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The Way of Kings - Rockbuds

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One of six illustrations scattered amongst the lavishly illuminated pages of Brandon Sanderson's new epic fantasy series The Way of Kings, describing the natural flora & fauna found in the novel.

Rockbuds are the most ubiquitous family of plant life scattered across the storm-wracked lands of Roshar. There's many different types of rockbud, but they do share a certain biology: they all possess a sort of "shell" into which they pull their leaves for protection against predators and the storms.

The Common Rockbud is the one which Brandon initially described, one which appears to be a spheroid rock of some sort, but which unfolds to reveal thick, vine like roots that seek out nearby water sources. The "panels" that close up around the plant are actually its leaves, which posses a thick, fibrous stalk that contracts to pull the leaves together. The core of the plant is heavy enough that even if its tossed about by the highstorms, it will settle upright. These are found everywhere in the wilderness, seen frequently in and around the Shattered Plains. They're a common food source for larger creatures like wild chulls, which gain some of the minerals they use to build their "shells" from plants like this.

The Lavis Polyp is a common variety of grainbud, which contains a thick network of seeds that are similar to rice or wheat. The grain must be separated from the sandy, inedible meat that surrounds them, but once processed they serve as a food staple for many people.

Vinebuds and the Prickletac are a couple of rockbud types born from the early pitch roughs I created for Brandon in late '08, based on his design mandate referring to underwater life as a basis for plants and animals (this is why so many of the animals are based on arthropods). The vinebud is based on the sea anemone, and the prickletac is a combination of barnacles, tree coral and the grass of Roshar (which is also a form of rockbud, I guess, since it pulls in on itself when threatened). "Twisted Spine" was my own name for the prickletac, which builds upon the shells of the previous generation to create spreading "branches" that actually consist of dozens of individual plants. As the branches grow too large, they shatter and spread the smaller plants to create new colonies.

The vinebud is rarely mentioned by name, but appears on Michael Whelan's beatiful cover for the book in its retracted, bubble-lookin' form. "Fingermoss" is mentioned directly, it resembles a vinebud with much smaller leaves and no stem, but many more tendrils.

As with all of Shallan's sketchbook pages, I tried to indicate some aspects of life cycle or anatomical detail, to reflect her naturalist's approach to sketching. Hopefully my 9th-grade biology education is enough to fake it through.

:D

©2008-2010 Brandon Sanderson, all rights reserved. Check out more on The Way of Kings at Tor.com
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HauzKauz's avatar
Is The Way of Kings any good? I've heard mixed things about it. But, overall, I find it interesting... :iconowocuteplz: