*written* Has Vasher (or any of the alias he goes by) ever fathered a biological child? (before or after he returned)
*spoken* That's also a RAFO, sorry.
*written* Has Vasher (or any of the alias he goes by) ever fathered a biological child? (before or after he returned)
*spoken* That's also a RAFO, sorry.
Have we seen any evidence of Hemalurgy on Roshar? And, as sort of an addendum, given the end of Oathbringer, was what happened to Jezrien Hemalurgy?
There are certain cosmere philosophers that would count it. I would divide it as two separate things that are using similar fundamentals... I wouldn't call it myself, but there are people who would disagree with me in-world. Have we seen evidence? I would say no evidence that is easily-- easy to pick out.
But it's there?
Yes, there are people with Hemalurgy who have been to Roshar. I'm pretty sure they've been on-screen.
With Hoid, we know that he's got some sort of Lightweaving, Yolen magic. If we're gonna hypothetically say that he bonds with the Cryptic, at the end of Oathbringer. Talking about resonance between magic systems, what are we going to see if he tried the two together? Would they be separate? Or would they form some sort of resonance magic system?
So, I'm gonna go ahead and RAFO that.
Obviously, we know that spren look different in the Cognitive Realm, as opposed to in the Physical. Seons, from Elantris. Do they look different?
What is the most Invested item so far revealed?
What counts as an item?
Inanimate object. Sentient swords, stuff like that.
Okay, inanimate objects, would be Nightblood. Well-- is he inanimate?
Well, he's a sentient sword, but he's an inanimate object.
So, yeah, he would count.
Is there any reason why Odium's known as the Broken One? Has he got some part of him ripped off? ...Has he had any Investiture ripped off of him?
Has he had Investiture ripped off of him? Yes, asterisk.
Trellium could be Hemalurgy-viable without Trell messing with magic?
Yeah, I'll go ahead and give you [a RAFO card].
If you have 32 Misting and Ferring, every kind possible, without using Hemalurgy, you can craft a medallion? Without the aftermath of the--
So could you craft a medallion... without-- oh. That should be possible, but this is one of the things where I have to dig out the notes and double-check myself. But this should be possible.
When someone dies on Nalthis, their Breaths: go away with the soul, or remain in the corpse?
Breaths return to Endowment.
Together with the soul? Or remain in the corpse?
Yes, unless it turns into a Cognitive Shadow. Then, the soul goes into the Beyond. And so the actual essence of the soul, the Investiture of it, does return to Endowment.
What power do you think you would get if you were in the Steelheart universe?
...I would hope to be able to fly. That would be my favorite. I don't think I'd get that. I'd get some weird temporal power, probably.
As the two Realms, the Cognitive and the Spiritual, are, well, fictional... Are they all comprised of Investiture, completely?
Yes. No, completely? Well, here's the thing. Investiture, matter, and energy are all the same thing in the cosmere. So, just like energy and matter are the same thing here. So, yes, everything's made of Investiture, in the same way that everything's made of energy in our world. Does that make sense?
So, what about what spren are made of in the Cognitive Realm? Is that just Investiture?
So, yeah, I'll dig more into that. I'm gonna go with Investiture for now, but I could change that as I move along. What I'm kind of debating is, is there a separate Cognitive state, and I don't think so. So I'm gonna go with Investiture for now.
How about Connection?
Connection is, like, the equivalent of a quantum connection in our world, so it's more like a force than something comprised of something. The question is like, "What is gravity comprised of?" And then you start asking weird questions.
What was the thematic decision behind the number 16? Why did you choose that?
I really like how divisible it was. It looked really cool when I was playing with things like an Allomantic table and whatnot. It was mostly an aesthetic choice. Like, it just felt right.
So was it originally the Shards or the metals you decided on?
So, I started with the metals. And then expanded out to that, yeah. So what you've gotta remember is, like, I write Elantris without knowledge of the cosmere. I knew I was gonna do something, but I didn't know what I was gonna do. And then I wrote Dragonsteel, and in Dragonsteel I had all sorts of theories and plans, but I never canonized any of that. And when I sat down to write Mistborn, I said, "All right. We're building the cosmere for real now." And before then I had just kind of been winging it. So when I did Aether of Night, which I put Shards in, I was like "Okay, there'll be some of these things, and what-not." Mistborn was, like, the first real cosmere book, if that makes any sense.
