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Adien and Identity

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So when I first read Elantris, I thought it was kind of odd that Adien's autism was just healed when Raoden heals Elantris. Since autism is connected to increased memorization and perception, as displayed in Adien's knowledge of distances, I wasn't sure how that would transfer after the healing.

Now that I know more about the Cosmere and how healing works to form one's ideal self, I believe it's more likely that whatever made him unable to communicate was healed, rather than the entirety of his autism.

"I...I feel like my entire life has been a dream, Raoden. I remember everything that happened. But I couldn't interact - I couldn't say anything. That's changed now, but one thing remains the same. My mind ... I've always been able to figure numbers..."

Going off of this quote after he healed, it seems like his ideal self would be able to interact with others, but he would also retain his mind as it was. I thought it would be neat if in the next book, he's written as a high-functioning autistic rather than a regular Elantrian that is good with numbers. I'm curious as to what others think about this, let me know!

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Brandon does want to write Adien better after writing Steris and Renarin:



Are you planning on using what you learned from writing Renarin and Steris to improve the characterization of Adien when you write Elantris 2?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. Adien is one of my-- regrets is probably the wrong term. But I talked earlier about coming to terms with the fact that as you grow as a writer, there are certain things that you will have done less well then you can do them now. I consider Steris and Renarin my-- Again, apology's the wrong term. I tried very hard when I wrote Elantris. I was not the writer I am today, and I did not have access to the helpful readers who could point me-- you know, by writing Adien a little pop culture-y, the pop culture version of someone with autism, I was able to be told by people, "you know, this is kind of a stereotype." What Adien is does exist, but very rarely, and if you wanna have a more complete picture of it, you should read this resource or talk to this person. That's one of those areas that, here I thought I was being all forward thinking. And I did something that perpetuated a stereotype at the same time. That's not something I think you need to be embarrassed of, as a writer, as long as you're willing to listen and do better.

Read For Pixels 2018 (Sept. 1, 2018)

We do have confirmation that Adien would appear in the sequels as a major character:


Brandon Sanderson

Adien's Secret I almost cut this entire twist from the book. I've never been happy with how it worked out, and I think there are–as I've mentioned–still a few too many surprises and twists at the end of the book. (Though, I have fixed it somewhat. It used to be that virtually EVERYONE had a secret past or personality trait that came out in these last four chapters.) Anyway, I don't like the Adien twist–it lacks power since we don't really care about him, and his character–the autistic–isn't terribly original anyway.

I've left the Adien twist in for a single reason. However, it's a bit of a spoiler, so I'll put it invisible for those of you who haven't read the ending yet. You can come back and read this later.

Anyway, Adien is my planned hero for book two. I like the concept of a healed autistic being the hero of the next book. And, since he's so good with numbers, he would be incredibly powerful at AonDor. I think he'd be a compelling character to look at, so I left him in this book in case I wanted to use him in the next one.

Adien has been an Elantrian for some time. That's why Kiin's family knows so much about Elantrians. Read back to the earlier chapters, and you'll see a scene or two where Sarene wonders why they know so much about Elantris and its occupants. They hid Adien's transformation with makeup, and his autism kept him out of social circles anyway, so no one really paid much attention to the fact that he was never around.

Elantris Annotations (April 15, 2006)

Brandon Sanderson

As a side note, I'm planning this seon here to make an appearance in the sequel (if I write one.) She would be Adien's own seon, as he would probably be the hero of the sequel. (Along with his brother and sister.) For those of you who think I didn't deal enough with the seons in this book—the sequel would have strong focus on them. In fact, I'm tempted to make this seon a viewpoint character. However, that would bump me up to four characters, which wouldn't let me use the chapter triad system.

Elantris Annotations (July 15, 2005)

Brandon Sanderson

Speaking of sequels, here's what I'M planning. A book that takes place ten years after the events of ELANTRIS. It would occur in the capitol city of Fjorden, and would star Kiin's children as viewpoint characters along with a Seon viewpoint character. The plot of the book: Wyrn has declared that Jaddeth, the Derethi God, is going to finally return. (A new interpretation of the scriptures says that he'll return when everyone east of the mountains converts, so they don't have to worry about Teod and Arelon.) Kiin's family, ambassadors to the Fjordell state, has to deal with the chaos of this announcement, and investigate the truth behind the Dakhor magic. Thoughts?

Footnote: This page is no longer on Brandon's website; the date is taken from the Theoryland entry.
Brandon's Blog 2004 (Oct. 1, 2004)


It would be better, both in a narrative sense and for better representation that Adien would be high-functioning Autistic rather than completely cured, in my opinion

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