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The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#1 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

The Blessing of Stability

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

I added the Blessing of Stability after the fact.

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

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

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#2 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Fifty-Eight - Part One

Spacing Out the Climaxes

I tried something new in this book. I've been criticized—rightly—in the past for cramming too much into my endings. A good, fast-paced ending is great, but when you layer climax on top of climax, a little of it gets lost. I've been trying, therefore, to plot things so that we end up with the important climaxes spaced more evenly. My hope is to not lose any of the tension or drama, but to have the climaxes be more focused by not letting them interfere as much with each other.

We're seeing this here with Spook. This chapter is, essentially, the climax of his scenes. We'll have some smaller chapters involving him later in the book, but his storyline pretty much ends here (save for one loose end). Hopefully, by having this explosive chapter here, I can save the last third of the book to deal with the other characters, making the pacing a little more even.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#3 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Physical Signs of Impending Doom

The earthquake here, by the way, was added in one of the later drafts. My editor and I decided that we needed something else to show that the world was approaching collapse—not just sociologically and not just because of the mists. The earthquakes and the rumblings from the ashmounts are an indication of this. Watch for more of them.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#4 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Vin Versus the Inquisitors

Vin fights the Inquisitors, hoping to put herself in a situation where she can draw upon the mists. It's a reckless plan, but I hope it feels exactly like something Vin would do. She's tired of being manipulated; she knows the end is very near (less than a day away) and knows that she needs to do something. This is all she could come up with, and I think it's a good plan. (At least if you're Vin.) It's a final attempt to save the world or go out in a blaze, fighting down thirteen Inquisitors at once.

This is my favorite fight in the book. The previous ones are all too warlike. I prefer the beauty of a couple of Mistborn fighting in the rain and the mist, as opposed to the characters taking out hundreds of koloss. This fight between Vin and the Inquisitors is the kind of thing I developed Allomancy to do in the first place.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#5 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Narrative Clues about Spook's Condition

The scene here where Spook goes into the building without a torch, and Sazed stands outside waiting, is a direct parallel of a scene in book two where Marsh does the same thing to Sazed. Both Spook and Marsh can see in ways Sazed cannot, and both tend to forget others aren't as talented in that area.

That's not the only similarity. I intended Spook's glasses with cloth wrapped around them to be a reference to how an Inquisitor looks with spikes through the eyes. Both these parallels are designed to be big clues about what's happening to Spook in this book.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#6 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Forty-Seven

The Death of Bilg

You may not recognize a cameo appearance by Bilg in this chapter. He was the soldier who punched Demoux. Who is Bilg? Well, if you go read book one, you'll find a scene where Kelsier visits the caves where his army is training. He picks a soldier out of the crowd to champion him and has the man fight a duel with one of the army's dissident members. Kelsier helped his champion by using Allomancy to interfere with the fight.

The champion? Captain Demoux. The dissident troublemaker he fought? A guy named Bilg. (Perhaps you can see why Bilg would bear a grudge against Demoux.) In the original draft of book one, Bilg died in that fight. However, readers reacted harshly against Kelsier killing a man to make a point. So, I backed off and had Bilg live and become a follower of Kelsier.

I've always felt that he should have died, though. So, in this book, he makes trouble again, fights Demoux again, and this time finally gets what he deserves. The only problem is that Elend gets his name wrong here and calls him Brill instead. Oops. Since that makes it pretty much impossible to spot the cameo, I may get that changed in a reprint.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#7 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Spook Escapes the Burning Building

This scene with Spook bursting out of the burning building, trailing smoke, is one of two big focal scenes I imagined for his storyline. Interestingly, I had planned on three focal action scenes, and ended up skipping one as I drafted. I planned to have assassins attack the ministry building and Spook fight them off, but could never quite work it into the pacing of the story, and I figured that after this scene—which works so well to convey what I want—another scene was unnecessary.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#8 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Forty-Six

Sazed Agrees to Put On the Metalminds

Sazed was getting close to putting on those metalminds again even without Spook's interference and demands. You can tell by the way he fixated on them recently, and how—despite his determination not to wear them—he ended up getting them out and polishing them. He's been waiting for an excuse to use them.

