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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.

JordanCon 2016 ()
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Brandon Sanderson

*reading a personalization request* Did Kelsier fill copperminds for reasons other than to share knowledge? Did he want to forget certain memories?

*written* Yes. Yes.

Those may not be causally related. You asked two separate questions and got two separate answers.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Three

So, Kelsier is very interesting to me as a character. Mostly because of what we see in this chapter. He is a man of dichotomy, which is one of the themes of this novel. On one hand, he's the joking, lighthearted man you see in the second half of the chapter. On the other hand, however, he's a very dangerous, even ruthless, man. He laughs at himself in this chapter, but he wasn't faking when he acted the way he did. There is an edge to Kelsier I've never built into a hero before. Sometimes, he makes me uncomfortable.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Elend comparing himself to Kelsier is a kind of theme for him in this book. I wanted Kelsier to leave a long, long shadow over these next two books.

A lot of people couldn't believe that I killed Kelsier, since he was such a ball of charisma, and the driving force for the first book. (A lot of others CAN believe it, but are rather annoyed at me for doing it.) However, I happen to like this book specifically because of Kelsier's absence.

He overshadowed everything when he was alive. Elend could never have developed as a character–and even Sazed and Vin would have had trouble–as long as Kelsier was there dominating everything. He was a character at the end of his arc–while the others are still only just beginning. It's so much more interesting if they have to do things without him.

Just part of Kelsier's arrogance, I guess. Both as a character in the book, and externally to it. He dominated so much that he had to go.

JordanCon 2018 ()
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chaplainchris

The Ghostbloods. Are they Kelsier's new crew?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, good question... Do I wanna answer this or not? *laughter* I'm gonna RAFO this one. Yeah, we're gonna RAFO this one. It is the RAFOlympics after all.

Billy Todd

Have there been interactions between Kelsier and the Ghostbloods?

Brandon Sanderson

I will RAFO that.

/r/fantasy AMA 2013 ()
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i_are_pant

1. Which of your protagonist characters do you dislike the most as a person? Taking into account that you know all of their inner secrets and motivations.2. On the flip side. Which of your antagonists do you connect with the most? The Lord Ruler seems an obvious choice as he was misunderstood by everybody for so long. But still, I'm curious.

Brandon Sanderson

  • This is a tough one, as while I'm writing, I HAVE to like everyone. However, the most disturbing of them is probably Kelsier. He's a psychopath--meaning the actual, technical term. Lack of empathy, egotism, lack of fear. If his life had gone differently, he could have been a very, very evil dude.

  • Elend. I see myself as an idealist like him.

Barnes & Noble B-Fest 2016 ()
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Questioner

Kelsier vs. Kaladin, who wins?

Brandon Sanderson

Kelsier is meaner. Kelsier is sneakier. Raw power - I'm not sure, but I'm gonna go with Kelsier. If its on a battlefield, Kelsier doesn't win. If its off the battlefield, Kelsier wins. Kaladin is a soldier. He can fight a war and fight with a team and he can win a battle. Kelsier can sneak into someones house and stab them.

Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
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Questioner

At one point, you mentioned that Kelsier scared you. Could you talk a little more about why?

Brandon Sanderson

So, Kelsier is one of my favorite characters. I like them all, whoever I'm writing, right? But one of the things that makes Kelsier tick is (and this was my original pitch for him to myself) in another story, he'd be the villain. Kelsier has this hard edge to him. He's one of those people that, when channeled wrong, he becomes the best and most interesting villain. But he happened to be in a situation that pushed him the other direction, and he became a hero. But he still has that edge to him. And there is a darkness to Kelseir that doesn't exist in most of the heroes in my books. Someone like Kaladin has a darkness to him, too, but a darkness that they're fighting against. Whereas Kelsier has embraced this darkness. It is part of what makes him him. So, Kelsier is a little frightening to me as a writer, just because he's a character that I can't guarantee will make good decisions.

