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Shadows of Self release party ()
#51 Copy


Why in the world would the Lord Ruler spike himself?



Brandon Sanderson

...Because he needed to give himself the powers that he didn't have. He could have done it like-- gained the knowledge but the power was gone so fast he actually needed to-- Well no no no, the spikes, the spikes, the spikes. So, it doesn't matter if he was spiked because he was hiding the metals inside himself so people couldn't Push or Pull on them. That's the real reason he was doing that. Does that make sense?

Brandon Sanderson

Metal that's inside of him--


Ruin influenced him, what did the spiking do?

Brandon Sanderson

Well, the metals that were stuck through him were so people couldn’t Push or Pull on them. If they were outside his body people would know he was a Feruchemist. Which is the very thing he was-- so he would stick the metals inside of himself to hide them.


And he did that as Hemalurgic spikes?

Brandon Sanderson

I'd have to go back and look because-- Lord Ruler is he spiked or has he just got--

Isaac Stewart

I thought he was... spiked but I can't remem--

Brandon Sanderson

You're asking something that I wrote 12 years ago.

Isaac Stewart

Peter, was the Lord Ruler spiked?

Brandon Sanderson

Lord Ruler was spiked, right?  Or is it just--

Peter Ahlstrom

I don't think so.

Brandon Sanderson

--piereced with metalminds, right? They're not actual spikes, just metalminds.

And I want to ask the Sharders on there [the recorder] about that Lord Ruler question, because I didn’t think he was spiked but--

Isaac Stewart

I think I recall him having the bands with spikes in them?

Footnote: Brandon has previously stated that the Lord Ruler did in fact have Hemalurgic spikes.
/r/fantasy AMA 2017 ()
#54 Copy


Why did Rashek feel the need to create skaa and nobility, why not alter all humanity to be nobles if you have the power?

Brandon Sanderson

Rashek, particularly back then, was a petty man. This caused him to do many things that, strictly speaking, were not best for his empire.

/r/fantasy AMA 2013 ()
#55 Copy


Was the Lord Ruler using Feruchemy + Allomancy to Soothe all of the people around him? Or was he, as I like to think, flaring for so long that he became a Soother Savant?

Brandon Sanderson

He lived long enough and used his metals enough (particularly Soothing) to become nearly a savant in every area, if not a full savant.

A Memory of Light Raleigh Signing ()
#56 Copy

Questioner (paraphrased)

Why did the Lord Ruler have to stay aged at times?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

That's when he was doing his rebuild. He didn't really have to, but he let himself. He has to recharge periodically, and then stays on a higher and higher burn over the thousand years. It gets harder and harder. The way the magic works—he doesn't have to stay aged.

Questioner (paraphrased)

Is he burning or tapping?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

He's tapping.

Skyward release party ()
#58 Copy


If Vin had not killed the Lord Ruler. I would think that the Lord Ruler would take up the Well of Ascension a year later. Would he have just fixed the world to be what it was pre-...?

Brandon Sanderson

I think there are various theories of where this could have gone. Some, it would have been okay. I think that assuming things would turn out the way the Lord Ruler thought he was capable of doing would be assuming a lot, for what his state was at the time that he was *inaudible*. It is possible that things would have gotten much much worse. I'll just say that. I'm not gonna canonize either way, but I think there's a good argument in both directions.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#59 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Seventy-Four

Allomantic Secrets

Some people have asked me why the Lord Ruler was so careful to keep secrets about Allomancy. What would it have mattered if he let out that there were atium Mistings?

Some of the secrets offered a sizable tactical advantage. Keeping back duralumin and aluminum gave him and his Inquisitors (the only ones told about those metals, other than a few select obligators) tools that nobody knew about. Very few Inquisitors could burn duralumin (and most who did it gained the ability through the use of spikes reused from previous, dead Inquisitors—and those spikes were therefore much weaker.). However, those who did have the power could appear inordinately skilled in Allomancy, enhancing the Lord Ruler's divine reputation.