That said, I like the depth of Sazed's conflict presented in this chapter. He's come a long way from the first draft of the book, where he simply sat around as a depressed lump. (I'm probably exaggerating his weakness in that draft, but I'm pleased enough with this draft that it feels like it's leaps and bounds ahead of the old one.)

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#9 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Epilogue

The End

This epilogue ties up a few loose ends, then sets up a couple of others. Much like most of my endings. At least now you know how Vin Snapped. Many people have wondered this, so I thought I should include it somewhere in the book.

Here, with Vin and Elend in the flowers, is where I could have made them survive, if I'd wanted to. I could have patched everything up and given the "happy" ending a lot of people wanted. But . . . well, I just couldn't. It didn't feel right. Anyway, I agree with Sazed. They deserve to rest. I added the line about him having spoken with them to soften the blow of their deaths somewhat and give confirmation of a pleasant afterlife for them.

This chapter is a reminiscence, in a way. Since book one I've promised a return to green plants and a blue sky, and it was always my intention to make good on that promise. I think it's sometimes hard for people to remember that in the Final Empire, the plants were brown and the sky red. I don't think that matters so much, as I believe Spook and Breeze's reactions—and the descriptions—in this chapter work to provide the proper impact.

Flowers have been another thread, along with the little picture that Kelsier carried around in book one. I'm glad I was able to weave that back in, though it was an afterthought. (As was adding it into this book from the early chapters with Vin and Sazed together.)

That first line of Sazed's book was not an afterthought. It can be found as the very first epigraph of this book. I am, unfortunately, the Hero of Ages.

Yes, Sazed. You are.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#10 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Ten

Sazed's Struggle

Here I can see how giving Sazed something to do—letting him study his religions one by one—makes his viewpoints far more interesting. The previous version of this chapter, which perhaps I'll post, had him simply riding along, listening to Breeze, despairing. That was boring.

Yet, making one small tweak—giving him something to do—changed that dramatically, at least for me as I read the chapter. It allows Sazed to struggle, and a struggle can be even more tragic than a loss. Either way, it's more interesting to read because conflict is interesting. Here, he's trying—even though he's failing—to find meaning in the world. He can try to shove aside his depression and read his pages instead.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#11 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Fifty-One

Elend Fights the Koloss in the Village

This chapter gets my next award for favorite chapters in this book. (I think this is number four.)

The next few Elend chapters run him through the ringer—and yet at the same time let him shine. He's alone, forced to work through his problems without Vin, Tindwyl, or the others to support him. It's time for him to decide who he really is and what he really wants.

This chapter begins that. Elend's frustration at not being able to protect his people finally bursts from him, and his passion drives him to do as Vin did in book two. Yet there is far less beauty to his attack than there was to hers. Elend is powerful, but with Allomancy he also has to be blunt.

I love the imagery of this scene in the village, Elend fighting by the firelight of burning buildings, ash and mist in the air, koloss dying by the dozens. It's his first real chance to be a Mistborn, in my opinion, and he is kind of surprised by what it does to him.

He's not finished working through his need to protect the people of his empire. In a way, he's just beginning down the path of what he needs to work out. However, this is a pivotal moment, where he finally acknowledges what it is that has been bothering him so much. He doesn't just fear that he's becoming like the Lord Ruler—he fears that he's becoming like the Lord Ruler but doing a much poorer job than his predecessor ever did.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#12 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Sixteen

Spook Reacts to the Citizen's Reign

This is another of my favorite chapters. (So far, that count includes this one and chapter five.) In Spook's sections, I think this is one where I managed to get the balance of language, action, imagery, and theme to work just right. Not too much exposition, the fight isn't too long, and we've got some very nice descriptive passages. This is the first chapter I imagined when I planned to write Spook's sections.

My biggest worry about the Spook chapters, however, is the plot with the Citizen. To be honest, the oppressive peasant regime isn't new—either in history or in fiction. I decided upon it after a great amount of consternation.

I worry sometimes about coming off as clichéd. It's very difficult to get that balance down between being familiar and being radically new. My goal is to have new and interesting plots, characters, and settings in books that still feel like they are epic fantasy. I'm never sure if I'm erring too much on the side of the familiar or writing things that are too inaccessible. (The names in Elantris, for instance, strayed too far into the inaccessible for some people.)

