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Oltux72

Is earlier Brandon bolder and more diverse on a macro level?

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Now, I am afraid this will be controversial. So I will start right away with a bold statement:

The Final Empire was Brandon's boldest book, taking it as the first part of a trilogy. Note, I said boldest book, not best book.

Why is that? I think for three reasons

  1. It took no half steps in its world building.
  2. It dared you to make a serious case that the extremist was right. On both sides.
  3. He had truly alien characters in the Kandra.

If the world required you to let blood flow in rivers, so be it. If it required you to see commoner women as sex toys with very low shelf life, so be it. He pulled no punches. And I am sorry in later books, he does this. Szeth for example is sorry he killed so many people. Not furious because he was tricked or abused, but sorry. Contrast this to Kelsier.
That attitude allowed him to have characters with extremely alien view points. To the Lord Ruler the Skaa were really lower life forms. He could , however, bring up some actual valid evidence for his point of view. He had part of the wisdom of a god and he had saved the world. Vin's noble sacrifice turned out to be a terrible mistake. The Stormlight Archives are far more conventional. Yes, the world is even more exotic, the cultures more elaborate and the human characters even more diverse. But the story is far more conventional. Note, conventional, not simplistic. The Singers still have a sensible point of view, as have the human factions. Within their respective camps things are fairly conventional though. Dalinar turned into a honorable man, Szeth is sorry and the traditionalist is so totally a literary device that I cannot remember his name. Raboniel in the end became a traitor for the sake of ethics.

So let me ask this, is this an intentional contrast between the two major worlds, an inevitable side effect of implementing more diverse and complex human characters, or - horrible to even say - a man growing more mellow with age?

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I'll agree that the original mistborn trilogy has a bit more of an edge to stormlight archive but I don't know if that's just a perception coloured by the darker setting. It doesn't really seem to me like any particular story points in mistborn are bolder than in stormlight, but the tone is very different -- far more bleak and hopeless. As far as alien viewpoints go, Spren have some pretty out there views but again they are very different tonally to the Kandra. Brandon seems to use Spren to inject whimsy into the story whereas there was very little whimsy in mistborn by design. I'd say maybe Brandon has mellowed a little bit with age but stormlight is an older story than mistborn even though mistborn came out first and the way of kings was completely rewritten. It's more that the two series are intentionally written in different styles and I think stormlight is closer to Brandon's natural tone as opposed to the dark-Dickensian tone he affected for mistborn.

I do prefer the darker tone though, so if you know any authors similar to Brandon but who don't pull their punches as much shoot them my way.

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Stormlight has the singers, although they are not at the level with the Kendra. 

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6 hours ago, Kureshi Ironclaw said:

I'll agree that the original mistborn trilogy has a bit more of an edge to stormlight archive but I don't know if that's just a perception coloured by the darker setting. It doesn't really seem to me like any particular story points in mistborn are bolder than in stormlight, but the tone is very different -- far more bleak and hopeless. As far as alien viewpoints go, Spren have some pretty out there views but again they are very different tonally to the Kandra. Brandon seems to use Spren to inject whimsy into the story whereas there was very little whimsy in mistborn by design. I'd say maybe Brandon has mellowed a little bit with age but stormlight is an older story than mistborn even though mistborn came out first and the way of kings was completely rewritten. It's more that the two series are intentionally written in different styles and I think stormlight is closer to Brandon's natural tone as opposed to the dark-Dickensian tone he affected for mistborn.

I do prefer the darker tone though, so if you know any authors similar to Brandon but who don't pull their punches as much shoot them my way.

I agree with this. Stormlight arguably has all the same depth of Plot beats, and 1:1 a lot of similar ones; it's most present in WoR I would argue, which I think hits all three of the OP's bullet points.  Though Taravangian's development happened mostly later and he'd be a big part of the comparison as he's one of the more cynically defendable, if not exactly sympathetic, (since that's how he argued it himself) characters in the cosmere.    

But Stormlight just plain has a lot more material, characters and parallel plots, so the dark elements are more balanced (?) overall with lighter moments than in Mistborn.  

He's also just plain better at actual comedy than he was in his earlier books, and a well-written funny character can go a long way to lightening an otherwise pretty dark story.  Bridge Four's tale of suicide, revenge, and mass slaughter would have been wildly different without Lopen and Rock (both in-world and for the readers) in the mix, or even bubbly Shallan when she's not dragging out her own darkness.

