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The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Vin and Zane Watch Outside the Tent

Zane's cutting has an interesting evolution in the story. At first, I added him cutting himself simply because–well–it made a cool scene. Zane, cutting his own arm in front of his father, primarily to make the other man uncomfortable.

However, there's more behind this, and the cutting worked very well into the interaction of the different magic systems in the book. Particularly Hemalurgy. The pain makes the voice in Zane's head weaker. There will be more on this later.

I'll admit that I didn't originally intend to make the Zane-Kelsier connection with those scars on his arms. However, when writing this scene, I couldn't believe I'd missed seeing what a great opportunity I had. Vin already associates Zane with the Survivor; letting her see the scars on his arms gives her another powerful connection, particularly since she misinterprets where they came from.

Ancient 17S Q&A ()
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Chaos (paraphrased)

What would have happened if Ruin did get the atium? Yeah, the world is destroyed, but how does Ruin "absorb" the atium so he can utilize the power?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

He would metabolize it, just like the normal people have to do. However, if he did get it he would then be able to destroy the world.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

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

The Great American Read: Other Worlds with Brandon Sanderson ()
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Questioner

Other Shards, other than Odium and Cultivation, can take physical form, right?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

Are there any Shards that can't?

Brandon Sanderson

No.

Questioner

Could Ruin have taken physical form in The Well of Ascension?

Brandon Sanderson

So, yes. What it really counts to be physical, for someone like a Shard, is subject to debate, but he could have done some of the things that others have done. There were certain restrictions on both Ruin and Preservation, because of the deal that they had set up, that would not have made doing that very useful. But there is possibility he could have.

/r/fantasy AMA 2011 ()
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Chaos

It's a little odd that Preservation would inherently give up its power to fuel Allomancy, because you'd think he would preserve himself, you know? Does that make sense?

Brandon Sanderson

Preservation, as a Shard, is about preserving life, people, and the like. Not about self. No more than Ruin is about destroying self, or Cultivation is about growing herself.

Ancient 17S Q&A ()
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Chaos (paraphrased)

Are Shards all paired? Does Endowment have a counterpart?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

RAFO. Also, yes and no. Not all Shards have perfect counterparts like Ruin and Preservation.

Questioner (paraphrased)

Why were Ruin and Preservation linked together?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Because they're such perfect opposites. Basically it's just an opposites attract thing.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Ruin Helps Destruction Along

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

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

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

Legion Release Party ()
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Walin

Does Nightblood contain any of Ruin's Investiture? Like, not atium, but...

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, technically; and I'm not wiggling around that, because technically, location in the Cosmere and who belongs to what gets really weird, right? Because Ruin's Investiture is everywhere--but I'm not talking that way. I'm talking the way you actually mean it. 

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

The Elusive Allomancer

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

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

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

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Vin Asks Ruin about Preservation

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

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

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

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

Shadows of Self Portland signing ()
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Questioner

When Wax is talking to Harmony he mentions 'the radio' and other things. Are there already societies that have things like that and how is he getting that information. Is it like a Spiritual Realm..

Brandon Sanderson

He knows things from his Ascension. He gain an innate knowledge of the universe in interesting ways. In addition, Preservation had some minor innate progno... he could see the future a little bit, and so could Ruin in a little different way. Let's just say that there are a bunch of things mixing together that give Harmony some knowledge that most people wouldn't have.

Questioner

But will we see some of societies soon or is that further in the future?

Brandon Sanderson

*RAFOes* You'll find out.

General Reddit 2013 ()
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Autarchk

If I can ask a question, I just read the Mistborn trilogy and, were Preservation and Ruin two different shards or a single one with their power split somehow? If they were two shards, does that mean a single person can hold more than one, since Harmony apparently holds both now?

Brandon Sanderson

They were two shards.

Yes, one entity can hold more than one. Remember that holding a shard changes you, over time. Rayse knows this, and prefers to leave behind destroyed rivals as opposed to taking their power and potentially being overwhelmed by it.

