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Skyward release party ()
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Questioner

In Secret History, you talked about Kelsier being attuned to Ruin, more to Ruin than to [Preservation]. How come Vin isn't that way.

Brandon Sanderson

I have to say this very carefully. She is, for reasons I'm not going to explain at the moment, and she isn't, at the same time.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#2 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

The scene with Vin standing in the darkness and looking in at the people having fun inside was one of the first and fundamental scenes I got for her character. Those who have read other annotations and essays by me know that I build my books by important focal scenes. This image of Vin keeping herself aloof from the fun and good humor, yet desiring to be part of it so badly, seemed to me to be the perfect character for Kelsier's apprentice.

Of course, this scene was actually only half of the image I conjured in my mind. The other half comes, of course, the scene later in the book where Vin has become fully a part of the crew, enjoying their friendship, and looks out of the kitchen at the dark hallway beyond, where she once stood. Nice little brackets of a character arc, and the main focus in my mind of Vin's growth in this book.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#3 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Vin's Identity Acceptance

This is a very important chapter for Vin, as it finally ties up a conflict that had been tormenting her since book one. All through the first and second novels, she struggled to find a balance between her different identities. Was she a noblewoman, the wife of an emperor? Or was she a thief, trained on the streets? It might seem at first glance like this would be a simple balance to work out, but as I dealt with it in her personality through the books, it seemed a very weighty process to me.

She's come far enough that she can finally recognize why it is that she turned away from noble culture and activities. And she can also see why doing so was wrong.

Vin is half noblewoman. Her father, if you recall, was an obligator—a member of a very important noble line. (House Tekiel, if you're wondering, though upon joining the obligators he forfeited his surname.) And, while I don't think parties and ball-going are genetic attributes, she does have a heritage. Elend fell in love with her while she was attending those balls and being Valette. It's good that she finally realized that she wasn't being false; she was just showing another aspect of herself when she attended those parties.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#4 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Vin waits for Elend to reveal his plan before the Assembly

I had to do a couple of drafts of Elend's "It doesn't change things" section with Vin. I didn't want to reveal his plan–I wanted Vin to work through it–but I also didn't want it to seem TOO forced that he didn't tell her.

I settled on this, which I think has a nice balance. However, you're in dangerous territory as a writer any time you have characters conveniently forget to tell each other things–or when you keep viewpoints characters plans and schemes back from the reader.

I have a history of fudging these things a tad in this series. I don't give myself that much leeway in all of my books–but I figured with the Kelsier "Real Plan" surprise I had in the last book, I have established that the characters don't always tell the reader every single thing they're plotting.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#5 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Elend reveals that he's joined the Church of the Survivor

Unfortunately, this entire chapter is a big mallet driving the wedge down between Vin and Elend. The next chapters are why I had to make sure I established their relationship earlier in the book, so that readers would hope for them to stay together as the novel progressed. However, I suspect that at least a few readers are pulling for the Vin/Zane thing to work out.

Either way, it's better–narratively, and character-wise–to have Vin figure out Elend's plan on her own. It gives her the chance to show how she's grown. She sees things like a politician. Though she's hard on herself, she knows a lot more about these things–and is a better match for Elend–than she gives herself credit.

I actually think this is a clever, clever move. Elend has done a lot of work for the skaa, but he's never really worked to make himself seem like one of them. This establishes him as on their side, solidly–but also gives him a kinship with them. He doesn't worship the Lord Ruler. He worships their god. That gives him a lot of credibility with them.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#6 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Elend and Vin get attacked by Allomancers

And, yay! A fight scene. It's been a little while since we had one of those.

I worry that the lack off battles made me go a little extra-crazy with this one. I apologize if there were too many people moving about, too much going on, or too many enemies to keep track of. This wasn't meant to be a delicate Allomantic dance–this was a brutal, bash people and pop eyes kind of fight. Like I said earlier, I try to give each action scene its own kind of flair and feeling. This one was down and dirty, kill or be killed.

In fact, Vin nearly got killed twice herself. Something I worked hard in book one to establish was that Allomancers, even Mistborn, were not invincible. Both time she's gotten into serious fights in this book, it's nearly killed her. Without the edge that duralumin gives her, she'd have been beaten here twice over.

