Stormlight Archive 5 delayed and Hollywood is to blame
Alas. We suspected that this would be the case for some time now, but it has finally be confirmed: Stormlight 5 won't be coming until 2024. Though the reason why certainly isn't quite what we expected...
Brandon Sanderson did a Reddit AMA (ask me anything) with subreddit r/books last week, and u/VeryNiceName16 asked about the plan for the "Stormlight 4.5 novella" (tentatively titled Horneater) amid everything else going on in 2023. Which, if you've give a moment of thought for Brandon's release schedule for 2023, is a darn good question! We've got four Secret Project books, Defiant (Skyward 4), AND supposedly Stormlight Archive 5? Not to mention the Words of Radiance leatherbounds and several other smaller projects that might be coming along. I don't know about you, but I'm already sweating thinking about how much work it will be just to keep up!
Progress on Stormlight 5 has been slow of course, and Brandon finally confirmed what we all expected: the Stormlight 5 release just isn't going to happen in 2023 after all. While some people might be bummed by this, I have to say that I'm honestly a bit relieved. With so much content coming out, I'm more than grateful that we're getting a bit of extra time so that we can properly digest it all.
This delay should come as no surprise. Brandon's fastest turnaround time on a Stormlight book was Rhythm of War, which he started writing in early 2019 and was able to finish by the end of that year. Sanderson's plan was to start Stormlight 5 at the beginning of this year to hit the November 2023 release... Well, we're currently a little over halfway through the year and the first draft status bar is sitting at a mere 7%, with a few more weeks of Secret Project 3 revisions still on his plate first. Keep in mind Brandon will still have to work on revisions for Secret Project 4 and Defiant at some point as well. All of that to say, it would seem that he's roughly 6 months behind schedule as it stands, and that could slip a bit further. Brandon stressed at JordanCon 2021 that he will allow Stormlight 5's schedule to slide back if necessary. It's the "end of a sequence," as he called it, and he needs to make sure that sequence sticks the landing.
Brandon went a step further though to clarify why Stormlight 5 has been a bit slow-going, and it's not primarily due to the Secret Projects or any other writing projects: it's movie and television stuff.
It was ALSO at JordcanCon 2021 that Sanderson gave one of the biggest teases about about potential adaptations in quite some time: saying that if we "read in between the lines" we might be able to put some things together even though he couldn't announce anything official. In the recent AMA, he opened up a bit more on this saying: "This is the year that Hollywood came calling." With the success lately of various fantasy properties proving that Game of Thrones wasn't a fluke, streaming services, execs, and producers are on the hunt for more. Guess whose name shows up as the top bestselling author with no adaptations made? Brandon Sanderson has been getting a lot of their attention, and the recent Secret Project Kickstarter success only added more fuel to the fire. The result? Lots of phone calls and lots of meetings with several major streaming services and studios. (Netflix was one he named in particular.)
Brandon explained earlier in the AMA that he's doing everything he can to earn a relatively high level of involvement and creative control over any adaptations that come about, and the bargaining power that he seems to hold is sure to be a big help. Apparently Hollywood doesn't know what to do with someone who doesn't need their money?
It's important to stress that we do NOT know the status of any movie or television deals. While it's possible that something in particular is in progress, it's also possible that Sanderson is still working through negotiations to make sure they get the best deal they can. And let's not forget that even from the time of an announcement, it's a long road to seeing an adaptation on our screens.
One thing seems clear however: it's a question of when, not if.
The same is thankfully true of Stormlight Archive novels. While Stormlight 5 is expected to be delayed, we at least know that we can trust Sanderson to get it done as soon as he is able. As for u/VeryNiceName16's question that sparked all this? Brandon did confirm that Horneater is very much on his to-do list after Stormlight 5 is written. So perhaps we'll get a little something extra to tide us over in the months before the next novel? Which I say as if half a dozen other books in 2023 aren't already enough to do that!