Nepene

I have a question, if you are willing. Would Ruin be more compatible with Rayse, would he pick up that shard had he visited Scadrial and shattered him? All the shards we have seen that he has shattered seem rather different in intent than him- Honor, Cultivation, Love, Dominion. But Ruin seems more in line with Odium. Rayse has ruined the days of quite a few people.

Brandon Sanderson

Technically, Ruin would be most compatible with Cultivation. Ruin's 'theme' so to speak is that all things must age and pass. An embodiment of entropy. That power, separated from the whole and being held by a person who did not have the willpower to resist its transformation of him, led to something very dangerous. But it was not evil. None of the sixteen technically are, though you may have read that Hoid has specific beef with Rayse. Whether you think of Odium as evil depends upon how much you agree with Hoid's particular view.

That said, Ruin would have been one of the 'safer' of the sixteen for Rayse to take, if he'd been about that. Odium is by its nature selfish, however, and the combination of it and Rayse makes for an entity that fears an additional power would destroy it and make it into something else.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Ruin Interferes with Communications

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

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Fifty-Eight - Part Two

Spook in Ruin's Power

In this chapter, we show Spook almost completely under Ruin's power. This is the ultimate culmination of everything that the force has been working toward with Spook.

Ruin knows how to play off the lusts of mankind. Lust makes sense to Ruin, as he has lusts himself. He needs to destroy. It's part of who he is and what makes him function. It's the driving force of the power upon which his consciousness feeds to remain alive.

Things that don't have to do with lust, yet are still human emotions, are more difficult for him to remember and empathize with.

Most of my alpha readers thought by this point of the book that I would make Spook's storyline a tragedy—that he would snap here and become a villain. I won't rule out my doing something like that in a novel, as I think it would be very compelling. I don't know how many readers thought I would do that here. However, it wouldn't work in this story. The problem is, if I showed this entire plotline just to end with Spook destroying the city, I think the sections would ultimately feel unfulfilling because they wouldn't be connected to the rest of the book.

If this were a middle novel, and not the end of a trilogy, I would have been much more inclined to show a tragedy like this. Then it could have effects on the next books, and the pages the reader had invested would mean something to the overall story. As it stands, I was always intending for Spook to be redeemed. Partially because I think that's who he is—he let Ruin urge him toward getting carried away, but he's still a solidly good person. Also, I have a fondness for him since the first book. I couldn't let him end that way.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Quellion Pleads with "Kelsier"

By the way, Quellion can in fact see Ruin here. When Ruin manifests himself in form, not just in voice, anyone who he's corrupted with a spike can see him with their natural eyes. (Or at least, in the case of Inquisitors, with their Allomancy.) I tried to get this across as best I could, but some readers still had trouble with it.

Oathbringer Houston signing ()
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Questioner

How did all the characters learn about the different magic systems?

Brandon Sanderson

So, it really depends on the character, and the situation, and things like that.

Questioner

How did the first person discover, like--

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, Mistborn powers? Ruin and Preservation, in that case, were actively cultivating the society, particularly Preservation. Some of it comes through that. Some of it comes through, if you have the Investiture, part of you kinda knows about it. But it takes experience, so you have to know the right things, and stuff. I'll get into it more eventually.

/r/Fantasy_Bookclub Alloy of Law Q&A ()
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Ace_of_Face

How was Sazed/Harmony able to communicate with Waxillium near the end of the book? During the original trilogy, Ruin could occasionally implant thoughts into people's minds, but he couldn't just listen in whenever he felt like it. Is Harmony just way more powerful?

Brandon Sanderson

There is interesting discussion about this one below, which I like to see. I thought this might spark some discussion. Remember that human beings were given more of Preservation than Ruin during their creation, which led to Preservation eventually being overwhelmed by Ruin. That was the bargain; people would be of Preservation at their core, but in turn Ruin got to claim the world once Preservation wound down.

