Words of Radiance (planned for release in November 2013)
Stones Unhallowed (Working title of the third book)
Highprince of War (former title of second book. Changed when focal character of second book was shifted. May still show up as the title of a later book, likely the fifth)
Books four through ten, which have yet to be announced.
This series provides examples of:
Abusive Parents: Shallan's father had a horrific temper. Fortunately, he had a soft spot for her, so she only saw it a few times, and he never hurt her. Unfortunately, her brothers were not so lucky. They're pretty screwed up because of it.
Parshendi females, if Dalinar's hypothesis of their battle pairs actually being Battle Couples is right. Sanderson's readings from the second book confirm that yes, female Parshendi are warriors too—and not only that, but Eshonai, the parshendi shardbearer Dalinar fought, is a woman.
Jasnah might also be one, depending on how far her abilities go — she can certainly handle herself fine if she has to.
Although not one yet, Shallan might become one later since she has a shardblade.
Artifact of Attraction: Shardblades and Shardplates technically don't qualify, since the attraction isn't supernatural, but they're so incredibly valuable the difference is academic.
Artifact of Doom: Shardblades, possibly. Syl mentions that she doesn't like Shardblades, and that Dalinar is a better man for giving one up. According to the Word Of God, Syl, an honorspren, is specifically attracted to Kaladin because he refuses to take a Shardblade offered to him.
Backstory: Kaladin gets the most of it, but other major characters have elements of their pasts revealed that make their motivations and characters clearer. Word Of God says that each of the ten books in the series will focus on the backstory of a single character the way the first focused on Kaladin's.
Badass: Many. Any Shardbearer is guaranteed to be awesome by the nature of the armaments. Kaladin and Szeth stand out in particular, and Kaladin isn't even a Shardbearer. Dalinar, on the other hand acknowledged as badass even for a Shardbearer — at least, when he's not holding back.
Roshar is apparently a land without soil, has random seasonal changes every few weeks, and is scoured by hurricane-force storms on a near-weekly basis. Adaptations include grass that retreats into holes in the rock when threatened.
The Parshendi race has shades of this. We know their bones are red, and they grow their armor as part of their bodies.
Also inverted when it comes to the country of Shin. Highstorms don't reach there, so the ecology of the region is a lot more similar to Earth, even to the point of having strawberries and chickens. Visitors to this land from the rest of Roshar find it extremely strange.
Chekhov's Gun: All over the place, but especially noticeable in the Distant Prologue, with the Heralds and the Last Desolation. The names of the Heralds themselves are important, and the lost Herald is the most obvious, but even the color of the blood on the ground becomes important later on.
Cliffhanger: The book ends with the Herald that was abandoned at the beginning of the book walking into the capitol of Alethkar and collapsing, possibly dead. According the prelude, the heralds swords would disappear if they died, so he's most likely alive.
Cool Horse: Ryshadium horses; bigger, stronger, and smarter than virtually any other breed. They choose their own riders and are apparently very picky; Dalinar estimates that no more than a dozen men have been chosen, out of the hundreds of thousands in the warcamps.
Continuity Nod: There are a number of small references throughout the book to Sanderson's larger multiverse, i.e. the start of Chapter 18 mentions a man named Ati who, in the Mistborn books, was the god Ruin. Also, the character Hoid.
Cryptic Background Reference: Many, though in particular the anonymous letter excerpts given at the start of certain chapters contain many references to mysterious people, places, and events.
The Old Magic and the precise nature of spren in particular. They're mentioned often, accepted as part of the world... but never truly explained.
Cryptic Conversation: A strange example. When people die slowly, in such a way that they can still speak at the end, they sometimes spout off a cryptic line that no one understands. Taravingian is collecting these, and at least one is a line from the Lost Herald. Another is directly prophetic of an event that happens at the end of The Way Of Kings.
Cynicism Catalyst: Kaladin becomes increasingly reluctant to try to help others, because it always ends badly for them. The death of his little brother Tien is the start of this.
Deadpan Snarker: Shallan, who seems to have the sort of mind which automatically deconstructs every sentence she hears and prepares a witty retort, and the King's Wit, a character whose job it is to provide the royal court with snarky running commentary. Jasnah can also descend into this when her sense of humor shows through her usually stoic countenance.
