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The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#1 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Vin Reminisces about Her Early Days with the Crew

There's a lot to talk about here. First off, this is one of several nostalgia chapters I threw into this book. When I worked on the second book, I missed getting to write about some of the themes from the first book. Gone were the balls and a lot of the banter, and Kelsier's death removed one of the series' most dynamic characters.

When I got to this book, I wanted to see if I could blend what worked well in the first book with what worked well in the second book—and then, of course, add some things unique to this book. Among the most charming parts of the first book were the balls and the noble society.

So here we get to have Vin contemplate those days as a slight foreshadowing to gear us up for a few scenes that hark back to those days. As this is the final volume of the trilogy, I think it's very appropriate to recapture some of the tendrils from the first book and weave them in.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#2 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 ()
#3 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 ()
#4 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

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.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#5 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

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.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#6 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 ()
#7 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Correspondence on Metal Sheets

The metal letters mentioned several times in the book (including in this chapter) were almost all changed to metal in late drafts. (Save the Goradel letter later on; that one was metal from the start.) I realized I wasn't giving enough of a sense that the characters were paying attention to Ruin's ability to change text that isn't on metal, and I wanted to show them taking precautions. I have my writing groups to thank for getting on me about this one.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#8 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirty-Seven - Part One

The Camp Gets Attacked

There's an old adage in writing. If things feel slow, have the protagonists get attacked. (I wonder what literary fiction would be like if they tried this out. . . .) [Editor's note: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies?]

Anyway, I'd planned for this scene to happen a little later in the book, but I felt after Elend's last scene—mostly discussion and wrestling with inner demons—that we needed something quick and action-oriented to speed things up. So I moved the battle up to here and had the camp get attacked.

In a way, therefore, Vin's thoughts at the beginning of the chapter were my thoughts. Finally, a fight! A few of my writing group members echoed this feeling when they got to this chapter, which let me know I'd made the right choice. (Maybe it should have been even sooner.)

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#9 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 ()
#10 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

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.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#11 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 ()
#12 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Vin Confronts Lady Patresen

I played with this scene, our first ball scene in hundreds of pages, several times—trying to find the right balance I wanted to convey. I wanted to have a nice circle pointing back to Vin's interactions with Shan in the first book, showing how far Vin has come. However, I knew I didn't want to dedicate much time to it, and I didn't want Vin to fall out of character. So, this is the scene that came out. A short, blunt scene with Vin pushing the politics of the party to fit what she wants, rather than playing the games the way they're supposed to be played.

Originally I had Vin's attack convince Lady Patresen to seek Vin's favor, but a friend of mine, Janci, convinced me that it was far more realistic to have the lackeys suddenly switch sides instead. For setting me straight, Janci gained the dubious right to rename Lady Patresen, who had been called something else before. And, being who she is, Janci named the woman after herself—then said, "I get to be the girl who gets spurned by Vin! How cool is that?"

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#13 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

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.

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

Brandon Sanderson

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.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#17 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Rumors of a New Survivor

Oh, and uh . . . I should talk about the chapter, eh? Well, I needed Sazed and Breeze to start hearing the rumors about Spook, but I didn't want them to figure out that those rumors were actually about Spook quite yet. I liked the connection between Spook and the Survivor, so I extrapolated how the religion would deal with new leaders and new mystical forces. And the Survivor of the Flames was born. Ta-da!

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#18 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 ()
#19 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?

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#20 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 ()
#21 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

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.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#22 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 ()
#23 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 ()
#24 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

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.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#25 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 ()
#27 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 ()
#28 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Title Page

Originally, this book was going to be called The Final Hero. In the first draft of book one, that was the term I was using for the hero from Terris lore. I changed this for a couple of reasons.

First off, I just didn't like the way The Final Hero sounded. Something about it felt off to me. In addition, if I titled book one The Final Empire and the last book The Final Hero, then it seemed that the second book should also be The Final (Something)—and I didn't like that either. The Well of Ascension is actually my favorite title of the three, I think.

So I toyed around with other words and terms I could use. Eventually, I settled on The Hero of Ages. I'm satisfied with it, but it's not my favorite title. If you've read the books, then it makes perfect sense and is a great capstone title to the trilogy—but to those who haven't, I think it comes off as a rather bland title.

Regardless, I'm now very glad I didn't go with The Final Hero. People were confused by book one having final in the title, as they weren't sure if that book were the first or last in the series. I think having another book with final in the title could have been even more confusing—particularly if I decide to do any more books in the Mistborn world.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#29 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Sixty Two - Part One

Some Notes

Here we have another of my attempts to space out climaxes. Sazed's character climax—the first, and perhaps most important of his climactic chapters—comes here after Spook's climax, but before the book really begins to end. I hope I squeezed this into the right place.

Before I talk about Sazed's revelation, however, let's do a few notes. First off, Spook is alive. Yes, I let him live. He earned it, for one, and for another, there is something very important he still needs to do. You'll see.

Either way, I think—with the number of viewpoint characters I've killed in my books—that I've earned the right to have someone survive a very dangerous situation like Spook went through.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#30 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

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.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#31 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 ()
#32 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 ()
#33 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

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.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#34 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Spook's Message

Here is the connection between the groups, and the reason I wrote the Spook sections.

