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The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#52 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Seventy-Nine

The Mists Chose Someone

There's a lot more going on behind the scenes than even the author of these epigraphs knows. Reasons why Vin was chosen, and why the power of Preservation needed a new mind to control it.

The author is right in that Preservation did need someone to control its power, and it did seek for a host in which to invest itself. It began this search with what mind it had left about sixteen years before the return of the power to the Well of Ascension, just as it began a search for a new host before the return of the power the previous time.

Unfortunately, just as Ruin took control and manipulated Alendi, he took control and manipulated Vin.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#53 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

After that, the scene with Ham and Vin discussing pewter is nice, but not one of my favorite of the Allomantic explanation scenes. The thing is, I had to stretch to find things that Ham could tell Vin about this one. She's really good with the physical metals–she uses them instinctively, and may even understand them better than Ham does.

I do like how Ham comes across in this scene. His personality, as the one who doesn't fake or play games in the crew, makes him really work for me as a character.

Then, of course, everything goes wrong. It always does, doesn't it?

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#54 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

OreSeur as the Spy

Keeping OreSeur from acting suspicious in this book was really tough. I still don't know how well I pulled it off, though most alpha readers didn't see his plot twist coming.

The biggest trick was making the reader not suspect him from the get-go. I had to use some very subtle misdirection there. Remember, OreSeur was the one who told Vin how long those bones had been in the room. I think Vin points this out later in the book.

Other than that, I had to keep Vin from ever suspecting him, and have her point out other people she thought were far more suspicious. Sometimes, being a writer feels like being a magician. We have to leave things in full view, yet disguise their meaning, so that the end is dramatic.

Shadows of Self Newcastle UK signing ()
#55 Copy


You say that there's part of you in every character, but what of you is in Vin as a character?

Brandon Sanderson

What of me is in Vin? The inherent belief that people are good. And Vin does believe in that. She believes that deep down, that people are good, she just doesn't believe that she belongs with them. Does that make sense?

Firefight release party ()
#56 Copy


Who is your favorite character, character development-wise?

Brandon Sanderson

Oooh, favorite character for character development. Who develops the best? That is really hard for me to say... From any book? Who has the most development-- I would say Shallan has undergone the biggest transformation in the major books. No, Vin. Vin goes through the biggest change, so we'll go with Vin. Vin's the best character development across the course of the books.

DragonCon 2019 ()
#57 Copy


I  never understood why Vin couldn't hold the Ruin Shard.

Brandon Sanderson

I could see a world where Vin maybe could have done it. But the trajectory she was on was opposed to it. Vin could have understood and become it. But what are the things that are keeping her? Vin, I don't think accepts, number one, that decay has to happen. She's experienced it a lot. But there's that piece inside her that doesn't want that to happen, doesn't want things to change, does not want people to leave her. I think that would be--if you read through, that's the soul, sort of, center event is, "Don't leave me, don't go away, don't change." And this is diametrically opposed to Ruin. People focus on the fact that she's good at killing and she is. But that heart, that soul...Ruin is more about things changing and decaying, than even about destroying.


And I guess that's the reason why she can hold Preservation very easily?

Brandon Sanderson


Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#58 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

It was extremely important that Elend reject Vin in this chapter. I worry that I got a little bit into convenient motivations in this chapter–I always hate it when men and women have relationship problems in book simply because it's the place in the story for things to go wrong. Weak conflict–something a friend of mine calls "Deus Ex Wrench" is a problem with most romantic comedies.

Better to have realistic, rather than feigned, tension. I hope that I was able to manage that in this chapter. Elend is being almost completely honest with his emotions here–he has just discovered that Vin was lying to him all along. Rather than feeling bitter, however, he feels like a fool. He's realized that the game was playing him all along, and he's disappointed to find that Vin is part of it. That, in turn, persuades him that he should just give in and do his duty to his house.

And so, he turns her away. The vital part of this all, of course, is that it gives Vin the chance to love him–and protect him–even though he's rejected her. This is perhaps the most important step for Vin in the entire book. She's learning the things that Kelsier talked about, the truth that she needed. With this in hand, she can trust people, even knowing that they might betray her.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#59 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Eighty-One - Part Two

Charging Them Is Madness

Vin probably should have figured out what Elend was doing, being kind of a god now and all. (Or at least she has a fraction of a god inside of her.) However, remember a few things.