It's not that she lacks skill–not at all. This fight was simply designed, by her enemies, to be a real and serious threat. The odds were against her, and she had a lot to worry about. Perhaps she should have just grabbed Elend and fled. However, she figured she could beat them. She was right, in the end–even if she came dangerously close to losing.

Mistborn have a tendency to be over-confident.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

This chapter also has some of my favorite early-book characterizations of Vin. The Vin we get in the first few chapters is a beaten down, sorrowful thing. The Vin in this chapter, however, is more true to who she really is. Careful and discerning, quick to scout out her surroundings and wary of anything new. Yet, at the same time, not hateful or even really brutal. She kind of lives in the moment, taking things as they come.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#8 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Forty

Zane Visits Vin after the Fight in the Assembly

She mistakes Zane for Elend here, which is a nice little subconscious indication of the mental turmoil she's going through. The best part about this conversation is that I think Zane makes a lot of good points. That fight WAS too hard for Vin, and she really is being turned into a tool. I don't think that's as bad a thing as Zane implies, but he's being honest.

I'm not trying to make a statement against assassination. Given these circumstances, I actually think assassinating Straff would be a reasonable choice. However, I don't think it's a good thing for Vin to do here. She's too close to the edge, too confused and too hurt by the killings she's already had to perform. Plus, I do think that waiting is also a good idea–there's still a chance for diplomacy to work, and the armies haven't attacked yet. Killing someone right now could set the whole thing off.

I still worry that the Zane planting an Allomancer amidst Cett's retinue thing was a bit of a stretch plot wise, and I wonder if any readers are going to be able to follow what happened here. I think this is just about the line of what I think an author can get away with and still have things make sense. Zane's plan went off just a little too well, without problems. I think it works since we don't get to see much of the plan and preparations he made, and can therefore suspend disbelief and give him the benefit of the doubt when it came to how much work he put into making this plan work.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#9 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Vin Uses Allomancy on OreSeur

Vin is, obviously, backsliding a bit. We get two big indications of it in this chapter. The first is the way she now looks at dresses–she's convinced herself again that they're wrong for her. The dresses represent, to Vin, the noblewoman side of herself. In essence, she's rejecting the balls and the person she was at them. That means to her that she isn't worth being with Elend, and that she doesn't deserve him.

The second, larger indication of her descent is what she does to OreSeur. It should feel a little out of place. This is something she might have tried at the beginning of the book, when she didn't get along with him. Doing it now is a major lapse, and I hope you can follow her thought process and see that she's confused and frustrated. She's trying anything that MIGHT give her an edge, and she goes too far. Even the best of us do things like that sometimes.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#10 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Originally, I had Vin far less emotionally affected by the scene of slaughter. I wanted to imply that she's seen a lot of death and hardship in her life, and so something like this wasn't all that shocking to her. Alpha readers, however, found her too callous here. I did a rewrite, and realized that I liked it much better with Vin reacting emotionally to the scene of death. She still puts up a strong front, which is very like her. However, she no longer just walks through it without reacting.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#11 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

I just really like Elend and Vin's relationship. It's one that really shouldn't work, but for some reason, they just get along so well in my head. I doubt that they could explain it either–but the two fit together in a very strange, "opposites meet" kind of way. They actually have a lot more chemistry, for me, than Sarene and Raoden–though those two are far better matched for each other. Maybe that's because the frustration and confusion Elend feels seems very realistic to me. He never really does know what Vin is feeling, even though her emotions are so blunt and simple when we're in her viewpoint.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#12 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Fifty-Seven

Vin Wonders If She's Mad

I love Vin's paragraph on deciding if she's mad or not. Zane spent his entire adult life debating this issue, trying to determine whether he was really insane or not and trying to figure out how much of the world around him was a fabrication of his broken mind. Vin? She gives herself a couple of seconds to consider, realizes that if she's mad, there's no way to know, and decides the line of reasoning is useless.

On occasion Vin complains that she's a creature of instinct and not logic—but that's not the right way to put it. She's very logical—far more so than most scholars, I'd say. She just doesn't like to dwell on things and debate them. Present facts to her, and she'll accept them.

In a way, she's literal and concrete—which are the most basic of logical philosophies, I'd say. Elend is abstract. He likes to consider and rationalize. Think around problems, rather than face them head on. But he's logical too.

