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Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#1 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

One final note for this chapter. Bilg. I prefer him dead. (This is the guy Demoux fought at the end of the chapter, with Kelsier's help.)

In the original draft of the book, I had Kelsier–through Demoux–kill Bilg in the duel. I thought this was appropriate, and would be the sort of thing that Kelsier would do. In addition, I really wanted to emphasize the ruthless edge that Kelsier has. He is willing to do whatever he has to in order to see that his goals are achieved. It's that conflict–the happy, joking Kelsier mixed with the hard, ruthless rebel leader–that makes him interesting to me.

Joshua was the big complainer on this one. He felt that my books are too optimistic for something THIS harsh to be done by one of the main characters. He felt that readers wouldn't go along with it–indeed, it was one of the main points that my alpha readers brought up. Some liked it, others hated it. The scene did it's job.

Eventually, I went with Joshua's suggestion, however, and left Bilg alive. To me, this kind of castrates the scene. However, I suppose the most important elements still get across, and Kelsier gets to remain less tarnished a hero.

Still, I would have liked the death to remain, if only for the future books. I'll eventually post this scene as a deleted scene from the book.

Calamity Seattle signing ()
#3 Copy

Questioner

Who were Kelsier’s parents?

Brandon Sanderson

Kelsier’s parents? I haven’t talked much about Kelsier’s parents. So he was raised in Noble society, unlike a lot of the half-breeds, he knew his nature, he get’s his skaa half from his mother but they hid in plain sight. Like she pretended to be Noble.

Oathbringer Edinburgh signing ()
#5 Copy

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

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

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

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

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

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

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

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

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

Battlefield.

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

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

Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
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Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

Do you have in mind what actors would portray them if you ever did do a movie?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Yes. I'm very timid about that though because early in my career, I'm like, "Oh, I want Ellen Page for Vin." But then it took way too long and there's no... she's aged out.

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

Simon Baker should be Kelsier

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Oh, that would be a good match. I can totally see that.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#8 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Kelsier's Bones

I don't know if I mentioned it previously in the annotations, but I originally had TenSoon leave Kelsier's bones in Luthadel, burying them again following his appearance to Wellen and the other guard. My alpha readers, however, were very disappointed in this. They saw Kelsier's bones as a very important artifact, and they wanted to see more from them. So, I added the scene where the people in the warehouse saw TenSoon and he gave them advice, then I had him bring the bones with him.

However, I wasn't sure what to do with them. I'd already written the book at this point, and was just revising. I realized there wouldn't be another chance to make use of the bones. But I figured the readers were right, and TenSoon should bring them just in case.

Where the bones are at the end of the book is something of a mystery. They made it back to the kandra Homeland, I'll say that. However, what happened to them then . . . well, you will have to see.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
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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.

Oathbringer release party ()
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Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

In Secret History, Nazh briefly mentioned that there's requirements or conditions to become a Cognitive Shadow. Can you tell us one of those?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Uh, lots of Investiture. Is one way. As a certain person discovered.

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

If that person were to not have entered Preservation's pool, it still would have given the same result?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

If they had not, they would be gone.

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

I wasn't clear. If they had done a different pool, not Preservation's.

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Oh, if they had been able to Invest themselves heavily, then they could have stuck around, yes. That wasn't Preservation's pool, that was more a function of--dipping themselves, pulling an Achilles inside of a Shardpool when you are dead, turned out to work. It's not the only way, not everyone on... Threnody, for instance, is heavily Invested.

Shadows of Self release party ()
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zas678

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

Brandon Sanderson

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

A Memory of Light San Diego Signing ()
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Questioner (paraphrased)

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

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

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

Questioner (paraphrased)

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

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

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

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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L0lbert

My question is however, is Kelsier influenced by Ruin in some way? Does he have any metal in him? The parts that got me thinking is how he is the one who suggested to Vin that she should keep her earrings in. Futhermore he has a strong urge to kill and destroy, though that is mainly limited to nobility and it is meant to help overthrow the empire. Lasltly there was someone in the last book (I'm afraid I can't remember who right now) who said that Lord Penrod (who at the time was contolled by Ruin) used housewars to destroy the city, which is the exact thing Kelsier did also. I'm sorry if my answer has an obvious answer, or if I've overlooked something, but these points got me to strongly belive that Kelsier was influenced by Ruin.

Brandon Sanderson

No metal in Kelsier, though good question. However, he was trained by a man touched by Ruin, and has a certain natural inclination toward destruction and killing. That's all him.