Another factor to consider here is that Wax was given a special earring designed for communication with a being that he actually worships.

Skyward Seattle signing ()
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Khyrindor

If the Ire had managed to get Preservation, what would Ruin's reaction have been to that?

Brandon Sanderson

*chuckles* What would Ruin have thought about that? I don't think Ruin would have been a fan.

Khyrindor

Would he have been able to deal with it?

Brandon Sanderson

Deal with it? I can see potentials where he both could and couldn't deal with it. I do not-- I don't think the Ire were one hundred percent prepared for what they were trying to do. How about that?

Shadows of Self London UK signing ()
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Questioner

Can Odium or any other [Shards] edit text like Ruin could? ...Or is that a special Ruin thing.  

Brandon Sanderson

This is possible for others as well. The trick about it is, [Ruin] saturated everything on Scadrial in a way that not all Shards saturate their planets.  

Questioner

Okay, what do you mean "saturate"?

Brandon Sanderson

Creating it, does that make sense? And so this was partially an aspect that everything on that planet, every atom was, y'know, had him in it... I mean he didn't create the atoms, let's say that, but yeah... The whole planet existence and particularly the people on it are [Ruin], attuned to [Ruin].

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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LordSkybreaker

Hey u/mistborn I have a couple questions about Magic: the gathering.

What colors/kind of deck do you play in magic?

What colors are the known shards?

What colors are the various orders of the knights Radiant?

And finally, have you ever thought of doing the story for Wizards Of The Coast on one of their mtg blocks?

Brandon Sanderson

Any combo-style deck I can draft--or esper if I'm constructed.

Ruin: Black. Odium: Red. Honor: White. Preservation: White. Cultivation: Green. Devotion: Green/red. Dominion: Black/White. Autonomy: It's complicated.

(Also, question 3 is way too large for me to commit to right now. And for 4, if the right opportunity came along and they were interested, I could see myself doing this.)

SoupOrMan692

What about Endowment and Ambition?

Brandon Sanderson

Ambition is mono-black, and endowment is probably mono-green. Some of the blue shards are ones we haven't seen as much from yet.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
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Questioner

Was Vin's mother under Hemalurgic influence?

Brandon Sanderson

Vin's mother was under influence of Ruin.

Footnoe

The epigraphs from The Hero of Ages say this: "The point, however, is that people with unstable personalities were more susceptible to Ruin's influence, even if they didn't have a spike in them. That, indeed, is likely how Zane got his spike." In the annotations Brandon confirms that the same applies to Vin's mother.

Orem signing 2014 ()
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zas678 (paraphrased)

Can Odium influence people the same way that Ruin can?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Well, you see, the kandra and the koloss have a "hole" in them that allows Ruin to come in and take over. The Parshendi naturally are protected from this, but when they expose themselves to the storms, and the spren come in, many of these spren have that kind of "hole" in them, and that's what allows Odium to take control of them.

zas678 (paraphrased)

No, I'm talking about how Ruin was able to push people, place things in their minds, stuff like that. Can Odium do the same thing?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Well, Odium wasn't around when those people were created, so it's a little different for him than Ruin. So if he influences people in that way, it's through the Unmade.

General Reddit 2012 ()
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kilomtrs

So in the trilogy, we see that when someone has a Hemalurgic spike implanted in them, they can hear Ruin talking to them, both as a vision and in their head. However, we learn in the Hero of Ages that Ruin cannot hear a person's thoughts no matter how much under Ruin's influence they are.

In Alloy of Law, we see that Wax (and other Pathians) uses an earring to "pray" to Harmony, and we see that Harmony can hear his thoughts and respond.

So I guess this leads to three questions: How does Harmony hear the thoughts of Wax, when it's explicitly pointed put that Ruin cannot?

Are the earrings that the Pathians use Hemalurgically charged, as otherwise they would be of no use to Ruin, and therefore Harmony?

Or did Harmony completely change how that aspect of Hemalugy works?