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8 hours ago, Oltux72 said:

It took no half steps in its world building.

  1. It dared you to make a serious case that the extremist was right. On both sides.
  2. He had truly alien characters in the Kandra.

Stormlight does this as well or better.

9 hours ago, Oltux72 said:

Raboniel in the end became a traitor for the sake of ethics.

She was exhausted after 7,000 years of conflict, ethics wasn't part of the equation

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I would argue (quite controversially) that Brandon's writing has never been bold! (le gasp!)

I'll also follow that up with saying what is most bold about Brandon is the idea of a series of interconnected series, and pretty much starting out from that idea instead of stumbling into it. 

But to your point: Mistborn, being a trilogy for its first completed arch, is denser in impactful moments, and you see the results of those moments sooner. 

Stormlight is going to be 5 books for its first completed arch (not to mention the books are longer). Add to this other aspects of its structure, and instead of the straightforward storytelling of Mistborn, you get a more meandering one with Stormlight that involves art, notes, letters, side prose narratives along with the main storyline. 

There's also the complaint I've heard from others IRL that it seems you have to be Cosmere aware to enjoy Stormlight the further we get into it. Think of how bold that is: to appreciate Stormlight, you HAVE to understand the Cosmere wide frame of reference and its place in it.

For Mistborn, you just read the three books and you will be content with the resolution even if you never pick up another Sanderson book again. 

And lest we forget, Elantris is also an early Brandon work and would not really be considered bold by your or mine definition of the word. 

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Define "Bold"

seems like a very vague concept when referring to his books as a whole. 

do you mean "darker"? Sure, mistborn is a little darker than SA but not by much. Taravangian's "hospitals" are storming awful man. 

On 9/20/2021 at 0:19 AM, Oltux72 said:

Szeth for example is sorry he killed so many people. Not furious because he was tricked or abused, but sorry. Contrast this to Kelsier.

I was almost agreeing with you until this point. That's just because they're very different characters! Szeth's entire character is based around his backstory as a Truthless, so his remorse makes perfect sense. 
You just chose 2 random characters and were like "look at this guy, he's brutal and boooold, but look at this guy, who's completely different and unrelated, he isn't brutal and heartless at all!"
SA has some very brutal characters who aren't Szeth. Mraize and the ghostbloods. The Sadeases. Mr. T. Nale. The Blackthorn. Should I go on?
Also, since when is raw "brutalness" a desirable trait to begin with. 

RoW:

Spoiler
On 9/20/2021 at 0:19 AM, Oltux72 said:

Not furious because he was tricked or abused, but sorry.

idk, he seemed pretty furious when he literally killed Taravangian. Or thought that he killed tarvangian. Point is, he tried. 

 

On 9/20/2021 at 0:19 AM, Oltux72 said:

If it required you to see commoner women as sex toys with very low shelf life, so be it.

I believe we have a WoB where brandon says he actually regrets doing this. Take that as you may, I can see how one could view that as supporting your point, but I think it shows him becoming more experienced as a writer, not more mellow. 

So yeah, my final point is that I don't think brandon was bolder back then, I think he was less experienced and it often came across as being "bold".

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I would say that he is just as bold or even more bold now. Mistborn is a very raw book in the sense that people are ruthless, and are quite literally faced with destruction and ruin if they mess up. They are literally walking on the edge of destruction and while he is gutsy for killing off so many people that we fall in love with I think he is even more bold now. Now the books no longer seem as black and white. One of the boldest things he has done recently imo has been to write in detail about things such as depression, inclusion, disability, and do it in a way that doesn't alienate some individuals or show biases/inexperience  in areas that he isn't familiar. Considering my self it would be way easier to write accurately about survival than it would be to a diagnose, represent and grow characters the way he has recently. 

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1 hour ago, Shinwarrior said:

I would say that he is just as bold or even more bold now. Mistborn is a very raw book in the sense that people are ruthless, and are quite literally faced with destruction and ruin if they mess up. They are literally walking on the edge of destruction and while he is gutsy for killing off so many people that we fall in love with I think he is even more bold now. Now the books no longer seem as black and white. One of the boldest things he has done recently imo has been to write in detail about things such as depression, inclusion, disability, and do it in a way that doesn't alienate some individuals or show biases/inexperience  in areas that he isn't familiar. Considering my self it would be way easier to write accurately about survival than it would be to a diagnose, represent and grow characters the way he has recently. 

