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Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#101 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Originally, I had Vin far less emotionally affected by the scene of slaughter. I wanted to imply that she's seen a lot of death and hardship in her life, and so something like this wasn't all that shocking to her. Alpha readers, however, found her too callous here. I did a rewrite, and realized that I liked it much better with Vin reacting emotionally to the scene of death. She still puts up a strong front, which is very like her. However, she no longer just walks through it without reacting.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#102 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

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

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#103 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.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#104 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

OreSeur and Vin discuss their interview with Dockson

This series, in total, is about trust. About what it costs to trust people, and what you earn by trusting. In book one, Vin learned to trust–and she learned one of Kelsier's prime beliefs. That it's better to trust, and be betrayed, than to always worry about everyone around you.

The theme, then, for this book is service and friendship, and trusting those you serve. Elend has to earn the trust of his people. Vin has to earn the trust of the kandra who serves her.

OreSeur's explanations about the Contract are mixed with Zane's worries and problems with being Straff's tool. This story is, in part, about what it's like to serve–what it's like to be a tool–and the difference between a good leader and a bad one.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#105 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

The Storage Caches

One of the major revisions I made to the book during drafting was to reduce the number of storage caches. Originally I'd planned for eleven or twelve. The one here in Vetitan was still going to be the penultimate, with Fadrex being the last—the team just would have discovered more of them between books.

I changed this in order to make the cache in Fadrex seem more important. I wanted to get across the idea that taking that city was vital to the plans and goals of the team, and making it have one of five caches instead of one of twelve seemed to help with that.

In the first draft, the major draw of the final cache was the hope that it contained atium. But I realized that atium just wasn't that useful anymore—or, at least, many of the reasons it might have been useful are no longer important to the characters. Vin's instinct is right—the atium is more important than it might seem at first, but the original draft made it look like they were chasing a hope for something that wasn't even very useful. So, during revisions, I inserted Elend's acknowledgment that they don't really need atium, and I also added Vin's instinct that it's vital. We'll see how this plays out.

Of course, the reason Vin has an instinct that atium is vital is because of Ruin's touch on her emotions, driving her to seek out the final cache, where Ruin himself hopes to find that atium. To him, Vin and Elend are just another pair of pawns—in some ways more useful than Inquisitors because they don't even know they're following his goals. Ruin isn't sure if these caches will have the atium—he's in fact rather suspicious that this is a ruse of the Lord Ruler—but he's willing to dedicate some resources to the possibility, hence what he did to send Elend and Vin searching out the caches. He worries that there will be some kind of guard set at the final cache or the atium that has been told to watch for Inquisitors and keep them away, and he feels that using Vin and Elend is both more clever and potentially more effective than just sending an Inquisitor.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
#106 Copy


In, I believe it was, Well of Ascension, when Hoid-- Vin was going to talk to Hoid and get information but she sensed something.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, she did.


Can you reveal anything about that.

Brandon Sanderson




Brandon Sanderson

But you can have a RAFO card... Do you have a theory?


No, I don't.



Brandon Sanderson

The clues are all there. They're very obscure.



Brandon Sanderson

*mock-annoyed* Stop theorizing! I shouldn't have said anything.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#109 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.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#111 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Vin Tells Slowswift Why He Should Care

Vin's little speech on change here is another of the interconnected weavings I mentioned earlier. This paragraph is supposed to hark back to book one, when Vin is walking with Sazed in the Renoux gardens near the middle end of the book. She says that everything is going to change, and Sazed offers wise council on the need for change in one's life. She's learned through her own experience that Sazed was right, and here she is able to use that knowledge to persuade Slowswift to be her ally.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#112 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Vin Attacks Anyway

Vin without Allomancy is still quite a formidable threat. I established this back in book one, and thought I'd reinforce it here. She's scrappy, quick, and very skilled. Even a group of prepared guards was surprised by her, and she fought quite exquisitely, considering how outmatched she was.

The other great thing about Vin is her resourcefulness. A childhood on the streets with Reen taught her to use everything she has, and to improvise what she doesn't have. Give her a cot and some gruel, and she'll come out of it with a weapon, a means of escaping her manacles, and a darn good way to distract a bunch of guards.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#113 Copy

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-Seven

Finished 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. . . .

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#114 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Vin's Identity Acceptance

This is a very important chapter for Vin, as it finally ties up a conflict that had been tormenting her since book one. All through the first and second novels, she struggled to find a balance between her different identities. Was she a noblewoman, the wife of an emperor? Or was she a thief, trained on the streets? It might seem at first glance like this would be a simple balance to work out, but as I dealt with it in her personality through the books, it seemed a very weighty process to me.

