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Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#51 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Also, I think it was about time to establish firmly the relationship between Kelsier and Vin. She–if you haven't guessed–has a bit of a hero-worship crush going on with him. It will never be stated explicitly, but it's there, and kind of has to be there.

Kelsier, however, regards her like a protégé, and perhaps even a daughter. That's it. I apologize to those who were looking for a romance between the two. I realize that I'm breaking some laws of storytelling by introducing a female viewpoint in chapter one, then a male viewpoint in chapter two, and not having them get into any sort of romantic way. However, that's not what this book is about. Kelsier is not only much older than Vin, he really doesn't look for relationships any more. Not his focus in life right now.

I never intended there to be any romantic tension between the two of them. However, some of my alpha readers were hoping to find it–and found more than I anticipated. So, I added the lines here from Kelsier about wishing he had a daughter, just so I could make things clear.

YouTube Livestream 10 ()
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Dane Brown

Hypothetically, if Kelsier were to meet Kaladin, what would he say?

Brandon Sanderson

Probably "don't be so hard on yourself, kid." That would probably be what Kelsier says. He would do some version of "I've been there, don't be so hard on yourself. You can't fix it all." That's what my gut says.

Kelsier would really like Kaladin. He's the sort of person that Kelsier just... Kelsier loves to see and recognize the people who are just innately good and trying to do good. He's drawn to that because it's not something that is natural to him, if that makes any sense. He can recognize it, though. And it's one of those things that he kind of wants to preserve in the world. And he would really like Kaladin.

Adam Horne

Would Kaladin like Kelsier?

Brandon Sanderson

Probably not. But Kelsier would probably be just fine with that.

Arcanum Unbounded Seattle signing ()
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Questioner

We've had great topics and discussions about this. If all of your characters were in a death match, who would win?

Brandon Sanderson

Honest truth is Kelsier. This is because of most of the characters, Kelsier is the one that is ruthless enough to get what he wants. Others would not be as ruthless. Kelsier as a character is very interesting to me. My kind of pitch on him to myself was he would be the villain in most stories. Kelsier in a lot of stories being told, in a lot of books that I would write, he's the villain but in this world, at this time, it is what the world needs and he is the hero. That's why I say Kelsier.

Hero of Ages Q&A - Time Waster's Guide ()
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FirstRainbowRose

I just wanted to add in my two cents and say it was absolutely brilliant... and I think I'm starting to be able to breath again (crying that much hurts)...I also really loved that there's an "cameo" for Kelsier at the end... that made me really happy to see.

Brandon Sanderson

Glad you liked the book, Rainbow!

You may want to note that the moment Preservation dropped out and let the last of his consciousness die, someone was waiting in the Cognitive Realm to seize the power and hold on for a short period until Vin could take it up more fully. You'll find him using it to whisper in moments of great stress in the book, to one person in specific in two places. (I'll bet someone on here has already found them.)

He never could just let things well enough alone....

Skyward Houston signing ()
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Questioner

Was there a person in real life that you based the character Kelsier off of ?

Brandon Sanderson

There is not. Kelsier grew out of the idea, primarily, of the thief who is really good at his job, like the gentleman thief, who then picked up a larger purpose. And I kind of built him out of that. I built him first as kind of the con artist that I wanted to have gone through something that changed him. And I explored that and that's just who he became. But there's not really a specific person.

General Reddit 2016 ()
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Evilkill78

While rereading HoA I decided to do a bit of research on an informant. But I also found another interesting tidbit on Theoryland.

http://www.theoryland.com/intvmain.php?i=727#35

This WoB. It implies TenSoon is eventually going to be able to reconnect with Vin, or at least, someone with Hemalurgic spikes is going to be able to communicate with someone that's departed to "The Beyond" (or the Spiritual Realm)...