I think that's more a testament to his skill than boldness.

Edited by Frustration
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8 hours ago, Danex said:

Define "Bold"

seems like a very vague concept when referring to his books as a whole. 

Taking a premise and going with it and its consequences to the very end.

8 hours ago, Danex said:

do you mean "darker"? Sure, mistborn is a little darker than SA but not by much. Taravangian's "hospitals" are storming awful man. 

I was almost agreeing with you until this point. That's just because they're very different characters! Szeth's entire character is based around his backstory as a Truthless, so his remorse makes perfect sense. 

I could have used Dalinar. He evolves into a basically likable, ethical character. A bold choice would have had him turn into a man who sees a need for discipline and planning, but still would consider Rathalas the correct decision.

8 hours ago, Danex said:

RoW:

  Hide contents

idk, he seemed pretty furious when he literally killed Taravangian. Or thought that he killed tarvangian. Point is, he tried. 

You are correct. I should have put it this way: A man who does in some sense move away from the Shin ways. He was legally sentenced. He did his duty, as Nale recognised, Which would lead us to the next example. Nale is mad. Hence his actions are senseless. A bold choice would have been to show us that he perhaps delayed the Desolation for a few years, but at a horrible cost.

7 hours ago, Shinwarrior said:

I would say that he is just as bold or even more bold now. Mistborn is a very raw book in the sense that people are ruthless, and are quite literally faced with destruction and ruin if they mess up. They are literally walking on the edge of destruction and while he is gutsy for killing off so many people that we fall in love with I think he is even more bold now.

  1. The stakes of the Stormlight Archive may be as high as the future of the whole Cosmere. In that sense he is bolder.
  2. Mistborn is bolder in the worldbuilding. Aristocrats we see are haughty. In SA we get shown the tenners. Skaa are things. Alethi slaves get wages.
7 hours ago, Shinwarrior said:

Now the books no longer seem as black and white. One of the boldest things he has done recently imo has been to write in detail about things such as depression, inclusion, disability, and do it in a way that doesn't alienate some individuals or show biases/inexperience  in areas that he isn't familiar. Considering my self it would be way easier to write accurately about survival than it would be to a diagnose, represent and grow characters the way he has recently. 

Yes, there is a boldness of character. But there is a also a boldness of character and worldbuilding. Rashek is a monster and he saved the world. Contrast that to Dalinar who was a monster and is regretting that now while trying to save mankind. Mistborn took the trope of the ultimately necessary evil and went with it all the way. Stormlight Archive can be seen as a grimmer book, if you will. There is no way to undo the harm done to the Singers without an atrocity. But it is not a bolder series. Concepts are taken mellower.

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6 hours ago, Oltux72 said:

Taking a premise and going with it and its consequences to the very end.

That's not neccesarily bold, and doesn't even seem to fit what you want.

If a concept is lighter than so will the consequences, Redemption is a big part of SA, so it will deal with people becoming better.

7 hours ago, Oltux72 said:

could have used Dalinar. He evolves into a basically likable, ethical character. A bold choice would have had him turn into a man who sees a need for discipline and planning, but still would consider Rathalas the correct decision.

You are correct. I should have put it this way: A man who does in some sense move away from the Shin ways. He was legally sentenced. He did his duty, as Nale recognised, Which would lead us to the next example. Nale is mad. Hence his actions are senseless. A bold choice would have been to show us that he perhaps delayed the Desolation for a few years, but at a horrible cost.

  1. The stakes of the Stormlight Archive may be as high as the future of the whole Cosmere. In that sense he is bolder.
  2. Mistborn is bolder in the worldbuilding. Aristocrats we see are haughty. In SA we get shown the tenners. Skaa are things. Alethi slaves get wages.

Yes, there is a boldness of character. But there is a also a boldness of character and worldbuilding. Rashek is a monster and he saved the world. Contrast that to Dalinar who was a monster and is regretting that now while trying to save mankind. Mistborn took the trope of the ultimately necessary evil and went with it all the way. Stormlight Archive can be seen as a grimmer book, if you will. There is no way to undo the harm done to the Singers without an atrocity. But it is not a bolder series. Concepts are taken mellower.

