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Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
#101 Copy

Questioner

Elend and Kelsier's relationship, what would it be like? I was thinking it would be, like, playful annoyed exasperation?

Brandon Sanderson

Kelsier would have really come around on Elend, is my instinct. Partially because Elend came around on Kelsier. If you read the later books, he really understands a little more. He's much more of a realist than he used to be. Which Kelsier would appreciate. I would imagine that Elend would be a little frustrated with Kelsier. But Kelsier would just start treating him like a minion, rather than someone to... And that's a sign of affection. If he orders you around, that's a sign of affection.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#102 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

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

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

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

ConQuest 46 ()
#105 Copy

Esmale (paraphrased)

I asked Brandon if Sazed will resurrect Kelsier at some point in the future, since Brandon has pointed out that Kelsier's soul has stuck around and is still tied to Scadrial.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

His response was "Sazed is not going to resurrect Kelsier. Keep your eyes open." And there was a verbal emphasis on Sazed's name.

Arcanum Unbounded Seattle signing ()
#108 Copy

Question

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

Brandon Sanderson

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

Oathbringer Chicago signing ()
#110 Copy

Questioner

[In Secret History] there was a key scene with a character named Drifter. And, uh, that was the first time that I felt like there was a sense of malevolence with this character. And I was curious if that's something that I should state with that punch? Or was this just a particular thing? 

Brandon Sanderson

I would say yes. Drifter is an ancient entity who has very, very many sides and that is accurately one of them. That said, in that particular scene, there are certain personalities that play off of each other poorly, in real life and in books, and you happened to catch one that-- Drifter and this character do not-- Let's just say they rub each other the wrong way. But I would definitely say that is an aspect of his personality. 

Miscellaneous 2012 ()
#111 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

"Spoilers," Kelsier said.

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

"You're dead too," Kelsier said.

"I got better."

"You did?" Kelsier said, surprised.

"Book Thirteen."

"Damn. I got stuck in Book Ten."

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

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

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

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

Skyward San Francisco signing ()
#112 Copy

Questioner

How do you think Kelsier really feels when it's revealed that the skaa really are different from the other ruling--

Brandon Sanderson

So-- *pause* I would call it still a matter of debate whether they are or aren't. Whether they were is a different matter of debate, right? But I would say that a lot of the things that were claimed about skaa were not accurate. Some of the things claimed about them were, and that is part of what makes it subject to debate. And Kelsier is very good at not accepting answers he doesn't like.

JordanCon 2016 ()
#113 Copy

Questioner

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

Brandon Sanderson

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

Oathbringer Edinburgh signing ()
#115 Copy

Questioner

Who is the greatest warrior in the cosmere? I think it's Kaladin?

Brandon Sanderson

Well, define "warrior" versus "soldier" versus--

Questioner

Who could win at an all-out fight? Even with powers taken away, I think he could still take on a lot of the other warriors.

Brandon Sanderson

A question. Are they on a battlefield? 'Cause Kelsier just murders him in his sleep.

Questioner

Battlefield.

Brandon Sanderson

The actual soldier, battlefield, is probably Kaladin. Problem is, you could put Dalinar in his prime. And they're both pretty good. But, Kaladin is a true soldier.

The Alloy of Law Annotations ()
#116 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

The Church of the Survivor

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

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

Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
#117 Copy

Questioner

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

Brandon Sanderson

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

Words of Radiance Philadelphia signing ()
#119 Copy

Questioner

Which of your characters do you think would win in a fight?

Brandon Sanderson

At what stage in their career?

Questioner

Not the Slivers.

Brandon Sanderson

Okay, so they don't count, the Shards of Adonalsium don't count… Does Kelsier have atium?

Questioner

Yes, atium exists.

Brandon Sanderson

A Mistborn burning atium is really hard to beat in any other way.

Questioner

So you think that Kelsier would beat Vin?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, Kelsier would beat Vin if he had atium and she didn't. If they both did? Vin has more raw talent, Kelsier has a lot more experience. So if you can pick Vin after she's had more experience she will give him a fair fight, but before that she will not.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#122 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.

FanX 2018 ()
#123 Copy

Questioner

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

Brandon Sanderson

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

Questioner

But are they connected?

Brandon Sanderson

Only thematically.

Oathbringer London signing ()
#124 Copy

Questioner

I think Kelsier is one of the best-crafted fantasy characters I've seen in the world. He resonates with me on new levels. What exactly were your influences in the character when you were constructing him?

