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The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#1 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

OreSeur as the Spy

Keeping OreSeur from acting suspicious in this book was really tough. I still don't know how well I pulled it off, though most alpha readers didn't see his plot twist coming.

The biggest trick was making the reader not suspect him from the get-go. I had to use some very subtle misdirection there. Remember, OreSeur was the one who told Vin how long those bones had been in the room. I think Vin points this out later in the book.

Other than that, I had to keep Vin from ever suspecting him, and have her point out other people she thought were far more suspicious. Sometimes, being a writer feels like being a magician. We have to leave things in full view, yet disguise their meaning, so that the end is dramatic.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#2 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.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#3 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

OreSeur's Origins as a Character

Vin and OreSeur are quite well-established by this point. Actually, OreSeur and his character–the OreSeur we deal with in this book, with the conflicts and personality he uses–are one of the items I brought over from Mistborn Prime. (If you'll remember, that's the first stab I made at writing a Mistborn book years back. It was unpublished.) The kandra sidekick was one of the very few things that actually worked in that book. (Too well, actually. People liked him much more than they liked the actual hero of the story, who wasn't a character that appears in any of the current Mistborn novels.) If you ever want to read Mistborn Prime, email me and ask. I'll send you an electronic copy.

(I've talked about that book in previous annotations. While the book débuted an early version of Allomancy and a couple of world elements–such as the mists coming at night–very little of the book made the jump to the new, professional version of Mistborn. I pretty much just stole the concept for the magic and a few select world items and used them as a starting point for this series. In that way, this trilogy is a kind of sequel to the other Mistborn book, though the plots, world, and characters are very different.)

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

midwestredditor

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

Brandon Sanderson

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

Brandon Sanderson

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

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, though he did lose some things.

Shadows of Self London UK signing ()
#5 Copy

Questioner

I finished Shadows of Self and TenSoon is still wearing the dog body, why is that?  

Questioner

Because he found he liked it.

Questioner

Really? Because he hated it so much.

Brandon Sanderson

He did, he actually changed back and just didn't like it, he couldn't adapt. So he went back to what he had found very familiar now.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#8 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Twenty-Four

TenSoon the Wolfhound

TenSoon made a much better wolfhound than he did a person. He'd been on lots of Contracts, and his ability to re-form a body was second to none. During this book, he was probably the single most talented kandra alive when it came to manipulating his shape and creating believable human features even without a model to use as a guide. He was certainly faster than any other kandra.

However, when it came to acting a role and playing a part, TenSoon was only average. He didn't have OreSeur's flair for imitation, where he got so into a part that he began to think of himself—to an extent—as that person. TenSoon was more prone to letting his true biases and feelings come through.

Fortunately, Vin forced him into the wolfhound's body. The gruff voice, the blunt ability to speak his mind, the powerful body designed for speed and jumping—this fit TenSoon perfectly, far better than I think he even realized himself. It also freed him, playing off his natural wanderlust, the same wanderlust that had sent him out on Contracts time and time again.

If life hadn't intervened, he would have been perfectly content to spend the next century or so acting as a wolfhound guard and attendant to Vin and her children. Assuming he didn't eventually surrender to his wanderlust and head out into the wilderness where he could finally be free of all the politics and Contracts.

I'm not sure if he ever would have done it. His sense of duty, his sense of responsibility to his people, was as strong as his desire to run free. Either way, it was a shame that the world had to up and end on him. Things were finally, after seven centuries of life, looking up for TenSoon.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#9 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

TenSoon Impersonates Kelsier

I hope it's not too much of a stretch for you to buy TenSoon mimicking Kelsier here. The groundwork is all there: He is extremely good at crafting bodies, to the point that he was able to make a believable person out of bones he'd never used before back in the Homeland. He interrogated OreSeur and knew where the bones were, and what quirks of features he'd need to include to mimic Kelsier. And he'd seen the Survivor on one occasion himself.

That's right—as he mentions, he did see the Survivor. This shouldn't be too surprising for you, as TenSoon makes an appearance in book one. Go back and look in the book at where Elend confronts his father after going to one of the balls and coming home late. (I think it's the first or second Elend viewpoint we get.) There he mentions TenSoon, the Venture kandra.