This seems to not be about being bolder, but darker. Which is not the same.

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I think the problem here is that "boldness" isn't binary. It's not like something either is bold or it isn't. Things can be bold in different ways in different contexts for different people.

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2 hours ago, Danex said:

I think the problem here is that "boldness" isn't binary. It's not like something either is bold or it isn't. Things can be bold in different ways in different contexts for different people.

Yeah, but if my "bold" is having fluffy kittens in a story that shouldn't have them and yours is dogs getting kicked, any discussion of "bold" is incoherent. Even a spectrum is defined so that one could identify what is part of it and what lies outside it. 

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I think something that Sanderson has done over the years, with a marked increase in the last few years, is increase his level of diversity in his works and change the tone of his books to be more explicitly "pro-diversity" and socially liberal.  Inclusion is a very worthy goal and I'm glad that there are now more people who can envision themselves in the worlds of the Cosmere.  And understanding the views of the SFF fandom at large I am sure that a large part of his fanbase is cheering loudly for this and more are saying he hasn't gone far enough yet and should go farther.

Respectfully and carefully and with the best of possible intentions, I want to say that I believe there's a risk in this approach too.  I think this tone shift is what has made his work feel more "mellow" and lacking in conflict.  I think over time, Sanderson's work has started to shift to include fewer possible views and ways that someone on the "good team" could think and act.  Mr. T being really the only recent exception as someone who has good side goals but evil side methods.  But think back to Mistborn - you had Vin being the classic "I want to sacrifice myself to save everybody!" hero.  Kelsier was selfish and wanted to save people for his own glory and defeat the Lord Ruler for his own personal ends.  Breeze had questionable ethics in his use of emotional allomancy.  Even the Lord Ruler is revealed to be not exactly what he seems morally.  Mistborn felt like a group of people with diverse viewpoints and moral values coming together to solve a world ending problem.  Stormlight lately feels like a group of people who all have the same views and moral values teaming up to save the world and anyone who might have good goals but different views in how to achieve them is cast as a villain.  Just as an example, I think it would have been more interesting to see "Team Radiant" forced to accept someone like Sadeas or Amaram as part of the alliance to face down Odium and that they hadn't gone full mustache twirling evil.  Instead, they could have been cast more like a Kelsier who used questionable ethics and had selfish motivations but ultimately wanted to do something that would end up being good for everyone.  And now Team Radiant is basically just a group of people who all highly value and promote acceptance and inclusion as the solution to defeating Odium, they just do it in different degrees and slightly different flavors.  Those are, again, noble goals and very good things.  But I believe it would be more interesting if some of the "good guys" had different and conflicting views.  I fully admit this is my own viewpoint and may not be accurate. 

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Posted (edited)

2 hours ago, agrabes said:

Respectfully and carefully and with the best of possible intentions, I want to say that I believe there's a risk in this approach too.  I think this tone shift is what has made his work feel more "mellow" and lacking in conflict.  I think over time, Sanderson's work has started to shift to include fewer possible views and ways that someone on the "good team" could think and act.  Mr. T being really the only recent exception as someone who has good side goals but evil side methods.  But think back to Mistborn - you had Vin being the classic "I want to sacrifice myself to save everybody!" hero.  Kelsier was selfish and wanted to save people for his own glory and defeat the Lord Ruler for his own personal ends.  Breeze had questionable ethics in his use of emotional allomancy.  Even the Lord Ruler is revealed to be not exactly what he seems morally.  Mistborn felt like a group of people with diverse viewpoints and moral values coming together to solve a world ending problem.  Stormlight lately feels like a group of people who all have the same views and moral values teaming up to save the world and anyone who might have good goals but different views in how to achieve them is cast as a villain.  Just as an example, I think it would have been more interesting to see "Team Radiant" forced to accept someone like Sadeas or Amaram as part of the alliance to face down Odium and that they hadn't gone full mustache twirling evil.  Instead, they could have been cast more like a Kelsier who used questionable ethics and had selfish motivations but ultimately wanted to do something that would end up being good for everyone.  And now Team Radiant is basically just a group of people who all highly value and promote acceptance and inclusion as the solution to defeating Odium, they just do it in different degrees and slightly different flavors.  Those are, again, noble goals and very good things.  But I believe it would be more interesting if some of the "good guys" had different and conflicting views.  I fully admit this is my own viewpoint and may not be accurate. 

