The Well of Ascension Annotations

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Name The Well of Ascension Annotations
Date Sept. 1, 2007
Location Brandon's website
Entries 193
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#1 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Title Page

This title was fairly easy to choose. Actually, the titles of all three books were easy to choose. I originally toyed with calling The Hero of Ages the Final Hero. So, because of that, I was tempted to come up with a "final" title to use for book two.

However, I quickly decided that I liked Hero of Ages instead of Final Hero (you'll see why in Book Three.) So, way back as far as the first chapters of book one, I was planning book two to be named The Well of Ascension.

I think it's a great title. I've been wanting to release some books with titles that have more classical fantasy feels to them. Well of Ascension really works well. In fact, as I write this annotation, it's December of 2006, and I'm on Book Tour with David Farland. He just got done complimenting me on the title! So, I guess maybe I'm not the only one who likes it.

The title, obviously, comes from the place the Lord Ruler visited to gain his godhood. Hopefully, this indicates to the reader a little bit of what the book will be about. Though, I do worry about this for reasons I'll explain in a bit.

The only other fun thing to note is that I have a devil of a time spelling Ascension. I always want to spell it "Ascention" instead. Curse my lack of spelling ability! I feel like an idiot every time I write it the wrong way. What kind of writer can't spell the title of his own book? I feel like a punch line waiting to happen.

#2 Copy

Brandon Sanderson


There's not a whole lot to say here. A lot of people are returning time and time again as alpha readers. They should get awards or something.

I decided to expand a bit and give some different kinds of acknowledgments this time around. The more I learn about the book industry, the more I realize how many people it takes in order to create the product you now hold. People like Yoder, Dot Lin, and the bookstore sales forces are all part of the "Brandon Sanderson" name, in a way. It's kind of like Brandon Sanderson is, in part, a pen name for the hundreds of people who collectively create a novel.

#3 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Maps and Interior Art

Isaac has gone well beyond the call of duty here.

The art department wasn't expecting there to be revisions to the maps, and they actually complained a little bit when it happened, thinking that they'd get charged again. Isaac, however, just wanted to make certain that the maps in the book fit with the context of the novel. So, he updated both maps, making certain that they included key points, and were revised to show new places. There are also a lot of cameos and inside jokes sprinkled through them, if you know where to look. I believe that there's a bookstore on the city map named after my agent, and a canal shop named after my editor. There's a mountain named for the best man at my wedding, and a lot of things like that.

#4 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

I've already talked about how much I love the maps in this book. Isaac is amazing. He also did the chapter symbols, which are interesting in that they are based off of the symbols in the first book. If you compare, you can see that they're the same symbols, only changed. The idea is that these symbols in this book are earlier versions of the same alphabet in the previous book, used here since this book will be partially about the characters looking into what happened in the world a thousand years back. You can imagine the epigraphs (the italicized things at the beginnings of the chapters) written in this alphabet. Modern people in the book, then, write in the version of the alphabet that is used in book one.

We had planned some pretty dramatic artwork to use in the book along with these–some large-scale symbol glyphs using the alphabet–but eventually decided not to go with them. Not only was Isaac swamped, but Tor was giving us grief about the length of the book (I'll talk about that later.) In the end, I'm glad we went with only these–they are elegant, and I like how they work with the previous symbols.

#5 Copy

Brandon Sanderson


This book is dedicated to my maternal grandmother. The last one was dedicated to my paternal grandmother.

I didn't just do that for cohesion. I see a lot of both women in myself. Mary Beth (from book one) is free-spirited and wacky. That's the easiest side to see in me, the fantasy write.

Phyllis, however, is a dedicated hardworker. She is, to me, a symbol of simple, uncomplaining dedication. (Well, not completely uncomplaining. Grandma is great at grumbling.)

However, if something needs to be done, she just does it. Always. She's like 90 years old, and she's still just plugging away, the same as always. She's a real inspiration to me, and I think that I owe a lot of my success to the things she instilled in my mother–who instilled them in me. Getting published took a lot of hard work–those of you who've read a lot of my annotations know I wrote 13 books before I sold one. The sense of "just do it"-ness that my grandma gave me helped quite a lot when I needed to work, write books, and learn to make it in this field.

#6 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter One

This was the hardest chapter in the entire book to write.

That's often the case for me. I will write a first chapter, continue on through the rest of the book, and then be forced to write the first chapter a few more times to get it right. For this book, I wrote the chapter some five times. If I'm feeling proactive, I'll post some of these chapters in the deleted scenes section about the time Mistborn 3 comes out.

Anyway, I just couldn't get the right feel for the first chapter. I wanted to start with a dramatic fight scene involving Vin (you now get that in chapter two) but every time I did, the book actually felt too slow. That's because, in order to have a fight, I need to explain Allomancy.

I started to get this one right when I backed off of the fight a bit and just had Vin creeping through the city. This let me get out a little bit about Allomancy before I threw her into the fight.

However, I didn't actually get it right until I added the Elend and Ham scene at the beginning. This scene had been in the book, but much later. The first chapter wasn't the only one I rewrote, actually—this entire first section of ten chapters underwent some significant revisions to fix the pacing. Originally, I didn't say much about the army until the later chapters, after Vin's fight.

However, I realized that I needed to give the sense of large-scale danger to the book before I got into the smaller danger of Vin's fight. Elend and Ham here talking sets the book off right—it introduces the conflict right off, shows what we're going to have to worry about in this book, then gives context to Vin's fight.

#8 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Two

Allomantic fights are fun.

I'll admit it. I LIKE to write things that are fun. I'm an entertainer–and that is what my stories try to do. I think there's great value in that.

That said, I think this might be my least favorite fight in the book. You may remember that I said the same thing about the first battle in book one (that's the fight where Kelsier takes on the Hazekillers in Keep Venture.) Getting the mechanics of Allomancy down, showing things step by step, takes longer, and lacks a bit of finesse. I hope this fight was still enjoyable, but it was far too step-by-step to be really great, in my opinion.

The fights I really like are the ones where there is a beauty–a sense of grace and poetry–to the fight itself. The one at Keep Hasting later in this book is a much better example off that.

#9 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

So, this is what I wanted to have in chapter one (see the last annotation.) Reading it again, I can see–yet again–why that was a bad instinct. It's much better here, in chapter two. I still feel that it's a tad long. I cut it down significantly (if you can believe that.) I worry that pacing wise, we spend too long in a fight for this early in the book. However, some of the things I get across in this battle are invaluable for the rest of the story. I introduce the Watcher, and I get rid of Vin's atium–thereby compounding the large danger of the kingdom being at war with the more personal danger of Vin being stalked while she's exposed without any atium.

We'll get to a third level of danger–that of something threatening the entire world–later on.

#11 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Also, thanks to my writing group for the Soundsticks suggestion. They probably don't remember it–it's been years since one of them suggested it (I think Nate H. was the one who actually said it) and I thought it was a great idea. This is a perfect way to deal with a Mistborn–they're going to have enhanced senses, so you play off of that and make them pay. I love this, since I talk so much about balance and use of force in Allomancy. Actions and reactions. I wanted this magic to feel very Newtonian.

#12 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Three

Well, there you go. That chapter (with a big chunk of two) was originally the first chapter of the book. Oddly, moving it back made the book move more quickly, for me at least. It's strange how you can sometimes speed up a novel by ADDING material.

Speed in books, however, has little to do with how long the book actually is, and everything to do with how captivated the reader is.

#13 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

There were a couple of interesting edits that I made to this chapter. First off, Elend's proposal to the Assembly. It was a major point of revision in the book.

One of the biggest problems the novel had in the first draft was that readers weren't getting the right idea for the theme and plot of the novel. In early drafts, Vin's worries about the Deepness and the Lord Ruler's final words came before Straff's army arrived. So, readers were surprised when the middle of the novel spent so much time on politics and war. They wanted to learn more about the Well of Ascension. (Which IS important, but not as present–particularly at the beginning–as the rest of the plot.)

So, the revisions. I wanted to make the army a much more PRESENT in the narrative. Originally, Elend's proposal to the Assembly was about something unrelated. (Disaster relief for farmers.) I wanted to show him caring for his people. However, in revision, I realized I needed to focus more. So, now that proposal deals with the army, and is a thread that continues through the next few chapters.

#14 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

The second half of this chapter, where Vin and Elend are chatting, is where the book finally starts to feel "good" to me. I'm mostly past the exposition reminding you of what happened in Book One, and I can get into more "showing" of character rather than reminding of past events.

I could have, perhaps, done something different with these reminders. I could have told you less, and let you remember on your own. Or, I could have worked the reminders in more delicately. However, the former would have left some people confused, and the later would have taken many more pages. I eventually took the easier, and time-tested, route of reminder exposition. We'll see if people like this or not, but it really did seem like the best way in this novel. (Interestingly, there's a thread about this on my forums right now.)

#15 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

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

#16 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Four

Sazed was many people's favorite character in the first book. I knew pretty early on in the writing process of that book that Sazed would become a major force in the novel. In fact, he was one of the very first characters I outlined and built in my head. Who he is, and what he stands for, is quite integral to the plot arc of the entire series.

So, knowing that, you probably aren't surprised to see him become a major viewpoint character in this book. I loved writing his chapters. The way he sees the world–always trying to look from other people's viewpoints, always trying to understand others and give them the benefit of the doubt–makes him very dear to me. He is pleasant to write about, and his inner turmoil (we'll talk more about that later) is so much more painful because of how basically a nice person he is.

#17 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

My favorite plotting mechanic of the Sazed chapters, particularly these early ones, is the fact that the peasants don't really care about what he wants to teach them. The Keepers were a very important element from the first book–people who had worked so hard to memorize the things of the past and keep them safe for the day when the Lord Ruler died. This is, in part, a nod to Fahrenheit 451.

However, there's also a bit of an arrogance to that organization. They have the truth, they keep the truth for everyone else, and they are the ones who will bring it gloriously back to the people. Supposedly.

I wanted, in this book, that glorious return to be underwhelming for the Keepers. A group of scholars wouldn't, I think, even have considered that nobody would CARE about the things they researched and memorized. Their battle is far from over. I think that convincing the people to learn is much more difficult a task than memorizing the information in the first place.

#18 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Five

One of my writing groups had an intense reaction against Vin killing the dog in this scene. I'm not sure, still, WHY they got so upset–but they really didn't like it that she killed a dog "in cold blood" as they put it.

So, her little "I'm sorry about this" in her head is there for them. At least now they know she kind of wishes she didn't have to do it.

That dog had it coming, though.

#19 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

If you paid any sort of attention during the last book, you were probably expecting a new metal or two to show up in this book. I dropped a lot of hints that there were other metals.

It was a little bit of a stretch to let there be metals that, despite the thousand-year history of Allomancy, weren't known. However, I rely on the fact that the Lord Ruler had informational control over the society. There are A LOT of things that he knew that aren't known to a lot of people.

Duralumin is a real alloy from our world, commonly made from aluminum. Actually, a lot of things we call aluminum–particularly industrial aluminum–is actually duralumin. Aluminum, pre-electrolysis, was really tough to get. It's said that Napoleon had a set of aluminum plates that were more valuable than his gold or platinum ones.

#20 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Elend comparing himself to Kelsier is a kind of theme for him in this book. I wanted Kelsier to leave a long, long shadow over these next two books.

A lot of people couldn't believe that I killed Kelsier, since he was such a ball of charisma, and the driving force for the first book. (A lot of others CAN believe it, but are rather annoyed at me for doing it.) However, I happen to like this book specifically because of Kelsier's absence.

He overshadowed everything when he was alive. Elend could never have developed as a character–and even Sazed and Vin would have had trouble–as long as Kelsier was there dominating everything. He was a character at the end of his arc–while the others are still only just beginning. It's so much more interesting if they have to do things without him.

Just part of Kelsier's arrogance, I guess. Both as a character in the book, and externally to it. He dominated so much that he had to go.

#21 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

I worry just a tad about the light-hearted feel of the end of the chapter here. Originally, this scene was in the book BEFORE the army showed up to attack. In the original draft I showed Elend and company living (and fighting off assassins) without knowing that an army was bearing down on them. Moving the army so that it began the book on the horizon was the major pacing change I made that sped up the book, and increased the tension.

However, we missed a few of the more light scenes–like the upcoming sparring–and I didn't want to cut them because they were so indicative of character. I decided to leave them in. Kelsier's crew is accustomed to dealing with stress and remaining jovial. The only change I really had to make was in the Elend viewpoints, which you will see in the next chapter. Still, I hope the tone isn't off–that's a real worry when you transplant scenes from a previous draft, as opposed to writing them new when you change as much as I did at the beginning here.

#22 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Six

So, here's a little of the jovial friendship that I mentioned in the last annotation. One of the things I like about these books IS the way that the characters can get along and relax. It's a bit tougher to pull off in this book–with Kelsier gone, and with everything falling apart–but it's still there, where I can squeeze it in.

Spook is a character I groomed through the first book to do more than you might originally expected from him. He doesn't really come to his own for some time yet, but you should be able to see changes start to appear in him–subtly, of course. You'll see a lot more from him later on in the series.

#23 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

This fight scene is, in my opinion, a lot more fun that the previous one. It's what I want–quick, dramatic, and shows off character by the way that the various people approach the fight.

I probably should have cut this scene, honestly. The book is a little too long. It's 250,000 words, where both Elantris and Mistborn 1 are around 200,000. I worried about this, particularly since the original Well of Ascension was only around 235,000, but we added 15,000 through editing to make the pacing work.

Regardless, when this beast got in, the people at Tor (the typesetters and the like) immediately raised a warning flag. However, some of the things they said surprised us. They said that the hardback for Mistborn 2, by their counts, was going to be over 700 pages long! Well, I knew that the book was a bit longer, but Mistborn 1 was under 500, so they were claiming it was around 40% bigger–and unpublishable.

My editor went to bat, claiming that 1) It was only really about 20% bigger and 2) That didn't matter, because the book was the right length–it worked well, and was paced well, and that he didn't want to cut it. We caused a big mess of various people arguing, and then finally the people down in production called up and said they'd done a re-assessment, and that the book would be around 560 pages or so. Very doable.

I don't know where those extra 140 pages went. If you find them, let me know. . .

#24 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Seven

Here's where we start to get some of our first real hints of the dominating plotline that will overshadow these two books: The Lord Ruler is dead. What in the world have we gotten ourselves into?

As I mentioned in the previous Sazed annotation, I really like his scenes for the conflict represented in them. He is a rebel, but he feels so bad for it. It's always nice when you can make a character feel some very real turmoil for doing the RIGHT thing.

We will go a lot more into Sazed's character, and how he is regarded by the other Terrismen, in future chapters.

#25 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Marsh was a tricky one to write in this book. Everybody loves him, for some reason, and they were really happy I didn't make him a bad guy at the end of book one. The more I put him into book two, the more readers tended to like him there as well.

However, I've got enough characters in this book that I couldn't really focus on Marsh as much as I would have needed to, so I backed off on him. You'll see some of him in the next few chapters, but then he fades into the background. Simple reasoning is that the book was long enough, even in the planning stages, that I knew I couldn't tackle Marsh and what was going on with him. Not yet, at least.

#26 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Conventical is Moshe's word, by the way. I’d originally called it the Covenant of Seran. However, not only did the Halo games decide to make good use of the word Covenant, but my editor found it somewhat inaccurate. So, he suggested Conventical–which I liked immediately. It's a real word, though I think I spell it differently, which refers to a meeting of high level church officials. The term fits with the Steel Ministry, which doesn't have priests, but instead has Obligators and doesn't have a Priesthood, but instead a Ministry. Everything's pseudo-religious, instead of being directly "on" religious.

