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Hero of Ages Q&A - Time Waster's Guide ()
#51 Copy

Kaimipono

Allomancy is fueled by Preservation's body? How exactly does that work? And how does that interact with Atium—it's fueled by both gods' bodies?

Brandon Sanderson

The powers of Ruin and Preservation are Shards of Adonalsium, pieces of the power of creation itself. Allomancy, Hemalurgy, Feruchemy are manifestations of this power in mortal form, the ability to touch the powers of creation and use them. These metallic powers are how people's physical forms interpret the use of the Shard, though it's not the only possible way they could be interpreted or used. It's what the genetics and Realmatic interactions of Scadrial allow for, and has to do with the Spiritual, the Cognitive, and the Physical Realms.

Condensed 'essence' of these godly powers can act as super-fuel for Allomancy, Feruchemy, or really any of the powers. The form of that super fuel is important. In liquid form it's most potent, in gas form it's able to fuel Allomancy as if working as a metal. In physical form it is rigid and does one specific thing. In the case of atium, it allows sight into the future. In the case of concentrated Preservation, it gives one a permanent connection to the mists and the powers of creation. (I.e., it makes them an Allomancer.)

So when a person is burning metals, they aren't using Preservation's body as a fuel so to speak—though they are tapping into the powers of creation just slightly. When Vin burns the mists, however, she'd doing just that—using the essence of Preservation, the Shard of Adonalsium itself—to fuel Allomancy. Doing this, however, rips 'troughs' through her body. It's like forcing far too much pressure through a very small, fragile hose. That much power eventually vaporizes the corporeal host, which is acting as the block and forcing the power into a single type of conduit (Allomancy) and frees it to be more expansive.

Oathbringer Chicago signing ()
#54 Copy

Questioner

So, in Allomancy, most of the metals are in pairs, they're equal and opposite, pushing and pulling, Rioting, Soothing, that kind of thing. The god metals have always-- lerasium and atium, have always struck me as kind of unbalanced in a way. Like, lerasium gives you the power to use all these metals, plus atium being one of them. Is there a reason for that?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, there is, and it kinda has to do with Snapping and some of the fundamental rules of the Mistborn world and the fact that people have Preservation and Ruin inside of them and all these sorts of things. So, the answer is yes.

Partially, narratively, I built that in partially just 'cause I wanted atium to seem odd in the placement, right, when people got to it it's like "What? Why is this one-- This one doesn't match the others. This doesn't really work." When I was building Mistborn, one of the big things I wanted was this idea of a periodic table that was, kind of a flawed construct, that, as you read the books, you came to understand better and better. And that was something I executed-- I don't think I executed that 100% right, but I'm pleased with the general concept and how it plays out. And so I wanted atium to stick out like a sore thumb.

The other thing is, I knew I needed some good foreshadowing for Fortune, for people being able to kinda see the future or versions of the future, for the whole cosmere to work. And, so, I built in atium specifically to do those things. And I built in lerasium to have, kind of, the ultimate sort of benevolent endowment sort of thing. (Not Endowment the Shard, you know what I mean.) But I also wanted to show these two magics were intrinsically tied together on Scadrial because the way that humankind was created. We're getting into some deep stuff, I'll just leave it there. But that was what was going through my mind as I was building those things all out. 

General Twitter 2015 ()
#56 Copy

BrandonColevander

How come the base 8 abilities come in pairs by base metal & alloy, but the higher ability pairs are not related?

Peter Ahlstrom

Which book are you on? Things change after the first book. They don't understand things as well as they think.

BrandonColevander

I've read all 4 several times. Ex: electrum is a gold alloy yet it is opposite of atium & malatium opposite gold...>

Peter Ahlstrom

Alloys of atium can't be thought of as establishing any pattern.

BrandonColevander

@PeterAhlstrom there are alloyS (plural) of atium?! Any chance that atium or its alloys show up again in any of the upcoming novels?

