Stormlight Archive Wiki

The Sunlit Man is the fourth Secret Project announced by Brandon on YouTube, 3/30/22.[1][2]

According to Brandon, he wanted to tell a story of Hoid's apprentices - of which there are three - and Sigzil is the one readers know best. He realized that he really wanted to someday tell Sigzil's story.[3]

This story takes place moderately far into the cosmere's future, but is not a spoiler for Stormlight Five. That said, readers will find out in Stormlight Five what caused this whole thing to happen.[4]

This is Sigzil's story, here called Nomad. He will come out of this book with a different name. And he has a role to play in the future of the cosmere.[5]


"And there we are, Secret Project 4, The Sunlit Man. What to say about this? Well, as I finished up the other batch of secret projects, there was one that I really wanted to write. As I've said before, the other secret projects were written as gifts for my wife. Secret Project 1 and Secret Project 3 in particular were targeted specifically at her as an audience, with Secret Project 2 happening just because I needed something at the moment, and I still gave it to her as a gift. And yet this fourth one is something I've been wanting to do for years. And to explain that, let me tell you a little bit of a story.

The very first piece of the Cosmere that I wrote consciously as a piece of the Cosmere happened somewhere in my early 20s. I had written a story before that would have some elements that became part of the Cosmere. Dalinar was in that, for example. But the first time that I wrote something that you would call Cosmere-aware was a short story about Wit, then called Topaz, who woke up on a brand-new planet in a connected universe - I didn't have the term Cosmere yet. But his goal was to figure out how the magic worked on this planet and see if he could recruit the people there into a faction that was part of an intergalactic war that looked like it was looming, just trying to recruit people for a certain task that he wanted to do. The idea was that I wanted to write a sequence of stories where each one was him waking up on a new planet and trying to recruit the people there, and in so doing, figuring out how the magic worked on their planet.

This is the first seed of actual Cosmere, and I do not have that story anymore. Actually, I only got one chapter into it. It was too big for me to make work at that point in my career. I always in the back of my head thought, “I want to do a sequence of stories like this.”

As the Cosmere developed through Elantris and Warbreaker and Mistborn and The Way of Kings, I decided that Wit was the wrong person to be doing this story with. And that doesn't preclude me from maybe someday doing it, but I like Wit’s travels instead being as they are represented in Secret Projects 1 and 3, where he's telling the stories after the fact. It's a different sort of theme from what I'd imagined of the more brutal, gritty, figure-out-the-magic-system, race-against-time sort of story that I'd developed earlier.

And it became clear to me that the best way to do that story would be with Hoid's apprentices. There are three of them, of which Sigzil is the one you know the best. And I realized that I wanted to do this story. This was years ago that I first started contemplating this, over a decade ago that I started working on what is the story of Wit's apprentices and their explorations of the Cosmere. I liked that idea because they were in different places in their lives than Wit was. And so, I really wanted to someday tell Sigzil's story. He began to lock into the Cosmere in a specific way.

For those who are wondering, this does take place moderately far into the Cosmere's future. This is not a spoiler for Stormlight 5, in that I intend it to be read before Stormlight 5. But you will find out in Stormlight 5 what caused this whole thing to happen. If it's a spoiler, it's not for much in the future of Stormlight. The division point will happen pretty soon here. And this is Sigzil's story, here called Nomad. He will come out of this book with a different name. And he has a role to play in the future of the Cosmere.

I realized as I was finishing Secret Project 3, that when I finished it, there wouldn't be a lot of time left before I knew I would have to be working on the new Stormlight book, and that I would have to set secret projects aside. And so, I sat down and decided I was really going to push myself to write this last one because I've really wanted to get it done in that slot between projects that I knew I had to work on for contractual reasons. Because if I didn't, I worried I'd never get around to it. You guys know I've been talking about some stories like The Silence Divine for many years and not found time to write them. And so, since I was excited for this story, and wanted to get it done, I knew that if I didn't sit down and write it now, it would probably be years before I'd have another opportunity. And so, I pushed a little extra hard.

This is the secret project that I really didn't just kind of do floating in my free time, that I sat down and dedicatedly said, “I am going to get this done.” And it was therefore the most difficult of the writes to do. But I really felt like not only did I need to get it done, I felt like it needed to be part of the secret project Kickstarter that I was planning, because I wanted to give all of you one very familiar book. Obviously it's doing—well, maybe not obviously. Hopefully it's doing some things that you find really interesting and different because it's a different kind of viewpoint. It's a different type of narrative. The goal for this one was some pretty fast action, with things continuing relentlessly, being chased by the sun itself.

But at the same time, I wanted a narrative that felt like the books I had done before because the previous secret projects you've gotten are all pretty different from my normal narrative voice or narrative style. And I just felt like you deserved, after putting up with me doing some bizarre things, something a little more familiar. And so, I wanted to get this into the secret project.

The inspiration for the world, I should talk about a little bit, you might hear me talk about on the podcast that I do with Dan Wells. I had this idea for this planet that was a ball that was rolled around on another planet. It's really weird. It never would have worked. But that was years ago I had this idea, and I discarded that part of it, and I kind of became focused on the idea of a land where you had to keep moving or else. And I liked this idea of powerful sunlight. It's going to require some work to make the physics actually function. The weather patterns on this planet would not be conducive to life, I don't think. They'd be even less conducive to life unless I make some shenanigans happen with some Cosmere aspects I can play with.

So, regardless, this was the story I really wanted to tell, and that worldbuilding felt really exciting to me. It reinforces this idea that Sigzil has to keep moving. And I wanted to play a little bit more with the Threnodites. There were just a lot of really fun things happening that I thought would make this story really interesting and exciting to write and to read.

So, there you are. This is The Sunlit Man. It is the fourth and final of the secret projects. And thank you so much for hanging around for what I’m going to guess was the longest of the readings that I've done so far, but I really wanted to get you to that scene with Wit.

I hope that you guys are enjoying this. And I will be back next week on Tuesday to do a Q&A livestream about this book. So, I hope to see you then!"

–Brandon Sanderson, 3/24/22[6]