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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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I was wondering how the animation of the lifeless statues worked, in regard to the use of Susebron's Breath. If they were lifeless, then vasher wouldn't have been able to take his Breath back out of them, nor would susebron have needed such a great deal of breath to revive them—he just would have needed a password. But if they were simply Awakened, no password would have been necessary to animate the statues, just Breath and Command.
It seems like the statues could be neither lifeless nor awakened. Are they unique, because of the use of bone, or am I missing something? The only other explanation I could think of was that they were lifeless, but Susebron's breath wasn't used to activate the statues, he simply had it passed down from vasher, in addition to the statues. If that's the case(and then I've simply been confusing myself with unnecessary, convoluted logic), why was it necessary to keep the breath safe for all these years?
Wow, there are a lot of questions in there. If you follow the drafts, I think you can see the evolution of what became of the Lifeless army. Originally I had planned for the statues to simply have been placed there so that you could Awaken them—just in my original concepts, before I started the writing—and then that became the army.
I eventually decided that didn't work for various reasons. Number one, as I developed the magic system, Awakening stone doesn't work very well. You've got to have limberness, you've got to have motion to something for it to actually be stronger. So a soldier made out of cloth would be more useful to you than a soldier made out of stone, if you were just Awakening something. At that point, as I was developing this, I went back to the drawing board and said okay, I need to leave him a whole group of really cool Lifeless as the army. But that had problems in that the ichor would not have stayed good long enough. Plus they already had a pretty big Lifeless army, so what was special about this one? Remember, I'm revising concepts like this as the book is going along. You can see where in the story I could see what needed to be there. So I went back to the drawing board again.
I think the original draft of Warbreaker you can download off my website has them just as statues, though at the time when I was writing that I already knew it would need to change. I was just sticking to my outline because I needed to have the whole thing complete on the page before I could work with it. A lot of times that's how I do things as a writer—I get the rough draft down, and then I begin to sculpt.
I eventually developed essentially what you've just outlined in the first part, before you started worrying if you were too convoluted. I said, well, what if there's a hybrid? What happens if you Awaken bones? Can you create something? The reason that you can't draw the Breath back from a Lifeless is because the Breath clings to it. If the Lifeless were sentient enough, it could give up its own Breath, but you can't take it, just like you can't take a Breath from a person by force. You have to get them to give it up willingly. So it sticks to the Lifeless. A Lifeless is, let's say, 90% of a sentient being. The Breath doesn't manifest in them, because they aren't alive, yet they're almost there. A stone statue brought to life would be way down on the bottom rung.
Is there something in between? That's the advancement I had Vasher discover—what if we build something out of bone, but then encase it in stone to make it strong, and build it in ways that the bone is held together by the force of the Breaths? That's really what you're getting at there, that you need a lot of Breath, a lot of power, to hold all that stone together. There are seams at the joints. What the Breath is doing is clinging there like magical sinew, and it's holding all of that together.
Vasher left the Phantoms Invested with enough Breath to hold them together but not to move. You needed another big, substantial influx of Breath in order to actually make them have motion, to bring them enough strength to move and that sort of thing. So it's kind of a hybrid.
The silly question is, who would win in a fight? Vin or Vasher or the Nightblood?
And who would win in a fight between Vin and Vasher? It would probably depend on who got the jump on who. Vin's a bit more sneaky so I have the feeling that Vasher would be in trouble if it involved sneaking but Vasher is - he only has to get one little cut on you and you're gone so it's, it would probably- my money would be on Vin.
"I loved the character reversal that took place with Vivian and Siri..." and actually I'm enjoying that at the moment "...did you come up with that idea- was that an early idea in your planning or did it emerge as a result of the story writing itself?"
That's a good question, for most of those they were early ideas, my- I had two main themes for myself when writing Warbreaker, one was character reversals I wanted to play with the idea of reversed roles, you see it from the very beginning when the two sisters are forced to reverse roles and also the role reversal between Vasher and Denth.
The other big thing was I wanted to work on my humor and try and approach new ways of being, of having humor in a book and seeing what different types of character humor I could use. It was really me delving into a lot of Shakespeare at the time and seeing the way he pulled reversals and the way he used multiple levels of humor and I wanted to play with that concept in fantasy novels, so a lot of those were planned. Some of them were not, some of them came spontaneously, as you're writing the book, you always come up with great ideas for books while you're working on them so you kind of see the evolution of a few of them.
Warbreaker is posted for free on my website, the complete draft of it and I actually posted the first draft all the way through to the last draft and so you can actually take and compare the first draft to the very last draft and even the chapters as I wrote them you can see how some things were evolving and coming to be and I was realizing certain things while I was doing it and other things were, were very well foreshadowed from the beginning.