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, this looks like one where I was tired from answering a lot of questions, and was thinking about Kelsier--I was really excited to write Secret History back then. I realize that it wouldn't make sense for Kelsier to want to talk to TenSoon, but you'd be surprised the things that you say sometimes when you're trying to write in someone's book, keep yourself from giving too many spoilers, but also answer questions. You can go on auto-pilot sometimes for a minute or two, answering questions that my brain THINKS someone asks, when it's not one they actually asked. Or mashing together two questions, and having a kind of crossed-wires brain moment. You can see me do this on Reddit sometimes too, if you look back through my history. I often catch it and edit to explain myself, but not always This was during the era when I was heavily laying foreshadowing to fans for Kelsier's return, so it wouldn't feel like a cheat when I eventually got to Secret History. So I was looking for opportunities to talk about people with spikes communicating with the Cognitive Realm. I can't remember. There's also a possibility that I was still contemplating Vin staying, which she could have done, as someone who'd carried one of the powers. Either way, I made the call that even bringing Kelsier back was dangerous for undermining consequences, and having Vin hang around would be counter to her character arc and the arc of the stories. So Vin and TenSoon won't be talking any time soon. Sorry to shut down conversation on this one, and sorry to lead you on.

Calamity Seattle signing ()
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Questioner

Who were Kelsier’s parents?

Brandon Sanderson

Kelsier’s parents? I haven’t talked a lot about Kelsier’s parents. He's obviously a half-breed. So he was raised in noble society, unlike a lot of the half-breeds. He knew his nature. He gets his skaa half from his mother, but they hid in plain sight. Like, she pretended to be noble.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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ParadoxicalWims

I remember reading a WoB about which of your characters you'd invite to dinner (of which Hoid and Kelsier were two) and you said the both of them have a bit of a problem with each other. Is it anything major and when did this problem happen? (Have they also seen each other again now Kelsier's a cognitive shadow?)

Brandon Sanderson

Big RAFO.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirty-Five - Part One

If you couldn't tell, this is one of the climactic scenes I was writing toward.

I'll admit, I didn't have this exact twist down when I started the book. As I worked through the novel, I quickly began to realize that Kelsier had to have some master plan–something greater than he was letting on. That's just the way his personality is. Plus, I needed something that lent more weight to the book. Made it more than just the simple heist story that I'd originally conceived. (After all, a heist story could be told in far less than 200,000 words.)

Kelsier's real plan wasn’t firm for me until I wrote the scenes with him in the caves, influencing the soldiers. By then, of course, over half the book was written. So, I had to begin building Kelsier's true plan from there–and then do a rewrite to put it in from the beginning.

I had known from the beginning that Kelsier was going to die, and that he was going to gain such renown with the skaa (before his death) that the crew began to worry that he would turn into another Lord Ruler. Putting these two things together so that his growing reputation was part of his plan all along was the realization I needed to connect. Then, I could have the bang I wanted in the ending chapters, when the crew realized what Kelsier had been planning all along.

As surprises go, I think this is one of my better–but definitely not one of my best. It required keeping too much back from the reader when in Kelsier's viewpoint, and it required to much explanation after-the-fact to make it work. There's a much better surprise later on. Still, I'm pleased with the bang on this one–especially since I got to have such a beautiful scene with the crew standing atop the building, the mists coming alight around them, as if representing their own growing understanding of the job they'd always been part of.

Orem signing 2014 ()
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sanderfan (paraphrased)

Did Kelsier chose not to move on after he died or did he want to move on but couldn't for some reason?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

RAFO. The thing is, Kelsier's wife Mare had certainly moved on, and that would be motivating him to go on to the next life.

Skyward release party ()
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Questioner

In Secret History, you talked about Kelsier being attuned to Ruin, more to Ruin than to [Preservation]. How come Vin isn't that way.

Brandon Sanderson

I have to say this very carefully. She is, for reasons I'm not going to explain at the moment, and she isn't, at the same time.

/r/fantasy AMA 2013 ()
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shardfan

Did you intend for the reader to almost believe Kelsier would come back to life... or was I just sort of crazy?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, I did. And whether he is completely gone or not is actually something I want to be more nebulous than many people think it is.

Dragonsteel 2022 ()
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Questioner

With all the bad things that we’ve seen the Ghostbloods do so far (like imprisoning Lift) is Kelsier no longer a good or mostly-good person?

Brandon Sanderson

Kelsier would say he’s a good person.

I would say: Kelsier’s a complicated individual whose moral compass does not align to my same moral compass. But he never was. He would say that he hasn’t changed; I would say that he has changed slightly over the centuries.

Bands of Mourning release party ()
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Questioner

What happens when a... spren picks up a Shard?

