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The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#51 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Playing with Clichés

Well, that turned into a strangely unexpected rant. I'll leave it because it might be interesting to you all, but I did want to continue with my original idea. I didn't bring Reen back (or Kelsier back) because I feel opposed to this kind of plotting unless it is well foreshadowed in advance and built into the magic system. I did, however, want to make the reader think that I'd brought them back, as for some reason it gives me pleasure to bait readers into thinking I'm following the clichés, then ducking away from those clichés. (In a way, that's what this entire series is about.)

As a nod to the intelligence of my readers, however, I didn't let this one last for long. I figured that many would have figured out that the image of Reen was false, particularly after the epigraph strongly hints that Vin has been spiked. In addition, I wanted to use this scene to point out the difference between Vin and Spook. He's an idealist and is rather fresh and inexperienced, despite what the crew has been through. Vin's a realist and a skeptic, and is far more experienced. It makes simple sense to me that she would almost immediately see through Ruin's tricks.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#52 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Seventy-Two - Part One

Vin's Climax Begins

I set a high bar for myself with the previous books in this series. I knew I would need a climax to this one which would match the fight between Kelsier and the Lord Ruler in book one, which is undoubtedly the best action sequence I've ever written.

So, these next eight chapters are an attempt to match all of that. I'm not sure if I pull it off, to be honest, but I'm much more pleased with these than I am with the ending of book two. It was good, but it was just faintly lacking. Vin's arrival at the walls was too expected, and the fighting too chaotic and brutal to be poetic.

This chapter and the next are filled with references tying the entire series together. We're back in Luthadel, back to the Lord Ruler's palace itself. In each of the previous books, the final climactic scenes happened in this building. It feels good to get us back there again.

And, of course, this fight between Vin and the Inquisitors is analogous to the first book, where she nearly died doing the same thing at Kredik Shaw. The line "She fell with the rain" is a direct quote from book one where Vin loses her strength after fleeing the Inquisitors and falls down to the ground. Sazed saved her that night. He's not around this time, as she points out.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#53 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Vin Versus the Inquisitors

Vin fights the Inquisitors, hoping to put herself in a situation where she can draw upon the mists. It's a reckless plan, but I hope it feels exactly like something Vin would do. She's tired of being manipulated; she knows the end is very near (less than a day away) and knows that she needs to do something. This is all she could come up with, and I think it's a good plan. (At least if you're Vin.) It's a final attempt to save the world or go out in a blaze, fighting down thirteen Inquisitors at once.

This is my favorite fight in the book. The previous ones are all too warlike. I prefer the beauty of a couple of Mistborn fighting in the rain and the mist, as opposed to the characters taking out hundreds of koloss. This fight between Vin and the Inquisitors is the kind of thing I developed Allomancy to do in the first place.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#54 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirteen

Marsh Decides to Kill Himself…Again

This is, unfortunately, another throwaway chapter for Marsh, more intended to remind you that he's around than to actually accomplish anything. I still think this is better than just abandoning his viewpoint for most of the book, then coming back to it near the end. However, I like what I do in the next couple of sections—where we get to see him working toward something—better than these chapters of him just sitting.

This one is particularly annoying because it's simply showing him waffling back and forth. In the previous chapter, he decided that he couldn't ever get up the strength to kill himself. In this one, he decides again to kill himself.

There is some good stuff in here—we get to see why he makes the decisions he does, and we get a tiny bit of backstory on the Marsh/Kelsier/Mare relationship. We get to see Marsh in conflict, which is good.

However, reading back through the book, I'm feeling that I like the Marsh chapters in part one the least. Ah well. Somebody had to have the worst sections.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#55 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Part One Wrap-Up

Setting the Scene

Like always, part one is a little slow. I'm working on my style, trying to get the pacing better in the first third of my novels. However, one feature of my style is the setup, followed by fast-paced endings. I don't want to lose that; I just want to make sure every part of a given book is fun to read.

There are a lot of good things happening here, but also a lot of establishment. How Allomancy and Feruchemy work, what has happened to the characters in the year between books—the setup for the conflicts of this novel. Things start to pick up in the next section, and we add our final viewpoint: Spook.

Overall, I'm pleased with part one and the way it sets the scene of the book. The world is ending. People everywhere are in trouble. Elend, Vin, and the team have no idea how to fight it—they're just doing their best at guessing.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#56 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Fourteen

Spook Enters the Stage

And so, here we have our first Spook chapter. When I wrote these books, I'd been planning Spook's sections for quite some time and was very excited to write them. As I said earlier, I wrote them all together, like a mini-novel of their own, then interwove them with the Vin/Elend sections and the TenSoon sections.

Spook has always been a personal favorite of mine. His silly nonsense of a language from the first book was a lot of fun, and even then I began planning what I could do with him were I to make him a viewpoint character. The first thing I had to do was, unfortunately, get rid of the dialect—it annoyed too many people, and it just wasn't comprehensible enough.

The second thing I had to do was give him conflict. Clubs's death, and Spook's absence during the Siege of Luthadel, gave me a large chunk of that. But from there I needed more—and I wanted to do something different with Allomancy for him. Hence the idea of the tin savant, a person who has burned and flared tin so much that it has changed his body.

We'll get a lot more on this as the book progresses. However, my feeling has been that these novels have focused too much on the powerful and the very capable. I love Vin's and Elend's scenes, but we needed something from someone a little bit lower on the power scale. I wanted to do these Spook sections to show someone more average, someone most readers usually ignored, doing amazing things.

Originally, I wrote Spook a little bit more unhinged. He was cocky in his new powers to the point of being a little too off-putting. During the final revision—the one where I added Sazed's studies of the religions—I backed off on Spook's intensity in these first few chapters from his viewpoint, trying to make him a little more sympathetic and a little more trustworthy.

Yes, he's done serious damage to his body by ignoring the advice not to flare his metal too much. (See book one where Kelsier gives this same advice to Vin.) However, he now recognizes what he's done and explains why he's doing it.

Other than that, this is another setup chapter reintroducing us to Spook, giving us his motivations and place in the book, and showing off his magic a little. The next chapter from his viewpoint has a lot more going on.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#57 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Yomen Is an Atium Misting

I think it's safe to say that this isn't much of a spoiler, but I'll hide it just in case. Readers have been predicting atium Mistings since book one, and I kept meaning to have Vin make the connection in this chapter. There was just too much going on, however, and I didn't want to slow things down with this revelation. You'll note that when I finally do confirm that he's an atium misting, Elend—the character there at the time—doesn't dwell on it for long. He realizes they should have figured it out, and they really should have. Narratively, it just never worked.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#58 Copy

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.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#59 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Seventeen

The Mists Strike Down Demoux

I knew we needed a meaningful casualty from the mistsickness, somebody who we knew and cared about. I don't know if readers care about Demoux, but he's the only one among the crew who could be susceptible to the mists. My intention is that striking him down here impacts the reader directly, making the danger of the mists more concrete.

I maintain a paranoid worry that somewhere in this book, or the previous one, Demoux went out into the mists and should have fallen sick then. I can't think of an instance, and I do believe I could reasonably make this the first time he's exposed to them. But still I worry that I've missed something. I'm sure my loyal—and very meticulous—fans will let me know if I did.

(Note that Demoux would have had to go out in the mists after the time when they started killing people. This happened while Vin approached the Well of Ascension—by way of trivia, the mists changed the very moment the full power of the Well returned to be drawn again. Anyway, any times Demoux went into the mists before then would not have inoculated him.)

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#60 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Forty-Six

Sazed Agrees to Put On the Metalminds

Sazed was getting close to putting on those metalminds again even without Spook's interference and demands. You can tell by the way he fixated on them recently, and how—despite his determination not to wear them—he ended up getting them out and polishing them. He's been waiting for an excuse to use them.