TenSoon was there the day Kelsier fought in the Square of the Survivor, just like Elend and Straff were.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#10 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Two

TenSoon

I wrote the TenSoon chapters separately from the rest of the main storyline. (In fact, I wrote in three sections, since I did Spook as a chunk as well.) So when I wrote this, I didn't know exactly which chapter in the book it would be.

I decided to place it early. Not only did I feel I needed something short to split up the two big Elend chapters, but I wanted to introduce TenSoon as soon as possible. His chapters were the favorite of many of the alpha readers, as they offer a completely new experience and mark our first viewpoint in this series from a creature of a different species. (As I think about it, this is probably the first viewpoint in any of my books from a nonhuman.)

This chapter is short, mostly giving background and setting the stage for TenSoon's viewpoint chapters. I found it curious that I got such a good response from readers about his chapters, since TenSoon is forced to be mostly reactive. He's imprisoned, undergoing trial. He can't really do much other than speak. Yet readers found the chapters compelling and interesting.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#11 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Series Wrap-Up

First Trilogy

Well, that's my first trilogy. I think I improved quite a bit as I wrote these books, and hopefully this ending will satisfy my readers. The inevitable question is going to be "Will there be more Mistborn books?" The answer is "Probably." However, know a few things.

First off, the next series—if I do it—will not include Vin or Elend. They're dead. That's just the way it is. Sorry.

Sazed might make an appearance. He is God, after all. TenSoon is still around. (Sazed stuck the spikes back into him and the other kandra.) Marsh may or may not make an appearance. (I haven't decided if he will survive or not.)

Spook, Ham, and Breeze probably won't make an appearance, though, as I would plan to write the next series some five hundred years after the events in this trilogy. (Remember, TenSoon—as a kandra—is immortal. Marsh is also functionally immortal, as he's both a Feruchemist and an Allomancer, and can combine the powers to reverse his aging. Assuming he has enough atium left from that batch he stole to keep it up for a while, and assuming he managed to grab some cover before the world ended.)

However, this won't be for some time. I've got other projects I want to do, not the least of which is Warbreaker and (probably) its sequel. After that, I want to try a longer series, maybe a five- or six-book one. [Editor's note: Brandon was referring to the Dragonsteel series, which he's now put off in favor of the Stormlight Archive, book one of which, The Way of Kings, comes out on August 31, 2010.]

We shall see.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#14 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

OreSeur's Betrayal

Several pieces had to come together to make this chapter work. Beyond the obvious Vin/Zane motivations, we had to understand OreSeur–or, actually, TenSoon–enough that his betrayal makes sense.

This is the great plotting device I stole from Mistborn Prime. The kandra are from that book, and the spy who turns out to be the hero's own kandra made for a wonderful plotting device. I had to do it again, lest the chance for that wonderful twist be lost.

The reason this works so well for me as a plot sequence is because I can see TenSoon's heart. He and Vin start off rough, and he has no problem planning to betray her. Yet as they grow to be friends, TenSoon grows tormented for the betrayal he was continually forced to perpetuate. It makes for very strong plotting and character on his part, and gives us a surprising bang of a twist here at a climactic scene. It also sets up wonderfully for him as a viewpoint character in Book Three.

Of course, some of you may have seen that he was the traitor. That's unfortunate, but expected. Readers are just too darn smart sometimes. If you didn't get it, then don't worry–you were just caught up in the story. There are an awful lot of clues, though. Any time Vin asks “OreSeur” about something from the past, he hedges, then guesses, and is hesitant. She notes a lot during the beginning of the book that he's acting oddly, not like himself, but attributes it to him being in the dog's body.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#15 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

MeLaan

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

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

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

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

Calamity Philadelphia signing ()
#16 Copy

Questioner

Are we going to get Soonie pups?

Brandon Sanderson

Someone offered to make them, they wrote to us, but it just seems like it is so much work that we're not planning it right now, and we would only do it if you can have a stuffed dog that you could turn inside out into a blob monster. That was my requirement and I don’t know if it’s actually going to happen.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#17 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.