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Calamity Houston signing ()
#1 Copy

Cadmium (Written) (paraphrased)

Would it actually be possible for a kandra to "become a rusting bunny?".

Brandon Sanderson (Written) (paraphrased)

Yes, But it would be tough.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

They must keep a certain mass to maintain intelligence and a bunny is very small.

Cadmium (paraphrased)

But obviously being a Harvey sized bunny is totally doable.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yeah... Good movie reference.
Berlin signing ()
#2 Copy

rxience (paraphrased)

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

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yes, that could happen.

rxience (paraphrased)

Did that happen in the past?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

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

rxience (paraphrased)

Kelsier of course!

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

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

Read For Pixels 2018 ()
#4 Copy

Reilly Russell

Are kandra/mistwraiths naturally immortal? If so, is it magically sustained, or natural, like the immortal jellyfish? If not, what is the natural lifespan of a kandra/mistwraith?

Brandon Sanderson

No, they are not immortal, but they are very, very long lived. If you look at the First Generation, you'll see an example of aging happening. They will eventually die of old age. They don't suffer from some of the ailments that, say, humans do, and it takes a bit longer, and there is some magical sustaining of them going on.

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


Could Nightblood theoretically be turned into a Hemalurgic spike?

Brandon Sanderson

The problem with that is that Nightblood is already invested, so it depends on your version of ' Hemalurgic spikes'. Piercing someone's body with Invested metal can have weird effects all through the Cosmere, but ripping off a piece of a person's soul using an un-Invested spike to Invest it and create one is different... we're talking about two different things, right. So there's the.... so what is a Hemalurgic spike? For instance if you've got a spike that's Invested and you stick it into a Kandra on Scadrial it will still work as an Invested Hemalurgic spike. Making a new Invested spike by ripping off a person's soul, that's a different process and a little more difficult to accomplish and requires some specialized knowledge.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#6 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Kandra Blessings

The Blessings are still a little confusing, I fear. Originally I designed a Blessing as a single bit of metal in each kandra's shoulder. Eventually, however, I realized that I needed to change this for magic system cohesion reasons. I changed it to be two bits of metal, one in each shoulder. So, each kandra has one Blessing, but that Blessing consists of two bits of metal.

Each kandra only gets one Blessing from among the different types. There will be more on this in the book later, of course.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#9 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirty-Seven - Part Two

Human Tries to Make a New Koloss

Yes, koloss are people. I assume that many of you guessed this. Then, again, many of you probably didn't. The clues are there, if you care to look—including the fact that small spikes were found in the koloss bodies after the siege of Luthadel. (It's mentioned at the end of book two.)

Unfortunately, the heroes just don't know enough about Hemalurgy to make the connection until this dramatic reveal by Human. There are only three magic systems in this book—all related, all dealing with metal. It's mentioned in book two that koloss, Inquisitors, and—yes, even kandra—are related in some way. All were created by the Lord Ruler during his Ascension.

And all were created from existing material, one might say. There's a little more depth to the kandra, since they're a race that (kind of) breeds true. You'll see as the book progresses. However, all were created through Hemalurgy, and the spikes are very, very important.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#12 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

The Blessing of Stability

It's mentioned in this chapter, and in the preceding chapter's epigraph, where the epigraph author notes that it is "rarely used." There's a simple, rational reason why you never see this one getting used in the book.

I added the Blessing of Stability after the fact.

You see, I realized that I needed at least one more Blessing to fit with what I'd built for Hemalurgy. I needed another mental power to complete the set of four. Two are the basic physical powers from Allomancy and Feruchemy: strength and fortitude from one, increased power of the senses in another. However, for Allomancy and Feruchemy, the mental powers deviate from one another. So I wanted the same thing to happen here. Hence the Blessing of Presence—which makes the mind more stable.

But after writing the book, I realized I needed a forth. The Blessing of Stability was born, and I wrote it in in a few places just to make token note of it. I like the concept for the power—that of making one emotionally stable—and am kind of glad I don't show anyone using it. I can show it off better in a later book.

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


With the hemalurgy, I was a bit confused on how it worked on people and how it worked for kandra, there was the blessings, and one brought them more stability of mind or something. So what is different for kandra than it is for other people?

