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The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Ruin in the Cache

So, you'll notice that Ruin appears to Vin here in the form of Reen. One might wonder why he even needed her to investigate if he could visit the cache himself.

This reveals the main problem Ruin was dealing with in this instance. The Lord Ruler was very clever in how he placed and organized these caches. He planned them in locations where there was so much metal in the ground that it would prevent Ruin from discovering them. And, more importantly, he trained his obligators—Yomen included—not to speak of what was down below or reveal the locations of the caches.

Ruin didn't know there was a cache here, not until Vin found the previous plate. Even once he knew where the cache was, he couldn't see much when he visited it. He couldn't know if there was atium there, for the entire area—particularly because of the metal cans Vin mentions—glowed so brightly that Ruin had no idea what he was seeing.

He needed a pawn to visit, one through whose eyes he could see. One who could discover where the atium was. Ruin drew the same conclusion Vin did here—that if there had been atium, Yomen would have moved it. But where? Ruin still needed her to find it for him. Either that or bring in an Inquisitor, something he eventually decided to do.

General Reddit 2018 ()
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Why does Ruin's voice constantly tell Vin not to trust Kel or Elend? Especially when she trusted their advice? Weren't the 'good guys' enablers of his plan?


It's also generally useful. Her having solid, stable relationships makes her harder to control. Even when he expects all of them to work towards his goals, if he needs to break them up, or get them to keep secrets from each other, it'll be easier if their alliance is tenuous.

Remember, Vin did a lot of trusting in that final book. She delayed the attack on Fadrex City by convincing Elend, just with a look, to play along with her as she tried to fool Ruin into thinking she had the atium.

Brandon Sanderson

This is on target.

General Twitter 2018 ()
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Alvaro Lopez

Why Odium is stronger and worst evil than Ruin?

Brandon Sanderson

One reason is that Ruin had a person in control of it who, for many years, fought against the impulse to destroy--and in the end, channeled it toward entropy and decay, necessary elements of the universe. Odium represents something else entirely.

Skyward release party ()
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Will we ever find out more about Vessel of Ruin?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. I will eventually write Dragonsteel, which is Hoid's backstory; you will find out about all the various Vessels of the Shards of Adonalsium then. It is a little ways off; I'm going to finish all of Stormlight before I do that. It will be the the next thing after Stormlight 10.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

"Something in the form of that which we'd seen before."

There's one other cool item to note in this chapter. If you read Ruin's words carefully, he admits that he has indeed seen human life somewhere before. This means that there is life on other planets in this cosmology, and that Ruin and (presumably) Preservation have experience with those other planets.

Another building block for the larger story.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Spook Plans to Flood the Streetslots

You may note a tiny bit of hypocrisy on Spook's part here. He blasts the Citizen for killing nobleman to improve his reputation while keeping the Allomancers for himself. (And, indeed, Spook is right to be so critical.) However, Spook's plan here—to return the water to the canals and build his own reputation—is, in many ways, just as much fakery as the Citizen's actions. Spook plans to "magically" restore the waters and make himself look like a hero, engineering his own deus ex machina end to this story.

This is Ruin's taint upon him—Ruin, who doesn't believe in building things up or improving the lives of others, but who relies on shells of reputation and impressive acts for his followers. Much as Hemalurgy is a false way to become an Allomancer, Ruin is using false methods to bring Spook notoriety.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Ruin Helps Destruction Along

Ruin makes an interesting comment here. He says that he couldn't refuse to help the Lord Ruler, since the Lord Ruler was destroying so beautifully. Ruin will help an enemy if there is destruction in it.

That's something to remember when thinking about this book. Some of the things Ruin does, he does to set up his plans. Others are just about destruction. He's convinced that he's won—even before Vin's capture, Ruin knows that there is nothing that can be done to stop him.

In his mind, he's just playing with people, biding his time as most of his power is focused on bringing earthquakes, ash, and lava upon the world. Yes, he wants the atium to complete his power, but he doesn't need it. Or so he thinks.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

The Koloss Attack Anyway

That's not to say that there aren't some very daunting things happening in this chapter. Ruin controls the koloss, and always has. Every time that Vin and company took control of them, Ruin allowed it. He didn't always like losing Inquisitors to the fights, and sometimes would have preferred that the battles went differently. However, when it came down to either having the koloss under his direct control, or having them under Vin and Elend's control, he chose the latter. Because it set him up for a time like this, when he could turn their own army against them.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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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.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Kelsier's voice here has gotten to the point where Spook no longer questions its presence, though he still hesitates to do what it says. For those of you who are paying attention to the connections between the books, it should start to seem more and more like the voice that Zane heard in book two. This one is a little bit more powerful and controlled than the one Zane heard—but then, Ruin is free now and can affect things more directly.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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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.

/r/fantasy AMA 2011 ()
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Regarding the ending of the Mistborn Trilogy: What was up with Ruin having red hair? Is that significant? Does it mean that Ruin was originally a human who gained his powers somehow? My friend thought that Ruin was actually another red-haired character in the series, though I don't remember his name. I think he was a minor captain or something.

Brandon Sanderson

I try to make all of the cosmere stuff "bonus material" so to speak. I don't think it's essential to understanding Mistborn to know Ruin's origin. Those who want expanded information can find it, and theorize upon it. However, I intend to warn people up-front before writing any book where you have to know this to understand it.

Within the realm of Mistborn only, all you really need to know is that someone was holding this power--and that the 'individuals' of Ruin and Preservation were people, changed by the power they held. It holds to the theme of the story, with what happens regarding Sazed and other characters.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Vin Asks Ruin about Preservation

After this scene, perhaps you can see why I wanted so badly to spend some time with Vin and Ruin talking while she was imprisoned. I felt this was important enough that I was willing to stretch plausibility a tad to make it possible. (The spoiler in the chapter 54 annotation explains what I mean by that.)