Determinator: Kaladin, when he's not heart-rendingly depressed.
Elemental Embodiment: Spren. There are traditional elemental spren like flamespren and windspren, but there are also spren for certain activities (creationspren for creating art, musicspren for performances), emotions (fearspren, gloryspren), biological processes/conditions (rotspren appear on infected wounds, lifespren appear near health plant life, hungerspren appear around someone starving, etc), and other things (starspren, which look like shooting stars but can change direction; deathspren, a mythological spren that are only visible to people who are very close to dying).
Empowered Badass Normal: Kaladin, sort of. For the first half of the book he doesn't do anything supernatural as far as we can tell, and the nature of his abilities makes it hard to tell if he's doing anything magical at all, but he gradually does more and more obviously supernatural things. It's hard to tell exactly when he starts developing powers, but he certainly didn't have them to begin with.
Emotions vs. Stoicism: Played with; Kaladin believes, teaches and was taught that caring about something or someone gives you a reason to fight harder, while most soldiers tend to favor stoicism over emotions.
Epigraph: These appear at the beginning of each chapter. For the first and last sections, they are quotes from dying people that are collected in Taravangian's hospital. The second section is correspondence from who appears to be Wit/Hoid to an "immortal" - possibly another Shardholder. The third section lists quotes that Jasnah has collected in her research regarding the Voidbringers.
Dalinar is a general leading his people in a hopeless war, finding himself disgusted by his people's blind lust for vengeance, struggling to raise his son, also a military leader, in righteousness under those conditions, greatly interested in history, and receiving visions from God. The parallels to Mormon, author of The Book of Mormon, are striking. Not surprising considering Sanderson is an active member of the LDS faith; similar themes are common in his books.
Szeth is more than a dead ringer for an Assassin. Especially at the start of the book when he wears white clothes and makes a deliberately public and spectacular assassination. Between his speed, mobility, unusual abilities, hidden weaponry, and tendency to both feel for his victims and speak with them after dealing the fatal blow, Szeth's introduction could pretty much be ripped straight from an assassination mission in Assassin's Creed, although the precise mechanisms (i.e. Shardblade instead of a Hidden Blade and Surgebinding instead of genetic Assassin abilities) are different.
Extreme Doormat: Szeth-son-son-Vallano. If his master commands anything, he will do it without question, with two exceptions: He will not kill himself, and he will not give up his Shardblade.
Eye Awaken: Kaladin promises to do this after his execution, mainly in the hope that his bravado will leave a legacy. Then he really does it.
Eye Color Change: It is believed by many characters that if a person with dark eyes wins a Shardblade their eyes will become light. Notably Szeth's eyes are normally dark green but become pale blue when he is actively using his Blade, he notes this is unique to his particular blade, so it's not entirely clear what the actual situation is.
Famous Last Words: Roughly around the same time that Gavilar Kholin was assassinated, people around Roshar began spouting cryptic ravings near-death. which are apparently the result of seeing something while at death's door. And someone is recording them, going by the epigraphs. King Taravangian is deliberately killing people to record their last words, though at least one person who was dying in this manner realized what was going on and refused to speak of what he saw.
Fantastic Honorifics: "Brightness" is used to refer to lighteyes in much the same way as "lord" or "lady" would be used for nobility. "Brightlord" is also used, but seems to be reserved for those of much higher rank than the speaker.
Fantastic Light Source: Spheres, which double as money (see Fictional Currency, below). When infused with Stormlight, they glow; the brightness and color of the light depends on the size and type of gemstone, respectively. Diamond spheres make the best light sources, as they're pure white; a mark is almost as bright as a candle, and a broam is several times that — and (unlike candles, lamps, or torches) they don't flicker, don't give off smoke, and last for a week or so before needing to be re-infused. Clear goblets are filled with spheres and used as lamps; "wasting" spheres on light is something of a status symbol.
Fantastic Racism: Between lighteyes and darkeyes, and between Alethi and Parshendi/Parshmen.
Fantasy Counterpart Appliance: Spanreeds are a convenient way to communicate in writing, not unlike texting or a very fast telegram. Spheres, because of their Stormlight, are used in affluent areas as lightbulbs.