Well, that's not completely true. I wrote the Spook sections because I found him a compelling character, with a new way to use the magic and an interesting story to tell. I liked how his story played against Sazed's conflicts, and what the work in Urteau said about the overall message of the book.

However, the piece that connects the storylines and brings them together is very important too. Spook knows about things that Vin does not, and so we begin to thread these different viewpoints together. We've already had Marsh and Vin's scenes ram together, as well as Sazed's and TenSoon's. Now we'll weave Spook in too.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#35 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 ()
#36 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

A Kandra Perspective

I knew I wanted a kandra viewpoint in this book. They have a unique perspective on the setting and the mythology of the world, and beyond that they're just plain fascinating to me. I like their culture, and I'm glad I finally found a place to show the Homeland, their true bodies, and so forth. (More on this in upcoming annotations, of course.)

In addition, TenSoon's viewpoint offers a contrast to the battles, sieges, and wars going on in the other viewpoints.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#37 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.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
#38 Copy

Questioner

So I'm in the middle of Hero of Ages, and I'm noticing there are constant parallels between Vin and the Hero of Ages and Elend and the Lord Ruler?

Brandon Sanderson

That's done intentionally.

Questioner

Is it going to hurt?

Brandon Sanderson

Is the ending going to hurt? The ending is the right ending. It's going to be satisfying, but it also might hurt.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Four

Sazed's Depression and Search for Truth

And we finally get to do the first Sazed chapter.

It seems that each book presents different challenges. In book two, Sazed's scenes flowed easily and perfectly, much as TenSoon's chapters did in this book. However, in book three, I couldn't get Sazed's chapters to work right. I had to do several revisions.

The main problem was that in the first draft of the book, Sazed just sat around moping all the time. I wanted to show him in the clutch of depression, having given up on all of his religions. In that draft, he'd already decided that all of his religions were false and that there was no hope.

But his chapters were a major drag. They were rather boring to read, and even when exciting things were happening, Sazed himself was just too depressing. That came from two problems. First off, his depression just didn't feel right—it felt like I was telling people he was depressed, rather than showing someone who really had depression. Secondly, he wasn't doing anything. That's an accurate portrayal of someone with depression, but it sure is a drag to read.

So, I revised heavily and came up with the idea of Sazed looking through his portfolios searching for truth. I like how this turned out. Not only is he being active now, but it feels to me that he's more depressed—despite being active—because of the way he thinks and the edge of despair you can feel each time he eliminates one of the religions in his portfolio.

At the same time, I took out a lot of his thoughts about how depressed he was, and instead just let his outlook on things show that depression. I'm still not sure if I got the balance perfect or not, but this is such an improvement on the previous drafts that I am very pleased with it.

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Brandon Sanderson

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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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.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Six

Marsh Is Still Around

Short little Marsh chapter here. This is partially just to remind you that he's still around, since he has a part to play in this book.

I learned a little from book two, where I had wanted to use Marsh more but wasn't able to squeeze him in. There were a lot of complaints about this from alpha readers and fans talking about how Marsh was one of their favorite characters, and how they didn't like it that he disappeared throughout most of the book.

The problem I run into is that I can't show too much of what he's doing, as that would reveal Ruin's plans prematurely. I do go into some of what Marsh is up to in subsequent chapters, but I felt that at this point it was too early. So, fairly late in the revision process, I added this chapter in as a reminder of his mindset and what he's up to.

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Brandon Sanderson

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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Brandon Sanderson

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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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Nine

TenSoon and Chronology

I probably should have found a way to stagger these kandra chapters a little bit better. We get a lot of them up front in the book, and then they dribble away through the late middle. The problem is that I didn't have very many pages to devote to TenSoon's story. I decided that rather than having one or two long chapters, I'd split it up and have five or six short chapters.

However, I generally follow a straight chronology in my books—meaning that page 22 is almost always later in time than page 21, no matter which characters happen to be on the different pages.

That means when I split TenSoon's trial into three chapters, I had to keep them all very close together, since they were covering a single day. I didn't want to—say—stick in a TenSoon chapter, jump a week forward to Vin's section, then jump back to TenSoon's trial.

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Brandon Sanderson

"Let's have a chase."

At the end here we have Vin think, "Let's have a chase now, you and I." This is a direct quote from book one near the beginning, where Kelsier thinks the same thing to himself. He's intending to lead an Inquisitor away to keep it from finding and killing Vin, even before Kelsier meets her. I put the same quote here as a throwback, but also because I liked the parallelism. Vin is leading Ruin on a false chase the same way that Kelsier led that Inquisitor back in book one.

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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.

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Brandon Sanderson

Reen

I hope I wasn't too obvious with my increased references to Reen in this chapter. A few of my alpha readers noticed it, but I think it's subtle enough that I decided to leave it. Obviously, I was trying to prepare the reader for the appearance of Reen later in the chapter by giving a few reminders of who he was and what he meant to Vin.

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Brandon Sanderson

Drawing upon the Mists

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

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