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2012-04-30: I had the great pleasure of speaking with Harriet McDougal Rigney about her life. She's an amazing talent and person and it will take you less than an hour to agree.
2012-04-24: Some thoughts I had during JordanCon4 and the upcoming conclusion of "The Wheel of Time."
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Way of Kings
Post your questions for Brandon here.
Brandon has kindly agreed to answer questions for both the Way of Kings and Towers of Midnight. This thread is for WAY OF KINGS questions only please!
My burning question for Brandon is did I miss the explanation, world building moment or historical gem that explains why women have a safe hand and why they must keep it covered?
No, you haven't missed it. People have asked about this. There will be more explanation in-world as it comes along, but it's for much the same reason that in some cultures in our world you don't show people the bottoms of your feet, and in other cultures showing the top of your head is offensive. It's part of what has grown out of the Vorin culture, and there are reasons for it. One of them has to do with a famous book written by an artist who claimed that true feminine pursuits and arts were those that could be performed with one hand, while masculine arts were those performed with two hands, in a way associating delicacy with women and brute force with men. Some people in Roshar disagree with this idea, but the custom has grown out of that foundational work on masculine and feminine arts. That's where that came from. One aspect of this is that women began to paint one-handed and do things one-handed in upper, higher society. You'll notice that the lower classes don't pay a lot of attention to it—they'll just wear a glove.
As a student of human nature and of anthropology, it fascinates me how some cultures create one thing as being taboo whereas in another culture, the same thing can be very much not taboo. It's just what we do as people.
There's more to it than that, but that will stand for now.
The inside cover is beautiful. Do you plan to do something similar with every book?
We asked for colored endpages. At first Tor was hesitant; they're very expensive. We kind of begged a bit, then showed them these cool pages and talked about how great the book would be with them, and eventually Tor decided that they would go with it. One of the aspects of doing colored endpages like that is that generally you have to use the same endpages for the entire series, to offset the printing cost. So those same endpages will be in every hardcover of the series. There will be different interior art, however.
Will Kaladin (or Shallan, or any of the other characters) be going to visit the various places Kaladin saw in his dream, and if so, for extended periods of time or just short trips? I think the interludes are wonderful ways of showing other parts of the world, if I may also comment.
I'm glad you liked the interludes. One of the reasons to include them is to show parts of the world that I won't be getting to for a while, but this is an epic, and there will be characters traveling to various places you've seen. Maybe not all of them, but some places will be visited. Some for extended periods, some for shorter periods.
Are you already decide whether it's Shallan or Dalinar story for book 2 central plot? What about the tentative title?
I keep going back and forth. I'll probably have to sit down and completely write out both of their backstories--their flashback sequences--and after finishing that see which one best fits the theme and the plot of the novel, the story I'm trying to tell. So it's going to take a while to decide that, and it would require enough of my focus that I really need to do A MEMORY OF LIGHT first. So we'll know more after A MEMORY OF LIGHT is finished and I begin writing out their sequences.
Which one will you focused more in the future, the Heralds or Radiants? Will you dig deeper into each of Heralds story and some of Radiants?
I feel that I should probably RAFO this one. We are going to delve into the Radiants as orders a lot. But the Radiants as individuals? Depends on what you mean. Kaladin is well on the path toward becoming one of them, though he's not one yet, as Teft is quick to point out. So if you mean focusing on actual Knights Radiant, we'll have to see if anyone actually manages to become one.
The Heralds are integral to the entire story, which is why the Prelude focuses on them. Since someone showed up at the end of the book claiming to be one of them, I think you can obviously expect some attention to be drawn there. Who each of the Heralds are and what their natures were is important.
Is spren lost their memories and personalities because of the loss of their attached radiants? But retain a basic attraction to things associated with the radiants they bonded to previously?
Not all types of spren bonded to Radiants. You will find out more about this in the future. However, if you're speaking specifically of spren that were bonded to Radiants, then yes, you're on the right track.
Is the remove of Shalash statue connected to the man speaked gibberish that Szeth met before he assasinated Gavilar?
