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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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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.
The "You must give up all of your Breath, not some" line was mostly perpetuated by Denth, who is saying it to Vivenna to stop her from giving away her Breath to all the people she passes. It is a lie. Now, it's a lie that's commonly accepted by a lot of people. But it's still a lie — as we find out midway through the book, you can stick some of your Breath in an object and bring it to life, and then recover that Breath. So it's very easy to give some of your Breath to someone if you know the logical steps to take. Invest most of it into an object, give what you have to someone else, then pull back what you Invested. So it's flat-out proven in the novel that what Denth is telling her is wrong. Now, he could dance around that lie by pretending to be the ignorant mercenary — he's just perpetuating a falsehood that many people believe. But it is a lie. In fact, a lot of the things people believe about BioChromatic Breath isn't true.
One of the things I was trying with this book was to take a few steps back from Mistborn, where so much was understood. I feel that the approach I took in Mistborn is right for that book, and yet people have so much superstition regarding all sorts of science. I worry sometimes that there isn't enough superstition in my books, regarding magic as science. What people believed and what people knew and what people understood was so varied and confused throughout most of history, that I worry that I lack realism in that. Vasher brings up at several points in the book that they don't know a whole lot and that people perpetuate a lot of myths and stories and lies.
Vasher has learned to suppress his Returned Breath. When it's suppressed, it's as if it doesn't exist to him. He's Invested it into a place within himself, much like you can Invest your Breaths into a shirt, and when he gives away the rest of his Breaths, he doesn't give that one away. He could split off others of his Breaths if he wanted to — he's learned to do that, so that he could give a few Breaths and not all. It's just a matter of practicing as long as he has. But even people who aren't as practiced as him do it all the time when they Invest an object with not all of their Breath but just enough to bring it to life.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
In the Ars Arcanum of the Way of Kings, next to the Essences are listed ten Body Focuses. Are these Body Focuses the focus (in Cosmere terms) of Surgebinding?
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.
Anything infused (regardless of the world or magic that infused it) is resistant to magic. So you'd have a lot of trouble pushing or pulling on a spike, unless you had access to a boost of some sort to overcome the resistance.
So, Nightblade would be resistant to steelpushing? Good to know ;-)
My friend and I asked him something like this at a book signing, but for some reason it never seemed to make it onto 17th Shard. We asked if a shardblade or Nightblood could be used as a hemalurgic spike (i.e.: two different investitures of magic). Brandon said that yes, in theory you could do that, but objects have a limit to how much investiture they can hold, and that it could be argued that things like Nightblood and Shardblades are already "full."
Long time lurker, first time poster.
While at Dragon*Con, during Magic:tG with Brandon, I was able to get an answer to one of the question on the big list of questions.
Here is the question:
Why are invested objects like metalminds and Hemalurgic spikes able to be Pushed and Pulled on, but Shardblades and Shardplate, which are also invested, are not susceptible to Pushing and Pulling?
His answer was complex, I took notes, but didn't get recorded audio. I am going to try to explain as best as my notes and memory support.
There were a few concepts that he outlined in answering this question.
1.) The ability to push/pull an invested object is predicated to the amount/power of the investiture
2.) Further, invested objects also gain resistance to pulling/pushing based on proximity to soul possibly via the soul. An example given is that A hemalurgic spike touches the blood of the person, and from there is now part of both the Spiritual Realm and the Physical Realm. This provides what Brandon termed a kind of "soul interference," based on its proximity to the soul.
He is not in all of my shorter stories. In fact, he is not in any book that references Earth. So if there's a reference to Earth- most of my science fiction has referential stuff to Earth, Alcatraz is like this. He's not in anything like that. He's not in the Wheel of Time. It would not have been appropriate for me to seed something like that into a Wheel of Time book. So he's not in Steelheart or the other children works that I've done. But he is in all my epic fantasies.
Now my main question actually, which magic systems, if any, does he have access to?
That's an excellent question. He is familiar with very many of them, and lots that you haven't seen yet.
Why does Scadrial, which has two Shards, only have three manifestations of investiture, (Allomancy, Feruchemy, and Hemalurgy) but Sel, also with two Shards, has five manifestations of investiture (AonDor, Dakhor, ChayShan, Forgery, and Bloodsealing)?
Sel's magics are much more regionalized than Scadrial's. Each area has its own manifestation, but they're all actually the same magic. So really there is one magic on Sel—much as Windrunning and Lightweaving on Roshar are kind of different magics, but also kind of the same.
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.
[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.
It definitely wouldn't be pleasant.
Ok, I have this steel allergy, I got it last year, and I work in a steel plant.
It would not be pleasant, but I would have the instinct that fewer people on Scadrial would have that allergy, because of the Investiture during their creation. But, it could totally happen.
I believe that they all do. I don't think that you've seen anyone without innate Investiture yet. [Drabs] do not have innate Investiture. And on Scadrial they have the pieces of Ruin and Preservation in them. And they do have it on Roshar.
Which Shard is that?
You'll have to RAFO
If you used Stormlight to Awaken, would you drain color or create frost?
