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2012-04-30: I had the great pleasure of speaking with Harriet McDougal Rigney about her life. She's an amazing talent and person and it will take you less than an hour to agree.
2012-04-24: Some thoughts I had during JordanCon4 and the upcoming conclusion of "The Wheel of Time."
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Melissa, I think we have members from another forum joining us and they have information that we don't have. Maybe even advanced book information, like we know nothing about The Way of Kings and only heard about the book recently and know nothing of its content.
Could some of you newcomers introduce yourselves (maybe on our "Introduce Yourself" thread and not clutter up this one) and tell us where you are from? We love the information you are bringing and introducing on this thread but we are confused.
I posted on my website that I'd be doing this, and I don't often have time to interact on forums. (They are a delightful way to interact with readers, but have proven a HUGE time-sink for me in the past. As you might have noticed, I tend to write—and respond—in depth when people ask questions of me.) So I only appear on forums occasionally. Hence the involvement of those from my forums looking for some answers to questions.
Some backstory might help you all. I began writing in earnest in 1997. During those years, I shared the books I wrote with a group of friends. This group worked with me on The Leading Edge, a science fiction fanzine/semiprozine at BYU. Eventually, once we graduated, we founded the Timewaster's Guide, partially as a forum where we could hang out. (Tage and Ookla from the TWG forums—aka Ben and Peter—are among them, and are still very good friends of mine. Another easter egg is to watch how Ben Olsen and Peter Ahlstrom are treated in the acknowledgements of many of my books.)
The overarching story and theme of my books, what I wanted to accomplish as a writer, and how I approached the fantasy genre, all took shape during this time. These readers read many of my most important, and influential (on me as a writer) novels while in draft form. The biggest three of these during this era were White Sand, Dragonsteel, and Elantris. (On the tail end, I wrote—but never finished—the foundations of what years later became Warbreaker.)
The next era of my unpublished writing was when I worked on the worlds, stories, and themes that eventually became Mistborn, The Way of Kings, and a book called the Aether of Night. Many of my writing group friends have read these books, including the first draft of Kings (which is very, very different from the current draft.)
Anyway, these unpublished books are NOT canon yet. I don't canonize a novel until I publish it. But some of the hidden themes (including Hoid and Adonalsium) of my books are present in these novels. (Dragonsteel and Aether of Night are particularly connected—though of the unpublished Shardworld books, White Sand is probably the best written.) Again, none of this is canon yet. (For instance, I've taken chunks out of Dragonsteel to use in the revision of The Way of Kings.) However, these old books do contain clues that aren't available to the average reader.
Dragonsteel can be ordered through inter-library loan through the university library system. There are only four or five copies in existence. The BYU library has one (the book was my honor's thesis.) I believe the honors department has one. My thesis chair has one. (And maybe the committee has one, I can't remember.) I've got one in my basement. And I believe Ben's sister may have sneaked a copy out of the trash when I was cleaning out old manuscripts. (That might be White Sand.)
I do have intentions of rewriting these books and publishing them eventually. They each have pieces of the story. (Though I may decide to shift certain themes from one series to another as I eventually write and publish them.) I've been known to email White Sand or Aether of Night to readers who email and ask. (Though it does make me cringe a little to do so. In many of these books, I was experimenting with magic, theme, and narrative style—some experiments were a success, some were failures.)
Dragonsteel is frozen; I don't send it out any longer, as to not spoil the parts of The Way of Kings that I decided fit better in that world. So the only way to get it now is to borrow it from BYU. I've been told that Dragonsteel is the only undergraduate BYU honor's thesis ever to have been be read so often that it needed to be rebound. (A dubious honor, I'm not sure how I feel about so many people reading a book of mine that is that mediocre.)
I don't know if I'm remembering this right but I thought I saw somewhere that you said that all your books (yours not WOT) are connected somehow. Is that right or am I going insane already?