Perhaps their love of hard facts is part of what draws them together.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#13 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

I almost took out the section where Vin thinks "Oh, that's why Sazed saved me. He has to because he promised Kelsier. That makes sense–after all, why would he want to save me?"

This section fits with the earlier Vin, but I think it's just a bit out of character for her now. She's getting over her feelings of worthlessness and solitude. She knows Sazed well enough now to understand that he WOULD save someone because he's a kind person, not just because he promised that he would.

So, I shortened Vin's thoughts in that section, de-emphasizing them by adding them into another paragraph, rather than giving them their own. I maybe should have cut them, but I wanted to hint that she's not over her hang-ups yet. She still has some of those old feelings. The progress is that she doesn't dwell on them as long.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#14 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Vin Assaults Cett's Keep

This is one of my favorite chapters in the book. I only occasionally REALLY let myself go with Allomancy, letting the Mistborn reach for their potential. I don't like violence. And yet, I love the beauty of a good fight.

This is a twisted beauty. Corrupt, fascinating, destructive—yet powerful. I've wanted to write something like this ever since I saw the lobby scene in the Matrix. Not because it was so amazing—which it was—but because I think they handled it wrong. The characters commit this huge slaughter, but we never see the horror of it—only the awesome visuals.

There are repercussions for doing something like what happens in this chapter. Perhaps Zane can slaughter wantonly, but that's only because he's beaten his conscience away repeatedly. Vin will not escape so easily.

Oh, and the guy on the wall—Wells—is a cameo. He is my good friend, Dan Wells. He's not this much of a coward, but he didn't make it into book one, so I figured I'd throw him in here. He'll be back, actually. . . . (Watch for him in Book Three.)

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#15 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Ham, Elend, and Spook discuss Vin's attack on Cett

Ham mentions Vin exploding at the group. If you recall, this is the scene where Vin accuses the others of all being noblemen. She's mad at Kelsier for the way he treats Elend, but she also felt that the group didn't REALLY know what it was like to be skaa.

Ham never understood why she did this; he just saw an irrational young girl. And, in truth, a teenage girl's emotions can be rather volatile. However, I think her explosion was quite rational–as did Kelsier, who talked with her afterward and apologized.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#16 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Elend Finds Vin

This room where Elend finds Vin is cool in that it's the very first place where we, as readers, met Vin back in book one. She was sitting in that cubby, looking out at the street, wishing she were as free as the ash. Now she has that freedom, and she's terrified by what she's done with it.

So, you can see–maybe–some of the repercussions that I talked about earlier. Vin just confirmed to herself that she's the monster she worried about being. Kelsier casts such a large shadow. Everyone thinks they should be able to do things like he did, but nobody can. They need to find their own way.

Still, Vin has a choice to make. In the last book, she ended up with Elend. Now she has another chance at Kelsier, as represented by Zane. Some people who read the book think she should go with him, others yearn for her to choose Elend. The fact that there really is an option means I've done my job well.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#17 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Fourteen - Part One

Following Kelsier this night is probably one of the dumbest things Vin does in this book. Letting her follow is undoubtedly the dumbest thing Kelsier does in the book. Yet, these two characters are alike in more ways than they may seem at first. Both have a sense of brashness that borders on the foolhardy.

Vin is beginning to understand that there are crews where people truly care about each other. The problem is, she's feeling a very natural (especially for a girl of her age) desire to fit in and be needed. She has a deep-seated fear that she'll be proven useless, then be abandoned by the people that she's only just beginning to understand that she needs.

So, she wants to learn to be useful as quickly as she can. For Kelsier's part, he just feels that he's invincible. It's always been a problem of his. He's the type of man who can make things go his way. It's easy for him to ignore the failures and focus on the successes–like the fact that the Lord Ruler trying to kill him only ended up turning him into a Mistborn.

And so, they infiltrate together. And, this was the natural result.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#18 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Elend and Vin Visit Sazed in Turn to Ask about Relationships

I didn't want this scene to feel too much like a sitcom, and I tried hard to make it realistic. But having both Vin, then Elend come to Sazed with their problems has some inherent issues. It feels a little comedic, and perhaps too coincidental.

However, despite those problems, I really like the scenes. They show off the difference in the two characters, and particularly show how Elend has changed over the course of the book. He comes in, confident, ordering people about even as he asks for advice. Vin is more hesitant. Her confidence is in other matters, and here she has trouble expressing herself. It's a nice reversal.