#27 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Eight

So, Moshe and I BOTH worried about the fact that we've got two shadow mysterious figures showing up at the beginning of this book. Part of the problem is the rewrite, which mashed things together at the beginning of the novel, increasing the speed–but then melding things together as well. Originally, the mist spirit showed up before the Watcher. Now they both are introduced in the same chapter, which happens to be the second chapter.

That makes me worry about overlap and confusion, but we decided there was nothing to be done about it. As the story progresses, hopefully they'll be differentiated enough in the reader's head to keep them straight. (It doesn't help that I have creatures in this world known as mistwraiths, which are different from either the Watcher or the mist spirit. Sigh.)

#28 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Metal vials. People may wonder why Allomancers use them. Why ingest only small bits of metal, which could run out on you? There are a couple of reasons for this.

First off, you don't want to eat too much metal because, simply put, it's poisonous. Kelsier talks a little bit about this in book one, and it's given token nods from characters throughout the series. I don't do a whole lot with it–dying from metal poisoning isn't the type of extended disease you tend to deal with in a novel that only covers a few months time, like this one.

The second reason for metal vials is more simple. Allomancers with the right powers can Push or Pull on sources of metal–the larger the metal source, the harder the Allomancer can Push on it. So, little flakes of metal make a terrible Anchor, and so if you're caught wearing your vials, you aren't giving much of an advantage to your enemies.

#29 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Nine

A very short Sazed chapter. Mostly, this was just here because I had to remind the readers that Sazed was doing things. Getting to the Conventical is going to take enough time that, if I hadn't thrown in a small chapter like this, you would have gone a long time without seeing Sazed.

The things he mulls over here, then, are reinforcement of his character and his conflicts. It's also helping establish Marsh. Not because of what is said, but simply because you see them both again, and are therefore reminded of the things I talked about last time I was with him.

I wrote Mistborn One mostly chronologically, regardless of viewpoint. I did that with this book for the most part too, but I did write a lot of these Sazed chapters together, in bulk, so that I could keep the tone and voice right. I knew how many chapters from his viewpoint I needed, and I knew where they had to go, so I divided up what needed to happen and went from there.

#30 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

You may be interested to know that I planned a prologue for this book, originally, with Sazed seeing the mists during the day. He was going to ride past a valley, see it creeping along inside, then rush down and find it gone by the time he arrived. That's when he was to hear the rumors of people killed by it, then rush off, and eventually get lucky enough to find a person killed just a day before.

I never wrote that prologue. I just didn't feel that I needed it, and didn't want to start with that scene–I wanted something more active, rather than something mysterious, for the opening. As I revised the book and tried to focus the reader more and more on the politics and warfare, rather than the mists (particularly at the beginning) I decided that a prologue that dealt with the mists would be out of place.

#32 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

On a more serious note, this section contains some of the more lengthy additions to the rewrite. Elend's speech, and the arguments against it, were all added in the very last draft. As I said before, the first draft had Elend giving a much different proposal, as the army hadn't arrived yet.

This works TONS better. I worry that Elend comes off a little too strong–or, well, not weak enough–in this scene. I originally included it to show some of his faults as a leader. However, other readers have indicated that they thought he came off as too weak. Even if this is a book about Elend becoming a leader (or, at least, that’s a big chunk of the novel) he doesn't have to quite as hopeless as I originally painted him.

So, perhaps we've got a good balance going on here.

#33 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Obligators. This is the first time you see them in the book. It isn't the last time you'll see them, but it's nearly so. They just don't have much of a part in the story now.

I toyed with making them villains in the novel, involving them a lot more in politics, but discarded that concept. I decided that 1) The Lord Ruler's power was broken, and that fighting against remnants of it would be a little anti-climactic. 2) There just wasn't any more space in the book for more villains.

The armies invading Luthadel, and their leaders, are bad enough. Part of my rational is that the warlords–not the priests–are going to be the real danger in this new world. The priests were a force for stability. Now that everything has been overthrown, they simply won't have any power to be of a threat.

Though, I will note that a major force in the third book is, indeed, an obligator who has taken control of a section of the empire.

#34 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Eleven

A few things to watch out for. There might be an extra "Silver" or "Silvereye" stuck in the books somewhere.

If you read the annotations in the last book, you’ll know that I changed the Allomantic metal of silver into tin at the last minute. I couldn't find a good alloy of silver, and though I liked "Silvereye" as a word much better than "Tineye" I decided to go with the choice that was more logical for worldbuilding, rather than the one that sounded better.

There could still be a spare silver or two hanging around in this book, since it was written before I made the swap. (I just found one in Book Three and got it changed right in time.)

#35 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Here we get the return of Breeze, a perennial favorite of the Mistborn world. He gets far more screen time–and depth of characterization–than Ham, Clubs, or Dockson do. You just can't develop everyone. (Especially if you're not George R. R. Martin.) I did my best with the side characters, and Breeze and Spook turned out the best, in my opinion. You'll see more of both of them, and learn more about them, as the series moves along.

#37 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Kandra are a race that will also get a lot of development as the series progresses. During the development of this book, I tried to resist using the "there's a spy among us" plot, but in the end, I just couldn't do it. The pieces were all there, and I wanted to play with the concepts of trust and reliability.

In the first book, Vin learned to trust. She learned that it was better to trust and be betrayed than to suspect everyone. The nice twist on that in book one was that there WAS no traitor in the book. Everyone stayed true to Kelsier and his vision.

So, in this book, I had to sew seeds of distrust. I wanted Vin to have to deal with those problems again, and really have to confront her suspicions and paranoia. The only way to do that was to have her begin suspecting members of the crew.

Besides, you don't just put in a race of shapeshifters then ignore the tension of people wondering if someone they know has been replaced. That would just be irresponsible.

#38 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Part One Wrap-up

Well, reading that section of the book again, I'm now very pleased with how it turned out. It introduces what I wanted it to, keeps things moving, and sets up the conflict for the book.

It's hard, however, to look at it objectively. It's been through so many drafts, with so many beginning chapters, that I can't quite see it the way that I once would have—and certainly can't see it like a reader might.

As we move into part two, things stabilize back to the original order and plot I'd planned and outlined for the book. (Though, there is another major upheaval at the ending.)

It's strange how a book, for a writer, can bring back memories. You know how scents can trigger memories in your head? Well, sometimes chapters can do that. You work on a project like this for so much of your life that it becomes part of you.

I submitted one of the revisions to chapter one (the Vin fight on the streets) to my college class in which I met Heather, the girl I dated for much of the year last year. I was beginning to imagine the ending of Mistborn 3 when I went on vacation last summer, and was missing Emily, whom I eventually married. I was imagining Mistborn 1 as I got the phone call that eventually landed me a book deal.

This series is a big part of my life, and I will be living it for years yet. That's kind of a comfortable, yet interesting, thing for me to imagine for some reason. I can't even begin to understand how it must be for authors who write series longer than trilogies!

#39 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Twelve

This chapter is meant to be our "pay off" chapter for the time we've invested into Sazed over the last few chapters. I, personally, think it's the coolest chapter in this section of the book.

Feruchemy really turned out well as a magic system, and I'm glad I found a place for it in this book. It connects with Allomancy perfectly; I'm actually surprised at how well they go together. (As you may recall, I originally tried out Feruchemy in a book I now call Final Empire Prime.)

Here, you finally get to see some REAL Feruchemical tricks. Sazed can do so much more than just make himself strong (like he did in book one) or memorize things. If you think about it, there are an awful lot of things that can be done to intertwine Allomancy–with its Pushes and Pulls–and Feruchemy, where a person can increase or decrease their weight.

#40 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

By the way, you probably remember form book one the way that Inquisitors see. They have such a subtle touch with Steel and Iron, and their lines, that they can see via the trace metals in everyone's bodies and in the objects around them.

The thing is, any Allomancer with access to iron or steel could learn to do this. Some have figured it out, in the past, but in current times, nobody–at least, nobody the heroes know–is aware of this. Except, of course, for Marsh.

And he chose not to share it.

#41 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

The scene where Sazed walks along inside the Conventical and talks to himself, speaking into the coppermind, is what really appeals to me about this chapter. It isn't often that, as a writer, I get to do something like this–switch up the narrative style, let myself do a monologue in first person present tense. The tense shift is, I think, what lets these scenes be so creepy. You get to feel, I hope, like you’re with Sazed, walking along in the near dark, listening to a quiet voice-over that doesn't dispel the gloom, but just echoes back to you even more creepily.

This was one of my editor's favorite scenes in the book as well. The part where Sazed describes where Inquisitors are made, and where he walks the corridors, with minimal narrative interjections by me gave this chapter a tone unlike anything else I’ve ever written.

#42 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirteen - Part One

I hope this first paragraph isn't too overly-poetic for you. I have a tendency to dabble in writing poetic language, and can veer into sections of prose that are a bit over-written. But, my editor didn't strike this down, so I assume it's all right.

The things Vin talks about in this first scene are, essentially, the things that will come to form the plot of the entire series. In the original drafts of the novel, she worried about these issues much earlier in the book. However, I backed off on them to let the siege take form first.

It's not that these worries about the Deepness and the past aren't important–they're VERY important. And, they'll play a big part in this book. The armies and politics, however, are the established plot of the novel. This book–book two–isn't about the deepness. It's about the "What Next?" So the characters overthrew the empire. What's next? In my opinion, what they're doing now–struggling to keep something going, rather than tear it down–is far more difficult than anything they did in the first book.

This grueling process is going to have a powerful influence on their characters, and make from them the people they need to become in order to deal with the events of the final book. In a way, that makes this the most important–and most interesting–book of the trilogy. It’s the one which is about character over plot.

My goal with Vin, here, is to take the mists from her. Kelsier gave them to her in book one, and now it's time to take them away.

They are the haven of the Mistborn. But, if you watch as the story progresses, you will see that I slowly take them away and leave her without.

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Chapter Thirteen - Part Two

This Elend scene here is almost a direct parallel of the scene in book one where Kelsier first introduces the plan to his people. Elend has a much harder time of it. In fact, this scene–in conjunction with the scene with the Assembly–is supposed to establish Elend as what he is: a man with great ideas, but poor leadership techniques. He's brilliant and scholarly, but he doesn't know how to get people to do what he wants.

This is reflected in his speech patterns, and has been since book one. He likes to use the phrase "Now, see," followed by an observation. He doesn't command, and when he argues, he uses very passive sentences. All of this is–hopefully–makes your subconscious see him in a certain way.

The only reason he convinces the crew to go along with them is 1) he's right, they like to gamble, and this is the type of plan they like and 2) they already know him, and his ideas have earned a measure of trust from them.

When necessary, Elend CAN give a brilliant speech. He can make people dream and hope. He just isn't good at arguing, and is rather poor at being a dictator.

This scene, by the way, is another substantially rewritten one. I focused a lot more on the idea that the crew was going to have to deal with a long siege in the rewrites.

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You might be curious to know that I based Elend, in part, on my editor Moshe. I don't know that it was conscious–in fact, I just noticed the connection while writing right now. However, the speech patterns and the way he thinks are very similar to Moshe, and I kind of see him in my mind as looking like a younger version of my editor. I guess I see Moshe as a sort of heroic guy.

He wouldn't make a very good dictator either. But, then, I think that's a good thing, since I have to work with him. 

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Chapter Fourteen

Yes, it was probably stupid of the crew to leave Elend alone with Tindwyl. I pushed this situation a little bit farther than, perhaps, is plausible. However, you have to remember how the Terris people are regarded by those in Luthadel. Terrismen are, in general, such kind and loyal servants that it’s hard for Elend and the others to feel distrust for one.I was very pleased with this scene when I wrote it. I'd known from the beginning that I wanted to bring another strong female character into this book, as well as give Elend a mentor for kingship. Tindwyl fills both of those roles remarkably well. She also gives us another look at Terris culture–it's always difficult in a book like this to distinguish the cultures from the people. If you have only one Terrisman in a book, then he doesn't just represent himself–he represents all of his people. And so, unless you show another side of that culture, the person and where they come from become the same thing.

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Chapter Fifteen

The actions of this wildman here seem strangely logical to me for some reason. Everything he did simply felt right. Sometimes–well, most of the time–character work that way for me. It makes me worry, actually, that sometimes the characters are too clichéd. After all, if their actions and mannerisms come that easily to me, then maybe I'm not stretching enough.On the other hand, I feel that the characters act naturally because I understand them. If I really understand a character, then won't everything the do feel right because. . .well, that's just what they would do.

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This is, perhaps, the most overtly foreshadowing chapter in this book. I'm trying to tie quite a large number of threads together in this series, and it was a challenge to keep them all in the air at the same time.The events in this chapter, then, will wrap back around to things that happen near the end of this book and in the next book. Mostly, I'm showing the real danger of the mists–that there IS indeed a reason to fear them. Either way, remember one thing from this chapter. Some people were killed (and there's a connection between the two people you've heard described specifically as dying from the mists) some people got away, and some people had seizures, but then were all right later.

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Chapter Sixteen

Vin in her room

This first scene is a classical Brandon scene–a character studying, thinking, and exploring who they are in their own head. Some people find my narrative style–with the thoughts, the conclusions, and the debates in the head–to be a little slow. I can understand that, even if I don't agree.

I like knowing my characters. A chapter like this really works for that, in my opinion. It seems to me that in too many books, you never really know a character's thoughts, feelings, and logic enough to understand why they do what they do. So, I spend time on those things.

This scene is important for the decisions Vin makes about herself. She is not the type of person to second-guess herself. In a way, she shows some of the very things Tindwyl tries to get across to Elend later in the chapter. Vin encounters a problem, mulls over it, then comes to a firm decision to trust herself.

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Oh, and the line "he was the type of person who could defy reality" in reference to Kelsier is one I stole from my friend Annie. She said it about me, actually. It was in reference to how I belligerently believed that I could do something like become an author–a job that very few people can have, and even fewer people can make a living at. She said it long before I got published.

Always stuck with me.

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Elend on the wall

Now you can see why Elend's proposal–giving him power to hold the city until he met in parlay with the kings–was such an important plotting device. Don't worry; I'll get into the problems with the proposal soon. It's by no means hard-fast, and I realize that a simple promise like this is not going to hold for long in the face of something like a siege.

Still, it lets me set up the siege. This section here is actually one of the very newest in the book. I wanted a section that officially began the "siege of Luthadel" making it firm and fixed in people's mind, so that they would know for sure what the conflict was.

Adding scenes like this one increased the size of some chapters far beyond what I normally write. This is one. It's interesting to note that, for a given book, my chapters tend to end up being around the same length. It's not completely intentional; it just happens that way. This book, however, has that rhythm thrown off quite a bit now.

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Brandon Sanderson

Tindwyl's training

I chose to only show a few sections of Tindwyl training Elend–I figured that these could get laborious if I did too many of them. This isn't "My Fair Lady," after all.

We never get to see Elend learning to duel, for instance. As a writer, I tend to react strongly against things I've seen done too often. That doesn't always make me not include them in books, but sometimes it does. Training a man with the sword, for instance, seems to have been done enough that you can just assume that it happened–and imagine it happening–without me going into detail about Elend’s practice sessions.

This scene that is included, however, is rather important. Elend's new look, and his decision to let his hair get cut, represent the first change we pull off for him: The visual one.