Brandon Sanderson

The things that are building kandra have ripped off different pieces of souls. Rather than stealing someone else's Allomancy, most of those were just created with regular people. The same way that a koloss... you don't need an Allomancer to make a koloss. You just take a regular person, you rip off a piece of their soul, and you staple it to someone else's, and basically screw up their Spiritual DNA, and you have a koloss. But stapling on someone's Allomancy requires an Allomancer.

Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
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In Mistborn #3 Hero of Ages: It isn't mentioned where all the Steel Inquisitors, Kandra, and Koloss went in the end. Do you feel that they were removed from the world and Sazed took all the lost souls to his better place?

Brandon Sanderson

Marsh survived. (He'll show up in the Mistborn sequel series.) The Kandra were restored, and have taken a vow to live only in animal bodies. There will never be any more of them, but they are functionally immortal. So you'll see them again. The Koloss who were in the cavern at the time survived, and were changed to become a race that breeds true, rather than Hemalurgic monsters. More below.

BookCon 2018 ()
#16 Copy


What was your inspiration for kandra?

Brandon Sanderson

So, I knew that I wanted to do a shapeshifter, but I worried about the whole-- The first idea was that you take the bones of the person you killed, sort of thing. I worried that that would be too-- I wanted a limitation on that. So I'm like, "Well, what if they can't kill people? Why can't they kill?" and I kind of extrapolated from there. But the first idea was that idea of you can become someone if you can get their bones first.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#17 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Fifty-Nine

TenSoon Visits Urteau

The fact that TenSoon is out of the homeland without a Contract is an important point, one I myself didn't consider up until now. Always before, anyone who wanted to hire a kandra left a message in a designated place in Luthadel. The kandra found you—a creature who was under direct Contract by the Lord Ruler to act as an intermediary.

The kandra Contract was completely confidential, even from the Lord Ruler—though he probably could have demanded to know the details of who the kandra were working for at a given time. He didn't bother, as he never thought that one would be used in a plot against him.

The kandra who arranged Contracts—a member of the Fifth Generation—would travel to the Homeland with the signed papers and the atium, and would send a new kandra out to serve the new master. Nobody left the homeland without a Contract, and if their Contract ended or their master died, then they returned immediately to the Homeland.

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


What's the difference between a spike prepared for a Koloss and a spike prepared for a Mistwraith or Kandra? What side effects might occur from... [?]... Koloss spikes?

Brandon Sanderson

It's the pieces of the soul that are being ripped off and the amount of the soul that's being ripped off. That's a big part of it. What side effects would there be? You would probably not get something as intelligent.


What's the difference in how you prepare those spikes?

Brandon Sanderson

The Koloss spikes, you've seen how their done. The Kandra spikes were prepared by the Lord Ruler. He gave them to them, and so we don't know what he did, at least in canon.

Questioner 2

That means that we kind of screwed up the role playing.

Brandon Sanderson

You can totally do- I imagine all the role playing happening in a slightly different alternate universe, where there are slight variations and differences.

But yeah, there are no- Kandra spikes are prepared and given by the Lord Ruler, they didn't even know how to make them themselves. I mean they had an inkling of what went on, but they didn't know.

Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
#19 Copy


What happens when you cut a kandra with a Shardblade?

Brandon Sanderson

So a kandra is going to react basically the same way, in that the Shardblade's going to be hitting at the soul and severing it and things like that. They are not immune to Shardblades. But because they have mutable shapes, there will be a little bit of weirdness involved in that. You'll get to see that happen eventually.

/r/Fantasy_Bookclub Alloy of Law Q&A ()
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TenSoon wonders, and I wonder too- How can kandra think and be sentient without brains? Doesn't the body need a physical coordinator to relay between the Physical and Cognitive realm? Or do the spikes do a good enough job with that?

Brandon Sanderson

I imagine kandra having a non-centralized nervous system, with brain power spread through their bodies. Well, non-centralized is probably the wrong way to say it. They have lobes of thought and memory attached to muscles here and there, and don't have a single 'brain.' They certainly have brain-like material, though.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

A Kandra Perspective

I knew I wanted a kandra viewpoint in this book. They have a unique perspective on the setting and the mythology of the world, and beyond that they're just plain fascinating to me. I like their culture, and I'm glad I finally found a place to show the Homeland, their true bodies, and so forth. (More on this in upcoming annotations, of course.)

In addition, TenSoon's viewpoint offers a contrast to the battles, sieges, and wars going on in the other viewpoints.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#26 Copy


The Kandra were my favorite part of the Mistborn series. What was your inspiration for them?