However, the fact that both of them think first of Sazed, and that both of them just really need to speak their minds—without him doing much more than confirm things they already felt—shows again how similar they are.

And I really do think the key and lock speech is one of the most wise things Sazed has ever said.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#19 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Vin Tells Slowswift Why He Should Care

Vin's little speech on change here is another of the interconnected weavings I mentioned earlier. This paragraph is supposed to hark back to book one, when Vin is walking with Sazed in the Renoux gardens near the middle end of the book. She says that everything is going to change, and Sazed offers wise council on the need for change in one's life. She's learned through her own experience that Sazed was right, and here she is able to use that knowledge to persuade Slowswift to be her ally.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#20 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Vin Attacks Anyway

Vin without Allomancy is still quite a formidable threat. I established this back in book one, and thought I'd reinforce it here. She's scrappy, quick, and very skilled. Even a group of prepared guards was surprised by her, and she fought quite exquisitely, considering how outmatched she was.

The other great thing about Vin is her resourcefulness. A childhood on the streets with Reen taught her to use everything she has, and to improvise what she doesn't have. Give her a cot and some gruel, and she'll come out of it with a weapon, a means of escaping her manacles, and a darn good way to distract a bunch of guards.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#21 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Forty-Seven

Vin Stares out at the Mists, decides to go with Zane, then changes her mind

This scene with Vin at the beginning feels just a tad redundant to me. That's because it covers some of the same ground as the one with her trailing through the Lord Ruler's palace in the last chapter. The problem is, I like this scene so much more–it seems to me that the writing is better. So I didn't have the heart to cut it, even though I'd just added another scene that did many of the same things.

This is one of the scenes in the book I worked toward for a long, long time. I knew I had to get Vin's decision just right, and then do Zane's betrayal with equal power. I wanted the reader to be feeling that this was inevitable, once Vin made her decision.

Why did she decide to stay with Elend? It comes down to what she said. Zane jumping when she reached for the vial reminded her of something–that she didn't want to go back to a life where she was suspicious and jumpy. She didn't want the life that he offered. The thing she saw in Elend was the ability to live without fear–or, at least, without the fear that those around her didn't trust her.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#22 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

There are a few points in this chapter that really and truly sum up Vin's character for me. The first point comes in her asking Kelsier if Marsh beat him often. The fact that Vin wouldn't even consider the fact that two siblings could get along without some form of beating or dominerance speaks a lot about the life she's led.

She's not a bad person, however. Kelsier gets it right–she isn't herself bad, she just assumes that everyone else is. In my opinion, the amount of good left in her despite what she's gone through is a powerful testament to her character. And, finally, some of that starts to come out in this chapter. It might be a little early for her to begin changing–it's only been a few days–but I wanted to leave a few hints in this chapter, since we're going to have a big time jump here pretty soon.

The first hint is that she really is starting to want to become part of the team. She feels sad when she thinks she won't get to act the part of Renoux's heir. In addition–and, for Vin, I meant this to be something very telling–she left food behind. That's a great moment in the chapter for me.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#24 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Forty-Eight

Vin and Elend's Marriage

A very simple wedding, all things considered. I found that appropriate, as I though that Sazed would approach such things in the most elegant–but simple–way possible.

This is also kind of a strange scene, when you think about it. I write myself into some interesting situations in this series. I don't know that I before this moment, I'd ever thought I would be writing a wedding involving a half-naked eighteen year old girl who is bleeding from three wounds, one in one of her breasts.

Some people have complained that this is just too quick a marriage. One thing to remember is what Sazed explains. For a thousand years, the only way to get married was to get the witness of an Obligator. Even for skaa, an obligator was required to authorize a wedding. And that's ALL it took. If an obligator said you were married, then you were. Sometimes, the nobility or the skaa had their own ceremonies surrounding a wedding, but they were more civil than religious. In fact, it's a tiny bit of a stretch to even have Elend associate a wedding with religion.

Of all the people in the book–heck, in this entire world–Sazed is probably the closest thing to a real spiritual leader one could find. In that way, Vin and Elend were quite fortunate to have his blessing. Breeze and Allrianne, for instance, didn't bother with a wedding. Now that the Lord Ruler is gone, those sorts of things have lost a lot of meaning–if, indeed, there ever was any meaning to them in this society.