This plot feels just a tad on the overused side. However, I thought it was something very important to show in the world. Kelsier's preaching was too harsh, in my opinion—it was what was needed at the time, but now that the empire has fallen, it becomes brutal and violent. I wanted to show what would happen if a group of skaa peasants followed Kelsier's advice with exactness.

Spook discovers that the Citizen is using Allomancers. However, this is a hypocrisy perpetuated by Kelsier himself. He hated the nobility, but was one of them—at least, he was a half-blood who was raised to their culture. He acted far more like a nobleman than he did a skaa, as Vin pointed out back in book one.

Anyway, I thought about what would happen if Kelsier's vision became reality, and this is what I came up with. There is more going on here—things that relate to the overarching plot of the book—but the basic concept is just what it seems to be. I toyed with doing a form of government that was more radical and new, but I eventually decided that the historical approach of the lower class becoming as intolerant as the former ruling class was the most logical.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#13 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 ()
#14 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirty - Part Two

Vin Doesn't Explain Her Dress

This chapter and the next Vin/Elend chapter form the major force of nostalgia in the book. I love the ball scenes—in fact, I think the one in the next chapter makes it another of my favorite chapters in this book (the third on that list so far).

Here we get Vin's line "We Mistborn need not make sense," which is a direct quote from Kelsier back in book one, where he bursts in on the crew through the balcony door, surprising them after a night of creating political tension between the houses.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#15 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Spook's Timeline

One of the problems with Spook's sequences is that I had to break the chapters timewise longer than I'd wanted to. Originally, these latest three or four Spook chapters happened in the course of a week's time. However, when I added them into the rest of the book, I realized I had to space them out a lot farther because of the things happening in Vin and Elend's timeline.

So it's a little bit awkward. Three chapters ago, Spook heard men mention the rumors Durn was spreading about him. Then we had two chapters dealing with Sazed and Breeze's arrival. Only now can Spook finally track down Durn and demand to know about the rumors he was spreading.

It would have made much more sense to have had Spook find a way to do this earlier, but I just couldn't work it in until now. The “count the skulls” thing is coming up too; I haven't forgotten it. Unfortunately, it suffered from this same issue.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#16 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 Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#17 Copy

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.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#18 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Twenty-Six

Spook Starts to Believe in Kelsier

In this chapter, Spook begins to turn into the person he was during the first draft of the book. In that draft, he immediately listened to Kelsier's voice and didn't question its existence at all. The revision changed things so that he was surprised when he heard it, looking around several times, uncomfortable. This works better in many ways, though the starkness of how unhinged his constant burning of tin had made him before was kind of sad to lose.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#19 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Sixty-Two - Part Two

Betrayal and Trust

Sazed's discussion on betrayal and trust here is very important. It harks back to Vin's conflicts in the first book, as well as one of the major interactions between her and Kelsier.

Kelsier believed that it was better to trust people and be betrayed than to never trust at all. He loved his wife, but worried that she'd betrayed him. It was a major source of pain and conflict for him. Yet, in the end, he decided that even if she had betrayed him, he preferred having loved her and trusted her. He treated his crew the same, not letting a worry about traitors ruin the companionship of his team.

I wanted to work this into Sazed's scenes here because, to me, this entire series uses trust as a theme. Whom do we trust and why? Do they deserve it?

It's about being betrayed, but taking the time to understand why we were betrayed. Kelsier forgives Mare, Vin forgives TenSoon. Sazed has to forgive God.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#20 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

One of the things I also wanted to do before the series was done was show someone burning atium without regard for it running out. I wanted to show the awesome power of the metal. And then I wanted to have them lose.

Why? Many reasons. Because violence may work to solve some problems, but it isn't always the answer. In fact, it's often a poor answer, even if it's the only answer. (As it was for Elend.) Killing koloss doesn't solve anything in the long run.

Yes, atium is amazing. Yes, showing it off like this was inevitable in the book. However, I figured that most fantasy novels would get to a point where the character drew on the ultimate hidden weapon, and then would save the day. I didn't want to do that. Not just because I like to do the unexpected, but because it didn't fit what I wanted to say with this book. It didn't fit what felt right.