Beyond that, knowledge is power. I believe that. And I think that if you're the Lord Ruler, you want to keep a few secrets about your magic system. Mistborn are very rare. Mistings among the nobility—particularly in the early centuries—were not rare. If they'd known about atium Mistings, it could have upset the balance by creating too many superwarriors.

Plus, if there are unknown superwarriors to be had, then you want to keep them for yourself.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#61 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Forty-Eight

The Lord Ruler's Final Message

This plaque from the Lord Ruler was very difficult to write. Originally it was much shorter, but I expanded it during the last draft because I felt it was just too useless. Even still, it doesn't say much. And that's the problem.

I was always intending the Lord Ruler's final plate to contain no answers. It works into my themes for this series—this was the "quest" book playing off the epic fantasy ideal of the powerful object that must be discovered and used to fight the evil. Except that this time, I wanted them to get to the place they'd been questing toward and find it empty, with no answers from the Lord Ruler. I felt this would only heighten the sense of hopelessness the characters are feeling in trying to fight Ruin.

The problem is, rereading this plate I realize that I've done exactly what I wanted—but that it's also a really, really big letdown. I hate letting down readers. It feels like breaking promises. After consideration I think this is still the best thing to do, but I wish I'd found another way to deal with this.

Note that the circle with a dot here is completely lost on Vin. The size of the circle in relation to the text around it, and some numerical clues scribbled around the perimeter of the circle, are indications of the size of a scale map it should be placed upon. If placed the right way, the dot will point directly at the Pits of Hathsin.

Vin's awesome, but she's barely got a basic education. A complex mathematical puzzle like that one is completely lost on her. If Elend had had the time to study the plate, he might have figured out where it was pointing. There wasn't time, however.

The Lord Ruler did leave a very important clue on this plate. However, I feel that obscure clues like this are deciphered far too often in books like this one. I think realistically if you're going to leave a clue like that, chances are good that it will end up getting missed or misunderstood. Which is exactly what happened here.

Alloy of Law 17th Shard Q&A ()
#65 Copy

Chaos (paraphrased)

I continued to ask about the Lord Ruler and his Allomantic strength.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

There's an upper bound to the amount of power you can get from being a savant. Brandon said that, obviously, the Lord Ruler wasn't using duralumin and Elend could only get that powerful in Soothing using duralumin. He implied that there was a way to Compound to enhance Allomancy.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#66 Copy


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.


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.


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.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#67 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Straff is generally everyone's least favorite character–though that's kind of what I expected. He's not insane; he’s just a terrible person. Those do, unfortunately, exist–given his power and upbringing, he’s not all that surprising in his bullyness.

I wanted to provide a range of villains for this series. The Lord Ruler was one type of villain–the untouchable god, distant and mysterious. Straff is another: the downright, simple bully with too much power and not enough wisdom. Zane is our third villain–sympathetic, edgy, and possibly more dangerous than either of the two.

Shire Post Mint Mistborn Coin AMA ()
#69 Copy


I'll ask you... about how you took the pretty minimal description from Brandon's books (I think we just knew that the Lord Ruler's face was on one side, and Kredik Shaw was on the other) to full coin designs.

Isaac Stewart

As for designing the coins based on Brandon's descriptions, I brought it up at one of our Dragonsteel work meetings. We discussed what the coins ought to look like, I looked up old coins for inspiration, then I worked up some really rough designs and got them approved by Brandon. You can consider these designs to be canonical as to how they would've looked in the Final Empire and later on in Elendel.

Ben McSweeney

For TLR, I actually started from the basis of this piece, but aging him further so that he appears more mature and regal.

The design for Kredik Shaw is an amalgamation of different versions I've done. I would expect that the building on the coin is merely the "main palace", and possibly only part of that. The Kredik Shaw palace complex would be much larger.

My favorite is actually TLM (Spook) "revealing the Elendel Valley" after the Catacendre. It came out much better than I anticipated.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#70 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Why the Lord Ruler Created the Kandra as They Are

You may have noticed something in this chapter. TenSoon mentions the food pits that the kandra people cultivate, a mixture of algae and fungus that they grow in holes in the ground. Yes, they can survive on this. No, it doesn't taste very good. However, it doesn't need light to grow.

