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A Memory of Light Portland signing ()
#1 Copy

Questioner

How much of your own books were you consciously looking at books like Jordan and saying, "I like that kind of world," and trying to create that kind of world in your own stuff?

Brandon Sanderson

I spent most of my early career, as I kind of implied earlier, reacting against books that I had really liked. The main purpose for this being that I felt that Robert Jordan and various other authors really covered that type of story and that type of world really well. And so I said, "Well, what other room is there to explore?" And so you see me reacting against.

For instance, Mistborn is a direct reaction to the Wheel of Time. Mistborn began as the question, "What if Rand were to fail?" That's what spun me into creating that entire book series: what if the prophesied hero were not able to accomplish what they were supposed to accomplish? And that became the foundation of that book series. So you can see where I was going and things like that. A lot of times I will read something, and if it's done very well I'll react against it, and if it’s done very poorly then I’ll say, "Oh, I want to try and do this the right way". And both of those are kind of an interesting style of reaction to storytelling. So I would say I was deeply influenced, but it's more in the realm of, "Hey what have they done? What have they covered really well, and where can I go to explore new ground?"

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#2 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Ruin Wants the Atium

And, it is about atium. Tada! The atium drove the plot in book one as Kelsier and team tried to find it. (Ruin didn't need to influence them very much on that one.) It drove the second book as the armies besieged Luthadel with the hope of claiming the fabled atium stash of the Lord Ruler.

It would have been a disappointment for readers, I think, to have that mythical atium supply to end up useless. Yomen is right; it no longer matters monetarily. Cities aren't selling food to one another in the face of the destruction that is coming. Atium is meaningless economically.

But there are other reasons, and—as you'll see—the atium is an important part of all of this.

Fantasy Faction Q&A ()
#3 Copy

Windrunner

When is Emperor's Soul set chronologically in relation to Elantris? Because if its around the same time Teod and Arelon might not have to stand alone against the Fjordell Empire.

My other question is also a timeline one. (There are a lot of those tonight haha) I heard you had to move The Way of Kings a little bit due to some plot constraints. So does Warbreaker still fall around the same time as The Alloy of Law or has that shifted as well?

Brandon Sanderson

Thanks for the kind words! Emperor's Soul is after Elantris, but not too long after. It is before Mistborn.

Second question is that I've moved things so that The Way of Kings is around the same time as The Alloy of Law, forced by some behind-the-scenes events. Warbreaker now happens before The Alloy of Law.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#4 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

The Elusive Allomancer

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

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

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

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#7 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Fourteen

Spook Enters the Stage

And so, here we have our first Spook chapter. When I wrote these books, I'd been planning Spook's sections for quite some time and was very excited to write them. As I said earlier, I wrote them all together, like a mini-novel of their own, then interwove them with the Vin/Elend sections and the TenSoon sections.

Spook has always been a personal favorite of mine. His silly nonsense of a language from the first book was a lot of fun, and even then I began planning what I could do with him were I to make him a viewpoint character. The first thing I had to do was, unfortunately, get rid of the dialect—it annoyed too many people, and it just wasn't comprehensible enough.

The second thing I had to do was give him conflict. Clubs's death, and Spook's absence during the Siege of Luthadel, gave me a large chunk of that. But from there I needed more—and I wanted to do something different with Allomancy for him. Hence the idea of the tin savant, a person who has burned and flared tin so much that it has changed his body.

We'll get a lot more on this as the book progresses. However, my feeling has been that these novels have focused too much on the powerful and the very capable. I love Vin's and Elend's scenes, but we needed something from someone a little bit lower on the power scale. I wanted to do these Spook sections to show someone more average, someone most readers usually ignored, doing amazing things.

Originally, I wrote Spook a little bit more unhinged. He was cocky in his new powers to the point of being a little too off-putting. During the final revision—the one where I added Sazed's studies of the religions—I backed off on Spook's intensity in these first few chapters from his viewpoint, trying to make him a little more sympathetic and a little more trustworthy.

Yes, he's done serious damage to his body by ignoring the advice not to flare his metal too much. (See book one where Kelsier gives this same advice to Vin.) However, he now recognizes what he's done and explains why he's doing it.

Other than that, this is another setup chapter reintroducing us to Spook, giving us his motivations and place in the book, and showing off his magic a little. The next chapter from his viewpoint has a lot more going on.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#8 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Magic System Focus

I've mentioned before that, in my mind, each of the three books has a focus on one of the three magic systems. Book one introduced Allomancy. And in book two, Sazed became a viewpoint character, and his story is very important to that book. Through him, we see Feruchemy work.

We will, of course, see lots more Feruchemy and Allomancy in this book. However, we also add Marsh to introduce us to Hemalurgy. The secrets behind how this magic system works are a major focus of the plot of this volume, as they explain to us how Ruin and Preservation operate.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#9 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

OreSeur and Vin discuss their interview with Dockson

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

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

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

Hal-Con 2012 ()
#11 Copy

Questioner

There is an overarching storyline between all the books... that we finally find out about in the last book, between two gods that are at war, and you were saying yesterday in your lecture how you tend to freestyle your characters but you tend to plan certain other events, and specifically to do with the ring in Vin's ear. Was that a planned event, or was that a part of the overarching plot?

Brandon Sanderson

That was a planned event that I worked out. What I'll do a lot of times when I'm building a series is, I will build an outline for the first one, and then I'll have just a few paragraphs on the rest of the series, and then I'll write the first one, and once I'm done with the first one, and I'm sure of the characters' personalities, that really allows me to expand the outline for the rest of the series; it's very hard to write—you know, to build a full, complete outline for everything until you know exactly who the characters are gonna be, and as I said yesterday, my characters I allow to grow very naturally. Characters do always get veto power over a plot, meaning if I get to a point where I'm like, the person this character's become would not do this thing that the plot requires for them, I either have to go back to the plot and rebuild it from scratch, or I have to go say, this is the wrong character for this role. Let's try a different character cast in this role. And I've done both before.

And so, with Mistborn I did plan that in from the beginning and then write the first book and then in the second two I expanded on it and said yes, this is going to work—this can be an important feature of the story—and so it was one of those things that came together that you always hope will come together, and it did. Being able to embed some of the things in book one that work for book three, and I was really using it as practice for the larger series and things like that, so the fact that it came together made me more confident I could do this sort of thing across bigger series. But I'm very pleased with how the Mistborn trilogy turned out. I did have the training wheels on for the Mistborn trilogy; when I sold Elantris, they said they were going to publish it in 2005, and that they needed my next book by then. Well, that was two years away. I had a good writing habit and work ethic at that point, and so I was able to write all three books of the Mistborn trilogy before I had to turn the first one in for publication which gave me a safety net in case I wasn't able to get all of this stuff in and whatnot—I could change the plot so that I can not have to fall face-first, so to speak—but it did all come out so I was very happy with that, but it did allow me to go back and tweak a few things, like for instance, there's a character who becomes a viewpoint character in book three who hadn't been one in the first two. That wasn't planned in the outline; that's something when I got to book three and was working on it, I felt, I really need to give this character more space, which meant that there was a location this character was in—Urteau, which was not built into the plot to be a major location—and so I had to go back and add some foreshadowing for this place, that it was important and these sorts of things; it allowed me to do some stuff like that.

Firefight Seattle UBooks signing ()
#14 Copy

Questioner

In the Mistborn trilogy, was it hard to write the final twist, or had it been planned that way?

Brandon Sanderson

This is always the way it was planned. There are some smaller things that I'll allow spontaneity to change the book, but the general structure of the book is always planned out. And if something changes while I'm writing I go and throw away the plan and rebuild the plan, so I'm always writing with a plan.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#15 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Mistborn Tropes, Kelsier and Elend's Leadership Styles

As I mentioned previously with giving Vin a "sidekick" in each book, there are other cycles that I've tried to use in each of the three novels in order to give them a sense of cohesion. I felt this was important because of how different the themes of each book are, and I wanted to give a sense and reminder that they were all in the same series together.

In this case, we have the "discuss the plan" scene. The first of these is the most obvious, back in book one. Kelsier leads this one with the chalkboard and talks everyone through the plan to overthrow the Lord Ruler.

In book two, we had the scene where Elend presented his plan to play Cett and Straff against each other. Now, in book three, we have the discussion of the mists closing in and the team's goals of capturing the two remaining powerhouse cities.

I like the comparison between these three scenes and what they say about Elend and Kelsier. In book one, Kelsier's plan is pretty much already in his head—he says that he wants to discuss things with his team and get ideas from them, but if you pay attention it's clear that he manipulates the conversation into going with the plan he wants. He offers one form of leadership.

In book two, Elend's meeting is a near disaster. He arrives late and tells them about his plan—only to find out that the crew already has their own plan. He then has to talk, wiggle, and persuade to get them to go with the plan he's come up with.

In book three, you have Elend the emperor. Gone is the guessing and insecurity. This is the plan presented by a man at war to his troops and advisors. He asks for ideas, then takes them and puts people to work on them. He presents his goals clearly and expects them to be accepted.

Calamity Austin signing ()
#16 Copy

Questioner

What were your inspiration when you wrote the [Mistborn] series, or for particular characters--

Brandon Sanderson

Well, Mistborn-- I passed, honestly, through a fog bank at 70 mph driving from my mom's house, and I'm like, "This looks cool, I've got to use this." That's the first thought I can think of. Feruchemy goes back to being in high school and being an insomniac, being really tired and wishing I could store up my sleep, so I'd be sleepy when I wanted to be sleepy. Kelsier's inspiration was a guy who had been only out for himself, who realized the greater import of doing something.

Firefight Seattle UBooks signing ()
#17 Copy

Questioner

How do you come up with the languages? Just because it sounds cool, or...

Brandon Sanderson

Languages. So languages in my books, I have a couple of tools that I use and it depends on the book. For some books I just use kind of shortcuts. Mistborn is an example of this, there's only one language that everyone is speaking and there is a little bit of Terris, so for that I just made every region-- I based off of an Earth language and used that. Like for instance the Central Dominance is French, so Vin and Demoux--and they would say Kelsi-ay--and things like this is where the names came from. For something more intricate like Stormlight Archive, I did take linguistics classes, I only snuck into a few of those. And so I'm able to drill down and do some real linguistics. And so I know what I want things to sound like, I know how I want them to feel. And I have all sorts of goofy things that you would even need to know, like for instance they would say "Kholin" instead of Kholin and stuff like this because there's a little bit of Semitic, the language family I'm using as a basis. And then there's stuff like the symmetrical names and stuff like that. Anyway, I can talk about that forever but the answer is yes I find what's cool but sometimes it's really academically cool and sometimes it really puts people of. Like one of the first reviews I got from Elantris was like "These names are really hard to pronounce and kind of dumb" and this was like one of the major review magazines "I can't get into these names" because I had used lots of linguistic things from my time living in Korea to create the languages, and they were kind of hard to say. It's part of why in Mistborn everyone has a nickname that's easy to remember.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#18 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Parting Thoughts

What are my parting thoughts on this series? Well, honestly, they're "Damn, that turned out well."

It was my first series. I began the first book the year I sold Elantris, back before I'd met my wife. I'm writing these annotations in December of 2007, with my first child being about a month old. Mistborn has dominated my life for some four years.

I love these characters. I am thrilled with how the world turned out. And the plot . . . well, it just all worked out even better than I'd hoped. I worry about being able to top this—but then, I always worry about that.

A book is a window into the author's soul, and there was a lot of soul-searching in these books. My thoughts and fears about leadership, religion, relationships, and the nature of truth all show up in the interactions of the characters.

These books are part of me. But now they're part of you too. Thank you so much for reading.

Brandon Sanderson

The Mistborn Project

May 2003-December 2007(For now.)

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#19 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter One

Part One Title

The title of this section of the book is "The Legacy of the Survivor." If I recall correctly, part one of the first book was "The Survivor of Hathsin" and part one of book two was "The Heir of the Survivor."

Kelsier still overshadows these books. In this chapter particularly, I wanted to show an entire group of people doing essentially what he did in book one. Just as Kelsier faced down an Inquisitor, this band of soldiers is going to charge an army of koloss.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#21 Copy

potterhead42

You recently changed up the text of Elantris and Words of Radiance. Do you feel like you need to change something about the Mistborn trilogy? I think it's perfect

Brandon Sanderson

I've expressed that my one regret with Mistborn is the climax of Book One, where I think I bring in drawing upon the mists too early in the series without enough foreshadowing. That said, I'm not planning to revise it, even if we do a 10th anniversary edition like with Elantris. The problems with Elantris created continuity issues; the problem with Mistborn is more of an artistic choice, making it similar to the problem in WoR. The difference here is that I'm still working on Stormlight, so it is considered to be an open book in my head--while Mistborn is done, and it's time to leave it alone.

Orem signing ()
#22 Copy

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

I'm curious, did you have [Sazed's] end result planned out from the beginning?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Yes and no. Mostly what I would do is I would generally write the first book as an exploration. Then I will outline the series, make sure the first book matches the series, then write the rest of the series. With Mistborn I did more of a write straight through all three. And then make sure they all fit... So where I had that, it would be very hard for me to pinpoint, because I kind of wrote the three books as a whole.

But I am an outliner, so I do know a lot of things ahead of time. You're asking me to remember back ten years, what happened while I was editing. I often say yeah I knew ahead, but the honest truth is it came in there somewhere. It might have been ahead. I would have to go look and see what my outline looked like.

Shire Post Mint Mistborn Coin AMA ()
#23 Copy

Argent

I'll ask you... about how you took the pretty minimal description from Brandon's books (I think we just knew that the Lord Ruler's face was on one side, and Kredik Shaw was on the other) to full coin designs.

Isaac Stewart

As for designing the coins based on Brandon's descriptions, I brought it up at one of our Dragonsteel work meetings. We discussed what the coins ought to look like, I looked up old coins for inspiration, then I worked up some really rough designs and got them approved by Brandon. You can consider these designs to be canonical as to how they would've looked in the Final Empire and later on in Elendel.

Ben McSweeney

For TLR, I actually started from the basis of this piece, but aging him further so that he appears more mature and regal.

The design for Kredik Shaw is an amalgamation of different versions I've done. I would expect that the building on the coin is merely the "main palace", and possibly only part of that. The Kredik Shaw palace complex would be much larger.

My favorite is actually TLM (Spook) "revealing the Elendel Valley" after the Catacendre. It came out much better than I anticipated.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#24 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

We're moving in the story, timewise, much more quickly here than we were at the beginning of the book. Often there will be a week or so between chapters. It's kind of hard to tell in my books, as I don't talk very often about time passing. That's not one of my things; my books tend to feel very compressed, as if they happen over the course of a few days. However, each of the Mistborn books has covered many months—the first one covered almost an entire year. The nature of the Final Empire, where it tends to have very mild winters, makes the changing of seasons rough to follow.

A Memory of Light San Diego Signing ()
#25 Copy

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.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#26 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Drawing upon the Mists

Vin draws upon the mists here for the second time. I kind of wish I'd been able to make her do it in the second book somewhere, but I decided to back off on that plot in book two. The thing is, Vin drawing upon the mists is kind of deus ex machina, and I didn't want to make the entire series about that. It's a mystery to be explained, true, and was worked into the magic system from the beginning. But I can't deny that it feels like it comes out of nowhere.

So, having her use her ability to draw upon the mists here was an attempt to have that happen sometime other than a major climax moment, reminding the reader of what happened back in book one so we can begin to delve into what was happening and why.

Shadows of Self release party ()
#27 Copy

Questioner

Is there anything I should look at as a hint for something we haven’t figured out yet?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, that's a good question too. There are moments through the entire original trilogy that people haven't figured out yet. But they've picked out most of what they are, they just don't know why. Like they know something weird is happening, they don't know-- They haven't guessed why the weirdness is happening. The weirdness is figure-out-able, but it would be hard. But it's not outside of reason for you to figure out why these certain moments-- these moments people have not yet figured out.

Questioner

Because Odium had influence on Scadrial.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. Not a ton, but yes.

Questioner

...Kelsier had an irrational hatred for Nobles.

Brandon Sanderson

He did, he did indeed.

Shadows of Self Portland signing ()
#29 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Good question. So Mistborn, [he?] is complimenting the way it all kinda comes together at the end. So the question is, did I have it all planned out, and for Mistborn I did. I had a big advantage, and this is what i'll usually do for a series: I'll come up with a plan that really details the first book and has just a little bit about the next book. So I'll write the first book, then create a really intricate outline for the next two, then use that to revise the first book to match the next two, so the first one I get to explore a little bit further and go a little farther afield from where the outline was without impacting things too much. Then i can lock it in and write the other two. There are plenty of things I didn't have locked down when I wrote the first one, but then i did the two outline, revised the first one, and then wrote the second two books.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#30 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Twenty-Four

Vin sits and thinks in the mists

Most of the logbook entries that you're seeing Vin reference in this book were used as epigraphs in the first book. As I mentioned in that book's annotations, one of my goals in this series was to finish the rough drafts of all three books before the first novel went into production. I had a lot of plans for the series when I started the first book, but I knew that there would be a lot of things I wouldn't be able to nail down until I had Book Three worked out. (You'd be surprised at the connections and ideas you come up with as you work through things on the page.)

I realized that I'd want to be able to foreshadow and worldbuild in a way that pointed toward the third book, as I thought that would give the series a powerful cohesion. For instance, when I was working on the first book (and planning the series) I knew I wanted to use the mist spirits and the koloss in this second book. However, when I was planning the series, my worldbuilding had included the use of SEVERAL different "Mist Spirits" rather than just one. In addition, as I was working on the first book, I realized that the koloss just weren't working, and so I cut them from that book to leave them for this novel, where I would have more time with them. (Allowing me to better define for myself what they were like.)

By the time I finished this book, I realized that–for the mythology I wanted–there could only be a single mist spirit. Also, I knew pretty darn well what koloss were. It was very helpful to have finished this novel before Book One came out, as I was able to go back and revise the logbook entries which referenced "spirits" in the mists so that they spoke of just a single spirit instead. I also had characters speak of koloss in book one the same way they do in book two.

Not big changes, but I think they improve the feel of the series.

Salt Lake City Comic-Con 2014 ()
#31 Copy

Questioner

What's your inspiration?

Brandon Sanderson

It really depends on the book. If you want to know the inspiration for the Mistborn books, you can google Sanderson's First Law. It's an essay I wrote about how I came up with the magic system. That'll help you see where some of the ideas came from and how I take them and use them.

Questioner

What about The Stormlight Archive?

Brandon Sanderson

Stormlight, the original inspiration was the storm of Jupiter. The big storm that rotates around Jupiter, and I wanted to do something that had a perpetual storm like that.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#32 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

The Koloss Named Human

Human is another reader favorite from this series. He completes a cycle of characters I'd conceived from the beginning of the series.

In each book, Vin is given an assistant—someone to watch over her and guide her. In book one this was Sazed, who Kelsier charged with watching over Vin. Eventually, Sazed became his own force in the books and could no longer fill this role. At that point, Elend asked TenSoon to watch over her, and he became her attendant for book two. Now in book three, TenSoon is a viewpoint character in his own right and Vin is left without an assistant.

Human fills that role for this book. I had planned him to have a much larger place in the novel than he eventually got—I intended to do something more like with TenSoon in book two, where Human was always accompanying Vin. However, I feared repeating myself in that way, as the TenSoon/Vin relationship in book two worked so very well. I didn't want to do another story about Vin and her inhuman companion growing to trust each other and becoming friends. So, I reduced Human's role in the book. A koloss would make a terrible sidekick anyway.

General Reddit 2016 ()
#33 Copy

TheJMan211

In the first book the group is focused on getting control of the palace and is not worried about the return of the army because they think that if they get the palace they'll have the atium and, thus, the ability to pay for the loyalty of the army, since they're mercenaries. Well they didn't find the atium, right? So no ability to pay the old army for their loyalty. I'm just saying that it seems to me that the absence of the Lord Ruler's army supporting the city should be a huge indication to all the other warlords that the atium isn't in Elend's possession.

People have been saying that he wouldn't have anyone to trade with so the atium would be worthless but he would have had a year to work out trade with someone if he wanted to monetize it (with as valuable as atium is made out to be in the first book he would have found someone wanting to buy some even if he couldn't get the price the Lord Ruler charged for it).

Brandon Sanderson

Ah! Well, that makes sense. I certainly think some people in world might have come to this conclusion. But they'd still think the atium must be somewhere in the city, even if Elend doesn't have/isn't spending it.

However, I think the issue is a little less cut and dry. For one thing, Elend DOES have the loyalty of much of the local army--the garrison serves him now, which would be an indication that he has access to some of the Lord Ruler's resources. I don't think the lack of a larger army would be an indication he doesn't have the atium, however.

Let's say you were a small band, and were able to seize and control Ft Knox, and get the guards stationed there to serve you. The president is dead, and the country is fragmenting into city-states.

A senator from a nearby state might easily round up the military in his area, promise them that he's the new civil authority--then push them to go seize the gold. When they arrived, they wouldn't think, "Why is their force so small? They must not actually have the gold." They'd think, "They're ripe for the picking. We got here first."

That's basically what is happening. The "Lord Ruler's Army" doesn't exist any more--it's fragmented, taken over by various groups who ruled their own local regions. And the bulk of the most frightening part, the koloss, are their own uncertain band.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#34 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Seventy-Two - Part Two

Marsh and the Earring

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#35 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Eighty-Two

Sazed Ascendant

The answer is yes, I planned it from the beginning. And I didn't.

It's difficult for me, even as the author, to trace back when and where the various threads of a story began. I wrote all three of these books in a row, and to me, they're one long story. Yes, I chose three distinct segments of time over the five-year span, and separated out those chunks. But it's all part of a whole, which is why it was so important for me to be able to write this series as one singular book.

So, if I go back to my very first notes, will it include a discussion of Sazed becoming God and using the stories in his metalminds as guidelines for remaking the world? No, I don't think it's there. Just like Kelsier wasn't originally planning to create a rebellion through his sacrifice, just like Vin wasn't even originally female.

Things change and grow with a book as you write it. However, let me say that I knew early in the series that I wanted Sazed to end up as the Hero of Ages and ascend with the power. I felt it was the only way to deal with the world ending and have it start anew. Plus, he's the only one who really deserved it, as he was the only one of the characters who ever cared much about religion.

I kept this in mind while revising the first book, as I'd finished the rough draft of book three by that time. I planned how to use his religions and feature them in the novels in a way that would show off their finer qualities.

In a way, this is my compromise. As I've said, I don't believe in the "spokes on the wheel" theory. Not every religion can be true, if only because they—logically—disagree on so many points. But every one of them can teach things that are true. This is something I actually believe. And, like many of my beliefs, it ended up influencing how I wrote this book.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Vin Meets the Skaa in the Hovel, then does her Horseshoe trick

This scene was very important to the series as a whole. the people in the skaa hovel are just what Vin needed to see. We didn't get to experience a lot of it, but the run for Vin was very draining. It isn't easy to pewter drag. It wears you out, body and mind.

The skaa people laughing, however, recharges her. She gets what she needs to keep going, if in an unconventional way. And this gives her, and us, validation for all the work that Elend has been doing. It's working. For these people, at least, the struggle is worth fighting.

The series works best, I think, when read together as one long novel. I wrote them to feel separate enough that people wouldn't feel cheated when they read only one. However, so much of this story is meant to intertwine. For instance, this Vin scene will be made more powerful if you've 1) Seen how the skaa lived in their hovels back when Kelsier visited them in book one. 2) Remember what a pewter drag did to Vin in the last book. 3) Remember Vin using the spikeway from book one.

I would have liked to have shown another spikeway in this book, but again, there was no room. Still, readers have really liked her horseshoe trick. I would point out, however, that not just anyone–not even any Mistborn–could figure this out as quickly and as well as Vin. Kelsier trained her well in the Pushing and Pulling of metals. That was his specialty.

Tor.com Q&A with Brandon Sanderson ()
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Goron

You've mentioned before that all your books so far are in chronological order (Elantris, the Mistborn trilogy, Warbreaker, Stormlight Archive). Alloy of Law takes place about 200 years after The Hero of Ages. (Right?) Does this put it chronologically before or after Warbreaker?

