Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations

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Name Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations
Date July 29, 2006
Location Brandon's website
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#1 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Title Page - Part One

All right, first annotation! About the title page.

I'm generally just going to call this book Mistborn, though the entire series is the "Mistborn Trilogy." Technically, this book is Mistborn: The Final Empire. The second book is Mistborn: The Well of Ascension, and the third book is Mistborn: The Hero of Ages.

There’s an interesting story behind this title. As some of you may know, I spent a number of years trying to get published, writing books all the while. My first five books are what I call the "throwaway books." Those were ones I did mostly as practice, figuring out how to do the whole novel-writing thing. Book six was Elantris, which was published in May of 2005; it was the first book I managed to sell.

However, while I was trying to get Elantris published, I wrote a number of other books. The three after Elantris were big epic fantasy books, much like it in style. After that, I decided that I was writing things that were too big–that no publisher was going to take a huge epic fantasy book from an unknown author. (Though that's eventually what happened. . . .)

Anyway, I decided to try writing some shorter (i.e. only about 125,000 words instead of 250,000 words) fantasy novels. The first of these was what I now call Mistborn Prime. It was the story of a man who was a "Mistborn" (a kind of super-powerful assassin) who gets trapped in a small village with people hunting him, and has to try and blend in with the population there.

Mistborn was a different book for me in many ways. It was shorter, for one thing, and it was also about a kind of anti-hero. It only had one viewpoint character, and the plot was much smaller in scope than my other books. It was successful in some ways, but a failure in others. The magic system I developed for it–Allomancy–was quite spectacular, as were the action sequences. The character, however, didn't appeal to many readers. And, the plot was just a little. . .uninspiring. I'm really better when I have more to deal with.

As you can probably tell, this book–which was unpublishable–became the inspiration for the book I eventually wrote named Mistborn: The Final Empire. We'll cover that second part in the next annotation.

#2 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Title Page - Part Two

Okay, so here we see the words Final Empire for the first time. Continuing the discussion I had in the last annotation, one of the books that I wrote after Mistborn Prime was called The Final Empire. (I now call it The Final Empire Prime.) It was the story of a young boy (yes, boy) named Vin who lived in an oppressive imperial dictatorship that he was destined to overthrow. It was my attempt at writing a shorter book that still had epic scope.

This book turned out to be okay, but it had some fairly big problems problems. While people reacted rather well to the characters, the setting was a little weak for one of my books. Also, once again, I wasn't that enthusiastic about the way the plot turned out.

After that, I gave up on the short books. I proved no good at it. I decided to do The Way of Kings next, a massive war epic. It turned out to be 350,000+ words–I kind of see it as me reacting in frustration against the short books I'd forced myself to write. About this time, I sold Elantris, and Moshe (my editor) wanted to see what else I was working on. I sent him Kings. He liked it, and put it in the contract.

I, however, wasn't certain if Kings was the book I wanted to use as a follow up for Elantris. They were very different novels, and I was worried that those who liked Elantris would be confused by such a sharp turn in the direction of my career. So, I decided to write a different book to be my "second" novel.

I had always liked Allomancy as a magic system, and I liked several of the character concepts Final Empire. I also liked a lot of the ideas from both books, as well as some ideas I'd had for a great plot. I put three all of these things together, and conceived the book you are now reading.

#3 Copy

Brandon Sanderson


I had trouble deciding on the dedication for this book. I know a lot of awesome people who deserve the honor. My mother got the dedication of my first one–that was easy–but it was much more difficult to decide who got to go next.

I eventually decided on Beth Sanderson, my Paternal Grandmother. Both of my grandmothers are awesome people. I decided to use Beth for this one because she is one of the only fantasy fans in my immediate family. (The other being my little sister Lauren.)

I still remember Grandma Beth talking about the sf/f books that she'd read, trying to get me to read them. She taught junior high English, and I think she must have been great at the job. She is just truly a fun-loving person, always smiling despite the physical hardships she's gone through lately.

In addition, she's a little screwy–in a good way. Everyone says I must have inherited my strangeness from her.

So, this book is for you, grandma!

#4 Copy

Brandon Sanderson


This page is much like the one from Elantris. I don't know if people ignore these, or if they read through them. Regardless, these are some important folks. They do a great job helping turn the rough drafts of my books into things that people would actually want to read.

I really do like having writing groups. I don't know if I've talked about this before, but I find a good writing group to be a vital part of the process. Not only do they give you encouragement, but they provide great chapter-by-chapter responses to books. Giving the entire book to alpha readers helps a lot with the big picture–but those kinds of readers don't generally catch the smaller issues in a given chapter.

But, there's another reason I like writing groups. I really enjoy watching writers progress, and seeing their prose develop. It's a lot of fun to take place in a small community of people who are all working toward the same goals, and to give them encouragement and aid.

I also felt I needed to give David and Irene acknowledgements on this page. I added them in last, after I realized just how much I owe to the people at Tor. Without the people who do the publicity and the artwork, no book would ever get taken off the shelves–or even get out of the warehouse. These people do a great job, and I think they are part of the reason Tor is the powerful force that it is.

#5 Copy

Brandon Sanderson


I haven't actually seen the map yet. I'm curious to see how it turns out. . . .

The person doing it is Isaac Stewart, a guy in one of my writing groups. He's a man of many talents, and works as an animator. He was very excited about Mistborn, and when I mentioned he could do the map, he was enthusiastic. I've heard a lot of what he's talked about with the book–doing a map that is based on old Victorian-era maps of London and Paris. We'll see what he comes up with!

EDIT: Now I've seen the maps!

Wow, Isaac did a wonderful job with these. One of the things I asked for was a round world map, and he really stepped up. I love the embellishments around the border and the illuminated manuscript type feel for it.

The city map is probably more important to the story. Oddly, I didn't actually do one of these when I was writing the novel. In fact, I only had a very basic sketch for the world map. That meant, of course, that when I sat down with one of the later drafts, some things were inconsistent. It also meant that a lot of things on the map weren't named, such as the gates.

I owe a lot to Isaac on this one. His intricate map is very detailed–each of those slums was hand-drawn with the insane twisting of all the little streets. He was the one who named the gates, building eight of them and naming them after the basic Allomantic metals. All and all, he did a fantastic job.

#7 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

This initial section, with Tresting and the Obligator, was added during one of the last drafts of the book. I had some troubles starting this novel. I really liked the Kelsier section of the prologue (which was originally the first chapter.) However, before I got to Kelsier, I wanted to have a kind of scene-setting omniscient description of the skaa working.

The important part of this zoom out would have been to show them all with heads bowed, then show Kelsier look up and smile. I tried several drafts of this, and eventually settled on something that was okay. Later on, however, I decided that it was just too much of a viewpoint error to have an omniscient section in one of my books, especially since it was the first section of the novel. So, I decided to set the scene from Tresting's viewpoint.

Once I changed that, I like how this scene turned out. However, it does mean that the very first viewpoint that you see in the book is that of a passing villain who doesn't really matter very much. I guess that's all right, but it's part of the reason I moved this back to being the prologue–I think that gives more of an indication that the characters introduced aren't necessarily the main characters of the book.

Other than that, I liked how this scene let me introduce some of the world elements–obligators, Inquisitors, the ash, the nobility, and the Lord Ruler–in a quick, easy way. Plus, I got to have the scene with Kelsier looking up and smiling, which always gives me a bit of a chill when I read it.

#8 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Prologue - Part Two

I intentionally hit the setting very hard in this chapter. People bring a lot of preconceived notions to fantasy, and sometimes it's difficult to shake them free. With this book, I don't want people to assume an immediate time period or culture for this world. In realty, I've stolen from all over the place. My hope is that I'll be able to destroy people's conceptions quickly, then instead build my own world in their mind.

So, here we have a land where the sun is red, ash falls from the sky, mists come upon the land at night, and plants are brown rather than green. In addition, we have a slave population who live like very rural peasants–but, at the same time, Lord Tresting checks his pocket watch in the first scene. Later on, you'll see gothic cathedrals mixing with people in near-modern clothing. It's all just part of the image I'm trying to create–a place that isn't set in any particular time. In fact, it's a little bit frozen in time, as you'll find in later books.

#9 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

I really like the scene where Kelsier first displays his scars in this chapter. In fact, I really like how this chapter sets up Kelsier in general. It gives him a chance to be a light-hearted (perhaps even a little flippant) while also showing that he's had a hard pas. He has some scars–both visible and hidden. At the end, his attack on the manor house should be something of an indication of what he's capable of doing.

In addition, we establish very quickly why Kelsier smiles so much. I've been accused of being a chronic optimist. I guess that's probably true. And, because of it, I tend to write optimistic characters. Kelsier, however, is a little different. He's not like Raoden, who was a true, undefeatable optimist. Kelsier is simply stubborn. He's decided that he's not going to let the Lord Ruler take his laughter from him. And so, he forces himself to smile even when he doesn't feel like it.

This is a more brutal world than I presented in Elantris–which is somewhat amusing, since Elantris was essentially about a bunch of zombies. Either way, my goal in this chapter was to show the Final Empire as a place of contrast. Despair contrasted with Kelsier's attitude. The wealth of the nobility contrasted with the terrible conditions of the skaa.

#10 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

By the way, Joshua–my agent–pushed until the end to get me to put the Kelsier action sequence in-scene, rather than having it happen off-screen. I resisted. Allomancy is a very complicated magic system, and my writing relies on the reader understanding how Allomancy works in order to provide action. I didn't want to slow the story down right here by giving an extended explanation of the magic. Instead, I just wanted to show the effects of what Kelsier can do. Later (chapter six, I think) we'll actually see how he does them.

#11 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Okay, some spoiler stuff here. Mennis does make a return later in the book, as you probably know. I actually wasn't intending to ever use him again, and was surprised when people read this chapter and expected him to be a main character. I guess I characterized him a little too well in the scene where he gets up.

So, when the time came for Kelsier to have a quiet conversation with one of the rebels, I dusted off Mennis and used him again. I'm very pleased with how that scene turned out, though it's another one I had to rewrite a couple times to get correct. We'll talk more about that later.

#12 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Part One

Unlike Elantris, where I decided to divide the book into "parts" after the fact, I always planned this book to be told in several sections. Naming the parts actually came quiet easily to me. Part One is the section where Kelsier gets most of his viewpoint time, and I decided that naming it after him would be appropriate.

In addition, I just like the way that "The Survivor of Hathsin" sounds. A piece of me was sad that I never came up with a good full name for Kelsier. Something like Kelsier Mistshadow or something like that. I tried several, but none of them ended up sounding quite right, and I had to rely on calling him "Kelsier, the Survivor" in those places. That ended up working just fine.

#13 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter One - Part One

The "bumps" or "trailers" or whatever you want to call them–those things at the beginnings of the chapters–are a very interesting part of the book for me. If you're reading the novel for the first time as you go through these Annotations, I'd recommend paying good attention to what happens in the bumps. This isn't like Dune, or even Ender's Game, where the bumps give interesting–but tangential–information. These little paragraphs are vital if you want to figure out the climax of the story before it happens.

#14 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

One of the advantages of moving the first chapter back and making it a prologue is that I now get to start the book, chapter one, with Vin. That's important, in my mind, because she's the main character of the book. Establishing her with a very strong viewpoint as the first chapter of the book adds a lot to it, I think.

We get a lot of important information in this first little section with Vin. I like starting early with Reen's advice and thoughts. As you'll see as you read the book, Reen's teachings have quite a strong influence on Vin. He's a little stronger in this chapter than in others, I think, but it's good to start off strong. You'll find out more about him, and about what these thoughts in Vin's head mean.

I will admit that one of my weaknesses in writing is that I like to spend too long in contemplative, in-head scenes with my characters. This introduction with Vin is a good example of that. I like the scene quiet a bit, but I can understand that too much of this sort of thing gets boring. That's why I move it quickly into a scene where something is happening. Given my way, however, I'd probably spend about twice as long with characters just standing around thinking.

#15 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter One - Part Two

This second scene with Camon is important for several reasons. The first thing I'll note is that Vin doesn't say anything out-loud in the book until she tells Camon that his servants are too fine. I thought it would be interesting to introduce Vin as a character who doesn't say a whole lot–who thinks her responses. This establishes, I think, that she's something of an introvert, and that she's smarter than she lets people know. When she does speak, she's blunt and straightforward.

The other thing established in this scene is Vin's use of Luck. Hopefully, you connect her abilities with Kelsier's line in the prologue about the Lord Ruler fearing skaa who have "powers they shouldn't even know exist." Vin fits quite well into this category. She can obviously do something extraordinary, yet she doesn't know why–or really even how. It was difficult, narratively, to work out how Vin was able to use Allomancy without knowing it, but it works, and you'll get the explanation later.

#16 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Camon was originally far less competent than he ended up in the final draft. Originally, Vin was constantly (in this chapter and the next) thinking about how he was making mistakes when talking to the obligator and the crew. I thought this would establish Vin as an intelligent, insightful character–one who is even better than the guy in charge of her crew.

However, I eventually realized that this didn't work. Camon was too incompetent–the version of him in the first draft would never have been able to keep control of his crew. In addition, by making him so weak, it weakened the threat to Vin. It's always better to have antagonists be strong, if only to make the heroes look stronger by comparison. Though Camon is only a minor villain in this book, strengthening him made the story seem much more logical, and I really don't think I lost anything.

#17 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Two

Moshe mentioned to me that we're going to have to do a book after the Mistborn series that doesn't have such a gloomy setting. First, I had Elantris, with the city full of dark sludge. Now I've got Mistborn, with the entire world full of black ash.

The coincidence wasn't intentional. Remember, for me, there were seven books in-between Elantris and Mistborn . Most of those had far more cheerful settings. However, this story–which is based around a world where the Dark Lord won–kind of required a depressing atmosphere.

#18 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Dockson, by the way, got his nickname before his real name. I wanted to call a character Dox, for some odd reason. The name just came into my head and stuck. And, I figured that this book would be one where everyone would have nicknames, so I started playing around with Dox until I got Dockson to be the main name.

Of course, because of that, I established that "son" could end names. Therefore, we get other names in this linguistic paradigm–such Ferson in the second book, or Franson in book three. (Both of those names came from friends of mine.)

#19 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

This introductory scene, where Dox and Kell meet on the city wall, has just the right feel for me. I wanted this book–particularly at the beginning–to have the feel of a heist movie. Something like Ocean's Eleven, Sneakers, or Mission: Impossible. I thought a couple of senior thieves getting together on the wall and talking about the team they are gathering would fit in just perfectly.