She doesn't know that many of Elend's troops have been turned into Allomancers. She's also been very distracted lately. On top of that, the man she loves is charging two hundred thousand koloss. Even if she'd connected that he'd be burning atium, her opinion would still have been that he couldn't fight that many and survive.

In the end, she was right. So her concern was warranted.

DragonCon 2019 ()
#60 Copy


Will we ever see Vin come back out?

Brandon Sanderson

No, we will not, I'm sorry.


I always wanted to...*inaudible* don't know what happened, so...

Brandon Sanderson

If you read Mistborn: Secret History, which is a sort of parallel novel to these *gestures to Mistborn books* you will see a brief glimpse of Vin in that, because it's at the same time as these, and it may give you a little bit more closure.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#61 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Another big step for Vin is admitting that she loved Reen. She's finally letting herself feel, and admit, the things that she's been repressing all this time. It's good for her to get them out, even if they hurt.

Of course, we also get to see Vin's abandonment complex. It's something that I haven't enforced too much in the book, but it was always there. Often, I think a sense of forced independence and solitude–like the one attitude Vin displayed in the early parts of the book–comes from believing that everyone will leave you eventually.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#63 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.

Calamity Philadelphia signing ()
#64 Copy

Questioner 1

That question I asked, I've been wondering about it a lot, how do you do misogyny *inaudible*? I think the message of the book...isn't really right wording.

Brandon Sanderson

No, I know exactly what you mean. How do you write misogynistic characters without writing a misogynistic book? That is tricky. You know, one thing that I didn’t bring up a lot is to have people on a spectrum. If every--‘cause even if you go back to, for instance--if you went back to 600 BC, there would be certain people who think different ways than everyone else. We think that cultures are monolithic, but they're not. And if you go back most of my characters are not acting like they would in the mid-1800’s. If you went back then you would find people who are anti-racist, even back then. So it’s legit that you can have certain...

Yeah. The trick is you can’t make anyone just a super paragon, like Ghandi was racist but he was really powerfully influential in what he did.  Everyone has got their biases and so if you make someone with no biases then they’re a bad character, but if you make people’s biases shine a light on each other you’ll have a stronger story.

Questioner 1

*inaudible about Kaladin* He does have that deep-seated prejudice against the lighteyes, but in every other way as with everyone else its a subtle reminder.

Brandon Sanderson

Except the Parshendi.  He’s been getting better.  But that’s the whole point of relaying this. This person has.

Questioner 2

Like you said, there's the stereotypes about Herdazians.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. Herdazians. And most people don't pick it out that there's like this deep racism against the Herdazians.

Questioner 1

Do people ever accuse you of being <misogynistic>?

Brandon Sanderson

Not yet. I know it will happen. It probably has happened and I haven't seen it, but no, I haven't been upfront accused of it. My worse thing is there's some unconscious sexism in Mistborn. Vin works very well but there aren't any other women. I kind of fall into the one woman in the whole world sort of thing. But part of learning about this is we all have these biases, we're all going to these make these mistakes. You have to be okay to fail. Better that than wrong. Why is that wrong? What about is it? In what way?

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#65 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Vin's Tactics Improve

Cloth-wrapped coins are something I probably should have thought of in the very first book. The problem is that I worked very hard to establish the "we use coins as weapons and to jump around" idea that I wasn't thinking about ways to improve the method. The coins are cheap, abundant, and effective, not to mention aerodynamic. However, they're also noisy. Adding a thin layer of cloth makes a ton of sense when using them to jump around.

Also, Vin finally ditched the mistcloak. Her reasoning is correct, unfortunately. I loved the image and the symbol of the mistcloak, but it was no longer useful, so it was time for her to go about without one. I'm sure there's symbolism in there somewhere—finally becoming her own woman, shrugging off the mantle Kelsier gave her, something meaningful like that. The truth is, I didn't think about that. I just acknowledged that the cloak no longer made sense. It was too noisy to be worth wearing.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#66 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirteen - Part One

I hope this first paragraph isn't too overly-poetic for you. I have a tendency to dabble in writing poetic language, and can veer into sections of prose that are a bit over-written. But, my editor didn't strike this down, so I assume it's all right.

The things Vin talks about in this first scene are, essentially, the things that will come to form the plot of the entire series. In the original drafts of the novel, she worried about these issues much earlier in the book. However, I backed off on them to let the siege take form first.