MisCon 2018 ()
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Glamdring804

In Way of Kings, Jasnah recommends to Shallan the Devotary of Sincerity. Their motto is "There is always something more to discover." That sounds very similar to our favorite Mistborn psychopath's saying; is Kelsier connected to that at all?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO.

YouTube Livestream 32 ()
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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. 

FanX 2018 ()
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Questioner

Is there a reason Kaladin is always talking about the Survivor.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. The Survivor? No. You're trying to get me to slip up on something; no. He does not know Kelsier, nice try.

Questioner

But are they connected?

Brandon Sanderson

Only thematically.

Writing for Charity Conference ()
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Zas678 (paraphrased)

Is there some reason why both Vin and Kelsier are half-skaa, half-noble, both natural Allomancers, both end up overthrowing the Lord Ruler, and have siblings that are seekers.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Both were heavily influenced by Ruin in doing what they were doing. So there is a connection there, maybe not the one you're looking for, but Ruin was looking for talented Mistborn that were easy to manipulate and talented Mistborn tend to come from talented Mistborn lines, and so Ruin is looking for that, and they both end up fitting that role. And the thing is, is that the half breeds ended up being easier for him to manipulate and easier lost in the shuffle of things, so they weren't paid attention to as much by the Ministry, because the Ministry didn't know about them.

So it's mostly coincidental for what Ruin's trying to achieve

JordanCon 2016 ()
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Brandon Sanderson

*reading a personalization request* In the concept of an unreliable narrator, there is a...scope of unreliability. One can be limited by perspective, another can be unreliable with intent. Could you...examine the second type in the Cosmere? Who would be a good example?

Hoid can be very intentionally misleading. The thing is, there aren't many first person viewpoints in the Cosmere stories so if its ever from someone's actual viewpoint-- Like Kelsier is a little unreliable in his viewpoint in that he doesn't go into his plan, which is technically unreliable narrator and it technically is by intent, but it's more like, he's like "I can't think about this" and stuff, but is also him lying to the reader a little bit. Does that make sense? Kelsier is probably the best example of unreliable narrator.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Kelsier gets to have some last words in this chapter. He earned them, I think. I'm sorry to keep the truth of kandra from you so long, as I've said before. However, I needed to leave the explanation off so that the reader could experience the revelation with Vin here. Even if you'd already figured out what Renoux was, then I think this scene is more powerful by having the revelations happen like they did.

Anyway, Kelsier is among my personal favorite characters, if only for his depth. He is a complicated, multi-faceted man who managed to scam not only the entire empire, but his own crew at the same time. I felt I had to give him some last words, if only through a letter, so that the reader could bid him a proper farewell. In addition, I wanted him to pass that flower on to Vin–symbolically charging her with Mare's dream, now that Kelsier himself is dead.

General Reddit 2018 ()
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sockmop

Who would win in a fight, Kaladin with no Shards but with Surgebinding and his favorite spear (aluminum tip) or Kelsier with the first nine metals of Allomancy?

AndTwoYears

Kelsier, I think, if Kaladin doesn't have Syl with him. But it may depend on nearby metal sources.

Alternatively, they come to a shaky alliance where they both fight against the nobility but still get on each other's nerves. [Brandon] care to weigh in?

Brandon Sanderson

If they came to arms, Kelsier would try to kill Kaladin in his sleep, most likely. But it depends on a lot of factors, and I think your alternative is the most likely.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

As Vin herself points out, this is the second time she has forced Kelsier to take her with him when he was planning on going alone. This time, however, is different–or, at least, I wanted to be metaphorically different.

If Vin hadn't been along, Kelsier would have charged the army. He'd probably have died, and that really WOULD have been the end. He's got an impulsive streak. Vin, however, learned from her near-death at the palace. Mistborn are not invincible–something that's harder for Kelsier, even still, to grasp.

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.

