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The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#1 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Fifty-One

Elend Fights the Koloss in the Village

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

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

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

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

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

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#2 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirteen - Part Two

This Elend scene here is almost a direct parallel of the scene in book one where Kelsier first introduces the plan to his people. Elend has a much harder time of it. In fact, this scene–in conjunction with the scene with the Assembly–is supposed to establish Elend as what he is: a man with great ideas, but poor leadership techniques. He's brilliant and scholarly, but he doesn't know how to get people to do what he wants.

This is reflected in his speech patterns, and has been since book one. He likes to use the phrase "Now, see," followed by an observation. He doesn't command, and when he argues, he uses very passive sentences. All of this is–hopefully–makes your subconscious see him in a certain way.

The only reason he convinces the crew to go along with them is 1) he's right, they like to gamble, and this is the type of plan they like and 2) they already know him, and his ideas have earned a measure of trust from them.

When necessary, Elend CAN give a brilliant speech. He can make people dream and hope. He just isn't good at arguing, and is rather poor at being a dictator.

This scene, by the way, is another substantially rewritten one. I focused a lot more on the idea that the crew was going to have to deal with a long siege in the rewrites.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#3 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

You might be curious to know that I based Elend, in part, on my editor Moshe. I don't know that it was conscious–in fact, I just noticed the connection while writing right now. However, the speech patterns and the way he thinks are very similar to Moshe, and I kind of see him in my mind as looking like a younger version of my editor. I guess I see Moshe as a sort of heroic guy.

He wouldn't make a very good dictator either. But, then, I think that's a good thing, since I have to work with him. 

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#4 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

The Inscription on the Cache's Steel Plate

The Lord Ruler's words here are probably the most altruistic things he wrote in his entire life. Elend worries sometimes that he's becoming like the Lord Ruler, and the truth is that—in part—he is. The difference is that the Lord Ruler started out as a spiteful, petty man and learned through the power he held to be more responsible with it. Elend was a good-hearted, idealistic man—and leadership tempered him into someone a little more realistic.

I guess I'm saying that power doesn't always have to corrupt. In many ways, I think it can change a man for the better.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#5 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirty-Two - Part One

Backsliding

As I mentioned a couple annotations ago, this chapter is one of my favorites. That, however, doesn't mean it doesn't have flaws. It has a lot of them, the most important one being the fact that it's just a tad out of place. It's almost a chapter from book one pulled and stuck into book three, where it has no business being and is likely to get clubbed on the head and dragged into a dark alleyway.

Book one was far more lighthearted than this final book is, and while I love having this chapter in the book for the nostalgia it evokes and for the opportunity it gives for banter, I will acknowledge that some people may find it out of place.

There is a strong rationale for it being like it is. Elend hit on this while dancing with Vin. The familiar setting and situations brought out the person he used to be when he attended the balls. I think we all do this. When I came back home after my first year of college, I was shocked at how quickly I fell back into being the person I was before that year, which had forced me to stretch and grow a great deal. I was home, and the high-school me resurfaced.

Well, this chapter has the high-school Elend. He goes too far and makes too many wisecracks. He should have known better. In fact, he did know better, and he almost immediately regretted treating Yomen as he did. One other thing to remember, however, is that this is Elend's first real parlay with an enemy king. His previous two conquests were made by Vin and were negotiated via the use of a lot of Allomancy and a rather large koloss sword.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#6 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirty-Two - Part Two

Elend's Verbal Sparring with Yomen

Something to notice about the conversation between Elend and Yomen is that Yomen's arguments are quite good. Better than Elend gives them credit for being, I think—though I might revise as I go through the copyedit to have Elend notice this more.

Either way, I hope one can see why Yomen would resist making a treaty with Elend. This is a sticky situation, and in this conversation I think Elend comes off poorly. Partially because his old ball-going self is resurfacing, but partially because his role has been reversed. In book two, he was under siege and was trying frantically to keep his city from being conquered. Now he's forced to sit on the other side of the table and be the one who has come to conquer.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#8 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Homicidal Hat Trick

My editor tried very hard to get me to cut the "homicidal hat trick" line. Not because it wasn't clever, but because he felt it was anachronistic, as the phrase is commonly a metaphor for some quite modern sports. However, I was able to prove via Wikipedia (which is infallible) that the term was used as early as the nineteenth century and didn't always refer to sports, but to three wins in a row in even simple games of chance. So, grudgingly, he let me keep it.