Oathbringer Chicago signing ()
#25 Copy

Questioner

So my dog's name is Vin. I was wondering if there was any sort of story behind that name and how you thought of it.

Brandon Sanderson

Wine in French. Because building the whole region off of French-sounding names—Kelsier and Demoux and things like that. And I just really like... the sound of it. I know it's kind of like a guy's name, but I just really like the sound of it.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#26 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Seventeen - Part One

Whew! I've got a lot to say here. First off, Vin's earring. It's a little morbid the way she wears it around, since it was her mother's. The same mother that killed Vin's sister and tried to kill Vin, before Reen rescued her. But, we'll get to more of that later.

My feeling is that the earring is Vin's last connection to her real family or the life she knew with Reen. True, it wasn't a great life–but it was part of her, just like the Pits became part of Kelsier. He'll always carry those scars. The earring is the same for Vin.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
#27 Copy

Questioner

In, I believe it was, Well of Ascension, when Hoid-- Vin was going to talk to Hoid and get information but she sensed something.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, she did.

Questioner

Can you reveal anything about that.

Brandon Sanderson

Nope!

Questioner

Okay.

Brandon Sanderson

But you can have a RAFO card... Do you have a theory?

Questioner

No, I don't.

Kurkistan

Spidey-sense.

Brandon Sanderson

The clues are all there. They're very obscure.

Argent/Kurkistan

*theorize*

Brandon Sanderson

*mock-annoyed* Stop theorizing! I shouldn't have said anything.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#29 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Also, I think it was about time to establish firmly the relationship between Kelsier and Vin. She–if you haven't guessed–has a bit of a hero-worship crush going on with him. It will never be stated explicitly, but it's there, and kind of has to be there.

Kelsier, however, regards her like a protégé, and perhaps even a daughter. That's it. I apologize to those who were looking for a romance between the two. I realize that I'm breaking some laws of storytelling by introducing a female viewpoint in chapter one, then a male viewpoint in chapter two, and not having them get into any sort of romantic way. However, that's not what this book is about. Kelsier is not only much older than Vin, he really doesn't look for relationships any more. Not his focus in life right now.

I never intended there to be any romantic tension between the two of them. However, some of my alpha readers were hoping to find it–and found more than I anticipated. So, I added the lines here from Kelsier about wishing he had a daughter, just so I could make things clear.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#30 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.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
#31 Copy

Questioner

How did you sort of develop and write the character of Vin? 'Cause her upbringing is so different from anything we-- that I have experienced and I'm guessing you had a similar experience. So did you have a model or somebody you could talk to?

Brandon Sanderson

I-- Not really. Now I did have two sisters, which helped, but my sisters were not raised in such a manner. It is more just trying out personalities, like I talked about in my speech until I got one that worked. Lots of practice if you want to be a good writer, lots and lots of practice. Try writing people very different from yourself and try to get them right. Give it to people and have them see if anything "Yes this feels right" and things like that. Just do lots of practice.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#32 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

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

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

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

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

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

Writing for Charity Conference ()
#33 Copy

Zas678 (paraphrased)

Is there some reason why both Vin and Kelsier are half-skaa, half-noble, both natural Allomancers, both end up overthrowing the Lord Ruler, and have siblings that are seekers.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Both were heavily influenced by Ruin in doing what they were doing. So there is a connection there, maybe not the one you're looking for, but Ruin was looking for talented Mistborn that were easy to manipulate and talented Mistborn tend to come from talented Mistborn lines, and so Ruin is looking for that, and they both end up fitting that role. And the thing is, is that the half breeds ended up being easier for him to manipulate and easier lost in the shuffle of things, so they weren't paid attention to as much by the Ministry, because the Ministry didn't know about them.

So it's mostly coincidental for what Ruin's trying to achieve

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#34 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 ()
#36 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Sixty-Three - Part Two

Vin the Politician

Vin sells herself short sometimes on her ability to influence people and deal with political situations. She, perhaps, forgets that she began her career as an Allomancer by using the emotional metals, not the physical ones. Long before she was leaping through the mists, she was Pulling and Pushing on the emotions of people in the thieving underground, keeping herself safe, pushing deals to go her way, that sort of thing.

She plays Yomen perfectly here, and really accomplishes some things by it. I'm not one who looks at manipulating a conversation, or even the people in that conversation, as an inherently bad thing. Breeze voices (but exaggerates) some of my opinions on this in book two. We all posture and influence one another. The ability to get people to do what you want isn't itself evil; it's what we call charisma, or even leadership ability. It's what you do with your ability that is either evil or good.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
#37 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

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.

17th Shard Forum Q&A ()
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Arcanist

According to [Sanderson's Second Law of Magic] your characters have flaws, weaknesses. What is the reason, that in a lot of them (Vin, Elend, Kaladin, Dalinar, Spook, etc) the most significant weakness is the lack of self-confidence?

Brandon Sanderson

It's because of mode-shifting. The people you noted have been doing one thing for a long time, and are now forced into something else. The self confidence is a side effect of that. However, I wouldn't say it's the primary character attribute for any of them, however. I think you're blanketing self confidence as a larger issue, when it's the smaller part of something larger for each character.

Vin: Trusting Others

Elend: Idealism

Dalinar: Conflict between the killer he was and the man he wishes to be.

Spook: Self Worth

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Vin's Plan

I had to make sure to expand Vin's explanation for why she was doing what she was doing. A lot of alpha readers were confused at what Vin was planning and why she left, so I added a few paragraphs talking about putting herself in danger. It's not a fantastic plan, but it's all she can think of.

It so happens that she's wrong about why the mists are helping her. It isn't based on need or desire at all—she's fallen to a logical fallacy known as false cause. She's seen two analogous sets of information and incorrectly deduced that they are related. But, well, she's can't do everything right. This is as good a decision as any, considering the fight that Fadrex is facing.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Playing with Clichés

Well, that turned into a strangely unexpected rant. I'll leave it because it might be interesting to you all, but I did want to continue with my original idea. I didn't bring Reen back (or Kelsier back) because I feel opposed to this kind of plotting unless it is well foreshadowed in advance and built into the magic system. I did, however, want to make the reader think that I'd brought them back, as for some reason it gives me pleasure to bait readers into thinking I'm following the clichés, then ducking away from those clichés. (In a way, that's what this entire series is about.)

As a nod to the intelligence of my readers, however, I didn't let this one last for long. I figured that many would have figured out that the image of Reen was false, particularly after the epigraph strongly hints that Vin has been spiked. In addition, I wanted to use this scene to point out the difference between Vin and Spook. He's an idealist and is rather fresh and inexperienced, despite what the crew has been through. Vin's a realist and a skeptic, and is far more experienced. It makes simple sense to me that she would almost immediately see through Ruin's tricks.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Seventy-Two - Part Two

Marsh and the Earring

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read For Pixels 2018 ()
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Anushia Kandasivam

Vin stands out to us at the Pixel Project because she went through a lot of abuse in her young life, physical and psychological, at the hands of family and people that she should have been able to trust. She is a survivor, and with the help of her new friends she eventually finds self-worth, she realizes she can overcome her past trauma, she grows as a person. The question is, why did you decide to write a character with this kind of background, and what kind of research did you do to write the character who is an abuse survivor?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. So, two part question. First up: How and why did I decide. There are two main parts to this. One is, I knew I was writing in the world of Mistborn, a very less than perfect society. Let's just put it at that. The pitch for myself was, what if Sauron had won? What if you had to grow up in Mordor? I felt that if I had a character who was untouched by that, that the story would lack sincerity. If the only main character was someone who had somehow avoided that, there would be a certain-- like I said, lack of sincerity. There would be a certain, sort of-- I feel that, when you're writing stories, one of the things you should be looking to is to let characters who are part of a problem, solve the problem, rather than people outside the problem coming in to fix the problem. It's generally stronger storytelling, and generally more respectful of people who have had these life experiences themselves. So, I knew I needed someone who had been through a lot of trauma, because of the things we needed to change in this society.

The other part about it was planning-- I am an outliner, with my plots and my worlds and my characters, I discovery write. And oftentimes, what I'll do when I start a book is I'll start with multiple attempts at writing a person into that world. It's almost like I have a bunch of actors come in and try out for the part. I wrote three very different first chapters for that book, and the one that worked was the Vin you ended up with. What drew me to her as a character was the mix of strength and vulnerability at the same time, that she has. It's hard to explain why I came up with that, because really, as a writer, you're just kind of searching for someone whose voice works and whose soul matches that of the story. And it gets very mystical, for me, when you talk about characters, which I don't like, I like to be able to break things down, and talk about how it works and why I made the choice I did. But I made the choice of Vin because Vin was right. Part of that was, she was solving a problem that she had been directly-- that had directly affected her life.

How did I go about doing it right? This is where the best research that I get is reading the stories of people who are willing to share them with the rest of us. Reading firsthand accounts from people who are willing, because that takes a lot of bravery. It takes a lot of-- it's not something I could ever ask anyone to do, but it is something that people offer. On their blogs, and on forums, and spending your time listening to what people say, and trying to get the characters to express the way that these people would express it if they could write that character in their story, is one of my main goals. In fact, I think that's my prime mandate as a writer, is, try to write the characters like the people who have their life experience or beliefs would write them if they had my skill as a writer. And, so I spent a lot of time on blogs, I spent a lot of time on forums, and I wasn't ever posting on these, I was just listening. And then I made sure I had some good readers. Shallan has gone the same way. I can directly credit some very helpful beta readers who have had life experience similar to Shallan's, which have made sure, at least I hope I do this right, and always do better, that I'm walking a line between not sensationalizing, and not glorifying, but using this person's life experience to help them become the person that they want to become.

Anushia Kandasivam

And is that why we don't learn about the characters abuse on screen-- it's never on screen, it's always in their thoughts-- did you purposely write it like this because you didn't want...

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. This was very, very conscious. I feel like one of the biggest traps that writers in fantasy fall into, is using abuse of women, specifically, but all people who are in positions of lacking power, as a means of proving how bad your villains are, or how heroic your heroes are. I think that there are certain authors who are really good at doing this without making it a sense that this is how the world is. So it's not me pointing fingers and saying you shouldn't do that, but I felt that if I was to put it on screen, I don't think I could handle it without sensationalizing it. And by making it there, but never explicit, I think everyone knows it was there, I think everyone knows that Vin suffered abuse, but I could write a story that can deal with overcoming these things without having to sensationalize the thing itself.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Vin Draws In All the Mist

Here we finally have Vin suck in the mists and use them to fuel her Allomancy completely. I began building this plot arc way back in book one, which ends with Vin drawing upon the mists to fight the Lord Ruler. It took me all the way until here to make good on that, though I still don't even explain how or why she was able to do it. Eventually I'd like to be able to do that, but we'll see. It's bigger than this trilogy. I have to leave some secrets for later.

I do want to mention that this scene of Vin blasting Kredik Shaw to pieces was quite fulfilling to write for some reason. It feels like the end of a series to me, with familiar places being torn down and old expectations being dismantled.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Yes, Vin is more powerful than Kelsier. That's what I'm trying to imply by the scene of her and Kelsier in the hole. And, for one little more quip, I like the fact that Kelsier walks straight forward and says "I need no password." Which, if you think about it, is the opposite of what he told the soldiers last time he visited the caves–he told them they couldn’t even let him out, if he didn't have proper authorization. Ah, Kelsier. . ..

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Since I have a little room here, let me mention something I've been wanting to talk about for a while. Vin's name. I realize that a lot of people read this name and think of a man—it is, after all, the name of a current action hero.

I didn't even make the connection. When I was developing this character, I wanted something that was quick and simple. I'm not sure why, but I felt a single syllable name was important for this hero. It indicated her somewhat base, street-wise nature, I think. Simple, straightforward, but not weak.

Vin was, however, originally a boy. The hero of Final Empire Prime was a young boy named Vin. When I pulled some of those character concepts over to this novel, I realized that making the hero female worked so much better. Some of the original Vin's conflicts hadn't ever felt right—the abandonment issues, the blunt attitude. They just all worked better with Vin being female. I knew I'd written an entire book with the hero being the wrong gender the moment I tried writing my first sample chapter of Mistborn with Vin as a girl.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
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Questioner

Why didn't you have Vin talk to Hoid? She sort of saw him and then just ran off.

Brandon Sanderson

I have not answered that question yet. But that means you can have one of these [RAFO cards].

Argent

That doesn't come up very often but we got it twice.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, it's not that big of a thing.

Argent

You should take the hint.

Brandon Sanderson

You are going to have to wait a while to get that answer.

Footnote: The answer to this question is revealed in the novella Mistborn: Secret History.