You'll have to see if this happens in the future! (Note that mixing the investitures is usually not easy to do.)
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.
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.
[Brandon misunderstood the question a little in the beginning - he thought the question was "can every Shard's magic detect other Investitures?"] Most of the magics have built into them that ability, but I wouldn't say that everyone does. I am trying to remember if all of them have... I lot of them have a power that would allow you to do that, but I don't know if every one of them does.
If you were really good at burning bronze, you could distinguish between different types of Investiture from different planets even. And that sort of skill does exist in other magic systems.
Is it like a wavelength kind of thing?
Yea, that's exactly what it is.
Can non-invested people do that, or do you have to have some form of investiture?
[Hesitantly] Every individual is invested to some extent...
Do you have to have any special investiture above and beyond the normal spark of life?
I'm gonna go ahead and RAFO that.
Yeah. Um, I would say that there is a correlation.
There is a correlation?
Yeees, they have their own different sort of layers to them. It depends on the Shard that is there and things like that but yes there are little differences but it is more like the differences between alternating current and direct current, they're both electricity. So if you know how to use them.
'Cause Szeth's not going to be getting any new Breaths on Roshar so I was thinking about that.
The amount of Investiture, and whether there is actually a Shard in presence.
I'm assuming there is not one there?
There is not one there.
So it's like a Splintered one from something else?
No what you'll find is that the worlds were all created with a level of-- a little bit of sort of ambient magic. What you'll find in worlds like that is things like, Shadows for Silence and things like this, the magic, it's not necessarily "people with magic" it's you can interact with nature...
So there is inherent investiture...
There is inherent investiture in every world created but you are going to see-- You aren't going to find Mistborn on a world like that but what you might find is a way there are magic aspects to the setting. Spren could exist on a world like that but they would be like the minor spren, you wouldn't find Syl, but you would find something like lifespren.
Well Nightblood feeds on Investiture, which is the general life-force/magic-force in the cosmere and so he can feed on basically any source of magical energy.
And do other magics work on other worlds?
I've been describing it lately more like you see DC current and AC current, where they're similar things but slightly different. It is possible to make magics work on other planets, some it's easier than others.
Could a person Soulcast more atium and lerasium if they had a bead?
No. Investiture messes things like that up.
I have a ratio. It's not on me.
Okay, that's a Peter question again.
Yeah, well, I may not answer it even then.
It cannot affect Shardblades. Well, cannot is a strong term. Things with innate Investiture are much more difficult to affect by any of the magics at all. Which is why it's very hard for Szeth to bind people or lash people wearing Shardplate to the ceiling. In the same way Allomancy wouldn't be able to push on it without some help. Duralumin with a strong Push would probably do it.
I was just wondering if it was actually metal.
It is metalish--it's metal enough for Allomancy to work on it.
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?
Hemalurgic spikes can be used on any planet.
Would it be potential for Parshendi to develop a form using the spikes?
Wow, that would be a really weird hack of the magic system that would be theoretically possible. But that's a really weird one. I had never even considered that one. Parshendi adopting other Investiture could happen, the spikes is not one I've considered.
That is possible. That would actually not be a very difficult Soulforge. The problem is, he's Invested. So reInvesting him, which is what Soulforgery is, is really hard. So you'd have to figure out how you could use Forgery on something that is already Invested. But forgery can get through some of those hoops a lot easier than some other magic systems can.
Do you have to be a willing subject to be Soulforged?
You do not. Working with the soul is really hard though. You have to be a supreme expert in what you're doing, because soul is Investiture
When I started writing cosmere novels? When I started started, I was a teenager. Totally hadn't thought very far ahead. When I was an adult and I was writing them, I wrote one when I was like 20, and I had an inkling, and I played around with things. The first one that I wrote with a real, conscious eye toward the cosmere was Elantris. So the ones that have been published, yes. But when I first started, I had a little bit of an inkling.
Have you ever backed yourself into a corner with it?
Not yet! I have backed myself into corners by saying things to fans that I've already changed in my notes and hadn't realized I had, and stuff like that. I do that all the time. But usually when I do that, I just tell them. "Ah, I'm sorry, I just changed this, guys." I'm still convinced that Stayer and Stepper—that [Robert Jordan] didn't know those were two different horses. I'm utterly convinced that he made the mistake, and then just covered it. Because that's the sort of things we writers do.
One of the ones I've been working on a lot lately is, how much can you affect things that are Invested with other magic systems? Should it be not at all, should it be a little bit, should it be... But then I have to go back to Mistborn, and I've got canon here, where people are pushing and pulling on things that are Invested, but I tried when I was even writing Mistborn to make sure that the someone was drawing on the Mist, or had extra power for some reason before they were pushing on... and so I left myself that room, but at the same time I've established that you can do it, so anyway.
Breath is definitely like Mist, it is in the form of the air.
And is Stormlight the same?
Stormlight is the same. Good questions!
Would Vasher be able to use Stormlight in the same way that he can get Breath?
That would not be immediately easy, but Stormlight could feed Nightblood.
Which is why Szeth can wield Nightblood?