Brandon Sanderson

Two big influences for Kelsier. The first is, I wanted to do kind of the classic rogue archetype guy, but someone who had had something so fundamentally life-shaking in his life that he had to look deep within and become somebody else. But it's mixed with the other big inspiration, which is, there's kind of some psychopathic tendencies to him, and he would be a villain in many other books. But in this one, he's what the world needed. And those two combinations created for me a really nice tension inside a character.

General Reddit 2018 ()
#125 Copy

sockmop

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

AndTwoYears

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

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

Brandon Sanderson

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

Berlin signing ()
#126 Copy

rxience (paraphrased)

Would a single spike be sufficient to staple a Cognitive Shadow to a mistwraith?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yes, that could happen.

rxience (paraphrased)

Did that happen in the past?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

That's a RAFO, I'm afraid. Who are you thinking about?

rxience (paraphrased)

Kelsier of course!

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Well, he is somehow in the Physical Realm. And he does look like himself, doesn't he?

Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
#127 Copy

Questioner

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

Brandon Sanderson

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

A Memory of Light San Diego Signing ()
#131 Copy

Questioner (paraphrased)

In the Mistborn series, I read on one of your posts online that you had a rough outline of how the series would have gone if a major death in the first book hadn't happened? I was just curious how that would have progressed if he was still alive?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

He would have taken over, because that character doesn't not take over. And it would have been a very different series, it would have been more heist focused, and not so much epic fantasy focused.

Questioner (paraphrased)

Would he have finished everything up a heck of a lot faster than Vin and Elend did?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Worse, but yes. Things would have gone very differently, how about that? The reason I decided it couldn't go that way was because I think the series just wouldn't have worked.

White Sand vol.1 release party ()
#132 Copy

Questioner

Couldn't think of any [questions], but I would just like to say that I would like to punch Kelsier in the face now, so... *group laughs*

Brandon Sanderson

He usually deserves getting punched in the face. *group laughs* If you were to meet Kelsier on the street, you can guess he has something that he's done that makes him deserve to be punched that day. *group laughs*

Shadows of Self release party ()
#133 Copy

zas678

What would have happened if Kelsier and the crew had discovered Zane instead of Vin?

Brandon Sanderson

What if Kelsier discovered Zane instead of Vin? Ohohoho, no one's ever even asked me that. I haven't considered it. That would have been a bad combination. I could totally imagine that happening, though. Need to get Zane a little bit younger than he was in the series, but yeah bad combination.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#134 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Part One

Unlike Elantris, where I decided to divide the book into "parts" after the fact, I always planned this book to be told in several sections. Naming the parts actually came quiet easily to me. Part One is the section where Kelsier gets most of his viewpoint time, and I decided that naming it after him would be appropriate.

In addition, I just like the way that "The Survivor of Hathsin" sounds. A piece of me was sad that I never came up with a good full name for Kelsier. Something like Kelsier Mistshadow or something like that. I tried several, but none of them ended up sounding quite right, and I had to rely on calling him "Kelsier, the Survivor" in those places. That ended up working just fine.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#136 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirty-Five - Part One

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

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

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

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

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

Shadows of Self San Jose signing ()
#137 Copy

Questioner

Regarding Hemalurgy and its basis in the Pits of Hathsin being Ruin’s body, my theory is that Kelsier gained his Mistborn powers from being in the Pits of Hathsin.

Brandon Sanderson

It’s a good theory. I’m not going to confirm or deny it. It is a very good theory.

Questioner

Do you just get all the small little bits and pieces from just the way people talk about him as the Survivor, so *inaudible* theory... Are we ever going to see it confirmed or denied?

Brandon Sanderson

It is possible that you will, but you will see...I’ve got somethings that I want to write about Kelsier.

Questioner

Please, that would be amazing.

Brandon Sanderson

You have not seen the last of that man, I want to write some stuff that happened.

Salt Lake City ComicCon 2017 ()
#138 Copy

Questioner

I want to know if Kelsier and Hoid will ever get along?

Brandon Sanderson

They, uh-- that's a RAFO, but I wouldn't hold my breath. There are mashing of egos that just don't mesh well going on there.

Questioner

How long will Kelsier's story go?

Brandon Sanderson

Kelsier's story has some more stages to it. I'm gonna RAFO that... But the stuff that's happening right now is set up for a later story with him.

Shadows of Self Chicago signing ()
#140 Copy

Questioner

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

Brandon Sanderson

Why were Vin and Kelsier more powerful?

