Brandon Sanderson gave us a great panel for San Diego Comic-Con at Home! He started off with a reading from Chapters 7 and 8 of his upcoming entry in the Stormlight Archive, The Rhythm of War, before answering some spoiler-filled questions about the series.
If you’d like to read The Rhythm of War completely unspoiled, but watch the Q&A portion, you can skip ahead to the 15:34 mark. Having said that, be aware that Sanderson specifically requested “spoiler-filled” questions from Reddit for this Q&A, so spoilers for The Stormlight Archive as a whole will abound.
Selected highlights from the Q&A:
What kind of spren is Oathbringer, the Shardblade?
Oathbringer is not technically a spren. Why I call these things the Honorblades, and how the whole Sharblade concept fits in—these are literally pieces of Honor’s soul that he splintered off and formed weapons out of for the heralds. These didn’t actually have sentience in the way the spren forming most of the Shardblades, they’re literally, a piece of the god who ruled this world, turned into weapons. The spren who were also are also pieces of the same divinity saw what was happening and this became a model by which Shardblades came about. Oathbringer doesn’t have a spren—if you want to call it something, you can call it a sliver of Honor that has been manifest in physical form.
Shardblades cut organic and inorganic matter differently. How would they interact with an animated construct like an awakened straw man? What about a Lifeless?
Something that’s animated like an awakened straw man is likely going to block the Shardblade as a powerful investiture would. A Lifeless is probably just going to act like it was a living being.
How is Nale’s spren still with him? Is his spren as wacky as he is? Or is it dead, and he still carries it around?
Nale’s spren is alive, the high spren—I would say “wacky” is probably a decent term for them. I would blame some of how Nale is acting more on the high spren, obviously it’s partially being a Herald and all the things he’s gone through but they are all on board for this. So read that as you will—the ones that are making Radiants of the Order are on board for it. You’ll get to see Szeth interact with his a little bit—there’s not a ton of Szeth in this book, but you’ve got a few chapters…you’ll get a better picture of the high spren from that moment.
Did the Sunmaker see visions of the Stormfather too?
He did not! Sunmaker was basically my version of an Alexander the Great—or a better example would be Genghis Khan—one of the great warlords from the past. He did not see the visions of the Stormfather.
Shardblades burn out the eyes of their victims and Deadeyes have their eyes scratched out in Shadesmar. Is the connection here purely thematic?
I would lean more on this being a Roshar thing with the eye color, the eyes being scratched out, the Shardblades burning out the eyes—mostly it’s me trying to connect a theme in this magic system. As you might know, Shardblades originally did cut flesh, I wrote the entire prologue, and it’s Szeth and the others cutting flesh, and hoo boy was that bloody. These are books about war, but it was just so gory, that I was like, “let’s back off on this, and have it burn out the eyes instead” and I liked it way better that way.
If Vasher and Shashara had awakened a non-weapon in exactly the same way as Nightblood—say a shield—would the object exhibit the same properties as Nightblood?
If you said “Destroy evil!” to a shield, it wouldn’t be exactly the same, the command is the most important part, but the way the weapon perceives itself, and how you perceive it, is all going to play into this. They were playing with some real dangerous stuff when they made Nightblood, and it didn’t go as intended.
Did the Ones Above seek out First of the Sun specifically or did they stumble upon it by chance?
You can see in Shadesmar where planets with intelligent life on them are located. On one hand, you can stumble across them, but on the other, you’re going to know which systems have intelligent life. Specifically First of the Sun has this weird thing where it has kind of a Shardpull, but no Shard in attendance, getting there they knew it was there but couldn’t get through, so visited it in the physical realm intentionally—so it was originally “stumbled upon” in Shadesmar.
You’ve mentioned before that Odium is scared of Harmony. Is that only because of the raw power of the two Shards or is he scared of what Harmony represents—the possibility of merging two Shards? Was he aware that this was possible?
He, on one level, was aware, but it was more an awareness of “this is a possibility.” It actually happening is part of what has him scared. It’s the idea of two merging Shards both being more powerful, and finding Harmony, which Sazed is having way more trouble doing than Odium realizes. Those two things really have Odium scared. Partially this means he has to find a way to destroy or split Harmony, without taking up a second Shard himself—because Odium knows that if he takes up a second Shard terrible things will happen… the more he learns about Sazed’s actual state the less afraid he’ll probably be—but that’s the advantage Sazed has right now.
Brandon Sanderson’s The Rhythm of War will be out this November from Tor Books!