Transcript of Our First Interview

Our first audio interview with Brandon Sanderson has been transcribed! Many thanks to Morderkaine on the forums for providing a faithful raw transcription, and for Ryan's editing job. You can read about Morderkaine's effort here.


17th Shard: Hey everyone, welcome to 17th Shard's exclusive interview with Brandon Sanderson. In attendance from 17th Shard are Eric, Josh and Mi'ch. This interview is mostly spoiler free, but at the end there are some Mistborn questions that do contain spoilers. We'll warn you before we get to that point. That notwithstanding, we'll mostly ask general stuff about The Way of Kings. We're all very exited for this so lets get right to it.

17th Shard: Ok, the first question is, why did you change the main character's name to "Kaladin" in the final draft?

Brandon: Excellent question. I see you're stealing all of my annotation questions that I would ask myself. For those of you who don't know, the character's original name was Merin. The change was a very hard decision because the history of Way of Kings goes back so far. You know, I started writing about and working on Merin as a character in the year 2000, so he'd been around for almost a decade in my head as who he was.

A couple of things sparked the change. Number one, I'd never really been pleased with the name. I had been doggedly attached to it, despite the fact that all of my alpha readers on the original Way of Kings, Way of Kings Prime we'll call it now, said, "This sounds like a girl's name." I'm like, "Well…you know, sometimes in different cultures names sound like girls' names. I've recently discovered that Bilbo and Frodo's actual names are "Bilba" and "Froda". Those are their actual names; that's what they say in-world and in the appendices. Tolkien in one of his appendices said, "I english-ized them to make them sound more more masculine for the 'translation' of the Lord of the Rings books, but they would actually call themselves Bilba and Froda." So, anyway, Merin sounded a little bit feminine, but still I dug in my heels.

One of the concepts for the new Way of Kings is Kaladin's arc as a character. In Way of Kings Prime he makes a decision very early in the book, and in The Way of Kings I wanted to have him make the opposite decision. There's a big decision that comes to him and it's almost like these two books are branching paths from that moment in a lot of ways. And so it's going to be a very interesting process when I eventually let people read Way of Kings Prime, which I won't right now because it has spoilers for the rest of the series, but you can see how all the characters go in different directions from that moment and they also change slightly. It's like an alternate world version of the book you're reading.

So, point number two was that I started to feel he's changed so much as a person I can no longer think of him as the same character. Point number three was that, as I am now working on The Wheel of Time, having a character whose name sounded a lot like Perrin started to be problem to me. Particularly since in Way of Kings Prime Merin was not the main character but in this Way of Kings he is. Way of Kings Prime was much more evenly divided between the characters, but in the published book he gets essentially double the space, and so he becomes the main character. I felt I wanted the main character of this book to have a much stronger, perhaps a little more mythic name. I tried lots and lots of names before I eventually settled on "Kaladin".

17th Shard: Kaladin does sound like a much more powerful a name.

Brandon: Yeah, it's a much better name. I'm very happy we did it, but we changed it on like the last draft, so it was very surprising to my editor and to my writing group when all of a sudden he changed to a different name.

17th Shard: We know it's not your job to pick cover artists, of course, but do you have any idea if Michael Whelan will make additional Stormlight Archive covers, or will it be different artists each time?

Brandon: Another good question. This one I don't quite know the answer to. The thing is, Whelan is so busy and does so few covers that it'll come down to whether he has the time and is willing to. We would certainly like him to do more, and I've heard news around Tor that they're optimistic for him doing the rest of the series. But, like I've said, I felt like it was incredibly fortunate that we got him to do one. You'll notice that he doesn't even do whole series for some of his favorite authors anymore. For example, Tad Williams's latest in the Shadowmarch series. He did the first cover in the series, and they had someone else do the other covers. I don't know the details of that but I suspect it had something to do with the fact that Michael Whelan likes to do his fine art. As a favor to people he'll do the occasional brilliant, beautiful cover but then he wants to go back and I can't blame him for that. So we'll see what happens when the second book is ready for a cover.