A twist is no good if it's just there to be a twist.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#21 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Forty-Two

Marsh Visits Penrod in Luthadel

This chapter didn't exist in the initial draft of the book; I added it in revisions. I originally liked the idea of the characters happening upon Luthadel later in the book and having to piece together what happened to Penrod from the aftermath of his getting spiked.

Ultimately I decided to drop that in favor of showing this chapter in-scene. It was a tough choice, but knew I needed to show Marsh being active. I also had enough complaints from alpha readers about the lack of news from Luthadel that I realized showing this scene would work better. We are so attached to Luthadel as a city that it's hard not to know what's going on there. Plus, this choice allowed me to include some interesting things—such as talking about what Marsh and the other Inquisitors were doing with their time and showing another character getting spiked.

You may remember one of the spiking attempts on Elend earlier in this novel, right at the beginning. I flirted with putting more of these in, but decided that it would grow too obvious and too heavy-handed if I emphasized it that much. (The scene I toyed with included a madman unexpectedly rushing Elend with a spike.)

I think this is the last of the Marsh insert chapters, meaning others you read after this were in the first draft. You'll probably notice a larger gap before seeing him again. Marsh and TenSoon kind of get lost in this third quarter of the book, I'm afraid. We still see them, but it's infrequently enough that Spook/Sazed and Vin/Elend dominate.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#22 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Eighty-One - Part Three

Elend's Death

I rewrote Elend's death scene a number of times. In the first draft, it happened much more quickly. He and Marsh met, Elend's atium ran out, and Marsh cut him down. Elend always got his "we've won" line, but Human wasn't getting viewpoints, so we didn't cut there. Nor did we have Vin fuel Elend's metals or have him burn duralumin and atium at the same time.

I just felt he needed more. Part of this was due to the reactions of alpha readers, and part of it was due to my own desire to make his last scene more dramatic. I wanted there to be a closeness between him and Vin at the end, and I also had too many people asking what would happen if you burned duralumin and atium at the same time to ignore that possibility.

So, I rewrote several times, eventually landing at this version. As for why I killed him . . . well, for the same reason that I kill any character in one of my books. It just felt like the right thing to do. It's hard to explain when we get down to specifics like this. On one hand, the rational side of me can explain that there need to be casualties to make victory worth something, and Vin needed to lose Elend so that she'd be willing to do what she had to in order to kill Ruin. Logic says that this book was about Vin and Elend defeating Ruin no matter what the cost to themselves, and allowing them to give their lives for the victory was noble and completed their character arcs.

Emotion, however, is what drove me—not logic. It just felt like the right thing to do. It was the right ending for the book. Now, I could have chosen a different ending. I know that I could have. It would have felt contrived to me, and would have lacked bite. Yet perhaps readers would have liked it better. I honestly don't know what doing this (killing both of my main characters) will do to my readership and if people will still want to buy my books after this. The founder and president of Tor Books, I know, would have preferred that I didn't kill my two main characters.

But in the end, I went with what I knew was the better ending. By doing this, at the very least I've earned something. From now on, readers will know that nobody is safe in my books—and that will create tension, will make the novels feel more real. (Note that I didn't do this because I wanted to make readers feel that way. It's just a side effect.)

Either way, this is where this book was pushing from the beginning. Vin and Elend followed in Kelsier's footsteps. They were both ready to give their lives, and in doing so, saved those they love. In my opinion, that's not a tragic or sad ending. It's just an honest one.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#23 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Eighteen

Sazed Visits the Pits of Hathsin

Sazed's visit to the Pits is foreshadowing, as we're going to make use of them as a setting later in the book and I wanted to establish what they looked like and what was going on there. It also, however, gave me a chance to frame Sazed's conflicts a little bit more by showing what the other Terris people think of him. (There will be more of that in the next Sazed chapter.)

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#24 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Elend Talks to Telden

I doubt many people remember Telden, but he was a minor character from book one. We saw him in five or six scenes, interacting with Elend. He was the dandy of the group, and together with Elend and Jastes, formed a trio of friends who were in line to rule powerful houses eventually. (Though, Telden was fairly distant in the succession of his house, I believe.)