Field of Blades: This happens for about fifteen seconds when the Knights Radiant abandon their Shards in one of Dalinar's visions, up until the watching soldiers realize the Shards are free to take.
Fictional Currency: "Spheres", which are glass beads with gemstones embedded in them. The spheres themselves are always the same size, but the gems inside them come in three different sizes; chips, marks, and broams. Nine different gemstones are used; their relative value is based on their usefulness in Soulcasting (see Magic A Is Magic A, below). To make things even more complicated, sometimes different names are used for the gems. Details
Spheres are roughly the size of a person's thumbnail, usually with one side slightly flattened so you can set them down without them rolling away. Chips are the smallest denominations, with just a tiny shard of gemstone; marks are larger, worth five chips; broams are the largest. Different gems used include diamond (the lowest), garnet, sapphire, ruby, and emerald. We're never given exact conversion rates, but it seems to work in multiples of five. Their alternate names are descriptive; diamonds are "clear", garnets are "blood", sapphires are "sky", and rubies are "fire" — eg, a clearchip is a diamond chip, a firemark is a ruby mark, etc.
Fictional Document: The eponymousThe Way of Kings is a book derided as borderline blasphemy by modern Alethi, due in part to such silly ideals as making peace with your enemies. Jasnah also peruses plenty of these in her pursuit of information on the true nature of the Voidbringers.
Four is Death: Before Kaladin turns things around, Bridge Four has the highest mortality rate.
Friendly Enemy: Dalinar and Sadeas were actual friends before Gavilar was assassinated. Now, while they still have respect for one another's abilities and are cordial in person, Sadeas wants to outmaneauver Dalinar however he can, and while Dalinar wants to still like and trust Sadeas, deep down part of him knows Sadeas probably doesn't deserve it. He doesn't.
Gambit Pileup: There are a lot of different factions, some more mysterious than others, and all seem to have their own agendas.
Genius Bruiser: Kaladin, a skilled surgeon in addition to having enough martial skill to kick all kinds of ass.
Gone Horribly Right: Kaladin's "bridge shield" idea works incredibly well. So well, in fact, that the Parshendi ignore them in favor of easier targets, and the other bridges try to copy the idea but make a mess of it. The end results are not pretty. Though later on, the bridge shield maneuver saves the entire team when some Parshendi flank Bridge Four while trying to rescue Dalinar's army.
Gravity Master: Szeth. By the end of the book, Kaladin has begun to develop abilities in this vein too.
Henpecked Husband: Matal, a minor lighteyes. He usually lets his wife do all the talking for him, but when she's not around he's actually pretty reasonable.
Hive Mind: It seems that the Parshendi have something like this. They have an uncanny ability to sing in time and in tune with each other... even when out of earshot.
Hollywood Atheist: Subverted. Shallan expects Jasnah to be like this, but she's actually a much more sympathetic (and interesting) character. Jansah's atheism is a personal philosophical stance; she'll enthusiastically defend it in an argument, but she doesn't try to force on others.
Hollywood Tactics: Discussed and ziggzagged. The terrain around the Shattered Plains makes it very difficult for the massive Alethi armies to actually pin down the Parshendi for a decisive victory, forcing the Alethi highprinces to establish a "siege" by occupying the western end of the plains (which is the only way out of the region) and whittling down the Parshendi through attrition while fighting over the extremely valuable gemhearts that can be recovered from pupating chasmfiends. However, as time passes, the Alethi tendency to make everything into a competition has led to the highprinces being less concerned with winning the war and more concerned with outdoing each other by winning the most gemhearts. This results in the highprinces essentially fighting in an uncoordinated fashion to inflate their own egos and status, and the way the war is being dragged out puts strain on the whole country.
Holy Hitman: Szeth-son-son-Vallano, Truthless of Shinovar.
Honor Before Reason: Dalinar's rivals accuse him of this; also what binds Szeth to what's essentially slavery.
Hostile Weather: The highstorms. They strike every few days, blowing from east to west, and are so powerful that being out unprotected in one is literally a death sentence. They've also scoured all dirt and soil from the eastern half of the continent (leading to some bizarre plants and animals), and bring the mystical Stormlight that powers everything.
Humanoid Abomination: The things that appear in Shallan's drawings, which look like human figures but wearing stiff cloaks made of metal and whose heads are shaped like strange symbols. Jasnah apparently is more familiar with them (they are somehow connected to Soulcasting) and Elhokar is seeing them in mirrors as well....
I Am A Monster: King Taravangian agrees he is when Szeth calls him out on it.
If I Wanted You Dead: A rare hero-on-hero example. At the end of the book, Dalinar says this to King Elhokar almost word-for-word after delivering a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown to prove his loyalty. By showing that he could kill him if he wanted, but leaving him alive, he shows that he doesn't want him dead at all.
Elhokar: So you're not going to kill me?
Dalinar: Storms, no! I love you like a son, boy.
Important Haircut: Important shave, actually. When Bridge Four pools their money to buy Rock a razor to thank him for the cooking he does for them, he not only uses it for himself, but also acts as an impromptu barber for the rest of the crew. This marks an important turning point, where the bridge crew have started to feel like people again.
It's Raining Men: According to Dalinar's visions, the Radiants could arrive for battle this way.
Jackass Genie: The Nightwatcher, who will grant seemingly any wish, for a price. In fact, most people who go to the Nightwatcher end up regretting it. The only person (we've heard of) who didn't was one man who made his wish to feed his family through a harsh winter. His curse was that he literally saw the world upside-down for the rest of his life. It was weird, but he got used to it. For Dalinar, the Nightwatcher erased all his memories of his wife. He can't remember anything about her except that she existed, and whenever someone speaks her name, all he can hear is static. As of The Way of Kings, it's unclear whether this is his curse or his wish.
Language Equals Thought: Averted. In Alethkar, the lighteyes are the nobility, and the darkeyed version of Alethi doesn't appear to treat them as separate concepts. Rock runs up against this when trying to talk about how nobility works in other countries, but no character shows any particular trouble recognizing the idea of lighteyes not being on top.
Laser-Guided Amnesia: Dalinar was cursed so that he can no longer remember his late wife. Even to the point where he can't quite make out her name when other people say it.
Last Request: Before he dies Gavilar gives his assassin a dark-glowing sphere of unknown origin and nature, to keep away from "them", and a cryptic message for his brother. Szeth obliges in taking the sphere and leaving the message because he believes the last wishes of the dying are sacred. The cryptic message causes even more confusion when it is found, however, because Szeth leaves it as though Gavilar himself wrote it yet in Alethi culture only women write and read.
Literal Genie: Subverted. One character thinks that the Nightwatcher works this way, and plans to word his request to her carefully enough that it doesn't backfire. His friend informs him that this isn't how the Old Magic works, though; the Nightwatcher will grant you your wish just like you wanted it, but she will also place a curse on you which she feels is equal to the wish's value. Sometimes the curse makes the wish ironic, but it's often completely unrelated.
Lost Technology: Shards. Scholars have been trying to replicate them for as long as anyone can remember, but only recently has any progress been made in the form of "half-shards"; shields that can block a shardblade, but don't grant any of the other benefits of Shardplate.
Magic A Is Magic A: There are at least two different (though related) systems. Soulcasting can turn any material into a specific material, depending on the type of gemstone used as a focus (eg diamond is used for crystal, quartz, and glass, while emerald is used for food), and is widely used by the ardents, clergy of the Vorin religion. Surgebinding, completely unknown to most of the characters in the novel, makes its users stronger and faster, as well as giving them a minor Healing Factor; Windrunners, hinted to be one of several types of Surgebinder, can also use the "three lashings", a form of Gravity Master powers that change the direction of "down" for a specific object (the basic lashing), binds objects together (the full lashing), or pull things toward an object (the reverse lashing). Both systems are powered by Stormlight, which must be captured in gemstones left exposed to highstorms in order to be used later. Notably, Soulcasting works through Magitek and can be used by anyone with the proper tools and knowledge, whereas Surgebinding is a power possessed by the person and is granted by forming a bond with a special type of spren. Although there are some people who can Soulcast without a fabrial. According to Word Of God, innate Soulcasting ability is actually a subset of Surgebinding.
Magic Knight: The Knights Radiant in the backstory. Szeth and ultimately Kaladin during the main novel.
Magitek: Fabrials, which are essentially steampunk-type devices which run on Stormlight, and are used for a variety of purposes, including Soulcasting. Though Jasnah and Shallan don't need them to Soulcast. Shardplate and Shardblades represent a much more ancient and advanced form of Magitek, though the secrets of creating them have been lost (not that people don't try).
Mana: Stormlight functions like this when used to directly power magical abilities.
Meaningful Echo: Each of Szeth's chapters begin the same way: "Szeth-son-son-Vallano, Truthless of Shinovar, <the rest of the sentence>."
Kaladin originally didn't like his name because it sounded too close to a lighteyes name (which are frequently one syllable off from being a palindrome), but he gets over it. This mirrors his later hatred of lighteyes (including his refusal to become a shardbearer, because doing so would make him a lighteyes), but eventual reconsidering. The end of The Way of Kings also sets him up as Dalinar's Number Two — the next best thing to a lighteyes, without actually being one.
Given that Word Of God says the Almighty is named Honor, Honor Chasm could have an entirely different meaning.
Medieval European Fantasy: Odd subversion. The Alethi and related cultures at first seem to be this, with their knights and castles and lords and so forth, while other cultures like the Shin seem like Wutai. But then there's an interlude where we actually visit the Shin lands, and in fact they are much more 'normal' feeling to the reader because they have fertile soil and plants that are familiar to us (such as strawberries and non-motile grass) but treated as exotic and alien by the Alethi.
Metafictional Title: The namesake book is something between a holy book, philosophy, and a chivalric code.
King Taravangian. According to Word Of God, this is not a true example. Taravangian's intelligence actually changes randomly from day to day. This is probably a curse or boon from the Nightwatcher. So in the scene with Jasnah and Shallan, he's not obfuscating anything, he's actually an idiot that day.
Also Wit, though in his case it's more that he appears to refuse to take anything seriously than that he's stupid.
Oh My Gods!: "Stormfather!" and "Living Heralds above!" are both commonly used as exclamations. Also, "Damnation" is used in place of "Hell", and if you don't like someone you tell them to "Storm off."
The Order: The Knights Radiant, founded by the Heralds. The Knights Radiant were actually divided up into ten individual orders (even called such in-universe), though all of them seemed to be Shardbearers. Word Of God says that each order had two types of magic like Soulcasting or Surgebinding (see Magic A Is Magic A, above) and each of those was shared by two orders (the diagram on the inside front cover of The Way of Kings illustrates this).
Our Nudity Is Different: The cultures based on the Vorin religion consider a woman with her left hand (the 'safehand') bare to be provocative. Commoner women wear a glove to cover it while noblewomen wear dresses with left sleeves that cover the entire arm and hand and button shut. At one point we see a prostitute, who wears a short-sleeved dress, and Kaladin cannot take his eyes off her safehand.
Peace Conference: The prologue to The Way of Kings is on the day of one. It doesn't end well.
People of Hair Color: Certain nationalities have hair colors strongly associated with them — black for the Alethi, red for the Vedens, and gold (not blonde, but actual, shimmering gold) for the Iriali. You can even tell people of mixed nationality, because they usually have multicolored hair in streaks.
The Shin are basically the complete inversion of the Alethi. They consider warriors, "those who take," as the least of their society, and treat them as slaves. Farmers and the like, or "those who add," are given the highest position, since they are contributing to the world. Although never stated outright, one would assume they likewise hold their women in very high esteem.
Also the Thaylen culture appears to be heavily mercantile, most of the Thaylens we see are merchants, and Kaladin's father mentions that every Thaylen he ever met tried to cheat him.
Proud Scholar Race: Thanks to the strict gender roles of the Alethi (and the Vorin religion in general), Alethi women are like this, while their male counterparts are closer to a Proud Warrior Race.
The Alethi deconstruct it; most brightlords are more interested in looking the part than living it. In addition, many Alethi have the "Thrill," a form of bloodlust that grips them in battle, and they've become so glory-hungry that they consider even thinking about peace cowardice.
Purple Eyes: Jasnah and her mother both have them. In this world, though, it's not an uncommon color for a lighteyes.
Spooky Photographs: Not really photographs, but Shallan's drawings of the symbol heads certainly fits the trope.
Stable Time Loop: Maybe. Can Dalinar alter the past in his visions, or are they just a sort of interactive memory?
Stay in the Kitchen: The Alethi and related cultures (i.e. most of the people we meet) have this for both sexes—only men are permitted to be warriors, but only women are permitted to be scholars (unless they join the ardents), and it is taboo for a man to be literate; men are only expected to know the simpler ideogrammatic glyph system rather than the alphabet.
Summon To Hand: Shardblades work this way; they literally vanish into thin air when released, and appear in the owner's waiting hand ten heartbeats after they decide to summon it. (Literally; someone whose pulse is racing can call their Shardblade faster than someone who is calm and collected.)
Technicolor Eyes: The Alethi (and most of the rest of the continent) are split into "darkeyes" and "lighteyes," based (obviously) on eye color. The lighteyes are the rulers, and their eyes are things like gold and violet and white in addition to more mundane colors like blue and green (although dark green is a darkeyes color).
The Tower: Used metaphorically in two different ways: First, the Tower is one of the glyphs (along with the Crown) that makes up Dalinar's House symbol. In this sense it probably represents power. Second, it's the name given to a large plateau in the Shattered Plains, so named because it's tilted and rises up on one side. The name here represents calamity, as no Alethi assault on the Tower has ever succeeded. This is definitely true as of the end of the book.
The Unpronounceable: Numuhukumakiaki'aialunamor. Most would prefer "Rock" too. Oddly enough, his name actually translates to "Rock". Several different kinds of rock, specifically all the different kinds of rock his father discovered before he was born. And it's a poem. Poems-as-names is typical for his culture.
Syl telling Kaladin "I am honorspren". It explains two major questions — why she's different from other windspren and the nature of her relationship to Kaladin — and provides a whole new perspective on things in three words.
And then this, together with Dalinar's realisation a few lines earlier that the words he has been hearing were a recording, and not an interactive conversation as he had assumed.
Almighty: "I am... I was... God. The one you call the Almighty, the creator of mankind. And now I am dead. Odium has killed me. I am sorry."
Jasnah and Shallan realise that the Voidbringers are the parshmen.
All the more dramatic because it has not yet been explored, but Shallan (when required to give up a secret truth) revealing—to the reader at least—that she killed her father.
You Are in Command Now: Kaladin pulls one of these near the end when rescuing Dalinar's army. As basically the only one still capable of rational thought at the time, he starts ordering around soldiers who completely outrank him. Up to and including Adolin. It should be noted that he pulled this off despite the fact that, as a slave and a bridgeman, Kaladin has zero social standing and zero right to give orders to so much as the camp prostitutes, much less the heir to another highprince's army.
You Just Told Me: Kaladin gives Teft an order in military jargon, to which Teft responds appropriately for a sergeant, revealing some of his hidden backstory
You Kill It, You Bought It: The ordinary way to obtain Shards. Whoever strikes the killing blow on a wielder gets to take the Shards for himself. Note that this is more social convention than anything to do with the Shards - Kaladin refused to take up one he earned in combat, in his backstory, and someone else took it instead.
Mostly shows up with the people of Shin versus those from most other countries. For example, the Shin people value humility above all else (to the point that their trade negotiations consist of merchants downplaying the value of their goods rather than exaggerating them) and consider walking on or otherwise touching or damaging stone to be disrespectful. After travelling throughout the other lands, Shin viewpoint character Szeth reflects that it's rather hard to hold foreigners to these rules considering their lands don't have soil covering the bare rock.
The Horneaters have a caste system based on the order in which children are born, which defines their vocation. When Rock explains this to the other bridgemen (mostly from Alethi-related cultures), the oddest part to them is that the Horneaters do not consider being a warrior to be the highest and most respected vocation.
Crosses over with Deliberate Values Dissonance, but this is also true of the general culture we see with the Alethi and related peoples compared to the readers. For example, how literacy is restricted to women.