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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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Now this one will probably be RAFO'd: I know you already said that there are four Shards outside of Ati and Leras in your other books. Could you tell us the numbers per book? Is just a standard two per book? Or do some have more than others?
All of your fantasy worlds exist in the same universe and share linked magic systems and at least one character. Can you speak to the overall vision of this shared Hoidverse? Why not create separate worlds?
I started doing this early in my career before I got published, when I felt that writing sequels was not a good use of my time. Just look at the hypothetical; if I’m trying to get published and I write three books in the same, if an editor rejects book one, he or she is not going to want to see book two. But if an editor rejects book one but is optimistic about my writing, I can send them a book from another series and they can look at that.
During my unpublished days I wrote thirteen books, only one of which was a sequel. So I had twelve new worlds, or at least twelve new books—some of them were reexaminations of worlds. But I wanted to be writing big epics. This is what I always wanted to do; something like the Wheel of Time. So I began plotting a large, massive series where all these books were connected, so I could kind of “stealth” have a large series without the editors knowing I was sending them books from the same series. It was mostly just a thing for me, to help me do the writing I wanted to be doing. And then when publication came I continued to do that, and told the story behind the story.
Why not do separate worlds? Because it was more interesting for me this way. This is the story I want to tell. The big, overarching story that I’ve planned out. I’ve been talking recently about how my inspiration for this is the idea that in science people have for a long time been looking for a unified theory of physics, some theory that will explain all interactions of physics in a concise way. I wanted to tell about a universe where there was a unified theory of magic, where magic worked according to a unifying principle. Despite the magic systems looking very different and doing lots of different and interesting things, hopefully original for each book, there is an underlying rationale that is keeping them all together. I write what I find interesting, and that was interesting to me.
I started doing this early in my career before I got published, when I felt that writing sequels was not a good use of my time. Just look at the hypothetical; if I'm trying to get published and I write three books in the same, if an editor rejects book one, he or she is not going to want to see book two. But if an editor rejects book one but is optimistic about my writing, I can send them a book from another series and they can look at that.
During my unpublished days I wrote thirteen books, only one of which was a sequel. So I had twelve new worlds, or at least twelve new books—some of them were reexaminations of worlds. But I wanted to be writing big epics. This is what I always wanted to do; something like the Wheel of Time. So I began plotting a large, massive series where all these books were connected, so I could kind of "stealth" have a large series without the editors knowing I was sending them books from the same series. It was mostly just a thing for me, to help me do the writing I wanted to be doing. And then when publication came I continued to do that, and told the story behind the story.
I originally plotted an arc of around 36 books. The total has varied between 32 and 36; 32 would work better for the nature of the universe, but the question is whether I can fit everything into 32 books. I won't say whether Dragonsteel will be the last or not.
I mention this in one of the Well of Ascension annotations.
After I came up with the idea and had Sazed mention it, my desire to explore it more was one of the initial motivations for Warbreaker's setting.
The answer to your question is yes and no. There are shadows.
In your gut instinct, who would win in a fight, Marsh (no atium, limited feruchemy) or Szeth? (Or maybe we could go Zane & Szeth since I see a lot of similarities in their characters. They also happen to be my favorites from their respective series)
One of the interesting things I really liked about the book was Jasnah's lack of faith. It seems like during a lot of the scenes where that is an issue, you give her the upper hand. She makes some argument or point and the other characters leave it unchallenged. For instance the line where she says something like "Religion looks for super natural explanations to natural phenomena, science looks for natural explanations to super natural phenomena." That side of her seemed incredibly well written and genuine. Was it hard to do? Where did you get her arguments/points from? I swear a lot of what she says could of been ripped from comments of /r/atheism.
Lastly, I've been rereading the Mistborn series again after reading The Way of Kings twice in a row so I could decide which I liked more. So far...it's still a tie. I'm really liking getting back into the Mistborn world though. That has me super excited for Alloy of Law. Once it get's a bit more polished would it be possible to get an early copy? :)
First question: It's always hard to answer these questions, since there are so many factors. Do the combatants start at a distance? If so, Marsh/Zane have a huge advantage; they have the ability to fling coins.
Does Szeth have metal on him? Szeth's Shardblade would be mostly immune to Pushing and Pulling, as it's an Invested object. But he'd still have trouble getting to them if he had a clasp on his shoes, for example. He doesn't carry a lot of metal, but he might have some.
Overall, I'd say that a full-blown Mistborn would be tougher than Szeth in most cases.
Also, send me a PM with your Email, Phaz. I can't find your email in my address book. I remember that it's not something I expect it to be, so I'm having trouble looking it up.
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.)
One other question, what is the name of the planet that Elantris is on?
Way of Kings: Roshar
White Sand: Taldain
There are others, but I haven't talked much about those yet, so I'll leave them off for now.
Ok, last question. It was really difficult coming up with three questions that haven’t been asked already...
OK... you’re not going to ask me the “what would you ask me” question?
Oooooh, ok. Hm. That one is so hard! Every time people ask me something like this... What have I never been asked that people should be asking, is basically what the question is? Something that the fans have just missed... They pick up on so much, that it’s hard... I do wonder if, you know… all the magic systems [in my books] are connected and work on some basic fundamental principles, and a lot of people haven’t been asking questions about this. One thing I did get a question on today, and I’ll just talk about this one... they didn’t ask the right question, but I nudged them the right way, is understanding that tie between Aondor [the magic system from Elantris] and allomancy [Mistborn’s magic system].
People ask about getting the power from metals and things, but that’s not actually how it works. The power’s not coming from metal. I talked a little about this before, but you are drawing power from some source, and the metal is actually just a gateway. It’s actually the molecular structure of the metal… what’s going on there, the pattern, the resonance of that metal works in the same way as an Aon does in Elantris. It filters the power. So it is just a sign of “this is what power this energy is going to be shaped into and give you.” When you understand that, compounding [in Alloy of Law] makes much more sense.
Compounding is where you are able to kind of draw in more power than you should with feruchemy. What’s going on there is you’re actually charging a piece of metal, and then you are burning that metal as a feruchemical charge. What is happening is that the feruchemical charge overwrites the allomantic charge, and so you actually fuel feruchemy with allomancy, is what you are doing. Then if you just get out another piece of metal and store it in, since you’re not drawing the power from yourself, you’re cheating the system, you’re short-circuiting the system a little bit. So you can actually use the power that usually fuels allomancy, to fuel feruchemy, which you can then store in a metalmind, and basically build up these huge reservoirs of it. So what’s going on there is… imagine there’s like, an imprint, a wavelength, so to speak. A beat for an allomantic thing, that when you burn a metal, it says “ok, this is what power we give.” When it’s got that charge, it changes that beat and says, “now we get this power.” And you access a set of feruchemical power. That’s why compounding is so powerful.
I started this whole business wanting to write a big epic. However, I recognized that starting some huge series right out as a new author might not be the best decision. While it worked for some authors, I wanted to give people a few stand-alone novels and a trilogy or two to try me out before they got into something deeper. (i.e., Stormlight.)
I also felt that it was easier to market myself to publishers with standalone novels. (This proved to be very true, by the way.) But I still wanted to do a big epic. So, for my self and my own love of the concept, I started linking all of my books together into a 'secret' epic.
One other thing having to do with this was seeing some authors do it in a retcon kind of way, and always being slightly disappointed it hadn't been planned from the start. (See Asimov.) I felt that if I were ever going to do something similar, I wanted to lay the groundwork.
One of the 'basics' of the magic in all of the worlds is that the energy of Shards can fuel all kinds of interactions, not just interactions based on their personality/role. I did this because otherwise, the Magics would all be extremely limited.
The 'role' of the Shard has to do with the WAY the magic is obtained, not what it can do. So, in Preservation's case, the magic is a gift—allowing a person to preserve their own strength, and rely upon the strength granted by the magic. While Hemalurgy has a huge cost, ending in net entropy.
I've seen in your answers to previous questions that you are always open to changing aspects of your story so long as it's not already written in another book, or more importantly so that it doesn't contradict what the reader already knows.
That being said, how much of the Cosmere and its story would you say you already have a plan for? For example, do you more or less already know how each world and story ties into one another, or is that something that changes as you write? Given that there seem to be some constants in this universe (the number of shards, etc.), is there an end to these stories as a whole, or is it an ever-expanding universe?
Covered here I think. Let me know if that answers it.
(And yes, it's a big feat. But, in part, I'd never seen it done before except in an after-the-fact retcon, as King and Asimov both did. Those were cool, but I wanted to try it from the get-go.)
I have them all written down. Currently, I use a wiki—find it [here](http://wikidpad.sourceforge.net/—to keep track of all of it.
The magic systems in cosmere books all conform to a few underlying rules. This came from my interest in physics, and its search for a 'unifying' theory. (Fascinating reading, if you haven't studied this.)
In my books, there is a unifying theory of magic, so to speak.
Yes, there is. You've been...are you a 17th Sharder?
That's a really smart question. [laughter] If you're not aware of this and you're kind of baffled by this, people have figured out that all of my books are connected, and there is a continuing character who was in Elantris who shows up in Mistborn who also is in Warbreaker and The Way of Kings. This person is trying to figure out some of the connections between the worlds.
I'm not going to waste Brandon's time with this—maybe someone else can answer.
Regarding the ending of the Mistborn Trilogy: What was up with Ruin having red hair? Is that significant? Does it mean that Ruin was originally a human who gained his powers somehow? My friend thought that Ruin was actually another red-haired character in the series, though I don't remember his name. I think he was a minor captain or something.
(My apologies for how vague this is—it's been a while since I read the series)
Will do, but I have to be honest—there is something off putting about having to do internet research to truly understand the ending of a book/series.
I try to make all of the cosmere stuff "bonus material" so to speak. I don't think it's essential to understanding Mistborn to know Ruin's origin. Those who want expanded information can find it, and theorize upon it. However, I intend to warn people up-front before writing any book where you have to know this to understand it.
Within the realm of Mistborn only, all you really need to know is that someone was holding this power—and that the 'individuals' of Ruin and Preservation were people, changed by the power they held. It holds to the theme of the story, with what happens regarding Sazed and other characters.
Do you ever plan to use bio‐chroma again? It'd be a shame to see such an interesting and original idea left with a single book.
It is unlikely that I will use this magic system in a different book because it is distinctly tied to that particular Shard. The sequel likelihood is good. There is more to tell in this world, so there is a decent chance I will return and do a second Warbreaker book (I've been calling it Nightblood when I've mentioned it before). That isn't to say that there will never be magic systems that will repeat across series—in fact there's a decent chance that will happen—but I'm not going to say any more on that right now.
The paintings (I think there were at least two, right?) that remind Lightsong of his dreams and the Manywar etc. Is the Artist someone we know? If not, will we eventually meet him/her in a later book? Does the artist hope to affect Lightsong this way, or is it just some guy giving abstract art to his God?
Is the artist that painted those paintings Hoid?
Hoid did not make the paintings. The goal of those paintings—and this is spoilery, by the way—the paintings are actually what the text implies that they are. They are abstract paintings which Lightsong, having a touch of the divine, is able to see and read into things that aren't necessarily there.
Beyond that, art is a magical thing in the world of Warbreaker. When an artist creates a work of art, part of the artist's soul ends up in the artwork. Someone who has many breaths and who's Returned like Lightsong has the inherent ability to see into the art and perceive that. So Lightsong can interpret correctly an abstract piece, based on what the artist is trying to convey, in a way that a normal person couldn't.
I was not trying to make the artists anyone specifically important. In the case of those paintings, they are wonderful artists — I think they are two separate artists, if I'm thinking of the two paintings that you're indicating. As Lightsong has a splinter of divine nature inside him, he is able to interpret the paintings—to foresee, using them, and to see into the soul of the person who made them.
Also, does Endowment have some physical presence in the book similar to Ruin=Atium, etc?
Endowment does have such a thing, but it does not appear onscreen in the novel Warbreaker.
All your novels are tied together by an overarching magic system, and we usualy see evidence of this in the form of the too-still pools of water. However we did not see any such bodies of water directly in Warbreaker. Is there such a pool in Warbreaker? Is that where the Tears of Edgli grow?
Wow. I've got some very perceptive readers.
This is speculation that I will neither confirm nor deny.
If a returned gives away his/her breath they die right? So why doesn't Vasher die after he gives his to Denth?
They will die the moment they run out of breath to harvest. Once a week their body needs a breath in order to survive. Each Returned has one single superpowered breath. Imagine it as one breath that propels them up through the Heightenings, but it is only a single breath. It's what we speak of in Shard world terminology as a Splinter. And when the seventh day comes, if a Returned does not have another breath for his body to consume to keep him alive, his body will actually eat his divine breath and kill him. So they don't die immediately after they get rid of the breath, they're sort of put into a state of limbo where if they don't find more breath by the time that their feast day comes, then they will die. (Vasher did not give his Returned breath to Denth, just a number of normal breaths.)
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.
I was wondering if you had any certain inspiration for Adonalsium, Hoid, and the Cosmere other than the concept of a Creation story itself. To clarify, I guess I'm asking if you had any other author you read as an aspiring author that did anything similar.