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Chapter Seventeen

So, now the Watcher is named. I didn't originally intend him to remain mysterious for so long. In fact, in the original draft, I had a viewpoint from him fairly early on. That's been moved back in this version, to make things flow more quickly at the beginning, but also so that you could form your opinion of him externally first. He has a. . .particular way of seeing the world, and I felt it better to introduce that later, so that it wouldn't overshadow the other aspects of his personality quite as much.

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This fight is for the Allomancy junkies. I don't think there's another one quite as technical as it is in the entire rest of the series.

I try to give variety to how my fight scenes are handled. The spar between Ham and Vin was quick and visual. This fight is all about pushes, pulls, and weight. I fear that it's pretty hard to imagine, and unless you're really into Allomancy, I suspect that many of you skimmed most of it.

Yet, writing a book is about putting in lots of things for lots of different people, I think. Allomancy is fun because of its versatility–I can to all kinds of things with it. This was just one of them.

So, if you really like how Allomancy works–with the pushes and pulls, the vectors, mass, acceleration, and all that, this is a present for you. A chapter really showing off what two Mistborn can do when expertly manipulating their powers.

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If you didn't see the Zane/Kelsier comparison later, I bring it up here. In a way, Zane's purpose in this book is to represent things that Vin never really had an opportunity to choose.

She ended up with Elend. However, there is another option, and that was the option that Kelsier represented. The option that Zane represents. Despite her assurances to Elend that she didn't love Kelsier, there WAS something there. Kelsier had a magnetism about him, and since he died, Vin didn't ever have to choose between him and Elend.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Eighteen

As I said before, the Zane chapters originally started earlier in the book. I pushed them back in order to keep the mystery a little longer and to streamline the beginning.

Now I can finally get into his story. Zane is important for several reasons, many of which I can't really explain without spoiling not only this book, but the next one. One of his most basic functions is to provide a foil for Elend. An opposite. Elend is safety, and Zane is danger. They share many similar features, but in Zane, most of those features are twisted.

He also represents a throwback to Kelsier. He is more like the Survivor than he'll probably ever understand.

Making him insane like this was a gamble on my part. I worry that, at first, it seems cliche. There's a whole lot more going on with Zane than you might assume, but your introduction to him is that of a schizophrenic villain who likes to cut himself. This might just seem like a grab-bag of psychosis, but I ask you to stick with me on this one. Zane has been many of my alpha-readers favorite character.

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Straff is generally everyone's least favorite character–though that's kind of what I expected. He's not insane; he’s just a terrible person. Those do, unfortunately, exist–given his power and upbringing, he’s not all that surprising in his bullyness.

I wanted to provide a range of villains for this series. The Lord Ruler was one type of villain–the untouchable god, distant and mysterious. Straff is another: the downright, simple bully with too much power and not enough wisdom. Zane is our third villain–sympathetic, edgy, and possibly more dangerous than either of the two.

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Chapter Nineteen

Some of my readers thought that Sazed expended far too much of his speed in order to get to Luthadel. I don't agree. What he saw in that village disturbed him greatly. Remember, he's been spending the last six months investigating news of the mists killing people, and now he found an entire village where something like that happened. He's worried and he's eager to get back to Luthadel. In the face of that, the use of his metalminds makes sense, I think.

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Brandon Sanderson

The koloss army was another thing that got shuffled about in this book. Originally, the Luthadel folks discovered its advance pretty early on. All of their discussions, then, talked about the fact that they had three armies bearing down on them.

I pushed back knowledge of the koloss for a couple of reasons. First off, koloss are scary–and I think they deserve to be treated differently from the other two armies. Their appearance can throw a real wrench into things later on, once Elend and company hear about them. It allows for the reader to know something that most of the characters do not, and leads to anticipation and tension.

In addition, it gives Sazed another good reason to exist in the plot. Now he knows about the koloss and nobody else inside the city does. His mission, therefore, is even more vital. He has to bring information back to his friends.

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Brandon Sanderson

Koloss are something I've been trying to work in for a time. Originally, in the very first draft of Mistborn one, I had them make an appearance in the prologue:

The skaa worked the fields with the lethargy of the hopeless, their motions methodical and listless. Though the sun's light was darkened and ruddied by the ever-present smoke, the day was still oppressively hot. Yet, no skaa man paused to wipe his soot-stained brow–being seen resting by a koloss fieldmaster would invite a whipping.

So, the skaa worked. Eyes down, watching the dirt by their feet, they dug at the weeds–daring not to speak, barely even daring to think. Koloss stalked amidst them, blood-drop eyes alert for signs of skaa laziness.

Obviously, I changed their place in the world drastically. During the drafting of book one, I was still working out what I wanted the koloss to be. I knew they were going to be something monstrous, and as the first draft of Mistborn One progressed, I slowly cut them from the book and decided to save them for book two. As the characters talked about them, the koloss reputation became more and more nasty–and I went so far as to explain that the Lord Ruler himself feared to keep them near human settlements.

So, when it came to plan book two, I put a lot of effort into developing the koloss. I wanted them to be cool visually, live up to their reputations, and work within the worldbuilding and magic of the setting. You'll find out a lot more about them as the series progresses.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Twenty

Elend is already progressing nicely as a king. There's a lot more time passing in here than I'm showing–lots of training and lessons. One of my worries is that Elend will develop too quickly. However, considering the situation he's in, I suspect that he knows he has to either adapt quickly or be destroyed. A few tense months can really change a person a lot.

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Brandon Sanderson

Also, we get to see here that Zane already has his fingers on Vin's emotions. She's beginning to question and doubt. This, however, isn't a quick change–you should realize that all of these questions were already there inside of her. Not only is she a teenage girl, and living during an emotionally volatile part of her life, but she grew up learning to distrust and fear betrayal. Though she's getting better, the old worries are all still there, and even a little bit of scratching at them reveals them again.

She never really had to confront these things. Falling in with the crew, learning to trust, was actually easy in the last book. Kelsier was there to make everything work out all right, and Vin was always underneath the watchful care of Sazed.

This book is about making her face these things directly.

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Brandon Sanderson

We get to see a bit of depth from both Breeze and Tindwyl in this chapter. As I said earlier, I can't really spend the time to round out everyone on the crew, so I have to pick carefully. Breeze is one of my favorites, so I decided to work a bit with him in this book. As you'll find out later in the book (when we get a few Breeze viewpoints) he's actually a full-blooded nobleman. It's not really that important to the story; it's just part of who he is.

Breeze has made a life and a reputation out of hiding his feelings behind his attitude. I likes looking like a scoundrel–not only does it let him get away with a lot of random things, but it also keeps people from poking too far into his past. There are a lot of skaa thieves who would react very poorly if they discovered that Breeze wasn't really one of them, but a nobleman who was forced to seek refuge in the underground.

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I think Tindwyl has a lot of good points in her training. Some people rebel against the things she says, but I think that she has a good idea of what makes a leader. Or, at least, one kind of leader.

The problem is, that isn't the only kind of leader that works. Still, in my mind, she knows that she HAS to be like that in order to react against Elend's frivolousness.

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Chapter Twenty-One

The truth is that yes, indeed, Cett caught Breeze in bed with his daughter. In Breeze's defense, she kind of snuck in herself while he was sleeping and snuggled up to him. However, that wasn't why Cett chased Breeze out of the camp. You'll find out more about that later.

I couldn't resist throwing in the ending of the last chapter, mixed with the beginning of this one. Ham's wisecrack about Cett catching Breeze with his daughter was just too good to not make true. The thing is, Breeze is always so controlled and self-important that it's good to throw him out of his element every once in a while.

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This is a short scene, but one of the more important ones to show off a little character development in Elend. He is beginning to see some of the truth in Tindwyl's words.

Pulling off a transformation like his was one of the great challenges of this book. Actually, the plot was pretty easy–but getting Elend and Vin's relationship down, along with the development of both of their characters, was much more difficult. It takes a subtle hand to make Elend learn to be a king without having him progress too quickly, and I'm not sure how well I did it.

Vin's development–showing off her inner distrust without making her seem paranoid or making their relationship seem shallow–was even tougher.

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Chapter Twenty-Two

Vin spies on Ham in the Mists

This chapter has another poetic introduction–I warned you about those, I believe. I hope it isn't too out of place.

Testing Ham in this way is something Vin really should have done earlier in the book. The problem is, I have a lot of things I need to pack into a relatively short space of time in this book. I did things in order of importance, and–oddly–testing the crewmembers took a lower precedent than getting Allrianne into the city or introducing Elend's plan to deal with the warlords.

But, finally, we get to work a little bit on the imposter plot. There are dozens of ways that Vin could have gotten Ham to burn pewter–but she wanted to do one where he didn't know she was there and he where he would use the metal reflexively. She also wanted to do it when she knew he was alone. That way, she couldn't be fooled by someone burning pewter nearby to make it seem like Ham was burning.

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Vin asks Ham how to kill a man burning Atium

This conversation about how to kill someone who is burning atium is another one I'd been wanting to include for a long time. It's important to the plot, and the overall arc of the book, that you worry about Vin lack of atium. Plus, I want to keep the reader thinking about the metal, as the Lord Ruler's atium cache is such a large part of the series' plotting.

It's tough to know how to fight someone who can see the future. What Ham outlines here are pretty much the only things that anyone has been able to come up with.

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Vin admits her real reason for disliking OreSeur.

Obviously, the most important events in this chapter deal with Vin and OreSeur and their relationship. The real reason why she hates him is something that I hope you've been wondering about. I intended the "He ate Kelsier" argument to fall flat for readers. Vin's smarter than that, as OreSeur said. Eating Kelsier's dead body is a little, dumb thing. A person who grew up on the street wouldn't be bothered by such a simple, if brutal, event–particularly not for as long as Vin has kept her grudge against OreSeur.

So this is why. She did love Kelsier–not romantically, perhaps, though Vin's emotions at the time weren't as simple as she'd now like to think. Either way, Kelsier's death affected her greatly. Focusing on OreSeur–who knew about Kelsier's real plan, but didn't stop him from executing it–gave her someone to hate. She couldn't hate Kelsier, but she could resent the one who had let him die.

It's a complicated relationship. But, then, aren't most relationships complicated?

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Vin thinks about assassinating Cett and Straff

The other thing of real importance here is Vin's struggling with whether or not she should just go assassinate her enemies. It seems like such a brutal, effective way to get rid of these armies. I wonder how many more leaders we'd find dead in our world if magical warriors like Mistborn existed.

Explaining why Vin doesn't just go and take care of those two men was challenging for me. This is a harsher world than I've written in before, and it was really tempting to have Vin just go kill her enemies. I toyed with doing that very thing for a long time.

The problem is, I think it would be a bad idea for her to do that. I think it for the very reasons I outline here. I doubt that killing those two men would really have the effect she wanted. And, if she really were determined to drive those armies away, she'd have to kill quite a number of leaders. It seems equally likely to me that, after killing a number of them, the armies might just join forces and take the city.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Twenty-Three

Sazed's Arrival

I debated how to have the crew react to the koloss threat. It seemed that having them get worked up about it would be out of character. They all know there's little they can do at the moment–the koloss are too far away to be a pertinent threat, and the other armies have them boxed in.

I eventually realized that the crew might see the koloss as an advantage. They are an opportunistic group, and have been feeling overwhelmed by events. Any change in the status could end up being an advantage to them.

So it is that twenty-thousand monsters marching on their city gets dismissed almost as easily as Sazed's warnings about the mists. The crew members aren't fools, but they are pragmatists. They have enough to worry about at the moment. More nebulous threats will wait.

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Breeze's Secrets

Breeze's real name is Ladrian–I believe I mentioned it back in book one as well. He gets annoyed when he hears it, however, because it is a reminder that he's really a full-blooded nobleman. The "Lord" Sazed uses is even more of a reminder.

He wishes he could have left his name behind, discarding it. He sees himself as "Breeze" and has for a long time. However, he used Ladrian a few times earlier during his career, and it's never left him.

These are all things, of course, that we won't have time to talk about in the actual text of the book. So, you get them here instead.

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Chapter Twenty-Four

Vin sits and thinks in the mists

Most of the logbook entries that you're seeing Vin reference in this book were used as epigraphs in the first book. As I mentioned in that book's annotations, one of my goals in this series was to finish the rough drafts of all three books before the first novel went into production. I had a lot of plans for the series when I started the first book, but I knew that there would be a lot of things I wouldn't be able to nail down until I had Book Three worked out. (You'd be surprised at the connections and ideas you come up with as you work through things on the page.)

I realized that I'd want to be able to foreshadow and worldbuild in a way that pointed toward the third book, as I thought that would give the series a powerful cohesion. For instance, when I was working on the first book (and planning the series) I knew I wanted to use the mist spirits and the koloss in this second book. However, when I was planning the series, my worldbuilding had included the use of SEVERAL different "Mist Spirits" rather than just one. In addition, as I was working on the first book, I realized that the koloss just weren't working, and so I cut them from that book to leave them for this novel, where I would have more time with them. (Allowing me to better define for myself what they were like.)

By the time I finished this book, I realized that–for the mythology I wanted–there could only be a single mist spirit. Also, I knew pretty darn well what koloss were. It was very helpful to have finished this novel before Book One came out, as I was able to go back and revise the logbook entries which referenced "spirits" in the mists so that they spoke of just a single spirit instead. I also had characters speak of koloss in book one the same way they do in book two.

Not big changes, but I think they improve the feel of the series.

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Zane confronts Vin about her desires and not meeting him atop Keep Hasting

If you didn't pick up on it, one of the things I was trying to do in this chapter–mixed with the last chapter–was forge a link between Zane and Vin. He speaks of things in the very same way that Vin did in the last scene. For instance, Zane here admits to himself that he can't leave Straff because his father is all that he knows. Vin used to think the very same thing about her abusive crewleader Camon.

It goes deeper than that. These two characters share a lot. Even their names are meant to feel a little similar. In fact, the one big difference between them is Kelsier. He injected himself into Vin's life and changed her course drastically. She would have eventually discovered that she was Mistborn, and she would still have become quite powerful. However, she wouldn't have known the people of Kelsier's crew, and wouldn't have learned to trust.

It's interesting to think, sometimes, what she would have done in Luthadel without the Survivor's guidance.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Twenty-Five

Vin and Tindwyl go Shopping

Part of me wants to get the same reaction out of the reader that Vin gave in this chapter. "Shopping? They're going SHOPPING?" I realize that this scene is a gamble. This is a book about a besieged city, and in the middle of it, I include a chapter spent trying on dresses.

There are a lot of important things I wanted to show in this chunk of the book, and this really did seem like the best way. First off, I wanted to get Vin back to the market so that she could see how tense the people were. Also, I wanted to have a chance to let her interact with Tindwyl–both to show another side of Tindwyl, and to finally force Vin to start confronting some of the things she needs to work on in this book.

She's reacted too strongly against the person she was becoming in the last novel. With Kelsier, and his encouragement, gone, she's reverted. She's frightened to accept the noble half of who she is.

I also wanted to show just a bit more of Allrianne. She's going to get some more screen time in upcoming sections, and I wanted a chance to give her character a little more rounding.

Beyond all of those reasons, I also just wanted to do something different, something a little more light. I miss the ball scenes we had back in book one. There was really no way to work them into this book, and so I let them go. However, I wanted to at least give a nod to those people who enjoyed them in the last novel. This scene and the dinner with Straff are both kind of throwbacks to those chapters from the first book.