I see and acknowledge your point, but I gotta disagree. First (although this isn't really my point), to name some instances where this has been treated differently in recent years: Jasnah proposes genocide as a solution to their problems in Oathbringer, Wayne is a morally uncomfortable character to a degree that bothers a lot of readers of Mistborn Era 2. You could call Harmony one of the "good guys" of Era 2, and the ending of Shadow of Self is all about difficult, morally questionable decisions that were the best option. I haven't read Lux yet, but from what I've gathered, the main characters in there are morally more in a gray area than in the original Reckoners books ... to name some examples. Now, I agree that most of Brandon's main characters still tend to be heroic, by a long shot! But that's not something that ever changed, because that was always the case. It was the same with Elantris and Warbreaker, for instance. Mistborn is actually the exception across the board. I think you should also keep in mind that the main characters in Stormlight would basically break their bonds if their weren't heroic, so them being the good guys is written into the magic system. So at least there's good reasons for it in this series: If they weren't "good", most of them wouldn't have their bonds anyway and therefore wouldn't be important for the story.

As a result, I also disagree that the heroic nature of the characters in his stories is a result of his attempts to be more inclusive. Instead, they are a conscious attempt at reflecting his own view of mankind, which is an optimistic one in contrast to the pessimistic one that was popular in the genre when he got published (and is still popular now). He talks about it a bit here and here.

So I believe that you (understandably) came to this conclusion because Mistborn is the story that has the most antihero characters and was incidentally one of his first published stories. But apart from that one he was always on the side of "many heroic characters that have to make some hard decisions here and there, with a few morally gray characters thrown in there". Even before he got published. There's not a lot of antiheroes in White Sand, if you read the unpublished manuscript. He didn't change in that regard, but he bent his rules a bit for Mistborn, which was early enough in his publishing career to make it seem like he changed. But looking at it more closely, I think it's safe to say that he didn't. If you're looking for the problematic main characters, you won't find more of them in the pre-Mistborn stuff than after it.

(All that said, much respects to the careful way you phrased your comment!)

Edited by Elegy
some phrasing
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2 hours ago, Elegy said:

I see and acknowledge your point, but I gotta disagree. First (although this isn't really my point), to name some instances where this has been treated differently in recent years: Jasnah proposes genocide as a solution to their problems in Oathbringer, Wayne is a morally uncomfortable character to a degree that bothers a lot of readers of Mistborn Era 2. You could call Harmony one of the "good guys" of Era 2, and the ending of Shadow of Self is all about difficult, morally questionable decisions that were the best option. I haven't read Lux yet, but from what I've gathered, the main characters in there are morally more in a gray area than in the original Reckoners books ... to name some examples. Now, I agree that most of Brandon's main characters still tend to be heroic, by a long shot! But that's not something that ever changed, because that was always the case. It was the same with Elantris and Warbreaker, for instance. Mistborn is actually the exception across the board. I think you should also keep in mind that the main characters in Stormlight would basically break their bonds if their weren't heroic, so them being the good guys is written into the magic system. So at least there's good reasons for it in this series: If they weren't "good", most of them wouldn't have their bonds anyway and therefore wouldn't be important for the story.

As a result, I also disagree that the heroic nature of the characters in his stories is a result of his attempts to be more inclusive. Instead, they are a conscious attempt at reflecting his own view of mankind, which is an optimistic one in contrast to the pessimistic one that was popular in the genre when he got published (and is still popular now). He talks about it a bit here and here.

So I believe that you (understandably) came to this conclusion because Mistborn is the story that has the most antihero characters and was incidentally one of his first published stories. But apart from that one he was always on the side of "many heroic characters that have to make some hard decisions here and there, with a few morally gray characters thrown in there". Even before he got published. There's not a lot of antiheroes in White Sand, if you read the unpublished manuscript. He didn't change in that regard, but he bent his rules a bit for Mistborn, which was early enough in his publishing career to make it seem like he changed. But looking at it more closely, I think it's safe to say that he didn't. If you're looking for the problematic main characters, you won't find more of them in the pre-Mistborn stuff than after it.

(All that said, much respects to the careful way you phrased your comment!)