17th Shard: What's it feel like to finally have your baby released to the public? It's probably a very different feeling from any of your other book launches.

Brandon: Yeah.

17th Shard: Are you more nervous than usual or have the positive ARC compliments made you feel fairly confident?

Brandon: I'm more nervous than normal. It has been my baby for a long time, and I got Tor to invest so much into it, what with the cover, the interior art, the end pages, the really nice printing, and the sheer length of it. Tor would really rather not publish books of this length. The rest of the series will be shorter; I promised that to them. I do want to warn readers that the 400,000 word length is not going to be the standard for the series. They're probably going to be more like 300,000 words, which is what this one should have been, but I just couldn't get it down. It was right for the book for it to be this length.

I'm worried about it for a couple of reasons. Number one, it is a departure for me in a couple of ways. I've been planning a big massive epic for a long time but I only wanted to have one or two big massive epics. My Adonalsium mythos couldn't support multiples of something this long and so a lot of my other books are much more fast-paced and I do wonder what readers are going to think of a much larger more epic story, because it is going to have a different feel.

It's happened every time I've released a book though; Warbreaker felt very different from Mistborn, which felt very different from Elantris. Way of Kings feels very different from all of those as well so I'm worried that there are a lot of readers who are not going to like it as much. I hope that there are a lot of readers who are going to like it more, but we'll have to just see what people think of it.

17th Shard: On later Stormlight Archive novels will there always be one character we get to see flashbacks for?

Brandon: Yes, and it should rotate to different characters. I have not yet decided who gets book two yet. It's really between Dalinar and Shallan and I go back and forth on whose story I want to tell next. [Editor's Note: In this blog post, Brandon has stated that he's now leaning more towards Shallan for book two.]

17th Shard: So, does that mean there's going to be 10 different characters that would be seen?

Brandon: It's very likely there will be 10 different characters. The only caveat on that is that part of me really wants to do a second Kaladin book. And so I haven't quite decided who gets flashback books. You can probably guess from reading this book some of them who do. But there are some that don't necessarily absolutely need them, so Kaladin may get a second flashback book.

17th Shard: So, fingers crossed, fingers crosses, will Szeth get one?

Brandon: Szeth will get a book.

17th Shard: YES! (laughter) We're all cheering.

Brandon: Yes, Szeth will get a book. Shallan and Dalinar will get books.

17th Shard: Adolin?

Brandon: Um…I'm not sure on him yet. He's one that could, maybe not. I mean he's got some interesting things going on but we'll see how the series progresses first. There are characters who will get flashback books that you haven't yet met or at least not spent much time with.

17th Shard: You've told us that you took the idea of the Shattered Plains from Dragonsteel into Way of Kings and reading Way of Kings it's hard to imagine the book without them. What did Roshar look like without them? Can you walk us through the process of moving that concept from that series to this one?

Brandon: Yeah, it looked pretty much like it looks in the books, but Way of Kings Prime takes place mostly in Kholinar and in a location that has not yet been talked about in the books.

Ah…it took place in another location, how about that?

One of the big things with this book is, as I was saying, that I think I started [Way of Kings Prime] in the wrong place. I moved some things back in time and some things forward in time. For instance, if you ever read Way of Kings Prime, the prologue to Way of Kings Prime is now the epilogue to The Ways of Kings. You know, the thing that happens in the epilogue with the thumping on the door and the arrival of a certain individual? That scene is now from Wit's viewpoint which it wasn't before. Pull Wit out of that scene and you'll get almost exactly [what happened] in the [original] prologue. So, the timing has been changed around a lot.