Brandon Sanderson

What do you mean picks up a Shard? Shardblade or Shard of Adonalsium?

Questioner

Picks up a Shard of Adonalsium.

Brandon Sanderson

A spren is a Shard of Adonalsium so it just--

Questioner

Picks up one of the big ones like could a spren do the same thing that Kelsier's spirit did after he--

Brandon Sanderson

*hesitantly* It's like you're asking if electricity can gain a charge of electricity and get electrified. Does that make sense? I mean-- It's a question that doesn't make a lot of sense.

If a Shard were to somehow-- They would just combine into a bigger Shard and get larger-- if that makes sense?

Questioner

The foundation of that question was I thought that maybe the Stormfather spren was basically doing what Kelsier's spirit did.

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, um *sighs* Not really... It's really a not really There's some similarities but it's a not really. It's not quite a RAFO though. more of a--

Questioner

More of a "doesn't quite work that way".

Brandon Sanderson

--doesn't quite work that way but you're thinking along the right lines?

/r/fantasy AMA 2013 ()
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AptoCanavalian

Dear Brandon, If you could have a dinner party with six of the characters that you have written about, which six would you choose and why? Would your answer change if the party was in someone else's house?

Brandon Sanderson

Well, it would be tough--I'd have to decide if I wanted the party to be crazy, interesting, or low risk.

For example, inviting Hoid and Kelsier to the same party could result in murdering. Having Sazed around with someone like Jasnah would lead to some great discussions of philosophy.

unknown

Wait--are you implying Hoid and Kelsier would want to murder each other, or that they would team up to murder other people?

Brandon Sanderson

Hoid and Kelsier do not get along. At all.

Tampa Bay Comic Convention 2023 ()
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Tomás Amitrano

So, in Tress's book, the last illustration is Hoid against Riina and Hoid has a very particular shirt with Mare's Flower. Does that indicate that Kelsier has interest in Lumar or was that just artist's inspiration?

Brandon Sanderson

No, that is a canon shirt that Wit has, but it's Wit's shirt.

Tomás Amitrano

So that's a pun against Kelsier?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

The bit about Mare betraying Kelsier was one of the little tidbits I'd been reserving for quite some time. I hope that some of you managed to guess it. It only makes sense, I think, considering the emotional torment Kelsier has gone through. In order for him to be the man I want him to be, he has to have faced a TRUE betrayal–a hurtful one.

JordanCon 2021 ()
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Kingsdaughter613

And I want to know if Kell has worked with Khriss since he met her.

Brandon Sanderson

Worked together...

Kingsdaughter613

To study something.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Kingsdaughter613

So like, they've been research partners on a paper.

Brandon Sanderson

They have worked together.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Kelsier's Bones

I don't know if I mentioned it previously in the annotations, but I originally had TenSoon leave Kelsier's bones in Luthadel, burying them again following his appearance to Wellen and the other guard. My alpha readers, however, were very disappointed in this. They saw Kelsier's bones as a very important artifact, and they wanted to see more from them. So, I added the scene where the people in the warehouse saw TenSoon and he gave them advice, then I had him bring the bones with him.

However, I wasn't sure what to do with them. I'd already written the book at this point, and was just revising. I realized there wouldn't be another chance to make use of the bones. But I figured the readers were right, and TenSoon should bring them just in case.

Where the bones are at the end of the book is something of a mystery. They made it back to the kandra Homeland, I'll say that. However, what happened to them then . . . well, you will have to see.

Miscellaneous 2012 ()
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Brandon Sanderson

"Spoilers," Kelsier said.

"We'll put a warning at the top," Moiraine replied, settling down on the ledge, sparing not a glance for the plunge. "And don't change the topic. I believe that I would win, as you're actually a corpse."

"You're dead too," Kelsier said.

"I got better."

"You did?" Kelsier said, surprised.

"Book Thirteen."

"Damn. I got stuck in Book Ten."

"It's not as bad as people say," Moiraine replied. "Mat's sections are wonderful."

"Well," Kelsier said, "I don't think it matters if you came back. We could just say this is me from the middle of the first Mistborn book. Besides, I think I eventually got better myself."

"Doesn't count. You became a disembodied voice that may or may not have actually been speaking into the mind of a young boy who was probably insane."