Brandon Sanderson

How this all works dates back to the original design of the magic system.

I wanted Ruin and Preservation to be complementary opposites, like many things in the Mistborn world. Allomancy, for example, has Pushes and Pulls were are less "negate one another" opposites, but instead two sides to the same proverbial coin.

Ruin is invasive. The power is more "Yell" than "Listen." The philosopher would probably have some interesting things to say about the masculine symbolism of Hemalurgy and its spikes.

Ruin can insert thoughts. That power, however, can't HEAR the reactions. It's about invasion.

Preservation, however, is the opposite. Preservation listens, Preservation protects. (Perhaps to a fault--if there were no Ruin, there would be no change to the world, and life could not exist.) Because of this, Preservation can hear what is inside people's minds. It cannot, however, INSERT thoughts. (This is important to the plot of Hero of Ages.)

Harmony is both, the two complementary opposites combined. And so, he inserts thoughts with Ruin and still uses Hemalurgy. He can also listen.

Yes, Wax's earring is Invested. (Or, in other terms, it's a Hemalurgic spike.)

bettse

Doesn't that imply it was shoved through someone's heart at one point (ala Steel Inquisitor creation process)?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, the metal would have to have been part of a spike that at one point was used to kill someone and rip off a piece of their soul.

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

Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
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Melhay

Is Adonalsium going to be mentioned by name in Warbreaker and The Way of Kings or is he going to be an underlining "God"(I don't know what to call him yet) idea? I am curious now, so I will have to keep my eyes open for him.

Brandon Sanderson

Adonalsium (Ahy-doe-Nahl-see-um) will be mentioned by name again. Ruin and Preservation were what have been called Shards of Adonalsium. (The Voice from Warbreaker is another Shard.)

Melhay

Is this "character" a common link between your books for religion or magical or maybe even both?

Brandon Sanderson

Adonalsium has to do with the Cosmere, which is the word Realmatic philosophers use to refer to the greater universe of the Shardworlds. It's hard to separate religion, magic, science, and society in most of these worlds. So "both" is a good guess.

Melhay

I was curious because he just seemed to appear and nothing further on him/it. Thank you for mentioning that he is in these two other books, I will have to look for hints of him.

Brandon Sanderson

The word Adonalsium (or, well, the miss-spelling of it) appears in only one of the books. Other clues and links between the books can be found as well. (Some people on my forums have spotted some of them. Others have gone unspotted so far.)

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

When I was designing the Three Metallurgic Arts for these books, I knew that I wanted Hemalurgy to have a built in flaw. A flaw that, as a deconstructionalist might say, was created intentionally and relied upon by the very force hoping it won't exploit it.

It was important to me that Ruin eventually be brought down, in part, because of things he did or flaws in his power. Preservation could simply build into the humans he created an innate goodness, then expect them to do as he hoped that they would. Ruin had to be able to directly corrupt and influence people. He felt himself stronger because he could MAKE them do exactly as he wanted.

The problem is, for his magic to work–for him to exercise control over someone–he had to leave a hole, so to speak, that other people could wiggle through and use. And so the entire "control the koloss" plot sequence in Book Two was intended to set up Hemalurgy, and in a way predict Ruin's fall.

Now, the only problem in all of this (for the heroes, at least) is that when Ruin actually got free, he was so strong that it was all but impossible for anyone else to "get through" the holes that he had left in his Hemalurgists. But it wasn't impossible. In a way, the foreshadowing in this book was meant to lay the seed that Ruin's control of his minions is not absolute. And an individual who wanted to resist him had that potential.

Writing for Charity Conference ()
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Zas678 (paraphrased)

A question that has it's roots in Dragonsteel. When Ruin changes words, is he actually changing words,or is he changing what people see?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Did we canonize this question Peter? I'm pretty sure we did. I thought we answered this one already.

Let's just say that most of the time, Ruin was searching for a place to transition, where he could change what was being trans-transcribed. Or what was being heard, or what was being said.

