red book collection

Uniform development exists, at most, only at the beginning; later,
everything points toward the center. This insight gave me stability,
and gradually my inner peace returned. I knew that in finding the
mandala as an expression of the self I had attained what was for
me the ultimate. Perhaps someone else knows more, but not I.
Some years later (in 1927) I obtained confirmation of my ideas
about the center and the self by way of a dream. I represented its
essence in a mandala which I called “Window on Eternity”.
Carl Gustav Jung “Memories, Dreams, Reflections”

Window on Eternity mandala by Carl Gustav Jung from the Red Book.

I went to the Brandon Sanderson signing today at B&N, and I learned a lot. Sort of.

I also earned my first RAFO card. And got more RAFOs, some of which genuinely surprised me.

Here’s a very paraphrased summary of what my group asked, and Brandon’s answers.

My eldest kid is the champion at getting answers to Nightblood questions:

Q: Is there a finite amount of Investiture?
Brandon: Yes.
Q: So, is Nightblood reducing the amount of Investiture in the cosmere?
Brandon: Yes. At a very slow rate, but yes.

My friend asked for Brandon to write something about Harmony in her Alloy of Law.

He wrote: “Harmony could go by another name, if he was not as good at controlling both of the Shards.”
Brandon: And some of you might already be able to figure out what that would be.

We later speculated about what the opposite name would be, and people far smarter than me thought it might be Discord, since it’s the opposite of Harmony.

The question I asked to be written in my copy of Warbreaker:

Q: Why did Vasher Return? What did he want to accomplish?
Brandon: …You know what I’m going to write, don’t you?
Me: Oh no, I think so…
Brandon: *writes RAFO in my book* And you get one of these. *hands me a card*
Me: But, it’s about the past, why not–
Brandon: Well, it’s very relevant to the future books.

I am decidedly not the champion of getting answers. 

So I tried an easy question.

Q: Who is Lady Truth?
Brandon: *stares intensely* Who do you think it is?
Me: Um, I want it to be Tindwyl…
Brandon: *looks at me with wide eyes and closed mouth*
[At this point I got mad because I was NOT expecting THAT question to not be answered. My friend said, “No, wait, he’s going to answer–” but he didn’t.]
Me [frustrated]: Why is THAT a secret?!
Brandon: It’s not a secret, exactly, but it’s [my memory fails me here, and I can’t remember exactly what excuse he gave for not answering that very simple question. More information is apparently forthcoming about Lady Truth.]

I’m still stunned that he wouldn’t answer. I had no idea that this was something we aren’t supposed to know yet.

My daughter asked another simple question:

Q: What does Glys look like?
Brandon: I can’t tell you. What Glys looks like is important. 

I was getting pretty disconcerted. I honestly thought that all of these were very easy questions that would get straightforward answers. 

My friend asked:

Q: How many planets has Vasher visited?
Brandon: He has visited fewer than six.
Me [interjecting]: That’s a squirrelly answer!
Brandon: I’ve already given you lots of information!
Isaac Stewart [also interjecting] [something about how Brandon’s answers are often squirrelly]

I don’t feel like I have enough information to come to any real conclusions about any of this. Overall it feels like just as much was revealed from what he didn’t answer as what he did, at least indicating that many of the things I thought were fairly idle questions, are more weighty than I realized.

My emotions were high during all of this, and I’m sure it’s colored my recollection of events. I may update with a real transcription later, since it was recorded, and there are certainly things I didn’t hear or didn’t absorb.

The only thing I’m certain of is that, after a total of 1 single answer out of the 5 questions I have ever personally asked Brandon, I have freaking earned that RAFO card.


One is never, of course, supposed to judge a book by its cover, but sometimes a book’s cover is just too perfect not to appreciate it. At top, two examples of book bindings that beautifully reflect their contents: Stories from the Arabian Nights, as illustrated by Edmund Dulac (1907) and with a similarly decorated spine, and Moths and Bufferflies of the United States (1900), in a limited edition reprint whose binding features gold stamped butterflies.

At bottom, an example of “what was the book binder thinking?”: Andrew Lang’s The Red Fairy Book (1890) and The Blue Fairy Book (1889), bound in matching green morocco.

From the Rare Book Collection, University of South Florida Libraries