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The Way of Kings - Rockbuds

By Inkthinker
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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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Comments22
anonymous's avatar
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HauzKauz's avatar
HauzKauzStudent General Artist
Is The Way of Kings any good? I've heard mixed things about it. But, overall, I find it interesting... :iconowocuteplz:
vick330's avatar
vick330Hobbyist Digital Artist
Great sketches that really look like something a biologist would draw :clap:
elizabethnixon's avatar
elizabethnixonProfessional Traditional Artist
Is that your handwriting? It's gorgeous! I love the believability of the sketches. It looks like a naturalist's sketchbook. I'm going to have to check this book out!
Inkthinker's avatar
InkthinkerProfessional Digital Artist
Thank you, I hope you enjoy the novel! The next in the series is due out in just a few months, we're hard at work on it.

The character who makes these notes in the novels is a sort of amateur naturalist, and that's the sort of thing we were going for. The notes are all hand-written... I wouldn't say it's my handwriting. I did try to be consistent, but mostly we wanted it to be readable, and I'm betting a professional graphologist would catch it as fake. I tell you what, it's a pain in the butt trying to recreate it for the new book.

:D
Kaerlyn's avatar
KaerlynHobbyist Traditional Artist
I love The Way of Kings, and your art is really enjoyable to look at. It helps to bring the books to life even more!
Inkthinker's avatar
InkthinkerProfessional Digital Artist
Thank you!
Prudins's avatar
When I was reading this book and saw these pictures, I was wondering if it was your art. I'm a huge fan of the book and your style. Look forward to seeing your stuff in book 2. Also, your pictures from Mistborn got to pick up Sanderson, and now he's one of my favorite authors.
Inkthinker's avatar
InkthinkerProfessional Digital Artist
Hooray, I'm contributing! :D

I'm so glad you like it. Keep reading, there's a lot more to come!
NoirZone's avatar
NoirZoneProfessional Traditional Artist
Your work on this continue to be very good
CabbyHat's avatar
Hm, I'd suspected that undersea life was an influence. :) I love it, it gives the world such a unique feel that you just don't find in the endless forests and mountains of other epic fantasy. Of course, now I have to start all over on the worldbuilding project I'd been working on that was based on a coral reef. ^^;
Inkthinker's avatar
InkthinkerProfessional Digital Artist
Why? He's not the first to pull undersea life as a design reference for an alien world. most recently Cameron's Avatar does a similar thing.

Yes, you may have to deal with people criticizing it as derivative of something else, but so does Brandon, and so do I. If you have a unique story and your own approach, it's entirely valid for you to use a similar basis. It's what you do with it that counts most.

All world-building is a process of development. Few things spring to mind fully-formed, everything is derived from external influences that are processed through your unique point of view, and you're just as likely to come up with a new twist as any of us.
Raven-Of-Azarath's avatar
Raven-Of-AzarathHobbyist General Artist
Prickletac are like a hellish crossover of said tree coral and a cactus. I've never been in personal contact with coral (not counting jewelry, of course) but as a native Nevadan, cacti suck to interact with.

In other words: do not want.
Inkthinker's avatar
InkthinkerProfessional Digital Artist
It's like a cactus that would pull all its spines in when you get too close. The needles are more like those of a pine tree than a cactus, which makes them actually leaves rather than spines. They're flexible, and slightly flattened. Though you could still stick your hand with the leaf tip pretty good if you mess with 'em.
Raven-Of-Azarath's avatar
Raven-Of-AzarathHobbyist General Artist
Much like an aloe leaf, I suppose? I think they are called leaves. But they do have the flattened spines and suck when you get stuck with them, though the pointies don't come off like they do with cacti.

...I just really hate cacti. They are the jackasses of the plant world. :(
Inkthinker's avatar
InkthinkerProfessional Digital Artist
Aloe is awesome, though. I've always got at least a couple of those, there's nothing better when you're skin is burned. Everyone oughtta have at least one.

:D
Raven-Of-Azarath's avatar
Raven-Of-AzarathHobbyist General Artist
Aloe is only good when you break it open for the goo. :P
1pez's avatar
I love when creators go this extra step to make their universes alive. great stuff!
Inkthinker's avatar
InkthinkerProfessional Digital Artist
Brandon's that kind of writer, it's one of the factors that initially drew me to him.
1pez's avatar
That's bad ass. ^__^
Caivman's avatar
Love the Pomegranate reference :-)
Inkthinker's avatar
InkthinkerProfessional Digital Artist
The Lavys is very much like a pomegranate, which is funny 'cause I don't remember if that came up in the design phase, but it probably should have.
smokewithoutmirrors's avatar
smokewithoutmirrorsProfessional General Artist
If my biology textbook had had stuff like this in it, I'd have paid more attention. :D I'm really liking the different stages of each plant; it gives it a deeper sense of reality, even though the plants are obviously fictional.
anonymous's avatar
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