It's not that these worries about the Deepness and the past aren't important–they're VERY important. And, they'll play a big part in this book. The armies and politics, however, are the established plot of the novel. This book–book two–isn't about the deepness. It's about the "What Next?" So the characters overthrew the empire. What's next? In my opinion, what they're doing now–struggling to keep something going, rather than tear it down–is far more difficult than anything they did in the first book.

This grueling process is going to have a powerful influence on their characters, and make from them the people they need to become in order to deal with the events of the final book. In a way, that makes this the most important–and most interesting–book of the trilogy. It’s the one which is about character over plot.

My goal with Vin, here, is to take the mists from her. Kelsier gave them to her in book one, and now it's time to take them away.

They are the haven of the Mistborn. But, if you watch as the story progresses, you will see that I slowly take them away and leave her without.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#67 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirty-Three - Part Two

To be honest, I'm not sure if Vin's right–if Kelsier should have stayed back from the trying to save the people–or not. It's certainly the more heroic thing to try and save them. This scene is to show that Vin still has a little bit of her Reen-crafted selfishness (or, maybe self-preservation-ness) left in her. Kelsier is ready to risk everything for his friends. You can debate whether this impulse is foolish, but I think it's noble.

Vin's sin here isn't deciding that going after them would be too dangerous. It's how quickly she jumps to this decision, and how powerless she decides that she is. She's not a coward, nor is she ungrateful. She's just lived on the street too long. In a situation like this, her first instinct is not to fight, but to flee. (Just like it was when the army got attacked by the garrison a few chapters back.)

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#69 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Sixteen

Vin in her room

This first scene is a classical Brandon scene–a character studying, thinking, and exploring who they are in their own head. Some people find my narrative style–with the thoughts, the conclusions, and the debates in the head–to be a little slow. I can understand that, even if I don't agree.

I like knowing my characters. A chapter like this really works for that, in my opinion. It seems to me that in too many books, you never really know a character's thoughts, feelings, and logic enough to understand why they do what they do. So, I spend time on those things.

This scene is important for the decisions Vin makes about herself. She is not the type of person to second-guess herself. In a way, she shows some of the very things Tindwyl tries to get across to Elend later in the chapter. Vin encounters a problem, mulls over it, then comes to a firm decision to trust herself.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#71 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirty - Part One

Vin Arrives in Her Black Gown

This is kind of a girly moment in the text. I put these in sometimes. Too many female readers have complained to me that I don’t linger enough on what people wear, and I figure that Vin—trained by Kelsier—would know the power of a surprising entrance. Hence the drama of her appearing in that unexpected dress.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#74 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Ham's family makes no appearance in this book. I added this line in on a whim, since I figured it would add some more depth to a character who–unfortunately–I just don't have much time to develop.

I am happy, however, that I found a chance to spend some time with Dox. The scene between him and Vin is one of my favorites in the book, since it humanizes him while at the same time giving us further insight as to who he is, and why he does what he does. Dockson feels the same way about things that Kelsier does; Dox is just far more subdued in the way he goes about life.

This aspect of the world–the fact that noblemen regularly rape, then kill, peasant women–is the most discomforting to me. I don't like my books to be overly sexual in nature. However, there is a difference between having sexual books and having sex in the books, I think. This is a very corrupt and fallen society, in many ways. I think I had to include this aspect to show just how terrible it is.

In addition, I wanted this scene to be shocking because I hoped to put the reader in Vin's shoes. You all know that this sort of thing happens in noble society–in the prologue, a nobleman tries to rape a young girl, after all. But, I hope that you–like Vin–have kind of glossed over that sort of thing in your mind. Seeing people like Elend, and the pretty balls, has helped you forget about the terrible things these people do. So, when Dockson lays it out so bluntly, I hope that it is surprising.

Some alpha readers thought that it was unrealistic that Vin would delude herself to this extent. She's know about the whorehouses, after all. However, I think that this is the kind of thing that people naturally try and gloss over. It is natural for Vin to not want to think about these sorts of things until she is confronted by them so expressly.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#75 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Vin Confronts Lady Patresen

I played with this scene, our first ball scene in hundreds of pages, several times—trying to find the right balance I wanted to convey. I wanted to have a nice circle pointing back to Vin's interactions with Shan in the first book, showing how far Vin has come. However, I knew I didn't want to dedicate much time to it, and I didn't want Vin to fall out of character. So, this is the scene that came out. A short, blunt scene with Vin pushing the politics of the party to fit what she wants, rather than playing the games the way they're supposed to be played.