Do kandra count as metalborn?
I would count them, yes.
And would Wax count them as metalborn?
He would not. Probably.
'Cause he calls VenDell metalborn, and I was wondering if he was testing VenDell in some way or not...
Yeah... I'll have to go look at what I wrote on that one, as well.
Can you tell us a little bit about what Hoid was up to in Terris in The Well of Ascension?
He was hunting for the Well of Ascension.
In the new continuity, he already knew where the Well was, because he used it to come back to--
Right, we changed the continuity, didn't we. Yeah. Oh boy. We came up with an explanation of this, because when we wrote the book-- Yeah, why don't you send me an email on that one. Now that I have the conversation with Peter, he brought that one up when I finally got around to Secret History. That was one of our big casualties. What did I come up with? I think he was just really, really-- I will have to-- because I canonzied it to Peter. We're gonna have to go to Peter and say "What's in the wiki now?" Yeah, that was one of the big casualties, and the fact that I couldn't get Kelsier to one of the places where I had left foreshadowing for him to speak in someone's head, and I can't remember what that one was, either.
Oh, that one was Sazed, you said it was his imagination.
Yeah, I had to make that his imagination. Because I just couldn't get people where they needed to go. This is the problem with writing an outline, then writing a book, and then writing another book so many years later. Certain things, we just can't work into the continuity. Write us an email, we'll get you the official continuity for that one. Because Peter did nail me down when we were working on the book.
After Hoid got the bead during the scene in Secret History, he went north to Terris to do research on possibly acquiring Feruchemy. While he’s there, all hell breaks loose, and he ends up embroiled in helping the Terris people.
Advice for worldbuilders that are trying to create a scientific-based fantasy?
Learn to differentiate between the three kinds of what we talk about with science-based magic. One is internal logic. One is logic with the world. And, oh, what is the third one? For instance, "logic with the world" meaning, "This is an explanation of how the magic actually could come to be." And a logic with "This is trying to break one rule, and then keeping the others as consistent with our universe as possible." With the difference being, like, for instance, Investiture keeping the laws of thermodynamics except for the fact that it exists is kind of a reference to the third. We're letting rules affect the laws-- the laws of our universe, we're trying to tie into that. You don't have to do that. Internal logic is the most important. Then the other one would be, kind of, the "How does this magic arise out of the nature of the universe? How could I take a few steps extra? Can I make it realistic?" That's a completely different rule. So look at those three things.
Is that where you fit Investiture in the magic? Matter, energy, Investiture?
Right, that's where I'm trying to do a little bit of all three of those things. But you don't have to. Understand that you can do one of the three.
In Words of Radiance, the ardent Rushu calls Renarin's symmetry improper. Is that just meant to categorize his untrained hand, or is the symmetry different from normal?
No, it's his untrained hand.
What is Scadrial's primary intergalactic export?
Okay so, this is what I got from Brandon.
Prior to Kelsier exploding the Pits, Scadrial's canned goods were one of the main things exported to the intergalactic market from the planet.
NB: This is something that Brandon can change at any time if the story calls for it.
I'm a little late to this, because of travel/booksigning woes, but I did want to jump in and offer a few things here. As Lyn said above, the AMA isn't often going to be able to dig into details about what was in the original draft--that's the sort of thing we like to keep a little closer to the chest. I'm okay with revealing things like that in the abstract, but having a wholesale "let's reveal plot points in early drafts of books without context" reveal seems like it might be dangerous.
So here, off the top of my head, are some of the things that I changed in the book related to Beta Reader comments. These topics are "open" for discussion--meaning you can ask Betas for more specifics on them, if you feel like it. These were all things I changed specifically because of Beta interaction.
Adolin's viewpoints were added to Part One. As was a quick run-down on Renarin's powers, and what he was learning to do with them.
The romantic angle between Shallan/Adolin/Kaladin was tweaked as I more and more referenced the idea that two different personalities of Shallan's were in love with two different people. IE--moving it further away from a love triangle, and instead showing more clearly that that Shallan was splitting further into multiple people, with different life goals.