As I was playing with this book I found that, like I said, one of the big things I had a problem with was that I felt that Kaladin had taken the easy route when he needed to take the hard route. I was really looking for a good plot cycle. I needed something to pull this book together. I had characters but I didn't have a plot and I've mentioned before that sometimes things come [to me] in different orders. In this book world and character came to me, in fact character came to me first, world came second and then I was building the plot around it. I knew the plot of the entire epic and the entire series but I needed a much stronger plot for book one. Because of the various things that are happening I wanted to deal with a war.

So I was planning a war away from Alethkar, and I'm trying to decide what I'm going to do with this war. Meanwhile I have Inkthinker, Ben McSweeney, doing concept art for me to use in my pitch to Tom Doherty at Tor and he says, "Hey, I just drew up this sketch of some creature that lives at the bottom of a chasm, what do you think?" And he showed me this.


I told him that we were looking for kind of above water coral reef formations, and he sends me this brain coral, which is essentially the Shattered Plains with a big monster living at the bottom and I'm like, "Wow!" I actually did a book where this was essentially the setting. I looked at that, and that's actually what made me say, "Wait a minute, could I transpose this and would the Shattered Plains actually make more sense on Roshar than they ever did on Yolen?" I started playing with that concept and I absolutely fell in love with the idea. Unfortunately for Dragonsteel, that was the only really good plot cycle from that book.

[You can read Ben's take on this story here. That's also where we got the images, which we've used with permission. —ed]

So, I ripped it out of that book and I put it here, and that means it brought with it a few side characters who no longer live on Yolen because they now live on Roshar. Rock is one of them, though he's been changed. When he came along the Horneaters were born; they had not been in the books before. For those who have read Dragonsteel, he was Ke'Chan [a nationality, not a name. —ed] in that book. I couldn't bring that culture because that culture is extremely vital to [Dragonsteel]. I can bring a plot cycle or a little region, and there's certain things you can pull out of a book without ruining the soul of what the book is. I couldn't take the Ke'Chan out of Dragonsteel; they're just part of what that book is and so Rock had to change nationalities. I had to build him his own nationality, a new culture essentially just for him. And yeah, it worked wonderfully.

Someday I'll let you have that art, and if you remind me to ask Peter you can probably post it with the interview. As you can just see it's not the way that it ended up being because it looks different from how the Shattered Plains turned out, but it was the spark that made me say, "Let's move this over."

17th Shard: That's cool, so basically Inkthinker's responsible for the Shattered Plains?

Brandon: Inkthinker is responsible for them moving to the new book, yes.

17th Shard: That's pretty cool.

Brandon: Yeah.

17th Shard: What can you tell us about the Knights Radiant?

Brandon: Um…what can I tell you that's not in the books?

17th Shard: A little more about them.

Brandon: There were 10 orders of Knights Radiant. Each order was based on a combination of two of the "smaller" magic systems in this world, so to speak. You combine two of them together and they each had something kind of "their own". So if you look at the map in the front of the magic system and you mark circles that include one large circle and two of the smaller circles in between, you can find the 10 orders right on there. The mini circles are the powers and the big circles represent the orders and the essences and things like that. So one big circle, two little circles equals an order of Knights Radiant.

17th Shard: Please explain the arches and symbols that are seen at the beginning of each chapter and why you decided to do them.

Brandon: The arches and symbols are a series of arches and symbols at the beginnings of chapters.

17th Shard: (laughter)

Brandon: There's an explanation for you. They rotate and change for every chapter. What they mean should be intuitively obvious to the casual observer, as Robert Jordan used to say.

17th Shard: (laughter)

Brandon: I decided to use them because I wanted to have interesting things at the start of each chapter. These were done by Isaac [Editor's Note: This is the same Isaac that did the Allomantic symbols for Mistborn]. I originally sat down with Isaac and said, "I want to be able to build symbols at the beginning of my chapters. Something like in The Wheel of Time, which I really like, but I don't want to imitate them, I want to go somewhere different. I want to have different pieces that interlock together that form some stonework symbol that's at the beginning of every chapter." I also told him what I wanted the symbols to mean (among other things) and he actually transmogrified all that into an archway. I had originally been planning it to be some sort of inscribed rock stamp or something like a little relief at the beginning of each chapter, but he persuaded me that an archway with a different kind of symbol in the center [would be better]. So, they became arches through Isaac's working with the art and changing things and deciding what would look good visually.