There are certainly authors who have done this sort of thing before. I generally tend to react against what inspires me instead of toward it. I've talked about this before — if I think someone does a very good job with something, I'll try to approach it from a different direction because I figure they've covered that concept. At other times, if an author does something that I thought could have been way cooler, then I will react I guess in that direction...I don't know if that's a reaction for or against.
Asimov eventually had an overarching plot/universe. Stephen King did it. Other authors have done it, but they have not planned it from the beginning. As well as Asimov did with some of the concepts, I was always disappointed in his attempts to bring all of his stories together into one world because it just wasn't meant to be that way, and it felt like that. It felt clunky — I've always preferred the early robot stories and the early Foundation books to the later ones.
So I felt that if I was going to have a supermyth, so to speak — an overarching paradigm for these books — it would have to have a number of things. One, it would have to be limited in scope, meaning I wasn't going to try to cram everything into it. That's why Alcatraz is not involved in any of this. Number two, I would have to plan it from the beginning, and number three, I would want it to be subtle. In other words, I don't want it to come to dominate any of the stories because I want the books, the series, to stand on their own. I want this to be something that you can find if you're searching, but that will never pull the characters of a given book away from the focus on what is important to them.
This has probably been asked before, I was wondering since Mistborn, WARbreaker and Elantris share the same Cosmere, is it possible we will see people with certain abilities cross over into other worlds from other series?
I think I've said enough about that here. More than that is a RAFO.
Elantrians are not slivers. Mistborn trilogy spoiler warnings follow! The Lord Ruler was indeed a Sliver. So was Vin. For the rest, I would say probably not.
What defines an actual Sliver of Adonalsium is not as clear-cut as you might think. It's a term that in-universe people who study this have applied to various existences and states. Every single person on the world of Scadrial has a bit of Leras in them—a bit of the power of Preservation. Every single person has a bit of Ati in them. There's a certain threshold where these scholars would call you a Sliver of Adonalsium. But I would say that any regular Misting is probably not a Sliver. A full Lerasium Mistborn is getting closer, but people who have held one of the powers are what would probably be termed a Sliver by the definitions. If you hold all the power that makes you a Shard, but the Lord Ruler held a little bit of it and then let it go. From then on they referred to that change in him—the residue, what was left—as a Sliver. When he held it he became the Shard for a short time, and Vin was a Shard for a short time. After Vin gave up the power, what Kelsier is at the end of the trilogy—that's a Sliver of Adonalsium.
The question I have for you is will we ever get to know what Hoid's purpose is? He shows up in each of the books, presumably looking for something or on some kind of mission. (Lerasium bead?)
Will Hoid have a short story, novel or will we have to try and piece it together?
There will someday be Hoid short stories. I've actually written half of one and then haven't been able to have time to finish it. He will also have short viewpoints throughout the Stormlight Archive series, assuming he survives.
Mostly this is for you to piece together. As I said before, this is a story I'm telling, and if I have to explain the story outside the story, then in some ways I've done something wrong. So let the story speak for itself, and you will see. I guess that's a RAFO.
Do you ever feel stifled? Now that you’ve got a couple of different lines going in different worlds that have your next 40 years planned out?
Yes and no. I do start to feel a little stifled, and so you’ll see me do random side projects. It’s my steam valve to blow that pressure off, and then I get back to what I’m working on. That basically why you have Alloy of Law, because as much as I would’ve liked to have jumped right into the next Wheel of Time Book, I couldn’t. After writing Towers of Midnight, I was feeling too creatively stifled, and so I had to go take a break, and let myself for three months do whatever I wanted. And Alloy of Law came out of that.
So that is how I do it. That’s where Rithmatist came from, that’s where Steelheart came from, that’s kind of where Alcatraz came from, these non-mainland books, that’s where they are going to come from. You can anticipate me doing that more often in the future. It is a different life for me now that when I was unpublished, and could just write whatever I wanted, and things like that, but at the same time, I have long loved the big epic series, and I’ve always wanted to do one. That’s why I built what I built. I didn’t do it because “Oh, this is what sells, I have to do this.” I did this because I wanted to have this big grand epic. That’s why I built the Cosmere books as I did.
So I don’t feel stifled in that at all, even though I’ll finish one book than be like “Man, I can’t go into the next one of these” and go and do something different, because it’s my grand plan. You know, it’s the thing I’ve wanted to do. So I hope that people will stick with me for all these books, because I’ll do a lot of them. But they will fit together in some really cool ways once they are all done. I think you’ll be very very impressed, but that’s a while off.
How many Stormlight Archive books are you planning? And how long is the next one going to be?
Two series of five. So one ten book series, but you can view it as two sequences of five. My goal actually right now is to do the first five, take a little break, and maybe do the second Mistborn trilogy, or maybe do the White Sand trilogy. These are chunks of the Cosmere that are a part of the greater arc, but the next [Stormlight Archive] book will probably not be as long. This is because I actually felt Way of Kings was too long, but it was what it needed to be, for what I was establishing. There was no sooner place to cut this, so I had to do it in this place. When I first turned it in to my editor in 2002, it scared him to death because of how big it was. I do plan the others to be more around the size of Gathering Storm and things, which are still big books, but I’m hoping that they will be a little bit shorter, because those chunks are more manageable when the books are a little bit shorter. I can actually make the book tighter more easily.
I think Way of Kings turned out very tight, but it was so hard, because the longer you go with a sequence like that, the harder it is to make sure that everything, everyone is keeping track of everything. And the longer you go, the more of an instinct the reader will have to start following certain characters instead of reading it first as mixed, which makes for a better book. They’ll be like “Ah, I don’t remember this as well; I’ll just keep reading Kaladin,” or something like that. That’s actually a reason for me to keep them shorter, so you don’t have as much of an impetus to do that.
Is AonDor Physical, Spiritual, or Cognitive?
Wow, I wasn’t expecting that. (laughter) Are you a Sharder?
A little bit. (laughter)
AonDor is mixed up in all three. So I would say more Cognitive and Spiritual than it is Physical, but it is mixed up in all three.
Is Thinker from the Purelake scene Demoux [from the Mistborn Trilogy]?
Demoux is indeed in that scene.
And for those who didn’t hear, about the other one, there is a scene in the Way of Kings. People have been trying to figure out… there are some members of… there are some people there that I have hinted are from other books, and they have now figured out two of the three. I don’t think you’ve figured out the third one, and you won’t because…
Has their book been written yet? Has their book been published?
. Their book has not been published yet. I won’t say if it’s been written yet. Is anyone confused at what’s going on there? There is a connection between the books.
So Ruin and Preservation combine. When Odium slays the Shardbearers, why doesn’t he absorb the enemy Shards?
Because that would actually change the way he views the world. The Shard would actually start to influence him, and could actually ruin who he views himself as being. So instead of combining them all, his goal is to destroy them all and be the only one left at his power level.
So by his nature, he can't combine?
I mean he could, but it would change his nature. So he won't.
How does Hoid know where to go when?
Alright, who does not know who Hoid is? If you want to know about Hoid, the 17th Shard, which is the official fansite for my works, has some great information about him. There is a character who showed up in Elantris, who showed up in Mistborn, who showed up in Warbreaker, who showed up in Way of Kings. All with the same name, the same person. So there’s lots of theorizing about it. How does he know? He has his ways! (general groans) So a little bit more? Just a little bit more? He may be capable of a little bit of foreseeing of certain events, not what’s going to happen, but he may need ot be in a certain place in a certain time.
When will we see a Hoid book?
It’ll be a little while. He’s playing around with things in the Stormlight Archive if you couldn’t tell, he’s decided to—Hoid is fiddling with things, more than he usually does. But Hoid as a major part of things doesn’t really show up till the third Mistborn trilogy, which is the outer space Mistborn, the sci-fi Mistborn.
If you didn’t know, Mistborn was pitched to my editor as a trilogy of trilogies. I told him I wanted to do a trilogy of epic fantasy books, then the same world in a modern setting, which we’re not to yet, but it’s going to be Allomancers in the 21st century-equivalent technology. It’s an urban fantasy series. Then I wanted to do a Science Fiction series in the same world, using the Epic Fantasy world as kind of a mythology to this new world, and the magic system becoming the means of Space Travel.
And so that’s how I pitched Mistborn to my editor.
Alloy of Law is actually a deviation from that, because I didn’t want people to forget about Mistborn, I wanted them to keep reading Mistborn, so I wanted them to keep releasing things, and we’ll eventually get to that second trilogy—
Hey there you are Mark! I heard you got number one.
You’re crazy (laughter). You’re awesome though. He even beat the 17thshard people, which is really a hard thing to do. (oohs and aahs) Two hours. Beat them by two hours.
So Alloy of Law I wanted to set up things for the second trilogy. I didn’t want to do the second trilogy yet, because the second trilogy, like the first trilogy is kind of bigger books, with a very involved storyline evolved across three books, and I didn’t want to be releasing that parallel to Stormlight Archive, which is the same sort of thing. Very evolved books where you tie a lot of things together, and so I wanted a series of Mistborn novels that were more independent.
Alloy of Law is intended to be a “read it, have fun.” Eventually I may end up doing more with those characters, but when I do, you won’t have to remember that much about this one. It’s not like you have to remember a cast of 500 characters. You can just keep track of the main characters. They’re more of an episodic adventure. I kind of imagine Alloy of Law being—I’m not totally sure how to describe it. It’s like you have the giant movie that comes out, and then you have a TV show that’s based off of it, and then another big movie series, or something like that, if that makes any sense.
So that’s what Alloy of Law is. So Hoid is very involved in the third Mistborn trilogy, he’s also very involved in Dragonsteel, which is actually the first book in the sequence, long before Elantris happened. So eventually I will tell that story. You can read a draft of it at the BYU library. It’s the only copy that I know of in existence. It’s almost always checked out. It’s my Honors thesis, and it’s not very good. It really is not very good, but basically it’s involving the ideas that eventually will become Dragonsteel once I write it again. But I stole the Shattered Plains and put them in Roshar instead because the fit better there.
You said you were going to rewrite Dragonsteel? Is it going to be a one-book thing, or a trilogy, or what?
Dragonsteel is set to be seven books. I shouldn't tell you these things, because it scares people. The cosmere sequence is set at, what did I say, 36 books? Yeah, it's 36 books. A trilogy of Elantris, Two books from Warbreaker, ten books from Way of Kings, and the Mistborn series, and some other books. So anyways, this is a big thing, but don't get scared. You don't have to pay attention to any of this. Just go ahead and enjoy the books. This is behind the scene stuff, and in fact the reason why we don't have a book about Hoid is because I don't want you to have read all of those books in order to understand that book, does that make sense? As soon as Hoid becomes a main character, then you have to have read the whole sequence in order to get it. I don't you to have to do that. I don't want you to have to read Mistborn to understand Stormlight Archive. Hoid may be involved in these things, but he will never be a prominent character, changing things, until he gets his own sequence.
Can a Drab Return?
A Drab can not Return as the Returned are known, and there are things about the Drab that are not completely understood. But a Drab without a Breath, it’s going to be very hard. Drabs do not Return. Good question, by the way. No one has ever asked me that before.
Why do Seons become broken when their person is taken by the Shaod?
A Seon has a Spiritual Connection with their user. When the Shaod takes the user, it messes up the spiritual nature of the user, and it really messes up the nature of the Seon.
Entities exist on all three realms that are only vaguely shadowed on the other realms. You have seen entities who exist primarily on the Cognitive Realm + are shadowed on the Physical.
Since the dawn of Scadrial, why was Feruchemy isolated in a single distinct population in the world, namely the Terrismen? Allomancy, while rare within the population of Scadrial, at least was not isolated to one population, it was spread evenly, it seems. What is special about the Terrismen that only they get the power of Feruchemy? Does it have something to do with the previous Ascensions before Rashek, with the guardian keeping the power for a time?
It's all in the spiritual DNA, which is passed on like normal DNA. However, they are a separate people. They've kept themselves isolated, similar to the jews in our world. When I asked he said there have been some Feruchemical-mistings in the past, but they are very rare.
Are Shards all paired? Does Endowment have a counterpart?
RAFO. Also, yes and no. Not all Shards have perfect counterparts like Ruin and Preservation.
Why were Ruin and Preservation linked together?
Because they're such perfect opposites. Basically it's just an opposites attract thing.
Long, long ago when Hero of Ages came out you listed four Shards other than Ruin and Preservation. You said we interacted with two directly. One is a tough call, we've never met the Shard itself but have seen its power. The other one we've not met directly but have seen its influence. My questions:
-Is the Dor the "tough call" one?
-Do you count Hoid in this list of four shards? It makes a difference for the theories, Brandon! You don't even need to say if he is bound to a shard, rather just if you consider him in this list.
RAFO, and no, Hoid is not included in the list. (Still not sure if he has a shard or not)
Will Hoid's character arc, as well as the whole Adonalsium arc, get a satisfactory conclusion eventually?
It depends on what Brandon decides to do. We also might or might not get the rest of the story (pre-story). From a market standpoint it's not wise, simply because if the books require you to have read 32 other books before you read them it doesn't make sense to work on them. However, if the demand is high enough he MIGHT do them after all of the rest of the cosmere books.
Does Ruin have a pool, similar to Preservation's pool with the Well of Ascension and Skai's pool in Elantris?
Yes. His pool is the pits.
Can Sazed "will" himself to any Shardworld if he so desires?
Yes, he has the capacity for it. However, will he? Don't know. If he did there would be a lot of ramifications for it...