That said, I like the depth of Sazed's conflict presented in this chapter. He's come a long way from the first draft of the book, where he simply sat around as a depressed lump. (I'm probably exaggerating his weakness in that draft, but I'm pleased enough with this draft that it feels like it's leaps and bounds ahead of the old one.)

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#61 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Eighteen

Sazed Visits the Pits of Hathsin

Sazed's visit to the Pits is foreshadowing, as we're going to make use of them as a setting later in the book and I wanted to establish what they looked like and what was going on there. It also, however, gave me a chance to frame Sazed's conflicts a little bit more by showing what the other Terris people think of him. (There will be more of that in the next Sazed chapter.)

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#62 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Forty-Seven

The Death of Bilg

You may not recognize a cameo appearance by Bilg in this chapter. He was the soldier who punched Demoux. Who is Bilg? Well, if you go read book one, you'll find a scene where Kelsier visits the caves where his army is training. He picks a soldier out of the crowd to champion him and has the man fight a duel with one of the army's dissident members. Kelsier helped his champion by using Allomancy to interfere with the fight.

The champion? Captain Demoux. The dissident troublemaker he fought? A guy named Bilg. (Perhaps you can see why Bilg would bear a grudge against Demoux.) In the original draft of book one, Bilg died in that fight. However, readers reacted harshly against Kelsier killing a man to make a point. So, I backed off and had Bilg live and become a follower of Kelsier.

I've always felt that he should have died, though. So, in this book, he makes trouble again, fights Demoux again, and this time finally gets what he deserves. The only problem is that Elend gets his name wrong here and calls him Brill instead. Oops. Since that makes it pretty much impossible to spot the cameo, I may get that changed in a reprint.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#63 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Nineteen

Spook Sees Kelsier in the Burning Building and Burns Pewter

How, exactly, does one write from the perspective of a deranged, exhausted, dying man in the middle of a burning building? This is my attempt. Reading through it now, I particularly like how the imagery and Spook's disorientation come across. It works as a nice component to the previous Spook chapter.

Yes, Kelsier appears to him. Yes, Spook can burn pewter. One of the reasons I decided to soften Spook's craziness in his first two chapters is that I wanted this chapter to stand out in more stark contrast. A sizable number of my alpha readers, after finishing this chapter and the next one, couldn't decide if Spook was in fact burning pewter, or if he had gone insane.

My hope is that since I made Spook easier to relate to in the first two chapters, he'll be considered more trustworthy by readers. The fact that he can burn pewter is very important to the plot's development from this point on.

My other worry with this chapter is that people will read it and think that I'm pulling a "Swiss Army magic" trick on them—inventing new powers and abilities just to get my characters out of trouble. I can assure you that not only is what's happening to Spook here logical and built into the magic system, but you've seen these things happen before in the series as far back as early portions of book one.

If you want confirmation, realize that Marsh was given new Allomantic powers back in the first book via Hemalurgy, something very similar to what just happened to Spook. Also, very early in the series you got to see Ruin influencing people and speaking to them. Note Vin in book one and Zane in book two.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#64 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Twenty

What TenSoon Doesn't Know

Remember that TenSoon doesn't know what happened at the end of the second book. This was kind of hard for me to keep in mind, as I kept wanting him to mention the day mists and the troubles up above. However, he left before the Siege of Luthadel ended—he doesn't even know that Vin survived the assault on the city, let alone that she found her way to the Well of Ascension.

I considered having TenSoon overhear some kandra guards discussing these events so that he could use the information in his speeches, but I decided that would seem too contrived. He had to get along with what he knew, not what I wanted him to know.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#65 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Seventy-Five

The Second Generation Seizes Control

This chapter is another indication of my attempt to space out the climaxes in my books. We've had the big Vin fight with the Inquisitors; now I'm going to back off from things just a tad so that the reader has time to catch his or her breath. That isn't to say that the next few chapters aren't going to be more quickly paced than ones from the middle of the book; I just hope that they're not quite as breakneck as similar chapters from Elantris or some of my other books with overwhelming endings.