All of my books share a single creation myth, a single cosmology. The connection of them — the greater world, the greater universe — they call the Cosmere. There is a character who has shown up in each of my epic fantasies, and it is the same person, not just a repeated name. Currently Warbreaker, Elantris, and the Mistborn trilogy do all share a common cosmology. My children's books are not part of the Cosmere.
Ruin and Preservation were not the only Shards of Adonalsium, though they are the only ones on Scadrial at the moment. Sazed's ability to be both at once is actually something I drew from Eastern mythology, where it is believed that the ability to contain two opposing forces at the same time represents ultimate harmony. The Buddha, for instance, was said to have performed the miracle of producing both fair and ice from his hands at the same time.
Is "Scadrial" the proper name to refer to the Mistborn world?
Scadrial is indeed the name of the planet.
A manifestation of Ruin's gathered consciousness, much like the dark mists in book two. The lake was still around in Vin's era, but had been moved under ground. (Note that the Well is a very similar manifestation. You've also seen one other manifestation like this....)
The "lake" was barely ten feet deep—more like a pool. Its water was a crystalline blue, and Raoden could see no inlets or outlets.If that's what you're hinting at...I never thought of the connection before! I just kept thinking of Aether of Night, and never thought of this pool at all.
Both are accurate, but the first is what I meant, as most people here don't have access to Aether.
I'm also thinking that the Dor in Elantris is another Shard of Adonalsium. Certainly in the Elantris world, where the Dor came from is rather ambiguous, which I expected it would be. Of course, if other Shards of Adonalsium do exist, the Dor could have come from that source.
I will RAFO from here on the other Shards of Adonalsium, as it would be better for me not to give spoilers. Please feel free to speculate. Readers have met four shards other than Ruin and Preservation.
Have we met these four by name, or just by influence? I can't think of a name that would go with the one that the Elantris lake is a manifestation of.
Hoid could be one? I know nothing his purpose other than that he shows up in lots of different books, sometimes begging and sometimes telling stories. Since most of these series happen on different planets (though two of them may happen on the same planet as each other), I'm assuming he has mad planet-hopping skills.
Ookla, I'm going to be tight lipped on this, as I don't want to give things away for future books. But I'll tell you this:
You've interacted with two directly.
One is a tough call. You've never met the Shard itself, but you've seen its power.
The other one you have not met directly, but have seen its influence.
I thought Nightblood was explained sufficiently for my tastes in Warbreaker, so I doubt that it is a Shard, but I've been plenty wrong before. Also, I don't know if Hoid could even be a Shard. Certainly he has mean planet-hopping skills, but I don't know what purpose a celestial storyteller would have in this universe. He doesn't really have the same kind of power as Ruin or Preservation did, so normally I would rule him out right off the bat. But it is possible that these Shards come in many shapes, not just in the near-deific quantity Ruin or Preservation had. I think it's a bit of a stretch to say Hoid is a Shard... but, then again, I don't have any ideas for what those four other Shards are.
Maybe Hoid is just a traveler trying to find remnants of Adonalsium and stories about them. He doesn't need to be a shard, I suppose.
This is slightly a tangent, but here is a relevant chunk from the Warbreaker Annotations. As this won't be posted for months, I'll put it here as a sneak preview.
This whole scene came about because I wanted an interesting way to delve into the history. Siri needed to hear it, and I felt that many readers would want to know it. However, that threatened to put me into the realm of the dreaded info dump.
And so I brought in the big guns. This cameo is so obvious (or, at least, someday it will be) that I almost didn’t use the name Hoid for the character, as I felt it would be too obvious. The first draft had him using one of his other favorite pseudonyms. However, in the end, I decided that too many people would be confused (or, at least, even more confused) if I didn’t use the same name. So here it is. And if you have no idea what I’m talking about. . .well, let’s just say that there’s a lot more to this random appearance than you might think.
Brandon, I believe in one of Sazed's epigraphs, he actually called it "Adonasium" rather than what you are referring to here, which is "Adonalsium". I'm thinking that's just a typo, right?