This wasn't coming across in the early drafts, though I sometimes coulen't quite tell which responses were knee jerk "Twilight ruined love triangles! Don't do them!" comments and which were "I'm not convinced these four people--counting Shallan as two--are actually working in relationships." (I'll note that I, personally, am very pleased with how this part turned out in the books--but the betas certainly helped me get there. I'd guess that this is one of the more contentious matters of fan discussion about the book. The point of bringing it up here isn't to discredit anyone's feelings about the actual arc, just point out how the betas helped me find the balance I wanted.)
I got a LOT of help from people for writing Shallan's getting drunk scenes.
Slightly beefed up Yelig-nar's part in the plot, as what he did wasn't coming into play enough--and originally (I can't remember if this was a beta thing or an alpha thing) he wasn't as involved in the Amaram/Kaladin fight.
I revised part four heavily, moving the scene where Kaladin runs into our "so very beautiful" friend from Elantris (and the subsequent dip into the Spiritual Realm) from happening in the market to happening in the Lighthouse. Originally, the Lighthouse was run by Cryptics. (Which was a lot of fun.) However, I needed stronger establishment of Kaladin's motivations earlier in Part Four, which was going kind of off-the-rails a little.
Lots more conversation between characters who weren't talking enough in Part Four. (Most specifically Azure.)
There are hundreds more, but those are a few that might be of interest--and I need to be up in three hours to get on a train to go do more signings. Jet lag sure is fun!
In the universe that the cosmere takes place in, is Adonalsium god or is he a smaller entity?
That is a matter of some debate and I will not answer yes or no because I would rather not-- I would rather leave it to the characters' debate.
So I've noticed a pattern in the way that the Radiants learn their surges. They seem to learn their anti-clockwise surge before their clockwise surge?
Excellent, everyone thought I was a crazy person!
They do tend to-- Now, I'm gonna give you some behind the sausage stuff on that. That is partially for writing expediency reasons.
How do you mean?
I designed that partially because I didn't want to overwhelm people with too many magic systems at once so I came up with a little bit of a pattern so that I could have a little bit of an in-world reason why we were slowing that down. It's not a hard fast rule, it's something that I've kept to in order to not overwhelm readers so it's more of form following function than the other way around.
*Hands Brandon the Part Four Sea of Lost Lights Map*
How much of a hand did you have in this map or did you kind of let Isaac go crazy?
So this one is half and half, I went to Isaac and said put this and this and this and then he added some craziness. One of Isaac's voices in the cosmere is Nazh and almost everything that is written by Nazh is Isaac and he named a bunch of this stuff, he ran it all by me. I actually vetoed a few. He came up with some, I'm like "Ehh" and then I renamed them to things that actually fit.
Okay, why is spren fishing banned here, is that you or Isaac?
That was Isaac...
My friend has a theory: The Lord Ruler is the one that Shattered the Shattered Plains. Is that a possibility?
I won't discount it out of hand. Mostly just so that he can keep arguing with you guys.
Do all the Shards have the same powers just limited by their intents?
No. There are a uniqueness to them, but. There is some uniqueness to each of them. There's a lot of overlap.
I was wondering if you were ever gonna talk about how some of the names are, like, palindromes and what it means?
So, in the Stormlight world, symmetry is holy. And so, palindromic names are how the names of a lot of religious figures, and things are. And even a lot of people, who-- particularly those who are based off of them. It's a religious concept. The keteks, the poems in the back, are symmetrical poems.
Can you write the Fourth Ideal of the Windrunners in that book?
Nope. Because I haven't released it yet... I haven't gotten those yet.
I have a question about the Shin. Are they originally from Roshar? *laughter*
Answers are coming.
Is there significance in the metal thing relating back to... Scadrial?
In Words of Radiance, can you give me a worldhopper that you haven't told us about?
Afraid not. The problem, I just get asked that, like, twenty times per signing, and I wouldn't have anything left.... I'm sorry... The one I get asked a lot is, "Can you name a Shard you haven't named before?"
There's, like, three left!
Yeah, I mean... And people already pulled out from me all the worldhoppers that I am comfortable talking about.
Had you planned to write... the whole Cosmere when you initially started?
So, I wrote Elantris, had a bunch of the ideas. I started planning right then, and it has evolved a lot since. A lot of Elantris kind of got retrofitted into the things I came up with over the next four or five years... By the time I did Mistborn, I had most of this in mind, but it changes so much, even while I'm writing it.
