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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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A manifestation of Ruin's gathered consciousness, much like the dark mists in book two. The lake was still around in Vin's era, but had been moved under ground. (Note that the Well is a very similar manifestation. You've also seen one other manifestation like this....)
The "lake" was barely ten feet deepómore like a pool. Its water was a crystalline blue, and Raoden could see no inlets or outlets.If that's what you're hinting at...I never thought of the connection before! I just kept thinking of Aether of Night, and never thought of this pool at all.
Both are accurate, but the first is what I meant, as most people here don't have access to Aether.
I'm also thinking that the Dor in Elantris is another Shard of Adonalsium. Certainly in the Elantris world, where the Dor came from is rather ambiguous, which I expected it would be. Of course, if other Shards of Adonalsium do exist, the Dor could have come from that source.
I will RAFO from here on the other Shards of Adonalsium, as it would be better for me not to give spoilers. Please feel free to speculate. Readers have met four shards other than Ruin and Preservation.
Have we met these four by name, or just by influence? I can't think of a name that would go with the one that the Elantris lake is a manifestation of.
Hoid could be one? I know nothing his purpose other than that he shows up in lots of different books, sometimes begging and sometimes telling stories. Since most of these series happen on different planets (though two of them may happen on the same planet as each other), I'm assuming he has mad planet-hopping skills.
Ookla, I'm going to be tight lipped on this, as I don't want to give things away for future books. But I'll tell you this:
You've interacted with two directly.
One is a tough call. You've never met the Shard itself, but you've seen its power.
The other one you have not met directly, but have seen its influence.
I thought Nightblood was explained sufficiently for my tastes in Warbreaker, so I doubt that it is a Shard, but I've been plenty wrong before. Also, I don't know if Hoid could even be a Shard. Certainly he has mean planet-hopping skills, but I don't know what purpose a celestial storyteller would have in this universe. He doesn't really have the same kind of power as Ruin or Preservation did, so normally I would rule him out right off the bat. But it is possible that these Shards come in many shapes, not just in the near-deific quantity Ruin or Preservation had. I think it's a bit of a stretch to say Hoid is a Shard... but, then again, I don't have any ideas for what those four other Shards are.
Maybe Hoid is just a traveler trying to find remnants of Adonalsium and stories about them. He doesn't need to be a shard, I suppose.
This is slightly a tangent, but here is a relevant chunk from the Warbreaker Annotations. As this won't be posted for months, I'll put it here as a sneak preview.
This whole scene came about because I wanted an interesting way to delve into the history. Siri needed to hear it, and I felt that many readers would want to know it. However, that threatened to put me into the realm of the dreaded info dump.
And so I brought in the big guns. This cameo is so obvious (or, at least, someday it will be) that I almost didnít use the name Hoid for the character, as I felt it would be too obvious. The first draft had him using one of his other favorite pseudonyms. However, in the end, I decided that too many people would be confused (or, at least, even more confused) if I didnít use the same name. So here it is. And if you have no idea what Iím talking about. . .well, letís just say that thereís a lot more to this random appearance than you might think.
Brandon, I believe in one of Sazed's epigraphs, he actually called it "Adonasium" rather than what you are referring to here, which is "Adonalsium". I'm thinking that's just a typo, right?
I don't suppose you could tell us which book series of yours will tell us more about Adonalsium, would you? You know, just so us theorizers on the forum know when to properly theorize about these things...
Well, I guess this means that the proofreaders did not add the "L" when I marked the error on the manuscript.(sigh). Yes, the correct spelling is Adonalsium. I will try to get this fixed for the paperback, but I've been trying to get that blasted steel/iron error in the back of book one fixed for two years now. . .
If it helps, Sazed would probably under-pronounce the "L" as that letter, like in Tindwyl's name, is said very softly in Terris.
As for your other question, you will have to wait and see. Now, you could search my old books for clues, but I would caution against this. While there are hints in these, they are not yet canon. Just as I changed how things were presented in the Mistborn books during editing, I would have fixed a lot in these books during revision. Beyond that, reading them would give big spoilers for books yet to be released. White Sand, Dragonsteel, and Way of Kings in particular are going to be published some day for almost certain. (Though in very different forms). Aether of Night should be safe, as should Final Empire prime and Mistborn prime, though of those three, only Aether is worth reading, and then only barely. (It is still pretty bad).
What was she supposed to do? Well, this is difficult to answer, since the prophecies have been changed and shifted so much. Originally, the prophesies intended for a person to go take the power every thousand years and become a protector of mankind for a period of time. Someone to keep an eye on Ruin in Preservation's absence and watch over the world as he would have done. Imagine an avatar who arrives every thousand years and lives for their lifetime blessing the people with the power of Preservation, renewing Ruin's prison, and generally being a force for protection. (Note that Ruin wouldn't have gotten out if the prison wasn't renewed, he'd simply have been able to touch the world a little bit more.) Obviously, it changed a LOT during the years that Ruin was playing with things.