Eh, you'll have to see if … but yes. That could theoretically happen. You can use most of the magics on most of the planets to fuel the other magics, if you know how to do it, it is not easy.
It has been explained that all things exists between three realms: Physical, Spiritual, and Cognitive.
I have surmised that different things "exist more" in a certain realm than another though all things have some presence in the three. Humans appear to "exist more" in the Physical realm. Spren appear to "exist more" in the Cognitive realm (Shadesmar in SA). Investiture appears to have various forms in the Physical Realm (e.g., alomantic metals, mist, stormlight).
Question 1: Does investiture have a consistent form (regardless of magic system and its Physical form) in one of the other realms?
Question 2: Vasher has shown us that he can substitue his need for Breath with another investiture (presumably Stormlight). To what extent is investiture interchangeable between magic systems?
Question 3: Is investiture finite? Hemalurgy and a Return's need to consume breath seems to show us that it can be destroyed. If it is finite, is the Cosmere's magic source doomed to the law of entropy?
1. It's consistent in the Spiritual Realm. Location isn't particularly important there.
2. Very interchangeable, but not always simple to apply.
3. Investiture can not be created or destroyed. It follows it's own version of the laws of Thermodynamics.
So what happens to the investiture that is lost when a person is spiked and the spike isn't set in the new person immediately? Does it return to the big pool of investiture in the sky like the power from wheel of time where if its not actively being used it returns to the source?
What happens to someone's body when it's not being used by a particular person? The system is built to work like that.
So we’re not Drabs?
So we’re not Drabs. That’s exactly it. We’re not Drabs.
Oh, Selish, that’s what we settled on, isn’t it, yeah, Selish magic system. This is why we have copy editors [laughter] That’s a feature of the Sel’s magic system that… as far as I know, no-one has pulled out in any decent reason for. But there’s a distinct reason that could be figured out, but it’s… one of these things that will make sense when I explain it, but I’m not sure if it’s quote-unquote “intuitively obvious” to the average reader. I don’t really think that it necessarily is that, but it will make perfect sense once it’s explained.
Would the Scadrian be able to use it.
Yes. You have seen people from off-planet who have Breath before.
Or… perfect pitch?
Yes. [laughter] And are making use of it in variety of ways.
So she wouldn’t be…?
Mhm, yes, that things that she eats that she can metabolize, she can turn into Stormlight.
So what would happen if she ate Nightblood? [laughter]
Yeah, eating Nightblood would not be a smart idea for anyone. [more laughter] Nightblood would eat you. In Soviet Russia, sword eats you? I don’t know…
Well, see, the stored identity would definitely mess with it, but it wouldn't ultimately be the same identity. It would definitely have an affect.
*to questioner* I wonder if the Command would have a greater affect, or if it's simply because the metalmind is charged with investiture-
I haven't revealed what charging investiture does either.
Can you mix a form of magic with a source of investiture ? Vasher uses stormlight replacing Breath or that requires (word I don't understand) like Hemalurgy or something like that ?
Most of them required (again the word I don't understand). Some of them are little bit easier than others. It's depends on really what you need. For istance, white sand can be charged in the presence of any Investiture right? But it's not really using the magic, is just charging it with other Investiture but you know it would be very easy for istance to use Breath to fuel...Windrunning right? Because the oath and the bond and things like that make it pretty easy. However fueling Allomancy with something else is going to be a lot harder. So it really depends on the magic. It's the sort of thing that there will be lots of science in the books dedicated to making happen in the future and you will find some of the process these work easiser than other ones.
So say you go to Roshar and you give somebody a Hemalurgic spike for some Allomantic power, don't care what, and you use it to become a savant. Does that qualify them as 'broken' enough to become a Radiant? As long as they are also following the Ideals to attract a spren.
So becoming a Radiant is a spectrum of terminologies. It... probably, but you would have to find a Radiant who would, or a spren who would be willing to touch that, okay? It's going to drive them back.
So would it also affect your probability of becoming an Elantrian?
Yeah it would affect your ability to become anything else, yes.
Okay, so would it be a positive effect, negative effect...? Because I was like, it gives you cracks in your Spiritweb.
It does give you cracks in your Spiritweb.
So it's easier for Investiture to get in. Does it make it easier for other Investitures to get in?
It would make it... yes. It's going to drive spren away. So what it's really going to make easier for, there, is spren and Investiture that doesn't care.
Okay, so Investiture doesn't care but spren do.
Investiture might care depending on if it's part of a Shard-- if it has intent and things like this.
So it might let Stormlight in easier than a Breath, type thing.
I'm saying it might let Odium in easier than Syl. Because Syl would care, and Odium would not care.
Alright, so it could be a really bad thing, is what I'm trying to say to you.
Yeah that's cool. I just want to know more about gold too. Gold Allomancy too. Because Miles was doing some funky stuff.
Miles was doing some funky stuff.
Am I close?
Yeah, you're on the right track.
A thousand breaths doesn't seem to be that much - the God King has tens of thousands - would a piece of stone or wood or cloth or plain metal that has a thousand breaths be as Invested as Nightblood, or is there something more?