Will Sazed eventually go mad trying to hold two Shard's power at the same time (being pushed to two different Purposes simultaneously for millennia)? Why hasn't anyone else tried this trick before in the Cosmere?
No. Since they're so opposite they work together to create a whole. However, after a LONG time it would change him as a person.
This one is a personal favor... See, for metals that have Feruchemy, this verb is "charge". A metal is Feruchemically charged. But, you've been using the term "charge" for Hemalurgic metals, too, which I think is confusing. Before HoA I called Hemalurgic metals "Imbued" metals. I humbly petition to have that be the official term, because it's just confusing otherwise.
The Seventeenth Shard members use the term of Invest for all of those type of things. However, what they use in world is different on each world. For example WoK is infuse.
Could you tell us a chronology of the Shardworlds thus far? Like, did Warbreaker happen after Mistborn or before, things like that. Personally, I was under the impression you said Mistborn was a sequel to Elantris, but Mi'ch and Josh disagree.
He wasn't positive on where Warbreaker went, but Elantris is first and MB is after it.
Let's say hypothetically we get Ruin, Preservation, and Endowment to create a planet. Would there be *more* magic systems due to Endowment's involvement (think permutations), or would this specifically not work at all?
It could work. There is the potential for more magic systems.
Can Hemalurgy be used to steal magic attributes from any Shardworld?
Hemalurgy has larger ramifications then just Scadrial. That's about all he'd say.
Okay, next question. How is The Way of Kings related to the rest of the cosmere? What point in time is it?
Oh, so far I have written the books/series chronologically. Though, I have skipped books...
And so there will be jumping back eventually, but Elantris, Mistborn, Warbreaker and Way of Kings all happened chronologically.
Just in general, how is it related to the rest of the cosmere? Or can you say?
I, uh...officially don't know what you're talking about.
I mean, what do you mean by "related to"?
For example, the letter...
Yes, just like the letter that I have no idea what you're talking about.
Just in general, how is Stormlight Archive related to the rest of the cosmere? Or can you say?
I will tell you that one of the novels I skipped is actually set in the same solar system.
Oh...so this is the series that that book shares.
Yes, this is the series that the book shares that I skipped. I was planning to do it first, but now was the time to do the Stormlight Archive. So you will eventually see a book set on a planet in the same solar system. You could just pick out in the sky of Roshar if you were watching when ..., and it may even get mentioned because it's a fairly close planet.
Is that on Divine Silence?
Silence Divine happens there.
What is the name of that planet?
Hmm...should I tell you?
Oh, Peter says no.
You got PAFO'd.
(laughter continues) Go ask Peter and find out.
No, it's like, Peter and not find out.
(still laughing) PANFO.
Yeah, PANFO'd, Peter and not find out. Good.
(more laughter) We just won't leave.
Yeah, so, I will tell you the name of that planet once it is out like I've told you the rest of them.
Ok, fair enough.
Tucker asks, "Will you ever write a book or series where different magic systems come into the same world?"
Where different magic systems come into the same world. Um...I have already.
(confused) Published novels?
I mean like different magic systems from different worlds.
That's what I said.
He's being really clever about this, Eric.
Okay, okay, sorry.
You're asking if I'll do it obviously.
Where that's the focus of the novel? Someday I might. Right now I've been planning in the back of my head, but I'm not sure if I'll do it. See, here's the thing: I like all of this stuff to be behind the scenes; I don't want any reader to walk up on the shelf and pull it out and feel like they are completely lost because they have to read 27 Sanderson novels before this one makes sense. And so that would be my hesitance in ever doing that. But I already have in very subtle ways. And if were going to do a conflux book, I might just post it on my website. I don't know, I'm not sure. It depends on how popular the things are and whatnot. But, I don't think I want to do that to my casual readers.
Right, they wouldn't have any of the background.
Right, they wouldn't have any of the background. Thing is, some of the magic systems do cross worlds, and have before. And that has not happened obviously; you haven't really seen it. Right now Liar of Partinel [an unpublished book —ed] and Stormlight Archive share a magic system, because with the unifying theory of magic there's a certain number of things that magic can do, and there's a lot of different ones, but when they get similar they tend to work in the same way. So Lightweaving shows up in both books. I may change that for Liar of Partinel, but it's kind of integral to that book and it's kind of integral to Stormlight Archive right now too. This is one of the reasons why I had to decide to do either Dragonsteel or Stormlight Archive as the big epic.
Some of the magic systems have been discovered on different planets, and some of them do work. A lot of them don't, but some of them do. It depends on your spiritual DNA, what people are able to do, and things like that. But, if you find a way to do illusion magic in one of my worlds it's going to work pretty much like Lightweaving, regardless of which planet you're on. If that makes sense.
Will Hoid be a major player in all, most, or only some of these books?
He should have as large a role in other books as he had in this one, for the most part.
5. Is Hoid a Herald, or a Shardholder, or something else entirely.
6. Was the letter posted on the top of chapters to Sazed?
7. Barring the Almighty, did we seen a Shardholder (like Sazed) in this book?
5. Hoid is something else entirely.
6. It is written to a character who exists outside of Roshar. I won't yet say who.
7. I think "Shardholder" would get confusing alongside "Shardbearer." Basically, in the Cosmere's terms, when someone holds a Shard of Adonalsium, I call that person a Shard of Adonalsium. They are imbued with the power of that Shard, but they also become the Shard. Fans can use whatever terminology they wish, but this is how I term it.
You did at least see the direct effects of two of the Shards of Adonalsium, but I won't say whether or not you actually saw a Shard of Adonalsium.
Yes and no. The concept of the "Almighty" in Roshar has a lot of meanings, many of them wrong.
But the person who held the Shard Honor was originally named Tanavast?
Yes. You wiggled it out of me. That was the name of the original holder of the Shard Honor
So Aona is a synonym for love, hmm? Is Charity the correct Shard name?
Not quite. I'm trying to remember what the guesses were for the other Shard on Sel. I may have dismissed them too quickly.
How about Mercy for Aona, then? The guesses for Skai's Shard include Devotion, Obedience, and Order.
Okay, I was right, then. Ha There's something very ironic in all of this.
While I was thrilled to hear the excellent, excellent intro to Alloy of Law, I was a little sad that we didn't get to the Q&A part of the session. So I headed over to the Harvard Bookstore, where he would be signing and answering questions. Now, this bit was a little strange for me. I've met Brandon before (probably a dozen times or so between '06 and '09), all at varying levels of fame, I listen to writing excuses every week, and I follow his blag, so it wasn't "oh my gosh, I get to meet him" jitters. I feel like, in all the ways that I want to, I already know Brandon.
The jitters were probably a combination of a couple of things: (1) I had no desire to have him sign anything, I just wanted to ask Brandon a couple of questions. I've never a big "sign things" person, especially when the signer is a person to me, and not a Figure (if that makes any sense). And (2) this was the first time that I had one-on-one interaction with Brandon while considering myself an agent for a higher group (namely, the 17th Shard). It was a bit nerve-wracking in a way that was completely new to me. Anyway, ending my indulgent self-psychoanalysis...
I figured out the way to overcome (1). Instead of having him personalize it to me, I asked him to write a clue about the Cosmere in my worn copy of Elantris (it's my first Sanderson, and is literally falling apart; the cover is scotch taped on ).
He wrote "Do not go to Shadesmar on this world (really, I'm not kidding)" on the title page, then said to me "You guys can chew on that for a little while."
I like that. I think that I'll bring in all of my books to his next New York/Boston signing and ask him for Cosmere clues instead of signatures.
"Does Aona = Love or Compassion?
"You have it, it's just a synonym there. You basically have it
"Does Skai = Devotion or Order?"
"You're not on there. But you are on on the first one [Aona]."
"How is a Splinter different from a Sliver?
"Let me see... You have met splinters in Elantris, Warbreaker, and in Way of Kings. You have not met them in Mistborn."
"I feel like we know that. So, qualitatively, what's the difference?"
"Qualitatively, they're reverses of one another. A Sliver is a human intelligence who has held the power and released it. A Splinter has never been human."
"But it derives from a Shard's power."
"Yes. That's not it completely, but there's at least something to think about."
Is the Dor the same as the power of creation that powers Allomancy?
He said that the Dor is similar to that which powers allomancy but not 100% the same.
Who names the planets? You've said once that "Scadrial" was the name of the planet as Ruin and Preservation knew it, but where'd they get that name? Do the Shardholders all get together and vote on it or something?
He said thay already had their names and that the all the planets existed before the shardholders got there.
How many Shardworlds are there? Only seven? (Sel, Nalthis, Scadrial, Roshar, Yolen, Taldain, and whatever planet The Silence Divine is on?)
He said he has a set number in his head but that he didn’t want to say it because he might change his mind. Essentially he doesn’t want to make the number of world’s canon yet.
Why do Shards refer to themselves by their Shard name, rather than their original name? Do they still remember their original name?
Yes they do, they do remember their original selves( didn’t get any more then that though).
How could a person from Scadrial access Shadesmar? An alloy of a god metal?
He RAFOd me on this one and said it was a plot point for future novels.
I do remember some things, but the majority of the questions were about WoT.
He said that all of his own books take place in the same universe, but not on the same world per se. The overall magic system was based on the principle of investing, i.e. people and things are invested by magic. So for example in Mistborn, the metals themselves aren't magical, but they become a vessel for the magic.
Also he said that the ways of magic are different. In Mistborn it's genetic (or through ingesting atium, but he didn't talk about that). In Warbreaker it has to do with gathering other people's Breath, etc.
He didn't talk about Shards, but he did mention that it was very likely we wouldn't find out who Hoid was even in the tenth book of the Stormlight Archive. If anything, it would be in his thesis, of which at this moment only 8 copies were printed. He said he might publish it as a book at a certain point, but not right now.
I messaged earlier regarding Alloy of Law appendix narrator, unaware of today's torchat. maybe you can respond in the chat?
I haven't been telling people the name of the appendix author. It is either Hoid or one of the 17th sharders.
Is the recipient of the letter in Way of Kings also in Dragonsteel?
Yes. (Good question.)
If so would it be the person that Topaz gets mad at?
RAFO on the second one. I've already given you too much!
do you decide what cosmere hints you'll let out before going to events? Or just decide on the fly?
A little of both. Usually, they pry more out of me than I'm planning, though.
Another question, do you think you'll eventually publish a "The World of Brandon Sanderson's Cosmere"?
Probably. Though first, we'd probably do The Way of Kings and Mistborn worldbooks.
I like that you are very involved with the fans. I want to start reading your books. What's the first one to start with?
If you want more action, Mistborn. If you want a slower, more thoughtful pace, Elantris. Thanks!
My next question was a random idea I had based on the answer about entities living primarily in the cognitive realm given here. I asked (stupidly, you'll see why in a second): "Could it be that spren and seons are basically very similar things?"
He smiled, thought about how to answer that for a second and then said... "Yes, it could be."
I very much got the impression that I was correct though, but I gave him the perfect opening to appreciate the question without answering it at all. Stupid me. I explained that I had the idea that seons exist primarily as cognitive entities with smaller presences in the physical world, while spren are primarily spiritual, also with smaller presences in the physical world. He just smiled for a second, and I said I'd take that as a possible yes and let him get back to signing books for the awesome Waterstone's in Manchester. I'm writing up my thoughts on that in this post.
(something along the lines of how exactly is what you see when you burn gold determined)
He said that each time you burn gold, you see a different image, so it changes depending on your current situation.
The person who wrote the Ars Arcanum in Alloy of Law, is that the same person who wrote the Letter in Way of Kings.
Its not confirmed, but it's either Hoid, or someone in the 17th Shard. (However, thinking back, I'm not sure if he fully heard/understood the question, and perhaps he was expecting it to be something else. But it seems to me that if he namedropped Hoid, that he may have misunderstood the question, as it seems very likely that Hoid wrote the Letter, I dont think he'd let something slip like that. So i would count this information as rather tenuous.)
Who wrote the "Ars Arcanum"? Since the writer obviously had knowledge of the Cosmere I assumed that it was you making an editorial note, but then I thought that it could be Hoid (who was suspiciously absent) or Sazed or any Shardbearer... Does that make sense at all?
The Ars Arcanum is written in-cosmere by someone, but I don't want to saw who yet.
Is it significant that Miles said that the "men of gold and red" would come and rule? Is there a connection between this and the "gold and red" cigar box that Miles keeps The Suit's comings and goings on?
This is all very significant.
How long before Way of Kings is Alloy of Law? I heard somewhere that it's a hundred years, but I don't think that's right.
I intended them to be happening roughly close to one another, with Way of Kings slightly before.
Quick question to help me settle a debate. Could allomancy affect a shard plate/blade?
No. Investiture interferes with most magics.
I actually really liked Steris, and was hoping to see more characterization of her. I think of her a bit as a tsundere character, where we have not had many chances to see the dere, just the tsun.
Her businesslike demeanor to everything developed because she had high expectations placed upon her by her family's station. She was an interesting counterpoint to Wax who decided to turn his back on his family to live in the Roughs. Her particular response to marriage and relationships was influenced by her own father's infidelity to her mother. She didn't include a clause for mistresses in the marriage contract because she wants her husband to cheat on her; she just came to expect affairs because of her mother and father's relationship. Still, she and Marasi seem to care for each other, so I don't think she held that against her half-sister.