Anyway, his reappearance here is another hark back to the first book. We'll see a bit more of him, just like we did of Jastes in book two.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#25 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

The Number Sixteen

Demoux's problems here are intended to give me another means of reminding the reader of the statistical anomaly found in the numbers of people who fall sick to the mist. As I wrote the draft, I'm glad I was forced to keep Demoux alive, as doing so gave me a character who was intimately connected with the problems of the mists and the things they were inflicting on people.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#26 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Three

The Fight against the Koloss

One of my biggest worries about the beginning of this book is that the fight scene here is too long, particularly for the beginning of a book. But I wanted to show this fight in chapter three for a few reasons. First, I wanted to have a dramatic beginning. I also wanted a good excuse to reintroduce Allomancy and how it works, and I've found that battles are the best place to do that. Finally, I wanted to indicate what the feel of this book would be.

Book one was underscored by the heist story and book two by the siege of Luthadel. Book three is underscored by epic war. That's not all it is, but the wars and battles are a big part of what drives this book.

Unfortunately, having to stop to explain Allomancy slows things down. I think I did it better in this book than I did in book two, but it still makes this fight a tad dry.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#28 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Seventy-Five

The Second Generation Seizes Control

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

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

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

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

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#29 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Forty-Eight

The Lord Ruler's Final Message

This plaque from the Lord Ruler was very difficult to write. Originally it was much shorter, but I expanded it during the last draft because I felt it was just too useless. Even still, it doesn't say much. And that's the problem.

I was always intending the Lord Ruler's final plate to contain no answers. It works into my themes for this series—this was the "quest" book playing off the epic fantasy ideal of the powerful object that must be discovered and used to fight the evil. Except that this time, I wanted them to get to the place they'd been questing toward and find it empty, with no answers from the Lord Ruler. I felt this would only heighten the sense of hopelessness the characters are feeling in trying to fight Ruin.

The problem is, rereading this plate I realize that I've done exactly what I wanted—but that it's also a really, really big letdown. I hate letting down readers. It feels like breaking promises. After consideration I think this is still the best thing to do, but I wish I'd found another way to deal with this.

Note that the circle with a dot here is completely lost on Vin. The size of the circle in relation to the text around it, and some numerical clues scribbled around the perimeter of the circle, are indications of the size of a scale map it should be placed upon. If placed the right way, the dot will point directly at the Pits of Hathsin.

Vin's awesome, but she's barely got a basic education. A complex mathematical puzzle like that one is completely lost on her. If Elend had had the time to study the plate, he might have figured out where it was pointing. There wasn't time, however.

The Lord Ruler did leave a very important clue on this plate. However, I feel that obscure clues like this are deciphered far too often in books like this one. I think realistically if you're going to leave a clue like that, chances are good that it will end up getting missed or misunderstood. Which is exactly what happened here.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#30 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Discussing How to Defeat Ruin

This chapter is mostly intended as a reminder that something larger is happening. I worry a lot that the reader will see the struggles for Fadrex and Urteau as a step down in conflict from book two, where Luthadel itself was besieged. In other fantasy books, the heroes would go on some quest to find a magical object or person that could defeat the dark god for them.

And in a way, that's what they're trying—searching out some mythical answer that may or may not be there. However, my goal with this book was to show that when faced with something as powerful and incomprehensible as Ruin, there isn't much that common people—even Allomancers—can do. They're fighting their best, but how do you even start to deal with something like Ruin?

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Testing the Mistfallen

Originally, I didn't have Elend have Demoux and his soldiers take a look at their metals until a little later on. Alpha readers correctly noted this, however, pointing out that it was one of the very first connections they made. I had to put it off mostly for dramatic reasons, which you'll see in the next chapter, but I decided I could insert these few lines of Elend telling the men to go test themselves to see if they were Allomancers.

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Chapter Sixty-Six

Talking Horses that Talk about Their Feelings

A fun story about this chapters beings by me admitting that I didn't come up with the "TenSoon digests a horse" trick at first. I tried writing this scene with Sazed clinging to TenSoon's wolfhound back as they ran to the south. It was awkward to describe, even more awkward to imagine, and it never worked that well.

Eventually, while working on a solution to the problem of getting Sazed south to the Homeland, I realized that TenSoon could just digest another body and use that. Easy fix, and one that fit marvelously with the magic and setting.