Brandon Sanderson

For the kandra, I started with the idea that a thieving crew would need a good "inside man" type, who could do costumes. None of the powers fit this, but I knew I also wanted to foreshadow Hemalurgy. From there, developing them was an organic process digging deeply into the history and worldbuilding I was doing.

The idea of the wolfhound kandra appealed to me a great deal before even starting the first book, and was where I targeted my plotting after it struck me.

Oathbringer Portland signing ()
#28 Copy


If a kandra were a Parshendi, would he be able to take the forms?

Brandon Sanderson

The Forms? The actual-- To an extent, yes. To an extent, yes, but part of that is the spren bond. You're not gonna get everything. You could look like one, but there'll be certain things you won't be able to do, even with the Form. You couldn't take a form of power... You could pass.

Stormlight Three Update #6 ()
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You've said that Returned count as Cognitive shadows "stapled" back into their bodies, and that the Heralds are at least similar. Would I be right in assuming that Elantrians could be considered as Cognitive Shadows as well, or am I barking up the wrong tree?

Brandon Sanderson

Elantrians are something different. They don't actually "die" to be created.

Recognize that the term cognitive shadow is an in-cosmere theory, which I'm not going to comment on as the creator of the setting. The theory is this:

Investiture seeks sapience. It looks for someone to control it or, in some instances, spontaneously adopts personality.

A mind (cognitive aspect of a person) can become infused with Investiture. This acts a little like minerals with petrified wood, replacing the mind and personality with investiture.

When the actual person dies, this investiture imprint remains behind. A copy of the soul, but not the actual soul.

Others disagree with this, and think the soul itself persists. Still others reject the theory in its entirety.



... Kandra are almost literally stapled to their bodies with Hemalurgy - would they count as such, to the in-setting scholars?

Brandon Sanderson

No, they wouldn't. They are beings who have had their souls twisted by Hemalurgy--the soul never left, it's just been messed up. Someone else who has a soul stapled to a body with Hemalurgy would count though.

FAQFriday 2017 ()
#30 Copy


Are Hemalurgic spikes fabrials? Is a body that has been spiked a fabrial? Are koloss and kandra also something similar?

Brandon Sanderson

No, actually.

Fabrial means specifically a bit of Investiture that has been trapped by a gemstone and then modified to do something else. Hemalurgy is its own thing--though there is a slight similarity. In most Hemalurgy, Investiture keyed to the Identity of someone (a bit of a soul) is ripped off, and then magically grafted onto someone else's soul. Not the same, though I can see the confusion.

Koloss and kandra are similar, though in this case, the soul is mostly just being distorted by using an Invested spike. In the cosmere, the body will attempt to match the soul, and so a twisted soul (Spiritual aspect of a person) can have profound effects on both mind and body.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#32 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Kandra Culture

We get to dig a little bit deeper into the kandra culture here. True Bodies were one of the more interesting things I wanted to discuss in this series, and I'm glad I finally found a chance to show them off.

It makes perfect sense to me that kandra would turn their skeletons into works of art. Some have asked me why they don't do more—take their bodies more to the extreme. But TenSoon addresses that right here, in a way. The kandra are too used to having human shapes; that is what makes sense to them. It's odd how something inherited from a society's oppressors can become an important part of that society's culture.

I worked for a long time to make the kandra culture feel real and interesting. The idea of shape-shifters is not new, particularly changelings who take the place of humans they meet. And so my means of making the kandra distinctive can't come from what they are but who they are. Their culture, their thought processes.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#33 Copy

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.

Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
#34 Copy


In the days of the Final Empire, how does one acquire a Kandra Contract? It's not like they can just walk up to their hidden Homeland and ask for their services.

Brandon Sanderson

Same way you would go about hiring an assassin. Secretly, using contacts who have used them before. You have to be in the know and well-connected, either with the upper-class or the underground.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#35 Copy

Brandon Sanderson


It's never fully explained who MeLaan is, so I'll give you the background here. One thing that kandra do is take Contracts serving mankind in exchange for atium. However, there are other jobs that kandra can do back in the Homeland. One of the more prestigious ones includes the training and instruction of a child kandra.

This can take years and years, as kandra grow very slowly. TenSoon was appointed as a "parent" of a single kandra during his lifetime. (Many of the Fifth Generation have been parents dozens of times, but the Thirds are a rebellious group, and it was only after much consideration—and political pressure in the Homeland—that Thirds were given chances.)