One question, two parts: If a double Nicrosil Twinborn started Compounding and storing Investiture in a Nicrosilmind, could they do something cool by tapping a whole huge bunch at once? And since Scadrialians have both Ruin and Preservation in them, could they store both those qualities in a one Nicrosilmind, or would it require two different ones?
Ha. All things regarding Investiture (particularly in regards to Feruchemy) are instant RAFOs at this point, I'm afraid. I've got to save SOME things for future books.
Wait, are Mistborn and Stormlight Archive somehow connected?
Multiple people from Mistborn appeared in The Way of Kings.
The second. I revised my placement of KINGS relative to HERO after realizing a behind-the-scenes conflict.
ALLOY had to happen after KINGS for Cosmere reasons. I had two timelines arguing, and in plotting Stormlight 2, I fixed this.
You have said before that all the planets had their names before the arrival of the Shards. Is Roshar the planet's name before the Shards arrived?
How do the Roshar natives know the name of the Cosmere?
Can you tell me something about the Cosmere that you haven't told anyone before?
There are inhabited planets in the cosmere that don't have any Shards there. There may be inhabited planets that only have a Splinter of a Shard. There are 10 core cosmere planets, which tell the overarching story of the cosmere.
Are all the Cosmere books so far set on these 10 core worlds?
Are there any of the 10 core worlds without a Shard?
All 10 core worlds have significant Shardic influence.
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).
Hey @PeterAhlstrom could you tell us what Aona's Shard was? Brandon said he'd look it up and get back to us, but.... [he never got back to us.]
I thought sure that was answered already. But anyway, the answer is yes [Aona is Devotion].
Glad you liked the book, Rainbow!
You may want to note that the moment Preservation dropped out and let the last of his consciousness die, someone was waiting in the Cognitive Realm to seize the power and hold on for a short period until Vin could take it up more fully. You'll find him using it to whisper in moments of great stress in the book, to one person in specific in two places. (I'll bet someone on here has already found them.)
He never could just let things well enough alone....
Yes, as has been pointed out:
A powerful peace swelled in Elend. His Allomancy flared bright, though he knew the metals inside of him should have burned away. Only atium remained, and the strange power did not—could not—give him this metal. But it didn’t matter. For a moment, he was embraced by something greater. He looked up, toward the sun. (From the text.)
As a note here, the powers granted by all of the metals—even the two divine ones—are not themselves of either Shard. They are simply tools. And so, it's possible that one COULD have found a way to reproduce an ability like atium's while using Preservation's power, but it wouldn't be as natural or as easy as using Preservation to fuel Allomancy.
The means of getting powers—Ruin stealing, Preservation gifting—are related to the Shards, but not the powers themselves.
He responded that sometimes he has several synonyms that he hasn’t quite decided on. So I asked him if he was now canonizing a new shard and he said yes. So this is now official. He agreed to let me share it, so here it is.I’ve attached the picture for you to see for yourself, but the text says: “The second shard on the Elantris world (Sel) is Dominion.”
Is Cultivation a Shard on Roshar?
Yes, Cultivation is. (very inquisitively) Where did you get that word?
It's in the book.
Is it in the book? Okay.
It's mentioned once.
Okay, one of the Shards from Roshar is Cultivation.
What percentage of the Underlying Cosmere have we uncovered? Like five percent, fifteen percent?
The number of planets? Or...
No, not even that. Like how much do we know about the underlying metaphysics? Of the rules?
You said there's a lot more that we don't know.
There's a lot you don't know.
I was wondering if you could put a number on it?
I don't know if I can put a number on it. If you've read Dragonsteel you have a lot more, because there's talk of philosophy in that book about it. But I can't give a percentage because I know it all.
And I can't remember at times. I often have to go back and research and say, okay, what did I put in, what haven't I included and so on. I would say that you know enought ot be dangerous, but not the majority by far. There is a theorum of magic for all these worlds, which I don't think has been mentioned before...
But yeah, it's kinda one of the things that may amaze. People keep trying to look for a unifying theory, you know, the great unifying [theory that ties all things together]. I have a little science background and I wanted a unifying theory of magic, which there is, in these books at least. It's not simple, it's not like one sentence but you can map out how the magic all fits together in this kind of super theorem.
Brandon was talking about the differences between his writing and Jim’s, and choosing not to try and match styles because it couldn’t be done. He describe it as 'I do serviceable prose, where Jim wrote beautiful prose', and that there have been scenes he’s come to where he’s simply had to say 'I just have to do this my way, there’s nothing for it'.
He spoke then of Jim’s ability to layer subtle foreshadowing, which is something he’s never had to do outside of his story behind the story [he’s referring to the greater cosmos of his own works, the whole, Shards of Adonalsium and Hoid storylines that go on in the background]. He said it has been a real challenge to catch all the balls that Jordan left in the air, and that sometimes you can see that. ‘Some he caught smoothly, others he snatched from the air and slammed on the table. Some he even just said 'this happened'.
Finally he spoke of plotting, and how sometimes Jordan’s notes have said two contradictory things ‘maybe I’ll do this, or maybe I’ll do this other completely opposite thing’. Brandon said he then often had to choose between them, or sometimes choose a third thing entirely.
I was wondering if you could only write in one universe from now on, what would you pick?
Well you gave me an out, because so many of my books are in the same universe.*laughter*
You know, I thought you might say that.
So that, I could cheat and just say the cosmere, but I think the soul of the question is which series would I write on.
I would probably have to -boy- it would probably be a toss up between Mistborn and the Stormlight archive, Mistborn because I've invested so much into it already. If I can only pick one I would probably pick Stormlight because there is so much left to tell there and I've got a lot of places to explore, but I would cheat and say they're all in the same universe.
Was Honor Splintered?
Was Honor Splintered? ooh someone's been paying attention, very much. I would say that yes Honor was Splintered. That is a very important question to be asking, someone really knows their stuff.
How did the whole cosmere come about?
Oh that's a good question, the cosmere came about because- there's really two genesis' of it. First off I'm a big fan of Asimov's work and if you know Asimov's work he tied his two universes together later in his life and I thought he did a brilliant job of it, though patching it together later in his life as he did there were certain continuity problems in doing it and I always thought "Boy, I bet he wished he'd done it from the beginning".
So, as I started to work on things, I thought "Well why don't I try something like that from the beginning." Once again I got to see what one of the masters did and learn from them, stand on their shoulders.
The other thing is early I realised that if I were writing mini-books then writing them all in the same series would be a bad for getting published, let's say I wrote five, I'm gonna write five books and a publisher rejects the first one. If the other four are in the same series, it's going to be very hard to convince that publisher to read book two if they've already said no to book one. However, if they are five standalone books, set in different worlds, then I can say if someone says "I liked this book but not enough to publish it," I could send them another one and say "Hey this one is different but similar maybe you'll like that." It just increased my chances.
The problem with that is I grew up reading the big epics and I love big epics and they are the books of my heart, like the Wheel of Time. I wanted to write big epics and so I started writing a secret big epic. It started with Elantris, which is the first one that I wrote in the Cosmere and right after it Dragonsteel, which is actually a prequel but in a different universe. I started putting characters from each of these books in the other books to have what I call a hidden epic, mostly for myself, because I had all these books I was going to be selling and marketing separately. But when Elantris sold, all of that stuff was buried in there, and I said "Well, I love it, I'm not gonna cut it, I'm just gonna put it in there to see if people notice." I'm going to keep telling my hidden epic because eventually I will be telling the greater story with Dragonsteel and the third Mistborn trilogy dealing with these things and so that's where the idea for the cosmere came from, those two pieces.
Will there be other crossover characters like Hoid?
There already have been.
Can you tell?
I cannot say more than that, I think that they’re placed quite obviously, they were not very obvious before this book, they do exist, other crossovers do exist. But none so obvious as Hoid. I think there are several obvious ones in this novel, no one has yet found them that I know, but I think once they see them- once you look closely they’re there
Will we be seeing any more worlds from the cosmere?
There are other word-worlds you will see, there are several I haven’t visited yet at all. White Sand, the world of that book which was one of my earlier novels I never published. I intend to eventually do that series, it may not have the same title or anything but I do intend to do that series, there will be a sequel trilogy to Mistborn, eventually. I’m actually in the middle of working on a short story for that world right now to release online and there will be sequels to elantris but the sequels to elantris will deal with new characters they won’t they won’t, they’ll take place the second book will take place 10 years after the first book.
If you were wondering, most of the explanations we get in this chapter are true. The reason that Raoden was subject to the Dor attacks was because he spent so much time practicing with the Aons. He began to make a bridge between this world and the Dor, and because of that, he gave the Dor a slight opening into his soul. I imagine that he isn't the first one to suffer something like this during the ten years that Elantris has been fallen. Other Elantrians probably practiced with the Aons, and the Dor eventually destroyed them. When it was done, they simply became Hoed.
By finally using the Dor effectively, Raoden relieved a little bit of the pressure, letting the nearby buildup of the Dor (the one that he himself had created by practicing so much) rip through him and fuel that single Aon.
Originally, I had Raoden's conflict with the Dor continue on after this scene—I had it continue attacking him. In a later draft, however, I realized that I'd made a mistake. Raoden has other things to worry about in the upcoming chapters—he doesn't need the Dor attacks to create conflict and tension. So, after this chapter, the Dor attacks actually became distractions. I also realized that the way I'd set up the magic system, this chapter was probably the place where the Dor should stop attacking, since Raoden had fulfilled what he wanted it to do.
I don't know if you remember or not, but there was some small confusion on Raoden's part earlier about who Sarene was getting to bring supply shipments into Elantris. They always came and left at night, and didn't want anybody there to greet them. I realize we haven't seen the beggars very often, but I thought I'd use them again in this section. It made sense that they would be the ones Sarene used, assuming she knew about them. I'd say that Ashe found them in one of his information-gathering excursions.
It was essential to this chapter that I establish that Raoden can catch glimpses of what's happening around him. I went to a lot of work to get him into place above the city where he could make the connection, looking down on Elantris and the outer cities. The pool, actually, simply grew out of my need to find a way to put Raoden on the slopes of the mountains near the ending of the book. I like how it turned out in the final story—it added a dimension of mysticism to the Elantrian belief system, and it worked very well into the plotting I had developed. My only worry about it is that it was too far away from the Elantris, but we'll talk about that later.
So, this is a SLIGHTLY contrived mechanic, and I realize that. I let Raoden off easily by having him simply choose not to be dissolved by the pool.
Partially, I did this simply because I couldn't think of a better way to get him out of it. In addition, however, I think it fits the form of the novel. The pool represents giving in—though it's giving in to peace instead of pain, it is still an admittance of defeat. I've mentioned over and over that the pain has no power against one who doesn't give in to it. I don't see why the peace should be any different. If you can resist one, then you can resist the other.
Besides, the image of Raoden bursting from the pool in front of Galladon and Karata was too good to pass up.
I'm honestly not sure what the pool is or how exactly it fits into the theory of this magic system. It was added as a plotting devise, as mentioned earlier, and therefore was never tied directly to the cosmology or theoretics of the world. When I do a sequel to this book, I think I'll try and find a way to tie it in. For now, however, it's kind of a loose thread. The only thing I know for certain is what I mentioned above. Just like the pain of an Elantrian, I think the peace offered by this pool is a supernatural force. It has something to do with the physical form of the Elantrians.
So in the trilogy, we see that when someone has a Hemalurgic spike implanted in them, they can hear Ruin talking to them, both as a vision and in their head. However, we learn in the Hero of Ages that Ruin cannot hear a person's thoughts no matter how much under Ruin's influence they are.
In Alloy of Law, we see that Wax (and other Pathians) uses an earring to "pray" to Harmony, and we see that Harmony can hear his thoughts and respond.
So I guess this leads to three questions:
1. How does Harmony hear the thoughts of Wax, when it's explicitly pointed put that Ruin cannot?
2. Are the earrings that the Pathians use Hemalurgicly charged, as otherwise they would be of no use to Ruin, and therefore Harmony?
3. Or did Harmony completely change how that aspect of Hemalugy works?
How this all works dates back to the original design of the Magic system.
I wanted Ruin and Preservation to be complimentary opposites, like many things in the Mistborn world. Allomancy, for example, has Pushes and Pulls were are less "negate one another" opposites, but instead two sides to the same proverbial coin.
Ruin is invasive. The power is more "Yell" than "Listen." The philosopher would probably have some interesting things to say about the masculine symbolism of Hemalurgy and its spikes.
Ruin can insert thoughts. That power, however, can't HEAR the reactions. It's about invasion.
Preservation, however, is the opposite. Preservation listens, Preservation protects. (Perhaps to a fault—if there were no Ruin, there would be no change to the world, and life could not exist.) Because of this, Preservation can hear what is inside people's minds. It cannot, however, INSERT thoughts. (This is important to the plot of Hero of Ages.)
Harmony is both, the two complimentary opposites combined. And so, he inserts thoughts with Ruin and still uses Hemalurgy. He can also listen.
Yes, Wax's earring is Invested. (Or, in other terms, it's a Hemalurgic spike.)
Thanks, all, for the good wishes on this.
I first started talking about Steelheart a number of years ago. (Five, maybe six?) It was one of the projects I'd been planning to do in 2007 when the Wheel of Time came along and kind of distracted me.
Unable to work on it for years, I instead did up a proposal and started shopping it in Hollywood. I got interest, but everyone said "We'd be more comfortable if the book were done." So, over the years, I slowly pieced together an outline in my spare time and did chapters when I could. (I think a reading I did of the prologue of this last year is floating around on-line somewhere.)
One of the problems with working on the Wheel of Time is that it's so time-consuming, I basically can't work on any other big project while writing it. I stay creative by changing to new ideas and new concepts whenever I start feeling burned out—I work on them for a short time, then get my groove back and turn to the larger project.
That's why you see all kinds of little projects popping out here and there from me. I can't do Stormlight 2 at the same time as WoT. Two big series are just too much to do at once; one would suffer. Yet, I still need artistic liberation now and then to try something new and refresh myself.
The two novellas I'm releasing this year (Legion, The Emperor's Soul) and the short Mistborn novel last year (Alloy of Law) are things that came out of these side deviations. Steelheart is another. Shouldn't affect Stormlight 2 very much. I always like to have one large project and a handful of smaller ones running at the same time.
It may seem like a lot to have on my plate, but if you add Alloy of Law, Steelheart, and the two novellas together they are combined around half the length of The Way of Kings. (And took about 1/10 the brain space...)
I don't want to make excuses for not doing Stormlight 2, but this might give a little insight as to why you keep seeing all of these other projects popping up.
Are any of these stories within the cosmere?
The Emperor's Soul, a novella, is in the cosmere.
We also meet three other people who can travel between the worlds, two of whom we've met before (one in Elantris and one in Mistborn), who are apparently trying to track Hoid down.
Brilliant, just brilliant.
This really makes me excited to meet Blunt from Dragonsteel.
Blunt is NOT from Dragonsteel. :)
I have been told that Way of Kings has been set in the same universe as Mistborn?
It is. All of my epic fantasies have been set in the same universe.
Are they on different planets?
They are different planets, but there is a character who is in every one of them. The same character is in Warbreaker and in Mistborn. There are other characters who appear here and there and cross between the books.
Who is the character?
In Warbreaker he is the storyteller, Hoid, with the dust, and he’s the King’s Wit from Way of Kings. If you read Mistborn, he is named Hoid in each of those as well. In Alloy of Law and Well of Ascension, he is not named but is only there to be picked out by description, but in the others he’s named. I did this because, during those early days writing books, I wrote thirteen, as I said earlier.
I love the big epics. You can’t be a Wheel of Time fan without loving big epics. I wanted to tell a big epic, but early on it seemed to me that writing a whole bunch of books in the same series was a bad way to break in. If an editor rejects the first one, you can’t really send in the second one.
So, while hunting editors, I wrote thirteen books that were all different worlds, different settings. I started having characters sneakily move between them, to be building, setting the stage for a grand epic that I would tell later on, behind the scenes. So from the get go, from Elantris, this was all planned because this is something I been doing in my books since then.
Are you planning to revise these books that haven’t been published and to reinvent them, so to speak?
If I do, I will write them from scratch. That’s what I did with Way of Kings when it came time to actually publish it—I sat down and wrote from page one to the end again, and threw away what I’d done just because my skills as a writer have gotten better. There is one book in that era—I guess there are two—that I will do for sure. But I will write them over from scratch. I always want to be releasing new stuff; I don’t want to—as my agent puts it—pull a novel out of the trunk and say, ‘Here, read this.’ But they are part of this grand story that I’m telling, so we will get to them.
The thing about it to remember is that I want each of my stories, series and books to stand on their own. Even though there is this behind-the-scenes story, that won’t come to the forefront unless I do a story dedicated entirely to it. I don’t want you to have to have read Mistborn to read Way of Kings. They’re the Easter eggs; they’re all going to be Easter eggs unless I write a series all about them. In which case you’ll be brought up to speed very quickly, because the series will be out about them: you won’t have to read everything to understand that series.
That sounds great.
When asked if all his books occur in one universe:
While he was selling his initial works to publishers, Brandon was encouraged to write books set in different worlds as opposed to huge epic fantasy series. That way if a publisher didn't like one book he could pitch them a different one, which you can't do with a huge fantasy series. But as a way of still having a huge fantasy series, Brandon made all of these independent stories a "hidden epic." That is, he seeded continuing characters and elements into all of these different worlds, now dubbed the "cosmere".
Elantris, the first book he sold, was one of the novels embedded with these elements so Brandon just kept putting them in subsequent novels. So far there is one character who appears in all of the worlds that he has created (i.e. not The Wheel of Time), sometimes by his name, Hoid, and sometimes only by appearance. He is connected to the grander story going on involving this cosmere.
Right now Brandon wants this to remain a fun easter egg so no one feels obligated to read his books in the order they were published. He will eventually tell the story of the cosmere, though, and you will be able to see what this character is doing.
Yes. I had this whole series that was outlined. This [Alloy of Law] was not in the outline, it was from fun, and I really enjoyed writing it, but it's not part of the series. It's three sets of three. And I may do other things like Alloy of Law, but Alloy was just for fun.
I don't know if you know this, but all my fantasy books are connected. There are repeating characters involved, but you have to search to find them. And the Mistborn Trilogy is kind of interconnected with that. Particularly with the third trilogy. The Science Fiction one.
Right. Elantris is far earlier.
Like thousands of years earlier? Or more like hundreds?
It's quite... It's not thousands.
So are Shards the most powerful thing in the Cosmere?
Or is Adonalsium?
No, no, let him RAFO the first one first, or he'll lump them together.
It depends on what you believe. The Shards are the most powerful things currently overtly manifest. There are those who would say there are other subtle forces being manifest. Most people in the know would say that Shards are the most powerful thing.
Does Hoid believe that Shards are the most powerful thing?
You'll have to ask him sometime. [gives troll grin]. Or see him get asked something like that sometime. There's argument to be made that right now Harmony is the most powerful thing in the Cosmere.
Um. [nervous laugh] Um...
Because I think you mentioned more than once that focuses are actually determined by planet.
I'm going to RAFO that. But that's one of those excellent questions. I'm amused that people have figured out enough to be asking questions like that.
I've read a bit online about how you have an overall storyline covering all of your novels, but I really don't know much about it. I was wondering if you could expand and explain.
Okay. The overarching story of all of my novels. This warrants some backstory. If you weren't familiar, I wrote thirteen novels before I sold one. I spent a lot of time practicing and learning, and I love big epic grand series. However, you know, you can't grow up reading the Wheel of Time without loving big series, but advice I heard early on was, selling a big series is actually pretty hard from a new author and if you, for instance, spend your life and you write like six books in the same series, and you send off the first book to someone and they don't buy it, you can't really send them the second book because, you know, they've already rejected that, and so it's really putting all of your eggs into one basket, and that doesn't end up working out for some people. I didn't want to do that; I wanted to expand my chances, and so I wrote thirteen novels in different worlds, all with their own different magic systems and own characters. But secretly I loved the grand epic, and so I started connecting all these worlds during my unpublished era, and telling a hidden epic behind them all that I was setting up for.
Well, eventually I sold book number six, and embedded in book number six was a bunch of this stuff for the hidden epic, of course, and six is actually one of the ones where I first started doing this. My first five were kind of throwaway novels. It was six, seven, eight, and nine that were really involved in this. Six was Elantris; seven was a book called Dragonsteel; eight was a book called White Sand; and nine was a book called Mythwalker, which eventually became Warbreaker, which I eventually rewrote and released as Warbreaker. So that four-book sequence was very ingrained in this kind of hidden story behind the stories. When I started publishing these books, I just kept it going, the hidden story, the hidden epic.
Now one aspect of this was that I didn't want people to have to know all the books that came before to understand what was happening in any one of them. So, for instance, if you read these you don't need to know anything about the hidden epic. It is back there behind the scenes for some day when I actually write a series dedicated to it, that there will be all this foreshadowing, but it will never directly and in really important ways influence a given series. For instance, you don't have to have read Elantris to understand Mistborn even though technically they're sequels; Mistborn is technically a sequel to Elantris, just set on a different planet.
There is one character who has appeared in all of my novels, and several other characters who have jumped between novels. For instance there's a character from Elantris who is in The Way of Kings—one of the main characters from Elantris shows up in Way of Kings under hidden auspices, but it's pretty obvious; the fans found it really fast, those who were watching out for it—but that sort of thing. So, there is a story going on behind all of this that I will eventually tell, but what do you need to know about it right now? That all of these things are basically Easter eggs right now. None of them are dominating the storyline at all; it's just a bunch of cool Easter eggs that eventually will mean something to you. So the character to watch out for is called Hoid; it's a pseudonym he usually uses—pseudonym is I guess the wrong term; the alias he normally uses—and he's all over in the books, so if you watch out for him you'll see him.
I am a religious person, and so I am fascinated by religion and all of its aspects. I am fascinated by why people believe, why people don't believe. I am fascinated by the motivations behind this, and I am fascinated by what happens when religion goes bad. I am fascinated by what happens when religion goes well. So what I am interested in ends up in my books.
Beyond that, it pops up time and time again because [my books] are all connected: I hid some recurring characters in Elantris and the Mistborn trilogy, and [readers] started to pick it up by the time Warbreaker came out. There is an underlying theme behind them all and an underlying deeper story that is going on behind the scenes with some big theological components. It's within the thematic nature of the complete series—one that will eventually be told, assuming I live long enough. And if not, I'll leave good notes, so someone else can finish it! Turnabout is fair play.
No. I felt it would be arrogant to do something like that.
That said, you could imagine that most possibilities of worlds are mirror worlds to the WoT...
He's referenced in The Emperor’s Soul, but he got cut from the book. I actually wrote the scene with him in it, but it didn't fit so we had to cut it.
Are we ever going to get his origin story, or learn more about him?
Yes, we definitely will learn more about him. A book that has more of him is Dragonsteel, which I wrote when I was undergraduate as my honors thesis. It's not his origin story, but it's one he's mostly part of. We will find out everything, and get the complete story for him. It will happen eventually.
Well, I look forward to reading more about him... He's an interesting character.
Has Hemalurgy been used on another planet besides Scadrial?
Yes it has. Brandon did not want to give out any more details about who was getting spiked or if the spiking was successful.
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.
All right. And related to that, sometimes some little concepts kind of... cross worlds. When Miles [from The Alloy of Law] died, who was talking there? Him, or someone else?
Wow, that's a really excellent question. And I'm afraid I'm going to have to RAFO that.
Hah. So in Cosmere, does physics work the same way in the physical realm as it does in our world? Specifically, particle physics; and are atoms made up of protons and neutrons and electrons, and is light photons, etc?
So what's at the core of an atom of Atium? Ate-teum? Also how do you pronounce it? At-teum?
Yes. And the matter is just normal matter, but it's wrapped in the spiritual. The Spiritual DNA [or something] is what makes it magical.
(Note: he might've said slightly more about this but I didn't write it down and I don't remember. Sorry for not bringing a tape recorder :(/> )
Ok. The gemhearts/stormgems/whatever that are grown inside the beasts in Way of Kings ... is that the same as the way Atium is grown inside geodes in the Pits of Hathsin?
It's similar. The pits are an area where there's like a leak from the spiritual realm into the physical. That's what happens there.
Ok real quick then I'll get back in line again. There's a bunch of people who follow this stuff online ... I just found out about it ... I don't want to call them a cult, but ... So anyway, at one point someone asked you if Seons were shards of—
Devotion ... yeah Aona, and you said that was close. My question is: are the Aons at the HEART of the Seons shards of Devotion?
No, but close.
But ... I was sure ... the floating Aon at the heart, that's not a shard ...
(taking pity on me) You're close but a word is wrong. You're using the wrong terminology.
SPLINTER. Are the Aons at the heart of Seons SPLINTERS of Aona?
Can I post that online?
. . . Ok. That's fine. It's been long enough, they've earned it.
I asked him if it was possible to enter or exit Shadesmar in interplanetary space.
He laughed nervously for several seconds with a look that suggested "Uh-oh!" and replied (as best as I can remember):
I would say no. The Cognitive Realm does exist there, but Shadesmar is a special case.
Although I was taking some pictures during the signing, I was able to point my ears into some of the conversations between Brandon and the fans. First and foremost, Brandon is an awesome person. He first thanked people for coming, then asked if they had any questions for him. Never once did he rush anybody or shush them. For fans who mentioned they were writers themselves, he offered words of encouragement.
One great bit of information I overheard was the next Mistborn novel would be published in 2014.
Brandon also mentioned (and I tried to filter this through all the other discussions circulating) that Hoid would be the main character (I think) of the trilogy or that Hoid would feature as the main character in another trilogy.
I also overheard Brandon say his least favorite Wheel of Time character was Cadsuane, I don't think he is alone in that. Well, for I fact I know he isn't alone because she was probably my least favorite character as well.
One Russian fan brought a Russian edition of Mistborn: The Final Empire to be signed.
Another Bulgarian fan said the Bulgarian translations, which are recent, were done very well.
I’ve been fortunate enough to read White Sand and Aether of the Night and I enjoyed them very much. Will they ever be published? I also managed to read Dragonsteel and I enjoyed that too.