17th Shard: The Way of Kings has a very interesting format. Why did you decide to go with that format and what prompted you to include the interludes?

Brandon: That's another excellent question. You guys are really on the ball. Uh…so, what went through my head is one worry that we have in epic fantasy. The longer the series goes, and the more characters you add, the less time you can spend with each character. This gets really frustrating. You either have the George R. R. Martin problem where he writes a book and doesn't include half of them, or you get the middle Wheel of Time problem where he will jump to each character for a brief short time and no one's plot seems to get advanced.

If you look back at Elantris, I did a lot of interesting things with form in that novel, and I wanted to try something interesting with form for this series that would in some way enhance what epic fantasy does well and de-emphasize the problems. And I thought that I could do some new things with the form of the novel that would allow me to approach that, and so I started to view the book as one main character's novel and then short novellas from other characters' viewpoints. Then I started adding these interludes because I really like when, for instance, George Martin or Tad Williams or some other authors do this. You'd jump some place and see a little character for a brief time in a cool little location, but the thing is, when most epic fantasy writers do that, that character becomes a main character and you're just adding to your list. I wanted to actually do something where I indicated to the reader that most of these are not main characters. We're showing the scope of the world without being forced to add a new plot line. And I did that is because I wanted to keep the focus on the main characters and yet I also wanted to have my cake and eat it too. I wanted to show off the interesting aspects of the world.

When you read Way of Kings Prime someday you'll see that there are six major viewpoint characters, all in different places, with all different plots, because I wanted to show off what was happening in different parts of the world. That spiraled out of control even in that one book. Keeping track of who they were because there were such large gaps between their plot lines was really problematic. Instead I condensed and made, for instance, Kaladin's and Dalinar's plots take place in the same area as Adolin's. And so, even though you have three viewpoints there the plot lines are very similar. Or, at least they're interacting with one another.

And so the interludes were a means to jump around the world. They're essentially short stories set in the world, during the book, so when you get this book, maybe you can think of it this way: Kaladin's novel with Shallan and Dalinar each having shorter novels or novelettes or novellas, with occasional, periodic jumps to short stories around the world. And then of course Kaladin's flashbacks. As we've mentioned, every book will have flashbacks from its main character to enhance the main plotline.

I'm hoping that form will do a couple things. It'll show the scope of the world without us getting too overwhelmed by characters we have to keep track of. You know when you hit interludes that you aren't going to have to pay attention to most of them. You can read and enjoy them, but you aren't going to have to remember them. How about that? You can want to pay attention but you don't have to remember them. By the end of the book, the main characters' arcs and flashbacks should have been resolved and you should have a feel of a completer story from that main character. And then we have other characters that are doing things that are essentially just starting plotlines.

In the next book, you'll get another character with a big arc and flashbacks. The major characters from previous books will still have parts and viewpoints; Kaladin will still be important in the next book but it won't be "his book". He'll get a novella-length part instead.

(Of course, they're not really novella-length because it's a 400,000 word book. Those "novellas" are actually like 70,000- or 80,000-word novels)

17th Shard: Will the next Stormlight Archive books have interludes as well?

Brandon: Yes, all of them will have interludes.

17th Shard: Ok.

Brandon: And you will, very occasionally, revisit people in the interludes. I'll let myself have one interlude that's same between each part like we did with Szeth in this book.

Ah…Szeth's a little bit more of a main, major character, so you'll get, like, one four-parter and then you'll get what, eight just random [characters/viewpoints] around the world. And you may occasionally see those characters again, but you don't have to remember them; they're not integral to understanding the plot. They should add depth and they should be showing you some interesting things that are happening in the world while we're focused [on a few important plot lines]. I don't to travelogs in my books; my characters are not going to be sweeping across the countryside and showing you all the interesting parts of the world. I tend to set my books in a certain place and if we travel someplace, we skip the travel.