I've said before that Kelsier, in another story or time, might have become something far more terrible. That's what makes him interesting to me as a character.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

The bit about Mare betraying Kelsier was one of the little tidbits I'd been reserving for quite some time. I hope that some of you managed to guess it. It only makes sense, I think, considering the emotional torment Kelsier has gone through. In order for him to be the man I want him to be, he has to have faced a TRUE betrayal–a hurtful one.

Worldbuilders AMA ()
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sheesania

You've said before that Kelsier hung around in the Cognitive Realm after dying and continued to interfere with events going on in Scadrial - talking to Spook, using Preservation's power, etc. You've even implied that Kelsier is STILL hanging around and meddling in the Wax & Wayne era. So my question is - did he CHOOSE to stay in the Cognitive Realm instead of passing on? Or is something forcing him to stay there? 

Brandon Sanderson

This will be revealed before too much longer. I've been keeping it under my hat for a long time.

JordanCon 2016 ()
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Ruro272

THIS JUST IN: KELSIER'S EYES ARE HAZEL.

I have a lot more tidbits and all of them more juicy than this, but this may be the single thing all weekend that actually added to the cannon. As far as Peter and Brandon know, they never explicitly stated Kelsiers eye color, only that they were "dark", and Brandon thought about it and went with hazel.

Does it matter? Probably not lol. But the moment he said it Peter contacted the wiki writer to add it officially. Pretty cool to ask a simple question that Brandon graciously chose to answer and then add to the cannon story

bschnebs

Since when is Hazel considered dark?

Peter Ahlstrom

It isn't. What we said is that Mistborn doesn't give anyone's eye color and only says Vin's eyes are dark. (Shan Elariel's eyes are also dark.) Kelsier's eyes will now be considered canonized as hazel, which is not dark.

Arcanum Unbounded Seattle signing ()
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Questioner

At the end of the last Wax and Wayne book, which I love, that statue that they though was the Lord Ruler. It was Kelsier.

Brandon Sanderson

That was Kelsier.

Questioner

Ok. I thought so, because the way the other thing ended with the eye, the eye thing was throwing me off and then I went and grabbed the secret thing and I was like "No that can't..."

Brandon Sanderson

That is Kelsier.

Questioner

And will we find out more in the next Wax and Wayne book or do we need to wait and find out more later?

Brandon Sanderson

You will find out more in the Wax and Wayne book, really that that's going on there is foreshadowing for era 3, and for future Secret History stories if I do them. So the Wax and Wayne books are not about the return of Kelsier, but the return of Kelsier is very important for later things in the series.

Worldbuilders AMA ()
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WeiryWriter

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

Brandon Sanderson

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

WeiryWriter

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

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO. :)

Carluun

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

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO.

General Reddit 2016 ()
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Evilkill78

While rereading HoA I decided to do a bit of research on an informant. But I also found another interesting tidbit on Theoryland.

http://www.theoryland.com/intvmain.php?i=727#35

This WoB. It implies TenSoon is eventually going to be able to reconnect with Vin, or at least, someone with Hemalurgic spikes is going to be able to communicate with someone that's departed to "The Beyond" (or the Spiritual Realm)...

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, this looks like one where I was tired from answering a lot of questions, and was thinking about Kelsier--I was really excited to write Secret History back then. I realize that it wouldn't make sense for Kelsier to want to talk to TenSoon, but you'd be surprised the things that you say sometimes when you're trying to write in someone's book, keep yourself from giving too many spoilers, but also answer questions. You can go on auto-pilot sometimes for a minute or two, answering questions that my brain THINKS someone asks, when it's not one they actually asked. Or mashing together two questions, and having a kind of crossed-wires brain moment. You can see me do this on Reddit sometimes too, if you look back through my history. I often catch it and edit to explain myself, but not always This was during the era when I was heavily laying foreshadowing to fans for Kelsier's return, so it wouldn't feel like a cheat when I eventually got to Secret History. So I was looking for opportunities to talk about people with spikes communicating with the Cognitive Realm. I can't remember. There's also a possibility that I was still contemplating Vin staying, which she could have done, as someone who'd carried one of the powers. Either way, I made the call that even bringing Kelsier back was dangerous for undermining consequences, and having Vin hang around would be counter to her character arc and the arc of the stories. So Vin and TenSoon won't be talking any time soon. Sorry to shut down conversation on this one, and sorry to lead you on.

Salt Lake City signing ()
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Questioner 1

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

Brandon Sanderson

Mhm.

Questioner 1

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

Brandon Sanderson

Sure.

Questioner 1

Is it Kelsier?

Questioner 2

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

Brandon Sanderson

That means I'm not gonna answer that. 

Oathbringer London signing ()
#25 Copy

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

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

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

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

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Fourteen - Part One

Following Kelsier this night is probably one of the dumbest things Vin does in this book. Letting her follow is undoubtedly the dumbest thing Kelsier does in the book. Yet, these two characters are alike in more ways than they may seem at first. Both have a sense of brashness that borders on the foolhardy.

Vin is beginning to understand that there are crews where people truly care about each other. The problem is, she's feeling a very natural (especially for a girl of her age) desire to fit in and be needed. She has a deep-seated fear that she'll be proven useless, then be abandoned by the people that she's only just beginning to understand that she needs.

So, she wants to learn to be useful as quickly as she can. For Kelsier's part, he just feels that he's invincible. It's always been a problem of his. He's the type of man who can make things go his way. It's easy for him to ignore the failures and focus on the successes–like the fact that the Lord Ruler trying to kill him only ended up turning him into a Mistborn.

And so, they infiltrate together. And, this was the natural result.

White Sand vol.1 release party ()
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Questioner

The Sovereign...

Brandon Sanderson

Mhm.

Questioner

...has a <nail> in his eye. Which eye is *inaudible*

Brandon Sanderson

I am going to RAFO that one. Just in case.

Questioner

Has Bloody Tan seen the Sovereign?

Brandon Sanderson

*laughs* So... here's the thing-- and this is why I'm RAFO-ing these, it's not because of what you think. I'm RAFO-ing these because these the nature of the Sovereign, and who they call the Sovereign, and these sorts of things is stuff that I want to potentially leave for Secret History 2-- or for [Secret History3, if I write more Secret Histories. So the answers are probably simple, right? And they're not ones that are gonna be mind blowing. But I don't want to lock myself down until I've written those, which is why I'm RAFO-ing most of the questions dealing with this, okay?

*a moment later Brandon overhears continued conversation about Secret History*

So, oh, you were asking it that specific way to not give spoilers to someone here? Yeah, I see what you're doing. I see-- I thought you were trying to wiggle out of me something that you weren't trying to wiggle out of me.

Questioner

Not everyone here has read...

Brandon Sanderson

I get it, I get it. I see what's going on.

Questioner

We're not trying to be that *inaudible*

Brandon Sanderson

Okay, okay. I was misinterpreting the intent of those questions a little bit. Yes, being very tricky. Okay. 

*pauses to sign a book*

So the answer of which spike is it? I can answer that one? *interruption* Or really I can tell you--it's in my notes, and I don't have them, but it's not particularly relevant--it's the opposite side of the one where Death's skull was crushed. 

Questioner

Oh, yes. Yes.

Brandon Sanderson

They would look like mirror images if you saw them.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#30 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Sazed Thinks about Kelsier's One Flaw

Kelsier's hatred of the nobility—and the terrible brutality he manifested in killing them—was indeed his greatest flaw. Some would disagree with me. I've read a lot of fantasy, particularly lately, where Kelsier's style of brutality is the norm for characters. Anyone who isn't like that is chewed up and spit out.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Fourteen - Part Two

I don't spend an awful lot of time here talking about the back-story with Mare and Kelsier. I'll get to more of it later. However, you know just about all you're going to know about their failed plan. Kelsier thought there was atium in this room. They tried to sneak in. They got caught.

In a way, Kelsier is indeed reliving his last days with Mare by trying to break into the room again. He's a Mistborn now, and he wants to accomplish now what he was defeated in earlier.

This chapter is also another example of the hard edge Kelsier has. He kills his enemies without any pause at all. In my opinion, it was the Pits that did this too him. He's been thought something so horrible that death just isn't as meaningful for him as it once was.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Giving you power!

That voice at the end of the chapter is Kelsier, who can finally speak to Vin, now that her earring is gone. She's close enough to the mists and Preservation's power that he can touch Vin's mind or a brief moment and send a few words toward her.

The last words echo his famous line about the mists, the first thing he taught Vin about them on a mist-wetted street in Luthadel her first night of training.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Three

So, Kelsier is very interesting to me as a character. Mostly because of what we see in this chapter. He is a man of dichotomy, which is one of the themes of this novel. On one hand, he's the joking, lighthearted man you see in the second half of the chapter. On the other hand, however, he's a very dangerous, even ruthless, man. He laughs at himself in this chapter, but he wasn't faking when he acted the way he did. There is an edge to Kelsier I've never built into a hero before. Sometimes, he makes me uncomfortable.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
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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.

JordanCon 2016 ()
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Brandon Sanderson

*reading a personalization request* Did Kelsier fill copperminds for reasons other than to share knowledge? Did he want to forget certain memories?

*written* Yes. Yes.

Those may not be causally related. You asked two separate questions and got two separate answers.

/r/fantasy AMA 2013 ()
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i_are_pant

1. Which of your protagonist characters do you dislike the most as a person? Taking into account that you know all of their inner secrets and motivations.2. On the flip side. Which of your antagonists do you connect with the most? The Lord Ruler seems an obvious choice as he was misunderstood by everybody for so long. But still, I'm curious.

Brandon Sanderson

 

  • This is a tough one, as while I'm writing, I HAVE to like everyone. However, the most disturbing of them is probably Kelsier. He's a psychopath--meaning the actual, technical term. Lack of empathy, egotism, lack of fear. If his life had gone differently, he could have been a very, very evil dude.

  • Elend. I see myself as an idealist like him.

 

Barnes & Noble B-Fest 2016 ()
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Questioner

Kelsier vs. Kaladin, who wins?

Brandon Sanderson

Kelsier is meaner. Kelsier is sneakier. Raw power - I'm not sure, but I'm gonna go with Kelsier. If its on a battlefield, Kelsier doesn't win. If its off the battlefield, Kelsier wins. Kaladin is a soldier. He can fight a war and fight with a team and he can win a battle. Kelsier can sneak into someones house and stab them.

Writing for Charity Conference ()
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Zas678 (paraphrased)

Is there some reason why both Vin and Kelsier are half-skaa, half-noble, both natural Allomancers, both end up overthrowing the Lord Ruler, and have siblings that are seekers.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Both were heavily influenced by Ruin in doing what they were doing. So there is a connection there, maybe not the one you're looking for, but Ruin was looking for talented Mistborn that were easy to manipulate and talented Mistborn tend to come from talented Mistborn lines, and so Ruin is looking for that, and they both end up fitting that role. And the thing is, is that the half breeds ended up being easier for him to manipulate and easier lost in the shuffle of things, so they weren't paid attention to as much by the Ministry, because the Ministry didn't know about them.

So it's mostly coincidental for what Ruin's trying to achieve

JordanCon 2016 ()
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Brandon Sanderson

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

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

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Kelsier gets to have some last words in this chapter. He earned them, I think. I'm sorry to keep the truth of kandra from you so long, as I've said before. However, I needed to leave the explanation off so that the reader could experience the revelation with Vin here. Even if you'd already figured out what Renoux was, then I think this scene is more powerful by having the revelations happen like they did.

Anyway, Kelsier is among my personal favorite characters, if only for his depth. He is a complicated, multi-faceted man who managed to scam not only the entire empire, but his own crew at the same time. I felt I had to give him some last words, if only through a letter, so that the reader could bid him a proper farewell. In addition, I wanted him to pass that flower on to Vin–symbolically charging her with Mare's dream, now that Kelsier himself is dead.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#48 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

As Vin herself points out, this is the second time she has forced Kelsier to take her with him when he was planning on going alone. This time, however, is different–or, at least, I wanted to be metaphorically different.

If Vin hadn't been along, Kelsier would have charged the army. He'd probably have died, and that really WOULD have been the end. He's got an impulsive streak. Vin, however, learned from her near-death at the palace. Mistborn are not invincible–something that's harder for Kelsier, even still, to grasp.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

This is the most overt and obvious of my savior-imagery scenes for Kelsier. I hope you didn't feel like I was hitting you over the head with it. (I didn't actually realize the similarity between Survivor and Savior until I was part of the way through the book.) Either way, yes, the Christian imagery is intentional. I didn't put it in simply because I'm religious (after all, if you look at it, Kelsier isn't really all that Christian in the way he deals with people.) I put it in because I think that the images and metaphors of Christianity are deeply-seated in our culture, and drawing upon them provides for a more powerful story.

Part of this is to intentionally make people uncomfortable–for discomfort (when used right) leads to tension. The Christians who read this might be made uncomfortable by how strikingly un-divine Kelsier is. He's acting in some of the same roles as Christ did, but he's not the man that Christ was. He's kind of a pale imitation. The non-Christians, in turn, might be made uncomfortable by the fact that Kelsier is manipulating the people in the way that religions often do, giving hope in something that could very well prove to be false.

Either way, he is what he is. The truest Kelsier is the one we see near the end, where he's standing in the kitchen, smoldering in his black clothing. He is a dangerous man with powerful beliefs.