MeLaan, then, is kind of TenSoon's adopted daughter. She has something of a hero-worship crush on him, inspired by his gruff style and adventuresome personality. Her idolizing of him borders on a romantic crush, and this makes TenSoon somewhat uncomfortable.

There you go. Now you can astound your friends with Mistborn background trivia.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#36 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

The First Generation Arrive

The First Generation are different from the other generations. Other kandra were born from mistwraiths that had bred true, becoming their own species. The Firsts, however, were humans who were changed directly into kandra. They aren't as good at holding their bodies together as creatures who were born first as mistwraiths. Someone like TenSoon carries with him a heritage of intuition and instinct gained by his previous life as a mistwraith.

The Firsts don't have that. They haven't practiced taking new bodies—in fact, only a couple of them have ever even done such a thing. They've spent their lives in the Homeland and don't know how to use their powers. The skin droops from their bones, and they look—and feel—old, something that doesn't happen to other kandra.

Here, oddly, is the first climax of the TenSoon chapters. He's not there to see it, but his words are what finally convinced the Firsts to come down from their alcoves and face the truth that the end has come.

Also, Moshe, I still think those should be podiums rather than lecterns.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#38 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Eleven


If I ever do any short stories in the Mistborn world, one I would like to write would be from OreSeur's viewpoint near the end of the events of book one.

He was a complex individual, a true kandra in many ways—but also a rebel. It was no accident that he was assigned to Kelsier's team, who were planning to overthrow the empire. OreSeur was one of the only kandra willing to take that Contract, and he came out of a long retirement in the Homeland to accept it.

His motivations were his own, and I'd like to explore them. What would a kandra think, joining a movement to overthrow the Father of his own religion? What would he think when that movement actually succeeded? How would he react to, then, being assigned to care for the woman who had held the spear that killed the Lord Ruler?

Many of the Third Generation, TenSoon and OreSeur included, weren't as devout in their dedication to the Lord Ruler as many others. OreSeur himself had seen what the Lord Ruler had done to the world and the people in it. And yet, fighting against the man who was revered by his people in such a holy light?

Anyway, it would make for a good story. I can't tell it here, unfortunately, but maybe somewhere else I will.

Eventually, I'll explain why the kandra think that they are of Preservation, when the other races are of Ruin. We'll get to that, don't worry. Just watch for it in the text of the book.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#39 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

TenSoon Declares That Vin Is the Lord Ruler's Successor

I think TenSoon's argument here is a good one. If the Seconds had stopped to give it some real thought, they might have decided that he was right. Without the Lord Ruler, their religion and society were destined to degenerate into chaos. But if they'd picked Vin to follow instead, the Seconds could have perhaps kept it all going.

However, that would have felt too much like a relinquishment of power. In truth, some of them were pleased at the fall of the Lord Ruler, for it removed the great force ruling over them. His death left them, in essence, free. Without the First Contract, they could govern themselves, particularly now that mankind had forgotten how to control kandra by using Allomancy.

TenSoon spoiled that last part, of course. Perhaps you can see why they're so determined to punish him.

/r/Fantasy_Bookclub Alloy of Law Q&A ()
#41 Copy


How are there kandra and koloss? Kandra especially, since they did their "mass suicide" thing at the end of the original trilogy.

Brandon Sanderson

The nice thing about the kandra for me in the narrative was that, though removing their spikes turns them feral, you can always stick those spikes back in. TenSoon feared that this was the end of his people, and it could have been, if those spikes hadn't gone back in quickly. As it was, there were costs. Time spent without spikes causes a kandra's memories to deteriorate, and some that were left a relatively long time were essentially reborn as new people. But the race survived, even if it is unlikely that their numbers will be added to.

Brandon Sanderson

Did TenSoon survive, then (as the TenSoon who experienced growth under Vin)?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, though he did lose some things.

Oathbringer release party ()
#42 Copy


How does rewriting the Spiritual aspect work?

Brandon Sanderson

...So, it has ramifications through the other two Realms. It can happen. You've seen it happen.


That's what happens with kandra, right?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, to an extent, yes.


With the koloss?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, both of them. Hemalurgy is, like, sticking a piece of someone's spirit to another person's spirit and creating a Frankenstein's monster of spirits.