Originally I had Vin's attack convince Lady Patresen to seek Vin's favor, but a friend of mine, Janci, convinced me that it was far more realistic to have the lackeys suddenly switch sides instead. For setting me straight, Janci gained the dubious right to rename Lady Patresen, who had been called something else before. And, being who she is, Janci named the woman after herself—then said, "I get to be the girl who gets spurned by Vin! How cool is that?"

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#77 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.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#78 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Backing up a bit, Vin's remembered conversation here is a real one. She had it with Kelsier during the scenes when she was first training with him. He promised that he'd catch her if she fell off the wall, not using Allomancy correctly. It might seem like a little scene to you, but to Vin, it was very important. It was one of the first candid conversations she had just between her and Kelsier, and it was one of the foundational turning-points in her life. (She decided that night to stay with Kelsier's crew instead of running away with the three thousand boxings he gave her.)

That's why it's important enough for her to remember here. Her entire foundation for the last year's time–Kelsier–has just been pulled away from her. Her abandonment issues are growing more and more powerful. Fortunately, something distracts her before she can sink more deeply.

General Reddit 2016 ()
#79 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

When I was working on Mistborn 2 with my editor, he asked me, "Are Vin and Elend sleeping together?" I said, "Absolutely." He requested some confirmation of it on the page, and I explained something that has always been my policy, and one that has served me well.

I consider what I'm writing to be a very detailed script, which you the reader direct in your mind. Each person's version of the books will be slightly different, but in sometimes telling ways. The subtext of conversations will change, the visualizations of the characters, even larger implications are changed, distorted, and played with by the reader as they build the story in their imagination.

This is an area in which I prefer to leave the answers to the reader. For those who wish to imagine that the characters are having sex, then the implications are often there. (Though I've gotten better at that balance, I feel.) For those who don't want to imagine it, and wish to pretend the characters are living different standards, I will often leave the opportunity for that--unless it is a plot point I consider relevant.

Certainly, my upbringing and beliefs are an influence on this. I'm obviously more circumspect in these areas than I am in others.

But yes, for those who don't want to pretend otherwise, Vin and Elend were sleeping together. And Wax and Lessie never had a real ceremony. My editor tried to remove the word "wife" from one of the later books, and I insisted, as the shift in Wax's thinking was a deliberate point on my part--related to his changing psychology in the books. But even to him, it's more a 'common law wife' thing.

As a side note you'll likely find amusing, I do get a surprising number of emails from people who complain to me (even take me to task) for the amount of objectionable material I include in my books, and ask me why I have to wallow in filth as much as I do. I'm always bemused by this, as I doubt they have any idea how the books are perceived in this area by the general fantasy reading world...


Does this mean that Wayne and MeLaan's fling is "a plot point [you] consider relevant"?

Calling it right now, Wayne's... intimate... knowledge of Kandra biology will be a point on which the fate of the entire cosmere hinges. Because why wouldn't it.

Brandon Sanderson

The plot point isn't exactly what you think it is, but yes.

One of Wayne's roles is that of a character who points out absurdity, either through word or action. There is a certain level of absurdity in what I described up above, and I realize that. Some things I talk about explicitly in books, some things I don't.

On a certain level, Wayne showing that people do--yes indeed--actually have (and talk about) sex in Sanderson books is there for the same reason that a court jester could mock the king. When as a writer you notice you're doing something consistently, even if you decide you like the thing that you're doing, I feel it's a good idea to add a contrast somewhere in the stories.

It's one of the reasons that Hoid, though a very different kind of character from Wayne, has more leeway in what he says in Stormlight.


I know this was a few months ago, but I have a follow up question (huge fan of your work btw!): Do you purposely mention characters having sex to show that they are maybe not "good guys"/"bad guys" are mentioned having sex as a continuation of their lowered morals? Like OP mentioned with rape, of course that would be a sign that someone is a terrible person, but I can think of several other instances in your books were someone engages in consensual sex who later turns out to be more morally loose.

ETA: I mean premarital sex

Brandon Sanderson

I don't personally consider this to be a sign of who is good or bad, but I can't speak for how the morals that shape my own society might affect my unconscious application of morals in my books. That's certainly something for critics to analyze, not for me to speak on.