That was, by the way, one of the major inspirations for this book. I've mentioned that I stole the concepts for Allomancy and Vin's character from other books I wrote. The plot came from a desire to write something that had the feel of a heist movie. I haven't ever seen that done in a fantasy novel–a plot where a team of specialists get together and then try to pull off a very difficult task.

#20 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Joshua, by the way, also pushed for an action scene here–where Kelsier grabs the Inquisitor's attention and runs. I do take most of Joshua's suggestions. In fact, his desire to have an action scene earlier in this book is the biggest bit of advice by him I can think of that I haven't taken. I just really felt that I needed more time to ease into Allomancy before I could do justice to an action scene. Actually, I think a fast scene like that would actually slow the book down, since I'd have to spend so much time explaining. Better to let the next few scenes play out, where we get some good explanations in dialogue.

#21 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Three

So, Kelsier is very interesting to me as a character. Mostly because of what we see in this chapter. He is a man of dichotomy, which is one of the themes of this novel. On one hand, he's the joking, lighthearted man you see in the second half of the chapter. On the other hand, however, he's a very dangerous, even ruthless, man. He laughs at himself in this chapter, but he wasn't faking when he acted the way he did. There is an edge to Kelsier I've never built into a hero before. Sometimes, he makes me uncomfortable.

#22 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

An item of note is in this chapter bump. I mention "Terris" for the first time here, which I was glad that I was able to do. Remember that name, because you'll soon get a lot more about that country.

I do worry that the bumps will make the book feel a little too much like a standard fantasy. Mention of prophesies and the like has become such a cliché in fantasy that I avoid them whenever I can. The story in Mistborn doesn't really deal much with that aspect of the history, but the story that is happening in the bumps has quite a bit to do with it.

#23 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

In Mistborn Prime, there were no such thing as Mistings. Allomancy's practitioners were called Mistborn, and they could use all of the various abilities, depending on which metal they ingested.

When I started work on this incarnation of the book, however, I felt that I wanted to involve a specialized team of Allomancers. That meant including people who were really good at one specific thing, but who couldn't do other things. It's a staple of the heist genre–you want specialists. So, I split up Allomancy, allowing lesser Allomancers to exist. These people, who only could do one of the many Allomantic powers, would be very good at the one thing they do. And, since Mistborn were so rare, you couldn't really make an entire team of them. You'd be lucky to even get one. (Though Kelsier's team just got a second one.)

Soon, you'll get to meet the rest of the crew, and will be able to see how I split up Allomancy. One thing of interest, however, is that there was no emotional Allomancy in Mistborn Prime. I added Soothing and Rioting–the ability to make people less or more emotional–into this book because I felt I needed something that would be more. . .sneaky. These are skills that don't relate to fighting, and I think they'd be very helpful for the sort of political intrigue I want to do in this book.

#24 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Four - Part One

Ah, the introductions. I worry that this scene is a little too long, and perhaps a little too obvious, as we bring in the separate members of the crew. However, it seemed like the best way, and it adheres a little bit to the heist genre framework I'm using.

My favorites of the group are, of course, Ham and Breeze. I knew I wanted to use a smaller crew than you see in some heist stories–I wanted to get to know them better, and deal with them more, than one has opportunity for in a movie like Ocean's Eleven. Ham and Breeze, then, formed the basis for my group. Simply put, they're both guys who are fun to talk to. I can put them in a room with each other, or with Vin, and an interesting conversation will blossom.

I was a little worried about Ham when I first started writing him. The warrior philosopher is, perhaps, a character that you've seen before. In this case, I knew I wanted a character who could be a foil for Breeze. Since Breeze tends to be arrogant, long-winded, and manipulative, I came up with someone humble, long-winded, and kindly. Mix in a desire to understand the world, and a mind that thinks about things a little differently from others, and I had Ham. I think he turned out all right.

#25 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Four - Part Two

The other big part of this chapter is, of course, the plan. This is where the story has been pushing up to this point. I worry that even still (despite several cuts) this section feels a little too much like an info-dump. I couldn't really get around that, since Kelsier is–essentially–dumping some information on the crew.

This is also where I begin to diverge from the "heist story" framework. I started with that concept to write the book, but as I proceeded with the plotting and the writing of the actual novel, I realized that the heist structure was simply too small to fill the larger concepts for the trilogy I was working on.

So, in rewrites, I came back and reworked this section to take to focus off stealing the Lord Ruler's money. The truth is, Kelsier wants to overthrow the government and get back at the Lord Ruler. The money isn't half as important to him. And, as the story progresses, you'll see that the crew spends most of its time on the army.

#26 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Originally, by the way, Yeden wasn't the one who hired the team. There was no employer–Kelsier just wanted to try and overthrow the Lord Ruler. The main way I took the focus off of stealing the atium (making this less of a heist book and more of a Mission: Impossible style book) was to put the focus on raising and training the army. Having Yeden be paying them to get him an army worked much better for this format.

#27 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

In this chapter we also have the first mention of the Eleventh Metal. I kind of wish that I'd found another place for this, since the chapter is already filled with a long discussion scene. Yet, it proved to be the best place for it in the drafting process.

If you think that what Kelsier is saying here is a little fishy, then you're not alone. Most of the crew doesn't believe him either. I'll certainly admit that there is more going on here–far more–than anyone suspects.

#29 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Five

"There's always another secret." That's the unwritten law of this series, by the way. Keep that in mind as you read not only this book, but books two and three. Also, keep in mind that I take no end of delight from doing what people don't expect. (But only in cases, however, where such unexpected events make perfect sense, once they happen.)

#30 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Okay, so I lied. I thought the fight scene came in chapter six, but it came in five. I'm better at pacing than I thought!

The truth is, this is one of my least favorite fights in the book. I put it in primarily because it gave a good, quick showing of the basic concepts in Allomancy. You got to see Kelsier enhance his strength with pewter, his senses with tin (including using it to help him focus), and then use both steel and iron in a variety of different Pushes and Pulls.

The thing is, it wasn't that exciting because it wasn't really a fair fight. As soon as Kelsier got ahold of that ingot, those soldiers were toast. I did spice up the fight a bit by giving them shields–something that was missing from the original draft of the fight. Even still, this seems like a kind of brutal combat, not the more poetic and flowing battles I generally envision for Allomancy.

(This is, by the way, the only fight I ported over from Mistborn Prime. There was a similar scene in that book where the protagonist took down a group of men with only an ingot. Again, I decided to grab it because of how well it introduced the concepts of Allomancy. It was quick and dirty.)

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Six

This chapter is where, in my opinion, the book starts to get good. These kinds of chapters are part of what I write for–good, solid character interaction with some intellectual problem-solving going on. I really like the way that the crew works through their challenges here. The items presented really do sound quite daunting as they're listed; yet, by the end, I hope that the reader feels as the crew does–that this plan could actually work, if they pull it off right.

I had to rewrite this scene several times, bringing the focus away from simply stealing the atium. By the last draft, I had something I was very pleased with. It outlines things simply enough, yet doesn't make everything sound TOO easy. At least, that is my hope.

#33 Copy

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.

#34 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

We mention the Lord Ruler's flawless memory here. This is actually the only time in the entire series that it's mentioned. However, this is an important clue for later. However, as I'm writing this, without being able to hide this text, I don't want to explain too much and inadvertently ruin something. However, if you've finished the book, you might be able to figure out why the Lord Ruler might have a reputation for being able to remember things.

#35 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Seven - Part One

The Kelsier-Marsh-Mare relationship was something that just kind of grew naturally as I was writing. When I started designing the characters for this book, I knew that I wanted Kelsier to have gone through something very traumatic. I settled on a time spent in the Lord Ruler's slave camps, then built his having a wife out of that.

Marsh's unspoken love for Mare wasn't something I originally intended. It actually worked into the story as I was writing this very chapter. I needed tension between Marsh and Kelsier for their relationship to work the way I wanted it to. However, Marsh's disapproval of Kelsier just wasn't enough–especially since Marsh himself had given up leadership of the skaa rebellion, proving that he himself wasn't as much of a hero as he wishes he was.

Mare provided the perfect explanation for their tension. It was something I could imply in just a few sentences, then gain a lot of weight of back-story.

#36 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.

#37 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Seven - Part Two

Actions and reactions. Kelsier's little explanation here is probably the most fundamental and important thing to realize about Allomancy–indeed, about a lot of my magic systems. I like to follow physics as best I can. I think it's more interesting that way. Kelsier's mention that you can't just fling things around randomly with the mind is a kind of dig against Star Wars and other magic systems with telepathy. Certainly, you could come up with systems that work they way they do. However, I personally find it more fascinating–and more logical–if a person is only able to apply force directly.

It really is the way the world works. You apply a pressure, and something moves in that direction. For strong forces, people can only push away from themselves or pull toward themselves. It makes perfect logical sense to me that a magic system would work that way.

Of course, I might just be a loon for trying to apply so much physics logic to magic in the first place.

#38 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, and by the way. People often ask me how far ahead I plan my novels. Well, I've noted already in this annotation that some things–such as the Kelsier-Marsh-Mare relationship–come to me as I write. They appear when I need something to fill a particular hole in the story. Other things, however, are quite well planned. Want an example?

Kelsier's warning about not flaring metals too much is a foreshadowing for book three of the trilogy. You'll see what I mean in a couple of years. Also, there's something very important about Vin's brother that will be hard to pick out, but has been foreshadowed since the first book. . . .

#40 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Mistwraiths are a hold-over from Mistborn Prime. They did more in that book than they do in this novel, but I thought they were an interesting world element. In fact, in Mistborn Prime, the hero fights one. It was a kind of fun scene, as the Mistwraith tried to ingest him. However, I couldn't really see the things being dangerous enough to threaten a Mistborn, so I turned them into more scavengers in this novel.

#41 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

As I re-read this chapter, I'm realizing just how obvious I made it here that Renoux is a kind of Mistwraith. Maybe I overdid it a bit. One problem with this novel in alpha reads was that many of my readers had also read Mistborn Prime, and so they understood the nature of kandra, and immediately knew what Renoux really was. It's not an extremely important surprise, however, so it probably doesn't matter that people can figure it out.

#42 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.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Eight - Part Two

In this chapter, for the first time, I straight out mention that plants aren't green. I hoped that this concept would come across in the first few chapters. However, this sort of thing is difficult to enforce in people's minds. The fact that there are NO green plants in the world is something that most people will probably just skip over in their heads. So, I had to make Kelsier aware of the way that things should be, so that he can explain it to Vin, and therefore point out to the reader–in no uncertain terms–how the landscape works.

The other thing to notice is, of course, that there are no flowers in this world. But, we'll get to that later.

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Brandon Sanderson

In this chapter, we get to meet Sazed–who ranks as one of my favorite characters in the entire series. (Alongside Vin and someone we haven't met yet.) I like Sazed because he's inherently conflicted, yet acts so peaceful. He's a member of a servant race, bred to be humble and submissive. Yet, he knows the one who directed all of that breeding is the Lord Ruler. Add in that he seeks to work with the rebellion, yet feels out of place unless he's acting as a servant, and you get a really good character, in my opinion.

Needless to say, you'll be seeing a lot of him.

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Brandon Sanderson

Part One Wrap-up

Once I was to this point in the book, I knew that I had something. I needed a book to follow Elantris—one that did all the things that Elantris did well, but then expanded and showed off my strengths. In other words, I needed a "You haven't seen ANYTHING yet" book.

Mistborn is, hopefully, that book. I took the best magic system I've ever developed, and put it together with two killer ideas and some of my best characters. I cannibalized two of my books for their best elements, then combined those with things I'd been working on for years in my head. This is the result.

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Brandon Sanderson

All of that considered, I know the beginning is kind of slow. That's how my books are—while I can often start with a bang in the first few chapters, I then need to go into building mode so that I can earn my climaxes in the later third. We need to have some scenes explaining Allomancy in detail, for instance, before we can have scenes like happen in the next chapter.

Still, I like a lot about the introduction to this book. Vin's character comes off very strongly, and the plot is established quickly—something I sometimes have trouble doing. It sets us up for the next section, where things really start to get good.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Nine

One odd thing I've heard—and noticed—about new writers as opposed to more experienced writers is that the more experienced ones tend to make their books last longer. Many first books take place in a matter of days, or perhaps weeks. Yet, books by more accomplished writers tend to span months or years.

It might just be coincidence relating to books I've read. I mean, there doesn't seem to be any reason it would be true. Yet, it certainly holds for myself. My first books happened very quickly—even Elantris, which was my sixth, happened in only the space of two months. Yet, in Mistborn, I let more time pass between sections and chapters.

I think, perhaps, newer authors are intimidated by plotting over such a longer stretch of time. Or, perhaps, it's just something unconscious.

Either way, we've jumped in time—something necessary for this book, considering the amount that needs to be done in order for the job to get pulled off. This was one of my first clues that I couldn't do a straight-up heist novel with Mistborn. The book covers too much time, and too much has to happen before the ending can occur. I just didn't feel that most of what the crew would be doing would be interesting to a reader, and I wanted to focus too much on Vin's character growth to let me focus on the "heist" of stealing the atium.

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Brandon Sanderson

The fight in this chapter is what I consider the first true Allomantic battle of the series. This is what it's supposed to feel like—there's a reason I started with the concept of Vin feeling free. Allomantic battle is graceful, yet sharp. It is leaps through the mist and clever uses of Pushes and Pulls. This is what attracted me most to the magic system—not the logic of metals and the like, though I enjoy that. I loved the idea of mist, plus flying forms in fluttering mistcloaks.

I realize that it's obvious, by the way, that Kelsier is her opponent. I didn't write the chapter calling him "her opponent" to be surprising. I just thought that by de-emphasizing Kelsier, I could better create an illusion of tension. The idea is that Vin herself isn't thinking of him as Kelsier. Just as an opponent.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Ten - Part One

This chapter has my favorite of Ham's little philosophical dilemmas. Most people I've had read the book don't think much of this argument. It seems obvious to them that resisting the Lord Ruler is the right thing for the people to do. I guess that means I've done my work well, giving the readers a distinct hatred of this government.

And yet, I don't think the answer is that simple–not for the people living in the world. Ham has a point, in my opinion. Not a big one, but at least one worth considering.

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Brandon Sanderson

In the original draft of the book, Kelsier didn't show up at this meeting. He let Yeden do the recruiting. However, as the drafting proceeded, I decided that I wanted Kelsier to present himself more fully to the skaa population. With Yeden now acting as their employer–rather than just another member of the crew–I also needed to show what Kelsier could do that Yeden could not.

Of course, this is also the first hint we get of Kelsier's true plan. I decided that I wanted him to give this speech here to initiate the idea that he's building himself a reputation with the skaa.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Ten - Part Two

We've now seen Sazed preach a couple of religions to members of the crew. You may be interested in my process of coming up with his character.

It actually began when I was watching the movie The Mummy. Yes, I know. Sometimes it's embarrassing where we come up with ideas. However, my inspiration for Sazed was the moment when the oily little thief character gets confronted by the mummy, and pulls out a whole pile of holy symbols. He goes through each one, praying to each god, looking for one that would help him.

I began to wonder what it would be like to have a kind of missionary who preached a hundred different religions. A man who, instead of advancing his own beliefs, tried to match a set of beliefs to the person–kind of like a tailor looking to fit a man with the prefect and most comfortable hat.

That's where the inspiration for the entire sect of Keepers began. Soon, I had the idea that the Lord Ruler would have squished all the religions in the Final Empire, and I thought of a sect of mystics who tried to collect and preserve all of these religions. I put the two ideas together, and suddenly I had Sazed's power. (I then stole a magic system from Final Empire Prime, which I'll talk about later, and made it work in this world. Feruchemy was born.)

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Eleven

This book is quite a bit more violent than Elantris. I worry about that, sometimes. I hope I don't put people off who enjoyed my first novel. Several things save me, I think.

First off, though people initially don't think of Elantris as a gruesome book, it really does include quite a few disturbing elements. The brutality of the people in Elantris, for instance, or the slaughtering done by the Dakhor monks. In chapter one of Elantris, we see a boy with his throat crushed, seeping blood. So, really, there isn't anything in Mistborn that stands out THAT much.

The difference is, I guess, that one of the heroes is himself a killer. Also, we have scenes like this one, which are just plain disturbing.

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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.

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Brandon Sanderson

Oh, and no. I don't know what Camon's throat-rope is tied to. You did have a foreshadowing of this kind of execution earlier in the book. (Though, to be honest, I added that in during a rewrite. I didn't come up with particular method of killing someone until I got to this point in the book. It seemed to me that the Inquisitors wouldn't just kill Camon. They'd do something more drastic.)

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Twelve - Part One

Why do I have the ball scenes in this book? Isn't this supposed to be an action story? Well, the absolute truth is I like party scenes like these.

It's kind of odd. I don't particularly like parties myself, but in books, they add quite a nice contrast to the dark skulking type of activities Vin has been about so far. It's nice to show the lavish side of life in Luthadel. The ball scenes in Elantris were some of my favorite, since they allowed for some relaxed–if important–verbal sparring and witty commentary. So, when I was planning Mistborn, I knew I had to have some parties at the noble keeps.

So, that meant I had to get Vin to said parties. That meant she had to pretend to be a noblewoman. That's where this whole plot cycle started–with me wanting an excuse to have ball scenes in this book.

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Brandon Sanderson

The limelights were added at Moshe's suggestion. In the original drafts of the book, I had bonfires burning outside. That was problematic, however, since they not only required a lot of fuel, but getting them close enough to the windows to provide enough light meant getting them close enough to be dangerous to the glass because of the heat. In addition, Moshe pointed out that bonfires just wouldn't be intensely focused enough in their brightness to provide the right illumination for the stained glass windows. (And, of course, I HAD to illuminate the windows. Why go to all the trouble of putting the balls in gothic cathedrals if nobody could see the windows?)

So, anyway, Moshe came up with the limelights as a fix. They actually work quite well–they fit the general level of technology I place the Final Empire as having, and the provide focused and intense light. As I understand it, they were the way that stages were illuminated to show the actors during the nineteen hundreds. Hence, being in the limelight as a phrase for someone who is being paid attention to.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Twelve - Part Two

Several other things were added to this scene in later drafts. One was the moment when Vin looked up at the windows and contemplated the Deepness and what she knew of it. As I've mentioned, I wanted more chances to talk about the mythology of the world. Moshe mentioned this as well, and so for the sixth draft (this book took seven, including the copy edit) I added in this scene.

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Brandon Sanderson

Another big change was renaming the Lord Ruler's priests. Originally, they were called just that–priests. And, the Steel Ministry was the Steel Priesthood. I made the change to Steel Ministry and obligators because I didn't want the religion and government in the Final Empire to feel so stereotypical. This was a world where the priests were more spies and bureaucrats than they were true priests–and I wanted the names to reflect that. So, I took out "Priesthood" and "priests." I really like the change–it gives things a more appropriate feel, making the reader uncertain where the line between priests and government ministers is.

By the way, my friend Nate Hatfield is the one who actually came up with the word "obligator." Thanks, Nate!

Anyway, I when I changed the priests to obligators, I realized I wanted them to have a more controlling function in the Final Empire. So, I gave them the power of witnessing, and added in the aspect of the world where only they can make things legal or factual. This idea expanded in the culture until it became part of society that a statement wasn't considered absolutely true until an obligator was called in to witness it. That's why, in this chapter, we see someone paying an obligator to witness something rather trivial.

This was one of the main chapters where obligators were added in, to show them witnessing–and keeping an eye on the nobility. Moshe wanted me to emphasize this, and I think he made a good call. It also gave me the opportunity to point out Vin's father, something I didn't manage to do until chapter forty or so in the original draft.

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Brandon Sanderson

And, Elend. He's one of my other favorite characters in the series. You'll see more of him–don't worry. I really wanted him to walk the line between being clever and just plain dense (in the way that men can sometimes be.) Some people accuse me of writing Elend too much like myself. In truth, I could see myself sitting at a party reading a book, rather than paying attention to the pretty girl trying to talk to me. Or, at least, that's the way I would have been when I was growing up.

I'll talk more about Elend later. Though, I do want to note something important. It's a law of storytelling that the girl is going to end up talking to the one boy at the party that she's not supposed to. So, don't pretend you didn’t see it coming.

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Brandon Sanderson

The pathway that Vin uses is called a Spikeway–or, at least, that's my informal title for it. I had a lot of trouble deciding how I was going to move people between Luthadel and Fellise (which, by the way, used to be named Tenes. I changed the name because of conflicts with other names in the book. And, for the life of me, I can't remember which names those were.)

Anyway, the spikeway occurred to me as an interesting application of the magic system that also solved a narrative problem in the book. I needed to get Kelsier back and forth quickly. So, I devised this. Often, this is the way things like this occur to me in writing. I'll see a need–such as Mistborn needing to travel–and fill it by applying the magic system in a logical way. This is one of the advantages of writing Hard Fantasy, where the rules of the magic are very well defined. You can actually be creative in the way you apply things.

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Brandon Sanderson

This is the first chapter where we get to see atium work. The metal is one of the most interesting aspects of the magic system, in my opinion. In fact, one of the things that made me want to start writing Mistborn was this idea of an extremely rare metal that gets used up by the world's mages. It felt natural to me, then, that this metal would do something very powerful.

Allomancy is, basically, a physical/combat oriented magic system. So, the spectacular power of atium would have to be something physical, and useful on a one-on-one basis. The ability to see slightly into the future, with the atium shadows, felt like a very interesting image to me, so I went with it.

In Mistborn Prime, the main character lacked atium–and spent most of the book trying to get ahold of it. (He actually stumbled across an atium mine hidden in a small village, which was being oppressed by a tyrant.) It is a small nod to the original book that I developed the plot of this one to be characters trying, essentially, to get ahold of some atium.

Just a lot more of it.

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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.

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Brandon Sanderson

This room in the palace is another reason why I had to make this book about much more than just stealing atium. Kelsier is half-convinced that the Lord Ruler keeps his atium stash in this room, rather than in the treasury. Either way, it wouldn't be TOO difficult for a Mistborn like Kelsier to break into a room like this–or even the treasury–and be off with the atium. (At least, that's what he thinks. Right up until he gets stopped in this chapter, anyway.)

Either way, Kelsier wouldn't feel that he needs a crew in order to break into a room and steal some metal. He does that just fine to Keep Venture earlier in the book. By making Mistborn so relatively powerful, I needed a task for Kelsier's group that went far beyond a simple heist. Only something like raising an army and overthrowing an empire would present them with a challenge.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Fourteen - Part Two

I don't spend an awful lot of time here talking about the back-story with Mare and Kelsier. I'll get to more of it later. However, you know just about all you're going to know about their failed plan. Kelsier thought there was atium in this room. They tried to sneak in. They got caught.

In a way, Kelsier is indeed reliving his last days with Mare by trying to break into the room again. He's a Mistborn now, and he wants to accomplish now what he was defeated in earlier.

This chapter is also another example of the hard edge Kelsier has. He kills his enemies without any pause at all. In my opinion, it was the Pits that did this too him. He's been thought something so horrible that death just isn't as meaningful for him as it once was.

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Brandon Sanderson

This altar room is about all you get to see of the actual religious trappings of the Final Empire. As I've said earlier, I intentionally gave the religion in this book a bureaucratic feel. I think that with a living God, the people would be less inclined to faith, prayer, or that sort of worship–and it would be more about obedience and loyalty. So, the obligators and Ministry are police more than they priests.

Yet, I did want to hint that there are some ceremonial aspects to the religion–they just aren't things that the Lord Ruler cares about the public masses taking part in. This little room, with its strange bowl of tiny knives and odd altar, was intended to evoke a kind of mystical, religious feel. Enough to hint that there's more that the readers don't know, but not enough to get boring.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Fifteen

This two-chapter cycle is one of my very favorites in the book. It's the sort of thing you can only pull off–in my opinion–after good set up. The reader has to feel an attachment to the characters so that the tension works. They also have to understand the magic so that the action is quick, not laden with explanations or confusion. And, they have to understand the context so that it feels like something is at stake.

But, when everything comes together, you get chapters that are very powerful and, hopefully, fulfilling. The scene with Vin falling in the rain, hitting the rooftop, then crawling into a puddle is one of the first and most vivid ones I had for this book. Then, the image of Sazed–the quiet, humble scholar–appearing at the lair with the dying girl in his arms. . . .

Well, I feel that these two chapters are some of the best I've ever written.

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Brandon Sanderson

Burning metals by instinct, by the way, is something I had to add to the book for scenes like this. I had to be able to have characters be able to heal quickly–in a relative sort of way–so that I could keep the pacing where I wanted it. That meant long term, quick healing, if that makes any sense. I made it possible for an Allomancer's body to use metals–particularly pewter and tin–when they needed them.

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Brandon Sanderson

Those of you who have read to the end might wonder where the Lord Ruler got his fantastic healing powers. Well, it has to do with Feruchemy. See, the ability to heal one's body is one of the things a Feruchemist can store up. And, the Lord Ruler's power–by being both Allomancer and Feruchemist–is to draw near-infinite power from his Feruchemical storages by burning them. He can be any age he wants. He can live as long as he wants. And, he can heal as quickly and much as he wants. More on this in book two.

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Brandon Sanderson

One thought—you might want to go through the book after each section ending and read ONLY the italicized epigrams at the beginnings of chapters. They tell a story in and of themselves. I will, for those of you who are epigram-challenged, dump some of the more important sections into the narrative later. However, there are some subtle things you'll miss if you don't read through all of the introductions.

The concept of these epigrams—telling a story within a story—was another of the big things that made me want to write the book. There really is a third viewpoint happening in this book—a first person viewpoint that comes in each chapter, if only very briefly. Who is writing them? Where do they come from? You'll find out soon. (Like, in just a couple of chapters.)

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Sixteen - Part One

The epigrams in this section of the book should look familiar. Not because you've read them before, but because–assuming you have any familiarity with fantasy–you've read this kind of story before. The young peasant hero who rises up to fight the dark evil. I suspect that the jacket flap, if you've read it, gives away much of this storyline. This is one of the foundational concepts for the book, however. I've read too many stories about young peasant boys who save the world. I wanted to tell one about a world where the prophesied here came, then failed!

This concept, of course, evolved. The original idea was for the Dark Lord to defeat the peasant boy. Instead, however, I found the concept of the peasant boy becoming the dark lord more interesting.

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Brandon Sanderson

The new Kelsier is something that this book needed. If he hadn't been forced to go through the guilt of nearly-losing Vin (a reminder to him of how one of his jobs lost him Mare) I don't think he would have had the solemnity and dedication to accomplish the things he does in the rest of the story.

He'll return more to his old, joking self as the next few chapters pass. However, he'll always remember what he nearly let happen to Vin, and it will become an important aspect of his character.

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Brandon Sanderson

By the way, Vin's line about "We aren't invincible" is a very important one. In part two, I spent a lot of time showing off just how amazing Mistborn can be. I felt I needed to end the section with a colossal failure–and a near death–to show that while Mistborn are powerful, they aren't by any means indestructible. Nothing's more boring than heroes who can't be defeated.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Sixteen - Part Two

Sazed's nature as a eunuch was stabilized in my mind almost from the beginning of the formation of his character. With the Lord Ruler trying so hard to breed a perfect race of Terrisman servants, I felt that it would be important for him to castrate most of the Terrismen. In addition, I've never written a eunuch character before, and really wanted to see if I could deal with one in a good way.

I read up on what castration does to a man when it's preformed before puberty. Often, apparently, the result is obesity. Another result is that the person grows taller than normal (for some reason) and their arms grow longer in proportion to their bodies than regular people. I didn't make Sazed fat–I think that had been done too much for eunuchs–but I did give him the other physical characteristic.

He continues to grow more complex as a character as the book progresses. That's one of the things I absolutely love doing–giving readers a side character that they think will only be secondary, then building his motivation and complexity until he becomes one of the most important figures in the story.

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Brandon Sanderson

The bit about Mare betraying Kelsier was one of the little tidbits I'd been reserving for quite some time. I hope that some of you managed to guess it. It only makes sense, I think, considering the emotional torment Kelsier has gone through. In order for him to be the man I want him to be, he has to have faced a TRUE betrayal–a hurtful one.

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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.

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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.

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Brandon Sanderson

I kind of wish I'd had more time to show Yeden's transformation into trusting–even liking–Kelsier. Unfortunately, I've focused the book around Vin. By now, you should be seeing that she's taking more and more viewpoints, and Kelsier is getting fewer and fewer.

That's another reason why I shifted the book from being a true heist book into what it became. I wanted the story to be about Vin, not about the various clever members of the crew. Vin is a deep and interesting character to me, and she deserved the screen time to develop. That's more important to me for the overall series than the clever heist against the Lord Ruler.

The result is that I don't have a lot of screen time for characters like Yeden. So, their character arcs have to happen quickly and abruptly–such as the way he shows his changes in this chapter.

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Brandon Sanderson

I sincerely hope that you've figured out that the logbook Sazed is translating is the source of the epigraph/bumps at the beginnings of the chapters. I found this a very interesting way to use the epigraphs–almost every one of my alpha readers spent a lot of time trying to guess who wrote them, and where they came from. That kind of anticipation makes for strong storytelling, and so I'm very pleased with the way the bumps start to come together and make more sense once the book gets found.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Seventeen - Part Two

Sazed calls Breeze by his real name–Ladrian–for the first time in this chapter, I believe. Breeze doesn't like going by this name. You'll see later that he tries to get people (or, rather, Sazed, who is the only one who uses Breeze's real name) to avoid calling him Ladrian.

The reason is simple. Ladrian is the name that Breeze went by when he was growing up. He's actually the only one on the crew who is a full-blooded nobleman. (More on this in book two.) None of the others know this, of course. He's come to the underground from the opposite direction of everyone else–down from the top. He has let some few people know that his real name is Ladrian (mostly on accident, when he was younger) and the name has stuck.

It's a common enough name in the Final Empire, but someone COULD theoretically connect him to one Lord Ladrian who disappeared from noble society some number of years back. He doesn't, of course, want anyone in the underground to know he's actually a full-blooded nobleman, otherwise he would loose credibility–and maybe even gain the anger of people like Kelsier, who hate the nobility unilaterally.

So, he pretends that he finds the name unsuitable for other reasons, and asks people to just call him Breeze. None of this, of course, gets to come out in the book. Otherwise, I wouldn't have just told it to you. I just don't have the chance to develop Breeze as I would like here. So, those of you reading this can feel vindicated in the fact that you've gotten some true insider information! Breeze will, for those of you who are his fans, get some viewpoints in the next book, which will expand his character somewhat.

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Brandon Sanderson

Flowers. It was actually hard to write a world without flowers. For instance, the scene where Kelsier fights in the conservatory–I had to struggle to not call things flowerbeds. Describing gardens without flowers was tough too.

So, how does a world get by without flowers? Why don't they exist any more? All these questions will be answered.

In book three. Sorry.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Seventeen - Part Three

This conversation between Kelsier and Vin on the balcony is one of the most foundational scenes in the book, at least in regard to how Vin's character is going to progress. As I've mentioned, I'm often accused of being overly optimistic in the way I view the world. I'm probably guilty as charged, but I figure that most optimists I know tend to be pretty darn happy. Seems like a good life.

Anyway, I really do think it would be better on a person's psyche to just go ahead and trust those that are close to you. However, you run the risk of having to deal with what happened to Kelsier. Do you stop loving someone because they betray you? No, that's what makes it hurt. That's why breakups are tough, because you can't really change your feelings. You can only try and overwhelm them with bitterness instead.

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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.

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Brandon Sanderson

The Elariel ballroom isn't a place I've ever visited. (Unlike keeps Venture and Lekal–which are both based on real places.) I just liked the concept of a ballroom with the stained glass windows on the roof. It seemed like a good image, especially if it were lit from above. The ballrooms are the only places I really get to show off noble extravagance in this book, and so I worked hard to make each of the four distinctive and visually interesting.

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Brandon Sanderson

I wasn't planning on Elend getting as big a part in this book as he ended up having. However, the more I wrote scenes with him, the more interested I became in him as a character. He doesn't exist just to provide a romantic interest for Vin–he exists to show the human side of the nobility. I knew that I needed at least one nobleman who was presented favorably, otherwise Kelsier's harshness wouldn't have the contrast it needed. So, I designed a young man that Vin could meet at the balls.

Yet, when I started writing the scenes with Elend, I found them flowing very easily. I really liked his voice and his relaxed affability. Mistborn, being about such a harsh world an society, threatened to become too dark. I needed another character like Elend to provide moments that were more lighthearted. He also gives us scenes that are interesting in a more thoughtful way, rather than a dark way. He turned out much better than I'd hoped, and is probably the biggest and most pleasant surprise of the novel.

Part of humanizing the nobility was to show Elend being interested in the skaa. I had to walk a line with him. I didn't want him to be TOO interested, or sympathetic, toward the skaa. He's a nobleman, not some crusader for the rights of the oppressed. Yet, I wanted to show through his simple interest that he wasn't cruel. I also wanted to show how little some of the noblemen know about skaa. The things Vin wonders–if the nobility even know about much of the suffering in their world–are valid. Someone like Elend, who spends most of his time at balls or being waited upon in his keep, wouldn't really understand the life of a skaa.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Eighteen - Part Two

Shan was a later addition to the book. In the original draft of the novel, I did mention her in this chapter, but we didn't see her–and Lord Liese didn't mention her. As I wrote the first draft, however, I began to realize that I needed more tension and political wrangling in the Vin ball scenes. So, I expanded Shan and made her a larger character. Then, during the first rewrite, I added her in to this scene, along with some others.

The purpose of Shan, therefore, is to show that some of the nobility ARE the way Kelsier says. The thing is, most of what we get about the nobility come from him, and he has a very skewed perspective. Our only real opportunity to interact with them is at the balls, and so I knew I needed to cram a variety of personalities into this scene, so that people could have a chance to experience the range of the nobility.

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Brandon Sanderson

Why would Elend bring a dangerous book like this one to the ball? We'll talk a little bit about that in the next chapter. However, I can offer some further insight.

The thing is, Elend goes and meets with his friends after balls, and they discuss political theory and the like. Elend is the leader of those meetings, and guides the discussions, and so he feels that he needs to be ready to present interesting ideas and arguments to keep the conversation going. That's why he's always reading at balls and taking notes–he's getting ready for the night's meeting. He's the type who is always preparing, right up to the last minute (I'm the same way.)

So, it makes sense for him to bring the books he wants to talk about with him to the ball. He's been sheltered, and doesn't really believe that he'll ever get in trouble for what he reads, and so he has a habit of being careless with his reading material. Hence, we end up with him in a room full of obligators and nobility, reading a banned book.

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Brandon Sanderson

The scene with the skaa getting killed in the courtyard was also added later in the drafting process. Moshe was worried that the Final Empire didn't seem brutal enough–especially in these middle chapters, where it was easy to forget (as Vin almost did) how dangerous the world was. The balls and the frills were supposed to be distracting. However, I realized that I needed to bring people back on-course by throwing in a scene like this, where abject brutality could be contrasted with the night's beauty.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Nineteen - Part One

This book is not a story about the history of the Final Empire or Allomancy. Those things will come in later novels. This is the story of a girl learning to overcome her trust issues, while at the same time the story of a beaten people resisting despite the odds.

However, I did want to give some clues as to the nature of this world and its mythology. The biggest clue outside of the logbook comes in the way that the mists themselves react to someone using Allomancy. They swirl around him or her. This is meant to show that the mists are not something natural. They're more than a weather pattern; they're part of the magic of this world.

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Brandon Sanderson

This was the first novel I wrote knowing for certain that it would be published. That was an odd experience for me, after having written some thirteen novels without ever knowing if I'd make it as a novelist or not.

So, in a way, this is my celebration novel. And, as part of that celebration, I wanted to include cameo nods to some of the people who helped me over the years. We get to see characters named after my friends and alpha readers, the people who encouraged me to keep trying to get published–my first fans, in a sense.

So, a lot of the names of side characters come from friends. Stace Blanches, mentioned in the last chapter, is Stacy Whitman, an editor at Wizards of the Coast. House Tekiel was named after Krista Olson, a friend and former writing group member. (Her brother Ben is my former roommate.) Ahlstrom square was named after my friend Peter Ahlstrom, who is an editor over at Tokyopop. There are over a dozen of these in the book–I can't mention them all.

I do, however, want to point out Charlie–or, as he's called in the book, Lord Entrone. I've never actually met Charlie, but he's hung out on the timewastersguide message board for the last three or four years. He was my first British reader. I figured I'd commemorate that by having his dead body get dumped over a wall by Kelsier.

Spook is actually based directly on someone I know, but I'll get to that later.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Nineteen - Part Two

This is the only chapter where we get to see directly what Kelsier is going about doing at night. You may think that a thousand manuscript pages is a lot of room to do things in a book, but you'd be surprised. With the focus on Vin's progress, I really can't spent that much time showing Kelsier running about being sneaky. In truth, I think it would get old very quickly.

Yet, one chapter–such as this one–makes for a very interesting break from what we have been doing. It gives us an idea of Kelsier's part in the job without being laborious. Actually, I find this chapter quite fun, since it gives us quite a bit of information in a very short amount of time. Having Kelsier ask about House Renoux, and getting the response, lets the reader know that the crew is safe for the moment. Yet, having Straff ask about the Survivor lets us know that Kelsier's reputation is growing, and that the crew might soon be in danger.

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Brandon Sanderson

Originally, the nobleman Kelsier met with was Lord Hasting. This was the only place he appeared in the book. I decided in a rewrite to introduce Elend's father here instead, since he's a character we’ll see much more from.

I also strengthened Straff in this scene. Before, he came off too weak as he bought the lies Kelsier told him. (Which, by the way, I've weakened. I realized that spreading too many falsehoods would be dangerous, and not really effective. Kelsier needs to whisper half-truths, rather than outright lies.)

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Twenty

I worry a little bit about this chapter. The problem is, it's probably one of the chapters that has undergone the most revisions. Not in a "Fix problems" way–more in a "I need to add scenes to the book. Where shall I put them" kind of way.

For instance, the beginning has a few paragraphs that–looking at them now–I think drag on a bit. The reiteration of Vin's relationship with Shan, for instance. I put it in because I need to indicate that time has passed, and that Vin's relationships have continued, but I worry that I spent too much time on it at the beginning of the scene. Next, I added another scene showing skaa life (the one with children shaking the trees) in order to remind the reader of how bad things are. Then, later on, I changed the book to have canal convoys rather than caravans. So, this chapter got some more revisions. Then, I added a lot to the scene with Marsh, including Vin’s discussion of her mother.

All in all, it feels like a hodge-podge chapter to me. A lot of important information is explained, but it doesn't fit together as well as I might have wanted. The rhythm of the chapter is just a little. . .off.

I'm not certain how interested people are in the real theory of Allomancy and how it works. However, I do think that some people like to hear the theory and background to magic systems like this, so I try to include the occasional explanation. For those of you who don't fit into this category, I apologize for Marsh's lengthy explanation here.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Twenty-One - Part One

You can thank my editor Moshe for the canals in this book. He's a bit of a canal buff, and when he had read through Mistborn, he excitedly explained to me how canal technology was just perfect for the level of development I had in this book. So, at his suggestion, I changed caravans into convoys, and swapped horses for longboats.

I really like the change. It gets boring seeing, reading, or writing the same old things. So, by getting rid of one standard fantasy element–highways and horses–I think we add something very distinctive to the world.

Moshe, though. Man. He knows TOO much about this stuff.

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Brandon Sanderson

Originally, I started this chapter by going right into the logbook excerpt. Then, I realized that I had logbook excerpts before and after the chapter heading–which made things confusing. So, I added in the quick sentence about what Kelsier was doing.

This is our first chance to see the text of the logbook collected in a longer form. I don't repeat all of the chapter epigraphs in-text–just some of the more essential ones. Partially, this is to make certain everyone who's been skipping the epigraphs has some of that information, and partially it's so that those of you who HAVE been reading the epigraphs can see some greater context for their order and flow.

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Brandon Sanderson

In this chapter, we get our first real information on what it was like to work in the Pits of Hathsin. It wasn't originally planned this way–I was just going to have the caves here be regular caves. The cracks in the ground, however, clicked with me, as that was what I had planned for the Pits. This made for a much more defensible position, as well as let me explore some of Kelsier's past.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Twenty-One - Part Two

Originally, you may be amused to hear, I was going to have Vin go on this trip with Yeden, with Kelsier staying behind. I even wrote about half of the "leave for the caves" scene with Kelsier telling Vin he's going to send her with Yeden.

I'm still not sure what I was thinking.

Fortunately, I came to my senses, and I quickly reworked the scene. Vin had to stay in Luthadel–she's go too much to do there. But, I did want to get a chance to look over the army, so I sent Kelsier instead. It worked out very well, as I was able to do some other things–such as have Kelsier show off for the troops.

However, I didn't want to spend TOO long out here. When Vin had been the one coming to the caves, I'd planned two or three chapters. When it became Kelsier, I knew I wanted to shrink it to one chapter. So, that's why we get the kind of weird "time passes" omniscient bit at the beginning of the second section.

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Brandon Sanderson

One final note for this chapter. Bilg. I prefer him dead. (This is the guy Demoux fought at the end of the chapter, with Kelsier's help.)

In the original draft of the book, I had Kelsier–through Demoux–kill Bilg in the duel. I thought this was appropriate, and would be the sort of thing that Kelsier would do. In addition, I really wanted to emphasize the ruthless edge that Kelsier has. He is willing to do whatever he has to in order to see that his goals are achieved. It's that conflict–the happy, joking Kelsier mixed with the hard, ruthless rebel leader–that makes him interesting to me.

Joshua was the big complainer on this one. He felt that my books are too optimistic for something THIS harsh to be done by one of the main characters. He felt that readers wouldn't go along with it–indeed, it was one of the main points that my alpha readers brought up. Some liked it, others hated it. The scene did it's job.

Eventually, I went with Joshua's suggestion, however, and left Bilg alive. To me, this kind of castrates the scene. However, I suppose the most important elements still get across, and Kelsier gets to remain less tarnished a hero.

Still, I would have liked the death to remain, if only for the future books. I'll eventually post this scene as a deleted scene from the book.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Twenty-Two - Part One

Feruchemy. Some like the word, others aren't as happy with it. It used to be called Hemalurgy, but I decided that would be a better word for the third magic system in the series. (You'll see it eventually.)

Feruchemy (not called that, however) was a magic system I lifted from Final Empire Prime, a book I wrote some years before I wrote this book. I had a person who could store up attributes, such as strength, then use them when he needed them. The thing is, the magic wasn't really that well formed, and this character never got any viewpoints, so I didn't get to use the magic as often as I wanted.

When I was developing this world, I knew I wanted the Keepers to have the fantastic memories. I realized that Feruchemy would make the perfect magic system for Sazed and his people. When I decided that I could use metals as a focus for this magic system (something that made it much more interesting, because it put a definable limit on what could be stored and how much of it could be stored) I knew I had something really good.

I like to use multiple magic systems in books, but I like it when they all have common elements. Feruchemy and Allomancy are like different aspects of the same concept. They both do some similar–yet different–things. There will be a lot more about this in the text.

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Brandon Sanderson

Spook is based very loosely on a person I knew from the timewastersguide forums. Zack–or Gemm, as his nick was–is very good at posting random gibberish which, if you look at it very closely, actually reads to be rather poetic. I wanted to do a character who spoke with a dialect that had an interesting rhythm, yet was difficult to make out.

Hence the character of Spook. Normally, I don't like dialects. Yet, something about this one was very intriguing to me. I like the way his sentences sound, even when they're completely unintelligible. I do realize, however, that some people really don't like reading what he has to say. Don't worry–he begins to speak more and more intelligibly from here on out.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Twenty-Two - Part Two

The Terris religion, and the Keeper's inability to find it, is one of the more interesting–and tragic–elements of the society. I liked this concept of a race that collected and preserved knowledge of the past for those who would come. However, I couldn't have them be experts on their own religion, since that religion hides many of the clues about the nature of what is going on in this series of books.

That necessity gave birth to the idea that they're searching for the most important of religions–their own–yet haven't been able to find it yet. They have everyone else's knowledge memorize, but that which they want the most is still lost to them.

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Brandon Sanderson

Ham's family makes no appearance in this book. I added this line in on a whim, since I figured it would add some more depth to a character who–unfortunately–I just don't have much time to develop.

I am happy, however, that I found a chance to spend some time with Dox. The scene between him and Vin is one of my favorites in the book, since it humanizes him while at the same time giving us further insight as to who he is, and why he does what he does. Dockson feels the same way about things that Kelsier does; Dox is just far more subdued in the way he goes about life.

This aspect of the world–the fact that noblemen regularly rape, then kill, peasant women–is the most discomforting to me. I don't like my books to be overly sexual in nature. However, there is a difference between having sexual books and having sex in the books, I think. This is a very corrupt and fallen society, in many ways. I think I had to include this aspect to show just how terrible it is.

In addition, I wanted this scene to be shocking because I hoped to put the reader in Vin's shoes. You all know that this sort of thing happens in noble society–in the prologue, a nobleman tries to rape a young girl, after all. But, I hope that you–like Vin–have kind of glossed over that sort of thing in your mind. Seeing people like Elend, and the pretty balls, has helped you forget about the terrible things these people do. So, when Dockson lays it out so bluntly, I hope that it is surprising.

Some alpha readers thought that it was unrealistic that Vin would delude herself to this extent. She's know about the whorehouses, after all. However, I think that this is the kind of thing that people naturally try and gloss over. It is natural for Vin to not want to think about these sorts of things until she is confronted by them so expressly.

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Brandon Sanderson

I like the obligator scene in this chapter, as it gives Vin a chance to realize just what the whole obligator system is about. Regular priests watch over the spiritual well-being of their people. The Lord Ruler doesn't really care about that. So, his priests watch over the economics of his empire. Seems like something a living god would do.

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Brandon Sanderson

Shan's scene here is just another placeholder, I'm afraid. She just showed up to remind you that she's still around, making Vin's life more difficult.

Since I wanted to use her later as an antagonist, I had to make certain you didn't forget who she was. It was important to me that I have another Mistborn in the book that Vin could fight, if only to show off a little of what Vin is capable of. And, of course, I like the fact that I can pull a nice reversal of expectation with Shan.
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Brandon Sanderson

I really like the scene between Vin and Elend here. I think I wrote this one in the car, actually, while I was driving back from a vacation we went on in Palm Springs about two years back. My roommate—Micah DeMoux, the namesake for Captain Demoux—did all the driving on that trip so I could get some writing done. What a great guy. He deserves a character named after him.

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Brandon Sanderson

One interesting aspect of the book that I haven't mentioned yet comes with the metal of tin. Originally, tin wasn't one of the Allomantic metals—I used silver instead. You see, I originally paired silver and pewter together, thinking that pewter had a significant amount of silver in it. Well, turns out that isn't the case. (Remember, each set of paired metals is a metal and an alloy made from it.)

My false impression on the belief that pewter is a silver/lead alloy goes back to my childhood. I remember when I used to paint lead fantasy figures that I bought at the local hobby store. One of the employees told me that they would be going up in price because the manufacturers wanted the figures to be safer. They were going to cast them out of pewter instead of lead, because pewter is much less toxic. I asked what the difference between pewter and lead was, and the employee told me that pewter is lead PLUS silver, and that's why the figures cost more.

He meant tin, I guess. Either way, that's stayed with me for quite a long time. I soundly resisted changing silver to tin during the first drafts of the book, even when I found out the truth. The problem is, I really liked the name "Silvereye" for those who burn silver/tin. It sounds far slicker than "Tineye."

I eventually came around, however. Consistency in the magic system is more important than a single cool-sounding name. I blame Hobby Town in Lincoln Nebraska for my pains.

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Brandon Sanderson

If you hate Spook's dialect, I apologize for this chapter. This is the place in the book where I spent the most time on it. I really like some of the phrases here–I tried to make the dialect focus on rhythm and sounds, making it alliterative and interesting simply to say out-loud. In case you need it, here's a loose translation of the exchange in this chapter:

Spook: "It;s not nice to play with people like that."Kelsier: "Oh, don;t worry about what he does to you. He;s not worth your concern."Spook: "You're probably right."Breeze: "What are you two babbling about?"Spook: "He wants to be clever. He pushes people around because he wants to prove that he is clever."Kelsier: "He's always been like that."Ham: "He's insecure. I think he worries that he's really not that clever."

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Brandon Sanderson

Things are going to start picking up in the novel from here out. We haven't hit the infamous "Brandon avalanche" yet, but the pacing will increase from here to the end. So, I wanted to have this more light-hearted, relaxing scene as kind of a calm before the storm.

Also, I like to laugh. Mistborn, as a series, hasn't given me as much opportunity to have friendly banter as some of my earlier books. It's more dark, and more intense. However, I did want to fit in what I could. That makes this one of my favorite scenes in the book.

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Brandon Sanderson

I hope you feel a little bit of Vin and Ham's same hesitance regarding Kelsier's growing reputation, not to mention the mysticism with the Eleventh Metal. The thing is, Kell really hasn't bothered to explain himself to them, and they can sense that he's got other things going on beyond what he's told them.

The Eleventh Metal is supposed to be very suspicious. We'll have a scene where Vin confronts Kelsier about it soon. Also, we'll get to what the tenth metal does. I promise. (Sorry that takes so long.)

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Brandon Sanderson

After that, the scene with Ham and Vin discussing pewter is nice, but not one of my favorite of the Allomantic explanation scenes. The thing is, I had to stretch to find things that Ham could tell Vin about this one. She's really good with the physical metals–she uses them instinctively, and may even understand them better than Ham does.

I do like how Ham comes across in this scene. His personality, as the one who doesn't fake or play games in the crew, makes him really work for me as a character.

Then, of course, everything goes wrong. It always does, doesn't it?

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Twenty-Five - Part One

I hope that pewter dragging doesn't seem like something I just pulled out of my hat. I hate it when authors just suddenly come up with new elements of their magic systems. (See my recent article on how to write magic systems for more.) Instead, I find it better when the characters find new ways to apply what they can already do.

This seems to be a natural outgrowth of pewter to me. Plus, I did need a way to get Kelsier and Vin to the battlefield with some manner of speed. In these books, I've found getting people where they need to be at the right time to be one of the most challenging aspects of the series. In book three, I have one character crossing half the continent, then having to run back the other way, just so he can get where he needs to be for the end of the book.

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Brandon Sanderson

Killing off the army like this was planned from the beginning. I knew I needed some kind of big wrench in the plans of the crew, and figured this would make a pretty good one. Plus, it felt natural, since it was a problem with Kelsier's own growing reputation. The very thing he's been working so hard to foster eventually turned against him.

When alpha readers read this chapter, they didn't see the loss of the army as much of a setback. That was one of the first things that made me realize the big flaw in the early drafts. I'd talked a lot in the crew about stealing the atium, but I'd spent all the time with them actually doing things on recruiting the army. So, the readers were still focused on the job being the atium heist, rather than the capture of the city. In that context, losing the army isn't all that bad.

So, I like how the rewrite focuses much more on the army. It makes the events of this chapter all the more poignant. Yeden, the one that was employing the crew, is dead. That should mean the end of everything.

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Brandon Sanderson

As Vin herself points out, this is the second time she has forced Kelsier to take her with him when he was planning on going alone. This time, however, is different–or, at least, I wanted to be metaphorically different.

If Vin hadn't been along, Kelsier would have charged the army. He'd probably have died, and that really WOULD have been the end. He's got an impulsive streak. Vin, however, learned from her near-death at the palace. Mistborn are not invincible–something that's harder for Kelsier, even still, to grasp.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Twenty-Five - Part Two

I hope the timeframe of the various armies, with Vin and Kelsier running the distances, work all right. This is one of the toughest parts about writing fantasy for me, as I mentioned last time. I don't have a really good concept of distance, and getting things moving at the right speeds on a national level, so they intersect at the right places. . . yeah. Tough.

I had to, for instance, decide how quickly a person pewter dragging could run, and how that compared to someone marching in an army, and how that compared to someone taking a canal boat. If you can do that math and get back to me, well, it's too late. I already put it in the book. So, I hope I did it right.

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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. . ..

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Brandon Sanderson

From my journal, written the day I finished this chapter (I sometimes keep a chapter journal for purposes of doing annotations later on.)

MBFE Twenty-Six: pewter draggingFinished 5-11-04

The first half of this chapter came quickly, especially after I switched it to Vin's viewpoint. She's come to dominate the story far more than Kelsier, which is good–that's what I'd hoped would happen. Now, it's much easier to write in her viewpoint than Kelsier's, since she has more internal struggles and, I think, more depth.

Things got tough once I got back to the caves. I knew I wanted Kelsier to have a kind of soul-searching period of thought, followed by the return of Mennis. The problem is, I wasn't exactly sure how much I wanted him to self-doubt. He isn't really the type to second-guess himself, so I didn't want him to brood for too long. Also, I didn't want his discussion of Mennis to go into the things I need to discuss in the next chapter–namely, the reasons the plan hasn't failed just because the army is dead.

The second half didn't start to work until I made Mennis more of a conversation-antagonist, having him advise that Kelsier just give up. This was kind of his function in chapter one as well, so I'm not certain why I didn't figure out his place in this chapter more quickly. In a rewrite, I think I'll strengthen this idea little more. It's good to pile on the "you can't succeed" sections of the book, so that when the rebellion finally does happen, it's all the more sweet because of the overwhelming sense of the odds.

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Brandon Sanderson

Part Three Wrap-up

As I promised, things pick up a lot in the next section. Still, despite its slowness, I like Part Three, as it's the section of the book that feels the most free for natural character growth. There's a free-spiritedness to this section of the book, where Vin is working with the crew and learning her place in things. She is forced to not use Allomancy for a while, which in turn forces her to spend more time with people. This lets us begin to establish Elend as a character.

Now, with the army's death and the things that will happen in the next few chapters, the book can't really be the same. Things are coming to a head, and the city is growing very tense.

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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.

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Brandon Sanderson

Another focal chapter. I like how this one turned out. The fountains were a last-minute addition. Originally, I'd planned executions, but I wasn't sure how to do it. I knew I needed something dramatic and memorable, but I didn't want to be so cheesy as to do something like a guillotine. Since I'd already established that there were fountains in the city, I think this way created a distinctive image.

One worry in this chapter is the population. There are a lot of people in Luthadel, and packing them all into one square is kind of a stretch. I hope that it would be believable that they would gather this many people together, and I changed the executions from single-people to four-at-once in order to make it seem like the Priesthood was taking the large population into account.

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Brandon Sanderson

In this chapter, Breeze finally gets to confront Kelsier with the emotions that–I hope–a lot of the book's readers have been feeling. It needed to be said.

I planned these two scenes together for a reason. I realize that the executions get a little bit graphic, and but the power of having Kelsier confront his crew in front of such a terrible scene of death and destruction was important to me.

Breeze's outburst isn't the only thing in this chapter that needed to be said. It was finally time for Kelsier to admit some truths to his crew–of course, they had grown to the point that they could accept them. Here is where the book takes course toward being more focused and more intentional. It isn't about a heist, it's about overthrowing an empire.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Twenty-Seven

I like this scene for its return to task. The team is refocused, and re-energized, working toward their goal with renewed devotion. And lots of other "re" words.

Anyway, there's a good feel to this scene, and I think a lot is accomplished quickly. I also like how Vin finally confronts Kelsier about the Eleventh Metal. Right here, I guess the reader has to decide whether or not Kelsier is lying. Either he really did find legends about the Eleventh Metal, and he believes in it, or he didn’t.

The answer is, by the way, yes. He did find those legends–legends that Sazed hasn't heard of. Legends nobody else has heard of. That is suspicious, true, but Kelsier himself believed them. More on where he got them comes later in the series.
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Brandon Sanderson

The ninth metal. It was difficult to decide what this one would do. I wanted something opposite, yet complimentary, to the power of atium. So, I decided that it would give a kind of skewed perspective of the past, kind of like atium gives a limited view of the future. Obviously, this will come back into the plot later.

I do worry that it took too long to get to this scene. You've probably been wondering for quite a long time what the ninth metal did–and that concerns me, because if you wonder it, you'll also wonder why Vin herself didn't get around to figuring out what it was.

The problem is, this really is the first place I could work it in. Allomancy is a very complicated magic system, and I wanted plenty of time for you to get used to it before I delved into its more odd aspects.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Twenty-Eight - Part One

I added the white dress–and the paragraphs here–because several women I know complained that they never got to see what Vin was wearing in this chapter. Honestly, women are so strange. A fight for life and death could be occurring, and all they would want to know is whether or not the blood spurting out of the dying men complimented their clothing or not. 

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Brandon Sanderson

I think Vin makes a very important realization in this chapter–that the nobility are a lot like the thieving crews. The more connections like this she makes, the more natural it is going to be for her to go among the nobility. You might have noticed that she doesn't really focus on her act any more. That doesn't mean that it's gone–however, it does mean that she's getting better.

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Brandon Sanderson

The Venture-atium connection is something I wish I could have foreshadowed a little bit better. However, without Elend being a viewpoint until this chapter (the reasons for which I'll explain in a bit) there really wasn't much I could do to connect Venture and the Pits.

By the way, the "something a few years ago" that Elend mentions happening to disturb the atium production was Kelsier, the Survivor of Hathsin, Snapping and coming to an awakening of his powers–then bursting out of his hut and slaughtering every soldier or nobleman within ten miles of the Pits.

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Brandon Sanderson

So, as I said, I felt that I needed to wait to make Elend a viewpoint character. There are several reasons for this. The primary one is that this book is really about Vin. Kelsier has some time, but really everything in this book is focused around its effect on Vin.

Elend couldn't come in as a viewpoint character earlier because I think he would have been distracting. I like him a lot as a character. However, by leaving his viewpoints out, I allow readers to wonder whether or not he's playing Vin. My writing groups responded quite well to Elend, having constant discussions about whether or not his motivations were pure. They could do this because they didn't know his mind, and I think that by letting them do this, they could grow more attached to Vin. After all, whether or not Elend's viewpoints were pure only mattered in relation to her.

But, finally, I decided to ease that tension and let the readers know that he really was the person they thought. This should come as a relief, which relief will quickly be destroyed by the worry I create in this chapter. (In short, I couldn't bring Elend in as a viewpoint until doing so twisted the plot more, rather than simply untwisting it.)

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Twenty-Nine

This is probably my favorite section from the logbook. It really comes together here, weaving in elements from the various epigraphs, making a story out of what the reader has previously only seen in pieces.

I hope this story-within-a-story is interesting to you. It really does have a purpose in the novel, as you'll eventually see. At the very least, I should hope that the concept intrigues you. The past story is, after all, the standard fantasy novel story–the young peasant hero who follows the prophesies to rise up and defeat the dark lord. Except, as you can guess, something went wrong.

Though I try to avoid writing the standard fantasy story, it intrigues me. That's why I wanted to have these epigraphs make reference to the concept. They let me play with what has come before me, without actually forcing my readers to spend all their time reading "my" interpretation of the same old story. (It seems that every fantasy author has their own spin on this story–yet none of them realize that as a reader, I don't really want to read a new spin on an old story. I want to read a new story.)

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Vin's "Everything is going to change" discussion strikes me as one of the most sincere, and honest things discussed in the book. I like this chapter for the way that it exposes the main characters. I know I've felt like Vin sometimes, and I know lots of people who fear change because of that phantom feeling that the future can't possibly be as good as the present.

It's no coincidence that I spend a lot of time on Sazed's religions in this chapter. I liked the interplay of the religions of the past with the pensiveness for the future both Vin and Kelsier are feeling.

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Brandon Sanderson

There are two major foreshadowing elements in this chapter as well. The first is what Vin does with Sazed's bit of metal. She can't reach the power because she didn't store it. The implication is that if she WERE able to store attributes as a Feruchemist, then burn those metals, she could tap this extra power. Also, Kelsier's discussion about the Valla religion is supposed to just make him look apprehensive. What he's really doing, however, is reconfirming that the death of a leader will make a people stronger, not weaker, in resolve.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirty - Part One

Keep Venture is actually based on real cathedrals. Actually, visiting a few cathedrals was what that sparked the entire structural theme for the buildings in this book. The main inspiration for Keep Venture was the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. I loved the way it incorporated the huge windows at the sides, inset with pillars, with interesting balconies above for viewing. I took that concept and changed it around a bit, turning the worship hall into a ballroom.

After that, the other keeps were easy. Keep Lekal came from the Luxor in Vegas. Hasting and Elariel I came up with on my own–one because I wanted a tower keep, and the other because I imagined a room with stained glass windows in the ceiling.

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Brandon Sanderson

It was extremely important that Elend reject Vin in this chapter. I worry that I got a little bit into convenient motivations in this chapter–I always hate it when men and women have relationship problems in book simply because it's the place in the story for things to go wrong. Weak conflict–something a friend of mine calls "Deus Ex Wrench" is a problem with most romantic comedies.

Better to have realistic, rather than feigned, tension. I hope that I was able to manage that in this chapter. Elend is being almost completely honest with his emotions here–he has just discovered that Vin was lying to him all along. Rather than feeling bitter, however, he feels like a fool. He's realized that the game was playing him all along, and he's disappointed to find that Vin is part of it. That, in turn, persuades him that he should just give in and do his duty to his house.

And so, he turns her away. The vital part of this all, of course, is that it gives Vin the chance to love him–and protect him–even though he's rejected her. This is perhaps the most important step for Vin in the entire book. She's learning the things that Kelsier talked about, the truth that she needed. With this in hand, she can trust people, even knowing that they might betray her.

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Brandon Sanderson

Now, if Sazed's leaving her alone didn't hint at you that something was coming. . .well, you need to go back to foreshadowing school.

The image of Vin bursting out of the building as the rose window churned the mists, falling beneath her, was one of the first fight scene images I got for this book. When I came up with it, I knew that I absolutely had to find a way to have a fight at Keep Venture.

Originally, I was going to have Vin use her Allomancy more obviously in front of the crowds. Having her do it the way it ended up happening in the book was simply a matter of convenience–the plotting of the chapter had her end up in the back corridors rather than in front of any crowds.

Either way, this turned out to be a very powerful chapter, one in which I'm extremely pleased.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirty - Part Two

Here's my original journal entry for this chapter, written right after I finished the chapter itself:

Chapter Thirty: Vin saves Elend at the party.

Finished 5-19-04

It's wonderful when a chapter turns out just the way you envisioned it.

I worked on this chapter for a long time–from the beginning of the planning process, I imagined this as one of the major action sequences in the book. I began with the image of Vin shooting up through the air as the rose window twisted and fell beneath her in the mists, then I expanded that to her protecting Elend, giving Vin a real scene of heroism. Originally, I wasn't intending her to fight the Allomancers, just to lead them away, but I decided that I needed a pure Mistborn-on-Mistborn fight in the book. Every other Allomantic battle involves Inquisitors.

The scenes in this chapter are some of my favorite so far. Though, oddly, it took me a long time to get into them–I hedged over what the first part of the chapter should entail. Eventually, I decided that this would be a perfect place to give Vin some abandonment issues. This is a hold-over from the original Vin from the first Final Empire [Prime] write–the fear of abandonment was a large part of that Vin’s personality. It worked well in this setting, and I think I'll emphasize it just a bit more in the rewrite. The next chapter really plays off of this idea.

It feels a little bit weird to be writing about a young girl running around killing people in her skivvies, but I don't really see any reasonable way for her to fight in one of those bulky ball gowns I'm using in this book. So, underwear it is!

Kliss and Shan have both come to have much larger parts in the book than I'd intended. Kliss was intended to be a throw-away character used in one chapter, but now she's become an informant and a conspirator. In a rewrite, I think I'll have to introduce her sooner and try and give her a more distinctive personality. As for Shan. . .well, I only added her a couple of chapters ago. Obviously, she'll need more time in the rewrite as well. Vin's battle will be much better if I can have her fight a named character that's been an antagonist in a few chapters. The Vin ball scenes have become a larger part of the book than I had thought, and adding Kliss and Shan as recurring characters will help flesh out that plot-line, I think.

Like how I ditch Sazed in this chapter so that I can have Vin's "grand" entrance in the next chapter? Pretty smooth, eh? I was worried about how I was going to deal with him. . . . As for the actual fight and the scenes, I think everything flowed quite well. We'll see what readers think!

(Note, when I wrote this, Elantris wasn’t even out yet–it was still over a year away from publication–so I really had no idea if people would be responding well to my writing or not.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirty-One

This is another of my favorite chapters. (How many of those am I allowed to have, by the way?)

Anyway, it was about time for someone to say the things that Vin did in this chapter. Kelsier and his group really ARE a bit disconnected from regular skaa. In a way, they're like Elend and his little band of philosophers–they feel bad for those beneath them, and talk about helping, but it's really hard for them to really understand the skaa.

I love Vin's entrance. Perhaps I have a flare for melodrama, but I think it worked very well here to have her burst in, bloodied, carrying her dress. (Which, of course, she went back and fetched so that it wouldn't give her away.)

I did change the last line of this scene. Up until the copy edit, the last line from Kelsier's viewpoint (before we switch to Vin atop the roof) was him thinking "Well, she certainly has changed!"

This seemed like too much of a quip, and it undermined the tension and emotions of the last chapter. Sometimes, a good one-liner is good to release tension. However, in this case, I found that it really did feel out of place. This just wasn't the time for some half-snarky comment from Kelsier.

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Brandon Sanderson

Another big step for Vin is admitting that she loved Reen. She's finally letting herself feel, and admit, the things that she's been repressing all this time. It's good for her to get them out, even if they hurt.

Of course, we also get to see Vin's abandonment complex. It's something that I haven't enforced too much in the book, but it was always there. Often, I think a sense of forced independence and solitude–like the one attitude Vin displayed in the early parts of the book–comes from believing that everyone will leave you eventually.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirty-Two

You know you're getting to the end of the book when I start to tie up the small plot arcs, leaving room for the big ones to climax. In this chapter, we have two nice little resolutions. First, the Spook/Vin relationship arc. This one wasn't extremely important, but I think it added a nice human touch to Spook, which is useful since he will get more screen time in later books.

Secondly, we get the final "train with a Misting" scene for Vin. Again, this is a small arc, but it was nice to get it finished, for the sake of cohesion. She's now gotten tips on all of the basic metals except copper, which is the simple on/off metal.

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Brandon Sanderson

This is the most overt and obvious of my savior-imagery scenes for Kelsier. I hope you didn't feel like I was hitting you over the head with it. (I didn't actually realize the similarity between Survivor and Savior until I was part of the way through the book.) Either way, yes, the Christian imagery is intentional. I didn't put it in simply because I'm religious (after all, if you look at it, Kelsier isn't really all that Christian in the way he deals with people.) I put it in because I think that the images and metaphors of Christianity are deeply-seated in our culture, and drawing upon them provides for a more powerful story.

Part of this is to intentionally make people uncomfortable–for discomfort (when used right) leads to tension. The Christians who read this might be made uncomfortable by how strikingly un-divine Kelsier is. He's acting in some of the same roles as Christ did, but he's not the man that Christ was. He's kind of a pale imitation. The non-Christians, in turn, might be made uncomfortable by the fact that Kelsier is manipulating the people in the way that religions often do, giving hope in something that could very well prove to be false.

Either way, he is what he is. The truest Kelsier is the one we see near the end, where he's standing in the kitchen, smoldering in his black clothing. He is a dangerous man with powerful beliefs.

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Brandon Sanderson

This is also the chapter where we get the climax of the Pits/atium plot. We finally get to see them first-hand, and see Kelsier go to them and exact his revenge upon them. I worry that I should have foreshadowed this more, pointing out that Kelsier knew of a way to destroy the atium crystals. The problem is, I've left the Pits intentionally mysterious.

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Brandon Sanderson

In this scene, the crew pretty much thinks it's over. I thought this was an important scene to have because it represents a different sort of feeling. Before, after the army was gone and the men were ready to give up, they were truly "giving up." Now, they can see what they've accomplished, and feel good about it. It's less a giving up, and more a realization that they've done what they could. (At least, so they think.)

There's a distinction there, and I think it was important to have both in the book. This scene is kind of metaphorically showing that the crew wasn't convinced all along that they could destroy the Lord Ruler and the Final Empire. It was too much. Instead, they always planned to do what they could, then pull out. I wouldn't blame them, if I were you. They've been through a lot, and done a lot. They're just more realistic than Kelsier.

Plus, they don't know that an eighth of the book is still to come.

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Brandon Sanderson

Simply destroying the pits probably wouldn't destabilize the economy to the point that some of those here assume. The thing is, atium isn't the foundation of monetary value in the Final Empire–not like gold was in America for a time. It's simply a prime source of income and power for the Lord Ruler. Losing it will be a blow, but not enough to completely overthrow the empire. After all, the Lord Ruler still has his atium cache–and so, as the metal becomes more rare and valuable, he'd become more wealthy through atium inflation.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirty-Three - Part Two

To be honest, I'm not sure if Vin's right–if Kelsier should have stayed back from the trying to save the people–or not. It's certainly the more heroic thing to try and save them. This scene is to show that Vin still has a little bit of her Reen-crafted selfishness (or, maybe self-preservation-ness) left in her. Kelsier is ready to risk everything for his friends. You can debate whether this impulse is foolish, but I think it's noble.

Vin's sin here isn't deciding that going after them would be too dangerous. It's how quickly she jumps to this decision, and how powerless she decides that she is. She's not a coward, nor is she ungrateful. She's just lived on the street too long. In a situation like this, her first instinct is not to fight, but to flee. (Just like it was when the army got attacked by the garrison a few chapters back.)

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Brandon Sanderson

By the way, the reason the Lord Ruler's army attacked Renoux was not because they broke Marsh. It's because the Inquisitors–still tracking Vin–finally managed to trail her to House Renoux, and therefore to Valette Renoux. They hit the convoy, fully expecting her to be on it. When she wasn't, they devised their trap, knowing that Kelsier would come for his friends. They never even suspected that the team had managed to get a mole into the Ministry ranks.

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Brandon Sanderson

We're gearing up for some pretty spectacular fight scenes, if I do say so myself. The short one in this chapter is a good one. However, there's much more to come.

I'd been waiting to pit Kelsier against an Inquisitor since the early chapters, where he led that one on a chase. Part of the reason I didn't show that chase is because I wanted the reader to anticipate this moment themselves. I also didn't show Kelsier fighting the Inquisitors in the palace the night that Vin was wounded. In short, I wanted to save the scene of a fight between them until Kelsier could really give it his all, actually fighting.

It took a lot to get him into a direct fight. However, push Kelsier far enough, and he'll snap. When he does. . .well, you'll have to read on.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirty-Four - Part One

I realize that some people don't like fight scenes. My hope is that these scenes in the Mistborn books aren't simply fights. They're expressions of the magic system. If you have invested the effort into learning how Pushing and Pulling metals works, you should be able to get some pretty vibrant visuals out of this fight between Kelsier and the Inquisitor.

Either way, this chapter has my favorite beginning lines (not counting the bumps) of any of them. It's a good, old-fashioned showdown between good and evil! Or, at least, between Kelsier and evil!

Honestly, though, this fight played a good hundred times in my head when I was preparing, then writing, the book. I hope it worked for you. I know it isn't all that long, but coming up with interesting fights that don't feel repetitive, and instead incorporate the setting elements and the majesty of Allomancy is something of a challenge. I really liked how this one turned out.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirty-Four - Part Two

Kelsier saving Elend in this chapter was indeed something of a homage to Les Miserables. It is one of my favorite classics, and Elend's own character—with his group of idealistic noble friends—was partially inspired by Marius and his cohorts. I wasn't originally going to have Elend in this scene, but I decided to throw him in and give Kelsier the opportunity to save him, partially as an inside reference to the story that inspired him, and partially to let Kelsier do something truly selfless as a final send-off before he died.

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Brandon Sanderson

I put the Lord Ruler in black and white—rather than just black, as I'd originally planned—to give metaphoric reference to his belief that he is God. He's both black and white—he encompasses all, and controls all. Of course, he's faking. In the mythology of this world, there are two forces—Ruin and Preservation—and he really only touched one of the two powers. But, then, we'll have more on that in later books.

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Brandon Sanderson

You know, I always talk about how I like happy endings. And yet, everyone always complains that I'm too brutal in places. Here is a good example.

Kelsier dies. Yes, he's really dead. Yet, his death isn't truly that sad to me. He accomplished a lot, and died facing down the Lord Ruler himself. It's not a sad death.

Honestly, you should have seen it coming. I worried about doing this, actually, since it seemed a little too expected. The mentor figure always ends up getting killed. I nearly didn't do it simply for that reason. However, I eventually decided that a good story is more important, sometimes, than avoiding the expected. Once in a while, you just have to do what feels right, even if that feeling leads you into areas that others have tread. Hopefully, I take it in my own direction. (See the next chapter.)

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Brandon Sanderson

Part Four Wrap-up

Oo. I can't wait to see what happens next!

Actually, the section breaks mean a lot to me in this book. They divide the novel in my mind, as opposed to Elantris, which was divided by viewpoint and not by section of the book.

Often, when I write novels, I plan sections around climactic scenes which leave the characters changed. That's why this story broke in such places as when Vin nearly got killed, or when Kelsier really did get killed. In this book, they sometimes mark the passage of time as well—that happened with the first couple.

It's kind of an odd thing that I do, but often in my books I will have a "section" that is simply the climax. That's the way it is with this book; part four was the lead up to the climax. Part five is, essentially, one big long climax. The Brandon Avalanche, so to speak.

So, why is it like this? Why have a short "section" at the end that is the climax, rather than just having part four continue on to the end? It has to do with how I write books.

A novel has to be divided into chunks for me to work on it. I divide it in my brain by section, then plot those section separately. Often times, the climax—on my plot outline—is it's own section. That's because the division in my head requires the section before it to be set up. Then, the set up is finished, and I can move on to the pay off.

And so, that’s what you get now. The pay off. Hope you enjoy it.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirty-Five - Part One

If you couldn't tell, this is one of the climactic scenes I was writing toward.

I'll admit, I didn't have this exact twist down when I started the book. As I worked through the novel, I quickly began to realize that Kelsier had to have some master plan–something greater than he was letting on. That's just the way his personality is. Plus, I needed something that lent more weight to the book. Made it more than just the simple heist story that I'd originally conceived. (After all, a heist story could be told in far less than 200,000 words.)

Kelsier's real plan wasn’t firm for me until I wrote the scenes with him in the caves, influencing the soldiers. By then, of course, over half the book was written. So, I had to begin building Kelsier's true plan from there–and then do a rewrite to put it in from the beginning.

I had known from the beginning that Kelsier was going to die, and that he was going to gain such renown with the skaa (before his death) that the crew began to worry that he would turn into another Lord Ruler. Putting these two things together so that his growing reputation was part of his plan all along was the realization I needed to connect. Then, I could have the bang I wanted in the ending chapters, when the crew realized what Kelsier had been planning all along.

As surprises go, I think this is one of my better–but definitely not one of my best. It required keeping too much back from the reader when in Kelsier's viewpoint, and it required to much explanation after-the-fact to make it work. There's a much better surprise later on. Still, I'm pleased with the bang on this one–especially since I got to have such a beautiful scene with the crew standing atop the building, the mists coming alight around them, as if representing their own growing understanding of the job they'd always been part of.

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Brandon Sanderson

Backing up a bit, Vin's remembered conversation here is a real one. She had it with Kelsier during the scenes when she was first training with him. He promised that he'd catch her if she fell off the wall, not using Allomancy correctly. It might seem like a little scene to you, but to Vin, it was very important. It was one of the first candid conversations she had just between her and Kelsier, and it was one of the foundational turning-points in her life. (She decided that night to stay with Kelsier's crew instead of running away with the three thousand boxings he gave her.)

That's why it's important enough for her to remember here. Her entire foundation for the last year's time–Kelsier–has just been pulled away from her. Her abandonment issues are growing more and more powerful. Fortunately, something distracts her before she can sink more deeply.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirty-Five - Part Two

I was forced to cut one of my favorite lines from the book, and it was in this chapter. I'll write it now. Near the beginning, the narrative says regarding Vin:

"She was, as if, nowhere."

Moshe convinced me that this sentence just didn't make enough sense. Yet, to me, it somehow expressed how Vin felt. She had been cut free by Kelsier's death. Yet, she was still there. She wished she could just meld with the mists–she felt as if her soul were already cast away. Yet, she couldn't vanish, as she wished.

Ah, cursed grammar, ruining a perfectly good sentence!

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Brandon Sanderson

Sazed gets a little preachy about belief in this chapter. He is actually expressing my own thoughts on the matter. A belief that is never tested isn't really that strong. Yet, I have other reasons to put this conversation in. Sazed himself is going to be tested a bit in future books–and I needed him to say these things here so that he could, later on, have to "put his money where his mouth is."

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Brandon Sanderson

Kelsier gets to have some last words in this chapter. He earned them, I think. I'm sorry to keep the truth of kandra from you so long, as I've said before. However, I needed to leave the explanation off so that the reader could experience the revelation with Vin here. Even if you'd already figured out what Renoux was, then I think this scene is more powerful by having the revelations happen like they did.

Anyway, Kelsier is among my personal favorite characters, if only for his depth. He is a complicated, multi-faceted man who managed to scam not only the entire empire, but his own crew at the same time. I felt I had to give him some last words, if only through a letter, so that the reader could bid him a proper farewell. In addition, I wanted him to pass that flower on to Vin–symbolically charging her with Mare's dream, now that Kelsier himself is dead.

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Brandon Sanderson

Hum, let's see. Anything I'm forgetting? I do mention boxings in this chapter. You might be interested to know (now that you've read pretty much the whole book) where I got the word. In my mind, boxings (the coins) are actually called "Imperials" on the official coffers. However, that was too boring a word.

So, the people call them boxings because they have a picture of Kredik Shaw on the back. The Lord Ruler's home–or, his box. Boxings.

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Brandon Sanderson

I hope you noticed the difference between the way Kelsier got into the room and the way Vin did it. She walked up to the guards at the front and talked them away, rather than killing them. She just strolled through the guard chamber–the place where she killed her first time–instead of attacking. Why attack? She's powerful enough that she can just slip through and escape.

For Kelsier, the killing was always part of the victory. Vin's more goal-oriented, perhaps. In addition, she doesn't like to kill. So, her way is to just slip by the men. Then, in the room, she doesn't get close to the Inquisitors–she takes them down with tricks. On the streets, she would have had to use very little to gain much. She needed to be extremely clever with the small advantages she had. She used Allomancy in small ways to great advantage. Now that she's more powerful, I think her cleverness and resourcefulness will lead her to be far more amazing an Allomancer than Kelsier was.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirty-Six - Part Two

If I had a chance to rewrite the book again, one of the things I'd change is the scene where Vin gets caught here. If you want to imagine it this way instead, pretend that she dropped both Inquisitors completely, and therefore thought she was safe to inspect the room beyond. The Inquisitors can actually heal far more quickly than I've had them do in this book.

My problem with this scene is how easily Vin lets herself be cornered and captured. I think that breaking into the room is exactly the sort of thing she'd do. However, I just don't think the writing works here (around the section where she gets surprised and grabbed by the Inquisitor.) She's more careful than that. The way it's written makes it seem like she gets grabbed simply because that's what needed to happen. There isn't enough drama, or enough realization, to the scene.

I do like what happens afterword, however–Vin using the Eleventh Metal. In this book we get our first hints regarding just how much Allomancy has been hidden and obfuscated by the Lord Ruler. Vin realizes that the Eleventh Metal must be part of the structure of Allomantic theory, as is the metal that she's given that makes her lose all of her other metals. (It's aluminum, by the way.)

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We get a quick Elend Scene here. This is the best I could do for a climax for him, since he really doesn't have much of a part in the book. (I think he only gets three viewpoints or so.) Considering the limited time, I think this is a fairly good character climax for him. He gets to stand up to his father and try to put some of his beliefs into action. One of my favorite lines is when he's sitting and thinking about the realities of a skaa rebellion, only to realize that he's on the wrong side.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirty-Six - Part Three

The Lord Ruler's throne room is one final look at the gothic cathedral motif that has been a part of this book. I took the stained-glass concept to the extreme, expanding it to make a room that was really nothing more than one giant stained glass window. So, to me, it’s a fusion of the gothic motifs and a kind of new-wave artistic rendering. I found that appropriate for the final of the "ball rooms" that I get to show in this book.

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Brandon Sanderson

The obligator vs Inquisitor political maneuvering here is supposed to feel like only a sliver of a much larger political system. You can, hopefully, imagine the various Cantons struggling for dominance over the centuries. This right here is a nice little culmination of that, with Vin forming the apex of the Inquisitor argument.

I really like this scene because it shows that other things are going on besides Kelsier's plan and the crew's plot. It's very amusing to me that this entire other book happened at the same time–the Inquisitors researching, looking for weaknesses in the other obligator power structure, then hunting down Vin so that they can use her to prove their point. All of the things that have happened with Vin being hunted–their chasing of her and her brother for over a decade, their slaughter of Camon and Theron's thieving crews, the bait for Kelsier at the crossroads–all of this was done simply so that they could find Vin and use her to take control of the Ministry. It's ironic, really, that the two plots would intersect, and that Vin would find herself at the center of both of them.

Tevidian's death here was one of the reasons why I started the book with a discussion between a Lord and an obligator, explaining what happens to skaa women after noblemen rape them. There's a nice symmetry to the book in my mind–a cohesion bookended by an explanation in the first chapter, then a payoff near the end.

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Brandon Sanderson

I figured it would make sense that the Lord Ruler would be so old, so experienced, and so powerful that he wouldn't be able to be lied to. He's been around people for centuries and centuries. It's very hard to fool him.

His extreme power in Allomancy takes a little bit more explaining. It'll take me three books to get to the real reasons for that one. So, you'll need to be patient.

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Brandon Sanderson

We start this chapter off with our only Dockson viewpoint. You'll notice that it's a hallmark of my style to start multiplying viewpoint characters as books draw to their climaxes. I like the feeling of chaos it creates, and I like the way it lets me show a lot of sides of what is happening. In addition, it just makes the endings feel more special, since you get to see from eyes you haven't before.

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Brandon Sanderson

The scene with Vin and the Inquisitor is the place where, finally, I got to bring some closure to the Reen plotline. What the Inquisitor says is true. When it came down to the end, Reen didn't betray Vin. He died before he let that happen.

Reen was not a good person. He beat Vin, he was selfish, and he was conniving. However, he did love his sister. Most of his beatings happened because he was worried that she would expose them somehow and get herself killed. He knew that the Inquisitors were chasing her because of her half-breed nature, and so he uprooted them constantly, moving from city to city. He kept her alive, teaching her to be harsh, but teaching her to survive.

And, in the end–after the Inquisitors got him–he didn't betray her. That says a lot about him.

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Brandon Sanderson

 The Inquisitor does a little bit of standard villain fair in this chapter, I'm afraid. He monologues for just a bit, then leaves Vin alone with Sazed. There was no getting around this, I'm afraid. At least I think I have a good explanation for why he does what he does. He's the one who is going to get named head of the Steel Ministry in just a few minutes–so he can't exactly hang around. In fact, the Inquisitors all really need to be there. The Lord Ruler wouldn't excuse them to go stand watch on a single half-breed girl.

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Brandon Sanderson

There were two important events for Vin in this last scene. First, she decides to stay and try to save Sazed. As I note below, this is a character climax for her. She's not only grown to trust, but grown–somewhat–to sacrifice. Most of Reen's harm to her soul has been reversed by the care and love of a group of idealistic thieves.

The second thing Vin does of importance in this section is fight without her Allomancy. I think it's a nice moment for her, and lets her show some true bravery. One problem with making heroes as powerful as mine is that it's sometimes hard to find a challenge for them. Also, it's hard to present them as the underdog. In this scene, Vin gets to fight as just a regular person, and show that she's still better than most people, even without Allomancy.

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Brandon Sanderson

The return of Captain Goradel, the one who leads Elend to where Vin is being held captive, is a metaphoric nod to the fairy tale genre, where fantasy (partially) has its roots. Sometimes, if the lion doesn't eat the mouse but lets it go, the mouse comes back to save him. Help the old woman in the first part of the story, and she'll come back and bless you by the ending. And, convince the soldier to join the rebellion instead of just slaughtering him, and he'll return with your boyfriend and a bunch of soldiers to rescue you at the last moment.

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Brandon Sanderson

Finally, Vin gets to have her moment with Elend. I like the mixture of genuine emotion, humor, and power in this scene. There is some real pay-off here, in the narrative way that I like to do it. Instead of having some silly scene where Elend feels betrayed that Vin lied to him and is really a Mistborn, we get a scene where Elend gets to see her in her majesty, and is awed.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirty-Seven - Part Three

The following is a journal entry I wrote regarding this chapter three years ago. It's kind of fun that I finished it almost three years to the day from when I'm posting the annotation.

Chapter Thirty-Seven

Finished 5-22-04

Okay, so Vin's running around in her skivvies again. There are a couple of legitimate reasons for this. First off, I figured that if I had an Allomancer captured, the first thing I would do would be to strip them completely. A little bit of metal can go a long way, and you don't want to miss any. Now, this isn't as big a deal for the Inquisitors, who can use Allomancy themselves to see sources of metal a person might be hiding on their body. However, I still think it would be standard procedure to take away the prisoner's clothing. I toyed–briefly–with having Vin be naked in this chapter. I decided I just didn't want to deal with that. Having an adult man get stripped and thrown in a cell is a bit different from doing the same thing to a young girl, I think.

So, this chapter is Vin's character climax. Here's where she finally realizes that part of trusting people is being trustworthy yourself–or, more importantly, part of not being abandoned is not abandoning your friends. Her choosing to stay with Sazed, followed by Elend's appearance, are very important events for Vin. Her decision is a fulfillment of her story-long character arc, which has transformed her form a jumpy, frightened, untrusting person into one that would stay behind with a friend she loves, even though she knows that she might be killed. Her reward, then, for this bravery is Elend's return–and the realization that there are people out there who love her enough to risk their lives for her. Her statement "You came back" to Elend is perhaps the most important line Vin gets to say in the book.

Her decision to go and fight the Lord Ruler is secondary to these things, I think–which is probably why this decision doesn't seem quite as well-founded as her decision to stay with Sazed. Still, the story has been pushing for a face-off between her and the Lord Ruler ever since Kelsier died, so I think that it works narratively.

I really want to get that final chapter written, but I have writing group in an hour, and I still haven't read one of the submissions. It looks like Vin & co. are going to have to wait until Monday to have their final climax. I don't expect it to be a long chapter–which is good, since I REALLY need to get to work on the Elantris rewrite. . . .

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirty-Eight - Part One

Vin's entrance here is one of my favorite scenes in the book. Short, but very cinematic. It brings together all of the best images in the book–Allomantic pushes, stained glass, swirling mist, and the mistcloaks.

The cloaks are something I really wanted to do. I realize that some readers have trouble imagining them the right way, but I wanted something distinctive for the mistborn to wear. Regular cloaks and capes are nice, but I wanted something that I could make my own, and the multi-layered tassel thing seemed to fit very well with the mist theme.

As I mentioned earlier, I tend to multiply viewpoints near the end of books. Kar's viewpoint here is another one–I knew I wanted to be outside of Vin's head for the entrance here so I could describe it properly. Plus, this let me show how Inquisitors see.

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Brandon Sanderson

Vin's attempt at killing the Lord Ruler was, I thought, rather clever. I made a point of making her be able to touch her past self when she was burning gold. There are a couple of reasons why this didn't work. First of all, the images are just that–images. When Vin touched the face of her past self, it was all part of the illusion that gold produced. None of it was real. So, even if she HAD been able to touch the image of the Lord Ruler's past self, she wouldn't have been able to hurt the Lord Ruler himself by killing it.

The other reason is important as well. The thing is, the Eleventh Metal isn't actually an alloy of gold, but an alloy of atium. If you understand Allomantic theory, you'll understand why this has to be. Each quartet of metals is made up of two base metals and two alloys. The base metals are the Pulling metals, like iron and zinc. They are also made up of two internal metals and two external metals. Two change things about you, two change things about other people.

The Eleventh Metal, like atium, changes something about someone else. Both have to be external metals–that's the way the pairing works. Gold (and its compliment) change things about the Allomancer.

So, atium shows the future of someone else, malatium shows the past of someone else. Gold shows the past of yourself, and electrum (gold's compliment) shows your own future. (We'll talk about that in a different book.)

So, anyway, the Eleventh Metal (malatium) matches with atium–both of which create images from other people. And, just like atium shadows are incorporeal, so are malatium shadows. That's why Vin couldn't touch the one she saw of the Lord Ruler.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirty-Eight - Part Two

You were probably expecting Marsh's return–at least, you probably were when you read the chapter where he "died." Making Inquisitors via Hemalurgy requires killing other people (see book three for an explanation of the process) so there's a lot of mess involved.

Anyway, I planned for his return here. I wish, again, I could have done more with him. There was another whole book going on with him being watched by the Inquisitors–him thinking that he'd earned their suspicion when they were really just impressed with him and planning to make him one of them. That's how it usually works with Inquisitors–they grab a new recruit, usually an older one, and "draft" him into their ranks before one of the other Cantons has a chance to corrupt him too much. So, they were looking to make another Inquisitor, and Marsh happened to be the most promising recruit training in Luthadel at the time.

He never understood how far his infiltration would take him, or what it would end up costing him. The payoff is that he figured out how to kill Inquisitors–they were all built to have a weakness, so that the Lord Ruler would have power over them if he needed it. Pull out the right spike, and they come tumbling down.

Marsh's plan to kill the Lord Ruler is a good one too. Unfortunately, the Lord Ruler's power doesn't come only from Hemalurgy, but from other things as well. If he'd pulled off the bracelets instead. . . .

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirty-Eight - Part Three

My one disappointment with this chapter is that I had to end up making it look like I was breaking my own rules. The Allomancy-Feruchemy-Hemalurgy triad is one of the most complex magic systems I've ever devised. The interplay between the three systems, mixed into the mythology of the setting (which involves the mists at a foundational level) makes for some very complicated rules. I try to explain them as simply as possible–simple, basic rules are necessary for most sequences to work.

Yet, the depth of complexity leads to some things that are confusing at first glance. I wasn't planning on having Vin draw upon the mists in this book–I was going to save it for later–but the initial version of this chapter (which had Vin simply grabbing the bracelets off the Lord Ruler’s arms with her hands) lacked the proper drama or impact. So, I moved up my timetable, and gave her access to some abilities she wasn't going to get until the next book.

A lot of the "Rules" of Allomancy are, in my mind, like our basic rules of physicist. They make simple sense, and can be explained easily. However, they only apply when generalities–or large-scale events–are explained. When you get down to the really advanced physics, traditional Newtonian Laws start to break apart.

The same is true for Allomancy. The vast majority of Allomancers aren't powerful enough to look beyond the basics. For them, simple rules like "You can't Push on metals inside of someone's body" apply. It's much easier to tell someone that, as opposed to "People's bodies interfere with Allomancy, making it much harder to affect metals inside of them–so hard, in fact, that only some people you'll never meet can Push on metals inside of people's bodies."

It is a matter of degree of power. Vin, for reasons I'll explain eventually, has access to far more Allomantic power than regular people. The Lord Ruler is the same way, though for different reasons. And so, he can affect metals that are blocked by blood. Vin has to draw upon another, external source of power in order to produce the same effect, but it is possible for her.

Narratively, I worry that this looks too much like I'm breaking my own rules. However, I had to balance drama with effect in this chapter, and eventually decided that I could make it work. I've established throughout the book that there are flaws in the commonly-perceived laws of Allomancy. There are metals nobody knows about. You can pierce copperclouds. In fact, one of the unwritten laws of Allomancy is that it isn't understood as well as everyone seems to think.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirty-Eight - Part Four

So, my favorite secret in the novel is the fact that the Lord Ruler is actually Rashek. I'm still not sure if this revelation will mean as much to readers as I want it to–it depends on them reading, and caring, about the story that happened in the past. However, when it all comes together, I think it really pays off.

So, the concept that started me on this book was "What if the Dark Lord won?" I thought about that, then figured it would be more scary if the hero had become the Dark Lord–only something worse. Kind of a "What if Frodo kept the ring?" idea. Well, I eventually decided to twist that into a "What if Sam killed Frodo and took the ring, then became a Dark Lord?" Like Kelsier says, there's always another secret.

The story, of course, grew into much more from there. The interaction between Rashek and Alendi (the unnamed hero from the logbook) was interesting enough to me that I decided to give it its own story, told through the chapter bumps. I see this book as actually having three prime viewpoint characters: Vin, Kelsier, and Alendi.

My favorite kinds of revelations are after this nature–things that the reader has been familiar with, yet not quite understanding, the entire book. Things you could have figured out much earlier, if you'd really been paying attention to the right clues.

These clues, then, led to the source of the Lord Ruler's immortality. It has been foreshadowed that age is one of the things that Feruchemists can store up, and we've established that the Lord Ruler can change his age. So, I don't think it was too great a stretch to make Vin understand that his Feruchemical storages were somehow behind his immortality. You'll get more explanation of this in the epilogue.

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Brandon Sanderson

Finally, we get to have a nice little scene with Vin and Sazed standing over the body of the Lord Ruler. This is another good metaphoric scene, where he has been cast down by the people he sought to oppress, much as the skaa cheering outside have cast down the empire that sought to oppress them. The rising sun outside, of course, is a nod to this.

And the Lord Ruler dies in the same way that Kelsier did, with a spear in the chest while he's laying on the ground, defeated.

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Brandon Sanderson

Epilogue - Part One

This last epigraph is actually out of order. Most of them were chronological as Vin read from the logbook. This one, however, doesn't actually come after the one before it. I just put it here because it felt like it belonged at the end.

I did, actually, write most of these epigraphs (or bumps–or whatever you want to call the things at the beginnings of chapters) in one lump, then cut them apart, as I think I've mentioned. I did the same thing for book two, actually, where there's a different kind of puzzle going on in the narratives.

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Brandon Sanderson

Yes, Elend is chosen as king. I wondered if this would be seen as a stretch or not, which is one of the reasons I didn't put it in scene. I think it's easier to believe if I simply explain that it happened, rather than trying to make it work in narrative. The problem is, after the big climax with Vin and the Lord Ruler, I think anything involving Elend's actual speech would have been a distraction.

So, I leave it at this. It's a foreboding ending, I know. Elend is king, but honestly, none of these people have ever done anything like this before. The crew has no experience with government, and Elend has very little. (Though he at least knows a lot of theory.) So, then, this is set-up for the next book, where I wanted to ask some very tough questions. It seems to me that overthrowing the empire would actually be easier than trying to make it run smoothly. This is what the group is going to have to deal with.

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Brandon Sanderson

Epilogue - Part Two

The discussion of Feruchemy and Allomancy working together is one of the most complicated magical explanations I've ever done, and I hope it works. One of the fun things about my books are the magic, and it's really tough to walk the line between making magic that has technically interesting aspects without making it either a) too complicated or b) feel like I'm just making it up as I go along.

I was trying to get across here an unexpected consequence of mixing the two magics. Like how certain chemicals react oddly when mixed, or even like two computer programs running on the same computer can cause odd reactions, letting someone use Feruchemy and Allomancy together makes for some very strange mixtures of the powers. (I intend to get into this later.)

Of course, what this also does is un-deify the Lord Ruler somewhat, which is intentional. I don't want it to undermine the accomplishment the characters have made–what they did was difficult and they have achieved a great victory. However, what I'm trying to give in this book–however–is a sense of foreboding.

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Brandon Sanderson

Epilogue - Part Three

And here we come to the final scene of the book.

This one is important for several reasons. I intentionally made it focus around Reen's voice in her head, since the very first chapter of the book where we see Vin, she's dealing with those same whispers from Reen.

Here, I wanted to show the progress Vin has made in one final moment. I don't think of my books as romances, but they certainly have romantic elements. The Vin/Elend relationship was actually one of the parts of the book that was less planned (as I think I've mentioned). I knew I wanted her to get involved with a man of the court, but I wasn't sure where I'd take it, or how it would end.

I think my books have happy endings. Ominous ones, sometimes–and bittersweet ones, definitely. But they're happy, at least for me. I'm an incurable romantic, and I like it when two people find each other.

Of course, this isn't the end. Vin and Elend don't really have a relationship yet, they have the budding beginning of one. We'll deal with the more. . .testing elements of relationships in the second book. For now, however, they get to be happy. That's a rare enough thing in the Mistborn world that it's worth noting.

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Brandon Sanderson

Ars Arcanum

It's kind of surprising to me, but to some people, appendices like this can be very divisive topics. There are people who will pick up a book and check to see if it has a map and appendix–and if it has both, they're more likely to read it. (I was actually one of these when I was younger.) I guess the philosophy here, if I analyze my teenage self, was that if an author put so much work into a book–and if the book was so complex–that there had to be an appendix, then that was a book I wanted to read.

Others have the opposite reaction, I've come to learn. I've met people who think that this sort of thing in the back of a book indicates that the author is sloppy, and can't tell a tight story. Or, that the story is going to be too complicated to enjoy.

In Elantris, my first book, I fought for a pronunciation guide and a cast of characters in the back. I like appendixes, though now it's mostly because my untrustworthy brain often forgets who characters are. With the Mistborn trilogy being as complex as (hopefully) I want it to be, I figured I'd need cast lists in order to help you remember book one when reading book two.

So, book two has a bigger appendix. However, I wanted to do something in this one as well. One thing I knew people were going to ask about was a way to keep the metals straight. That's why I developed the quick reference chart, and my friend Isaac did that beautiful metal table for a visual reference–I absolutely love how it looks.



My magic systems are generally like a new science for the world in which they are practiced, so I like the feel this gives. Hopefully, you found this appendix useful. If not, I suspect you'll really appreciate the one in book two, as the cast of characters there will provide a lot of helpful reminders.

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Brandon Sanderson

The name "Ars Arcanum" deserves a note as well. I’ve always liked how Ann McCaffery named her appendix the "Dragondex" in the back of her Pern books. One of the biggest draws of my books are the magic systems, and since I intend to do a new one for every series I write (and many, like the Mistborn trilogy, will have multiple magic systems per series) I wanted some sort of "catch all" title I could name the appendixes in each of my books.

I fiddled around for a while. Ars Magica was my first choice, since it's kind of a cool Latinate take on "Magical Arts" or "Magical Skills." However, there's an RPG out with that name, and I figured I wanted to stay away from their title. Ars Arcanum, then, was my next choice. I ended up liking it better, if only because it has a little more true Latinate feel to it.

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Brandon Sanderson

Book Wrap-up

Well, there you have it, the complete annotations for The Final Empire, Book One of Mistborn. The paperback of this comes out in just about three weeks, so my goal of getting all the Annotations posted before the paperback release has been achieved.

This was a very fun book to write. In a couple of months, Book Two will come out—which was, in turn, the most challenging book I think I've ever written. (But we'll talk about that during the annotations.)

Every book has things that turn out just like you imagined, things that surprise you, and things that never quite work out. In this book, the "heist" feel for the book is the one that never quite worked out. I sit and look back through the pages, and can still imagine the book as it was in my head before I wrote it. It's kind of an odd feeling to then have this book, which shares some attributes with the imagined novel, yet deviates in some important ways.

The power of the characters was what worked well—the thing that I wanted to have happen, then was pleased when it finally worked out. Kelsier's surprise at the end was a similarly nice payoff, as was the way that Allomancy worked out. Elend was a surprise, as was the amount of time I ended up spending in the ball scenes.

All in all, I'm very pleased with this book—I think it's better than Elantris, if not as "meaningful", and achieves just what I wanted. A second book to show off what I can really do.

I hope you enjoyed reading it.

The Final Empire Project: November 2001-July 2007

Brandon Sanderson

Event details
Name Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations
Date July 29, 2006
Location Brandon's website
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