I love the line because of the way that little section harks back to the old Elend. He's still in there, hidden behind the emperor-at-war exterior. The old Elend could be clever and awkward at the same time, just like he is here when he tries to make a point to Vin but comes dangerously close to an insult instead. That's the same guy as the one who would, while standing on the balcony at a party, compliment a lady and then immediately turn back to his book and ignore her.

And, on that note, I believe that I warned you about the coming ball scenes. We're going to have another nostalgia chapter fairly soon, and it's one of my favorite chapters in the entire series.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#9 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Tindwyl's training

I chose to only show a few sections of Tindwyl training Elend–I figured that these could get laborious if I did too many of them. This isn't "My Fair Lady," after all.

We never get to see Elend learning to duel, for instance. As a writer, I tend to react strongly against things I've seen done too often. That doesn't always make me not include them in books, but sometimes it does. Training a man with the sword, for instance, seems to have been done enough that you can just assume that it happened–and imagine it happening–without me going into detail about Elend’s practice sessions.

This scene that is included, however, is rather important. Elend's new look, and his decision to let his hair get cut, represent the first change we pull off for him: The visual one.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#10 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Fatren's Viewpoint

I knew early on that I'd need to start with a viewpoint from someone we haven't seen before. I thought that someone fresh would allow us to get a distinct sense of what has happened to the world in the months since the end of book two. The viewpoints of the main characters would be clouded by events—I wanted someone who could show us what was really happening.

That meant using a skaa peasant in one of the outlying cities. I wanted to show a different slice of life and indicate how hard things were. In addition, I felt I wanted to hit right away on the fact that this book would be about the world ending.

Hence we have Fatren. I toyed with making him a main character, but I eventually discarded that idea. I think this is the only chapter from his viewpoint. I hate to use a throwaway viewpoint so early in the book, but the alternative—making him a main character just to avoid having a throwaway viewpoint—was a bad idea. We already have too much to focus on with Elend, Vin, Spook, TenSoon, Sazed, and Marsh all being major viewpoint characters in the novel.

Adding TenSoon, Marsh, and Spook gave us enough that was new in the way of viewpoints. We didn't need Fatren—except for this first scene. Here, we get to see Elend from an outside perspective, and I think this does an excellent job of providing contrast—both against the hopelessness of the world and against the Elend that readers have in their head.

He's changed, obviously. The beard and rugged looks are meant to indicate a year spent fighting koloss and leading humankind as it struggles against extinction. Using Fatren's viewpoint gave me a powerful way to update the world and explain what's changed. I'm pleased with how he turned out.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#11 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Part Three Wrap-up

I named this section of the book "King." However, that's supposed to be a slightly ironic title, since Elend gets deposed at the end of part two, spends this entire section working to get his throne back, then eventually loses it anyway.

The irony is that during this section, in my mind, Elend really learned to be a king. Yet it's the place where he has it most brutally pounded into him that his rule is not wanted.

Idealism has a cost. Or, at least, I think it SHOULD have a cost. If you are holding up your ideals as true, then you should have to be willing to sacrifice for them, otherwise it just doesn't feel right. I don't think this is me forcing the story to prove a point—I think it's me trying to represent, as accurately as I can, the way the world works.

The measure of Elend Venture is not going to be what kind of king he would make. It's going to be the kind of man he makes once he's been rejected.

/r/fantasy AMA WorldCon 2013 ()
#14 Copy

Ansalem

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 ()
#15 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Elend talks to Tindwyl, then returns to his room and puts his uniform on.

Elend's relationship with Tindwyl cracks me up. That is all.

During this conversation between the two Terrismen and Elend, I think Sazed speaks my philosophy on characters and writing. They have to do what is important to them. I don't like to advocate situational ethics, but in some cases, that philosophy is appropriate. If you're a Jew who follows Kosher, then you don't eat pork. (Among a lot of other things.) For that person, I think it is morally wrong to break Kosher–because you've made a promise to yourself and God that you won't. However, is it wrong for someone like me to eat pork? No. I haven't made that same promise.

The same goes for my LDS belief in not drinking alcohol. I've promised not to–but that doesn't make another person bad or evil for drinking. They haven't made the same promises I have. It's about remaining true to yourself. There's nothing inherently wrong with alcohol (Christ himself drank it, after all.) But there's something wrong with making a promise, then breaking it.

In this case, it was right for Elend to do what he did. Another king could be a good man and make the opposite decision without rebelling against his own personal morals. There are a lot of absolute rights and a lot of absolute wrongs in life, but there are far MORE rights and wrongs that depend on who you are as a person, I think.

Sazed, however, IS setting himself up for some difficulty later on with some of the things he says here. You'll see what I mean at the end of the book.

General Reddit 2016 ()
#16 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...

legobmw99

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.

dragontales3

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 Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#17 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Elend Goes into the Koloss Camp

Elend does go overboard in this chapter. He realizes it, when fighting the koloss. He's let his adrenaline, and his desire to do something, make him a bit reckless. However, this first thing–going in to see Jastes–actually makes a lot of sense. First off, it gives us nice closure on the "Visit the enemy kings" plot sequence. (Elend Visited Straff, then Cett, in their strongholds. Now he does so for the final army.)

And, of the three army leaders, Jastes should have been the one most kind to Elend. The two are old friends. If you don't remember him, he was pretty much Elend's best friend in book one. He was the one who first discovered that Vin was not who she said (he had her followed) and was the main person Elend hung around with at the parties.

I wanted to show that good doesn't always win, particularly in the short term. The things Jastes tried to do are what Elend did. In both cases, they failed. The world wasn't ready for their brand of freedom yet.

Elend speaks the truth, however. A man's losses are what define his faith.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#18 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Fifty-Seven

Vin Wonders If She's Mad

I love Vin's paragraph on deciding if she's mad or not. Zane spent his entire adult life debating this issue, trying to determine whether he was really insane or not and trying to figure out how much of the world around him was a fabrication of his broken mind. Vin? She gives herself a couple of seconds to consider, realizes that if she's mad, there's no way to know, and decides the line of reasoning is useless.

On occasion Vin complains that she's a creature of instinct and not logic—but that's not the right way to put it. She's very logical—far more so than most scholars, I'd say. She just doesn't like to dwell on things and debate them. Present facts to her, and she'll accept them.

In a way, she's literal and concrete—which are the most basic of logical philosophies, I'd say. Elend is abstract. He likes to consider and rationalize. Think around problems, rather than face them head on. But he's logical too.

Perhaps their love of hard facts is part of what draws them together.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#19 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

And, Elend. He's one of my other favorite characters in the series. You'll see more of him–don't worry. I really wanted him to walk the line between being clever and just plain dense (in the way that men can sometimes be.) Some people accuse me of writing Elend too much like myself. In truth, I could see myself sitting at a party reading a book, rather than paying attention to the pretty girl trying to talk to me. Or, at least, that's the way I would have been when I was growing up.

I'll talk more about Elend later. Though, I do want to note something important. It's a law of storytelling that the girl is going to end up talking to the one boy at the party that she's not supposed to. So, don't pretend you didn’t see it coming.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#21 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Elend comparing himself to Kelsier is a kind of theme for him in this book. I wanted Kelsier to leave a long, long shadow over these next two books.

A lot of people couldn't believe that I killed Kelsier, since he was such a ball of charisma, and the driving force for the first book. (A lot of others CAN believe it, but are rather annoyed at me for doing it.) However, I happen to like this book specifically because of Kelsier's absence.

He overshadowed everything when he was alive. Elend could never have developed as a character–and even Sazed and Vin would have had trouble–as long as Kelsier was there dominating everything. He was a character at the end of his arc–while the others are still only just beginning. It's so much more interesting if they have to do things without him.

Just part of Kelsier's arrogance, I guess. Both as a character in the book, and externally to it. He dominated so much that he had to go.

Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
#23 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.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#24 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Elend and Vin Visit Sazed in Turn to Ask about Relationships

I didn't want this scene to feel too much like a sitcom, and I tried hard to make it realistic. But having both Vin, then Elend come to Sazed with their problems has some inherent issues. It feels a little comedic, and perhaps too coincidental.

However, despite those problems, I really like the scenes. They show off the difference in the two characters, and particularly show how Elend has changed over the course of the book. He comes in, confident, ordering people about even as he asks for advice. Vin is more hesitant. Her confidence is in other matters, and here she has trouble expressing herself. It's a nice reversal.

However, the fact that both of them think first of Sazed, and that both of them just really need to speak their minds—without him doing much more than confirm things they already felt—shows again how similar they are.

And I really do think the key and lock speech is one of the most wise things Sazed has ever said.

Arcanum Unbounded Hoboken signing ()
#25 Copy

Questioner

I love *inaudible* this series. How did you come up with Elend?

Brandon Sanderson

So, I wanted an idealist *inaudible* revolutionary stuck in a world that wasn't ready for one yet, and that was my pitch to myself, right? Like if you took, you know, someone like... one of the great *inaudible* like Hamilton or somebody and just stuck them in a world that just was not ready for their ideas. How would that go?

Questioner

That sounds like the *inaudible*. Don't you have that in mind, like...

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, but he-- he that was-- yeah, yeah. His plan was-- be an idealist. The second book is where he realizes he can't make the same path he wants to, and third book is kind of reconciliation of how he can create this step that will eventually lead to Democracy and things like this, which you eventually then get to see in later books.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#26 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.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#27 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

On a more serious note, this section contains some of the more lengthy additions to the rewrite. Elend's speech, and the arguments against it, were all added in the very last draft. As I said before, the first draft had Elend giving a much different proposal, as the army hadn't arrived yet.

This works TONS better. I worry that Elend comes off a little too strong–or, well, not weak enough–in this scene. I originally included it to show some of his faults as a leader. However, other readers have indicated that they thought he came off as too weak. Even if this is a book about Elend becoming a leader (or, at least, that’s a big chunk of the novel) he doesn't have to quite as hopeless as I originally painted him.

So, perhaps we've got a good balance going on here.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#28 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Forty-Eight

Vin and Elend's Marriage

A very simple wedding, all things considered. I found that appropriate, as I though that Sazed would approach such things in the most elegant–but simple–way possible.

This is also kind of a strange scene, when you think about it. I write myself into some interesting situations in this series. I don't know that I before this moment, I'd ever thought I would be writing a wedding involving a half-naked eighteen year old girl who is bleeding from three wounds, one in one of her breasts.

Some people have complained that this is just too quick a marriage. One thing to remember is what Sazed explains. For a thousand years, the only way to get married was to get the witness of an Obligator. Even for skaa, an obligator was required to authorize a wedding. And that's ALL it took. If an obligator said you were married, then you were. Sometimes, the nobility or the skaa had their own ceremonies surrounding a wedding, but they were more civil than religious. In fact, it's a tiny bit of a stretch to even have Elend associate a wedding with religion.

Of all the people in the book–heck, in this entire world–Sazed is probably the closest thing to a real spiritual leader one could find. In that way, Vin and Elend were quite fortunate to have his blessing. Breeze and Allrianne, for instance, didn't bother with a wedding. Now that the Lord Ruler is gone, those sorts of things have lost a lot of meaning–if, indeed, there ever was any meaning to them in this society.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#29 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Forty-Four

Breeze and Clubs watch the Army go

This is supposed to feel like everything is falling apart. I like that Elend doesn't see how much danger he's in now that one of the armies is retreating–as clever as Elend is, Clubs is the expert on warfare. Elend is an optimist; he finds it hard to look at the bad side of things. To him, an army leaving is good.

Still, even he knows that they're losing control. A battle is coming, and where it does, Luthadel–and those within it–will be in serious trouble.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#31 Copy

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 ()
#32 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.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#33 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Elend reveals that he's joined the Church of the Survivor

Unfortunately, this entire chapter is a big mallet driving the wedge down between Vin and Elend. The next chapters are why I had to make sure I established their relationship earlier in the book, so that readers would hope for them to stay together as the novel progressed. However, I suspect that at least a few readers are pulling for the Vin/Zane thing to work out.

Either way, it's better–narratively, and character-wise–to have Vin figure out Elend's plan on her own. It gives her the chance to show how she's grown. She sees things like a politician. Though she's hard on herself, she knows a lot more about these things–and is a better match for Elend–than she gives herself credit.

I actually think this is a clever, clever move. Elend has done a lot of work for the skaa, but he's never really worked to make himself seem like one of them. This establishes him as on their side, solidly–but also gives him a kinship with them. He doesn't worship the Lord Ruler. He worships their god. That gives him a lot of credibility with them.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#34 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

We get a quick Elend Scene here. This is the best I could do for a climax for him, since he really doesn't have much of a part in the book. (I think he only gets three viewpoints or so.) Considering the limited time, I think this is a fairly good character climax for him. He gets to stand up to his father and try to put some of his beliefs into action. One of my favorite lines is when he's sitting and thinking about the realities of a skaa rebellion, only to realize that he's on the wrong side.

Bands of Mourning release party ()
#35 Copy

Questioner

*audio obscured*

Brandon Sanderson

So Elend's name came from the Germanic word for misery and Straff's name means punishment. The question is did I do this intentionally. I didn't do either one intentionally. I don't speak German, what I did was I went to Germanic morphemes, I didn't even know what they meant, and just got a feel for "Okay this is Germanic, this is Germanic" and then put those aside and said "Alright can I come up with a bunch of names that sound Germanic" once that mood is in my head. Because English has a lot of Germanic influences I guess I did it too well and I named a whole bunch of people things that are actual words in German. *laughter* But you know I'm actually fairly pleased with that, it means I was doing my job. But you know I didn't intentionally make them mean anything in German, at least this time I didn't accidentally pick a swear or something, which I’ve done before. *laughter*

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Brandon Sanderson

Elend Discovers that the Koloss have been left to Destroy, then Elend Executes Jastes

And here we have the scene where Elend Kills Jastes. This, more than anything, is a sign to Elend of the way the real world works. This chapter is a sign of innocence lost, and a measure of the price of idealism. Elend will never be the same man after this.

Some of my alpha readers rebelled against this scene, but–unlike the scene where Kelsier used Demoux to kill a man in book one–I decided not to cut it. This event says too much about what has happened to Elend, and it means too much to his character. However, I did arrange things a little differently. In the original draft, Elend struck and killed Jastes, then explained why he did it. In this version, he outlines Jastes' sins first, then takes his head off.

Now, finally, Elend and Vin have discovered Sazed's lies. Did you wonder about him sending the two of them off to climb the mountain in the winter? Spook was around to stop that, in case you were wondering.

And yes, Spook knew. Considering how long it took Vin to get over the fact that OreSeur knew about Kelsier's plan to die, you can imagine that she's not soon going to forgive Spook for this one. In his defense, he was pulled about between some very strong emotions and motivations, not the least of which being his uncle explaining that if he DIDN'T go, nobody would be there to explain the truth to Vin and Elend and keep them from trekking all the way to Terris. Besides, Spook didn't want to die, and this path offered him an escape. Can you blame him?

He'll blame himself. Book Three.

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Brandon Sanderson

I wasn't planning on Elend getting as big a part in this book as he ended up having. However, the more I wrote scenes with him, the more interested I became in him as a character. He doesn't exist just to provide a romantic interest for Vin–he exists to show the human side of the nobility. I knew that I needed at least one nobleman who was presented favorably, otherwise Kelsier's harshness wouldn't have the contrast it needed. So, I designed a young man that Vin could meet at the balls.

Yet, when I started writing the scenes with Elend, I found them flowing very easily. I really liked his voice and his relaxed affability. Mistborn, being about such a harsh world an society, threatened to become too dark. I needed another character like Elend to provide moments that were more lighthearted. He also gives us scenes that are interesting in a more thoughtful way, rather than a dark way. He turned out much better than I'd hoped, and is probably the biggest and most pleasant surprise of the novel.

Part of humanizing the nobility was to show Elend being interested in the skaa. I had to walk a line with him. I didn't want him to be TOO interested, or sympathetic, toward the skaa. He's a nobleman, not some crusader for the rights of the oppressed. Yet, I wanted to show through his simple interest that he wasn't cruel. I also wanted to show how little some of the noblemen know about skaa. The things Vin wonders–if the nobility even know about much of the suffering in their world–are valid. Someone like Elend, who spends most of his time at balls or being waited upon in his keep, wouldn't really understand the life of a skaa.

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Brandon Sanderson

Why would Elend bring a dangerous book like this one to the ball? We'll talk a little bit about that in the next chapter. However, I can offer some further insight.

The thing is, Elend goes and meets with his friends after balls, and they discuss political theory and the like. Elend is the leader of those meetings, and guides the discussions, and so he feels that he needs to be ready to present interesting ideas and arguments to keep the conversation going. That's why he's always reading at balls and taking notes–he's getting ready for the night's meeting. He's the type who is always preparing, right up to the last minute (I'm the same way.)

So, it makes sense for him to bring the books he wants to talk about with him to the ball. He's been sheltered, and doesn't really believe that he'll ever get in trouble for what he reads, and so he has a habit of being careless with his reading material. Hence, we end up with him in a room full of obligators and nobility, reading a banned book.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Twenty-Six

Vin and Elend discuss going into Straff's Camp

In the original version of this particular chapter, I had Vin think that Elend's idea to go into Straff's camp was terrible. She thought it was too dangerous, even foolhardy. And, since Vin is generally a very competent and trustworthy character, the readers agreed with her. They all thought that Elend was doing something incredibly stupid in this chapter.

Now, what I had been TRYING to do was have her offer strong objections, then get brought around by the end of the sequence to admitting that Elend was right. Unfortunately, that just didn't work for this scene. The plan was crazy enough that readers were already inclined to thinking it was crazy. When I instead switched the narrative so that Vin had a grudging, yet favorable, opinion of the visit to Straff's camp. With her weight of trust behind the endeavor, suddenly readers had no problem with what Elend is doing.

Readers trust Vin more than Elend, which makes sense. If she tells them that something is a good idea, they're more likely to go along with it. It was an important lesson for me as a writer. I realized that Elend needed Vin's support in these early chapters otherwise he wouldn't have the readers' support. He is untrained and is stumbling as he tries to learn. In order for us to trust him, Vin needs to.

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Brandon Sanderson

Elend Decides to Attack

Elend makes a decision here—an important one. The waiting is over, and the siege has ended. He's under the same stress as Janarle, but he's not going to run. He's going to fight.

It's probably the wrong decision. But I've often heard that being a military leader isn't always about making the right decision. It's about being able to make a decision when a decision is needed.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Elend and Straff Spar in Straff's Tent

As Elend suspects, Straff is lying through his teeth about the treaty with Cett. Straff would be too frustrated by making an alliance with someone he feels that he should be able to conquer, particularly after such a short time at siege. He's not fond of Eastern noblemen, a trait common in those from Luthadel, and he's annoyed that Cett forced him into the siege in the first place.

He has contacted Cett to feel out the other man's position, of course–which is how he knows that Cett isn't interested in the city, only in the atium. Or, at least, that's what Cett claims. Either way, Straff isn't about to split the atium cache–if he were to find it–with someone else. Particularly not a man who could prove to be such a strong rival.

Elend threatening Straff here is what I see as Elend's first big character turning point. It's brash, but it's also kingly. He stares down a much stronger foe through sheer force of will, though he does add in a very powerful threat.

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Brandon Sanderson

Elend Returns and Gets the Letter Deposing Him

And, finally Elend gets deposed. I worry about this plot twist coming out of nowhere, though it is quite well foreshadowed. Elend mentions at one point that the Assembly can choose new kings. He's missed several of their meetings, and–because of his earlier proposition–they can't do anything about the armies until he decides to let them.

That put a lot of pressure on the Assembly, and they were made to feel irrelevant. There are, of course, other forces pushing and pulling at the Assembly–and you'll find out about those later.

Elend made a big mistake here. He was so busy being king that he forgot he himself had set up a constitutional monarchy. His enemies DIDN'T forget about this fact. In Elend's defense, both Straff and Cett have a lot more experience with leadership than he does.

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Brandon Sanderson

Elend talks about Arrogance as a kingly attribute

Arrogance. Elend is just voicing some of my own philosophies here–though in my life, they were applied to writing, not kingship.

You have to be arrogant to be an author. It's tough, sometimes, to continue to believe that people should be willing to pay you for your work. You have to keep working, ignoring rejections, soldiering forward. There's an arrogance to that. Call it self-confidence if you wish, but it's the same thing.

I believe you can be arrogant about some things, yet humble about others. In fact, I think you need to be.

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Brandon Sanderson

I just really like Elend and Vin's relationship. It's one that really shouldn't work, but for some reason, they just get along so well in my head. I doubt that they could explain it either–but the two fit together in a very strange, "opposites meet" kind of way. They actually have a lot more chemistry, for me, than Sarene and Raoden–though those two are far better matched for each other. Maybe that's because the frustration and confusion Elend feels seems very realistic to me. He never really does know what Vin is feeling, even though her emotions are so blunt and simple when we're in her viewpoint.

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Brandon Sanderson

Sazed Watches Vin Defeat Straff's Army

Sazed's scene here was one that I rewrote a couple of times. He watches the battle and doesn't participate. He was particularly hard to write here. He's got so much going on inside of him–he just lost Tindwyl, and with her went his faith. But, at the same time, he is expected to be a part of things–and his natural curiosity still makes him wonder if Vin is the Hero of Ages.

The thing is, Sazed doesn't really believe in the Hero of Ages any more. So, the trick I had was how to make him perceive the scene here? Lacking faith, yet still curious? It was a difficult line to walk.

Elend becomes emperor despite all of his attempts to set up a democracy. He has the throne given to him by force. In a way, this isn't exactly betraying his wishes to let the people do what they want. Elend deserves this throne. Cett came looking for someone to follow, Elend is actually the rightful Venture heir to Straff's army, and Penrod. . .well, he was made a subject king beneath Elend, so he didn't really lose his throne.

It's a stretch, I know, and the Elend at the beginning of this book never would have accepted it. The Elend at the end, however, will take it and do his best for the people as emperor. Even if it hurts him to do so.

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Questioner

So I'm in the middle of Hero of Ages, and I'm noticing there are constant parallels between Vin and the Hero of Ages and Elend and the Lord Ruler?

Brandon Sanderson

That's done intentionally.

Questioner

Is it going to hurt?

Brandon Sanderson

Is the ending going to hurt? The ending is the right ending. It's going to be satisfying, but it also might hurt.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Fifty-Seven

Sazed In Charge of the City

Sazed's in charge here. There's one small problem with that. Sazed's not very good at leadership.

It's not his fault. He just doesn't have the skillset for it. Unlike Elend, who had a buried desire to lead–and the skills to become a king, if he learned how to use them–Sazed just wants to be a quiet scholar. We saw this when he gathered the crew and couldn't keep them from arguing. We see it again here.

He's much more in his element when he looks through the book he wrote with Tindwyl. Though, of course, losing her is starting to hit him pretty hard. He keeps wavering back in forth emotionally, and that's intentional. He is confused, and doesn't know what to do.

Here's another Couple of things we'll find answers to in book three:

How Vin drew on the mists, and why she could do it.

Why she can feel the pulsing of the Well and nobody else can.

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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.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Five

Vin and Elend's Plans and Progress

This is my personal favorite of the opening chapters. I love how it establishes what Vin and Elend are trying to accomplish, but at the same time shows how stretched thin they are. Both bounce around from one emotion to another, and the argument near the end of the chapter is a good example of just how exhausted they both are.

Elend is more forceful now. He's become a wartime leader, a much different man than he was in book one, when he went to parties and read books. He's fighting to find a balance between being the man he thinks he should be and the man he knows he has to be. It all works very soundly for me.

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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.