17th Shard: (laughter)

Brandon: But that means the chances of us ever visiting Gavland, um…or Bavland I think I ended up naming it…

17th Shard: Was that the place with the grass?

Brandon: Shinovar is where Szeth's from. Bavland is where Szeth is owned by the miner and things like that. I can't remember what I renamed that. Originally I called it Gavland, and then we had a Gavilar and so my editor insisted that it be changed. I think it's Bavland now.

And so the chances of us ever visiting there with a major character and a long plot are very low. But, you know, being able to show just a glimpse of Szeth there allows me to give some scope and feel to the world.

17th Shard: Makes it epic.

Brandon: Hopefully, yes.

17th Shard: Okay, next question. How is The Way of Kings related to the rest of the cosmere? What point in time is it?

Brandon: Oh, so far I have written the books/series chronologically. Though, I have skipped books…

17th Shard: (laughter)

Brandon: And so there will be jumping back eventually, but Elantris, Mistborn, Warbreaker and Way of Kings all happened chronologically.

17th Shard: Just in general, how is it related to the rest of the cosmere? Or can you say?

Brandon: I, uh…officially don't know what you're talking about.

17th Shard: (laughter)

Brandon: I mean, what do you mean by "related to"?

17th Shard: For example, the letter…

Brandon: Yes, just like the letter that I have no idea what you're talking about. I will tell you that one of the novels I skipped is actually set in the same solar system.

17th Shard: Oh…so this is the series that that book shares. [Editor's Note: Some on the 17th Shard staff have read many of Brandon's unpublished works. This editor has no idea what they're talking about.]

Brandon: 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 [something happens? —ed], and it may even get mentioned because it's a fairly close planet.

17th Shard: Is that on Divine Silence?

Brandon: Silence Divine happens there.

17th Shard: What is the name of that planet?

Brandon: Hmm…should I tell you?

17th Shard: Yes!

Brandon: Oh, Peter says no.

17th Shard: (laughter)

Brandon: You got PAFO'd.

17th Shard: (laughter continues) Go ask Peter and find out.

Brandon: No, it's like, Peter and not find out.

17th Shard: (still laughing) PANFO.

Brandon: Yeah, PANFO.

17th Shard: We've been PANFO'd.

Brandon: Yeah, PANFO'd, Peter and not find out. Good.

17th Shard: (more laughter) We just won't leave.

Brandon: Yeah, so, I will tell you the name of that planet once it is out like I've told you the rest of them.

17th Shard: Ok, fair enough. Do you have a scene you enjoyed more than the rest, and on the flip side, was their something that you did not enjoy?

Brandon: I will say that I really loved doing all the interludes because they gave me a sense, when I was writing this book, of jumping to something new, which is part of what kept me going in all of this. Are they my favorite scenes in the book? No, but they were probably my favorite to write because it's like I get to take a break and write something whacky and looney, so to speak.

Hmm…is there anything that was harder? You know, revisions are always hard. In the next to last draft I changed Dalinar's arc very substantially, and that was a hard write. And, you know, Adolin was not originally a viewpoint character, so there was a lot of hard writing there. So, poor Adolin probably gets the badge for hardest to write. Not because he as a character was hard to write but because I was having to repurpose scenes and toss out scenes and rewrite them with Adolin as the viewpoint character and so on to add just a little more dimension to Dalinar's plot arc.

17th Shard: You said it was because of your work on The Wheel of Time that you were able to do this story justice. What did you mean?

