to imagine going another direction--as I made the decisions I did because I felt they were the ones that were right for the story. And a lot has changed over the years as I've worked on the details. (Kaladin's arc from book two, for example, was originally plotted for book three--parallel to Szeth and his flashbacks, which share some similarities.)

    Dalinar's flashbacks would work very well for book five for reasons I can't explain yet--but it became clear to me that I needed them for this book, despite the outline looking at the Szeth/Kaladin dynamic. (Which was upended anyway when I moved Kaladin's second character arc to book two.)

    So...that's a whole lot of not saying much, I'm afraid. I can answer a lot more once book five is out.


    Does it mean that we shouldn't expect any explanations or clues about what happened with Dalinar at the end of Oathbringer before book 5?

    Ask just to know if we'll know more in book 4 or we'll have to wait a bit longer.To avoid false expectations:)

    Brandon Sanderson

    There will be explanations and clues, but I would anticipate more Dalinar in book 5 than in book 4.

    General Reddit 2018 ()
    #4593 Copy


    Anyone really want Wayne and Lopen to have a conversation?

    I have no idea what they would have to say to each other but it would sound magical. Michael Kramer is awesome.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Maybe I can find a way to do this as some kind of non-canon easter egg, like the Kelsier/Moiraine conversation.

    MisCon 2018 ()
    #4594 (not searchable) Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    I sought refuge in the silent caverns. I didn’t dare go back to my mother and grandmother. My mother would undoubtedly be happy. She’d lost a husband to the Krell, and dreaded seeing me suffer the same fate. Gran Gran, she would tell me to fight. But fight what? The military itself didn’t want me. I felt like a fool. All this time, telling myself I’d become a pilot, and in truth I’d never had a chance. My teachers must have spent these years laughing at me behind their hands. I walked through an unfamiliar cavern on the outer edge of what I’d explored, hours away from Igneous. And still the feelings of embarrassment and anger shadowed me. What an idiot I had been.

    I reached the edge of the subterranean cliff and knelt, activating my father’s light-line by tapping two fingers against my palm. The bracelet glowed more brightly. Gran Gran said we’d brought these with us to Detritus, that they were pieces of equipment used by the explorers and warriors of the old human space fleet. I wasn’t supposed to have one of course, but everyone thought that it had been destroyed when my father crashed. I placed my wrist against the stone of the cliff, and again tapped my fingers against my palm, an action the bracelet could sense. This command made an energy line stick to the rock, connecting my bracelet to the stone.

    A three-finger tap let out more slack. Using that I could climb over the ledge, rope in hand, and lower myself to the bottom. Once down, another tap made the rope let go of the rock above then snap back into the bracelet housing. I didn’t know how it worked, only that it needed to recharge it every month or two, something I did in secret by plugging it into the power lines outside the caverns.

    I crept into a cavern filled with kurdi mushrooms. They tasted foul but were edible and rats loved them. This would be prime hunting ground. So I turned off my light and settled down to wait, listening intently. I had never feared the darkness. It reminded me of the exercise Gran Gran taught, where I floated up toward the singing stars. You couldn’t fear the dark when you were a fighter. And I was a fighter.

    I was, I was going, I was going to be a pilot...

    I looked upward, trying to push away those feelings of loss. Instead, I was soaring. Toward the stars. And again I thought I could hear something calling to me, a sound like a distant flute. A nearby scraping pulled me back. Rat nails on stone. I raised my speargun, familiar motions guiding me, and engaging a smidgen of light from my light-line.

    The rat turned in a panic toward me. My finger trembled on the trigger but I didn’t fire as it scrambled away. Why did it matter? Was I really just going to go on with my life like nothing had happened? Usually exploring kept my mind off my problems. Today they kept intruding like a rock in my shoe. Remember? Remember that your dreams have just been stolen?

    I felt like I had those first days following my father’s death. When every moment, every object, every word reminded me of him and of the sudden hole inside me. I sighed, then attached one end of my light-line to my spear and commanded it to stick to the next thing it touched. I took aim at the top of another cliff and fired, sticking the weightless glowing rope in place. I climbed up, my speargun rattling in its straps on my back.

    As a child I’d imagined that my father had survived his crash, that he was being held captive in these endless uncharted tunnels. I imagined saving him, like a figure from Gran Gran’s stories. Gilgamesh, or Joan of Arc, or Tarzan of Greystoke, a hero. The cavern trembled as if in outrage, and dust fell from the ceiling. An impact up on the surface. That was close, I thought. Had I climbed so far? I took out my book of hand-drawn maps. I’d been out here quite a while by now; hours at least. I had taken a nap a few caverns back.

    I checked the clock on my light-line. It had passed to the next day, the day of the test, which would happen in the evening. I probably should have headed back. Mom and Gran Gran would worry if I didn’t show up for the test. To hell with the test, I thought, imagining the indignation I’d feel at being turned away at the door. Instead I climbed up through a tight squeeze into another tunnel. Out here my size was, for once, an advantage.

    Another impact rocked the caverns. With this much debris falling, climbing to the surface was definitely stupid. I didn’t care. I felt reckless. I felt, almost heard, something driving me forward. I kept climbing until I finally reached a crack in the ceiling. Light shone through it, of an even, sterile type; too white, not orange enough. Cool, dry air blew in also, which was a good sign. I pushed my pack ahead of me, then squirmed through the crack and out into the light.

    The surface. I looked up and saw the sky again. It never failed to take my breath away. A distant skylight shone down on a section of the land, but I was mostly in shadow. Just overhead, the sky sparkled with a shower of falling debris. Radiant lines like slashes. A formation of three scout-class starfighters flew through it, watching. Falling debris was often broken pieces of ships or other space junk, and salvage from it could be valuable. It played havoc with our sensors though, and could mask a Krell incursion.