The discussion of morality here is an important one, as I wanted Ruin and Preservation to represent forces, not moral poles. This is vital for various reasons in the underlying cosmology. If they represented poles, then that implied there could only be two like them. But, as they represent opposites, that leaves more room.

Preservation did betray Ruin. This brings us onto the shaky ground of the morality of lying to achieve a greater good. If as much were at stake as is here—the end of an entire world—then perhaps you'd betray someone too. (I love fantasy. Where else can you talk about the end of the world as a consequence of a betrayal and have it be literal?)

Ruin's consciousness—separate from his power—isn't a particularly nice being. But you can't much blame him, as there's very little that is left of the mind that once was. The force of Ruin has pretty well molded the mind to fit with the force's intent.

Arcanum Unbounded Chicago signing ()
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Is Ati Ruin's original Shardholder?

Brandon Sanderson

Ohh, good question. I will go ahead and RAFO that.


I have a big theory that someday we are gonna see something more about him.

Brandon Sanderson

You will see something more about him for sure! Because Dragonsteel includes-- But that's not what you meant, and I know what you meant.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Seventy-Two - Part Two

Marsh and the Earring

Also, here we get a Marsh viewpoint. It's almost our last one. (I think there is one more in the next chapter.)

He didn't get much screen time, but I hope that what he did get led you to this climax for him. Spook's letter wasn't in vain, though I take delight in knowing that some of my alpha readers were convinced it had been.

I've been told my endings are a little too neat sometimes. Well, that might be valid criticism. However, I prefer it for this particular book. After three novels of building and foreshadowing, I can finally make good on promises and threads I began way back in book one. There's a reason I included that scene with Marsh and Vin on the balcony of Mansion Renoux. Marsh had to know how she'd gotten her earring.

You can probably see it now. Vin's mother, who was schizophrenic, was corrupted by Ruin, who spoke in her mind. He got her to love her first daughter, but hate her second—to see the second as a repulsive monster. In her insanity, she killed the second daughter by cutting open her chest and ramming a pin through her heart. Then, she stuck that same pin into Vin's ear, turning it into an earring.

Reen, the older brother—not even a teenager at that point—stumbled in upon this scene, and it nearly snapped his mind. That night he took Vin and ran.

Vin's mother was tracked down by the Inquisitors a short time after that. Fortunately for Vin, her father had realized he was in trouble and ordered his own lover executed. His assassins got to her just before the Inquisitors, and all they found was a corpse.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Elend Takes Control of the Koloss Army

The truth is that Ruin wanted Vin and Elend to get this army of koloss. He wanted them to keep up their quest and to surround themselves with his minions. Now that he's got Marsh and company churning out new Inquisitors, he figured that he could risk—and probably lose—one here in order to keep Vin and Elend thinking that they were doing the right thing. After all, if the Inquisitors are fighting them, then they must be on the right track.

Again, Ruin is playing them. Though, one other thing to note is the attempt to get a spike into Elend here. In Ruin's opinion, that also would have been an acceptable end to this fight, and another good reason to toss away an Inquisitor. He wasn't successful, but he got close. If Ruin had been quick enough to block Vin as she grabbed one of the koloss, the rest of the book would have been quite different.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

The Elusive Allomancer

It didn't occur to me until doing this annotation that Vin's ability to pierce copperclouds has been a kind of minitheme for all three books. She discovered the power early in book one, and by using it was able to save Elend's from getting killed by Shan and her assassins. In book two, it let Vin try to track down the spy, while also letting her hear the pulsings of the Well of Ascension before they were powerful enough for other Allomancers to recognize.

Now, in book three, it lets her discover this hidden Allomancer and begin chasing him down. Where she got her ability to pierce the copperclouds is a major factor in what is happening in this novel and how the plot will play out in the end.

If you're wondering, then yes—this is Ruin appearing to Vin and acting as a Mistborn to distract her. Right here, he's worried about the siege. He wants Vin and Elend to just attack the city and move on with it. He's frustrated that his pawns aren't doing what he intended them to do—at least not as quickly as he wanted. So he helps Yomen here by distracting Vin, hoping that by having them get attacked and losing some of their koloss they'll get angry at Yomen and strike back in retribution.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Ruin Interferes with Communications

Another note on what Ruin is up to here. He figures that keeping supplies from Elend—and not letting him know about the chaos in Luthadel—will make him more likely to attack Fadrex. So, Elend and Vin get it wrong. In this case, Ruin is more successful than when he helped destroy the koloss, and his ploy has the desired effect. By putting the pressure on Elend, Ruin hopes to make the emperor more impulsive and more likely to follow his gut, which is telling him just to attack.

Orem signing ()
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Cephandrius is kinda like a bard. And Tanavast is almost a Paladin. And Ati we're thinking like a priest or cleric?

Brandon Sanderson

You're starting to stretch. You can definitely put Hoid into a bard category.


And then our final one was Preservation. Is he almost like a rogue or thief type person? Because he gives off that kind of vibe.

Brandon Sanderson

I'll RAFO it. You're going to have to wait on those until I write them out.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Kandra Have Spikes

You should be worrying here about the kandra having spikes. After all, just one chapter back, Ruin took control of a pile of koloss and turned them against their allies. He's already done that with the Inquisitors. Only the kandra remain.

Ruin has generally ignored the kandra. He doesn't see them as all that useful. They can't kill people, and they are too thoughtful and quiet to be destructive in the way he wants. He considers them a much inferior creation to the koloss and the Inquisitors.

That doesn't mean he isn't aware of them, though. You are right to be worried.