"Yes," Kelsier said, "but my series has a long way to go yet. Who knows what could happen? I've heard that some very remarkable things can happen with spikes . . ."

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Sazed Thinks about Kelsier's One Flaw

Kelsier's hatred of the nobility—and the terrible brutality he manifested in killing them—was indeed his greatest flaw. Some would disagree with me. I've read a lot of fantasy, particularly lately, where Kelsier's style of brutality is the norm for characters. Anyone who isn't like that is chewed up and spit out.

White Sand vol.1 release party ()
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Questioner

The Sovereign...

Brandon Sanderson

Mhm.

Questioner

...has a <nail> in his eye. Which eye is *inaudible*

Brandon Sanderson

I am going to RAFO that one. Just in case.

Questioner

Has Bloody Tan seen the Sovereign?

Brandon Sanderson

*laughs* So... here's the thing-- and this is why I'm RAFO-ing these, it's not because of what you think. I'm RAFO-ing these because these the nature of the Sovereign, and who they call the Sovereign, and these sorts of things is stuff that I want to potentially leave for Secret History 2-- or for [Secret History3, if I write more Secret Histories. So the answers are probably simple, right? And they're not ones that are gonna be mind blowing. But I don't want to lock myself down until I've written those, which is why I'm RAFO-ing most of the questions dealing with this, okay?

*a moment later Brandon overhears continued conversation about Secret History*

So, oh, you were asking it that specific way to not give spoilers to someone here? Yeah, I see what you're doing. I see-- I thought you were trying to wiggle out of me something that you weren't trying to wiggle out of me.

Questioner

Not everyone here has read...

Brandon Sanderson

I get it, I get it. I see what's going on.

Questioner

We're not trying to be that *inaudible*

Brandon Sanderson

Okay, okay. I was misinterpreting the intent of those questions a little bit. Yes, being very tricky. Okay. 

*pauses to sign a book*

So the answer of which spike is it? I can answer that one? *interruption* Or really I can tell you--it's in my notes, and I don't have them, but it's not particularly relevant--it's the opposite side of the one where Death's skull was crushed. 

Questioner

Oh, yes. Yes.

Brandon Sanderson

They would look like mirror images if you saw them.

Idaho Falls signing ()
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Questioner

Would Dalinar or Kaladin like Kelsier?

Brandon Sanderson

You know, I think they both would have their issues with Kelsier.

Questioner

'Cause he's more of a rogue.

Brandon Sanderson

It would really depend on what situation they were in. But I think Dalinar would not approve of his methods. And I think Kaladin would empathize with him, but at the end would not approve either. To Kaladin he would probably represent the things that Kaladin kind of wishes he would do, but is too moral to do. And that would be a dangerous thing for Kaladin.

YouTube Spoiler Stream 2 ()
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AAgopal

Is Kelsier in Fortnite is canon?

Brandon Sanderson

It is canon to Fortnite.

Adam Horne

*jokes* But you're saying those dances are not cosmere canon?

Brandon Sanderson

There's one of the emotes that's evasive maneuvers. It looks really cool with the mist cloaked tassels, but no, not canon. I know you asked that tongue-in-cheek.

Probably canon to Fortnite, right? One of Fortnite's canon is all these people come to Fortnite and and hang around, and you know, shoot each other. So I would say that Kelsier is amazingly proficient at firearms for it being Era 1 book 1 Kelsier. Raises some questions how he knows how to floss and shoot a shotgun so well. 

Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
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Glamdring804

While we're on the subject of you and MtG, do you have a spreadsheet or a document somewhere with the color identities of all your characters? Some of them are obvious, like Kelsier being red with maybe a splash of white, but others I can't make a solid decision on, like Vin.

Brandon Sanderson

See, I think Kelsier is blue black--though you're right, he probably has some red to him in his rebellious nature and focus on friendship and emotion. But no, I don't keep track of this. I enjoy talking about it with people, but it isn't an important part of how I design characters.

Glamdring804

Really? Blue black? I see where the blue comes from, and the black as well, but he was always felt like primarily red to me. Namely, his rebelliousness, desire for revenge, and general dislike of society’s structure feel like strong red traits to me. I suppose then, that might make him Grixis?

Brandon Sanderson

I could see Grixis.