Humankind couldn't survive on this mixture, unfortunately. However, one thing that is never brought up in the text is something that not even the kandra know. There are several reasons that the Lord Ruler created them as he did. One of those reasons was so that there would be a people who could survive beneath the ground, should the world above be destroyed by the mists. In other words, he created a race of subterranean dwellers to outlast humankind, should that become necessary. He was the one who gave them the Homeland as their inheritance and taught them to begin growing food that would survive underground.

Then, of course, he decided to add the Resolution to their code of law. That was a precaution in case Ruin decided to claim them as his own. A bit self-defeating, true, but the Lord Ruler felt it was better for them to die than to become pawns of his most dangerous enemy.

Skyward Chicago signing ()
#71 Copy


When did you first really realize who the Lord Ruler was, if he was good or bad? Because I feel like you turned him into a good guy.

Brandon Sanderson

He is complicated. I started with that concept in mind. In fact, I had written a different book that had used the same concept that had not turned out, and I kind of recombined it into Mistborn. So I went into it knowing he was this complex character.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#72 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Seventy-Six

The North Pole

One of my big challenges in the geography of this world was figuring out how we could have a kingdom set at the pole of the world while at the same time maintaining a normal day/night cycle. My original plan was for the Well of Ascension to be located a distance to the north of Luthadel, up at the geographic north pole of the planet. When I was revising the second book, I realized that wouldn't work for various reasons. (More on this on the MISTBORN 2 Alternate Ending deleted scene page.) I changed things so that when the Lord Ruler held the power in the Well, he decoupled the geographic north pole and the magnetic north pole.

In our world, the magnetic north pole is located about eleven degrees of latitude south of the geographic north pole. On Scadrial, the two poles were originally in the same location. When the Lord Ruler moved the planet too close to its sun and realized he didn't have the control to place the planet in the proper orbit, he created the ashmounts to cool the atmosphere. He also wanted to keep access to the Well under his control, so he decided to build his capital city right above it. However, he realized that on a planet with a tilted axis, a city at the north pole would have seasonal daylight variation so extreme that at the height of summer the sun would never set and during the dead of winter the sun would never rise. He could remove the axis's tilt, but that would just make the sun perpetually skirt the horizon all year round.

What Rashek decided to do (and he had to make split-second decisions in the brief time he held the power) was to shift the crust of the whole planet so that the Well was at a latitude that would have more standard seasonal variation, and to re-create the Terris mountains in the new North (to maintain the rumors that the Well was located there). He worried that the new location of Luthadel would be too hot due to the latitude, but it turned out that moving the Well created an unexpected effect. The planet's magnetic pole followed the Well as he relocated it—and the ash from the ashmounts was slightly ferromagnetic. (Ferromagnetic volcanic ash has some precedent in our world.) So the interaction of the ash with the planet's magnetic field's new alignment meant that its protective cloak over the area of the Final Empire caused it to be cooler than the now unprotected geographic north pole.

One side effect of this is that all compasses point toward Luthadel. Since it's been that way for a thousand years, no one finds it odd–in fact, it's used as evidence of the Lord Ruler's divinity. It also makes it mathematically very easy to pinpoint one's exact location in the Final Empire using a combination of the compass reading and noon observations. Not that it's easy to get lost in the Final Empire in the first place—the geographical area of the planet's surface that the Final Empire covers is actually quite small.

Ultimately, when it comes down to sophisticated geography and astrophysics, I'm out of my element. If there are mistakes in my reasoning above, that is why I write fantasy and not hard sf.

And I still haven't said anything about what happened at the south pole.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#73 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

We mention the Lord Ruler's flawless memory here. This is actually the only time in the entire series that it's mentioned. However, this is an important clue for later. However, as I'm writing this, without being able to hide this text, I don't want to explain too much and inadvertently ruin something. However, if you've finished the book, you might be able to figure out why the Lord Ruler might have a reputation for being able to remember things.