So, like, when you had Warbreaker, it was--
Warbreaker, I wrote as a prequel to Stormlight. I had already written Stormlight One by that point, but I didn't like it, so I wrote about Kaladin's swordmaster, who was in the first book in that version.
A sword. Can they, like, feel it when they stab something?
Some of them really don't like it. Watch Wyndle's reaction to this sort of thing.
Is Soulcasting more efficient if the item you're Soulcasting resembles the item you're trying to make?
Good, no one's asked me that yet. RAFO.
Is the Breakaway inspired by Korean outdoor markets?
Yes... Night markets, right?
Everybody talks about steel-steel twinborns. A big topic of discussion. What I'm thinking about, I haven't seen anybody ask, what happens when somebody who's tapping speed, does a steelpush, does the steelpush react in realtime or accelerated time? And the object-- is it like a railgun?
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'm surprised that no one's asked me that before. This gets really dangerous really fast... It's RAFO territory, but you are thinking along the right lines.
So, you always talk about how you're an outliner. So, what do your outlines look like, and how long are they ranging from your YA books to something like Stormlight?
So, the one for the new book, Skyward, is about five pages long, and it's mostly-- first it's "Here's the worldbuilding paragraph," there's a bunch of headings and paragraphs. Characters, about a paragraph or two about each one. And then five parts, I tend to do a lot of five act things. So, prologue, part one, part two, part three, climax. Just a bunch of bullet points.
And how long would one be for, like, Oathbringer?
Oathbringer one's, like, 30 pages.
Are we ever gonna get to hear the music that is sung within Stormlight?
I hope so.
Will it be chanting?
A lot of chanting. A lot of rhythms. A lot of chants.
In the past, you have said... that we've seen a metal that is from a Shard that we know, on Scadrial. You said Wax has seen the influence of a Shard other than Preservation, Ruin, or Harmony, and that the spike that Bleeder was using was a metal from a Shard we know. It seems like there's another Shard influencing Scadrial. Is Trell an extension of that?
And is that Odium?
That's a RAFO.
So, if a person claims a new set of Shardplate, and there's a difference in size between the new wielder and the previous wielder, does it adjust to the size of the new wielder?
It does... And there are things they can do to size it and things like that. But it slowly changes over time, like a Blade sometimes does under certain circumstances.
Is it possible to bond with two swords and dual-wield?
Read And Find Out.
On the eye colors on Roshar, there are some weird ones, like orange and yellow. Are those there for a specific reason, or are they just--
Yeah. The whole eye color thing is kinda based a little bit on the Knights Radiant, the eyes changing is involved there. What's normal eye colors to them, it's just normal to them. It's not weird to see violet eyes and things like that. But it would be weird to us.
Did the eyes have to do with the Orders?
I want to know if there is a toxic level for Stormlight? If you're in the storm, can you get to the point where you have too much?
No, it doesn't quite work that way. Good question, though.
You said there was one person, I guess it was the Soulcasters, who were starting to change because of that?
That's more the magic changing their soul over time. It's not necessarily a function of the storms.
Do you imagine anybody when you write, like an actor?
Usually not... They're just usually just who they are in my head.
I was wondering, in Roshar, if any of the women were left-handed, if that interfered with the safehand? Or do they force them to--
They force them. It doesn't work for everybody, but at least--I read into this--there are countries where you're not allowed to be, in our world, left-handed. It's not a thing. They just force people to not be left-handed. It works better for some than others...
Pre-Shattering magic in books?
Let's see. I would count the highstorms as that. Highstorm predates the Shattering. Now, the highstorm has been changed dramatically by certain events, but the highstorm does predate the Shattering.
Is Uli Da Ambition?
Yes... That one's pretty obvious, though, right?
Here's a Dragonsteel question. If I were to wave Leras' knife over a candle, would it light?
...We'll RAFO that.
So, do you have a name, like an in-world name for a large magical construction, like the things that picks Elantrians?
That was why I invented the term "fabrial." It will become widespread eventually, as the term for meaning, kind of, magic-type devices in the cosmere. That's not what you call it right now, but you can start calling them all fabrials.
But what about something that isn't, like-- I always imagined that Aona left, like, a device, a magical device running--
I will have to RAFO that.
What's going on with White Sand? The sequel?
