Infinity Blade: Redemption debuted at the top of the iBooks charts this week. Redemption follows the events of Infinity Blade II, with archenemies Raidriar and Siris imprisoned together in the Vault of Tears. Hugo Award-winning author Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn, The Way of Kings) wrote both Redemption and its predecessor, Infinity Blade: Awakening in close collaboration with ChAIR. We asked Sanderson five questions about Redemption. We hope you enjoy the discussion.
BRANDON SANDERSON: I remember as a little kid saving up to buy my first Nintendo system, and I’ve been a gamer ever since. You don’t do what I do and not at some point want to be involved with video games.
I never had a great opportunity until Donald from ChAIR got in touch with me through a mutual friend and wanted to have dinner. He had some ideas he wanted to discuss. I’d heard of ChAIR and knew they’d been doing great stuff. We had a wonderfully creative dinner where we sat and chatted about Infinity Blade, what they wanted to do with it, how they were fans of my books, and how we might work together. It seemed like a great opportunity for me. The video game world is very removed from what I do, but gaming is a hobby of mine and I wanted to be involved. So we brainstormed, and the idea was that I would write a book that would be a sequel to the first Infinity Blade game. It was exciting to me because the game had all these hooks for a story, but the game itself didn’t have much of a story yet. It gave me a lot of freedom to explore and to extrapolate and to ask, “How do you take some things that work in games and actually make a cohesive setting for a story?”
What did you learn from the first Infinity Blade novella that you applied to writing its sequel, Infinity Blade: Redemption?
SANDERSON: It’s been really cool, actually. I’ve done a second book now, and it’s been a little like juggling chainsaws. On the first book, Donald gave me Infinity Blade, and I played through it and liked it. Then I wrote the first book, which extrapolated on the game and took the story in new directions. After that, I tossed the story back to him and the team at ChAIR, and they made Infinity Blade II, building on those new concepts. Suddenly the characters that I’d added became main characters for the game and expanded on that. Then ChAIR tossed it back to me with this fun and terrible situation for the characters in the game, and I built upon that for the second book. It’s been really fun going back and forth, brainstorming and working together on all of it. It’s been a blast to see what I do for a book influencing what ChAIR does with the game and then for me to be influenced by that when writing another book.
When it comes to the second book, what is now going on in this world?
SANDERSON: Infinity Blade is fun because it’s this retro, postapocalyptic world where there is hidden technology. There’s this sense that these beings, the Deathless, have been around for thousands of years and had lived in our world—but our world went through some sort of apocalypse, and it’s never talked about what that was. So, one of the things I got to do in the second book was to do a flashback sequence from our time, or in the slightly near future, and show the bridge that led there. While at the same time, the characters were left in a pretty grim situation that I had to get them out of and propel us forward in character arcs. I get to do a lot more character development in the books, but in a game there isn’t as much time to spend on the characters since it’s more focused on action and gameplay. Infinity Blade: Redemption is this sequence of flashbacks mixed with the present time of the games, bringing the characters toward their natural conclusion.
SANDERSON: With the first book, we were pretty timid since we were both sort of new to this and hadn’t worked together before. Nobody wanted to step on anyone’s toes. They’d had partnerships with other writers but none that had ever influenced the game in this way. We grew much more comfortable as we worked through the first book, particularly when working on the script for the second game. It’s evolved into a very creative environment. It’s been a blast.
What do you love about the Infinity Blade universe?
SANDERSON: I love this half medieval/half futuristic world, which is something I’ve never done. Of course, it’s been done in science fiction very well. I love the Sword of Shannara books, and it kind of reminds me of those, which are classics of fantasy. And Anne McCaffrey’s Pern books, which I really like—this idea of a fallen culture with technology out there. But the fun thing here that doesn’t exist in any of those works is that we have these beings that have set themselves up as gods—and you approach them in the games as if they’re these divine beings—but you learn that they’re just people who have a lot of technology. This dichotomy, this blending of science fiction and fantasy into a cohesive story, is a really fun concept to me.