Peter Ahlstrom

RAFO :)

Shadows of Self Chicago signing ()
#57 Copy

Kurkistan

Is it practical for an Oracle to get more out of electrum than Vin and Elend tried to?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. It is totally possible.

Kurkistan

So if you could see your shadow wince when it turned left, you would think "Oh, Mrs. Peabody's around that corner. I probably shouldn’t turn left!"

Brandon Sanderson

It is possible to squeeze more out of it than they did.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#58 Copy

Wigginns

What would a Hemalurgic spike granting atium do for an Allomancer already able to burn atium? Does it function similarly to bronze, granting enhanced atium-ing? Along this line of thought, would enhancing electrum burning via spike be of any advantage?

Brandon Sanderson

A spike of something you have would enhance your ability, giving your more strength. With atium, more strength makes for a minimal edge--the length you can push out the atium shadows. However, there's a certain breaking point where you kind of crack the whole system, peer straight into the [Spiritual Realm], and kind of have a "It's full of stars" moment.

Electrum could reach this same moment, potentially, though there's more interference to fight through. Extra strength in electrum isn't going to be terribly useful up to that point.

Alsadius

Is that what happened when atium was burned with duralumin?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Words of Radiance Philadelphia signing ()
#60 Copy

Questioner

Which of your characters do you think would win in a fight?

Brandon Sanderson

At what stage in their career?

Questioner

Not the Slivers.

Brandon Sanderson

Okay, so they don't count, the Shards of Adonalsium don't count… Does Kelsier have atium?

Questioner

Yes, atium exists.

Brandon Sanderson

A Mistborn burning atium is really hard to beat in any other way.

Questioner

So you think that Kelsier would beat Vin?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, Kelsier would beat Vin if he had atium and she didn't. If they both did? Vin has more raw talent, Kelsier has a lot more experience. So if you can pick Vin after she's had more experience she will give him a fair fight, but before that she will not.

Shadows of Self release party ()
#62 Copy

Questioner

Before Preservation locked up Ruin, or whatever, or if Ruin had won. Would atium exist?

Brandon Sanderson

...There are timelines where there would be no atium.

Questioner

...So if Harmony exists, does atium exist?

Brandon Sanderson

Atium does not exist because there is no Ati. Well there is atium left over from before, but--

Questioner

So it was only part of Ati's body and not part of Harmony's body.

Brandon Sanderson

There is no atium, there is no Preservation any longer, there is no Ati.

Questioner

So does harmonium exist?

Brandon Sanderson

...There's no Leras and there's no Ati, there's no Ruin--

Questioner

Does harmonium exist then?

Brandon Sanderson

Good question.

Starsight Release Party ()
#64 Copy

Questioner

What if you had a Twinborn who had atium for both and he burned atium that was stored?

Brandon Sanderson

So, I'll RAFO that. I believe I've RAFO'd that in the past so I'll RAFO it again. 

Footnote: It was revealed in Era 1 that Feruchemical atium stores youth. Compounding atium was what gave The Lord Ruler his longevity. Brandon may have thought the question was about compounding aluminum, for which we do not know the effects.
Calamity Philadelphia signing ()
#65 Copy

Sandastron

If someone burned atium in the modern era, after Sazed changed things around, would it do the same thing that it did in the previous era?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes it would.

Sandastron

It would? Interesting.

Brandon Sanderson

If you could find some.

Sandastron

If you could find someā€¦

Brandon Sanderson

If it didn’t then Marsh would be dead.

Sandastron

Good point.

Brandon Sanderson

If it changed its powers.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Using the Atium

I hope that the use of all that atium in this chapter was spectacular enough for you—after all, I waited three books to finally have them find the Lord Ruler's cache. I think that discovering it before this moment would have been anticlimactic. In books one or two, it would simply have meant wealth. The characters getting rich is all well and good, but I think that would have meant a letdown for the reader. All of that anticipation for something so mundane?

Instead, I wanted to use an entire army's—or at least a large platoon's—worth of Allomancers burning atium to fight two hundred thousand koloss.