White Sand will definitely eventually be published. Aether of The Night, not so sure on, because Aether is two halves of two books that didn't fit together. The two pieces didn't mesh. White Sand is part of the sequence and will be done. Dragonsteel is part of the sequence and will be done, but it will be very different now that the Shattered Plains have been used in Way of Kings.
In at least two of the books that I know of, a god is either dead or attacked in some form or fashion. Is there any reason for that?
Yes, there is an ongoing theme there, and it's primarily because there is an overarching story behind the story. The books are all in the same universe. And there is a character that's the same in all of the books. In Way of Kings it's Wit. He's actually in all of them.
Is there a Cosmere-specific term you use to describe, say, a Shard's power inside someone? For example, people on Scadrial had little bits of Preservation in them that made them sentient (and, with enough Preservation, Allomancy). This obviously doesn't make these people Slivers or Splinters, so I was just wondering if you had a word for it.
In my own terms, I refer to all of this as types of investiture. The degree, and effects, can be very different - but those people are invested. I term this Innate Investiture, and it is similar to what happens with people on Nalthis. That is also innate.
A lerasium Mistborn's kids would surely be Allomancers. If such a lerasium Mistborn traveled to, say, Nalthis, fell in love and had kids with a native Nalthisean, would those kids be Allomancers? Or something else?
In most cases, they would still be Allomancers. Mixed, potentially, with something else depending on the native innate investiture. That mixture could do some strange things, though.
I have always been impressed by masterworks like those done by King/Asimov, weaving multiple works by one author together into a single continuity. I felt that most authors who have done it didn't have the chance to start from the beginning intending to combine worlds. It is something that they decided upon after the fact. So, I thought I'd give it a try from book one.
I love stand alone novels, but I also love big epics. This was a way to let me have both at the same time with some of my works. And so, Hoid was born as a character plotting behind the scenes of my novels, connecting them together into a larger tapestry.
Have you ever felt constrained by this commitment to consistency across the Cosmere, or does it amount to "limitations are more interesting than powers" as applies to own options as an author?
I feel it has always helped. If an idea doesn't fit into the limitations, I simply move it to a non-Cosmere story instead.
I don't think it's necessary at all. The writer's own fascinations—whatever they are—can add to the writing experience. But yes, some philosophical ideas worked into my fiction. Plato's theory of the forms has always fascinated, and so the idea of a physical/cognitive/spiritual realm is certainly a product of this. Human perception of ideals has a lot to do with the cognitive realm, and a true ideal has a lot to do with the spiritual realm.
As for more examples, they're spread through my fiction. Spinoza is in there a lot, and Jung has a lot to do with the idea of spiritual connectivity (and how the Parshendi can all sing the same songs.)
Not completely sure where Spinoza comes in. I guess the shards are part of the natural world and have no personality without a human wielder.
Yes on Spinoza there, and also the idea of God being in everything, and everything of one substance. Unifying laws. Those sorts of things. (Less his determinism, though.)
How long before the events of Elantris did Odium kill Aona/Devotion and Skai/Dominion?
Same time as the origins of the Seons.
This was the second-closest I came to getting RAFO'd. He was sort of jovially apologetic about this answer; I tried to get a solid number of years but to no avail.
Given that we now know that Odium can 'make it possible' for people to use magic that draws on him on other planets, has he done this anywhere besides Roshar?
Odium has been active on all other planets, including several we haven't seen yet.
This one I nearly did get RAFO'd, and the answer is basically a non-answer.
My question is in regards to the writing system. In Warbreaker, when Siri is teaching Susebron to read, she mentions the letter "shash," which we now know better as a Glyphair from WoK.
so onto the questions:
Are the two writing systems related, or is this a chance coincidence of names? If they are related, did they stem from the same source? (i.e., do the people of Nalthis and Roshar both descend from a more ancient group of people?) If I haven't gotten a RAFO yet, did the separation from these other people create the legends of being cast out of the Tranquiline Halls?
There are interesting connections around the cosmere between linguistics and some cultures. Though different groups of humans were created on different planets, the Shards all share a single point of origin. However, the Tranquiline Halls legends are not related to a Nalthis/Roshar connection.
Yeah, where did I get the inspiration for that? There's a couple of places, and I don't want to go off on this too long, if you go look on the Q&A database that these guys have on the 17th Shard you can find more.
But there were really two things that made me do it. First off is reading how Asimov did it and really being impressed with what he did and also noticing that he had to like do some patches in order to make everything work. Asimov connected his Robot series and his Foundations series after the fact many years later. It turned out really well; the two series, as it turns out, blend together in a really cool way but it felt to me it felt after the fact . And I wanted to do something from the get-go and say, "Well, if I've got something like this as a model." Stephen King did it also, but he did it after the fact. But I've got writers like this as a model to show how cool this can be, so my question to myself is, "How much cooler can it be if I do it from book one?" And you know, it's the sort of advantages you get as a writer by standing on the shoulders of authors like that, who have done these awesome things in the past. It allows us to kind of see what they did and say, "Okay, how can I expand on this? How can I do something new, rather than just doing what Asimov did?" And one of the approaches was to try it from book one.
And the other reasoning was that I like big epics but I also want to be writing a lot of stand-alones. And early in my career in particular, it was important for me to be writing stand-alones. And so the hidden epic behind the scenes allowed me to embed some of this depth of foreshadowing and connection in a way that would not be intimidating to readers because they could just read the story and enjoy the stand-alone. And then if it's something- if they're the type that really gets into this and really wants to dig deep, they can find the other level and be like, "Wow, there's an epic on here and Mistborn is a sequel to Elantris. I didn't know that," and things like that. Or they can be read completely independently and you never have to worry about that. So I like that versatility.
I will eventually write some stories connecting all of these things in a more obvious way, but I don't want it to come to the forefront of any series that that's not already the focus. For instance, I don't want Way of Kings to be about that, because I've already promised you what Way of Kings is about. And I don't want then to trick you into, "Oh, now it's this other thing." I have books planned that will be that, but they're a little ways off.
[Josh and Mi’ch] were kind of explaining that your books were all in different worlds and Hoid can jump from world to world?
Yes, they’re all in the same universe. And there are some characters who have appeared in multiple books. Hoid, for instance, has appeared in all of them so far.
Yeah is he going to have his own book?
He will eventually have his own book series.
I enjoy Way of Kings, it seems like that’s the one where everyone’s coming together. I was reading online about Galladon and Demoux being in it. I enjoyed that. Is that going to happen more often?
In that book- that series, yes. There will be more crossover. It’s kinda one of the core stories, along with the things happening on the Mistborn world and things like that. And so, there’s going to be a lot more crossover. Most of it’s still kind of subtle stuff, but if you keep your eyes open there’ll be some real zingers in the next two books.
The origin of The Rithmatist
Six years ago, I was writing a book that I hated.
Now, that's both rare and common for me at the same time. I tire of pretty much every book I work on at some point, usually during the revision process. I push through and get over it. That's what you do as a writer. By the time I'm done with the process, I'm tired of the book—but it's the good kind of tired. The "I worked hard, and now have something awesome to show for it" tired.
Unfortunately, that wasn't happening for this book. Called The Liar of Partinel, every chapter was a chore to write. Though it had started very well, it continued to spiral farther and farther down the drain. I was familiar enough with my own writing by this point to realize the problems with Liar wouldn't work themselves out. The characters were boring, the plot forced. The worldbuilding elements never quite clicked together.
It had been years since I'd had such a bad feeling about a novel. (The last time, in fact, was Mythwalker—my sixth unpublished book&mdsah;which I abandoned halfway through.) Part of the problem, I suspect, had to do with my expectations. Liar, set in the same world as Dragonsteel, was to be the origin story of Hoid, the character who has appeared in all of my Cosmere novels. (Information here—warning, big spoilers.)
I needed Hoid's story to be epic and awesome. It just wasn't. And so, I ended up "hiding" from that novel and working on something else instead.
The Rithmatist. It started with some drawings and a purely creative week sketching out a world, characters, and magic. That week is the exact sort that turned me into a writer in the first place, and was a distinct contrast to the grind that had been Liar. I abandoned the book and dove into The Rithmatist (then called Scribbler), and wrote a book where everything just came together. It happens sometimes. It just works, and I can't always explain—even to myself—why.
I finished the first draft of the book in the summer of 2007. In the fall, I got the call regarding the Wheel of Time, and my world transformed forever. The Rithmatist, though an awesome book, languished for years because I didn't have the time to devote to it. Doing a tour or contract for another teen book was impossible at that time, and beyond that I couldn't commit to writing any sequels or even doing any revision for the novel.
I did tell Tor about it, though, and they started to get excited. The publisher tried several times to get me to release it, but I didn't feel the time was right. I couldn't let my attention be divided that far. I was already stretched too thin, and I wanted my attention (and that of my readers) to be on the Wheel of Time.
The month A Memory of Light was done and turned in, however, I called Tor and told them it was time to move forward. I'm pleased to be releasing the book now, when I can give it the attention it deserves.
And hopefully someday I'll be able to fix The Liar of Partinel. (At this point, I'm feeling I need to rewrite it as a first-person narrative, though making that switch is going to cause an entire host of problems.)
Anyway, thanks so much for reading! I hope you enjoy The Rithmatist.
You create some of the most elaborate magic systems in fantasy today; these systems function as intrinsic parts of your worlds and characters. Typically, how do you address the different types of magic systems in your different books? Do you define these systems before you start writing the books, or do they evolve and develop as you go along?
The answer to that is yes! It's different for every book. With my Cosmere books—which are the shared universe of my epic fantasies—I need to be a little more rigorous. There are fundamental underlying principles that guide the magic systems, and so there's a larger developmental phase before I start writing the book. Then I stick more strictly to the rules I've given myself.
All the way back in 2007, I was writing one of my epic fantasies, and it just wasn't working. I needed a break to something creative, different, and distinctive. So I jumped ship, abandoning that epic fantasy, and wrote The Rithmatist instead, which had a lot less planning than one of my epic fantasies.
With something like The Rithmatist—which is outside the Cosmere—I'm allowed a little more freedom, which is one of the reasons I like writing books like this, where I allow myself to develop it as I write. The magic was the first thing that got me excited about The Rithmatist, so I based the book around it.
The first thing I wrote was the scene—now late in chapter one—where Joel watches Fitch get defeated by Nalizar in the classroom. It started out on a chalkboard, but I eventually moved it to the floor because that made more sense. As I was writing these chapters, I developed the Rithmatic lines and let the story feed the magic and the magic feed the story in a way that some writers call "discovery written."
So, this is a question expanding on the whole gardener versus architect thing.
You say that you're an architect.
Now that—not a Wheel of Time question, actually—but your non Wheel of Time works have this whole meta world connecting them, the shard worlds and the sixteen shards and stuff. Where do you think you're going to go with that now that you . . . ?
Oh, I can tell you where I'm going to go with that. I'm not sure how much I can say. For those who don't know, my epics are all connected. There are continuing characters through Elantris into Mistborn into Warbreaker into Way of Kings. It's a behind the scenes sort of thing—it's not something . . . you don't need to read them in order. It's not something you need to know in order to read one of the books. But there are continuing characters.
And I have a grand arc for what is going on. It has to do with my original pitch to my editor on the Mistborn trilogy, which was actually a trilogy of trilogies. Way back in 2005 when I told him about it, I wanted to do three trilogies: one past, one present, one future. And I wanted to do an epic fantasy trilogy, which really explored kind of mythology and magic. And then a modern day trilogy, in which the epic fantasy had become the foundations of myth and religion for a trilogy set in about a 1980s level technology. And then I wanted to do a far future science fiction, in which the magic which had gone through all of the other books became the means by which space exploration became possible and the foundation of technology, particularly faster than light technology. And so that is a core spine of the greater story that I'm telling.
I love Wheel of Time, but please do that, too. That sounds amazing.
Quick question if you're still about; Is this book [Steelheart] part of the Cosmere? Since it's based in Chicago I'm wondering if that maybe isn't the case?
No, most of my "breather novels" are not Cosmere. The Cosmere requires meticulous planning and continuity. That's not usually good for what I'm looking to do when I take a break from a big project for a small one, though occasionally I can fit in a novella or such.
I don't suppose there's any way that we could read the prologue outside of a convention, is there? Or should I go surfing youtube for bootlegs?
I should do this. I'm on tour right now, though, so it's going to be tough—and I will probably have to coordinate with the publisher.
If you find a bootleg, let me know, and I'll tweet it for people. If it's already out there, I don't have to worry so much. If not, I'll see about doing something to get the prologue on line somewhere.
If you want to post it online somewhere, you know we're always happy to post this sort of thing...
Thanks. I might do just that, but I have to coordinate with the publisher first.
Are you planning on putting together a Cosmere bible at any point? I've fallen down the 17th shard/Coppermind wiki rabbit hole so many times it's not even funny, so I for one would love to have a book with all the bits and pieces laid out eventually.
Perhaps. But not for a while.
How old is Hoid? Or better yet (to avoid any trickiness), how many years has he lived through?
He's been alive since Dragonsteel. However, he may not have spent all of that time awake and alert.
There's a number of your early works like White Sand and Dragonsteel which haven't actually been published. What's your take on them? Will they eventually be published? Are they fine to read, or are they effectively spoilers for plot elements you might reuse in other books.