This intersects another story relating to my friend Nate Hatfield, one of the guys in my writing group. He's a big fan of Dinosaur Comics, a webcomic that often deals with philosophy or literary criticism. Years ago, he brought a comic to the group where one of the characters in the comic strip complains that fantasy books are all about talking horses that talk about their feelings.

All through the writing of book two of Mistborn, Nate took delight in the Vin/TenSoon scenes as they were about a talking dog who talks about his feelings. He never let me live that connection down.

And then, almost just for him, I had TenSoon take on the body of a horse for a few chapters. I doubt I'll ever hear that end of that one. At least he didn't end up saying much about his feelings. ;)

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Chapter Seventy-Two - Part One

Vin's Climax Begins

I set a high bar for myself with the previous books in this series. I knew I would need a climax to this one which would match the fight between Kelsier and the Lord Ruler in book one, which is undoubtedly the best action sequence I've ever written.

So, these next eight chapters are an attempt to match all of that. I'm not sure if I pull it off, to be honest, but I'm much more pleased with these than I am with the ending of book two. It was good, but it was just faintly lacking. Vin's arrival at the walls was too expected, and the fighting too chaotic and brutal to be poetic.

This chapter and the next are filled with references tying the entire series together. We're back in Luthadel, back to the Lord Ruler's palace itself. In each of the previous books, the final climactic scenes happened in this building. It feels good to get us back there again.

And, of course, this fight between Vin and the Inquisitors is analogous to the first book, where she nearly died doing the same thing at Kredik Shaw. The line "She fell with the rain" is a direct quote from book one where Vin loses her strength after fleeing the Inquisitors and falls down to the ground. Sazed saved her that night. He's not around this time, as she points out.

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Chapter Thirty-Four

Marsh Kills a Smoker

This chapter was a late addition to the book. My agent, during his second read through the novel, noticed that Marsh basically disappeared through the middle of the novel—much as he had in book two. In addition, the reader got very little sense of what was happening in the Central Dominance while all of the characters were out taking care of other cities. In my books, the cities themselves tend to be characters, and Joshua was disappointed to not have at least a few token mentions of Luthadel in the middle of book three.

I agreed with him, and that's where this Marsh chapter—along with the next one—came from. An attempt to have him doing something, rather than just sitting around being controlled by Ruin, while at the same time showing some of what is going on in places where there aren't any main characters to narrate for us.

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Chapter Twenty

What TenSoon Doesn't Know

Remember that TenSoon doesn't know what happened at the end of the second book. This was kind of hard for me to keep in mind, as I kept wanting him to mention the day mists and the troubles up above. However, he left before the Siege of Luthadel ended—he doesn't even know that Vin survived the assault on the city, let alone that she found her way to the Well of Ascension.

I considered having TenSoon overhear some kandra guards discussing these events so that he could use the information in his speeches, but I decided that would seem too contrived. He had to get along with what he knew, not what I wanted him to know.

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Chapter Forty-One

Sazed and Breeze Discuss the New Survivor

I'm not sure whether this is an appropriate use of the term ostention or not. I guess Dr. Thursby, my folklore professor at college, will have to read the book and let me know. Seemed like it worked for me.

For a lot of my readers, this opening paragraph—with Sazed acting like his old self—was a very triumphant one. They said "Finally, Sazed is back!" in compliment. However, I took that as a sign that something was wrong in the earlier chapters. True, it's a good archetype to have one of your characters do something wrong for a time before finding redemption. However, the problem with Sazed is that the thing he'd done wrong as a character was boring. You never want that as an author. In the rewrite, I hope that the difference between Sazed in this chapter and previous chapters is still there—just not as stark.

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Sazed's Speech Patterns

Sazed thinks here, I am, unfortunately, in charge. Look back at the very first epigraph of the book. Notice a similarity? All of the epigraphs in this novel use Sazed's distinct language style. They sound so much like how he talks that I thought, at first, that it would be blatantly obvious from the first few chapters. Fortunately for me, most people don't pay that much conscious attention to how characters speak.