I think that's a very fair point - and I do totally understand that Sanderson's own personal views on mankind aren't really compatible with grimdark and anti-heroes and he's made that clear.  Honestly, that outlook is one of the reasons I like him, especially at the time of his earlier writing where he was such a breath of fresh air among all that dark fantasy that was coming out.  I do agree that Sanderson's books have (generally) never had tons of morally grey characters and heroes.  And you do point out clearly that there are still -some- characters in more recent books who propose morally gray solutions. I think something I've realized feels missing is that I don't remember as many moral questions about what the heroes should do where reasonable readers could choose different sides.  Something like Jasnah suggesting genocide of the Parshmen/Parshendi is a great moral question for the reader to think about with rational arguments on both sides.  It's terrible, but could also save the lives of millions or billions.  And it was a real course of action being considered by someone in a position of power.  The contrast in style between Dalinar and Sadeas was also a moral question - Sadeas got results and in his own way believed that he was doing what was best for the people of Roshar and even for his own people.  He even had some arguments to use in his favor.  It doesn't mean he was right, but he was aiming for something that could be factually considered beneficial to his people.  We all agree Dalinar was right, but there was a real argument presented by Adolin that it would have benefited his people if Dalinar would have been more like Sadeas (not all the way).

It has felt to me like the trend in "everybody gets along" has really accelerated post Oathbringer.  I felt like Oathbringer was the first few small steps in that direction.  A good example is the change in treatment of Amaram's character from WoR to OB.  In WoR, Amaram was generally portrayed as someone who had done good in his life except for the one heinous crime he committed against Kaladin and his squad which he rationally argued was justified.  He made choices that definitely made him a bad person, but he still wanted to do good.  The Amaram/Kaladin/Dalinar plot of WoR was great because it brought Dalinar and Kaladin into conflict and Dalinar had every reason to stand by Amaram and give him the benefit of the doubt.  By the time we reached OB, Amaram was no longer a man who had noble ideals but was willing to do something immoral to achieve them weighing the lives of the few against the lives of the many - he'd become a one note villain who was implied to have (at minimum) committed constant sexual harassment if not worse.  None of that had been hinted at in his character development before.  Amaram was only a relatively small side character, so it wasn't that important overall.  I think looking at Starsight, Dawnshard, and RoW you've seen Sanderson's writing move sharply more towards the direction of minimal conflict among protagonists, shift in tone to focus more on socially liberal themes, increased focus on inclusion/diversity, etc.  I haven't read all of his more minor books - Lux, Perfect State, Dark One, etc so maybe his writing is different there.  Maybe it's not Sanderson that's changed, but me - maybe my tastes have shifted more toward the less optimistic version of fantasy.  It could also be the point we are in the story - in tWoK and WoR we still had "antagonistic allies" for our heroes, but by OB the plot had moved along and these "antagonistic allies" had shaken out into full blown enemies.

Either way, it's just interesting to hear what someone else has to say about this.  And it does make me wonder if it's more my own tastes that changed or his writing.

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16 hours ago, agrabes said:

I think something that Sanderson has done over the years, with a marked increase in the last few years, is increase his level of diversity in his works and change the tone of his books to be more explicitly "pro-diversity" and socially liberal.

Yes. That by itself is not a problem. The question is whether this has happened at the expense of other qualities.

16 hours ago, agrabes said:

Respectfully and carefully and with the best of possible intentions, I want to say that I believe there's a risk in this approach too.  I think this tone shift is what has made his work feel more "mellow" and lacking in conflict.

I see no logical necessity for that. It is possible that it has happened, but as far as I can see those two developments, while I am also observing them, are independent.

16 hours ago, agrabes said:

I think over time, Sanderson's work has started to shift to include fewer possible views and ways that someone on the "good team" could think and act.  Mr. T being really the only recent exception as someone who has good side goals but evil side methods. 

Indeed. And in the interest of honesty I have to say that this makes for books worse than they could be.

16 hours ago, agrabes said:

Just as an example, I think it would have been more interesting to see "Team Radiant" forced to accept someone like Sadeas or Amaram as part of the alliance to face down Odium and that they hadn't gone full mustache twirling evil.  Instead, they could have been cast more like a Kelsier who used questionable ethics and had selfish motivations but ultimately wanted to do something that would end up being good for everyone.  And now Team Radiant is basically just a group of people who all highly value and promote acceptance and inclusion as the solution to defeating Odium, they just do it in different degrees and slightly different flavors.  Those are, again, noble goals and very good things.  But I believe it would be more interesting if some of the "good guys" had different and conflicting views.  I fully admit this is my own viewpoint and may not be accurate. 

