Search the most comprehensive database of interviews and book signings from Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson and the rest of Team Jordan.
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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Yes, it was. That's a very astute question. I've written a blog post that I'm not satisfied with, but that I'll probably be revising and posting very soon, that is going to talk about this. When I finished the Mistborn trilogy and Warbreaker, I felt that there were a few things that were becoming Brandon clichés that I needed to deal with. I don't mind being known as the magic system guy. But when I become known ONLY as the magic system guy, that worries me. It isn't that I sat down with this series and said, well, I'm gonna show them, I'm not going to do a magic system. But when I planned this series, it was not appropriate for me to shoehorn in a lot of the magic system in book one. Though my agent suggested that I do just that. He said, look, this is what you're known for, this is what people read you for; if you don't have this it's going to be glaringly obvious. My response was that I would hope that story and character are what carries a book, not any sort of gimmick—well, gimmick is the wrong word.
Something that I pondered and wrote about a lot—just to myself—is that Mistborn was postmodern fantasy. If you look at the trilogy, in each of those books I intentionally took one aspect of the hero's journey and played with it, turned it on its head, and tried very hard to look at it postmodernly, in which I as a writer was aware of the tropes of the genre while writing and expected readers to be aware of them, to be able to grasp the full fun of what I was doing. And that worried me—that was fun with Mistborn, but I didn't want to become known as the postmodern fantasy guy, because inherently you have to rely on the genre conventions in order to tell your story—even if you're not exploiting them in the same way, you're still exploiting them.
For that reason, I didn't want to write The Way of Kings as a postmodern fantasy. Or in other words, I didn't want to change it into one. And I also didn't want to change it into a book that became only about the magic, or at least not to the extent that Warbreaker was. I like Warbreaker; I think it turned out wonderfully. But I wanted to use the magic in this book as an accent. Personally, I think it's still as full of magic as the others, but the magic is happening much more behind the scenes, such as with the spren I've talked about in other interviews, which are all about the magic. We haven't mentioned Shardplate and Shardblades, but those are a very powerful and important part of the magic system, and a more important part of the world. I did intentionally include Szeth's scenes doing what he does with the Lashings to show that there was this magic in the world, but it just wasn't right for this book for that to be the focus. I do wonder what people will say about that. I wonder if that will annoy people who read the book. But again, this is its own book, its own series, and in the end I decided that the book would be as the story demanded, not be what whatever a Brandon Sanderson book should be. As a writer, that's the sort of trap that I don't want to fall into.
On later Stormlight Archive novels will there always be one character we get to see flashbacks for?
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.
So, does that mean there's going to be 10 different characters that would be seen?
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.
So, fingers crossed, fingers crosses, will Szeth get one?
Szeth will get a book.
YES! (laughter) We're all cheering.
Yes, Szeth will get a book. Shallan and Dalinar will get books.
UmÖI'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.
Szeth Shirt (from The Way of Kings)
Launching at SDCC will be the new Szeth shirt from The Way of Kings. Wear the Assassin in White proudly on your torso. :) This shirt is based off of the concept art Ben (Inkthinker) McSweeney did for Szeth when I pitched the series to Tor. I loved his rendition of Szeth so much, we ended up using Ben's image for the Szeth chapter icon in the books.
These will be for sale eventually on InkWing's website. But for now, the place to get them is SDCC!
Why do the Shardblades in the Stormlight Archive have the effect on flesh (human tissue) that they do?
He originally wrote the scene in the prologue with the assassin Szeth using a traditional sword, but it was so bloody and gruesome that Brandon was actually disgusted. He had to find a way to avoid that and so he came up with a new way for the swords to behave.
Is Kaladin naturally stronger than Szeth in using Stormlight? Szeth can only hold onto it for a few minutes, but Kaladin has been shown to hold onto it for much longer. Or does it have to do with Kaladin having a spren?
Ah, so you all noticed that, did you. :) Glad you did. I have like a dozen things I nearly posted here, but all of them spoil a scene in Words of Radiance. So I'll just zip it for now.
Please note that a family member decided to drop in at this point, so I may have heard wrong. Woops.
Anyone else have questions or books that they need signed?
I have a question. You gave me one of these little Szeth cards. I noticed on the back it looks like a game.
Yeah, yeah it does, doesnít it?
Whatís the story with that?
Those—that was just like randomly printed there.
[in a stage whisper] I donít think heís telling the truth.
We just got them back and we were like, "Wow, those random collection of letters look surprisingly like words from my books. How did that happen?"
[inaudible ]Ö look forward to that?
Heís not allowed to say.
Itís not a ďNot allowed to say,Ē itís that this is a fun little thing that may become something in the distant future.
Perception is a very important part of how these things all work, and remember, the Honorblades work differently from everything else. Everything was based upon them. Why donít you read and find out whatís going on there, but remember, the charactersí perception is very important.
So then thatís why at one point Shallan requires ten heartbeats and now she doesnít.
Right, just like—itís the exact same reason why Kaladinís forehead wounds donít heal, because he views himself as need—as having those, somewhere deep inside of him, and that canít heal until that goes away. And itís the same reason why in Warbreaker, when you bring something to life your intention, rather than really what you say, is what matters. Itís all about perception.
Are we going to find out in here, why Szeth and what the Truthless are all about?
That, you will have to wait for his flashback sequences in a future book. Each character gets a set of flashback sequences. I'm not going to promise that the characters live to the book where their flashback sequences are. You might have a character die and then get their flashbacks the next book to get more information on them. This will be Shallan's flashback, then the next book will be Szeth's flashback, then Eshonai, then Dalinar.
That is not the spren. Good question. It is not...the spren is not a spren that is a...for one of the orders.
But it is related to--
I didn't say that. I just said it is not a--it is not a blade. It is not one of those.
Breath is definitely like Mist, it is in the form of the air.
And is Stormlight the same?
Stormlight is the same. Good questions!
Would Vasher be able to use Stormlight in the same way that he can get Breath?
That would not be immediately easy, but Stormlight could feed Nightblood.
Which is why Szeth can wield Nightblood?
Eh, you'll have to see if Ö but yes. That could theoretically happen. You can use most of the magics on most of the planets to fuel the other magics, if you know how to do it, it is not easy.
How did they come by the Dawnshard[I think he and Brandon meant honorblade?] that Szeth got?
They historically kept all of them.
Does that have anything to do why they think stone is sacred?
You will find out more about that as time progresses
He, ah, he is, he is in dangerous hands right now, letís just say that
Yeah, untrustworthy hands.
Yes, yes he is.
And why does he call it "sword", and not by its name?
It has not told him its name.