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Vin Figures It Out

And, reading here, I realize that I eventually did have Vin figure out that Yomen was an atium misting. That wasn't in the first draft of the book, and it was added late enough in the process that I'd forgotten that I put it there. I'm glad I did, though. I just couldn't go on pretending that Vin and Elend wouldn't notice this, and it wasn't a big enough reveal to keep hiding it. So, Yomen's an atium misting. Not that big of a deal compared to the other revelations coming out in this book.

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Prologue

Book two didn't have a prologue—if you read the annotations, you can find out about the one I was planning to use but then decided to drop for various reasons.

However, I always knew that this one would have a prologue. Why is this a prologue and not chapter one? I'm not sure I can explain it—I just had a sense of what it needed to be.

It's a glimpse rather than a full chapter. It's from a viewpoint that, while important to the book, doesn't carry a lot of weight in page count—we won't see Marsh again for a number of chapters. Plus, it stands out as being the closest thing to an evil character viewpoint in the book. All of these things scream prologue to me, as they give a hint of what is to come, but don't immediately indicate how the story is going to start.

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Part One Wrap-Up

Setting the Scene

Like always, part one is a little slow. I'm working on my style, trying to get the pacing better in the first third of my novels. However, one feature of my style is the setup, followed by fast-paced endings. I don't want to lose that; I just want to make sure every part of a given book is fun to read.

There are a lot of good things happening here, but also a lot of establishment. How Allomancy and Feruchemy work, what has happened to the characters in the year between books—the setup for the conflicts of this novel. Things start to pick up in the next section, and we add our final viewpoint: Spook.

Overall, I'm pleased with part one and the way it sets the scene of the book. The world is ending. People everywhere are in trouble. Elend, Vin, and the team have no idea how to fight it—they're just doing their best at guessing.

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Chapter Five

Vin and Elend's Plans and Progress

This is my personal favorite of the opening chapters. I love how it establishes what Vin and Elend are trying to accomplish, but at the same time shows how stretched thin they are. Both bounce around from one emotion to another, and the argument near the end of the chapter is a good example of just how exhausted they both are.

Elend is more forceful now. He's become a wartime leader, a much different man than he was in book one, when he went to parties and read books. He's fighting to find a balance between being the man he thinks he should be and the man he knows he has to be. It all works very soundly for me.

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Chapter Thirty-Two - Part One

Backsliding

As I mentioned a couple annotations ago, this chapter is one of my favorites. That, however, doesn't mean it doesn't have flaws. It has a lot of them, the most important one being the fact that it's just a tad out of place. It's almost a chapter from book one pulled and stuck into book three, where it has no business being and is likely to get clubbed on the head and dragged into a dark alleyway.

Book one was far more lighthearted than this final book is, and while I love having this chapter in the book for the nostalgia it evokes and for the opportunity it gives for banter, I will acknowledge that some people may find it out of place.

There is a strong rationale for it being like it is. Elend hit on this while dancing with Vin. The familiar setting and situations brought out the person he used to be when he attended the balls. I think we all do this. When I came back home after my first year of college, I was shocked at how quickly I fell back into being the person I was before that year, which had forced me to stretch and grow a great deal. I was home, and the high-school me resurfaced.

Well, this chapter has the high-school Elend. He goes too far and makes too many wisecracks. He should have known better. In fact, he did know better, and he almost immediately regretted treating Yomen as he did. One other thing to remember, however, is that this is Elend's first real parlay with an enemy king. His previous two conquests were made by Vin and were negotiated via the use of a lot of Allomancy and a rather large koloss sword.

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Another reference to previous books comes when Sazed mentions the executions from book one. This is the second or third time we've had a reference back to those in this novel, and there were a couple references in the second novel as well. I hesitated to put those executions into the first book because of the graphic nature of the beheadings (which, if you recall, were done into the fountains at the central square, causing the water to flow red). However, it became such an important scene throughout the series that I'm certainly glad I did it. The characters needed a poignant visual memory of the Lord Ruler's brutality.

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Chapter Fifty-Eight - Part Three

Spook Wrap-Up

Overall, I'm very pleased with the Spook cycle of chapters in this novel—particularly once I revised the early ones to make him a little more sympathetic to the reader. I think there's real heart, tragedy, and triumph in these chapters. Their one flaw is that the Spook/Beldre romance isn't very strong, but I can accept that. Considering that both of them are teenagers, with powerful teenage passions, and considering what I managed to do with the space allotted, I'm pleased.