Question. When writing TWoK, did you write the story lines individually & then weave them together (e.g. Place the chapters as desired.), after the fact? Or did you write the book generally in the order that we see the end result?
I wrote the parts by viewpoint. Meaning that for Part One, I wrote Kaladin straight through and then Shallan straight through. And then I switched for Part Two and wrote Dalinar and Kaladin, and then I switched back. So I did write the storylines individually by viewpoint, but in sections by part.
I really like the dialogs between Jasnah and Shallon, convering sometimes atheism, god, blind faith, etc.
Are you going to expand on these philosophical topics? Will it play a larger part in the plot?
I really enjoyed these moments and hope to see more of them
I'm glad you liked them. These questions are very important to Shallan and Jasnah and to an extent other characters such as Dalinar, so you will indeed see much more of this. I wouldn't include it if it weren't very important to the characters. And what's important to the characters has a strong influence on what's important to the plot.
If what happens at the end of Part Five with Dalinar is to be believed, then there is a very interesting theological conundrum to this world. Something claiming to be God claims also that it has been killed. Which then in some ways leaves someone who is atheist right, and yet at the same time wrong. When Jasnah and Dalinar meet, you can expect some discussion of what it means to be atheist if there was a God and God is now dead. Or will she say that obviously wasn't God? Those circles of thought are very fascinating to me and to the characters.
Just a nagging question: What happened to Gaz? After some character development he just vanishes in chapter 59 without further explanation. Will he be back on the next books?
I'm planning for you to find out what happened to Gaz. There are sufficient clues that you can guess. But it is not explicitly stated, and I'm not going to say it's as obvious as Robert Jordan implied Asmodean's killer is. I was tempted to spell it out explicitly, but there wasn't a good place for it. I will probably answer it eventually, maybe in the next book, but until then you are free to theorize.
Your sidekick characters (Nightblood, TenSoon in WoA and Syl) are always interesting, sometimes more so than side characters. Is this planned out or does it just happen? Do you control their lines more than other characters? (I really liked Syl's personality if that wasn't clear.)
Thank you. That is partially intentional. One of the aspects of writing characters like them is that if we're not going to get viewpoints from them, their personality has to be strong enough to manifest externally. Which tends to have an effect, if it's not done well--or sometimes even if it is done well--of making them feel one-sided. In some ways I play this up; for instance Nightblood really is one-sided because of the way his personality works, the way he was crafted. He's a construct, and he has a main focus.
So with someone like Syl, I really wanted to bring out a lot of personality in her dialogue so that we could characterize her without having any of the internal thoughts and monologue and emotions that I sometimes instill in other characters. But Syl also was meant to be a vibrant splash of color in Kaladin's sometimes dreary viewpoints. Because of that, I really needed her to just pop off the page. So it was done intentionally.
I felt the illustrations added a lot to the book physically and to the story. Will there be more in book two and so on if you have your way or was it a one book experiment?
I'm glad you like what the illustrations added to the book and the story. I plan future volumes to have more of them.
Can a Herald's blade/equipment be um....adopted? I only ask because Dalinar seems to be lacking one and that Herald at the end did kick the bucket in his capital and he's gonna need more than armor when Szeth shows up.
Someone who is not himself or herself a Herald can indeed use one of the Honorblades.
Does the scene where Shallan is counting heartbeats mean what I think it means? It just kind of strange to imagine her carrying around of of those but then again she does like secrets.
It means what you think it means.
You have quite the world you have created. I look at the map and see a lot of different locations. How many of the named locations are actually going to be used? ... Anyway, I am always curious as to how much of one's world that has been built actually gets used.
You'll have to read and see what happens. I will say this: When I build a map, I don't consider it to be a to-do list. In fact, it makes a world feel unrealistic to me when every single place on the map ends up getting visited. So it's not a to-do list, but many of those locations are very important.
Will there be flashbacks for a different character in this next book?
Yes. Each book will explore a different character in flashbacks, though Kaladin will also end up getting another book with flashbacks of his sometime down the line.