Shadows of Self Chicago signing ()
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Questioner

We were talking about Kelsier, and how he was much more powerful than most Mistborn, and how Vin was slightly more than most Mistborn...

Brandon Sanderson

Why were Vin and Kelsier more powerful?

Questioner

I know why Kelsier, but why Vin?

Brandon Sanderson

Vin was not more powerful. Vin just took to it very naturally. She was highly skilled. It was very instinctive to her, but Elend was actually more powerful than she was, if you count just raw power. Vin just knew her stuff. Beyond that Vin is a rare individual that for reasons I have not explained yet, was able to draw in the mists for a little extra boost at times. And there are other characters you have seen do this.

/r/fantasy AMA 2017 ()
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Glorious_Infidel

The part of Mistborn Era 1 that I absolutely loved was how the flower drawing made its way among characters, eventually allowing the Hero to place them on Scadrial again. How early was that little plot piece put into the outline? Did the idea for it come from somewhere in particular that you remember? Little details like this are what make me love your work and I just want to get an idea of where they came from.

Brandon Sanderson

The flower plot started as a way to characterize Kelsier. As I've talked about before, I generally start an outline, then write my way into characters with some actual chapters, then go back and finish the outline with these characters in mind.

I knew I needed a way, after writing a few chapters of the book, to indicate to readers who might have missed it that this world has some strange ecology. Providing the picture of a flower, and talking about how strange it was to them (and the legends of it) became a method of showing this, but also showing Kelsier's feelings about Mare. Once I had it written into the book, I planned for it to show up other places, as a kind of visual reminder of what the characters were fighting for. (Even if the reader didn't quite understand how far it would go.)

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Giving you power!

That voice at the end of the chapter is Kelsier, who can finally speak to Vin, now that her earring is gone. She's close enough to the mists and Preservation's power that he can touch Vin's mind or a brief moment and send a few words toward her.

The last words echo his famous line about the mists, the first thing he taught Vin about them on a mist-wetted street in Luthadel her first night of training.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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DammyJerry

Have you ever thought (just for fun) which KR Order your characters for other books would fit the best? Like, Sazed is Bondsmith, Kelsier is probably Skybreaker.

Which Rosharian Shard, Honor, Cultivation or Odium, better fits with Dalinar's personality?

Brandon Sanderson

I'd agree with the other commenter that Kelsier isn't much of a Skybreaker. But picking orders would depend on what point in the person's life we're talking, and the situation. It's not a hard-fast rule.

For example, young Dalinar is very Odium. Modern Dalinar is very Honor.

Seifersythe

What about Magic: The Gathering color alignments?

Like, would Kelsier be Red/White or Red/Black?

Brandon Sanderson

Kelsier is blue/black. Vin is Red/green. Sazed is white/green--with arguments for mono-white. Elend is red white. The LR is white/black.

mithrilnova

This actually surprises me a lot. I would have expected Sazed to be Bant-colored, and Elend seems much bluer than he does red.

Brandon Sanderson

Actually, I don't know why I said red/white for Elend. Must have been answering quickly. You're right, blue/white is a better match for him. Ham is red/white.

FanX 2021 ()
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Questioner

Is Thaidakar a Cognitive Shadow?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes he is. Have you finished Rhythm of War?

Questioner

I have, yeah.

Brandon Sanderson

So you know who Thaidakar is, right?

Questioner

No. Does it say in the book?

Brandon Sanderson

No, but it calls him... It's Kelsier. They call him the Lord of Scars, someone else confirmed it, it's Kelsier.

Questioner

The "Lord of Scars" thing is what had us thinking, but we weren't sure if it was true.

Brandon Sanderson

It is Kelsier. He's been doing some stuff.

Calamity Austin signing ()
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Questioner

What were your inspiration when you wrote the [Mistborn] series, or for particular characters--

Brandon Sanderson

Well, Mistborn-- I passed, honestly, through a fog bank at 70 mph driving from my mom's house, and I'm like, "This looks cool, I've got to use this." That's the first thought I can think of. Feruchemy goes back to being in high school and being an insomniac, being really tired and wishing I could store up my sleep, so I'd be sleepy when I wanted to be sleepy. Kelsier's inspiration was a guy who had been only out for himself, who realized the greater import of doing something.