Brandon: Wheel of Time forced me to stretch as an author and it forced me to learn to juggle multiple viewpoints. I hadn't had a lot of practice writing sequels or planning sequels, and then I had to write the twelfth book in a fourteen book series. This taught me a lot about working with sequels. Also, seeing what Robert Jordan did for foreshadowing really taught me a lot about how to foreshadow across a big long epic. But I would say mostly it's just juggling the viewpoints, learning how to make sure all the characters are making appearances and we're enjoying them all and everything is balanced all without losing track.

17th Shard: You hired four artists to contribute to this book…

Brandon: Yes.

17th Shard: …and had their artwork included in the book. Why did you decide to do this?

Brandon: When I say four artists I am including Michael Whelan whom I didn't hire, the company commissioned, so we really have three interior artists and then Michael Whelan who did the beautiful cover. Again, I wanted to use the form of this novel to try and enhance what epic fantasy can do, and downplay the things that are tough about it. One of the tough things about epic fantasy is the learning curve. How much you have to learn a pay attention to, how many things there are to just know. I felt that occasional illustrations could really help with that. For instance, how Shallan's sketch book, or uses of multiples maps, could give us a visual component to the book. You know, pictures really are worth a thousand words. You can have on that page something that shows a creature much better than I can describe it. And so I felt that that would help deemphasize the problem of the learning curve, while at the same time helping to make this world real. Epic fantasy is about immersion, and I wanted to make this world real since that's one of the great things we can do with epic fantasy. We've got the space and the room to just build a completely real world, and I felt that the art would allow me to do that, which is why I decided to do "in world" art.

I didn't want to take this toward a graphic novel. I like graphic novels but it wasn't appropriate here to do illustrations of the scenes and characters from the books, because I don't want to tell you what they look like. I want that to be up to your own imagination. And so we wanted that "in world" ephemera feel to it, as though it were some piece of art that you found in the world and included.

I think it goes back to Tolkien. There's a map in The Hobbit, and that map isn't just a random map, which has become almost a cliché of fantasy books, and of epic fantasy. "Oh, of course there's a random map in the front!" Well [Tolkien] wanted you to think this map was the actual map the characters carried around and that's why he included it. He wrote his books as if he were the archivist putting them together and translating them and bringing them to you, this wonderful story from another world, and he included the map because the map was there with the notes. That's what I wanted the feel for this ephemera to be. As though whoever's been writing the Ars Arcanum for all of the books has collected this book together, done the translation and included pieces of art and maps and things that they found in the world that had been collected during these events, and that's what you're getting.

17th Shard: Wonderful. Now we're moving on to the some most likely RAFO questions. This will probably go really quick.

Brandon: Ok.

17th Shard: Now that we've seen Shadesmar can you elaborate more on it? Perhaps why you wanted a map of it included in the book?

Brandon: RAFO.

17th Shard: (laughing) If you put all the Shardblades and all the Shardplate together in one place, will you create a Voltron?

Brandon: (laughs)

17th Shard: (laughs)

Brandon: NO.

17th Shard: Is Cultivation a Shard on Roshar?

Brandon: Yes, Cultivation is. (very inquisitively) Where did you get that word?

17th Shard: It's in the book.

Brandon: Is it in the book? Okay.

17th Shard: It's mentioned once.

Brandon: Okay, one of the Shards form Roshar is Cultivation.

17th Shard: What is the name of the Shard which is the Almighty?

Brandon: Ah…RAFO!

17th Shard: What percentage of the underlying Cosmere have we uncovered? Like five percent, fifteen percent?

Brandon: The number of planets? Or…

17th Shard: No, not even that. Like how much do we know about the underlying metaphysics? Of the rules?

Brandon: Um…

17th Shard: You said that there's a lot more that we don't know.

Brandon: There is a lot you don't know.

17th Shard: I was wondering if you could put a number on it?

Brandon: 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.

17th Shard: (laughter)

Brandon: 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 enough to be dangerous, but not the majority by far. There is an underlying theorem of magic for all of these worlds, which I don't think has been mentioned before…

17th Shard: No…

Brandon: But yeah, it's kinda one of the things that may amaze. People keep trying to look for a unifying theory of physics. You know, the great, unifying [theory that ties all things together]. I have a little science background and I wanted there to be 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.