I had fun with these sections because I was able to make good on some tensions and interactions that were going on since the first TenSoon chapters. TenSoon himself isn't here, but we are paid off for the time we spent with him getting to know the kandra in the Homeland, as now their interactions with Sazed directly affect the major conflicts in the series.

Some readers worried that the revolt of the Seconds here was a little out of nowhere. I read through again, just in case, and this is one of those situations where I disagreed with the alpha readers. I believe I've fully established that the Seconds enjoy being in charge, and have somewhat let their power go to their heads. We've rarely seen them offer to the Firsts the same reverence they demand from everyone else. Beyond that, they were just embarrassed in front of the kandra people, and the Firsts began to speak of requiring the mass suicide of the entire race.

If that wouldn't encourage a group of aristocrats to revolt, I don't know what would. The Seconds control the police force in the tunnels, and are the ones who truly rule the kandra. It makes sense to me that they'd do what they just did. You know, if I were in their place, I'd probably do the exact same thing. What the Firsts are talking about is very discomforting, and something that should make anyone—whatever their level of faith—sit down and question whether their beliefs really should require such a sacrifice.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#66 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Spook Visits Beldre in the Garden Again

Spook's romance with Beldre is one of the things I'm not sure about in this book. I tried to give it as much time as I could, and you'll see some later scenes that fill it out some more. It isn't really love at this point, but just Spook being a teenage boy who is attracted to a pretty girl. However, a lot of romances start that way. Keep in mind that Beldre sees Spook very differently from the reader. She sees a mysterious figure, a handsome young man who comes in the mists and the darkness, bearing with him the weight of rumor and legend. She sees a man who rescued a child from a burning building, a man who stands up to her brother when nobody else does.

She's definitely attracted to him, for many of the same reasons that Vin was attracted to Zane in book two.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#67 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Fifty-Eight - Part Three

Spook Wrap-Up

Overall, I'm very pleased with the Spook cycle of chapters in this novel—particularly once I revised the early ones to make him a little more sympathetic to the reader. I think there's real heart, tragedy, and triumph in these chapters. Their one flaw is that the Spook/Beldre romance isn't very strong, but I can accept that. Considering that both of them are teenagers, with powerful teenage passions, and considering what I managed to do with the space allotted, I'm pleased.

What worked best, I think, was the subtle demonstration of Ruin's corrupting fingers—mixed with careful plotting to give Spook the power to overcome in the end. He doesn't win through use of his powers, ironically, but through use of his flaws. The numbness that was so shocking to him earlier now becomes the tool he can use for victory.

The twist with Beldre being an Allomancer isn't too much of a twist; I suspect that some readers will guess it early on. However, this is the reason the Citizen started saving Allomancers. He recognized their usefulness because of his sister. Like most tyrants through history, it was very easy for him to make, for people he liked, excuses and exceptions to his hatred. It should be noted that Quellion himself had no noble blood. His sister was in fact a half sister.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#68 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Testing the Mistfallen

Originally, I didn't have Elend have Demoux and his soldiers take a look at their metals until a little later on. Alpha readers correctly noted this, however, pointing out that it was one of the very first connections they made. I had to put it off mostly for dramatic reasons, which you'll see in the next chapter, but I decided I could insert these few lines of Elend telling the men to go test themselves to see if they were Allomancers.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#69 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Twenty-Six

Spook Starts to Believe in Kelsier

In this chapter, Spook begins to turn into the person he was during the first draft of the book. In that draft, he immediately listened to Kelsier's voice and didn't question its existence at all. The revision changed things so that he was surprised when he heard it, looking around several times, uncomfortable. This works better in many ways, though the starkness of how unhinged his constant burning of tin had made him before was kind of sad to lose.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#70 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

The Number Sixteen

I worry that having Vin make this connection is one of the more forced events in the book. She'd just finished telling everyone that she wasn't a scholar, and now she discovers a pattern of numbers hidden in the statistics of how people fall sick? My original intention for this was to have her be in a mind-set where she was looking for natural rules—because of her earlier discussion of Ruin and his rules—which then allowed her to see this pattern.