White Sand is fine to read—it is part of the shared universe of my books, and I will eventually be writing it. It's not a terrible book, but not fantastic either. If you email me, I'll send it to you. Dragonsteel, however, has some major spoilers for various books, and I prefer not to send that one to people quite yet.
Shai refers to an Unknown God, is this at all related to the rocks that fell from the sky that Shai's ancestors carved?
For her people, there is a relationship. But watch for mentions of the God Beyond in the books. There is more here.
You've said that while many of your books are interconnected "behind the scenes", you didn't want to put too much in the books themselves so readers didn't feel like they're missing information (HIGHLY paraphrased). Have your opinions changed on that given the size of your fanbase? When do you expect to have more crossover between worlds (as in major characters or plot points as opposed to cameos and subtle allusions)?
I still think that keeping this to less is going to be better. However, it's going to be tougher and tougher to keep them separate, logically. As the worlds advance and more and more people begin dabbling in crossing planets, the signs will compound. I still intend to keep it from the forefront. There will be an increasing amount of this, however.
Do you plan for the Stormlight Archive to stay grounded to its world, or will there be some interplay with the rest of the Cosmere, as, literally, worlds collide?
Mostly grounded, though as I've answered in other questions, the further into the future of the cosmere we go, the more interactions between the worlds will happen. There is a certain inevitability as more and more people discover the true nature of the universe.
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.
How cosmere-aware was the Lord Ruler? If a Returned waltzed into Kredik Shaw, would he have any idea what was going on? Or at least be able to recognize 'hey that guy seems endowmenty'.
Aware enough to know he wasn't alone, but not so aware that he'd know specifics. He didn't hold the power long enough to explore outward very far.
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.
I love how many authors we get on this subreddit, it's amazing. Not sure if you meant this forum or not but it's still cool. I hope I see Brandon Sanderson one of these days, I have a stupid question for him.
I've been terrible about my reddit pms lately. Better to ask here.
About Miles from Alloy of Law and his regenerative powers. If he was bisected down the middle and the halves were separated immediately before the healing process could begin, would the two halves each regrow into a whole Miles?
Good question. In all of the Cosmere's Shard-based magics, the greater portion of a bisected body regrows the lesser portion. If it were done EXACTLY halfway, the soul wold jump to one or the other randomly and that would regrow.
Amusingly, this first came up in 1999, six years before I got published. (I see someone else already mentioned the situation where I had to consider it.)
As little add—on Sanderson has stated that at its core, Shard-based healing is about restoring the person back to themselves. So someone who wears glasses and gets shot and healed, will still need glasses as that is how they (or their soul) sees themself. I assume this would happen in more extreme cases too, some one who had a limb amputated at birth gets healed at another time, the limb will not be restored because they see themself as an amputee, even if it is within the magic's ability to restore limbs to some one who recently lost one.
So... wait a sec, the Lord Ruler got decapitated at one point...
What did he do with the severed head? Mount it on the wall?
He mounted it SIDEWAYS? :P
Actually, this is kind of a sillier followup to a silly question, but could you use Forgery to say 'actually, this half had 51% instead of 49%' and temporarily clone Miles?
Boy. That's a can of worms, right there...
I suppose one thing to wonder is how do you enter Shadesmar? We know of a number of people who are jumping from world to world through Shadesmar. Grump Thinker and Blunt, Hoid too. How are they accessing the cognitive plane to transport themselves across the lands?
Presumably Shallan's bond with the truthspren let her get in. How does this work? If she had only a dim sphere then does it not require any stormlight, any spiritual power? Is it a purely cognitive change? I could see some advantages to that. You could hop into this alternative dimension at will if you were being attacked, even with little power.
The scholars earlier talk of whether there is food in Shadesmar, so presumably others have visited it. Can non soulcasters visit it? Is there some fabrial that grants you access? Are they only referring to the distant past, when KR had the power to access it? Is it purely a thing of the mind that anyone can learn? Is it only possible if you have access to a splinter of a shard?
And on an unrelated question, they have symbols on their heads. If Shallan managed to draw one of these would it be some glyph? Perhaps some glyph that we would recognize, like the glyphs in the artwork at the front?
There are many ways to enter Shadesmar. You'll see more of this in the future. One thing to keep in mind about Shadesmar is that space where things are thinking is expanded, while space where there is nothing to think is contracted. In other words, in an empty void, you get almost no Shadesmar. This makes distances as we think of them very different there.
As for the symbols making up the heads of the cryptics, those are not glyphs. But it's possible you would recognize them...
I have based countless Dungeons and Dragons characters off of your worlds. Thank you for being an inspiration. Your systems of magic are wonderful.
Fun fact: Hoid, the character who has shown up in each of my cosmere books, had a brief stint as one of my high school D&D characters. He didn't start life there, but I did try to build a character for him. So I've done the same thing. (Koloss made their first appearance in a game I ran, though they were far more demonic in nature.)
Holy cow, do I feel dumb, and maybe a little smart.
I did not know about "Cosmere" or its cycle until this very moment. I have however, read just about every single one of your books and knew that HOID makes an appearance in them. I had always thought it would be a grand idea if someday, a long time from now, we found out that all these different worlds were connected and your last masterpiece would be the book that revealed that to us. But I guess you thought of this brilliant idea before I did, sigh.
I planned to do something just like that, actually. I considered sticking the clues more deeply into the text. (For example, in some early drafts of later books, I didn't use the name Hoid for his alias.)
In the end, though, I felt that readers would enjoy the journey far more if they could connect things and begin to dig at the deeper picture themselves. Besides, if I hid the clues so well nobody found them, then that would have required so much arranging of stories as to make for some awkward moments.
Wait wait, so it is a book [Steelheart] about a magical upper class and a lower class who rebels against them? But I already read Mistborn!
You know, I honestly worry about this a lot. Perhaps more than I should. I don't want to start repeating myself.
This was one of those "Write it by instinct" books. The idea was too awesome to ignore. Basically, it's the story of what happens if people in our world started getting superpowers, but only evil people got them. Story is about a group of people who fight back by assassinating people with superpowers by researching their weaknesses, then laying a trap and taking them out.
However, it DOES share similarities to Mistborn. Much as Warbreaker and Elantris share a worldbuilding premise. We shall see, after readers get it, if I'm repeating myself too much. It's hard when you've got an awesome story you want to tell, but also want each series to have its individual identity.
| what happens if people in our world started getting superpowers, but only evil people got them
Is that the case, or rather a more cynical approach to 'power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely'?
That very question is actually a plot point in the story.
Oh wow. The book's not even out, and I managed to spoil it...
Ha. No, you're not spoiling it. What I mean is, very early in the book, people ask the same question you did. Is the way they act caused by them having too much power, or is it because certain types of people got the powers in the first place. It's not a spoiler to ask the question.
The origin of this story has to do with me, driving along, and getting cut off in traffic. I thought to myself, "Buddy, you're glad I don't have superpowers, because I'd totally blow your car off the road right now."
My immediate reactions made me start thinking about what would actually happen if some people had those kinds of powers.
This sounds really cool and I look forward to reading it! One thing I wonder about though, is how you fit this into the shard multiverse? I'll be honest and admit I'm not totally up to speed on all your books and all the meta-lore, but as far as I knew you had a pre-set number of possible worlds, all created by some unique piece of shard from a larger whole, right?
So for this idea, did you happen to have a specific shard available that fit with the world, did you have an "undefined" shard you could use, or is this something separated entirely from the multiverse setting? Really curious about this as this whole concept as I know of it of the multiverse is really intriguing.
Anyway, thanks for being an awesome writer, from a fan!
So far, most of my deviation novels (Alcatraz, Steelheart, The Rithmatist) have not been part of the shared universe. Part of taking a 'breather' is letting my mind run free without continuity restrictions.
Often, good restrictions can make for a more impressive story, but sometimes you have to be able to do whatever occurs to you, even if it doesn't fit the shared cosmology. So, Steelheart is not a shard novel. I HAVE set apart plenty of places that are less defined that I can tell shard stories in, but this isn't one of them.
Shards and Shard intents: Holding a Shard is a contest of willpower against the Shard that, over time, is very hard to resist.
Shards affect you over time, but your mind will not leave a permanent effect on the Shard. A holder's personality, however, does get to filter the Shard's intent, so to speak. However, if that holder no longer held that Shard, the Shard will not continue to be filtered by that person.
I don't remember what prompted me to write this, or what impression I had that made me write this, but I wrote: Anyone can take up a Shard. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. I would not have written this if it was not crystal clear to me that this is what Brandon meant.
Odium wants to be the only Shard. Odium could pick up other Shards if he wants to, but, he doesn't want to. His Shard is a good match for his personality and he doesn't want to be influenced by another Shard.
He also mentioned these awesome suits of armor and like 6 foot long swords that he called "Shard Plate" and "Shard Blades." Apparently, they are the only relics left over from the time when mankind originally did have magic. Also, in the mythology of this world, mankind originally lived in heaven. However, a race of beings called (I think) the Voidbringers conquered heaven and basically cast mankind out to the earth. They made war on them again and tried to cast them out to hell, but mankind devised These Shard Blades and Shard Plate as a method of fighting the Voidbringers and were able to push them back. He also mentioned that the world is currently basically dominated by those who have these magical items, and one person with a suit of shard plate and a shard blade is basically the equivalent of an army. When I asked him if these were related to the Shards of Andonalsium at all, he said, "Maybe." He also confirmed that the Stormlight Chronicle (Way of Kings) takes place in the Shards universe.
The reason Way of Kings is called the Stormlight Chronicle apparently has to do with the massive hurricanes that come through every few days. If you leave a gemstone out during the storm (and affix it to something so it won't blow away), it will gain magical properties. One of these is that they give off light, called stormlight. The other that he mentioned is that they can be used kind of like a battery, and are used to power the Shard Plate Suits.
That's all I remember about the Way of Kings right now, maybe I'll remember something later.
Some as of yet unwritten book that I can't remember the title of, but know that it included the word Divine. Maybe Ook can help me out here. Anyway, it has a magic system in which the magic is caused by bacteria. Basically, the bacteria and parasites want their hosts to survive as long as possible, so they give them magic. The example Brandon used was that if someone caught the common cold, they could fly until they got over that cold.
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.
So I was reading the Alloy of Law, and at the end I read through the Ars Arcanum. And I got confused because it’s written in first person, but it refers to Harmony in third person. I thought he was writing it, so who writes that part?
That’s a good question for you to be asking, one which people have been curious about, and I have not yet answered who writes all of the Ars Arcanum, but they are in-world, somebody's writing them. If you ever read The Way of Kings, it’s written in first-person too.
Are they all written by the same person?
Ah, have I answered that yet?
I should? They are all written by the same person.
Because it sounds like they’re written by Hoid, I think.
They are all written by the same person.
Brandon, have we seen a point of view chapter from the character who writes the Ars Arcanum?
I’m not gonna tell you that. That would be way too much giving away.
Is the character who writes the Ars Arcanum from Sel originally?
I’m not gonna tell you anything about the character who writes the Ars Arcanum.
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.
I also attended the signing, but arrived late and missed the Q and A. I waited roughly two hours in line to get a few books signed, and had some interesting discussions over what to ask Brandon while he signed my stuff. I decided to ask him to do what he has done for a few others, which is to write a cosmere clue in my copy of Alloy of Law. After asking him this, he looked up at me and asked, "Are you from the 17th shard?" He asked me to relay his request that we don't ask for that anymore, and that we instead, come with specific questions. Apparently my book will be the last one he will ever write a generic cosmere clue, at least, to the same effect.
The clue was SOO vague, and I hope you guys can make at least a bit of sense of it. It say, verbatim, "Hoid has metal he isn't supposed to have." Any ideas as to what he means?
So, like metal inside a person’s body?
It depends on how strong the investiture in them is.
Is that going to be the answer for all of these?
How about a spike charged with Hemalurgy? Not in a person.
Not in a person? It depends on how strong—yeah. A spike is moderately—in the realm of these sorts of things—moderately easy to push on, because a spike does not rip off very much investiture. Only enough to short circuit the soul, and it loses that over time. So I would put that at the bottom—with the top being very hard—to be one of the easier things.
How about a metalmind? A feruchemy metalmind that is "full."
That is going to be middle of the realm. Generally easier than, for instance, a shardblade, which is going to be very hard.
But a shardblade isn’t actual metal. Ish?
Ish. Is Lerasium a metal? Yeah.
So would that be the same for Shardplate, too?
Shardplate and blade are very hard. Blade is probably going to be harder. [...]
Halfshard? Like a halfshard shield?
Halfshard shield is going to be in moderate.
Nightblood? I imagine is going to be very difficult.
Very hard. Of all the things you’ve listed, he’s the hardest. Far beyond even a shardblade.
Far beyond metal inside a person?
Yes, depending on how invested the person is.
If someone was invested as much as Nightblood I’m pretty sure it’s going to be very difficult.
Yes, for instance, the Godking, at the end, with all of those Breaths. Pushing on something inside of him? Getting through all that? Gonna be REAL hard. Average person on Scadrial? You’ve seen how hard that is. A drab? Much easier.
That was actually going to be my next one- No, sorry, not a drab, a Lifeless.
A Lifeless. Lifeless are kinda weird, because they’ve had their soul leave, but then they’ve had a replacement stuck in, in the form of Breath, which puts them in a really weird position compared to a Drab, which has had part of their investiture ripped away, but the majority of it remains. So anyway, I’m going to give you one more. Pick your favorite.