What worked best, I think, was the subtle demonstration of Ruin's corrupting fingers—mixed with careful plotting to give Spook the power to overcome in the end. He doesn't win through use of his powers, ironically, but through use of his flaws. The numbness that was so shocking to him earlier now becomes the tool he can use for victory.

The twist with Beldre being an Allomancer isn't too much of a twist; I suspect that some readers will guess it early on. However, this is the reason the Citizen started saving Allomancers. He recognized their usefulness because of his sister. Like most tyrants through history, it was very easy for him to make, for people he liked, excuses and exceptions to his hatred. It should be noted that Quellion himself had no noble blood. His sister was in fact a half sister.

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Spook Visits Beldre in the Garden Again

Spook's romance with Beldre is one of the things I'm not sure about in this book. I tried to give it as much time as I could, and you'll see some later scenes that fill it out some more. It isn't really love at this point, but just Spook being a teenage boy who is attracted to a pretty girl. However, a lot of romances start that way. Keep in mind that Beldre sees Spook very differently from the reader. She sees a mysterious figure, a handsome young man who comes in the mists and the darkness, bearing with him the weight of rumor and legend. She sees a man who rescued a child from a burning building, a man who stands up to her brother when nobody else does.

She's definitely attracted to him, for many of the same reasons that Vin was attracted to Zane in book two.

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Chapter Thirty-Six

Talking Scenes

I realize that my books contain an awful lot of scenes where people stand around talking to each other. I try to keep them moving as much as possible, changing scenery, making the dialogue dramatic, allowing the characters to make conclusions and decisions. But, at the core, my stories consist of a lot of people discussing and weighing options in their heads.

I worry that sometimes I need to make things a little faster paced. I wanted to avoid too much of Elend brooding. In fact, one of the earliest rewrites of the book I did (one I did before I finished the novel, which is rare—I usually don't rewrite until I finish the rough draft) was done specifically to make Elend a more active character. In that same rewrite, I tried very hard to work out his character arc. (It just hadn't been working in the first draft.)

This was what I came up with. The emperor who knows he will end up having to make a very difficult decision, and fearing that he'll do what's right for his people—even if it seems morally wrong at the time. I didn't want to have many chapters of him brooding, but that sort of decision can't be off-the-cuff. For his character to work, I needed him to wrestle with the question—even go back and forth on it, as we as people often do.

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Fatren's Viewpoint

I knew early on that I'd need to start with a viewpoint from someone we haven't seen before. I thought that someone fresh would allow us to get a distinct sense of what has happened to the world in the months since the end of book two. The viewpoints of the main characters would be clouded by events—I wanted someone who could show us what was really happening.

That meant using a skaa peasant in one of the outlying cities. I wanted to show a different slice of life and indicate how hard things were. In addition, I felt I wanted to hit right away on the fact that this book would be about the world ending.

Hence we have Fatren. I toyed with making him a main character, but I eventually discarded that idea. I think this is the only chapter from his viewpoint. I hate to use a throwaway viewpoint so early in the book, but the alternative—making him a main character just to avoid having a throwaway viewpoint—was a bad idea. We already have too much to focus on with Elend, Vin, Spook, TenSoon, Sazed, and Marsh all being major viewpoint characters in the novel.

Adding TenSoon, Marsh, and Spook gave us enough that was new in the way of viewpoints. We didn't need Fatren—except for this first scene. Here, we get to see Elend from an outside perspective, and I think this does an excellent job of providing contrast—both against the hopelessness of the world and against the Elend that readers have in their head.

He's changed, obviously. The beard and rugged looks are meant to indicate a year spent fighting koloss and leading humankind as it struggles against extinction. Using Fatren's viewpoint gave me a powerful way to update the world and explain what's changed. I'm pleased with how he turned out.

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Chapter Seven

Avoiding Hints about the Epigraph Author

The epigraph to this chapter, where the epigraph author discusses that he/she is going to refer to each group as "we" is very important, though most readers skip over it. What she/he is saying here is that you aren't going to be able to guess who he/she is simply by looking at which parts of this book she/he discusses. And that's all I'm going to say, because typing he/she all the time is getting very annoying/frustrating.

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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.