Rereading it, I'm not 100% pleased with it, but it's too late to make a change. I'd probably rewrite it so that Noorden or Elend make the connection, then let Vin connect that to what she's been thinking about. That would have been a much more natural progression.

Note that here, Vin misunderstands what these numbers mean. She's looking for rules that bind Ruin. What she finds is not that, but instead a clue left by Preservation. Numbers are understandable to people regardless of language, and so Preservation decided to leave some clues for people to discover that would hopefully lead them to follow the plans he'd set in motion. In my prewriting, I'd intended there to be more hard facts to be discovered in the workings of the universe—numbers hidden in mathematical statistics that said rational things, like the boiling point of water or the like. All as a means of Preservation hinting to humankind that there was a plan for them.

In the end, this didn't work out. I decided it would be overly complicated and that it would just be too technical to work in this particular novel. The only remnant of that plot arc became the number sixteen that Preservation embedded into the way the mistsickness works, intending it to give a clue about what the mists are doing to people. "You now are Allomancers!" is what this was supposed to scream. Unfortunately, the Lord Ruler's obfuscation of Allomancy—and the number of metals in it—left this clue to fall flat.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#71 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Fifty-One

Elend Fights the Koloss in the Village

This chapter gets my next award for favorite chapters in this book. (I think this is number four.)

The next few Elend chapters run him through the ringer—and yet at the same time let him shine. He's alone, forced to work through his problems without Vin, Tindwyl, or the others to support him. It's time for him to decide who he really is and what he really wants.

This chapter begins that. Elend's frustration at not being able to protect his people finally bursts from him, and his passion drives him to do as Vin did in book two. Yet there is far less beauty to his attack than there was to hers. Elend is powerful, but with Allomancy he also has to be blunt.

I love the imagery of this scene in the village, Elend fighting by the firelight of burning buildings, ash and mist in the air, koloss dying by the dozens. It's his first real chance to be a Mistborn, in my opinion, and he is kind of surprised by what it does to him.

He's not finished working through his need to protect the people of his empire. In a way, he's just beginning down the path of what he needs to work out. However, this is a pivotal moment, where he finally acknowledges what it is that has been bothering him so much. He doesn't just fear that he's becoming like the Lord Ruler—he fears that he's becoming like the Lord Ruler but doing a much poorer job than his predecessor ever did.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#72 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Fifty-Two

This Book's Epigraphs

The epigraphs from this book are quite a bit different from the ones in the previous two volumes. These are a much more scientific, and—unlike the first two sets—are not from the past, but from the future. (Though, like the other two, they're from a written record that eventually does appear in the novel.)

This is intentional. In the other two books, the epigraphs were intended to fill out the mythology of the world. By having them come from the past, I was able to add a weight of history to the story that would otherwise have been missing, as the characters weren't focusing much on those kinds of things. In this book, however, I felt that digging up yet another ancient record would be repetitious. I wanted to do something new, something that would add to the tone of this novel.

And, since the book is about the end of the world, I figured that someone looking back on events and writing about them would give just the right mixture of mystery (Who is it?) tension (Does the world actually end? How can it, if someone survives to write?) and information. These epigraphs, then, are meant to answer questions and fill out the setting of the world in a different way from the other two.

I do worry that they're too scientific for the feel of the book. I like my books to feel like fantasy, but I really walk the line with how technical my explanations of the magic can feel. Overall, in my books I generally shoot for more of a Renaissance or early industrial revolution feel than a classical medieval feel.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#73 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

One of the things I also wanted to do before the series was done was show someone burning atium without regard for it running out. I wanted to show the awesome power of the metal. And then I wanted to have them lose.