The following questions may contain spoilers for the Mistborn novels. You have been warned.

17th Shard: If a Mistborn burns lerasium, as in, not just ingests it, what effect would it grant Allomantically?

Brandon: That is a RAFO. It would do something, but the thing you've gotta remember is that, when ingesting lerasium for the first time and gaining the powers, your body is actually burning it. Think of lerasium as a metal anyone can burn. Does that make sense?

17th Shard: It does.

Brandon: By burning it you gain access to those powers. It rewrites your spiritual DNA, and there are ways to do really cool things with lerasium that I don't see how anyone would know. Were most Mistborn to just burn it, it would rewrite their genetic code to increase their power as an Allomancer.

17th Shard: Joe from the U.K. asks a terrifying question, "If an Allomancer is turned into a loloss, would they keep their powers?"

Brandon: If an Allomancer is turned into a koloss? You know…

17th Shard: We're scared of this.

Brandon: Yeah, no. That's actually something I've thought about. An Allomancer turned into a koloss would keep their powers because, as you'll recall, an Allomancer turned in to an Inquisitor retains their powers. Whether they would be able to always know how to use them remains to be seen, but you could definitely have a koloss Allomancer if you built them right.

17th Shard: Are all Inquisitors required to have an atium spike?

Brandon: No, they are not.

17th Shard: Okay. Which metal steals the power of Feruchemic gold? The Hero of Ages epigraphs say it was pewter, but it can't be pewter, since pewter steals Feruchemical Physical powers.

Brandon: Right…that's probably a typo. I will have to go back to the notes, that's more of a PAFO…

17th Shard: Is that a PAFO and actually find out? Or a PANFO…

Brandon: Yeah, no, no. Peter and find out.

17th Shard: Are there a limited amount of atium and lerasium alloys for each metal?

Brandon: Hmm, yes…I suppose there would be but there are…

17th Shard: More than sixteen?

Brandon: Yeah, way more than sixteen.

17th Shard: Oh wow. Okay. That's fascinating. More than sixteen and less than infinite.

Brandon: Yes.

17th Shard: Okay. Jordan asks, "If one were to become an atium savant could they see further into the future than normal?"

Brandon: Yes.

17th Shard: Jordan also asks, "Are there forms of birth control on Scadrial?"

Brandon: Yes, there are. Witness, Vin and Elend not getting pregnant across several years.

17th Shard: Right. It's just not really mentioned in the books.

Brandon: Yeah. I stay away from that intentionally. There are a lot of things I just didn't discuss due to the the feel of that book.

17th Shard: Cool. Very careful roleplayers have counted the numbers of Inquisitors appearing in the novels and they claim there must have been 25 if Vin and Elend killed two Inquisitors between Mistborn 2 and Mistborn 3. Could you clarify the numbers of Inquisitors there were?

Brandon: Um…

17th Shard: They've literally counted.

Brandon: They literally, yeah…No, I mean, I've got it written down somewhere. I'm now so separated from this book.

17th Shard: Yeah.

Brandon: I had always imagined there being around three dozen Inquisitors at any given time.

17th Shard: Oh, okay, so quite a bit more than 20.

Brandon: Right. Well the thing you've gotta remember is that, with the powers they're given, they're pretty much immune to disease and things like that, particularly after they've gained their healing spike.

17th Shard: Right. Is that common to all Inquisitors?

Brandon: It does not come to all. It comes to almost all. That's a pretty common one, but being an Inquisitor does not mean you get it. I think it mentions in the books that there's one spike that they all get, but I can't remember what it is.

17th Shard: I would imagine that would…well, okay, a steel spike so they could see.

Brandon: Right. Yeah, obvious, but the thing is you've gotta have a Keeper to be able give a healing spike.

17th Shard: Exactly.