Okay, a soul-stamped piece of metal.
A soul-stamped piece of metal is going to be on the lower, easier side. Not a lot of investiture going on in a soulstamp.
[Paraphrasing] That is not an inapt metaphor for it. It's like a wedge gets in the soul and cracks it, and investiture can fill it up.
And using allomancy breaks it further?
Do other magic systems in the Cosmere function in a similar way?
Which ones? Will we see them soon?
I'm going to have to RAFO that.
Each spren is based on the Ideal of Fire.
And is that sitting in the Spiritual Realm?
Yes, we're using sort of a Platonic Ideal, and that concept is in force, so < sounds hesitant > "yes", but [spren] are manifestations of it.
So these Ideals in the Spiritual Realm: Divine Breath, does that heal by accessing some Ideal of Human Health: so a guy who had never had a tongue and doesn't know how to speak all the sudden has a tongue and can speak? [Note: Talking of Susebron here]
You are... < LONG pause > You are, um, on the right track.
Because the Breath is... eh. How can I explain this? You are, yeah... So... So each Breath is a shade of deity, right?
And each Breath incorporates into it this sort of idea of being endowed by the deity Endowment, correct?
And so each Breath you hold brings you one step closer to becoming like that, and so what you're saying is... is "yes", kind of true, yes.
But it's like within the Breath, not sitting off by itself—
Yes, yes yes exactly.
Perception is a very important part of how these things all work, and remember, the Honorblades work differently from everything else. Everything was based upon them. Why don’t you read and find out what’s going on there, but remember, the characters’ perception is very important.
So then that’s why at one point Shallan requires ten heartbeats and now she doesn’t.
Right, just like—it’s the exact same reason why Kaladin’s forehead wounds don’t heal, because he views himself as need—as having those, somewhere deep inside of him, and that can’t heal until that goes away. And it’s the same reason why in Warbreaker, when you bring something to life your intention, rather than really what you say, is what matters. It’s all about perception.
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?
I also saw the interview where you sat down with Tom Doherty and talked about your "master plan" to tie all your books together. And I know you're always big on endings, so how are you approaching writing something so big and tying it all together?
Lots of work in my internal wiki mixed with continuity editors. I've hired people whose job it is to just keep me honest. Because when I sit down to write the first draft of a book, I'm trying to lay down the emotional resonance, get the characters right, get the plot right, get these really important things right. Following that I'll worry about continuity sometimes—like, the little continuity. Of course you want character continuity from the very beginning, but some of these things we do like that. So having a continuity editor is very helpful in that realm and that's one of the things I've done. Peter Ahlstrom is doing a lot, and Karen, his wife, has jumped in since she was a professional editor as well. So they've jumped in and are keeping me honest.
Sanderson's Three Laws of Magics:
1) An author's ability to solve conflict with magic is DIRECTLY PROPORTIONAL to how well the reader understands said magic.
2) Limitations > Powers (i.e. "Superman is not his powers. Superman is his weaknesses.")
3) Expand what you already have before you add something new.
In the years leading up to and during his time concluding The Wheel of Time series, Sanderson developed three Laws of Magics for the fantasy genre. He's been quick to point out on his blog that the laws merely serve as "guidelines" for his own writing, but his insight is revolutionizing the traditional approach to fantasy writing.
Literature has a history of ignoring rules when it comes to magic—it is magic, after all. But the 21st century is cultivating a new breed of reader who doesn't take magic for granted. Sanderson's laws appeal to their desire to understand how Dorothy's ruby slippers transport her between worlds and why the Phial of Galadriel shines brighter when used by Sam vs. Frodo. From allomancy to surgebinding, the magic systems in Sanderson's novels are both incredibly original and comprehensively detailed.
Beyond his penchant for establishing unique systems of magic in multiple worlds, Sanderson has a tendency to dream astronomically.
"At some point," Sanderson says, "I was inspired by Michael Moorcock's Multiverse and the way Isaac Asimov eventually connected his Foundation novels and robot novels, to write a 'stealth' series into the background of my novels." Enter the Cosmere.
An entire universe distinct from our own, the Cosmere consists of 10 (and counting) planets with autonomous magic systems, geographic characteristics and storylines. All of Sanderson's novels (excluding his YA and The Wheel of Time titles) exist within the Cosmere, but each planet's book(s) can be read independently of the others. In simpler terms, Sanderson has subtly connected everything—so subtly, in fact, that only one character is granted the ability to travel between worlds.
Hoid, the world jumper and mysterious fan favorite, appears in every Cosmere-set novel. But don't plan on always recognizing him; the intelligent trickster favors disguises. And, to be honest, no one besides Sanderson understands Hoid's significance at this point.
"I have said before that choosing a favorite [character] is a tough question," Sanderson says. "Very tough. I'll have to say Hoid, but I can't say why without giving spoilers."
Yes, well all of my books are connected. There is a character in Mistborn who is in Elantris, who is in Warbreaker, who is also in The Way of Kings. Easter egg things, if you read my middle grade series, the Alcatraz books, there are all kinds of silly things thrown in there just for fun. But there's a continuing character doing cameos in each of the books.
is it the same throughout the books?
The "God Surges" you mentioned recently, are they a part of the Way of Kings frontsheet?
You've said that there are three types of Blades in the Stormlight Archive. We've seen "dead" Shardblades, Honorblades—is the third type the "living spren" Shardblades, or is there another type we haven't seen?
Do all Surgebinders breathe Stormlight in, or are there other ways? Is Lift one-of-a-kind in this regard?
All I said regarding this was to tell a fan that it was possible to make an analogy between the god metals on Scadrial and certain powers on Roshar. However, these are not a codified part of the magic system.
Lift is one of a kind.
Nightblood is a very unique kind of Shardblade, but IS a Shardblade.
Although I have become a big fan of your work, it's not until recently that I've discovered you thanks to Mistborn. Even more recently, I've found out about Cosmere (I have to say that that, Sir, is a brilliant idea). I know that you are writing more than one saga at the same time, so my question is: Should I read your books in any specific order to get the right picture of Cosmere or is it ok however I read them?
They should be okay read in any order so far! Eventually, there will be books that rely on Cosmere knowledge, but those haven't been written yet.
Do all your books take place in the same world or if they don't how do characters/objects travel between worlds e.g. Nightblood, Zahel/Vasher??
They are on different worlds, but in the same universe. There are clues throughout (starting in Elantris) about how people jump between planets. It will be more clear in the future, but you might want to google the "cosmere" and read what people have theorized so far.
"Sixth of the Dusk" doesn't have much that directly ties it to the Cosmere. Is this a world we'll see later?
It is not hugely important to the cosmere. We will see signs and hints of it, but don't expect a book set there.
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.
For the Dangerous Women story, are you going to write anything again in that world?
That world will show up again. Silence probably won't, but the world itself, yes. It's called Threnody, it is one of the Cosmere worlds. There's not a Shard there but there are interesting things happening. There's actually been a character in other books who's from Threnody. It will eventually be clear who that is, but they have shown up in many previous Sanderson novels.
Would that be Hoid?
Hoid is not from Threnody. Good question though. Hoid is from Yolen.
When are we first getting a look at the Cosmere coming together?
The third Mistborn trilogy is going to involve-it's the first one I planned to do a lot with. I doubt I will do much in the second Mistborn trilogy, more than I probably have done [so far]. It's fun for me, so I'll keep including things in. You'll notice that Hoid is a bigger part of the Stormlight than previous ones, but I still don't want it to come to the forefront quite yet.
Is there a difference between Shadesmar and the Cognitive realm?
Shadesmar is a word for the Cognitive Realm specifically touching - It's like San Diego is a word for a place in America. It's a local word.
Ok so would Rashek still have had powers [because he was a Sliver]?
He would have had some residual effects. But it also works the soul in weird ways, like a balloon that has been deflated.
If Endowment were killed, would the Returned still come?
Somebody needs to hold the magic. If no one holds the magic, the magic will start to gain sentience. Interesting and bizarre things happen then, so I would say yes, but with the caveat that with whoever picks up the power or what happens with the power could end up changing that.
Can Breath be used to power Surgebinding?
They are very similar Investitures, and most of the magics can be powered with the other magics if you are capable of making that happen.
What would happen to the Breath?
The Breath would be consumed in the same way that Stormlight is. A renewing resource, much like Atium is.
Does Hoid ever show up somewhere, stand around for awhile, realize that there isn't a novel-worthy plot going on, and leave?
[Laughed] Yes, Hoid gets around a lot and that has happened a couple of times. He does not know everything.
Long ago there was a plot to destroy Adonalsium. It failed.
It is a little bit more like wedging open cracks in the soul by letting the Investiture come in, and it can open the cracks more.
Are there other magic systems like that?
Will we see those any time soon?
Uh … at what stage in their career?
Not the Slivers.
Okay, so they don't count, the Shards of Adonalsium don't count … does Kelsier have atium?
Then … a Mistborn burning atium is really hard to beat in any other way.
So you think that Kelsier would beat Vin?
Oh, Kelsier would beat Vin if he had atium and she didn't. If they both did? Vin has more raw talent, Kelsier has more experience. So if you can pick Vin after she has more experience she will give him a fair fight, otherwise, not.
He is a person that has shown up in all of my epic fantasy books.
How does he have so much information about what's going on and how is he always in the right place at the right time?
Those are very excellent questions. RAFO, but he has a surprising ability to be in the right place at the right time in the Cosmere.
The other has to do with the portals into the worlds themselves, because the birds in Sixth of Dusk-
Ok, he does not have Hemalurgy. He has powers that predate the Shattering of Adonalsium. Not all of his powers predate, but he does have powers that predate.
Ok, so I was wrong on both counts then… Am I wrong on both counts?
I’m not saying that. I’m saying that he has powers that predate, and has gained powers since.
… kind of a general-
Most people that I’m writing about now are all dead.
Is it up into the third trilogy of Mistborn?
It is that era, yes.
Sweet! That’s what I thought.
It might be a little bit before that trilogy, but it’s that era.
I'd like to open by thanking you for changing the method of Szeth's death. When I read it the first time, Kaladin's actions in that moment didn't ring quite true for how I saw the character. I'm glad Kal does what he does in the revisions.
I have three questions, if you wouldn't mind. I'm trying to avoid the obvious RAFO's xD
1. Threnody and Scadrial are both noted as having unusally bright patches of stars in their skies. Are these two planets near to one another?
2. Did Ashyn ever have a Shard, or is its magic a natural manifestation akin to Threnody or First of the Sun?
3. As you've stated that the magic of First of the Sun is natural and independent of any particular Shard, what is the nature of the pool on Patji? Is it also a natural manifestation of magic, a Perpendicularity, or simply a pool like any other?
1. They are both seeing the same thing, yes.
2. RAFO on Ashyn, as--being in the same system as Roshar--there are going to be some spoilers relating to Stormlight in anything I say here.
3. It's a natural manifestation, but on a much smaller scale than you might find on other worlds.
Regarding #1, does this mean that Threnody and Scadrial are part of the same system, or are these bright patches visible from other worlds as well?
Visible from other worlds as well. The cosmere is a relatively small place (on a galactic scale, that is.) We'll publish the star map when that becomes relevant in a decade or so.
You can correctly. Now here’s the distinction. Some of them are not. Some of them are using tricks of...um….uh...no....relativistic time travel to move forward in the future. Some of them are not aging and others are just aging really slowly. And those are three separate things among characters you have actually seen. I will give you hints as you read the books.
A Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Cosmere, if you will…
Now, you’ve got to remember that at the point that this comes out… the collection’s been interesting for a couple of reasons. For one reason, the collection’s coming out before Sixth of the Dusk happens in the Cosmere, right. And so Khriss gives an introduction to each world, so you’ll find her introduction to First of the Sun to be a very interesting introduction that doesn’t know things that you know because of that. In addition, the star chart is a star chart created by people who are not spacefaring. And so it is a star chart more along the lines of… it may not be one hundred percent the scale and things like that, like they’ve been able to figure out a lot of things by using the Cognitive Realm, so they’d be like “alright, here’s the relationship”, but it will be a while before you get what feels like a Star Trek star chart. Your star chart you’re gonna get in this is a fantasy star chart, which will give you the relative positions and things like that, but it’s not gonna be like you can measure exactly, which we do have! But I’m not gonna be giving you that. [audience laughs]
Are you referring to Arcanum Unbounded, is that…
Arcanum Unbounded, yeah.
Also, it would eliminate the redshift if the speed of light…
If the speed of light were similar . That’s one thing we considered, but it felt too non-intuitive, plus it’s just not how I imagined things working. So, no it is not, but that’s a good question. It is something we considered.
I just want to setup a lab in a speed bubble and do fun things.
It would make the orbits work
[Long pause] I’m not sure the implications, I have to think through implications before answering questions
The situation I’m thinking of, it would orbit the big star but at the same period as the smaller star.
Yeah, well, I’ll just say ‘yes’, but I want to make sure I’m not saying ‘yes’, without...well, yes that’s how it has to work
Because [Taldain] I want to be not like Roshar where we have unstable orbits and things. Uh, but I… I’m saying yes, but I hope that doesn’t get me into trouble scientifically.