What should she have done? Well, Ruin's release was inevitable. Even if she hadn't let him go, the world would have 'wound down' eventually. The ashfalls would have grown worse over the centuries, and the next buildup of the Well might not have come in time for them to do anything. Or, perhaps, mankind would have found a way to adapt. But Ruin was going to get himself out eventually, so the choice Vin made was all right. There weren't really any good choices at this point. She could have decided to take the power and become a 'good' Lord Ruler, trying to keep the world from falling apart. Of course, she would have had to make herself immortal with Hemalurgy to make that work right. And since she was already tainted, chances are good she wouldn't have ended up any better than the Lord Ruler himself.
With your debut novel Elantris (2005) you made some noise with the intriguing storyline, imaginative magic system and the fact that it was a standalone book. What were the greatest challenges you faced in writing Mistborn, a series that follows the more traditional trilogy format, and in particular The Well of Ascension, which is the middle volume in the trilogy, oftentimes considered the weakest of the three? What about the positives of writing a series opposed to a standalone?
Mistborn was difficult because it was the first trilogy I'd ever written. I want all my books to feel like standalones because I really like wrapping up a story satisfactorily in one volume, but with the Mistborn books I had to make sure the story was consistent across three volumes. The Well of Ascension was particularly difficult in that a second book in a series has to effectively recap what happened in the first book, without being too repetitive. Also, a second book has to end in such a way that it leaves readers wanting to read the third, but I've never liked big cliffhangers. I struggled with finding a balance in these two things with the second book. To me, the advantages to writing a trilogy are that I can develop characters further and get more in depth into the world. For example, I could develop three magic systems in Mistborn instead of just the one in Elantris. People like to read about continuing characters, and it is fun for me to be able to expand on some of the side characters.
In both Elantris and Mistborn: The Final Empire you pointedly made an effort to defy certain age-old, fantasy clichťs. What formulaic story elements did you try to redefine or avoid in the second volume of the Mistborn trilogy?
In The Well of Ascension I focused on the concept of prophecy. So many fantasy stories involve the idea of an ancient, infallible, and comprehensible prophesy which guides the actions of the characters. In The Well of Ascension I wanted to show the dangers of relying only on prophecy to provide a guide for your life. I also wanted to turn on its head my own concept of optimism. Many fantasies, including Elantris, show that If you are just determined enough you will succeed. I wanted to deal with what happens if you believe in yourself and things go wrong anyway.
Brandon said that theoretically you can push/pull Shardblades and Shardplates but you would need to wield an incredible amount of power. One example he gave that could so such as a thing is that if you were a Mistborn wielding the full power of the Well of Ascension, you could push/pull Shardblades/plate
I hope everyone enjoys the question I got to ask.
I don't really have a question, I just want to say that the twist at the end of Well of Ascension absolutely blew my mind.
I specifically remember when Sazed noticed the Holy First Witness in the prophecy, I was surprised I hadn't made that connection myself since I remember the prophecy so well. Then I get to the end where we learn about Ruin altering text, and thought that was an amazing plot twist, and I started wondering if you'd been altering the text in the passages at the beginning of chapters, since some of them were repeated a few times. THEN I suddenly remembered that the text originally referred to the Announcer, not the Holy First Witness, and . . . my mind was blown. That was one of the coolest things I've ever experienced in any fiction I've read.
Thanks! I worked quite a lot on that one. Glad to see it worked for you.
We know Hoid stopped by the Well of Ascension. Would it have been possible for him to take up the power while he was there? Or is it limited to guys created out of Preservation and Ruin?
Hoid had no interest in holding that power in the state it was in.
Before the Ascension, why did the mists appear just as the Well was gaining power? Did they come out at other times?
This one is trickier. From what I got out of it, it's because the mists are a manifestaion of Preservation, and physical manifestations of Preservation (including Allomancers) are intended to do two things - stop Ruin, and protect the Well of Ascension. Which are kind of the same thing. So, when the Well was dormant, the mists didn't really have much to do. The Deepness form of the mists is a result of the conscious part of Preservation freaking out and trying to produce a way to protect the well, mostly by producing more Allomancers. That's why the mists do all the funky things in the Well of Ascension and Hero of Ages - they're trying to produce more Allomancers to combat Ruin.