If it's relevant, though, I don't perceive it this way. More, the people I mention engaging in premarital sex are ones more likely to reject societal mores. (Such as MeLaan.) I also am more likely to do it for characters who are not primary viewpoint characters, for reasons I've mentioned--the ability to allow plausible deniability for readers who wish to view the characters in a certain way. I can see myself unconsciously letting myself say more about villains for a similar reason, though I don't intend it to be causal.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#80 Copy

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.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#81 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirty-Six - Part Two

If I had a chance to rewrite the book again, one of the things I'd change is the scene where Vin gets caught here. If you want to imagine it this way instead, pretend that she dropped both Inquisitors completely, and therefore thought she was safe to inspect the room beyond. The Inquisitors can actually heal far more quickly than I've had them do in this book.

My problem with this scene is how easily Vin lets herself be cornered and captured. I think that breaking into the room is exactly the sort of thing she'd do. However, I just don't think the writing works here (around the section where she gets surprised and grabbed by the Inquisitor.) She's more careful than that. The way it's written makes it seem like she gets grabbed simply because that's what needed to happen. There isn't enough drama, or enough realization, to the scene.

I do like what happens afterword, however–Vin using the Eleventh Metal. In this book we get our first hints regarding just how much Allomancy has been hidden and obfuscated by the Lord Ruler. Vin realizes that the Eleventh Metal must be part of the structure of Allomantic theory, as is the metal that she's given that makes her lose all of her other metals. (It's aluminum, by the way.)

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#83 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Smaller notes

Two other small notes. First off, I drew the reactions of the skaa–wanting to go back to having a tyrant in charge–from some essays I'd read about the fall of the Soviet Union and some other modern countries which had received freedom, then wished for the days when things were easier. I think it's a sentiment that makes sense, even if it frightens me a little bit.

Also, only Vin would assume that someone HAS to be Mistborn, just because they happen to be crippled.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#84 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

If you didn't see the Zane/Kelsier comparison later, I bring it up here. In a way, Zane's purpose in this book is to represent things that Vin never really had an opportunity to choose.

She ended up with Elend. However, there is another option, and that was the option that Kelsier represented. The option that Zane represents. Despite her assurances to Elend that she didn't love Kelsier, there WAS something there. Kelsier had a magnetism about him, and since he died, Vin didn't ever have to choose between him and Elend.

Shadows of Self London UK signing ()
#85 Copy


I make cocktails, and I want to make cocktails based on the characters, have you got any ideas? Particularly Kaladin and Vin, what would they drink?

Brandon Sanderson

...Kaladin and Vin, ah boy. Vin wants something simple, I mean she's going to want something to relax, so maybe something fruity and simple. Kaladin, he'll want something stiff, right, something hard...

The next one actually has a mixed drinks scene. Fortunately, you'll be happy to know, I went to a bartender friend to get some advice on how to make it work, so... If you make Kaladin's stiff and blue, that might be good because of Alethi blue.

Shadows of Self Chicago signing ()
#86 Copy


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?


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.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#87 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Vin and Elend Traveling North

Next, we have the happy couple scene. I figured that after all of the problems, confusion, indecision, and the like, these two deserved a couple of days to relax. This is, then, their version of a honeymoon. Not much to say, other than to note that Spook is going to start coming a little more to the forefront in the next few chapters. I want to introduce some of his conflicts and character issues to provide a lead-in to the next book, where he's one of the major viewpoint characters.

A Memory of Light Birmingham Signing ()
#88 Copy

Questioner (paraphrased)

Why did you have to kill Vin and Elend?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

They demanded that they be allowed to take the chance they did. And I just let them take the chance. I didn't kill them, I just let them take the chance that they demanded that I let them take. That's kind of a cop-out answer, I'm sorry, but that's what it feels like to me. And if I always make it so that there are no consequences, then the books have no heart.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#89 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Also, we get to see here that Zane already has his fingers on Vin's emotions. She's beginning to question and doubt. This, however, isn't a quick change–you should realize that all of these questions were already there inside of her. Not only is she a teenage girl, and living during an emotionally volatile part of her life, but she grew up learning to distrust and fear betrayal. Though she's getting better, the old worries are all still there, and even a little bit of scratching at them reveals them again.

She never really had to confront these things. Falling in with the crew, learning to trust, was actually easy in the last book. Kelsier was there to make everything work out all right, and Vin was always underneath the watchful care of Sazed.

This book is about making her face these things directly.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirty-Seven - Part Three

The following is a journal entry I wrote regarding this chapter three years ago. It's kind of fun that I finished it almost three years to the day from when I'm posting the annotation.

