SF & Fantasy

Brandon Sanderson: Concerning Words of Radiance


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Brandon Sanderson is working his ass off.

He has three books publishing this year, four if you count the short story he wrote for the Unfettered anthology. A Memory of Light by Brandon and Robert Jordan published in January. The Rithmatist publishes in May. Unfettered publishes in late May. And Steelheart publishes in September.

Those books are finished though. So what does an author do when they have finished books on their hands? They write a new one!

The Way of Kings made a big splash in the fantasy pool. It is an epic epic epic fantasy in the tradition of Wheel of Time, the beginning of a multi-volume epic that will span at least 10 books. Brandon has been hard at work on its sequel.

And now he has shared a title for it as well as a few working titles!

From Brandon Sanderson:

One of my goals for the Stormlight Archive, which you may have heard me discuss, is to focus each book on a specific character through a series of flashbacks. In a large series like this (the Stormlight Archive is two five-book sequences), it can be difficult to give each volume its own identity. By devoting a sequence of flashbacks in each book to a specific character, I can better separate the volumes in my mind–and therefore make them more distinctive to readers.

(By the way, the fact that Book Three will be Szeth’s book and Book Five Dalinar’s should not lead you to relax and take for granted that they will survive until those books. They might indeed; but I decided early on in the plotting that I was fine with having a flashback sequence at any point for a character who had died in a previous book. Just saying…)

The Way of Kings was Kaladin’s book. He will have a lot to do in Book Two, of course, and you can expect some great sequences within his viewpoint. However, the flashback sequences in Book Two belong to Shallan. In my notes for the series, I had planned for Shallan’s book to be named after the tome she is given at the end of the first novel: The Book of Endless Pages. On Roshar, that is a book of knowledge that can never be completed–because people should always be learning, studying, and adding what they’ve learned to it.

I don’t always think out book titles with marketing in mind, and a title isn’t set until the book is finished. In this case, once I mentioned the prospective title to my editor, he grinned and said, “Uh, are you sure you want to name a very long, very thick fantasy book The Book of Endless Pages?”

I hadn’t seen it, but as soon as Moshe mentioned it, I found myself chuckling. That’s not a good reaction to a book title. Now, if I’d still been in love with the title, I’d have kept it no matter what–and let the reviewers have their fun. However, the more I thought about the title, the less I liked it. It didn’t quite capture what the book was about.

And so, the search for a new title began. Naming books can be really, really hard. Some do pop out immediately (The Way of Kings, for example), but finding others can be as productive as beating your head against a wall. The more you work on the book, the more it takes on a distinctive identity to you–and the harder it is to name it, since you have a “feel” for the book in your head and need a name that truly fits that.

Lots of people weighed in with their feelings on Stormlight Two. For a while, I toyed with titles that still had “book” in them, as I liked how that fit with Shallan’s scholarly nature. The Book of Lies was one of these, as was The Book of Dusk and Dawn. (As a side note, being a fan of Magic: The Gathering makes naming things harder sometimes, since the creative team over at Wizards has named A LOT of cards–and the titles I think of sometimes sound too much like things they’ve done. That’s why Book of Fact and Fiction was dead the moment it occurred to me.)

Moshe suggested Lightweaver as a title. It was thematically important (as a hint, one of the orders of the Knights Radiant was the Lightweavers) and hence appropriate. However, having just been involved in a book called A Memory of Light, I wanted to avoid having “light” in this title.

In the last few months, the title that has really been sticking with me is Words of Radiance. (Admittedly, “radiance” is a synonym for “light,” but at least it’s a step away.) With “words,” it still has a slight tie to my original desire to have “book” in the title, and I believe it’s significantly meaningful for people who have read the first novel. It also works very well for reasons that I can’t tell you now without spoiling the story.

So there we are! Words of Radiance. The book finally has a title. Now if I can just get back to writing the thing, life will be groovy. (And for future reference, I don’t expect this will be the only entry in the series to change names from its working title to its real title. Stones Unhallowed, Szeth’s book, might change. Highprince of War, Dalinar’s book, most certainly will.)

— Brandon Sanderson

As of right now, Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson has a tentative release date of November 2013!

Now get to writing, Brandon!

We want another book!


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