She's come far enough that she can finally recognize why it is that she turned away from noble culture and activities. And she can also see why doing so was wrong.

Vin is half noblewoman. Her father, if you recall, was an obligator—a member of a very important noble line. (House Tekiel, if you're wondering, though upon joining the obligators he forfeited his surname.) And, while I don't think parties and ball-going are genetic attributes, she does have a heritage. Elend fell in love with her while she was attending those balls and being Valette. It's good that she finally realized that she wasn't being false; she was just showing another aspect of herself when she attended those parties.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#115 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

This chapter also has some of my favorite early-book characterizations of Vin. The Vin we get in the first few chapters is a beaten down, sorrowful thing. The Vin in this chapter, however, is more true to who she really is. Careful and discerning, quick to scout out her surroundings and wary of anything new. Yet, at the same time, not hateful or even really brutal. She kind of lives in the moment, taking things as they come.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#116 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 ()
#117 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Forty-Three

Vin Looks over Elend at Night, then Zane Arrives

So Vin makes her decision here. Yes, she's been manipulated. But, as Breeze is fond of saying, we all manipulate each other all of the time. Zane didn't get her to do anything that she didn't already lean toward doing.

That said, Zane IS a master at manipulating people. I wanted him to be brilliant at playing with people's emotions. He's been Soothing and Rioting Vin for most of this book, but only very subtly. You rarely get to see that explicitly, since when it's happening, we're in her head and her emotions just feel like emotions to her. But watch the narrative and you'll see little spikes of emotion caused by Zane.

Even without emotional Allomancy, however, I hope that you can see why Vin made the decision that she did. It's important for me, and this book, that she does what she does next. She had to try the violent way. She had to give in, I think. It was always there, hovering so close to her, that if she'd rejected it without ever trying, I think it would have felt like a worthless rejection.

Now, however, the danger with tasting Zane's way is that she'll give in completely.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#118 Copy

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.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#120 Copy


When you wrote the epigraphs to the third book, how much were you expecting to lead readers astray? How loony is it that I thought their author was TenSoon for most of the book? (After all, he is not a man, but a force. He defended his ways, yet violated them. He was their savior, yet they called him heretic.)

Brandon Sanderson

I wanted very much for people to think they'd figured it out. I was actually annoyed when my editor wrote in the jacket copy a question, implying that the identity of the Hero was a mystery. I wanted people to assume it was Vin.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#121 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 Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#122 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Forty-Seven

Vin Stares out at the Mists, decides to go with Zane, then changes her mind

This scene with Vin at the beginning feels just a tad redundant to me. That's because it covers some of the same ground as the one with her trailing through the Lord Ruler's palace in the last chapter. The problem is, I like this scene so much more–it seems to me that the writing is better. So I didn't have the heart to cut it, even though I'd just added another scene that did many of the same things.

This is one of the scenes in the book I worked toward for a long, long time. I knew I had to get Vin's decision just right, and then do Zane's betrayal with equal power. I wanted the reader to be feeling that this was inevitable, once Vin made her decision.

Why did she decide to stay with Elend? It comes down to what she said. Zane jumping when she reached for the vial reminded her of something–that she didn't want to go back to a life where she was suspicious and jumpy. She didn't want the life that he offered. The thing she saw in Elend was the ability to live without fear–or, at least, without the fear that those around her didn't trust her.

DragonCon 2019 ()
#123 Copy


Will we ever see Vin come back out?

Brandon Sanderson

No, we will not, I'm sorry.


I've always wanted - it's like, we got to the good part it's like - we just don't know what happened in there 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.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#124 Copy

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?

General Reddit 2016 ()
#125 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.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#127 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Fifty

Vin Tries to Defeat the Sedative

That's our dear, impulsive Vin. Drinking the drugged wine before five minutes had passed. Elend would have stewed in the cavern for days before making that same decision.

I went back and forth on how difficult it might be to open those cans. I figured it wouldn't be too difficult for an Allomancer with pewter. However, what about a regular person—which is what Vin would become once her pewter ran out? I wouldn't want to try opening a sealed can without some kind of tool. Maybe slamming one against the ground enough would crack it and let her suck the juices out.

Either way, I think she made the right decision here. She knows that Yomen is, at least, a reasonable man. Besides, hanging out in that cave listening to Ruin laugh at her wasn't particularly good for her sanity.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#128 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.