Brandon: The ones alive now pretty much all have healing spikes, but there were times throughout history when he needed a new Inquisitor and he didn't have a Keeper (a Feruchemist) handy. He could make an Inquisitor without that.

17th Shard: So…

Brandon: That is not what's keeping them alive from the spikes being driven through their bodies.

17th Shard: So the linchpin spike is not always the same type of spike.

Brandon: It doesn't have to be. The linchpin spike is just, when you're putting that many spikes together into somebody it needs a spike to coordinate them all. That is part of what's holding their body together from all of this damage, and it doesn't have to be the healing spike. The nature of Feruchemy is separate from that, if that makes any sense. For instance, you could put a few spikes into an Inquisitor without a linchpin spike, and they wouldn't die.

17th Shard: Can you burn the spikes? Like, Allomantically? For example, could they burn the steel in their head spikes?

Brandon: (sighs) I considered that and I eventually decided that they could, but it would be an excruciating process that would probably knock them unconscious simply by doing it.

17th Shard: Would they be able to tap?

Brandon: Would they tap them? They can use them as metalminds, yes.

17th Shard: Sorry, that was a huge tangent.

Brandon: No, that's good, you probably needed to know that for roleplaying. They can use them as metalminds.

17th Shard: I was trying to write Hemalurgy articles and…we're assuming that gold steals Feruchemic gold just so we can use that as a goldmind…

Brandon: Right, right.

17th Shard: But we don't know. That's why I asked, so, um…

Brandon: That's a PAFO for sure.

17th Shard: He said he'll get back to us because he doesn't know.

Brandon: Yeah.

17th Shard: Tucker asks, "Will you ever write a book or series where different magic systems come into the same world?"

Brandon: Where different magic systems come into the same world. Um…I have already.

17th Shard: (confused) Published novels?

Brandon: Yes.

17th Shard: I mean like different magic systems from different worlds.

Brandon: That's what I said.

17th Shard: He's being really clever about this, Eric. (Eric says) Okay, okay, sorry.

Brandon: You're asking if I'll do it obviously.

17th Shard: (laughs)

Brandon: 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.

17th Shard: Right, they wouldn't have any of the background.

Brandon: 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 Archives 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.

17th Shard: Can you elaborate more on cadmium and bendalloy's effects? Like, if you're speeding up time, are you speeding up time for you in the bubble or what?

Brandon: Anything in the bubble.

17th Shard: Okay.

Brandon: You create a space around you of sped-up space-time, and anything that gets in there moves more slowly. Like, let's say that I shot a bullet at you and you popped it with sped-up time. That bullet would move really slowly. Everything around you would be slowed. Ah, no, but you would be the same so when the bullet entered it would go the same speed that you are going, but once it's out, it's either faster or slower. Does that make sense?

17th Shard: Yeah, it does, it does. [Editor's Note: No, it doesn't, it doesn't. This editor is very confused.] And it's the same with bendalloy, just…

Brandon: Reversed, yeah. It can have some really powerful effects, but the problem is, you can't change anything. As soon as you get close enough to change it, it's in there with you. So, if you were using it the right way you could dodge bullets, as long as you were able to get it off before the bullet got too close to you, but that's hard to do.

17th Shard: Yeah, that would be the trick.

Brandon: And, if you're the one who can slow time, you could get someone in your bubble and slow time, then let everyone else move more quickly around you, which, of course, takes a lot more practice to use. You've got to have a buddy who's outside the bubble but who you could stop, he could stop you, and we would see time move the same but everything around us would go super fast. If people were ready for that they could make use of it.

[Editor's Note: I'm sorry if these answers are poorly edited. I don't really understand what Brandon means, so I can't be sure I'm preserving that meaning when I translate from the raw transcription.]

17th Shard: That has a lot of uses…

Brandon: Yeah.

17th Shard: Okay, well I think that wraps everything up.

Brandon: Okay.

17th Shard: Thank you so much!


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