Zas678 (paraphrased)

That's pretty interesting. 

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

So the easiest time for him is when a scribe is writing in a new book, he's copying a new book down, and he just pops in and changes the words.

Zas678 (paraphrased)

Okay. That makes sense. 

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Elend Takes Control of the Koloss Army

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

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

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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defiantburrito

The Hero of Ages prophecy: For a while it seemed to me that the prophecy was entirely bogus (invented by Ruin as a lure), but it ended up coming true! So my question is, where did the prophecy actually come from? Was it Atium in some form, or something else entirely?

Brandon Sanderson

The religions of Scadrial had a lot of ups and downs. First, you have Ruin and Preservation working together as two gods. Then you have the schism between them, and Preservation betraying Ruin, with Preservation adapting the religion to his own needs and trying to hide in it practices that will keep Ruin imprisoned as long as possible, and then give a chance to defeat him when he escapes. (As Preservation assumes he'll be dead by then.) Finally, you have Ruin corrupting the religions with his influence, trying to figure out what he can twist to his own needs--while missing the hidden layers that Preservation left.

Phantine

Were there a lot of Hero of Ages who ascended beyond the ones we directly saw in the books?

Brandon Sanderson

I wouldn't say so.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Fifty-Eight

Ruin Escapes

So, yes. The crew has been manipulated. Everyone's been manipulated for a good thousand years. By this thing wanting to be released.

You'll find out more in the next chapter, but realize here that most everything about the traditions from the old days–the prophesies, all of that–has been manipulated.

Shadows of Self release party ()
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Questioner

Since a computer monitor, the monitor itself isn't metal, could Ruin read something on that and change that. Could you essentially have a conversation with Ruin by typing something on your monitor and having him change it and respond to that?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. I think that could work.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

The Koloss Attack Anyway

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

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

The Storage Caches

One of the major revisions I made to the book during drafting was to reduce the number of storage caches. Originally I'd planned for eleven or twelve. The one here in Vetitan was still going to be the penultimate, with Fadrex being the last—the team just would have discovered more of them between books.

I changed this in order to make the cache in Fadrex seem more important. I wanted to get across the idea that taking that city was vital to the plans and goals of the team, and making it have one of five caches instead of one of twelve seemed to help with that.

In the first draft, the major draw of the final cache was the hope that it contained atium. But I realized that atium just wasn't that useful anymore—or, at least, many of the reasons it might have been useful are no longer important to the characters. Vin's instinct is right—the atium is more important than it might seem at first, but the original draft made it look like they were chasing a hope for something that wasn't even very useful. So, during revisions, I inserted Elend's acknowledgment that they don't really need atium, and I also added Vin's instinct that it's vital. We'll see how this plays out.

Of course, the reason Vin has an instinct that atium is vital is because of Ruin's touch on her emotions, driving her to seek out the final cache, where Ruin himself hopes to find that atium. To him, Vin and Elend are just another pair of pawns—in some ways more useful than Inquisitors because they don't even know they're following his goals. Ruin isn't sure if these caches will have the atium—he's in fact rather suspicious that this is a ruse of the Lord Ruler—but he's willing to dedicate some resources to the possibility, hence what he did to send Elend and Vin searching out the caches. He worries that there will be some kind of guard set at the final cache or the atium that has been told to watch for Inquisitors and keep them away, and he feels that using Vin and Elend is both more clever and potentially more effective than just sending an Inquisitor.

Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
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Chaos2651

Is there a rationale to how Hemalurgic powers are distributed? I tried to look for a system, but they seem rather randomly distributed. For example, the spike which steals Allomantic powers for a particular quadrant is not always in one particular spot.

Brandon Sanderson

That is correct, it's not always in one particular spot. None of them are. I used as my model on this magic system the concept of acupuncture and pressure points. Placing a Hemalurgic spike is a very delicate and specific art. Imagine there being a different overlay on a human body, like a new network of nerves, representing lines, points, and 'veins' of the soul's spiritual makeup.