Is the risk of Vasher dying from wielding Nightblood unsheathed too long because Nightblood would consume his divine Breath or does that also extend to those who are not Returned?
Yes, and yes, it does apply to others.
If Denth had let Vasher erase part of his memories, would he still retain the skills he had learned during that time?
To an extent. He would still have the reflexes and such, but skill isn't entirely reflexes, so he would lose the parts actually associated with memory. It would be easier for him to re-learn, due to his already having the reflexes, but he wouldn't be nearly as good at these skills without the memories or re-learning them. As a side note, Denth almost did it. Like really really close. He decided not to because he felt that he would be losing part of himself. And he would be right.
Other Happy and Exciting information on various books:
Nightblood: Would mostly be about Vasher and Vivenna hunting down the last of the Five Scholars. Apparently.
Here’s an interesting one. Why do some Breaths flare when people die? Vasher mentions it in the book.
I will answer that in the next book, if I ever get to it.
Some of them are immortal, but that would kind of be cheating. If you let people who are immortal participate, it's going to very much favor someone like Hoid, who is really, really, really hard to kill. Of course, he would not be very good at offing anyone either, because of certain things in his past. It would be really futile when it got down to the last two. But if we take that out.
You'd have to set ground rules. Do they get access to their magic? Where is it taking place? If we take away all magic and we just say people are beating up on each other, who's going to win? It's probably Kelsier because he'll fight dirty. Vasher fights really dirty, too. If Kelsier and Vasher gang up on the rest, and then it depends who's still not in pieces at the end. It'd be Kelsier or Vasher probably.
Vasher misses Nightblood and feels responsible for him.
How many worldhoppers have we seen?
Oh, I haven't kept track, you've seen quite a few. There's one from Mistborn, did you catch him? I don't think people have really picked out the Terriswoman yet, who makes her way into them, but they're mostly not supposed to be noticeable yet, until you get to know them as characters and you look back and be like "oh that was that person."
Is it the Terriswoman I think it is?
I don't know which Terriswoman you think it is.
Speaking of the Terriswoman, is she the nurse in Warbreaker?
< Pauses; gleefully says > RAAAAAAFO!
Zahel/Vasher is in Roshar for Nightblood? Will we know in Stormlight Archive why these two were separated? or in the sequel of Warbreaker?
The Warbreaker sequel will give clues about this, but the actual event happened between that and TWoK. So I'm not sure where I'll slip it in.
Yes it is, in fact Vasher is in the book.
Is that Vasher?!? [Presumably referring to Nale]
No, look for somebody making color metaphors and when they are waking up they feel like they can sense other people's presence and things like that. There is one character who is Vasher. He doesn't go by that name anymore.
It is Nightblood! Vasher is in there too if you look for him.
Are they going to be in the next...?
You will see a lot more of Nightblood, you'll see a little bit more of Vasher.
So Nightblood and Shardblades are both kind of powered by Investiture?
Yes, in fact you can call Nightblood kind of a miss-made, evil Shardblade-- more miss-made than evil but yes.
But a Shardblade wouldn't shear through Nightblood.
Yes a Shardblade would not shear through Nightblood. In fact I wrote The Way of Kings first and then I wrote Warbreaker and The Way of Kings came out after Warbreaker but in my mind Warbreaker is a prequel to The Way of Kings, where I was telling Vasher's backstory.
Oh really, so the Warbreaker we know takes place after The Way of Kings?
No, it takes place before, it's a prequel meaning I wrote The Way of Kings and then I went back in time and told Vasher's backstory but Warbreaker ended up coming out first because The Way of Kings wasn't ready yet.
I know, and the Warbreaker fans really get on my case about that. Well, I wrote Words of Radiance, and I got Vasher into it, so that would kindle interest, and make sure that you at least got to see your characters again. But did you hear the story about that? So, I wrote The Way of Kings in 2002, the first version, and in that version Kaladin trained with a swordmaster, and that swordmaster, a guy named Vasher, had a mysterious past. After I finished that book, later on I wrote Warbreaker as a prequel to The Way of Kings, to show Vasher's backstory. But then Warbreaker came out before The Way of Kings, which was a really kind of interesting thing. So in my head, Warbreaker is the prequel, but to everyone else...
Yes, it is a totally different world, different planets, people get around...
So how much of Vasher's backstory do we actually have?
Well, a huge chunk of it! If you were reading The Way of Kings, you would know nothing, and then you'd read Warbreaker and you'd be like, "Oh, here's a whole past that he had!" That doesn't mean it's all of his past.