Questioner

I know why Kelsier, but why Vin?

Brandon Sanderson

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

JordanCon 2016 ()
#141 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

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

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

Barnes & Noble B-Fest 2016 ()
#143 Copy

Questioner

Is there any specific relation between Kelsier and Kaladin, and the fact that Kelsier was killed with a spear and Kaladin used a spear. They seem like almost exact opposites.

Brandon Sanderson

Not really an intentional one, though I do intend their personalities to be opposed. I like how they are opposing philosophies as protagonists, but the spear thing is completely coincidental. They are very opposite styles of hero, the big pitch for myself was "Kelsier would the villain if he were in the wrong story." This is a guy where you could easily imagine that this guy could be the antagonist. He gets channeled towards good things and becomes the protagonist. There is no way Kaladin would ever be the antagonist, or if he did it would rip him apart, right. It's not in his nature.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#145 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Four - Part Two

The other big part of this chapter is, of course, the plan. This is where the story has been pushing up to this point. I worry that even still (despite several cuts) this section feels a little too much like an info-dump. I couldn't really get around that, since Kelsier is–essentially–dumping some information on the crew.

This is also where I begin to diverge from the "heist story" framework. I started with that concept to write the book, but as I proceeded with the plotting and the writing of the actual novel, I realized that the heist structure was simply too small to fill the larger concepts for the trilogy I was working on.

So, in rewrites, I came back and reworked this section to take to focus off stealing the Lord Ruler's money. The truth is, Kelsier wants to overthrow the government and get back at the Lord Ruler. The money isn't half as important to him. And, as the story progresses, you'll see that the crew spends most of its time on the army.

Leipzig Book Fair ()
#146 Copy

Questioner

At the end of “Alloy of Law” Marsh tells Marasi he is giving the diary to Wax because “.. he does my brother's work”. At this time it was a reminder of Kelsier, but with Secret History and the third book out why does Marsh think we need someone to do his brother's work? Isn't Kelsier doing that himself?

Brandon Sanderson

Well. (laughs) Marsh is of multiple minds on what's happening with Kelsier at this time. When he's referencing his brother's work, he's specifically tells Marasi speaking to the lore of the Survivor. Like he's specifically talking to somebody, and he does believe this. He may not think that Kelsier is doing Kelsier's work anymore. But that depends on... You will see interaction between Marsh and Kelsier in the future.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#148 Copy

DammyJerry

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

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

Brandon Sanderson

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

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

Seifersythe

What about Magic: The Gathering color alignments?

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

Brandon Sanderson

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

mithrilnova

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

Brandon Sanderson

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

Salt Lake City signing ()
#151 Copy

Questioner 1

When Sazed is fighting Marsh he hears a voice telling him about his rings, in his head.

Brandon Sanderson

Mhm.

Questioner 1

Whose voice is that? Can-- Can I make some gueses?

Brandon Sanderson

Sure.

Questioner 1

Is it Kelsier?

Questioner 2

*Brandon hands RAFO card?* What does that mean? *laughing*

Brandon Sanderson

That means I'm not gonna answer that. 

Skyward Chicago signing ()
#152 Copy

Questioner

How do the Heralds come back? As Cognitive Shadows, how do they a physical body?

Brandon Sanderson

That system will be explained in the coming books, so that is a RAFO. I'm gonna dig into it pretty deeply. It's relevant for multiple reasons...

In the original version, Taln ended up in someone else, like they would get a body from someone else, which was part of fueling the "Is he crazy, is he not," because people were like, "I recognize this guy!" I don't use that system anymore.

Questioner

That's what I was wondering, because the Fused--

Brandon Sanderson

They use something kind of more like the Fused in the original draft, it's not that process anymore.

Questioner

Is that gonna give us lead-ins to how it worked with Kelsier?

Brandon Sanderson

Maybe. Maybe. You shall see.

Worldbuilders AMA ()
#153 Copy

WeiryWriter

Can a person who dies but somehow hasn't passed Beyond the Three Realms (a la Kelsier) serve in place of a spren for Radiant purposes?

Brandon Sanderson

This is theoretically possible, but it would require an unusual sequence of events.

WeiryWriter

We know that the Stormfather is a Cognitive Shadow and is also acting as a spren for Dalinar but is he able to do that because the "unusual sequence of events" took place or is there something else going on specific to the nature of the Stormfather?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO. :)

Carluun

If Kelsier became a "spren" for a Radiant, would he grant Surgebinding or Allomancy?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO.