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Shadows of Self release party ()
#1 Copy

Questioner

Hemalurgy spikes lose power after they are taken out of a body, right?  So why did Vin’s spike still give her power after being so long out of her ear?

Brandon Sanderson

They decay, but it's not a really fast decay. And it also kind of works like a half-life thing. Does that make sense?  So you get an initial just "that's bad" but that had happened to hers long ago when she had taken it out for the first time, right? And then over time, like if that had sat out for hundreds of years you're going to end up with something like Wax's earring that's like-- it gives a bit, but it barely gives anything. But as long as you're kind of keeping it in and out you're going to be a lot better off.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#2 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Vin Senses She's Being Followed

I hope you haven't forgotten about Vin's ability to pierce copperclouds. It was a major plot point in books one and two, though I haven't had much time to introduce it yet in book three. It isn't that necessary a plot point in this book, which is why I haven't bothered to deal with it much yet. However, know that the explanation for why she can do this will finally come in this novel at some point. (In one of the epigraphs, actually.)

Hal-Con 2012 ()
#3 Copy

Questioner

There is an overarching storyline between all the books... that we finally find out about in the last book, between two gods that are at war, and you were saying yesterday in your lecture how you tend to freestyle your characters but you tend to plan certain other events, and specifically to do with the ring in Vin's ear. Was that a planned event, or was that a part of the overarching plot?

Brandon Sanderson

That was a planned event that I worked out. What I'll do a lot of times when I'm building a series is, I will build an outline for the first one, and then I'll have just a few paragraphs on the rest of the series, and then I'll write the first one, and once I'm done with the first one, and I'm sure of the characters' personalities, that really allows me to expand the outline for the rest of the series; it's very hard to write—you know, to build a full, complete outline for everything until you know exactly who the characters are gonna be, and as I said yesterday, my characters I allow to grow very naturally. Characters do always get veto power over a plot, meaning if I get to a point where I'm like, the person this character's become would not do this thing that the plot requires for them, I either have to go back to the plot and rebuild it from scratch, or I have to go say, this is the wrong character for this role. Let's try a different character cast in this role. And I've done both before.

And so, with Mistborn I did plan that in from the beginning and then write the first book and then in the second two I expanded on it and said yes, this is going to work—this can be an important feature of the story—and so it was one of those things that came together that you always hope will come together, and it did. Being able to embed some of the things in book one that work for book three, and I was really using it as practice for the larger series and things like that, so the fact that it came together made me more confident I could do this sort of thing across bigger series. But I'm very pleased with how the Mistborn trilogy turned out. I did have the training wheels on for the Mistborn trilogy; when I sold Elantris, they said they were going to publish it in 2005, and that they needed my next book by then. Well, that was two years away. I had a good writing habit and work ethic at that point, and so I was able to write all three books of the Mistborn trilogy before I had to turn the first one in for publication which gave me a safety net in case I wasn't able to get all of this stuff in and whatnot—I could change the plot so that I can not have to fall face-first, so to speak—but it did all come out so I was very happy with that, but it did allow me to go back and tweak a few things, like for instance, there's a character who becomes a viewpoint character in book three who hadn't been one in the first two. That wasn't planned in the outline; that's something when I got to book three and was working on it, I felt, I really need to give this character more space, which meant that there was a location this character was in—Urteau, which was not built into the plot to be a major location—and so I had to go back and add some foreshadowing for this place, that it was important and these sorts of things; it allowed me to do some stuff like that.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#4 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Vin Gets Her Earring Back

Getting Vin's earring back to her proved a logistical problem here, perhaps one of the biggest puzzles in the entire book for me. If I pulled the earring, then Ruin couldn't talk to her, and I couldn't include the scenes of her and Ruin in jail. I felt they were very important—both to make good use of Vin's time while imprisoned, and to get across useful information about the nature of Ruin—his goals, his motivations.

And so, I needed to have Yomen give the earring back. But why? Why would he give a piece of metal to an Allomancer? Vin's reasoning in this chapter is the best I could come up with. Yes, Yomen has atium, ready to burn it. He is, indeed, trying to spring any traps Vin has ready. In fact, once he had her taken away, he followed a distance behind and waited by her cell for the rest of the day, expecting her to try something. When she didn't, he was rather confused.

The earring also presented a problem in that in the original drafts of book one, silver was an Allomantic metal. I later changed silver to tin and played with what the metals did. However, I didn't have the specifics of Hemalurgy down. And so, when I got this book, I worried that her earring would be the wrong metal. Hence the silver plating explanation, as I worried that I'd forgotten or missed some instances in book one where I mentioned the earring being silver. (I tried to cut all references to its actual metal, so that I would be open to build Hemalurgy as I saw fit.)

Notice that Ruin's voice doesn't come to her until after she puts the earring back in. As she points out later, his telling her to kill isn't as specific as she's interpreting it. He's just sending her a general feeling that she should kill and destroy; his attention is elsewhere at the moment, watching what Spook is doing.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#5 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 lifeā€“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.

Calamity release party ()
#7 Copy

Questioner

Which ear does Vin wear her earring in?

Brandon Sanderson

I don't know... Oh, man. I can't <answer> this one because I can't remember it. They know it on the 17th Shard, you can go ask them. I can't remember. Now if I told you I'd get it wrong.

Questioner

Okay. What-- What's your instinct? Off the top of your head?

Brandon Sanderson

My instinct? I'm a robot. I work by programming.

Footnote: Peter has since canonized that Vin's earring is in her left ear. See this entry.
The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#8 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

The Elusive Allomancer

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

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

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

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#9 Copy

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.