    I stood in the grey-blue dust and let the awe of the sky wash over me, feeling a particular sensation of wind against my cheeks. I’d come up close to Alta Base, which I could see in the distance, maybe only a thirty-five minute walk or so away. Now that the Krell knew where we were, there was no reason to hide the base, so it had expanded from a hidden bunker to several large buildings and a walled perimeter, antiaircraft guns, and an invisible shield to protect it from debris.

    Outside that wall, groups of people worked a small strip of something I always found strange: trees and fields. What were they even doing over there? Trying to grow food in this dusty ground? I didn’t dare get close. The guards would take me for a scavenger from the distant caverns. Still, there was something dramatic about that stark green of those fields and the stubborn walls of the base. Alta was a monument to our determination. For three generations, humankind had lived like rats and nomads on this planet, but we would hide no longer.

    The flight of starships streaked toward Alta, and I took a step toward them. Set your sights on something higher, my father had said. Something more grand. And where had that gotten me?

    I shouldered my pack and my speargun, then hiked the other direction. I had been to a nearby passage before, and I figured with more exploring, I could connect some of my maps. Unfortunately, when I arrived, I found the passage’s mouth had collapsed completely.

    I saw some debris hit the surface in the near distance, tossing up a spray of dust. I looked up and found a few smaller chunks streaking down overhead, fiery burning chunks of metal. Heading right toward me. Scud! I dashed back the way I had come. No! No! No! No! No! The air rumbled, and I could feel the heat of the approaching debris. There!

    I spotted a small cavern opening in the surface, part crack, part cave mouth. I threw myself toward it, skidding and sliding inside. An enormous crash sounded behind me, and it seemed to shake the entire planet. Frantic, I engaged my light-line and slapped my hand against the stone as I fell into the churning chaos. I jerked up short, connected by the light-line to the wall, as rock chips and pebbles flew across me. The cavern trembled, then all grew still. I blinked dust from my eyes and found myself dangling by my light-line in the center of a small cavern, maybe thirty or forty feet high. I’d lost my pack somewhere, and I’d scraped up my arm pretty good.

    Great, just great, Spensa. This is what throwing tantrums gets you. I groaned, my head throbbing, then tapped my fingers against my palm to let the light-line out, lowering myself to the floor. I flopped down, catching my breath. Other impacts sounded in the distance, but they dwindled. Finally, I wobbled to my feet and dusted myself off. I managed to locate the strap of my bag sticking out from some rubble nearby. I yanked it out, then checked the canteen and maps inside. They seemed okay.

    My speargun was another matter. I found the handle but there was no sign of the rest. It was probably buried in that mound of rubble. I slumped down against the stone. I knew I shouldn’t go up to the surface during a debris fall. I had practically begged for this. A scrabbling sound came from nearby. A rat? I raised the handle of my gun immediately, and then felt doubly stupid. Still I forced myself to my feet, slung my pack over my shoulder, and increased the light of my bracelet. A shadow ducked away, and I followed, limping only a little. Maybe I could find another way out of here.

    I raised my bracelet high, illuminating the small cavern, which had a high ceiling. My light reflected off something ahead of me. Metal? Maybe one of the water pipes? I walked toward it, and my brain took a moment to realize what I was seeing. There, nestled into the corner of the cavern, surrounded by rubble, was a starship.

    BookCon 2018 ()
    #4595 Copy


    Can you sleep through a highstorm?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Some people can. I probably wouldn't be able to.


    So it's not impossible.

    Brandon Sanderson

    It's not impossible... The guys in Bridge Four? They can sleep through anything

    BookCon 2018 ()
    #4596 Copy


    I was wondering what is your favorite book was to write?

    Brandon Sanderson

    ...That's really hard to answer, I like different books for different reasons. The big ones are more satisfying, but a lot of the shorter ones can be funner. So, probably Bands of Mourning, from the Mistborn series is my favorite for the fun. But the Stormlight books are more satisfying. 

    BookCon 2018 ()
    #4597 Copy


    This book seemed a little sadder, I thought Kaladin would reach the next level.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, he's still got some things to work out. 


    I was surprised that Elhokar getting killed *inaudible*

    Brandon Sanderson

    At least, in this draft, it wasn't Dalinar that that killed him like in the original version... That didn't work.

    BookCon 2018 ()
    #4598 Copy


    How did you know that Stormlight and Mistborn were going to be the focus [of the cosmere]?

    Brandon Sanderson

    A lot of writers figured out the *inaudible* exploration. And I had the advantage when I broke-in that I had written all these books before, and I was able to go back and say, "The Way of Kings, there's something special about--" right from the beginning, there's something special about that.

    I was able to look back at say, Mistborn, which had I had tried the magic system. The magic system really worked, my best magic system. I know this has the best magic magic system, if I can match a plot to it that makes it a good book, I can make that magic system kind of the spine of what I'm doing.

    ...So I got lucky on that. In some ways, not publishing for a long time was the luckiest thing that could have happened to me.

    BookCon 2018 ()
    #4599 Copy


    The reveal at the end of The Bands of Mourning was just the biggest surprise ever. I held off reading Secret History... When I read Secret History, it feels like reading Hero of Ages all over again. It was so great... Kelsier, what it's going to mean.

    Brandon Sanderson

    You'll see, next book. RAFO card.

    BookCon 2018 ()
    #4600 Copy


    Do you know when we're going to get Nightblood?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I don't know for sure. Your best bet at Nightblood is after Stormlight 5. I'll take a little bit longer break than normal between 5 and 6 because there are two five-book arcs, and I'm really hoping to squeeze Nightblood in there.