I don't suppose you could tell us which book series of yours will tell us more about Adonalsium, would you? You know, just so us theorizers on the forum know when to properly theorize about these things...
Well, I guess this means that the proofreaders did not add the "L" when I marked the error on the manuscript.(sigh). Yes, the correct spelling is Adonalsium. I will try to get this fixed for the paperback, but I've been trying to get that blasted steel/iron error in the back of book one fixed for two years now. . .
If it helps, Sazed would probably under-pronounce the "L" as that letter, like in Tindwyl's name, is said very softly in Terris.
As for your other question, you will have to wait and see. Now, you could search my old books for clues, but I would caution against this. While there are hints in these, they are not yet canon. Just as I changed how things were presented in the Mistborn books during editing, I would have fixed a lot in these books during revision. Beyond that, reading them would give big spoilers for books yet to be released. White Sand, Dragonsteel, and Way of Kings in particular are going to be published some day for almost certain. (Though in very different forms). Aether of Night should be safe, as should Final Empire prime and Mistborn prime, though of those three, only Aether is worth reading, and then only barely. (It is still pretty bad).
The powers of Ruin and Preservation are Shards of Adonalsium, pieces of the power of creation itself. Allomancy, Hemalurgy, Feruchemy are manifestations of this power in mortal form, the ability to touch the powers of creation and use them. These metallic powers are how people's physical forms interpret the use of the Shard, though it's not the only possible way they could be interpreted or used. It's what the genetics and Realmatic interactions of Scadrial allow for, and has to do with the Spiritual, the Cognitive, and the Physical Realms.
Condensed 'essence' of these godly powers can act as super-fuel for Allomancy, Feruchemy, or really any of the powers. The form of that super fuel is important. In liquid form it's most potent, in gas form it's able to fuel Allomancy as if working as a metal. In physical form it is rigid and does one specific thing. In the case of atium, it allows sight into the future. In the case of concentrated Preservation, it gives one a permanent connection to the mists and the powers of creation. (I.e., it makes them an Allomancer.)
So when a person is burning metals, they aren't using Preservation's body as a fuel so to speak—though they are tapping into the powers of creation just slightly. When Vin burns the mists, however, she'd doing just that—using the essence of Preservation, the Shard of Adonalsium itself—to fuel Allomancy. Doing this, however, rips 'troughs' through her body. It's like forcing far too much pressure through a very small, fragile hose. That much power eventually vaporizes the corporeal host, which is acting as the block and forcing the power into a single type of conduit (Allomancy) and frees it to be more expansive.
You've said that Splintering a shard is essentially the same thing as the shattering of Adonalsium, repeated on a smaller scale.
And a while ago, someone asked you if Splintering was permanent or reversible, and you said that it can be reversed.
And shard holders tend to take the name of the shard they hold. So you've got Sazed, who goes by "Harmony" now, after taking up Ruin and Preservation. That makes me wonder, does he hold two shards... or one?
You could really answer that either way. The distinction is a really subjective one, and you could say that he's holding both shards, or that he holds one single Harmony.
Are there any magic systems in the cosmere that aren't shard based?
This depends on definitions. The effects of Adonalsium permeate everything, and Adonalsium is also the source of the Shards. It is possible to find a magic that isn't DIRECTLY powered by a specific shard, however, though most of these would have been set up before the shattering and would be much smaller in scope than things like Allomancy and Surgebinding.
Will there ever be some overarching plot with all the Cosmere and Adolnasium stuff?
Yes. There is one already, honestly, you just don't have the beginning or the end. I will write those books eventually, and things will start falling into place.