Shardcast Interview ()
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FeatherWriter

I have to ask about using the word "avatar" for Thaidakar sending avatars... does Kelsier actually have anything resembling a real avatar or is he just using the word and lying through his teeth?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh yeah, he's mostly lying through his teeth. Basically — this is not canon, because I might come up with a better [idea] - but in my head, I have him with a large cloak with a Seon on top indicating his face [hosts laugh] It was something along those lines. He wants them to think that he is capable of getting to Roshar in a meaningful, physical way.

Spoiler! he can't get off Scadrial, and it's really annoying to him. At least by this point in the continuity, in fact a little past it, because the Wax & Wayne books...

*multiple people*

[Tangent where he forgets where in the timeline Wax & Wayne actually falls, and Chaos corrects him. Answer ends up being that it takes place after Stormlight 5, as he has usually said.]

Brandon Sanderson

As of the Alloy era, he is still unable to get off of Scadrial.

Chaos

Guess we'll learn about that in Era 3, if it's all Kelsier stuff.

Brandon Sanderson

Era 3 will definitely involve some Kelsier stuff. Let's just say he's perturbed.

YouTube Livestream 32 ()
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Michael Kernan

How would a dinner party between Kelsier, Hoid, and Harmony go down, and who else would be invited?

Brandon Sanderson

Alright, Kelsier, Hoid, and Harmony? Hoid and Kelsier squabble the entire time, and Harmony tries to get them to stop.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

This is the most overt and obvious of my savior-imagery scenes for Kelsier. I hope you didn't feel like I was hitting you over the head with it. (I didn't actually realize the similarity between Survivor and Savior until I was part of the way through the book.) Either way, yes, the Christian imagery is intentional. I didn't put it in simply because I'm religious (after all, if you look at it, Kelsier isn't really all that Christian in the way he deals with people.) I put it in because I think that the images and metaphors of Christianity are deeply-seated in our culture, and drawing upon them provides for a more powerful story.

Part of this is to intentionally make people uncomfortable–for discomfort (when used right) leads to tension. The Christians who read this might be made uncomfortable by how strikingly un-divine Kelsier is. He's acting in some of the same roles as Christ did, but he's not the man that Christ was. He's kind of a pale imitation. The non-Christians, in turn, might be made uncomfortable by the fact that Kelsier is manipulating the people in the way that religions often do, giving hope in something that could very well prove to be false.

Either way, he is what he is. The truest Kelsier is the one we see near the end, where he's standing in the kitchen, smoldering in his black clothing. He is a dangerous man with powerful beliefs.

Barnes & Noble B-Fest 2016 ()
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JoyBlu

Do you have a pronunciation guide anywhere?

Brandon Sanderson

So, we need to put one of these up. I put one up for Elantris. The trick with pronunciation guides is that, personally, I am kind of a believer in that I write a script where you are the director. You get the script I've provided, and then as you read the story, you are creating the actual final detail of how everything looks and osunds and stuff. And so, in your head, your version of the character names are canon to you, and there is no right pronunciation, really. I can give you the one that I thin is closest to how they would say it in-world, but I don't even always say them right. For instance, I just said Tashikk for the country in the Makabaki region when I was reading the Lift thing. But that's actually the Arab ق (IPA: /q/) sound, I can't even do it, it's the double-q. I can't say that. *Brandon tries to say taʃiq* Peter can do it, my editorial assistant, he's not here, but he can do it. I can't. I say them like an American. I say "KELsier" (ˈkɛlsiər). They say "kelsiEY" (ˈkɛlsiˌei). So, is my version right? My version is wrong, but it's right to me? So, yeah. But if there's a character name you want to know how I say it, I can tell you. Is there one specifically?

Questioner

Shallan?

Brandon Sanderson

I say shuLAWN (ʃəˈlɔn). But, again, none of us are actually Veden like her, so who knows how they say it? They would have some accent that would be something that I can't even do.