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Aborted attack on the walls

The end scene of this chapter, with the army outside making test on the Luthadel walls, was one that Moshe suggested that we add. It came into the book very late in the process, during the last major revision, well over a year after I'd finished the first draft of the novel. The purpose of the scene was to give a reminder of the armies and the pressure they're applying to the city. We knew we needed to keep the reader thinking about the armies, and this chapter was a way of speeding up the book by making it longer, as I talked about before.

A test on the walls, then, makes sense. This also let me show off a bit how Allomancers might be used in battle, which I'd never been able to do in book one.

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Chapter Twenty-Six

Vin and Elend discuss going into Straff's Camp

In the original version of this particular chapter, I had Vin think that Elend's idea to go into Straff's camp was terrible. She thought it was too dangerous, even foolhardy. And, since Vin is generally a very competent and trustworthy character, the readers agreed with her. They all thought that Elend was doing something incredibly stupid in this chapter.

Now, what I had been TRYING to do was have her offer strong objections, then get brought around by the end of the sequence to admitting that Elend was right. Unfortunately, that just didn't work for this scene. The plan was crazy enough that readers were already inclined to thinking it was crazy. When I instead switched the narrative so that Vin had a grudging, yet favorable, opinion of the visit to Straff's camp. With her weight of trust behind the endeavor, suddenly readers had no problem with what Elend is doing.

Readers trust Vin more than Elend, which makes sense. If she tells them that something is a good idea, they're more likely to go along with it. It was an important lesson for me as a writer. I realized that Elend needed Vin's support in these early chapters otherwise he wouldn't have the readers' support. He is untrained and is stumbling as he tries to learn. In order for us to trust him, Vin needs to.

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Reasons for the Plot Sequence

Even still, I realize that what happens in these two chapters represents a very bold–even crazy–move on the part of the heroes. Part of the reason I devised this plot sequence because I wanted to make book two feel a little more like book one. The first book was all about Kelsier's crazy plans, and pulling them off. If you remember, it seemed like every other chapter someone found reason to ask him "are you insane?"

I wanted to give this book a little bit of that "impossible heist" feel, if just for cohesion's sake. In this book, it is represented by Elend visiting Straff's army, and by the characters doing a few other crazy things.

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Trip into Straff's Camp

Seeing the obligators here is my other nod to the fact that they're still a small force in the world, that they haven't disappeared, and that they can be important to the setting and the characters. However, we're just not going to deal with them much.

I hope that readers buy Straff's easy dismissal of Vin as they first enter his tent. It was a bit of a stretch that he'd let Elend into his camp with a Mistborn, but I believe it's important here to remember a few things.

First off, a Mistborn could probably go into the camp on her own, if she wanted, at pretty much any time. If Vin had wanted to attack Straff's tent, she didn't need to wait until Elend had an invitation to visit to do so.

Secondly, there is the feel in this world about using Mistborn–it's a little like the modern idea of Mutual Assured Destruction. If both parties have Mistborn, and one attacks, there will be retribution. People tend to hold their Mistborn back, using them only in emergencies, lest they unleash something dangerous in return.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Elend and Straff Spar in Straff's Tent

As Elend suspects, Straff is lying through his teeth about the treaty with Cett. Straff would be too frustrated by making an alliance with someone he feels that he should be able to conquer, particularly after such a short time at siege. He's not fond of Eastern noblemen, a trait common in those from Luthadel, and he's annoyed that Cett forced him into the siege in the first place.

He has contacted Cett to feel out the other man's position, of course–which is how he knows that Cett isn't interested in the city, only in the atium. Or, at least, that's what Cett claims. Either way, Straff isn't about to split the atium cache–if he were to find it–with someone else. Particularly not a man who could prove to be such a strong rival.

Elend threatening Straff here is what I see as Elend's first big character turning point. It's brash, but it's also kingly. He stares down a much stronger foe through sheer force of will, though he does add in a very powerful threat.

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Vin and Zane Watch Outside the Tent

Zane's cutting has an interesting evolution in the story. At first, I added him cutting himself simply because–well–it made a cool scene. Zane, cutting his own arm in front of his father, primarily to make the other man uncomfortable.

However, there's more behind this, and the cutting worked very well into the interaction of the different magic systems in the book. Particularly Hemalurgy. The pain makes the voice in Zane's head weaker. There will be more on this later.

I'll admit that I didn't originally intend to make the Zane-Kelsier connection with those scars on his arms. However, when writing this scene, I couldn't believe I'd missed seeing what a great opportunity I had. Vin already associates Zane with the Survivor; letting her see the scars on his arms gives her another powerful connection, particularly since she misinterprets where they came from.

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Elend Returns and Gets the Letter Deposing Him

And, finally Elend gets deposed. I worry about this plot twist coming out of nowhere, though it is quite well foreshadowed. Elend mentions at one point that the Assembly can choose new kings. He's missed several of their meetings, and–because of his earlier proposition–they can't do anything about the armies until he decides to let them.

That put a lot of pressure on the Assembly, and they were made to feel irrelevant. There are, of course, other forces pushing and pulling at the Assembly–and you'll find out about those later.

Elend made a big mistake here. He was so busy being king that he forgot he himself had set up a constitutional monarchy. His enemies DIDN'T forget about this fact. In Elend's defense, both Straff and Cett have a lot more experience with leadership than he does.

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Part Two Wrap-up

And that, Elend getting deposed, leads us into the next section of the book. The first section was intended to re-establish the setting and character, part two introduced us to the plot. Now we'll get into the thick of things, with the three different rulers vying for control of Luthadel—and, they hope, the hidden atium supply it represents.

I like that this book is, again, about the atium. I hope that people don't get tired of hearing about it. This is a theme for the entire series. At the core, both the first two books are started by the conflict over the atium. In book one, the atium is what Kelsier intends to steel. In book two, the atium the reason the warlords come to conquer the city. It's fun that something that has yet to make an appearance—if, indeed, it's even real—has sparked the conflicts of two separate novels.

Of course, in both books, the atium quickly becomes overshadowed by other things. Kelsier was going to steal the atium, but he really wanted to overthrow—and get revenge upon—the Lord Ruler. As Straff points out in the last chapter, he may have come for the atium—but the real reason he wants Luthadel has to do with more personal reasons.

Regardless, the throne of Luthadel is now up for grabs, and that will demand our attention for Part Three of the book.

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Chapter Twenty-Eight

Elend and Vin discuss his loss of the throne

Elend is going to be tested. That's one of the things I wanted to do with this book. In my previous two novels–Elantris and Mistborn–I gave the heroes relatively easy times. Or, well. . .maybe not easy. However, the fact remains that when they stayed true to their ideals, the things they tried tended to be successful.

I want to show that ideals can be a hindrance. That isn't a reason not to have them, but it is an aspect of trying to do the things Elend is. There are a lot of people out there who will take advantage of a person who tries to do the right thing, and that can make doing the right thing the more difficult choice a lot of the time.

I also like how Elend is progressing as a leader, but I made certain to give a throwback to the old Elend in this chapter so that you'd know he was still there. Vin's observations about this point are quite accurate.

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Vin and OreSeur

Another thing that's going well is the Vin-OreSeur relationship. In fact, because of some of the wedges Zane is driving between Elend and Vin, one of my alpha readers continually joked that he thought Vin and her dog had a better relationship than Vin and her boyfriend.

I don't think that's true–he was reading the book one chapter a week as I workshopped them. I hope, given Vin and Elend's closeness at the beginning of the book, that you can see they still love each other–even if they are under a great deal of stress. That isn't to say that Vin isn't falling for Zane a bit. However, I don't think she's falling out of love with Elend so much as convincing herself that she's no good for him.

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Tindwyl Confronts Elend about Vin

Tindwyl's parting words–that Elend might have to choose between Vin and his work–were tough to write. Not because they're true, but because they're a bit clichéd. In the end, I had to admit that I think Tindwyl would bring up this point, and would see it as her duty to make certain Elend thought about these things. So, I had her say these things anyway.

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Chapter Twenty-Nine

Vin and OreSeur Talk while Vin waits to see if Zane will Come Find her on the City Wall

I hope I'm not overdoing the parallels between Vin and the Logbook author, the previous person who thought that they might be the Hero of Ages. Some readers, in the original draft, thought her supposition (in the next chapter) that she was the Hero to be too much. They wondered where she got the idea.

I'm not trying to imply that Vin is or isn't the Hero. I'm just trying to show Vin's thought process. That's a tough line to walk in these chapters. As a writer, I want the narrative to be deeply inside someone's viewpoint, and therefore show who that character is and how they view the world. However, I don't want that narrative to indicate–certainly–that what the character thinks is actually true.

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OreSeur's Origins as a Character

Vin and OreSeur are quite well-established by this point. Actually, OreSeur and his character–the OreSeur we deal with in this book, with the conflicts and personality he uses–are one of the items I brought over from Mistborn Prime. (If you'll remember, that's the first stab I made at writing a Mistborn book years back. It was unpublished.) The kandra sidekick was one of the very few things that actually worked in that book. (Too well, actually. People liked him much more than they liked the actual hero of the story, who wasn't a character that appears in any of the current Mistborn novels.) If you ever want to read Mistborn Prime, email me and ask. I'll send you an electronic copy.

(I've talked about that book in previous annotations. While the book débuted an early version of Allomancy and a couple of world elements–such as the mists coming at night–very little of the book made the jump to the new, professional version of Mistborn. I pretty much just stole the concept for the magic and a few select world items and used them as a starting point for this series. In that way, this trilogy is a kind of sequel to the other Mistborn book, though the plots, world, and characters are very different.)

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OreSeur as the Spy

Keeping OreSeur from acting suspicious in this book was really tough. I still don't know how well I pulled it off, though most alpha readers didn't see his plot twist coming.

The biggest trick was making the reader not suspect him from the get-go. I had to use some very subtle misdirection there. Remember, OreSeur was the one who told Vin how long those bones had been in the room. I think Vin points this out later in the book.

Other than that, I had to keep Vin from ever suspecting him, and have her point out other people she thought were far more suspicious. Sometimes, being a writer feels like being a magician. We have to leave things in full view, yet disguise their meaning, so that the end is dramatic.

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Chapter Thirty

Sazed Transcribes the Text from the Plate

This isn't the full text of the plate, of course. We'll get to more of it later. I knew I had to work the text into the actual narrative, rather than relying on the epigraphs, since people tend to skip those. (If you do, however, be warned that you will be missing some of the great clues in this book.)

My hope is that by reading these things together, you will see the writings from the epigraphs in a slightly different way. Collected like this, they turn into a narrative.

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Vin Talks to Sazed about the Deepness

The Deepness. Is it the mists? Vin makes some very good arguments here, as does Sazed. I won't come out and explain who is right and who is wrong right now, but I will note that some people reach this point and feel a little let down.

I'm sorry if the Deepness-mists connection seems a little bit anti-climactic to you. To me, it's a major plot point, and I was surprised when a few alpha readers didn't think much of it. Give me a little bit more time through the series, and perhaps you'll see why it's more impressive to me.

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Sazed talks to Vin about Tindwyl's Past

The other big thing in this chapter, of course, is Tindwyl. As I think I've mentioned, I wanted to include another strong female character in this book. Perhaps with this chapter under your belt, you can begin to understand Tindwyl better. Readers seem fairly well divided on their opinions of her. Some like her a lot, others dislike her violently.

Me, I am quite fond of her. She voices a lot of my own concerns, and represents something that this group of characters needed. A firm voice for stability.

She and Sazed actually have quite the history, which you will discover more of as the book progresses.

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Chapter Thirty-One

Philen watches Elend enter the Assembly Hall

We get a random viewpoint here. No, Philen isn't going to be a major viewpoint in the book. He just fills a role that you'll often see in my books–that of the section given to a random person because I wanted to show a different perspective on things.

In this case, I wanted to show Elend entering the assembly hall, as he would be seen by someone sitting on the inside. This was one of the dramatic scenes that I planned from early on for the book, and it was nice to find a way to fulfill it.

Of course, there's more to Philen's viewpoint than that one image. I also wanted to make him a little more memorable so that the next few Assembly meetings would work better. I've reinforced Penrod a bit, but I worried that Philen would be forgettable unless I gave him a viewpoint. And, since he is a modestly big player in the next little bit of political wrangling, it felt right to let him take the stage for a few moments.

Finally, it was simply fun to write from a brief–but new–viewpoint. Philen thinks very differently from the other viewpoint characters. His sentences are quick and eager, and his internal narrative has a shallowness to it in both sentence structure and content. He's not very smart, but he is rather clever, and those things mixing together–along with his native eagerness–made for an interesting viewpoint to write.

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Elend Nominates Penrod

I hope that this chapter feels thick with some good political wrangling. Elend pulls of some fairly good maneuvers here, especially considering how far he's come. True, he was coached in a lot of what he did here, but the fact remains that he's learning and growing.

Vin and Breeze give him a little TOO much credit for getting Penrod to nominate him, however. While Elend hoped that by nominating Penrod, he would get a nomination in return, he wasn't counting on it too much. No, in this case, Elend's basic goodness was simply being manifest. He figured that if not a single one of the Assembly was willing to nominate him to be king, he had no right to nominate himself. Better to let the matter die here than force a vote when nobody was even willing to consider him for king.

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Chapter Thirty-Two

Regarding the line to the effect of: "There are a hundred different courts with a hundred different smaller Lord Rulers" in the Final Empire.

One of the problems created by my writing style is that it's hard to give a real feeling of scope to a kingdom or landscape. When you read something by Robert Jordan, for instance, you get to see a whole world full of peoples and places, since the characters travel all about. I prefer to set my stories in one or two locations, usually a large city, since this lets me focus on the political wrangling, and it also lets me give a strong sense of place to that area.

It was impossible in these books–particularly the first book–to give a sense of how large and varied the Final Empire was. I threw in Spook's street slang and Sazed's cultural references to try to hint at the different ethnicity, but these were only that–hints.

I don't regret the way that I write. However, I am aware of the issues involved in the choices I make. I think that's what you have to do in a book–you make trade offs, choosing to focus on some things and not others.

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Cett Suddenly reveals himself at the Assembly Meeting

Elend does need to learn a few things still. To be truthful, I think he's too honest to be a king. There are times when, as a king, I think you need to lie in order to comfort your people. You don't tell the dying man that he has no hope for survival. You don't let a man like Cett bully you into admitting that your Allomancer has been manipulating the audience.

But, well, Elend is Elend. He does things the way that he feels he must, even if it gets him into trouble. Actually, in that way, he and Cett are very similar. They do what they feel they must.

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Cursing in the Mistborn Series

I've taken a little bit of criticism from certain readers for the swearing I put into these books. I know that most of you consider things like 'damn' and 'hell' to be very weak curses, if even swear words at all. However, to some people, they can be offensive. Since I didn't use them in Elantris, some readers were surprised to find them in this series.

A writer must choose how to convey his ideas, and it's hard to make a choice that will please everyone. In the Final Empire, using curses like these–rather than just making up ones for their world–was necessary. I feel that a few (if relatively weak) 'our world' curses were needed for this setting, as made up ones just didn't work. The tone they set wasn't right.

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Smaller notes

Two other small notes. First off, I drew the reactions of the skaa–wanting to go back to having a tyrant in charge–from some essays I'd read about the fall of the Soviet Union and some other modern countries which had received freedom, then wished for the days when things were easier. I think it's a sentiment that makes sense, even if it frightens me a little bit.