What is happening with Hemalurgy, essentially, is that you're driving a spike through a specific point on a person's body and ripping off a piece of their soul. It sticks to the spike on the Spiritual Realm. Then, you place that spike on someone else in a specific place (not exactly the same place, but on the right spiritual pressure point) and 'hot wire' the spirit to give it Hemalurgy or Feruchemy. It's like you're fooling the spiritual DNA, creating a work-around. Or, in some cases, changing the spirit to look like something else, which has the immediate effect of distorting the body and transforming it into a new creature.

Hemalurgy is a very brutal way of making changes like this, though, so it often has monstrous effects. (Like with the koloss.) And in most cases, it leaves a kind of 'hole' in the spirit's natural defenses, which is how Ruin was able to touch the souls of Hemalurgists directly.

General Signed Books 2017 ()
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CosmereQuestioner

Like Adonalsium, could Harmony split into 2 shards OTHER THAN Ruin/Preservation with the right intent.

You once stated that it is plausible that with a different intent Adonalsium could have shattered into a DIFFERENT 16 shards. You have also said that Harmony is one shard (or could be viewed this way.) My question: Could Harmony split/be split into 2 shards OTHER THAN Ruin/Preservation (yet still complementing/opposite) with the right intent of the splitter?  And if not is this because Harmony is still too invested in Scadrial as Ruin/Preservation?

Brandon Sanderson

Almost anything is possible... but it is very, very unlikely that Harmony would split except back to Ruin/Preservation.

/r/fantasy AMA 2013 ()
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Nepene

If Ruin had won, what would his long term goals for the Cosmere be?

Brandon Sanderson

Ruin's goals and motives were about fulfilling the needs of the Shard inside of him. It overwhelmed his personality, and corrupted him. He would seek for all things to be reduced to a state of entropic equilibrium.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Spook Asks Kelsier for Help Talking to Beldre

"Kelsier" can't help Spook with relationship advice, which is telling. Ruin doesn't understand relationships at all. It's one of his main weaknesses.

In creating Ruin as a villain, I wanted to shy away from making a force that was purely evil. I don't believe that Ruin is evil, personally. I believe that he's actually justified in what he's trying to do.

That doesn't mean the characters should just sit back and let him destroy the world. However, he is a force given sentience—or, rather, sentience that has attached itself to a force. Regardless, that force drives him and dominates him. And destruction is a natural part of life.

Steelheart Chicago signing ()
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Argent (paraphrased)

Ruin and Preservation were often represented in the Mistborn trilogy in terms of black and white. Is this imagery limited to that series, or do other Shards also have an associated hue?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

This (Ruin & Preservation's colors) was because of the specific world and their perception of the world and themselves. Essentially, because of the dynamics of the interplay between Ruin and Preservation, they "chose" to view themselves as black and white respectively, so that's how they were represented. Also, because the only two Shards on Scadrial, and their natures were opposites, after the long period of time they spent on the same planet, they kind of "polarized." If similar thing happened on another world, similar coloring effect could happen.

General Reddit 2018 ()
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selwyntarth

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

Oudeis16

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

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

Brandon Sanderson

This is on target.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Spook's Delusions of Grandeur

Spook thinks a line here that my editor, and several writing group members, tried to cut. It's the line where, just in narrative, it implies that Spook had been the one to overthrow the Lord Ruler. It says something like, "It was much like that night, the night when he had overthrown the Lord Ruler" with the narrative making it clear that the "he" was Spook.

You have to remember that I use a limited narrator, not an omniscient one. When I'm writing a scene from a character's viewpoint, the text is colored by what they think and their view of the world. This line is deliberate, as by this point Ruin has his claws deep into Spook and is making him begin to think things that just aren't true. It's getting difficult for Spook to distinguish Ruin's fantasies from the reality, and for a moment he inflated his own part in the overthrow of the Lord Ruler.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Ruin in the Cache

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

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

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

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