Questioner

What's Sazed? How do you say that?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, Saze? So, I say say-zed (seizɜd). But I say that, and that's how Kelsier says it. Sazed himself is from the Terris region, he's gonna have a slightly different pronunciation. I would say that say-zed is not how he says it. It's gonna be either sawzd (sɔzd) or, it's gonna be something softer like that. I just say it like Kelsier does. But he says it wrong, depending on your definition of wrong.

JordanCon 2016 ()
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Questioner

On that note, in Secret History, Kelsier's reading the symbols. Does he not-- I mean he is able to understand them...

Brandon Sanderson

Right, right. So, if you go look really closely at what happens with Kelsier before he's able to start reading the symbols and understand the language, you can relate it to things in the cosmere that I've talked about before for how he's able to do that.

JordanCon 2018 ()
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Questioner

Are we gonna possibly get another Mistborn: Secret [History]...

Brandon Sanderson

So, depends on my time. Like, Mistborn: Secret History, I started writing in 2006, and I released it in... 2016. So, it took, like, 10 years to get that, because it was a side-project of a side-project. It's, like, so self-indulging, Mistborn: Secret History is...

So, Secret History 2, will I ever have time to do that? Well, it depends on if I can do it in a way I don't feel is interfering with the main Cosmere timeline. Because we would all like to see Secret History 2. But not if it means we don't get Stormlight 9, if that makes sense. It's gonna depend on my writing time, on how I'm feeling about various things. You are more likely to get it the more I work on Era 3, because Kelsier is a part of Era 3.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
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Questioner

Are there differences in pronunciation between the different worlds in the cosmere?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

Do you have any record of that?

Brandon Sanderson

So, it depends on the culture and things like that, what it's going to be like. You can kind of bet in Mistborn it's going to be French, if it's from the Central Dominance. So they'll say "Kelsi-ay" and "De-MOH" but where Elend's from is a lot more Germanic so "EE-lend" "STRAHFF" and stuff like that. The other worlds are all going to have their different things. In Roshar you are going to get some of the "YAS-nah kHo-LIN" it's going to be a little more Semitic in its language family.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

I hope you noticed the difference between the way Kelsier got into the room and the way Vin did it. She walked up to the guards at the front and talked them away, rather than killing them. She just strolled through the guard chamber–the place where she killed her first time–instead of attacking. Why attack? She's powerful enough that she can just slip through and escape.

For Kelsier, the killing was always part of the victory. Vin's more goal-oriented, perhaps. In addition, she doesn't like to kill. So, her way is to just slip by the men. Then, in the room, she doesn't get close to the Inquisitors–she takes them down with tricks. On the streets, she would have had to use very little to gain much. She needed to be extremely clever with the small advantages she had. She used Allomancy in small ways to great advantage. Now that she's more powerful, I think her cleverness and resourcefulness will lead her to be far more amazing an Allomancer than Kelsier was.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Sixty-Four

"You did well, Spook."

Yes, that's Kelsier's voice at the beginning. As I said in a previous annotation, he can't help but meddle.

There is an afterlife in this cosmology I've built, and Kelsier's in it. He never has been able to leave well enough alone. He saw, here, that a piece of the puzzle needed to be put together, so he stepped in and tried to get through to Spook about it.

Spook was the only one in the crew he could speak to. That's because Spook truly has faith in Kelsier as a deity—which, for these few weeks between Preservation's death and the coming of the Hero of Ages, Kelsier is.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Yes, Vin is more powerful than Kelsier. That's what I'm trying to imply by the scene of her and Kelsier in the hole. And, for one little more quip, I like the fact that Kelsier walks straight forward and says "I need no password." Which, if you think about it, is the opposite of what he told the soldiers last time he visited the caves–he told them they couldn’t even let him out, if he didn't have proper authorization. Ah, Kelsier. . ..