Chapter Thirty-SevenFinished 5-22-04

Okay, so Vin's running around in her skivvies again. There are a couple of legitimate reasons for this. First off, I figured that if I had an Allomancer captured, the first thing I would do would be to strip them completely. A little bit of metal can go a long way, and you don't want to miss any. Now, this isn't as big a deal for the Inquisitors, who can use Allomancy themselves to see sources of metal a person might be hiding on their body. However, I still think it would be standard procedure to take away the prisoner's clothing. I toyed–briefly–with having Vin be naked in this chapter. I decided I just didn't want to deal with that. Having an adult man get stripped and thrown in a cell is a bit different from doing the same thing to a young girl, I think.

So, this chapter is Vin's character climax. Here's where she finally realizes that part of trusting people is being trustworthy yourself–or, more importantly, part of not being abandoned is not abandoning your friends. Her choosing to stay with Sazed, followed by Elend's appearance, are very important events for Vin. Her decision is a fulfillment of her story-long character arc, which has transformed her form a jumpy, frightened, untrusting person into one that would stay behind with a friend she loves, even though she knows that she might be killed. Her reward, then, for this bravery is Elend's return–and the realization that there are people out there who love her enough to risk their lives for her. Her statement "You came back" to Elend is perhaps the most important line Vin gets to say in the book.

Her decision to go and fight the Lord Ruler is secondary to these things, I think–which is probably why this decision doesn't seem quite as well-founded as her decision to stay with Sazed. Still, the story has been pushing for a face-off between her and the Lord Ruler ever since Kelsier died, so I think that it works narratively.

I really want to get that final chapter written, but I have writing group in an hour, and I still haven't read one of the submissions. It looks like Vin & co. are going to have to wait until Monday to have their final climax. I don't expect it to be a long chapter–which is good, since I REALLY need to get to work on the Elantris rewrite. . . .

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Reen and Ruin, how much of the personalty that we saw in the books was Ruin, her actual memories, and how much of it was actually Reen?

Brandon Sanderson

Most of what you saw was this kind of weird amalgamation, because it's getting filtered through her memories and things like this. You can see mostly Ruin at that point, but there is some actual Reen in there mixed in. Maybe twenty-eighty. Eh, twenty five-seventy five.

The Alloy of Law Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Two

Wax Ties a Cravat

In the original draft, I conceived this scene specifically because of how strong a contrast it would provide to jumping around in the mists in the previous scene. This has always been a theme of the Mistborn books, and I hoped that some familiarity in that regard would provide a connecting tie between this book and the previous trilogy.

Mistborn was about balance—balancing the life of a thief (and then assassin) in Vin's case with the life of a noblewoman. I wanted Wax to be dealing with some of the same concepts, but from another direction. Instead of a young person discovering high society, Wax is returning to it after abandoning it. But, as Vin never truly abandoned her street-thief roots, Wax never abandoned his gentleman's ways.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

This is a short scene, but one of the more important ones to show off a little character development in Elend. He is beginning to see some of the truth in Tindwyl's words.

Pulling off a transformation like his was one of the great challenges of this book. Actually, the plot was pretty easy–but getting Elend and Vin's relationship down, along with the development of both of their characters, was much more difficult. It takes a subtle hand to make Elend learn to be a king without having him progress too quickly, and I'm not sure how well I did it.

Vin's development–showing off her inner distrust without making her seem paranoid or making their relationship seem shallow–was even tougher.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Twenty-Two

Vin spies on Ham in the Mists

This chapter has another poetic introduction–I warned you about those, I believe. I hope it isn't too out of place.

Testing Ham in this way is something Vin really should have done earlier in the book. The problem is, I have a lot of things I need to pack into a relatively short space of time in this book. I did things in order of importance, and–oddly–testing the crewmembers took a lower precedent than getting Allrianne into the city or introducing Elend's plan to deal with the warlords.

But, finally, we get to work a little bit on the imposter plot. There are dozens of ways that Vin could have gotten Ham to burn pewter–but she wanted to do one where he didn't know she was there and he where he would use the metal reflexively. She also wanted to do it when she knew he was alone. That way, she couldn't be fooled by someone burning pewter nearby to make it seem like Ham was burning.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Vin admits her real reason for disliking OreSeur.