In Well of Ascension, there are two strange "voice in the head" experiences. One of them is with Sazed and Marsh are fighting, and Sazed realizes that he can burn the metal rings that are now in his stomach. But the other one is with Elend, when a voice comes, and heís not sure where it comes from. It says something like "If you have a dagger, the only way to win is to go in for the kill"
That one, where it came from, is Ė I know what you are searching for, but itís actually just an old (something) from weapons training. Heís just dredging- heís not sure where it came from because he never thought he would need any of it, he thought he was just going to be a scholar. But his father did have him trained in weapons, so itís just instinct that he got from one of his old mentors in fighting.
So thereís nothing to see there, so no, heís not (something).
Okay. We were just wondering if it was Preservation, or Kelsier.
Nope. Unfortunately, no. I do that on occasion, but this time...
This title was fairly easy to choose. Actually, the titles of all three books were easy to choose. I originally toyed with calling the Hero of Ages the Final Hero. So, because of that, I was tempted to come up with a "final" title to use for book two.
However, I quickly decided that I liked Hero of Ages instead of Final Hero (you'll see why in Book Three.) So, way back as far as the first chapters of book one, I was planning book two to be named the Well of Ascension.
I think it's a great title. I've been wanting to release some books with titles that have more classical fantasy feels to them. Well of Ascension really works well. In fact, as I write this annotation, it's December of 2006, and I'm on Book Tour with David Farland. He just got done complimenting me on the title! So, I guess maybe I'm not the only one who likes it.
The title, obviously, comes from the place the Lord Ruler visited to gain his godhood. Hopefully, this indicates to the reader a little bit of what the book will be about. Though, I do worry about this for reasons I'll explain in a bit.
The only other fun thing to note is that I have a devil of a time spelling Ascension. I always want to spell it 'Ascention' instead. Curse my lack of spelling ability! I feel like an idiot every time I write it the wrong way. What kind of writer can't spell the title of his own book? I feel like a punch line waiting to happen.
Hey Brandon! So glad you are doing another AMA!
1. Could you explain a little more about Cognitive shadows? When you first mentioned the name and gave the examples of Kelsier and the Shades from Threnody you kind of gave the impression that they were kind of like ghosts. But this past December at the Orem signing you mentioned that the Stormfather and the mist were also Cognitive shadows. The first makes sense to me, I had an entire theory about that (although I argued he was specifically Tanavast's and not Honor's). The second however really doesn't make sense to me, unless it was actually the mist spirit that is the shadow and that got missed in the report (it wasn't verbatim), but even still Preservation is still alive at that point so how can he have a "ghost"? (Unless him sacrificing his mind to form Ruin's prison counts as "death" in this situation?)
The rest of these feel free to pick and choose which ones you want to answer (I'm finding it difficult to narrow things down, so I figure I'll leave it to you to decide which ones you want answered).
2. Are the Unmade Splinters of Odium?
3. Is the Well of Ascension Preservation's Perpendicularity? Or at least related to it (i.e. one is in the Physical Realm but the other is in the Cognitive but are still essentially different aspects of the same "thing")?
4. What if the Throne of Idris passed to someone who was not the child of the monarch? Like if they were the niece or nephew of the previous monarch. Their parent would not have passed on the Royal Locks to them, but if they gained the throne would they spontaneously manifest the Royal Locks? Would their children if they were born before?
5. Does hair that is still attached to a person's head get cut if a Shardblade passes through it? If not, if that person had the Royal Locks could they change the color of the hair "below" the cut?
6. You've mentioned there is a big Hint in Elantris, and later clarified that the hint is an Aon that Raoden mis-interprets. Is Aon Rao the Aon that Raoden mis-interprets? Is its true meaning something closer to "Investiture"?
7. According to Peter, Mraize is from Thaylenah, does Shallan just never mention his eyebrows or is he not ethnically Thaylen?
8. What are your current plans with regards to the Jasnah novella you wrote last summer?
9. Honorspren and windspren have been described as "cousins"; do Cryptics share a similar relationship with creationspren?
Anyway, thank you so much for answering any of my questions!
On the first question, I did not say the mists themselves were a cognitive shadow. That must have been a misunderstanding. The Stormfather totally is, though. Cognitive shadows are basically ghosts, which can take a lot of different forms in the Cosmere, but follow general rules.
2. Yes. Good guess.
3. You're on the right track.
4. This will be discussed in the Warbreaker sequel, most likely.
5. Yes, hair gets cut. It counts as dead in my mind--but not to someone who has the Royal Locks. They could only change below, as you state, and wouldn't get their hair chopped off. (I'm not 100% sure on this, but I Think I've mentioned in Stormlight before that you can cut things like shells on living animals with a Shardblade, but then it doesn't cut the flesh.)
Lots of questions here. More to come, if I find time.