Why? Many reasons. Because violence may work to solve some problems, but it isn't always the answer. In fact, it's often a poor answer, even if it's the only answer. (As it was for Elend.) Killing koloss doesn't solve anything in the long run.

Yes, atium is amazing. Yes, showing it off like this was inevitable in the book. However, I figured that most fantasy novels would get to a point where the character drew on the ultimate hidden weapon, and then would save the day. I didn't want to do that. Not just because I like to do the unexpected, but because it didn't fit what I wanted to say with this book. It didn't fit what felt right.

A twist is no good if it's just there to be a twist.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#74 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Human Enters the Tunnels

And here we also get some Human viewpoints. I believe I mentioned that he'd be returning. I didn't manage to do very much with him, but my alpha readers demanded something. (These two short scenes with him, as well as the epigraph saying he'd be back, were added in a later draft.) I figured that he deserved a little more screen time after what he'd done for the team, and I had wanted to show the koloss bursting in on the Trustwarren. This seemed like a perfect answer to both problems.

As I've said, I wished I could work Human in a little bit more. At least this lets us give him a parting goodbye.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#75 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Eighty-One - Part Three

Elend's Death

I rewrote Elend's death scene a number of times. In the first draft, it happened much more quickly. He and Marsh met, Elend's atium ran out, and Marsh cut him down. Elend always got his "we've won" line, but Human wasn't getting viewpoints, so we didn't cut there. Nor did we have Vin fuel Elend's metals or have him burn duralumin and atium at the same time.

I just felt he needed more. Part of this was due to the reactions of alpha readers, and part of it was due to my own desire to make his last scene more dramatic. I wanted there to be a closeness between him and Vin at the end, and I also had too many people asking what would happen if you burned duralumin and atium at the same time to ignore that possibility.

So, I rewrote several times, eventually landing at this version. As for why I killed him . . . well, for the same reason that I kill any character in one of my books. It just felt like the right thing to do. It's hard to explain when we get down to specifics like this. On one hand, the rational side of me can explain that there need to be casualties to make victory worth something, and Vin needed to lose Elend so that she'd be willing to do what she had to in order to kill Ruin. Logic says that this book was about Vin and Elend defeating Ruin no matter what the cost to themselves, and allowing them to give their lives for the victory was noble and completed their character arcs.

Emotion, however, is what drove me—not logic. It just felt like the right thing to do. It was the right ending for the book. Now, I could have chosen a different ending. I know that I could have. It would have felt contrived to me, and would have lacked bite. Yet perhaps readers would have liked it better. I honestly don't know what doing this (killing both of my main characters) will do to my readership and if people will still want to buy my books after this. The founder and president of Tor Books, I know, would have preferred that I didn't kill my two main characters.

But in the end, I went with what I knew was the better ending. By doing this, at the very least I've earned something. From now on, readers will know that nobody is safe in my books—and that will create tension, will make the novels feel more real. (Note that I didn't do this because I wanted to make readers feel that way. It's just a side effect.)

Either way, this is where this book was pushing from the beginning. Vin and Elend followed in Kelsier's footsteps. They were both ready to give their lives, and in doing so, saved those they love. In my opinion, that's not a tragic or sad ending. It's just an honest one.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#76 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Forty-Three

The Ball at the Canton of Resource

I didn't want this chapter to be a repeat of the previous ball scene, so I kept the nostalgia to a minimum and focused on the plan. I hope I've established why Vin and Elend are willing to take this risk—a mixture of Elend's desire to avoid attacking the city and the general recklessness being a Mistborn can foster in a person.

Either way, we avoid dancing and small talk in this chapter. I didn't want to write that, and I'm assuming that the reader doesn't care to read it. The tension of the infiltration is what matters now.