Also, only Vin would assume that someone HAS to be Mistborn, just because they happen to be crippled.

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Elend discovers that a well has been poisoned

This poisoned well scene is another one that was added to the book during the final draft. Much like Straff's test attack on the walls, this scene is here to remind you that the armies are out there, that Luthadel is besieged, and that things are not going well for the heroes. I don't want you to forget about the armies just because our focus is on politics for the moment.

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Vin Tries to Determine if Dockson is the spy.

This Dockson scene is one of my favorites in the book. I'm a little bit sad that Dockson, like Ham, doesn't have much time for development in the series. In book one, he only got a single good scene–the one that Vin references here. During that scene, we really got a good look at his personality and his inner demons.

Those demons come up again in this scene, where we get to see the haunted worries of a man who has received what he wanted, but then come to realize that he shouldn't have wanted it so badly in the first place. He's a good character, Dockson is–but the only thing I can give him is one powerful scene per book. At least he gets one. Ham and Clubs don't even get that.

By the way, Vin calling Dockson boring is particularly ironic here because during our first introduction to Dockson in book one, he tells Kelsier that he'd 'Grown boring' over the last few years.

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OreSeur and Vin discuss their interview with Dockson

This series, in total, is about trust. About what it costs to trust people, and what you earn by trusting. In book one, Vin learned to trust–and she learned one of Kelsier's prime beliefs. That it's better to trust, and be betrayed, than to always worry about everyone around you.

The theme, then, for this book is service and friendship, and trusting those you serve. Elend has to earn the trust of his people. Vin has to earn the trust of the kandra who serves her.

OreSeur's explanations about the Contract are mixed with Zane's worries and problems with being Straff's tool. This story is, in part, about what it's like to serve–what it's like to be a tool–and the difference between a good leader and a bad one.

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Vin sees Demoux in the dark

I ramped up the Demoux suspicion scenes during the final draft, since I figured I needed a pretty good red herring this late in the game to keep the heat off of OreSeur. Originally, the next "Vin Follows Demoux" scene happened right after she saw him sneaking out the first time. I moved this in the draft, giving her longer to suspect him

The result was this scene, where she hasn't eliminated him as an option yet, but also knows that he snuck out at night. I had to rationalize why she wouldn't just grab him straight out, though I think I came up with pretty good rational. It makes sense, actually, and was one of the easiest fixes I made in this book. She WOULDN'T want to spring a trap on him, not yet. She'd want to watch and see what she could learn from him.

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Chapter Thirty-Four

Elend and his scholars inspect the law

It was fun to write this scene with the scholars sitting around. I could show their different styles, with Ham browsing, Elend thinking about implications, Sazed reading very carefully line by line, and the obligator looking at the money trail. I added Noorden in because I wanted to do another nod toward the fact that obligators used to be a force in the world, and also because I wanted someone fresh in this scene–another character we could play with. We'll see him again, but not until the next book.

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Vin comes to tell Elend what she's discovered.

The way Elend treats Vin in this chapter puts a few people on edge. If you're in that group, realize that I want you to feel this. And, not just for plotting purposes. I just think it's more realistic.

People get tired. People have trouble focusing. And people treat even those they love with indifference sometimes. This is particularly bad of people like myself–men who are quick to get focused on one project or another. I've done things just like this to my wife, unintentionally ignoring her because I am so tied up in my current project.

It's not a good thing, but it IS natural and normal. Unfortunately, it prompts something very important: the return of Reen's whispering voice in the back of Vin's mind. She's been free of him for a long time now, but I thought it appropriate to bring him back. After all, that voice–partially a representation of her subconscious–was a large part of her character in the first novel.

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Zane attacks Vin, then reveals that he's Elend's brother.

The Zane scene represents a major turning point in his character as well. I see it as important how much he reveals to Vin here. He, like her, has trouble trusting–and even though he's manipulating her, even though he's aware of what he's doing, having him tell her these things is a major breakthrough. At least, for Zane. Everything is a little twisted where he is concerned.

Having him fight her with atium was, also, an intentional attempt on my part to remind you how vulnerable she is without the metal. I'm not even sure I can get across how little a chance she had in defeating him.

Here I also mention Snapping here for the first time in this book. It's an important world element that, unfortunately, I think a lot of people tend to forget.

It doesn't really matter until book three, however, so I'm willing to let it slide in this book, giving only occasional reminders.

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Chapter Thirty-Five

Vin and Elend dine with Cett

And, we have our second "ball" scene in this book. Some people really enjoyed those in the previous book; at least one reviewer hated them. However, I like them–particularly for the visuals they let me use when going into the gorgeous noble keeps. As you may recall, these are based loosely on gothic cathedrals, which I just think would be an awesome place to have a ball.

Cett was, perhaps, too fun a character to write. I needed someone the opposite of Straff, and it was very fulfilling to write in an enemy to this series who was completely straightforward and belligerent. He still stands out to me, quite different from any of the other antagonists in the series.

He knows Elend well–that should be enough to hint that he kept an eye on things in Luthadel, despite his attitude which implies that he didn't care about the place. He's watched Elend's rule very carefully, debating whether to make an alliance or to make a play for Elend's throne. If the truth be told, he would have probably gone for the alliance if Straff hadn't moved against Luthadel.

He walks a careful line. He's not a good man, but he IS an effective leader in some respects. I wanted him to offer a third viewpoint on leadership in this book, one that is actually accurate. Being a leader isn't easy–not at all. There are a lot of ways to do it, and I don't want to imply that any one of these people–Elend, Cett, or Tindwyl–are wrong. That's what makes it so tough to be a leader.

Cett offers the perspective of open, honest tyranny. He doesn't lie to you. He tells you just what he's going to do, and he has a point that many of the things he does are safe.

But, what do you choose when you have to choose between safety and freedom? You can probably guess that I wrote a lot of this book during the heightening of security in America surrounding the September 11 attacks. The last couple of years, there has been a lot of talk on this topic, and it wormed its way into my writing. I didn't put it there intentionally, but I did monopolize on it when I found it there.

I don't have any answers. I just write what I see, and force my characters to make choices.

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Cett's lies

By the way, the three lies Cett told: First, that he didn't care if Allrianne ran off,. Second, that he wasn't annoyed to find that Breeze was having a relationship with her. Third, that he had told three lies during the conversation. (He'd actually only told two, but that made it three, which makes this comment wonderfully self-referential. That's why he said "Good Luck figuring out what they are.")

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Chapter Thirty-Six

Sazed visits the Refugees, and meets Tindwyl there.

This scene with the refugees isn't, actually, a new addition to the book in later drafts, though it works wonderfully to remind the readers of the siege. It was in the very first draft.

Tindwyl did wonder if Sazed really cared about the people or not. You see, in her mind, if he DID care about the people of the empire, he wouldn't be in Luthadel at all—but out doing what a Keeper should. It was good for her to see him here, trying to help as best he could, ignoring his studies to care for the sick. He does care; he's perhaps the most caring person in this series. He's just trapped, trying to do what is best for as many people as possible.

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Breeze Viewpoint in the Warehouse with the Refugees.

Breeze didn't want to go with Elend to meet with Cett (for the dinner.) That isn't only because Breeze didn't want to see Cett, but because he wanted to go and help the refugees. (That chapter actually happens on a different day, so I brought him back to visit again so that I could show you him working with the people. In the Mistborn novels, unlike Elantris, I keep a strict chronological progression from chapter to chapter and scene to scene. So, if a chapter comes after another one, it's always later in time as well.)

I realize that I'm in danger of making all of my protagonists too good. Showing Breeze as being somewhat less cynical on the inside than he projects inches me toward this line. However, I LIKE people who are heroic. I try my best to make things rough on them, and to give them some quirks to keep them a little grey, but the honest truth is that I believe most people are good at heart. They WILL help others, if given the chance.

Plus, Breeze likes to study people, and this is a great place for him to do it. He can mix his focus in life with making other people feel better. Of course, there's also the fact that Kelsier himself manipulated Breeze and made a better man out of him. Put a person in charge of the weak and poor, give him the right motivation and direction, and I think that an many cases he'll come to love them. Even if that man is Breeze.

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Breeze Viewpoint Continues. After speaking with Elend, he visits Clubs.

The friendship between Clubs and Breeze came mostly because I wanted to give Clubs just a little more screen time. I also liked the irony of the pairing—the Soother and the only man on the crew who is completely immune to him. It makes for a nice juxtaposition.

It is good to note that Allrianne did, in fact, seduce Breeze—and not the other way around. She's a girl who knows what she wants and how to get it. You'll see a viewpoint or two from her later on.

Clubs lies here in this scene, by the way. He says that "Money" is the reason he joined with Kelsier. He says it so quickly and naturally that even Breeze buys it. But, if you remember the scene in the first book when he joined, you'll know his real motivation. He wanted to spit in the Lord Ruler's face. He knew he was going to get caught and killed eventually, and he wanted to do it in a dramatic way.

Thing is, his team actually won. Go figure.

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Vin Viewpoint; she and OreSeur listen in on Breeze and Clubs.

Vin gives away a valuable secret here. OreSeur, previously to this, hadn't know that she could pierce copperclouds. However, the way that she first tells him that Allrianne is a Rioter, while Clubs is there burning his metal, is too big a clue. He just figured out Vin's secret.

And, by way of reminders, Kliss was the woman that gossiped a lot at the balls, and whom Vin tried to manipulate. Turns out that she was an informant playing Vin the whole time. Shan is Elend's former fiancée, a woman he didn't know was Mistborn, but who tried to assassinate him. Vin managed to kill her in a rather dramatic scene involving arrows, half naked girls, and a big, stained glass rose window crashing to the ground. One of my favorite sequences in the first book.

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Error in the Hardcover edition

I forgot to mention it in the appropriate chapter (I think it was way back in twenty-six) so I'll mention it here. Maybe I'll move this eventually.

Anyway, the hardcover edition of the book had of the more embarrassing typos in the series. (I think we got it fixed for the softcover.) It relates to Clubs and his Allomantic abilities, which is why this scene made me think of it. Way back in chapter twenty-four, I mistakenly (during one of the very last drafts of the book) mention Clubs as being a Seeker, not a Smoker, and burning the wrong metal.

I knew I'd do this some place in the series. The thing is, Clubs was originally going to be the team's Seeker, with Marsh being the Smoker. I swapped this before I started writing, but there is still some latent belief on my part that Clubs is a Seeker. And, because of that, when writing quickly and smoothing over rifts made by re-arranging chapters, I wrote the wrong metal down. (And it isn't just a single word typo; I think I even talked about him being a Seeker, and being able to sense what metals people are burning. Something like that.)

All I can say is. . .whoops!

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Vin Follows Demoux

And, this chapter just keeps going! It's one of the ones that suffered a bit from the rearrangement of some of the sequences, in this case I moved the "Chase down Demoux" scene from an earlier chapter into this one to keep the suspense going.

I wanted this scene for two reasons. The first, obviously, is to round out Demoux just a bit and make spotting the imposter a more difficult problem for Vin. However, an equally important part of it was my desire to show how the Church of the Survivor is evolving.

Those of you who have read Elantris know that I'm fascinated by religion. In this case, I want to show a fledgling religion, and try to postulate how one would develop. A lot of the observations made by Vin here, then, are my attempts at tracing the beginnings of religious movement. Right now, there is no doctrine or ceremony—just belief and hope.

And one of those hopes is that Vin will somehow bring the sun and plants back to the way they once were. I don't hit the visuals on the world as hard in this book as I did in the last one. Hopefully, it's present enough in the setting to make you remember that the sun is red because of the haze in the upper atmosphere. Plants are brown, not green, and there are no flowers. The prophesy that Vin will restore these things is new, relating to some of the things that Kelsier used to talk about.

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Demoux's History from Book One

This might be a good place to give you a little bit of Demoux's history, by way of reminder. He was one of the first recruits to Kelsier's army, and Ham promoted him to captain almost as soon as he (Ham) took control of the troops who were hiding in the caves back in book one. When Kelsier came to inspect those caves, Demoux led him around a bit. Then, Kelsier used Demoux in a display where he humiliated a dissenter.

Eventually, Yeden took the army and decided to attack a fortified position. Some of the troops thought this was against what Kelsier had told them to do, and these stayed back in the caves. Demoux was their leader.

He's also named after my good friend and former roommate, Micah DeMoux, who also did the jacket photo of me in the backs of all of my books. Captain Demoux actually looks just like Micah, in my mind, though with the fitness of a soldier.

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Chapter Thirty-Seven

Sazed and Tindwyl discuss the Deepness

When it says that "Sazed was the one who presented Tindwyl with the accumulated knowledge of the Keepers gathered while she was gone" that's a lot more involved than you might think. It included him reciting to Tindwyl hundreds of hours worth of information, the two of them sitting there, him speaking, her memorizing. It took them months, during which time they really got to know each other well. I think that's probably when he first started to have feelings for her.

I've worried about the romance between them, and not just because of Sazed's nature as a eunuch. Tindwyl isn't presented as the most sympathetic character in the series, yet Sazed is one of the most likable. I worry that readers won't be able to see to the depth of their affection for one another. I didn't originally intend to give Sazed a romance in this series, but when I was working through book two, I saw how many things it would help facilitate. You'll see what I mean later on.

By the way, you should recognize Tindwyl's line about making "occasional exceptions." That's virtually the same language she used with Elend when suggesting that it was okay for him to have a romance with Vin. That was the first hint I seeded that Tindwyl might have a soft spot for romance, and be willing to overlook some of her strict rules if love was involved. In truth, if Tindwyl were going to admit her real feelings to herself, she didn't come to the city for Elend. She came hoping–yet dreading–that she'd find Sazed there.

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Brandon Sanderson

Elend talks about Arrogance as a kingly attribute

Arrogance. Elend is just voicing some of my own philosophies here–though in my life, they were applied to writing, not kingship.

You have to be arrogant to be an author. It's tough, sometimes, to continue to believe that people should be willing to pay you for your work. You have to keep working, ignoring rejections, soldiering forward. There's an arrogance to that. Call it self-confidence if you wish, but it's the same thing.

I believe you can be arrogant about some things, yet humble about others. In fact, I think you need to be.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Vin waits for Elend to reveal his plan before the Assembly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Elend and Vin get attacked by Allomancers

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

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

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

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

Mistborn have a tendency to be over-confident.

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Part Three Wrap-up

I named this section of the book "King." However, that's supposed to be a slightly ironic title, since Elend gets deposed at the end of part two, spends this entire section working to get his throne back, then eventually loses it anyway.

The irony is that during this section, in my mind, Elend really learned to be a king. Yet it's the place where he has it most brutally pounded into him that his rule is not wanted.

Idealism has a cost. Or, at least, I think it SHOULD have a cost. If you are holding up your ideals as true, then you should have to be willing to sacrifice for them, otherwise it just doesn't feel right. I don't think this is me forcing the story to prove a point—I think it's me trying to represent, as accurately as I can, the way the world works.

The measure of Elend Venture is not going to be what kind of king he would make. It's going to be the kind of man he makes once he's been rejected.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirty-Nine

Zane's Plan

For those of you trying to figure it out, this is Zane's plan: First, he got a group of untraceable Allomancers from his father. Then, he got a couple of them onto Cett's staff as serving men to work the kitchens. Vin saw these men, and associated them with Cett.

Then, Zane had them attack her in a public place, where he was counting on her to completely slaughter them. This gave Zane two potential gains. First off, people are always shocked when they see brutality–even when that brutality comes while protecting them. Zane expected Vin's effectiveness to work against her with the Assemblymen and with Elend, making them scared of her.

Secondly, he now knows that Vin–hopefully–will connect the assassins to Cett, not Straff. She saw one of them on Cett's staff. Zane can divert blame for the attack onto Cett, thereby helping his father secure the city. A win-win situation, except for the six half-brothers Zane just let get killed.

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Zane and Straff meet with Penrod in the night

We haven't had a Straff Viewpoint in a while, though from here out they get a little more frequent. Mostly, I had to include this to let you know why the merchants switched sides, and to give you a little hint of what was going on behind the scenes in places the heroes couldn't see.

I also wanted to remind you of Zane's penchant for poisoning his father, and Straff's own use of that mistress to heal him. This entire plot cycle (with the poisoning) was a late addition to the book in the revision process, added to give more dynamic between Zane and his father.

The really funny thing about all of this posturing, searching, and threatening in order to get the atium is this: atium is worthless. Or, rather, it only has worth as long as people give it worth.

In the minds of all of the characters, this cache is a fabulous treasure. Don't judge them too harshly–think how hard it would for you to pass up gold or diamonds, even if you were in the middle of a catastrophe. That's what's going on here. They still see atium as being incredibly valuable, even though the truth is that it was only valuable because the Lord Ruler made it so much a foundation of his economy.

True, atium can be used by Mistborn to do some pretty amazing things. However, you don't need a whole cache for that. Zane has proven that he has enough atium to kill Vin if he wants, and so more really isn't necessary for the Ventures.

Another worry, however, is that there enemies will get it–and that will let the enemies use their Mistborn to assassinate without as much fear of repercussion.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Forty

Zane Visits Vin after the Fight in the Assembly

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

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

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

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Vin Uses Allomancy on OreSeur

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

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

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Brandon Sanderson


Sazed and Tindwyl discuss Alendi and the Lord Ruler

I added this run-down of who everyone is in the past just to help you keep them all straight. There aren't really that many people involved, but since we only hear of them via logbooks and notes, I think they might be hard to keep straight.

I like the depth of history this story-within-a-story gives us. I realize that some of you may not find it interesting, but–well–there are parts of every book that every one of us don't find as interesting. On the other hand, I know that a lot of you DO like these parts, since you email me frequently and ask if I'll do a Mistborn prequel dealing with Alendi and Rashek.

These sections are here for those of you who want to REALLY understand what is going on in the Final Empire. The weight of history that caused the characters to end up in the situation they did. In addition, one of my main motivations in writing this series was in the idea I had for Alendi, Rashek, and Kwaan. I didn't think they deserved their own book, and to be honest, I'm not convinced that the prequel should be written. (Despite your requests.) The story works better as an accent to this main story, I think. If I ever were to do a prequel (and generally I'm not fond of them) I would rather tell Kelsier's story training with his master Gemmel and finding the Eleventh Metal.

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Elend Thinks about Losing his Kingship on his Balcony.

I love this Elend scene, with him up on the balcony, thinking. It is poetic in the way that I like to be poetic–a person, alone with their thoughts, wrestling with their own ideas and motivations. I think there's some very beautiful language here, but not in a traditional poetry sense. In the way that it accents Elend's character.

He does, however, completely misunderstand Vin. I know it's a bit of an overused plot device–the man misunderstanding the woman, and the woman in turn misunderstanding the man. But the truth is, we write about it so much because it's so true. When my wife and I were dating, we each had the toughest time deciding if the other was interested. We were both terrible at interpreting each other, even though we both wanted the same thing.

We managed to get through it and get married.

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Brandon Sanderson

Elend talks to Tindwyl, then returns to his room and puts his uniform on.

Elend's relationship with Tindwyl cracks me up. That is all.

During this conversation between the two Terrismen and Elend, I think Sazed speaks my philosophy on characters and writing. They have to do what is important to them. I don't like to advocate situational ethics, but in some cases, that philosophy is appropriate. If you're a Jew who follows Kosher, then you don't eat pork. (Among a lot of other things.) For that person, I think it is morally wrong to break Kosher–because you've made a promise to yourself and God that you won't. However, is it wrong for someone like me to eat pork? No. I haven't made that same promise.

The same goes for my LDS belief in not drinking alcohol. I've promised not to–but that doesn't make another person bad or evil for drinking. They haven't made the same promises I have. It's about remaining true to yourself. There's nothing inherently wrong with alcohol (Christ himself drank it, after all.) But there's something wrong with making a promise, then breaking it.

In this case, it was right for Elend to do what he did. Another king could be a good man and make the opposite decision without rebelling against his own personal morals. There are a lot of absolute rights and a lot of absolute wrongs in life, but there are far MORE rights and wrongs that depend on who you are as a person, I think.

Sazed, however, IS setting himself up for some difficulty later on with some of the things he says here. You'll see what I mean at the end of the book.

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Chapter Forty-Two

Elend Organizes Off Duty Troops to Salvage

Hopefully, this sort of thing is what you've been waiting the entire book to see from Elend. He's finally acting like a king; making decisions, being in control, doing something. It comes too late to save his throne, but it will do a world of good for his people.

In this, I think I was successful in the book. Elend didn't win the struggle for the throne. He's not king. However, he won the struggle with himself. There was a cost to his idealism, but he gained much more than he lost.

You might want to note the Goradel cameo here. He's a character I use a lot more in book three, so I wanted him to at least show up in this book.

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Ham helps Elend Sneak out of the City

It's tough to remember that Ham has a family. Part of the problem is that, to be honest, I forgot myself. I wrote them into this book during the revision process. I had the whole novel finished before I remembered that in book one, Ham had mentioned he had a family.

I like the tiny bit of rounding-out that the family gives him, however. He's the only married one on the crew, and that gives him different motivations. I didn't just want to cut it from book one (which I could have done, once I remembered after writing book two, since book one wasn't out yet.) But I wanted to keep it, so I had to write it into book two.

I eventually decided that I wouldn't show any scenes with his family, just like I hadn't in book one. It was easier, and it seemed to fit with their place in the novel.

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Elend Goes into the Koloss Camp

Elend does go overboard in this chapter. He realizes it, when fighting the koloss. He's let his adrenaline, and his desire to do something, make him a bit reckless. However, this first thing–going in to see Jastes–actually makes a lot of sense. First off, it gives us nice closure on the "Visit the enemy kings" plot sequence. (Elend Visited Straff, then Cett, in their strongholds. Now he does so for the final army.)

And, of the three army leaders, Jastes should have been the one most kind to Elend. The two are old friends. If you don't remember him, he was pretty much Elend's best friend in book one. He was the one who first discovered that Vin was not who she said (he had her followed) and was the main person Elend hung around with at the parties.

I wanted to show that good doesn't always win, particularly in the short term. The things Jastes tried to do are what Elend did. In both cases, they failed. The world wasn't ready for their brand of freedom yet.

Elend speaks the truth, however. A man's losses are what define his faith.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Forty-Three

Vin Looks over Elend at Night, then Zane Arrives

So Vin makes her decision here. Yes, she's been manipulated. But, as Breeze is fond of saying, we all manipulate each other all of the time. Zane didn't get her to do anything that she didn't already lean toward doing.

That said, Zane IS a master at manipulating people. I wanted him to be brilliant at playing with people's emotions. He's been Soothing and Rioting Vin for most of this book, but only very subtly. You rarely get to see that explicitly, since when it's happening, we're in her head and her emotions just feel like emotions to her. But watch the narrative and you'll see little spikes of emotion caused by Zane.

Even without emotional Allomancy, however, I hope that you can see why Vin made the decision that she did. It's important for me, and this book, that she does what she does next. She had to try the violent way. She had to give in, I think. It was always there, hovering so close to her, that if she'd rejected it without ever trying, I think it would have felt like a worthless rejection.

Now, however, the danger with tasting Zane's way is that she'll give in completely.

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Vin Assaults Cett's Keep

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

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

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

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

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Forty-Four

Breeze and Clubs watch the Army go

This is supposed to feel like everything is falling apart. I like that Elend doesn't see how much danger he's in now that one of the armies is retreating–as clever as Elend is, Clubs is the expert on warfare. Elend is an optimist; he finds it hard to look at the bad side of things. To him, an army leaving is good.

Still, even he knows that they're losing control. A battle is coming, and where it does, Luthadel–and those within it–will be in serious trouble.

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

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

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

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Elend Finds Vin

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

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

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

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Brandon Sanderson

They Discuss Religion

In my books, one of the things I prefer to do is have characters who voice opinions opposite to my own. I figure that my own feelings and beliefs will work themselves naturally into the text, and so there are probably a disproportionate number of characters in my books who see the world as I do. So, any time that I can add a strong character with beliefs that oppose mine, I feel that it gives the novel more credibility.

In this case, I think Tindwyl has a very strong argument against religion, particularly considering the world in which she lives. Prophecies—the staple of fantasy literature—are silly, if you really look at them. What's the point? I like that she offers some strong arguments against religion in this section because it not only fits her character, but gives context to what she and Sazed are doing.

Both Tindwyl and Sazed, by the way, use the same speech patterns. Kwaan does too, as did the Lord Ruler and Alendi. It's very subtle, but it's there—in my mind, at least. In this series, you can tell who is Terris by looking at the way they construct their sentences.

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They Discover That the Rubbing Has Been Ripped

The missing piece of the rubbing is supposed to seem very random, and very strange, to readers. Sazed, unfortunately, gets distracted from it here very quickly. This will return later. You should be asking yourself about that missing line and thinking of earlier in the book, where Tindwyl has some problems with that very same line. Something is wrong with it.

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Elend and Vin Visit Sazed in Turn to Ask about Relationships

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

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

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

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

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Forty-Six

Breeze Goes to Sazed's Clandestine Meeting

Whew! Lot to talk about here. This chapter got not one, but two large additions over the editing process.

First, the Breeze viewpoint. This isn't new, but it's one of my favorites in the book. Here, we finally get a little more on the fact that he's a really nobleman. His family had some hard times when he was younger, and one of his brothers turned on the rest of his family, betraying them to a rival house. Breeze got out, went into hiding, and eventually passed himself off as a half-skaa with a thieving crew. They were very impressed by his ability to imitate noblemen, and his new career was begun. He was surprised at how much he liked the skaa thieves; he found them refreshingly straightforward after dealing with noblemen. So he just decided to keep at it, and he eventually landed in Kelsier's crew.

Yes, he did just sleep with Allrianne. No, it's not the first time.

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The Crew Discusses, sometimes angrily, what to do

This scene with the crew arguing is one of the most honest scenes we get in any of the books. Finally, they let their real emotions out. They're not always happy, and they don't always get along. Dox and Ham particularly tend to get on each other's nerves. They don't talk about it often, but the two of them have never gotten along. Which is why we don't often see them interacting together.

However, they're working together again by the end. What these men needed is a plan. If they don't have one, they fall into squabbling. If there's something they can focus on and work toward, they can keep going.

Sending Vin and Elend away is pretty daring of them. I think it makes sense, though. How much good can one person, even a Mistborn, do against an army?

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Vin Investigates the Lord Ruler's Palace

Yes, the mist spirit and the Well are related. They feel the same to Vin. There's something going on there. Also, the footprints in the dust are from someone you know. More on this later.

If you can't tell from those two cryptic comments, this scene with Vin sneaking around Kredik Shaw is one of the new scenes that I added late in the process. I felt that I needed to do some more foreshadowing for things yet to come; the original draft left the surprises at the end just a little TOO surprising. We will be back in Kredik Shaw before the book concludes, and I wanted to visit the place at least once before then to remind you of its existence, and to make a few narrative connections.

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Zane Awakes When Assassins Try to Kill him, then he Bids his father Farewell

The Zane scene is half old, half new. I love that his first reaction to nearly being killed by Straff's soldiers is to think that his father trusts Zane more than he expected. Who else but Zane would see getting attacked as a sign of trust?

Leaving Straff alive was a controversial move for Zane in many readers' minds. Not in mine. He never wanted to kill Straff, even though God tells him to. He really does love his father. If you couldn't sense that in the undercurrent of the story, I'm sorry–but it's the actual truth. Zane loves Straff just like Vin loved Reen, even though Reen beat her.

The scene with the spike in Zane's chest is new. I decided I needed to show this in the book, rather than talk about it in book three. The implications of it will take me another five hundred pages of text to explain. So just remember that you saw it.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Forty-Seven

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

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

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

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

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Vin And Zane Fight

The mists enter the room here, which is–again–intentional. A lot of these things have to do with the deeper worldbuidling we won't get into until book three. However, suffice it to say that they were forced to enter by something.

Zane's "You were supposed to save me" is something that I really don't expect to make sense. Despite what God says at the end, Zane is a little bit insane. He's gone too long listening to the voice, thinking himself mad, and doing things like slaughtering his way to the top of Cett's keep. He's not stable anymore.

The fact that God doesn't tell him to kill Vin is what drew Zane to her in the first place. He figured it must mean something–that somehow, if they were together, he'd be able to drive the voices from his mind. For that, he risked everything–that, and the ability to have someone else to be with. He could leave Straff only if he had someone else to rely upon. Someone to save him.

When Vin turned against him–as he saw it–then he had to go back to what Straff wanted. He'd promised his father that he'd deal with Vin. And so he had to. If she wouldn't come with him, he had to kill her.

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Brandon Sanderson

OreSeur's Betrayal

Several pieces had to come together to make this chapter work. Beyond the obvious Vin/Zane motivations, we had to understand OreSeur–or, actually, TenSoon–enough that his betrayal makes sense.

This is the great plotting device I stole from Mistborn Prime. The kandra are from that book, and the spy who turns out to be the hero's own kandra made for a wonderful plotting device. I had to do it again, lest the chance for that wonderful twist be lost.

The reason this works so well for me as a plot sequence is because I can see TenSoon's heart. He and Vin start off rough, and he has no problem planning to betray her. Yet as they grow to be friends, TenSoon grows tormented for the betrayal he was continually forced to perpetuate. It makes for very strong plotting and character on his part, and gives us a surprising bang of a twist here at a climactic scene. It also sets up wonderfully for him as a viewpoint character in Book Three.

Of course, some of you may have seen that he was the traitor. That's unfortunate, but expected. Readers are just too darn smart sometimes. If you didn't get it, then don't worry–you were just caught up in the story. There are an awful lot of clues, though. Any time Vin asks “OreSeur” about something from the past, he hedges, then guesses, and is hesitant. She notes a lot during the beginning of the book that he's acting oddly, not like himself, but attributes it to him being in the dog's body.

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Vin Kills Zane despite his Atium

The other thing I had to foreshadow, then make work in this chapter, was the way to kill someone who was burning atium. This is also something I stole from Mistborn Prime, and I'm afraid that it worked better there.

The thing is, I just haven't spent enough of the plot with Vin working on this problem. Killing an atium-burner was a major plotting conflict in Mistborn Prime, which was a much shorter book, without so much going on. In this book, we have many, many different plotlines and secrets interweaving. And so there wasn't a whole lot of time for Vin to worry about how to survive without atium.

According to the laws of Allomancy, this is very in-line with how atium works. Only someone burning atium can change the future–but they can change it accidentally by showing someone else what to do.

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Chapter Forty-Eight

Vin and Elend's Marriage

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

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

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

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

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Part Four Wrap-up

I named this section "Knives." My philosophy was that it involved people being used as tools—and it focused on Vin and Zane, culminating with their attack on Cett's position, then fight against each other.

I toyed with the name "Knives of Flesh" but that conjured too many silly images for my writing group. They still haven't let me hear the end of that one.

In the end, I like the shorter, simpler section title. It is a nice counter-point to the previous section, which was titled king. It focused on Elend, this focused on Vin.

Next section focuses on the Siege of Luthadel and its end.

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Chapter Forty-Nine

Elend and Vin Ride out of Luthadel, Allrianne Joins Them

And Tindwyl and Elend end on a sour note. I guess that's appropriate.

Allrianne is one I'd been wanting to add a shade of depth to for a while, and I saw my chance here. We'll get a viewpoint from her in a short time–just a short one, and it won't do much except maybe give her a little rounding out.

You can thank Isaac (aka Nethermore, the guy who did the internal art for the Mistborn books) for naming the gates in the city. He was the one who, when doing the city map, realized that it would be cool if the eight gates were named after the eight basic metals. It made so much sense; I'm surprised I didn't think of it.

Vin and Elend do manage to escape the city, as they had hoped. My big worry here is that readers will be frustrated that I'm sending the two main characters away for the big battle. My big hope, however, is that readers will take this as a sign that nasty things are coming for the city. I think this chapter here leads to some real potential for tension in the siege itself.

Atop the wall, as the team watches Vin and Elend leave, we get another exchange talking about Sazed and his belief in a lot of different religions. I hope I didn't lay it on too thick; I just wanted to show some character dynamics as he talks to other characters. You can also note here that Ham is back to calling Elend "El." (Against Elend's request earlier in the book.) Ham started that up a while ago, actually. He's not the best at following orders.

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Straff Plot Climax with the Poison

And, finally, we get back to Straff. His cycle is filled with quite a few short little scenes, and I suspect that many readers won't pay attention to them. Still, if I'm going to give someone a viewpoint, I like to give them conflicts and problems unrelated to the other characters. It makes the characters and their lives more real. In this case, Straff's problems with a former mistress surface in a revenge ploy.

As I said, it's a small thing, rather unrelated to the overall plot of the novel. When Tor was pushing for me to cut the book (which I didn't end up doing) I left these scenes because I felt that they 1) Worked quite well and 2) I think they gave a little more depth to the story, showing that characters have lives other than the main plot.

The mistress lies here, by the way. Going cold turkey on that drug probably wouldn't have killed Straff. It might have, but probably not. Still, being under her power probably wouldn't have been very fun for him. He didn't kill her intentionally–he really was just losing control of his anger under the influence of panic and poison. This is one of those little twists that I hope feels very realistic under the circumstances, but is also unexpected.

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Chapter Fifty

Allrianne Finds the Bandits

This is a "Little bits of everything" chapter. There's a lot I needed to tie up–or at least touch on–before I got to the battle. You may have noticed (or read in these Annotations) that I tend to start jumping viewpoints a lot more quickly once the end of a given book approaches. By then the characters are established, and it's time to start giving the reader a stronger feeling of motion and action. I think the scene breaks help do this, though I'm not that cognizant of it when I write. I just tell the story, jumping scenes as I find I need to show more and more perspectives.

The first in our list of scene jumps is an Allrianne viewpoint. I think she may have one other in the book later, I can't remember, but this is the one that really stands out to me. I wanted to make sure to have a little bit of lightness in the story before everything goes south, so you get to enjoy this scene and the next one.

Allrianne totally cracks me up. This scene makes me smile every time I read it. I'm not sure what it is about her that works so well for me. I tend to like characters who are quick-tongued, and who act far more foolish than they are. Allrianne, then, is a classic Brandon character. It was very nice to be able to dip into a viewpoint like that for a short time.

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Vin and Elend Traveling North

Next, we have the happy couple scene. I figured that after all of the problems, confusion, indecision, and the like, these two deserved a couple of days to relax. This is, then, their version of a honeymoon. Not much to say, other than to note that Spook is going to start coming a little more to the forefront in the next few chapters. I want to introduce some of his conflicts and character issues to provide a lead-in to the next book, where he's one of the major viewpoint characters.

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Straff Survives

Straff is, indeed, alive. A lot of alpha readers were surprised to read this scene because they figured he was dead after the last one. I, however, have a few more things for him to do–plus, you can't kill a villain in a fade out like that without some good confirmation. It's just not dignified.

Oh, and of course, he needs to be alive so that he can pull his armies back and let the koloss attack.

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Sazed and Clubs, then Tindwyl in the Keep

Finally we get the Sazed scene. This is my favorite in the chapter, and it's a chapter filled with a lot of scenes I really like. Allrianne may make me chuckle, but Sazed MEANS something. Showing off the cost of Feruchemy like this made for some interesting worldbuilding, and having Sazed interact with Tindwyl and Clubs gave us some character.

Sazed is beginning to feel troubled by what he's done and what is happening around him, but he's not the type to show it yet–even in his thoughts. However, the fact that he preaches a religion to Clubs (the first time he's done that to anyone in a while) shows that he's stretching, trying to figure out who he is and find his place in this mess. He figures that with the fall of Luthadel, he'll probably end up dead–and so he wants to know who he is before that happens.

Which is also why he finally seeks out Tindwyl to confront her. The scene where he brings back his senses while holding her is one of the great moments that you can have as a fantasy novelists that those realistic writers just can't have.

Two little behind the scenes thoughts on this section. First, Clubs mentions that the latest messenger to visit Straff was executed. If you guessed that this was because Straff himself is now awake, you guessed right!

Also, the religion Sazed preaches here is one I decided to spin off into its own book, focusing Warbreaker around it. They aren't the same planet, but I wanted to do more about a religion that worships art, and that was one of the initial motivations for Warbreaker's setting.

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Chapter Fifty-One

Vin Sees the Mist Spirit while Traveling

What is the mist spirit? You'll get that explanation later. . .in book three. Sorry to have to keep saying that. I wanted to delve into the nature of the Mist Spirit more in this novel, but there was just too much packed into it already. You'll get a little more on the mist spirit, but the whole of what it is can't be explained yet.

As the book progresses, we have seen more and more that it is divided into two separate plots. There's the defense of Luthadel, and there's the search for the Well of Ascension. Maybe now you can see why I decided to retreat from talking about the Well too much at the beginning, instead focusing on the politics. (See earlier annotations.) If I had focused on the Well too much early, I feel that readers would have been frustrated to be strung along, since the information about the Well really doesn't start to come out until the latter part of the novel.

This book IS about the Well, but it's also about Luthadel and the politics there. Though the book is named after the Well, I feel that the Siege of Luthadel is actually the primary story.

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Sazed Sees The Koloss Begin to Attack

Tindwyl is, indeed, going to help with city defense. She didn't even offer argument; when she decided to stay, she decided that she'd help. As a Keeper, she sees that she can justify trying to help protect the people inside of Luthadel from a slaughter. She probably wouldn't help fight against Straff–but against koloss, she is willing.

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Elend Discovers that the Koloss have been left to Destroy, then Elend Executes Jastes

And here we have the scene where Elend Kills Jastes. This, more than anything, is a sign to Elend of the way the real world works. This chapter is a sign of innocence lost, and a measure of the price of idealism. Elend will never be the same man after this.

Some of my alpha readers rebelled against this scene, but–unlike the scene where Kelsier used Demoux to kill a man in book one–I decided not to cut it. This event says too much about what has happened to Elend, and it means too much to his character. However, I did arrange things a little differently. In the original draft, Elend struck and killed Jastes, then explained why he did it. In this version, he outlines Jastes' sins first, then takes his head off.

Now, finally, Elend and Vin have discovered Sazed's lies. Did you wonder about him sending the two of them off to climb the mountain in the winter? Spook was around to stop that, in case you were wondering.

And yes, Spook knew. Considering how long it took Vin to get over the fact that OreSeur knew about Kelsier's plan to die, you can imagine that she's not soon going to forgive Spook for this one. In his defense, he was pulled about between some very strong emotions and motivations, not the least of which being his uncle explaining that if he DIDN'T go, nobody would be there to explain the truth to Vin and Elend and keep them from trekking all the way to Terris. Besides, Spook didn't want to die, and this path offered him an escape. Can you blame him?

He'll blame himself. Book Three.

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Chapter Fifty-Two

The Battle Begins

You'll notice something about these next chapters. Instead of focusing on the trained warriors during the siege of Luthadel, I spend my time inside the heads of Breeze and Sazed–the two least experienced with war and killing in the entire crew.

This is intentional. I want to give the sense that Luthadel is a place unprepared for war. Even its soldiers aren't really fighters. There hasn't been much war in the Final Empire, and those veterans who do exist are in Cett or Straff's employ. I would rather show the battle against the koloss, then, through the eyes of men who will be horrified and confused at what to do, as I think that will be the norm for this conflict.

It heightens the tension, and the tragedy, of this all when you get to see Breeze and Sazed trying to cope with the horrors of a battlefield. Plus, the opposite has been done quite well a lot–whether it be in a David Gemmel book or in Lord of the Rings. You've seen brave warriors defend a city. Now watch a politician and a scholar try to do it.

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Vin Tries to get to Luthadel in Time

These scenes involving Vin running toward Luthadel formed one of the pivotal sequences for me during the plotting of the story. Unlike most focal scenes like this I write, however, I'm not completely satisfied with these. Not because I don't like the sequence; I think the writing in the scenes turned out very well. However, I do wonder if the tension behind them works.

You see, with the finished product in hand, the plot sequence I worked out feels just a tad contrived to me. It's hard to avoid this in novels; if you plot out as much ahead of time as I do, then often you end up with contrived sequences because they ARE contrived. You designed them to work a certain way. In these areas, however, the "smoke and mirrors" I often mention comes into play. How good is the author at hiding his hand on the work? How easy is it for the reader to feel what the characters feel, rather than being drawn into playing the game of the metastory.

If the smoke and mirrors work, then you'll feel anxiety here. Is Vin going to arrive on time? Will she get there and find her friends dead? Will she even be able to do anything if she arrives on time?

However, if the smoke and mirrors fail, the reader will feel manipulated by the fact that I sent Vin away, only to have her turn around and come back a few chapters later. The reader will think "Of course she's going to make it. That's what this sequence is all about."

Often, I'm pleased with how the plotting keeps my readers feeling that anxiety. But in this sequence, I think the author's hand shows a little more than usual. Could just be my critical eye inspecting my own work, but I see it. Hopefully, you can read and appreciate the sequence for the emotions the characters feel, rather than the slight awkwardness of the plotting.

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

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

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

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

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

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Chapter Fifty-Three

Sazed Defends the Gate

The Sazed fights scenes interest me because of how much of a contrast they are to the Vin fights. Sazed's scenes are so brutal–strength against strength, blunt fighter against blunt fighter. Vin fights with grace. Sazed is just trying to stay alive.

I worked a lot on the plotting here of making Sazed's gate hold so long. When I planned the siege of Luthadel, I knew that I would need a very deep, character driven set of scenes with Sazed. It was the only way I felt I could add something new to this plotting sequence. The heroes defending their city during a siege has been done before. (One notable example being in The Lord of the Rings.) I was worried that I would be bored of writing these scenes, and so I decided to head that off by focusing in on Sazed here, who I thought would approach a battle like this in a new way.

I don't know what readers thought, but I found myself drawn very much into writing the scenes, which is a good sign. They up going longer than I'd anticipated, which is another good sign. Something about the contrast of the quiet religious scholar in the middle of such a terrible war was fascinating to me.

So fascinating, actually, that I forgot to write Ham into any of the scenes in these chapters. I didn't remember him until about chapter fifty-five. It was then that I remembered that the best warrior in the group had disappeared for the entire fight. So, I wrote him in, and added him to this chapter where Sazed gets to Breeze.

You'd be surprised at how often writers do things like this, forgetting a character. It's a tough call sometimes to keep track of everyone who is involved in various parts of a complex plot. Don't even get me started on the challenge of keeping track of everyone while writing in the Wheel of Time world.

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Clubs and Dockson die

And, speaking of Breeze, here we have Clubs's death scene, as seen by Breeze. So, in truth, Spook was prophetic when he said that Clubs had said good bye to him for good.

The simple truth is that felt I had too many characters in the books. I couldn't flesh them all out, and I really needed to get rid of a few. Clubs was, unfortunately, one of the casualties.

Of course, I didn't just kill him because I had too many characters cluttering the story. That was one of many reasons. I knew that I couldn't go through a siege without losing a few characters. It just wasn't realistic. The characters had dreaded this conflict too much, and they knew it was going to be dangerous–probably deadly–when the invasion came. I often say that I feel I can't protect my characters from the decisions they make. I did write in a little more power to some of Clubs' scenes in the book once it was certain that he would die here. The interactions between him and Sazed and him and Breeze in this novel were there partially because I knew he was going to die, and I wanted to give him some chances to participate in the story before going.

Dockson was the other one I decided to kill. In the initial draft, the scene with him dying ended with a koloss killing him from behind, without him looking at it.

My alpha readers complained profusely about this. So, at the request mainly of my friend Skar, I let Dockson grab a sword and charge before dying. Another send-off for Dockson is the comment he makes, noting that if the crew done things differently, turning on the nobility as he had wanted to in book one, he and the others would have been no better than beasts. It's his way of acknowledging that they'd done the right thing, and is a little bit of a redemption for him. He'd tried very hard to work with the noblemen, to make up for the atrocities he committed during younger years.

The final reason that I knew Dockson and Clubs had to die was because I wanted to REALLY make you think that Sazed was going to die too. If everything is working right in these chapters, you'll be sitting there, knowing that Vin is going to arrive in time. Yet, you'll question, you'll worry, and you'll begin to fret. You'll see Clubs drop, then Dockson die, in rapid succession. Then we come to Sazed, and he falls, out of metals, out of hope.

That's when I bring Vin in.

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Straff and Cett Viewpoints

We also have brief Straff and Cett scenes in this chapter, mostly so that you don't forget about them. Things are working with them, bringing them closer to where they'll need to be for the next few chapters to work, but they're not really doing anything at the moment.

So we hop from them quickly, giving each of them a few poignant things to observe about the battle–and to let us take a breather from the action–before diving back in.

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Chapter Fifty-Four

Vin Versus A Whole Lot of Koloss

The Vin fight scene here is meant to be quick and a little bit abstract, giving you the sense that she's killed a lot without going into a lot of details on blocking and blow-by-blow. I figure you got enough fighting with Sazed, and now we need to advance the plot.

In this chapter, we have a number of really nice moments that hearken back to the first book. Vin mentions several of them directly. There's the scene where she spins around atop Kredik Shaw, looking at the fires in the night. We'll have a scene like this in book three–a city lit by fire in the night as things change. We got one in Book One as well. Also, we have a scene here with Vin her thinking about how useless it is to try fighting an army on her own, referencing the time Kelsier wanted to do just that, and Vin kept him back.

With this chapter, I'm pushing quickly for the end sequence. The real climax of the siege was meant to be Vin's arrival, and the rest of these chapters make for an unavoidable downswing. She still needs to save the city, and–now that she's arrived in time–I believe most readers are expecting her to succeed. The only question now is how she'll do it.

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Vin Soothes the Koloss

She does it by Soothing the koloss. I think this is probably the easiest of the twists in the book–after all, I showed her doing the exact same thing to a kandra, then told you that kandra and koloss were very similar. So this shouldn't have been too much of a logical leap. If Vin hadn't been exhausted and overworked here, she probably would have figured it out earlier.

I thought it important, by the way, to show her fighting without her powers–and to show that she's still good, even when she doesn't have pewter steel or iron. She's a dangerous person. The metals just make her VERY dangerous.

By the way, I used Kelsier's last words–obliquely–as the thing that pulled her out of her stupor when she fell to the lack of pewter. She's been burning it far too much for this entire book, and hopefully you're expecting her to have to pay for that at some point. She would have dropped unconscious if she hadn't thought of her friends.

Kelsier would have been proud. His last words to her had been a chastisement, since she hadn't been treating their friends as well as she should have. He insisted on rescuing Spook from the cages, rushing into an obvious trap despite the danger. Vin has done nearly the same thing in returning to Luthadel.

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When I was designing the Three Metallurgic Arts for these books, I knew that I wanted Hemalurgy to have a built in flaw. A flaw that, as a deconstructionalist might say, was created intentionally and relied upon by the very force hoping it won't exploit it.

It was important to me that Ruin eventually be brought down, in part, because of things he did or flaws in his power. Preservation could simply build into the humans he created an innate goodness, then expect them to do as he hoped that they would. Ruin had to be able to directly corrupt and influence people. He felt himself stronger because he could MAKE them do exactly as he wanted.

The problem is, for his magic to work–for him to exercise control over someone–he had to leave a hole, so to speak, that other people could wiggle through and use. And so the entire "control the koloss" plot sequence in Book Two was intended to set up Hemalurgy, and in a way predict Ruin's fall.

Now, the only problem in all of this (for the heroes, at least) is that when Ruin actually got free, he was so strong that it was all but impossible for anyone else to "get through" the holes that he had left in his Hemalurgists. But it wasn't impossible. In a way, the foreshadowing in this book was meant to lay the seed that Ruin's control of his minions is not absolute. And an individual who wanted to resist him had that potential.

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Sazed and Vin Talk to Penrod

Penrod, by the way, is shell shocked. He's not thinking clearly–he's lost it because of the horror of what he's seen and been through. He was at one of the gates when they fell–he didn't just hide in the keep all the time.

The scene where Vin walks away with the koloss in the mists, sword over her shoulder, all of them making silhouettes. . .well, that's one I wish someone would do an artistic rendering of sometime.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Fifty-Five

Vin Kills Straff

I told you that I couldn't just let Straff die to a random poisoning. He's been an antagonist for far too long–surviving through two whole books. He deserved a sword in the head.

Oddly, there was a great deal of conversation in my writing groups about how to describe Straff dying. The thing is, Vin pretty much chopped him in half–but I don't imagine the koloss sword being that sharp, so I think it would smash and crush as much as cut, particularly considering how hard Vin hit. Some disagreed, and thought the cut should be clean.

Eventually, after trying several things, I just went with this. It's abstract enough that you can imagine what you want. I didn't want to be TOO graphic, nor did I want to cause arguments about something that silly.

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Cett Joins on Vin's Side

Cett is a good man. He's also a bad man.

He's a good man who thinks he has to be bad. He thinks that being harsh is the only way to secure his kingdom, and figures–since someone's going to do it–he might as well be the one. (I plan to deal with this entire concept of leadership more in a future book, by the way.)

But a piece of him hoped that he'd be able to find what he did in Luthadel. Someone he could follow. Someone he respected.

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Sazed Watches Vin Defeat Straff's Army

Sazed's scene here was one that I rewrote a couple of times. He watches the battle and doesn't participate. He was particularly hard to write here. He's got so much going on inside of him–he just lost Tindwyl, and with her went his faith. But, at the same time, he is expected to be a part of things–and his natural curiosity still makes him wonder if Vin is the Hero of Ages.

The thing is, Sazed doesn't really believe in the Hero of Ages any more. So, the trick I had was how to make him perceive the scene here? Lacking faith, yet still curious? It was a difficult line to walk.

Elend becomes emperor despite all of his attempts to set up a democracy. He has the throne given to him by force. In a way, this isn't exactly betraying his wishes to let the people do what they want. Elend deserves this throne. Cett came looking for someone to follow, Elend is actually the rightful Venture heir to Straff's army, and Penrod. . .well, he was made a subject king beneath Elend, so he didn't really lose his throne.

It's a stretch, I know, and the Elend at the beginning of this book never would have accepted it. The Elend at the end, however, will take it and do his best for the people as emperor. Even if it hurts him to do so.

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Part Five Wrap-up

The name of this section was Snow and Ash. I think that's pretty self-explanatory. While some of the section titles were tough to come up with, this one was rather easy. The image of the snow and the ash mixing was powerful to me because of how similar, yet at the same time opposite, the two materials are.

It was a brutal section, and actually marks the pseudo-ending of the book. We've dealt with the major conflict that was raised in the first chapter. The armies are defeated with and the city is safe.

However, there's still something to do. I had a lot of trouble deciding how to work the separate climaxes of this book. Did I try to interweave them, having Vin find the Well of Ascension even as the koloss were attacking? That seemed too obvious, and I felt one of the two plots would overshadow the other. Beyond that, I worried it would all just become a big mess, hard to follow. It IS possible to have too much going on during an ending.

So I went with the other option—dealing with the armies, then moving on to a final, shorter section that focused on the Well of Ascension. We're getting into parts of the book that were very heavily revised, and so these are things that will probably end up with deleted scenes on the website, once I get around to posting them.

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Chapter Fifty-Six

Elend in the Mists after Vin Leaves

I wanted to include a reference to mistwraiths in this book. They're a minor world element, but aspects of their origins are a piece of the puzzle that gets explained further. . .in book three.

The mists are indeed coming earlier in the day, and they are staying later in the mornings. They're getting stronger, you might say. Elend doesn't know this, but some of the very outer parts of the empire already have mists lingering almost to the afternoon. The answers to why are coming. . .in book three.

The mist spirit doesn't want Elend to go to Luthadel. And yes, it was using Allomancy on him. (Influencing his emotions, as it's done several places through this book.) It doesn't work very well. The thing doesn't have much of a mind remaining. The answer to why. . .yes, you guessed it. Book three.

As you can tell, I'm using this last section of the book to set up The Hero of Ages. I didn't want to do this–I wanted all three books to stand well on their own. However, the events in the third book are just too large to deal with in one novel, so they spilled over into the end of this one. I actually began foreshadowing a lot of these things in book one–they were just easier to hide then.

By the way, the scene where Elend stands there, looking into the darkness, hearing leaves rustle and thinking how frightening it is. . .well, that's a scene from my life. Nothing big, but one night I was just walking past a darkened backyard and I heard rustling like that. I stood for a while, looking into that darkness, realizing just how creepy it was to stand in shadowed light and stare into the void without knowing what was back there. I had to put that in a book.

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Elend Runs into the Terris Refugees.

The point of the Terris refugees here is to show us that there is more to the world than just Luthadel. I wanted to hint at politics going on behind the scenes. That's been hard in this series, since so much of the book is focused in a certain geographic location.

In this case, we get wind of what the Inquisitors have been doing. Their strike was intended to kill the Terris leadership–but not just that. Hinted at in the very beginning of the next volume that the Inquisitors captured a large number of Keepers to use for drawing out their powers.

There is also a lot of foreshadowing going on here with Spook. I wanted to lay the groundwork here for him becoming a viewpoint character in the third book. Burning tin as strongly as he does as consistently as he does is not good for his body, and he's doing serious damage to it. But he's grief-stricken and confused, and he fells like he's been sent away from important events because he's useless. Reminding himself of his Allomantic power is one of the ways he's dealing (poorly) with his uncle's death.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Fifty-Seven

Sazed In Charge of the City

Sazed's in charge here. There's one small problem with that. Sazed's not very good at leadership.

It's not his fault. He just doesn't have the skillset for it. Unlike Elend, who had a buried desire to lead–and the skills to become a king, if he learned how to use them–Sazed just wants to be a quiet scholar. We saw this when he gathered the crew and couldn't keep them from arguing. We see it again here.

He's much more in his element when he looks through the book he wrote with Tindwyl. Though, of course, losing her is starting to hit him pretty hard. He keeps wavering back in forth emotionally, and that's intentional. He is confused, and doesn't know what to do.

Here's another Couple of things we'll find answers to in book three:

How Vin drew on the mists, and why she could do it.

Why she can feel the pulsing of the Well and nobody else can.

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Brandon Sanderson

Vin Goes to Kredik Shaw

Originally, the Well of Ascension WAS in the mountains. That's the big reason for the rewrite of the ending. This section of the book felt TOO disjointed with the rest of the novel, and I felt that I needed to move the Well to Luthadel. That way, the fight for the city meant something–and I didn't have to send Vin out, have her come back, then send her north yet again.

It works far better this way. Of course, I had to do some major rewriting–and I had to explain why the Well isn't in the mountains. But, in this case, fixing one thing gave me motivation for fixing something else. I had worried about how easy it was to find the Well, and how difficult it would be to take Vin and Elend into the mountains to find it. All very awkward. Both the history and the current story work much better when I decided to have the Lord Ruler have moved the Well down and put his city on top of it.

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One of the things about this novel is that the bookends–the beginning and the end–are very closely tied together, with only small strands weaving through the middle. Here, at the end, we come full circle. We find a body, just like the one that Sazed found in the first chapter where we introduced him. Next, we run into Marsh, who vanished so many months ago.

He's actually been in the city. Some of Demoux's people reported seeing an Inquisitor, if you recall, and Vin found footprints inside of Kredik Shaw. Marsh has been here the whole time, watching and waiting.

Now he has something to do.

I'm not sure if it's a good thing or a bad thing that the beginning and the ending are tied so closely together. On one hand, I worry that you've forgotten about Marsh and the killings the mists caused. On the other hand, I like the symmetry in this book. You think you're done with it after the siege of Luthadel.

Then this happens.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Fifty-Eight

Ruin Escapes

So, yes. The crew has been manipulated. Everyone's been manipulated for a good thousand years. By this thing wanting to be released.

You'll find out more in the next chapter, but realize here that most everything about the traditions from the old days–the prophesies, all of that–has been manipulated.

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Brandon Sanderson

Marsh Vs. Sazed

But first we have the Marsh Sazed battle. I really like this scene, since I get to do something very new with it. Do you remember when I promised you that you'd see some cool interactions between Allomancy and Feruchemy?

I realized almost immediately, when designing Feruchemy, that I could do some very fun things with it mixing with Allomancy. With how much that Mistborn depend on their Steelpushes and Ironpulls, a person who can change his weight would have an enormous advantage. Everyone always says that Allomancy is the better combat skill, but that's just because the resource it uses–metal–is far more plentiful than the resource Feruchemy uses. Put the two into a battle together with enough power to spare, and the Feruchemist will almost always win.

At the end of this, Ham gets to do something. Makes me glad that I wrote him back into the story after forgetting about him. . . .

Oh, and that blow to the head was no slight blow–Sazed's actually wrong. That strike will lay Marsh out for some time. Remember what Ham said about two pewter burners canceling each other out? Well, you just had a very strong soldier flaring pewter hit a man who was simply burning it in the back of the head with a stick hard enough to break it. Marsh is out cold.

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Brandon Sanderson

Vin Gives up the Power

Writing toward this scene where Vin would have to take the power, then give it up, was one of my focuses in this novel. I had to get her, as a character, to a point where she'd be able to do something this gut-wrenching.

It was extremely cruel of me. And yet, there's a beauty to being cruel like this to characters. (It's why George R. R. Martin is a genius.) I plotted out this particular plot element from the beginning of the first book, as I wanted to not only upend some fantasy tropes in the series, but approach them from a post-modern perspective. If people are so powerfully motivated by the concept of prophesy and religion, then what better way would there be for a force like Ruin to manipulate them than to use that sensibility against them? In many ways, Book One was my look at the concept of the Dark Lord in fantasy fiction while Book Two is my look at the concept of prophesy as used by fantasy. (Book three is my look at the concept of the hero.)

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Brandon Sanderson

Deleted Scene

Originally, by the way, this cavern was discovered up in the mountains after Vin, Elend, and Spook traipsed through the snow for a while. Yeah. I know. This works so much better. I'll go ahead and post that as a deleted scene, but don't think too poorly of me. Sometimes, you try things in your books that just don't work. You can't be afraid to experiment, however.

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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Fifty-Nine

Nothing is worse than trying so hard to do the right thing, then discovering that it was the worst thing you could have done.

I wrote this final chapter to be a slight upswing in the plot so that we wouldn't end on such a sour note. No, I didn't kill Elend. I sure wanted you to think that I would, but I never planned to. I had always intended them to discover where the first Mistborn had come from when they reached the Well of Ascension, and this bead of metal is very important to the cosmology of Scadrial and, indeed, the entire overarching story of my books as a whole .

Elend was intended to become Mistborn from the very early stages of this book's development. So, I figured I ought to do something to him that would make him NEED to be Mistborn. Why did I want to make Elend Mistborn? I know it bothered some readers. I felt I'd explored his character as well I could in this book, and I needed something to upset the balance–tenuous as it is–that he'd arrived at here. He's not going to replace Vin–you'll see in the next book that Elend as a Mistborn doesn't change as much as you might think. But it does put him in new situations, and those situations allow him to progress as a character in the way I felt he needed to.

Anyway, this will make for a very interesting book three. Also, the mist spirit–now, maybe, you can see a little of what it was trying to do. It was struggling to find a way to get Vin to NOT go to the Well of Ascension. Giving hints to Sazed, scaring her, threatening Elend, pointing in the opposite direction. However, it is rather hampered in what it can do, as we'll find in the next book.

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Brandon Sanderson


And so, the circle is complete. Sazed returns to the south and visits the Conventical again, Elend returns to the city wall.

Hopefully, I revealed this well enough for you to understand what you need to in order to make this book work. There are a lot of holes, I know. I've already apologized for that–we'll answer all of them in book three.

For now, understand that something was imprisoned, and it hijacked the Terris religion–the prophesies–and used the Well of Ascension to get free.

Book three is about the real theme of these books. Survival. It's going to be a tough road.

As a wrap up, I guess I'll say that for me, this book was about Vin and Elend testing and proving their standards. In the beginning, they both made certain determinations about themselves and what they wanted to accomplish. Elend intended to make a good government and not be an exception to his own rules.

Vin intended to love the good, kind man of Elend rather than the man of the street–the hard, strict man that was Kelsier. (See Chapter Ten, where Vin snuggles in the chair with Elend, for an in-dialogue outline of her belief system for this book. This is the offering of the challenge. The trial comes later.) They are both tested, then, in these assertions–Elend by losing his throne, Vin by being forced to take a long hard look at her own heart and what she really wanted. To her, Zane represented the past. Did she return to that, or did she look forward to the hope–and the future–that Elend represented?

They both hold strong. That's the true victory of this book. The release of Ruin disregarded, this book marks great success for the characters. They were tested in their absolute most vital of personal convictions, and they passed. This prepared them for the final book. Now that they'd proven their ideals, they could bear the weights and griefs of the empire.

Of course, there is also Sazed. One of my goals in writing this book was to fix Elend and Vin. But another big one was to break Sazed. While they held firm to who they were, he has been forced to reassess his convictions, and he finds them wanting. Chapter fifty-four was one of the saddest chapters for me, personally, to write. In many ways, Elend and Vin have nearly completed their arcs as characters. But Sazed and Spook have just begun. And that is what leads us into Book Three.

Event details
Name The Well of Ascension Annotations
Date Sept. 1, 2007
Location Brandon's website
Entries 193
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