Yes. And this has led to glaring shortcomings. Meridas Amaram in the latter half of Oathbringer - I am sorry to put it bluntly - is not a believable character.

14 hours ago, Elegy said:

Now, I agree that most of Brandon's main characters still tend to be heroic, by a long shot! But that's not something that ever changed, because that was always the case. It was the same with Elantris and Warbreaker, for instance. Mistborn is actually the exception across the board.

No, definitrely no. You cannot get more heroic than calmly planning to use your own death as a tool. In that regard the later books are an improvement. They include characters like Vasher and Venli who show a realistic sense of selfpreservation.

14 hours ago, Elegy said:

I think you should also keep in mind that the main characters in Stormlight would basically break their bonds if their weren't heroic, so them being the good guys is written into the magic system. So at least there's good reasons for it in this series: If they weren't "good", most of them wouldn't have their bonds anyway and therefore wouldn't be important for the story.

Nale's spren is well. As is Malata's and the Stormfather looked at Gavilar. Those people are still in the books. Straight evil people are boring. But that the main characters portraited as the good side have gone more mainstream and mellow is also true.

The best examples are actually Moash and Venli. Moash had his reasons. Now he is straight up evil. Likewise Venli could have been the one who saw her people's fate realistically and did what she felt she had to do, yet failed, but Rhythm of War portrayed her as a tool of a voidspren.

14 hours ago, Elegy said:

So I believe that you (understandably) came to this conclusion because Mistborn is the story that has the most antihero characters and was incidentally one of his first published stories. But apart from that one he was always on the side of "many heroic characters that have to make some hard decisions here and there, with a few morally gray characters thrown in there". Even before he got published. There's not a lot of antiheroes in White Sand, if you read the unpublished manuscript.

You will find extreme counterexamples in other unpublished works. (I don't want to say too much in this forum)

Even in later works you do. Vasher can be seen as somebody who is ready to stiffle science and free speech for the greater good. I disagree with him, in fact I hate the character, but he was a bold choice. In a certain sense Lirin is such a choice in the other direction, but you are supposed to be disgusted by the way he treats his eldest son. And it would have been easy to vindicate him. Just have the invaders execute some hostages in reprisal for what Kaladin did.

11 hours ago, agrabes said:

It doesn't mean he was right, but he was aiming for something that could be factually considered beneficial to his people.  We all agree Dalinar was right, but there was a real argument presented by Adolin that it would have benefited his people if Dalinar would have been more like Sadeas (not all the way).

Indeed, that is the popularity of Adolin. He stands with Maya no matter what and solves a problem with cold steel. Has anybody ever seen his similarity to Kelsier?

 

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6 hours ago, Oltux72 said:

Yes. And this has led to glaring shortcomings. Meridas Amaram in the latter half of Oathbringer - I am sorry to put it bluntly - is not a believable character.

He was just as believable as he always was.

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On 10/5/2021 at 9:44 AM, agrabes said:

I think something that Sanderson has done over the years, with a marked increase in the last few years, is increase his level of diversity in his works and change the tone of his books to be more explicitly "pro-diversity" and socially liberal.  Inclusion is a very worthy goal and I'm glad that there are now more people who can envision themselves in the worlds of the Cosmere.  And understanding the views of the SFF fandom at large I am sure that a large part of his fanbase is cheering loudly for this and more are saying he hasn't gone far enough yet and should go farther.

