Tor.com reader/dedicated Sanderson fan Jeremy Guebert recently attended the When Words Collide festival in Calgary, and was not only gracious enough to crowdsource questions to ask Brandon, but has offered to share his notes from the Q&A, so that we can pore over and pick apart Brandon’s answers to our hearts’ delight! Topics include how we can help with the Mistborn movie, thoughts on worldhopping in the cosmere, and what might happen if Szeth wielded Nightblood from Warbreaker, nothing too spoilery as long as you’re all caught up on Words of Radiance, so check out Jeremy’s notes on the Q&A below, and his full con report here!
Please note: I did not take audio recording of asking these questions. This information is based on a combination of the brief notes I took at the time I asked the questions and my memory of the elaborations and explanations I received. While the overall content and intent of the answers should be reasonably accurate, the exact wording is not, so please do not base any theories on very specific details related to the phrasing. [My comments/thoughts on Brandon’s responses in square brackets]
My own personal questions:
Q: What is the home planet of the Ones Above (from Sixth of the Dusk)?
A: They are from a planet you have seen before. [Implies that this could be Scadrial, as we have prior WoB that the Scadrians will eventually get FTL. However, it was also mentioned as a response to a different question I overheard, that they won’t be the only ones to get FTL, so that isn’t confirmation.]
Q: How much can you explain about Dalinar’s armour and how he was able to “mentally unlatch his gauntlet”?
A: This is definitely something a regular person couldn’t do with regular armour. You can see in his visions hints of how the armour used to work. This is similar to Shardblades, and more will be revealed later. [This would certainly support the idea of minor spren becoming the Shardplate, but as mentioned, this wording is not exact, so it could just mean that it’s exciting/cool and will be better to read about when it happens live in-world than it would be to just be given the information.]
Q: What are the pre-requisites for someone becoming Returned? Does it depend on how much Breath they have?
A: It does not depend on the quantity of breath, but I’m not revealing the specific pre-requisites, since I need to save something for Nightblood. [aka Warbreaker 2. This was the question that got me my RAFO card.]
Q: What’s going on with the Mistborn movie, and how can I get involved?
A: One of the conditions I set for the movie is that there has to be an open casting call. [Meaning anyone can audition for roles in the movie]. The film branch of Little Orbit [the company producing the Mistborn: Birthright video game] has purchased the rights. If they complete the game within 18 months, they can renew their rights and keep working on producing the movie; otherwise, the rights will go up for sale to someone else.
Q: Is the order of the Ideals fixed? E.g. does Kaladin have to say the Windrunner Ideals in a specific order, or are they situation-specific?
A: Yes, the sequence is fixed. The oaths for each order are essentially a progression of understanding of the kind of person that each Order of Knights Radiant is trying to produce. The specific wording of each Ideal is not fixed, but the overall idea of each Ideal, and the order in which they are spoken, is.
Q: Does Wit specifically treat people differently when he knows they’re (going to) have a spren bond? (E.g. Renarin, Dalinar)
A: Yes, Wit treats people differently, but it is not because of present or nascent spren bonds. He has an opinion of what each person needs to hear. He isn’t always correct in this opinion, but he tries to give people what he thinks they need. In Dalinar’s case, he simply has too much respect for the man to be glib. In Renarin’s case, he believes that the boy has had more than enough being broken down, and is much more in need of being built up.
Q: When Honor speaks of his inability to see the future, he likens it to a shattering window. Is this related to the fact that in the not-too-distant future, he himself will be splintered? Or is it more a matter of Intent; e.g., Cultivation (and Preservation?) is geared toward future development, whereas Honor is geared toward current behavior.
A: This is not related to his impending splintering, it is a matter of differing Intents.
Q: There are hints in WoR that the thrill is tied to an individual entity that Taravangian has studied, possibly one of the Unmade. Does this have anything to do with the hints of why the KR turned away? Were the Unmade some of those who did whatever-it-was that tore them apart?
A: [This is the one where he stopped me partway through asking, probably due to the wording]. Does it have anything to do with it? Yes. Is it the root cause or the primary reason? I’m not going to reveal that right now.
Q: Syl gives Kaladin the choice to have any number of weapons or a shield. Pattern can be equally a sword or a small knife. Are spren limited to being items of war or could they be put to other uses? Could the surge binders less geared toward battle use their spren to make ladders, rope, etc?
A: No, this is not restricted to articles of war. [So Shardrope could totally be a thing.]
Q: We know that Mistborns needed to Snap, and Surgebinders needed have the cracks in their souls filled. But what about the people in Warbreaker or Elantris? Is cracking and snapping only required on certain worlds?
A: This is universal to the Cosmere; however, in certain magic systems / on certain worlds, this is easier than others.
Answers overheard or shared from other Sanderson fans (see especially Khyrindor’s 17th Shard post):
Q: What’s going on with Alcatraz?
A: The fifth and final book has been written, but not edited. In addition to the current 4-book omnibus edition out in the UK right now, there will eventually be a 5-book omnibus edition available in North America after the 5th book is published. [No firm date that I got on that, as it depends on when he can find time to do the editing in between other projects, and will be after the books are re-published by Tor individually.]
Q: Is it possible to worldhop accidentally?
Q: If Hoid doesn’t get along with Cultivation, why did he use her Shardpool instead of Honor’s?
A: You’re making assumptions. But using a pool doesn’t require permission.
Q: What were to happen if Szeth were to wield Nightblood?
A: Nightblood works by drawing on the Investiture of a person who is Invested. If that person’s Investiture runs out, he will feed on the Investiture of their soul/life force [paraphrased]. This is what kills people on Nalthis when they wield him after they are out of Breath.
Q: Does Zahel need to take special precautions to ensure his survival during the weeping?
A: Yes, he does. Ensuring there are enough gemstones of suitably large size, etc. [This, along with the question above, implies very strongly that Investiture is more or less interchangeable, and that part of the reason Vasher is on Roshar is that it’s easier to get fresh Stormlight than fresh Breath.]