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I think he can actually do both Werthead Send a noteboard - 20/02/2012 03:31:00 PM
I heard him discuss the topic with a small group of fans at the end of a signing, as he was rewriting Way of Kings.

Someone asked about Hoid, and Sanderson embarked on this explanation that he had this kind of personal game, that he's always loved to put limits and rules on his writing before even beginning to envision the story development (he's far more comfortable and stimulated by that than by open systems he later bends to fit a developping plot, he said doing that was very important for some writers but for him it made him fall into lazy storytelling habits) and that he had this kind of meta-system he's created very early on, a kind of larger cosmology he's challenged himself to include in most of his novels. That cosmology has some rules he forces himself not to break when worldbuilding for a new setting. He gave the impression that for the most part the more overt signs of this in the books were for the more "geeky fans" who like himself like this sort of things, and that he expected the more casual readers to totally overlook this and it was fine. He did say however, that in some of his series like the Stormlight Archives he was likely to include more elements from the "meta system" as the story demanded it. He didn't give the impression of someone who had a big masterplan to gradually unveil the cosmology through multiple series, he really rather sounds like he was having fun with the constraint he put on himself with this element the average readers are not terribly conscious of.

It sounds like the DRAGONSTEEL series will be a keystone of his setting. The first volume of that series, THE LIAR OF PARTINEL, already existed as one completed draft from before even ELANTRIS, and he was working on a second, much more advanced draft when the WHEEL OF TIME gig came up. Apparently he was already having second thoughts on LIAR being his next book as it 'revealed too much' about the overall cosmology. So when Tor asked for his next solo novel, he went with WAY OF KINGS/STORMLIGHT instead, despite having a lot of LIAR done already.

It sounds like - and we may be off-base here - that DRAGONSTEEL is basically the origin story of Hoid and the whole 'Shards of Andolasium' thing (each one of the sixteen Shards grants godlike powers to individuals, turning them into superbeings; Ruin and Preservation from MISTBORN are both Shards, turning normal humans into godlike entities). It sounds like it will be presented as 'just another fantasy series' and only as the story concludes will fans realise that this is where Hoid and the 17th Shard and whole thing started from. You won't need to know about the setting beforehand before seeing it revealed there.

Or to put it another way, all the rest of the Cosmere stuff is foreshadowing for DRAGONSTEEL which can be followed or ignored at will, it shouldn't make a huge amount of difference.
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