...Sequel looks really good. It fixed a few problems I had with the first one, and improves upon it, and it's good. I think they're looking at February. The date that was online earlier was just somebody guessing, and it kinda got perpetuated and Amazon picked it up. But there was no official date. And February is what we're looking at. The art's all done, and it's looking really good. So, February.
We have a lot of fan theories about your work, and most of them are wrong by necessity.
...That is true.
Are there things that are sort of directly designed to encourage or dissuade certain theories?
...As a member of Wheel of Time fandom growing up, I have experience on both sides of this now. And I decided after-- and this was partially looking at Robert Jordan's notes, looking at how he approached it, how it worked, being a fan-- I decided that that direction lies madness. Trying to stay ahead of the fans, trying-- if you try to twist so much that the fans can't guess, then that just means your foreshadowing is not going to work. On the other hand, doing too many in-jokes and things like this, it risks just making your book uninteresting, or not long-lasting.
And so while I read a lot of fan theories, and I even take them on occasion-- like Shardfork? That was totally a fan thing. Someone suggested that, I'm like, "Yeah, that would totally happen." But I kinda have to approach it from the frame of mind of "What would the characters do?" And I try not to actively write things that dissuade or encourage certain theories, I try to write what is best for the story. And let the fans then-- if they're going to guess, they're going to guess. If my foreshadowing is good, they probably are going to guess. At the same time, I know how insane they all are, 'cause I'm one of them, and I know they're just gonna go off on weird tangents. And that's just fine too.
So, it's this weird balance where I try to be part of the fandom, but make sure not being overly influenced by the fandom, and Wheel of Time gave me a lot of good practice on this. One of the things I really worried about with Wheel of Time was that the book would become a sequence of in-jokes for people who had read the series before. And yet, at the same time, as a fan, there were certain things I really wanted to see happen. I wanted to see certain characters meet up again after a long time apart, and I had been waiting for that for, like, a decade, and I was gonna make that happen, right? And I had to balance those two things, and that's just what I do with my books, even still.
How many of the worlds in the cosmere do you eventually plan to talk about that we don't know about?
...From what's been released, you've gotten almost all the important ones. There's, like, two or three ones I would consider relevant to... for instance, the planet that the Aethers, from Aether of Night, which is an unpublished book-- that's still part of the cosmere, I'm gonna do some stuff there. There are a couple of other worlds, one is mentioned in Oathbringer, just very briefly, in one of the epigraphs. There are others that I'll get to. But, when I designed the cosmere: Scadrial (Mistborn), Sel (Elantris), and Roshar were my pillars of the Cosmere story. With Yolen, the planet where it all started, just kind of being behind-the-scenes relevant. Those are the pillars of our story. Other planets will come into it, but those three-- there's nothing more important than the ones you've seen already.
In Elantris, you have this array of people who are essentially gods, immortal, but they appear with absurdly high frequency. How come they basically don't take over the planet?
...There are a couple reasons for this. One is that magic on Sel is very strongly tied to location, and was even back when the Elantrians were at the height of their power. So, this is a big part of it, location-based magic. Meaning, the further you get from Elantris, the less powerful your magic was, and the Elantrians really didn't like going places where they were not super-powerful. And so this is certainly part of it, and I explored this idea in Warbreaker, where the people who happen to be gods are really aggressive and kind of slowly conquering outward and things like that. It felt right for me in Elantris to be doing it that way.
Why can't they just increase their numbers. Because their numbers increase over time?
...The number of Elantrians had certain thresholds and upper limits, that I haven't described in the books yet.
In Way of Kings, all of the philosophers and logic masters are male, and reading and writing is described as a feminine art. It was long ago, so was there...
...This was a shift that happened in Roshar at a certain distinct point, where reading and writing became feminine arts. It was related to a power struggle over Shardblades and Shardplate, where certain people in charge realized, "If we can push the women towards something else, we can have all their weapons!" I know, it's not a good thing. But it happens. That's where safehands came form, and things like this, philosophies written in the past being taken kind of as dogma, and power struggles being involved, and things like this, and there was a shift happening. You'll find there's plenty of female philosophers, but they tend-- that tends to be a dividing point, and you start to see female philosophers appearing in Roshar after that divide, and you tend to see a lot more male philosophers beforehand. Good question.