Was Syl's appearance and behavior caused by Kaladin giving up his shardblade?
It was a major fundamental factor in what happened between them.
Will Hoid be a major player in all, most, or only some of these books?
He should have as large a role in other books as he had in this one, for the most part.
1. Are Kaladin's parents still alive, and if so, are they actually mad at him?
2. Do dead parshmen turn into Chasmfieds?
3. What is the dark-glowing sphere?
4. What did Szeth do to become a Truthless, and is there anything else involved in being a Truthless that we haven't seen?"
1. Yes, they are still alive. RAFO.
3. Major big RAFO.
4. Szeth was perceived as betraying his people in a fundamental way, and you will learn more about that when his book comes along.
5. Is Hoid a Herald, or a Shardholder, or something else entirely.
6. Was the letter posted on the top of chapters to Sazed?
7. Barring the Almighty, did we seen a Shardholder (like Sazed) in this book?
5. Hoid is something else entirely.
6. It is written to a character who exists outside of Roshar. I won't yet say who.
7. I think "Shardholder" would get confusing alongside "Shardbearer." Basically, in the Cosmere's terms, when someone holds a Shard of Adonalsium, I call that person a Shard of Adonalsium. They are imbued with the power of that Shard, but they also become the Shard. Fans can use whatever terminology they wish, but this is how I term it.
You did at least see the direct effects of two of the Shards of Adonalsium, but I won't say whether or not you actually saw a Shard of Adonalsium.
I've read somewhere (probably your blog) that the Way of Kings will be made into ten parts. My question is this: Is it ten individual books, or really just ten parts? I notice that the first book had several parts in it so I was just curious.
Ten individual books.
The Way of Kings is certainly a great first book of a series. It does, however, leave one hungry for more. What's the best guess on when for #2? And does it have a name?
I'll try to write it so it can be published in late 2012, but it really depends on how long it takes to write A Memory of Light, since I won't start until after that is finished. As for the title, if it ends up being a Dalinar book it will be titled Highprince of War, but if it ends up a Shallan book it will have a different title.
Do Szeth and Kaladin both belong to the same order of knights radiant?
Szeth isn't actually in an order of Knights Radiant. Something different is happening with Szeth that people have already begun to guess. And Kaladin isn't yet a Knight Radiant, but the powers he uses are those of the Windrunners, one of the orders of the Knights Radiant. Szeth is using the same power set. So your phrasing is accurate to that extent.
The Stormlight archive is a very big book. Do you have plans of including a glossary that's more expansive than the ars arcanum?
If I do make a glossary, it will probably be on my website. Perhaps I'll be able to slip in a longer glossary into future books. The problem is that the first book is already so long, as you said. I just don't have the pages for it now. As the series expands, maybe.
The thing is, I've always partially liked a glossary and partially not liked them, because as series get longer and longer, you have to make decisions about what to include and what not to include. Using the glossary in the backs of the Wheel of Time books is somewhat bittersweet because it only covers around one percent of the things you'd want to be in there. So in some ways it's become irrelevant, because most of the things you'll want to look up are not going to be there. It seems like it served its purpose best in the early to middle books, but now if you really want to know you've got to go to Encyclopedia WoT or a similar site. So maybe we'll just do an online glossary or send people to one of the fan-created wikis.
Has Kaladin's windspren Syl reached the epitome of her consciousness or will we see a smarter spren in future books?
Syl has recovered everything of her personality. There are things she doesn't remember, and things she can still learn to do, but she has recovered her personality in full.
I keep hearing about the great art in the book, but I listened to the audio version. Is the art available to view online?
It's not currently online. I need to bug my assistant to put the art on my website.
I really want to know, Brandon how do you get these ideas about so diverse and innovative magic systems?
It just happens. I don't know. It's a blend of who I am — my science background, what I like in fiction, mixed with the way my mind works, what stories I seek to tell. I can't say specifically where I get the ideas, because they're all different. It's just part of my makeup.
And that's everything in this thread. Thank you for your patience in waiting for my responses, and thank you for reading my books!