JordanCon 2018 ()
#44 Copy


Are Inquisitor spikes, kandra Blessings and koloss spikes interchangeable?  Like if you it spiked in a different way--

Brandon Sanderson

*Hesitant* You could make that work and it wouldn't be that hard. But just as they are, no.


Would nothing happen or would weird stuff happen?

Brandon Sanderson

Weird stuff would happen


But that one's not very hard to make work.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#46 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Seventy-Five

The Second Generation Seizes Control

This chapter is another indication of my attempt to space out the climaxes in my books. We've had the big Vin fight with the Inquisitors; now I'm going to back off from things just a tad so that the reader has time to catch his or her breath. That isn't to say that the next few chapters aren't going to be more quickly paced than ones from the middle of the book; I just hope that they're not quite as breakneck as similar chapters from Elantris or some of my other books with overwhelming endings.

I had fun with these sections because I was able to make good on some tensions and interactions that were going on since the first TenSoon chapters. TenSoon himself isn't here, but we are paid off for the time we spent with him getting to know the kandra in the Homeland, as now their interactions with Sazed directly affect the major conflicts in the series.

Some readers worried that the revolt of the Seconds here was a little out of nowhere. I read through again, just in case, and this is one of those situations where I disagreed with the alpha readers. I believe I've fully established that the Seconds enjoy being in charge, and have somewhat let their power go to their heads. We've rarely seen them offer to the Firsts the same reverence they demand from everyone else. Beyond that, they were just embarrassed in front of the kandra people, and the Firsts began to speak of requiring the mass suicide of the entire race.

If that wouldn't encourage a group of aristocrats to revolt, I don't know what would. The Seconds control the police force in the tunnels, and are the ones who truly rule the kandra. It makes sense to me that they'd do what they just did. You know, if I were in their place, I'd probably do the exact same thing. What the Firsts are talking about is very discomforting, and something that should make anyone—whatever their level of faith—sit down and question whether their beliefs really should require such a sacrifice.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#47 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

The First Contract

I was originally tempted to include the full text of the First Contract. In the end, however, I didn't write it. There wasn't a good place for it, and I felt that we already knew the important information from it without reading it. It would simply have slowed down the plot at this point.

Plus, the questions and problems it could have raised weren't worth the trouble. By including it, I would have taken the chance of contradicting myself or setting up other problems that—at this point in the book—I just didn't want to have to work out.

So we don't get to read it. Sorry. There aren't any hidden secrets in it, though.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#48 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Why the Lord Ruler Created the Kandra as They Are

You may have noticed something in this chapter. TenSoon mentions the food pits that the kandra people cultivate, a mixture of algae and fungus that they grow in holes in the ground. Yes, they can survive on this. No, it doesn't taste very good. However, it doesn't need light to grow.

Humankind couldn't survive on this mixture, unfortunately. However, one thing that is never brought up in the text is something that not even the kandra know. There are several reasons that the Lord Ruler created them as he did. One of those reasons was so that there would be a people who could survive beneath the ground, should the world above be destroyed by the mists. In other words, he created a race of subterranean dwellers to outlast humankind, should that become necessary. He was the one who gave them the Homeland as their inheritance and taught them to begin growing food that would survive underground.

Then, of course, he decided to add the Resolution to their code of law. That was a precaution in case Ruin decided to claim them as his own. A bit self-defeating, true, but the Lord Ruler felt it was better for them to die than to become pawns of his most dangerous enemy.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#50 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

The Resolution

TenSoon and the other kandra resist Ruin and are able to pull the spikes from their shoulders. There are a couple of reasons why they can do this.

The power that Allomancers have to take control of them is the same power Ruin has. That control is exerted in the form of mental pressure through emotional Allomancy. As can be seen from Marsh's viewpoint, it is more than simply forcing the body to act as Ruin wishes. The extreme pressure on emotions changes the very way the mind thinks, tricking it into doing exactly what Ruin wants. The flaw in Hemalurgists leaves them open to this kind of manipulation.

Kandra, who only have two spikes, are far more difficult to control than koloss or Inquisitors. Vin is able to control TenSoon with ease in book two, but that's partially because he wanted her to do so. He would have been able to resist her. If she'd continued to push, she could have broken him, but it would have taken time.

Even Ruin's pressure wasn't enough to take control immediately. The kandra had a few moments during which they could overcome him and maintain their free will. Beyond that, they were in a cavern surrounded by metal ore in the walls, making it very difficult for Ruin to see what was going on and interfering with his ability to control them.