Obviously, the most important events in this chapter deal with Vin and OreSeur and their relationship. The real reason why she hates him is something that I hope you've been wondering about. I intended the "He ate Kelsier" argument to fall flat for readers. Vin's smarter than that, as OreSeur said. Eating Kelsier's dead body is a little, dumb thing. A person who grew up on the street wouldn't be bothered by such a simple, if brutal, event–particularly not for as long as Vin has kept her grudge against OreSeur.

So this is why. She did love Kelsier–not romantically, perhaps, though Vin's emotions at the time weren't as simple as she'd now like to think. Either way, Kelsier's death affected her greatly. Focusing on OreSeur–who knew about Kelsier's real plan, but didn't stop him from executing it–gave her someone to hate. She couldn't hate Kelsier, but she could resent the one who had let him die.

It's a complicated relationship. But, then, aren't most relationships complicated?

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Vin thinks about assassinating Cett and Straff

The other thing of real importance here is Vin's struggling with whether or not she should just go assassinate her enemies. It seems like such a brutal, effective way to get rid of these armies. I wonder how many more leaders we'd find dead in our world if magical warriors like Mistborn existed.

Explaining why Vin doesn't just go and take care of those two men was challenging for me. This is a harsher world than I've written in before, and it was really tempting to have Vin just go kill her enemies. I toyed with doing that very thing for a long time.

The problem is, I think it would be a bad idea for her to do that. I think it for the very reasons I outline here. I doubt that killing those two men would really have the effect she wanted. And, if she really were determined to drive those armies away, she'd have to kill quite a number of leaders. It seems equally likely to me that, after killing a number of them, the armies might just join forces and take the city.

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A lot of your works that are stand alone novels or seemingly completed stories, you have announced or started working on sequels for. Are there any stories that you feel complete and don't need to work on the same world or characters again? Or do feel there is always some new tale to tell about every world you make?

Brandon Sanderson

It's hard, because the way I plot I always have to know what happened before the book and what will happen after the book. Knowing that doesn't mean that I have to continue. It's also hard, though, to say no to fans who are so passionate about a specific project.

The Vin/Elend story is most certainly done. As is the Raoden/Sarene story, as is Siri's story from Warbreaker. So there are completed threads. There might be other stories to tell in those worlds, though, so I'll avoid closing the door on them for now. (That said, it did feel very good to finish The Wheel of Time for good, and look forward to putting some of my own works to rest in a similar way.)

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Zane confronts Vin about her desires and not meeting him atop Keep Hasting

If you didn't pick up on it, one of the things I was trying to do in this chapter–mixed with the last chapter–was forge a link between Zane and Vin. He speaks of things in the very same way that Vin did in the last scene. For instance, Zane here admits to himself that he can't leave Straff because his father is all that he knows. Vin used to think the very same thing about her abusive crewleader Camon.

It goes deeper than that. These two characters share a lot. Even their names are meant to feel a little similar. In fact, the one big difference between them is Kelsier. He injected himself into Vin's life and changed her course drastically. She would have eventually discovered that she was Mistborn, and she would still have become quite powerful. However, she wouldn't have known the people of Kelsier's crew, and wouldn't have learned to trust.

It's interesting to think, sometimes, what she would have done in Luthadel without the Survivor's guidance.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Twenty-Five

Vin and Tindwyl go Shopping

Part of me wants to get the same reaction out of the reader that Vin gave in this chapter. "Shopping? They're going SHOPPING?" I realize that this scene is a gamble. This is a book about a besieged city, and in the middle of it, I include a chapter spent trying on dresses.

There are a lot of important things I wanted to show in this chunk of the book, and this really did seem like the best way. First off, I wanted to get Vin back to the market so that she could see how tense the people were. Also, I wanted to have a chance to let her interact with Tindwyl–both to show another side of Tindwyl, and to finally force Vin to start confronting some of the things she needs to work on in this book.

She's reacted too strongly against the person she was becoming in the last novel. With Kelsier, and his encouragement, gone, she's reverted. She's frightened to accept the noble half of who she is.

I also wanted to show just a bit more of Allrianne. She's going to get some more screen time in upcoming sections, and I wanted a chance to give her character a little more rounding.

Beyond all of those reasons, I also just wanted to do something different, something a little more light. I miss the ball scenes we had back in book one. There was really no way to work them into this book, and so I let them go. However, I wanted to at least give a nod to those people who enjoyed them in the last novel. This scene and the dinner with Straff are both kind of throwbacks to those chapters from the first book.