Respectfully and carefully and with the best of possible intentions, I want to say that I believe there's a risk in this approach too.  I think this tone shift is what has made his work feel more "mellow" and lacking in conflict.  I think over time, Sanderson's work has started to shift to include fewer possible views and ways that someone on the "good team" could think and act.  Mr. T being really the only recent exception as someone who has good side goals but evil side methods.  But think back to Mistborn - you had Vin being the classic "I want to sacrifice myself to save everybody!" hero.  Kelsier was selfish and wanted to save people for his own glory and defeat the Lord Ruler for his own personal ends.  Breeze had questionable ethics in his use of emotional allomancy.  Even the Lord Ruler is revealed to be not exactly what he seems morally.  Mistborn felt like a group of people with diverse viewpoints and moral values coming together to solve a world ending problem.  Stormlight lately feels like a group of people who all have the same views and moral values teaming up to save the world and anyone who might have good goals but different views in how to achieve them is cast as a villain.  Just as an example, I think it would have been more interesting to see "Team Radiant" forced to accept someone like Sadeas or Amaram as part of the alliance to face down Odium and that they hadn't gone full mustache twirling evil.  Instead, they could have been cast more like a Kelsier who used questionable ethics and had selfish motivations but ultimately wanted to do something that would end up being good for everyone.  And now Team Radiant is basically just a group of people who all highly value and promote acceptance and inclusion as the solution to defeating Odium, they just do it in different degrees and slightly different flavors.  Those are, again, noble goals and very good things.  But I believe it would be more interesting if some of the "good guys" had different and conflicting views.  I fully admit this is my own viewpoint and may not be accurate. 

Well to be fair one could easily consider Adolin's murdering of Sadeas to be an example of using questionable means to achieve a greater good.

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37 minutes ago, nehalem said:

Well to be fair one could easily consider Adolin's murdering of Sadeas to be an example of using questionable means to achieve a greater good.

Yes, you can indeed see it as questionable means. However, you can make the case that it was a good thing in itself by irregular means. There can be little doubt that Sadeas was a traitor and an impartial court would have found him guilty. So you can make a very good case that while that murder was a case of vigilantism, it still was justice.

While you hopefully will not make the case that Kelsier wiping out whole noble families including children, barely sparing the pregnant women was a good thing. You might call it a necessary evil and hence justified, but still an evil. I hope that distinction is clear and shows what I meant by being bolder.

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I'd say that Taravangian is just about the boldest character Brandon's made. He killed tens or hundreds of thousands of people because he genuinely believed that they would all die anyways. In return for killing so many people, all he asked of Odium was the salvation of his city. He had a goal, and he stuck to that goal. You mention Dalinar's character growth, saying that it would be bolder if he still thought that the Rift had been the correct decision; Taravangian is the kind of man that thinks the rift was the correct decision, and, despite attempts by several sympathetic characters, he has not changed. Upon taking up a shard, instead of coming to the realization that he had been wrong to kill those people and stopping the war between mankind and the singers, he immediately began planning how to use those people he had wanted to save in order to "save" the people of the entire Cosmere. He is a far bolder character than Kelsier, who has been changed by characters like Vin.

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12 hours ago, Nameless said:

I'd say that Taravangian is just about the boldest character Brandon's made. He killed tens or hundreds of thousands of people because he genuinely believed that they would all die anyways. In return for killing so many people, all he asked of Odium was the salvation of his city. He had a goal, and he stuck to that goal.

In a certain sense for sure. But he is an antagonist. An evil villain does not make a bold book. Contrast that to The Lord Ruler who was almost a cartoon evil overlord to the point of even spilling blood in rivers. Yet his plan B saved Scadrian mankind.

Yet Vin's selfless act set them on a path of doom.

 

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7 hours ago, Oltux72 said:

In a certain sense for sure. But he is an antagonist. An evil villain does not make a bold book. Contrast that to The Lord Ruler who was almost a cartoon evil overlord to the point of even spilling blood in rivers. Yet his plan B saved Scadrian mankind.

Yet Vin's selfless act set them on a path of doom.

 

You have it backwards, TLR's plan failed, and nothing he could have done would have saved Scadrial

And Vin followed Leras's plan to the point of success.

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23 minutes ago, Frustration said:

You have it backwards, TLR's plan failed, and nothing he could have done would have saved Scadrial

And Vin followed Leras's plan to the point of success.

I am afraid I have to beg to differ. Without his bunkers few would have been left when Vin took up the Shard. And the one carrying out the plan had to get her to the Shard. So while she eventually executed a part of the plan, her role was as a fighter only. A plan that Leras hoped to postpone for as long as possible doubting its chances of success.

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9 minutes ago, Oltux72 said:

I am afraid I have to beg to differ. Without his bunkers few would have been left when Vin took up the Shard. And the one carrying out the plan had to get her to the Shard. So while she eventually executed a part of the plan, her role was as a fighter only. A plan that Leras hoped to postpone for as long as possible doubting its chances of success.

His bunkers would have done nothing if it weren't for Vin, nothing he did would have done anything without Vin and Sazed.

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