Brandon Sanderson

The Alloy of Law takes place around 300 years after The Hero of Ages and several hundred years before the events in The Way of Kings. That does put it around the same time as Warbreaker.

Hal-Con 2012 ()
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Lance Alvein (paraphrased)

How about the general number of years Warbreaker is from [The Hero of Ages] and [The Alloy of Law/The Way of Kings]?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

RAFO - the reason that timeline questions are being RAFOed right now is because the final times are still not 100% solid, and Brandon said that he doesn't want to give us a time and then have it change around again (like what happened to [The Alloy of Law] being moved to the same time as [The Way of Kings] instead of being a bit earlier), so he won't answer any timeline questions until after he has the final timeline correct in his own system.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Fifteen

Ham

I've expressed before that I wish I could have done more with Ham. Of the main crew, he's the only one other than Clubs who never got even a token viewpoint in the series.

I just didn't have the time for everyone. Perhaps, as I write more and more, I'll get better at covering more ground with fewer pages. That will let me branch out into studying more of the lesser characters and rounding them out. However, for this series, I had to pick and choose carefully. Ham's story didn't have enough conflict, tension, or growth in it. So, I went with Spook and TenSoon instead.

General Reddit 2015 ()
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libbykino

I'm only maybe 1/4 of the way through WOA (the second book of the first series) and something has kind of been nagging at me for a while. I figured out what it is, finally, and it's that there are no women in this story. I mean, obviously there's Vin as the main character, but she has a lot of overtly masculine qualities and quite frankly a suppressed fondness for dresses and perfume just isn't enough for me. All of the feminine characters are bad, jealous, stupid, flippant and/or unimportant. The only other positive female characters I've met so far are either dead (Mare) or "other"/foreign (Tindwyl).

And the series, so far, clearly fails the Bechdel test. The only conversations Vin has had with other women have been about men (particularly Elend).

Does it get any better than this? I mean, it's honestly really starting to bother me. This series is almost like a reverse-harem trope with all the males surrounding the main character.

Don't get me wrong, I'm enjoying the world and the story otherwise (except for Elend's chapters that drone on and on about his ideal political structure which don't have any place in a society like this one IMO), but the complete lack of any female interaction is starting to bother me, TBH.

Brandon Sanderson

I've always considered this a legitimate criticism of Mistborn. In my plotting and planning, I was so focused on doing a good job with a dynamic female lead that I fell into a trap that is common for newer writers--to be less intentional about other characters, and default to male.

I think I once counted, and was able to find interactions in each book between Vin and women that were not related to men, and so the series does strictly pass the test--but the test has always been intended as a bare minimum. You can pass the test and still lack any real and meaningful representations of people different from yourself, and you can actually fail the test while not having this be a problem at all.

In the case of Mistborn, I consider it a legitimate weakness of the stories. I'm sorry it is distracting to you.

libbykino

It is only a minor distraction, Brandon. And I think perhaps I am spoiled, because I read Stormlight 1 and 2 first and am only now just starting Mistborn, and your female characters in Stormlight are outstanding. The relationship between Shallan and Jasnah is amazing so I know that you are perfectly capable of writing complex and varied female characters. I think that's why I found it so striking that it seems to be missing in Mistborn.

Regardless... I am still enthralled with the books. I am enjoying the plot and I do love the characters. I can't wait to find out what the Deepness is or if Vin truly is the Hero of Ages (knowing the title of the third book probably spoils that one for me though, haha).

Thanks for taking the time to respond to me, Brandon! You are so good to your fans I really appreciate it! Can't wait to finish reading this series!

Brandon Sanderson

My pleasure.

It wasn't long after finishing the series that I started to think about this aspect. I really wish I'd made Ham a woman, for example. I think the character would have gone interesting places--and would have done good things for the lore of the world if women Thugs were heavily recruited to be soldiers.

Reflecting on Mistborn has been very useful to me as a writer, however, as it's part of what helped me personally understand that you can do something like have a strong, and interesting, female lead but still have a series that overall displays a weakness in regards to female characters. This has greater implications for writing, not just in regards to female characters, and is something I don't think I could have learned without this series. (Where I worked so very hard on Vin that I thought I had this aspect down.)