Over-arching thing with the Shards of Andonalsium: Brandon told me tonight that he actually has a chart/list thing with all of the books that he's planned in the shards universe. His exact words were something about having an arch over thirty-six books involving the shards of Andonalsium. Which makes me wonder if we're going to get some of the story about Andonalsium. He also said that there were only a few lines in each book to give us clues. Apparently there's something in the HoA, but I didn't notice anything when I read through it. Of course, I wasn't looking for it. He mentioned that there were 36, or possibly 38 (he couldn't remember which) books that would be in this universe. They included all of the Mistborn books (all 3 trilogies), all of the Stormlight Chronicle, all of Dragonsteel, Elantris, Warbreaker, White Sands, the other book that I mentioned but can't remember the title of, and others. I'm excited.
What is the technology level of the singular society that existed when Adonalsium Shattered?
What was the technology level of the society that existed when Adonalsium Shattered? It was less than our own.
Are you going to give us anything more specific than that?
Less than our own.
Um...it...Adonalsium could have been shattered in other ways.
Was there a force determining which way it shattered?
We'll see. We will see. The thing is there's a beginning, middle, and end to the shattering of Adonalsium and the involvement there. More stories can be told in the Cosmere, but there's a beginning, middle, and end to that. When I finish that, that is the sequence that I wanted to tell.
And you have that outlined out?
An event happened long ago which destroyed something called Adonalsium into 16 pieces. And 16 people took up that power.
I call all intelligent species people. If someone takes up the power and lets go of it, it has the effect much like a balloon that's been stretched and then the air is let out. I call that a Sliver; based off of the Lord Ruler calling himself the "Sliver of Infinity". The Lord Ruler is someone who held the power and then released it. And so, current Slivers are the Lord Ruler, Kelsier, and there may be others around who at one point held the power and let go of it. A Splinter is a term used by certain people in the cosmere for power of Adonalsium which has no person caring for it, no... no person holding it, which has attained self-awareness.
So is that like the mists and the Well? Are they...
They are not, because they have not attained self-awareness. But, the Seons are self-aware. So, any piece, for instance there were some spren on Roshar before Honor and Cultivation got there. Those were already Splinters of Adonalsium where he had left power which attained sentience on its own. So, it can be intentional is what I am saying, does that make sense? You have seen other splinters.
Are the highstorms related to the splintering of Honor?
The highstorms are more related to the mist from Mistborn which terminology we have not discussed yet. You have seen splinters quite a bit on various planets.
What you can tell me about Investiture?
That is the word for someone or something which has gained a portion of the magic of Adonalsium, so the original whatever-it-is. Like a Shardblade is an Invested object, and people if they draw in the Stormlight, they're drawing in the magic-they're Invested.
It is plausible that he could shattered in a different way.
So it could've been different Shards?
Yes, that's plausible.
Current timeline, which I have NOT canonized, is around 6,000 years... I have not finished with my outline document yet.
'Cause I've looked at the current chronology and it's very, very spotty...
Yes it is... the real trick is... making sure that I fit in, for instance, White Sand and things with the proper amount... because I haven't released that book series yet, I have to make sure while we're doing the graphic novel, that it fits the chronology, which is why I can't quite canonize things yet.
That one takes place before The Way of Kings doesn't it?
'Cause I know one of the worldhoppers from there shows up in The Way of Kings...
Yeah, White Sand is one of the very earliest.
Long ago there was a plot to destroy Adonalsium. It failed.
So, why is it that there are only dead swords?
That’s a good question that will be answered in the future.
Could they make a lightsaber?
They could make...metal weapons of a similar style to that, so no, we’re not talking lightsabers. Creating plasma is not something that we’re looking at.
A bow, for example?
They could create, probably...Well, let’s RAFO that one, I’ll show you what’s going to be happening.
You mentioned the ecology on Roshar, and you mentioned that mostly the non-sentient spren predate the [shattering of Adonalsium?]. So my question is about the evolution of life on Roshar, and how essential the highstorms are to life on Roshar, how the plants evolved...so can we assume that life that is dependent on the highstorms predates the Shattering of Adonalsium?
Can we correctly assume? [Laughter]
I’ll tell you this. The highstorms predate, and there was a lot of natural evolution on Roshar resulting in a lot of what we have there.