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Sixteen

Spook Reacts to the Citizen's Reign

This is another of my favorite chapters. (So far, that count includes this one and chapter five.) In Spook's sections, I think this is one where I managed to get the balance of language, action, imagery, and theme to work just right. Not too much exposition, the fight isn't too long, and we've got some very nice descriptive passages. This is the first chapter I imagined when I planned to write Spook's sections.

My biggest worry about the Spook chapters, however, is the plot with the Citizen. To be honest, the oppressive peasant regime isn't new—either in history or in fiction. I decided upon it after a great amount of consternation.

I worry sometimes about coming off as clichéd. It's very difficult to get that balance down between being familiar and being radically new. My goal is to have new and interesting plots, characters, and settings in books that still feel like they are epic fantasy. I'm never sure if I'm erring too much on the side of the familiar or writing things that are too inaccessible. (The names in Elantris, for instance, strayed too far into the inaccessible for some people.)

This plot feels just a tad on the overused side. However, I thought it was something very important to show in the world. Kelsier's preaching was too harsh, in my opinion—it was what was needed at the time, but now that the empire has fallen, it becomes brutal and violent. I wanted to show what would happen if a group of skaa peasants followed Kelsier's advice with exactness.

Spook discovers that the Citizen is using Allomancers. However, this is a hypocrisy perpetuated by Kelsier himself. He hated the nobility, but was one of them—at least, he was a half-blood who was raised to their culture. He acted far more like a nobleman than he did a skaa, as Vin pointed out back in book one.

Anyway, I thought about what would happen if Kelsier's vision became reality, and this is what I came up with. There is more going on here—things that relate to the overarching plot of the book—but the basic concept is just what it seems to be. I toyed with doing a form of government that was more radical and new, but I eventually decided that the historical approach of the lower class becoming as intolerant as the former ruling class was the most logical.

/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.

FanX Spring 2019 ()
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Questioner

Does Marsh know much about what Kelsier's doing during Arcanum Unbounded?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. 

Questioner

Okay. Anything else on that, or just a yes until further--

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. He knows. He's aware. 

Questioner

I'll read into it. It's probably on 17th Shard or something.

Brandon Sanderson

That's just me, that's not in there anywhere. He's aware, but he's - yeah, yeah. He wasn't aware of all the stuff like he is by now, though, that's what I'll say.

Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
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Questioner

In Bands of Mourning, we learned that the Sovereign, who they confused as being the Lord Ruler, came after the Catacendre. [He] was their god, was their king and god. And then Kelsier looking for a string. Is the spike somehow connecting Kelsier's soul to Spook's body.

Brandon Sanderson

No, good question. It is connecting his soul with his body, his current body, but it is not Spook's body. That's a great theory.

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.

JordanCon 2018 ()
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Argent

Because of Kelsier's status as a Cognitive Shadow we've been wondering what wonky things you can do with him being like that and so-- Hypothetically, purely hypothetically, could a Surgebinder, could somebody form a Nahel bond with him?

Brandon Sanderson

With Kelsier? We'll RAFO that. We will definitely RAFO that for now

The Alloy of Law Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

The Church of the Survivor

Another aspect of worldbuilding had to do with building all of the religions. Kelsier is still around, by the way. I'll tell you eventually what he's been up to, but if you look through the original trilogy you'll find hints of it.

I wanted the religions of the world to all be grounded in fact, but all have different motivations. I wanted them to be realistic, however, in that they don't always get along. Harmony may be there watching, but I didn't think he'd interfere too much. That comes from holding two opposed powers; he's got more of a Zen outlook on things.

Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
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Viridian

Why did Hoid give the memory coin to Wax? What was his intention?

Brandon Sanderson

He thought that certain information was being kept, and certain lies were being perpetuated. And Hoid was a fan of that information being out.

Viridian

I'm still suspicious.

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, you should be suspicious of Hoid's motive. He and Kelsier do not get along. Let's just say... Kelsier did not want that information to get out.