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    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    We're moving in the story, timewise, much more quickly here than we were at the beginning of the book. Often there will be a week or so between chapters. It's kind of hard to tell in my books, as I don't talk very often about time passing. That's not one of my things; my books tend to feel very compressed, as if they happen over the course of a few days. However, each of the Mistborn books has covered many months—the first one covered almost an entire year. The nature of the Final Empire, where it tends to have very mild winters, makes the changing of seasons rough to follow.

    /r/fantasy AMA 2013 ()
    #5759 Copy

    Klokkan

    Hello Mr. Sanderson, I have a question about bendalloy bubbles—what happens to a human that is partially in and partially out of the bubble when it's placed? Does the difference in the flow of time kill him?

    And, if yes, is the boundary of active bendalloy bubble effectively impassable for living organisms? I get that bullets shot out of the bubble randomly change directions, but what happens to, let's say, a person trying to jump out of the bubble (or, given enough time, a person trying to get inside)?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Any living thing touching the bubble is affected by the bubble.

    The Way of Kings Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Five

    One of the problems with The Way of Kings Prime was it had too many characters competing for the limelight. It lacked focus. One could argue that the published The Way of Kings is kind of all over the place itself—indeed, a lot of the plot threads don't connect until the end. (And then only in some limited ways.)

    In the published book, I feel it works. Yes, the book is expansive, but we really only have two locations for our plot: the Shattered Plains and Kharbranth. In Prime, Jasnah and Taln both had major sections of the plot, in addition to Kaladin, Dalinar, Szeth, and the character Shallan replaced. It was just too much, and the thing never pulled together.

    Fixing this was one of my main goals for revising the book. I started The Way of Kings over from scratch during 2009, between writing The Gathering Storm and Towers of Midnight. I knew I needed a tighter narrative.

    At the end, I moved Jasnah and Taln out of the book for the most part. They will have stories later in the series, but for this book, Jasnah isn't a viewpoint character.

    I'll dig into Soulcasting at another time.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
    #5762 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Parting Thoughts

    What are my parting thoughts on this series? Well, honestly, they're "Damn, that turned out well."

    It was my first series. I began the first book the year I sold Elantris, back before I'd met my wife. I'm writing these annotations in December of 2007, with my first child being about a month old. Mistborn has dominated my life for some four years.

    I love these characters. I am thrilled with how the world turned out. And the plot . . . well, it just all worked out even better than I'd hoped. I worry about being able to top this—but then, I always worry about that.

    A book is a window into the author's soul, and there was a lot of soul-searching in these books. My thoughts and fears about leadership, religion, relationships, and the nature of truth all show up in the interactions of the characters.

    These books are part of me. But now they're part of you too. Thank you so much for reading.

    Brandon Sanderson

    The Mistborn Project

    May 2003-December 2007(For now.)

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
    #5763 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Series Wrap-Up

    First Trilogy

    Well, that's my first trilogy. I think I improved quite a bit as I wrote these books, and hopefully this ending will satisfy my readers. The inevitable question is going to be "Will there be more Mistborn books?" The answer is "Probably." However, know a few things.

    First off, the next series—if I do it—will not include Vin or Elend. They're dead. That's just the way it is. Sorry.

    Sazed might make an appearance. He is God, after all. TenSoon is still around. (Sazed stuck the spikes back into him and the other kandra.) Marsh may or may not make an appearance. (I haven't decided if he will survive or not.)

    Spook, Ham, and Breeze probably won't make an appearance, though, as I would plan to write the next series some five hundred years after the events in this trilogy. (Remember, TenSoon—as a kandra—is immortal. Marsh is also functionally immortal, as he's both a Feruchemist and an Allomancer, and can combine the powers to reverse his aging. Assuming he has enough atium left from that batch he stole to keep it up for a while, and assuming he managed to grab some cover before the world ended.)

    However, this won't be for some time. I've got other projects I want to do, not the least of which is Warbreaker and (probably) its sequel. After that, I want to try a longer series, maybe a five- or six-book one. [Editor's note: Brandon was referring to the Dragonsteel series, which he's now put off in favor of the Stormlight Archive, book one of which, The Way of Kings, comes out on August 31, 2010.]

    We shall see.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
    #5764 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Epilogue

    The End

    This epilogue ties up a few loose ends, then sets up a couple of others. Much like most of my endings. At least now you know how Vin Snapped. Many people have wondered this, so I thought I should include it somewhere in the book.

    Here, with Vin and Elend in the flowers, is where I could have made them survive, if I'd wanted to. I could have patched everything up and given the "happy" ending a lot of people wanted. But . . . well, I just couldn't. It didn't feel right. Anyway, I agree with Sazed. They deserve to rest. I added the line about him having spoken with them to soften the blow of their deaths somewhat and give confirmation of a pleasant afterlife for them.

    This chapter is a reminiscence, in a way. Since book one I've promised a return to green plants and a blue sky, and it was always my intention to make good on that promise. I think it's sometimes hard for people to remember that in the Final Empire, the plants were brown and the sky red. I don't think that matters so much, as I believe Spook and Breeze's reactions—and the descriptions—in this chapter work to provide the proper impact.

    Flowers have been another thread, along with the little picture that Kelsier carried around in book one. I'm glad I was able to weave that back in, though it was an afterthought. (As was adding it into this book from the early chapters with Vin and Sazed together.)

    That first line of Sazed's book was not an afterthought. It can be found as the very first epigraph of this book. I am, unfortunately, the Hero of Ages.

    Yes, Sazed. You are.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
    #5766 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Eighty-Two

    Sazed Ascendant

    The answer is yes, I planned it from the beginning. And I didn't.

    It's difficult for me, even as the author, to trace back when and where the various threads of a story began. I wrote all three of these books in a row, and to me, they're one long story. Yes, I chose three distinct segments of time over the five-year span, and separated out those chunks. But it's all part of a whole, which is why it was so important for me to be able to write this series as one singular book.

    So, if I go back to my very first notes, will it include a discussion of Sazed becoming God and using the stories in his metalminds as guidelines for remaking the world? No, I don't think it's there. Just like Kelsier wasn't originally planning to create a rebellion through his sacrifice, just like Vin wasn't even originally female.

    Things change and grow with a book as you write it. However, let me say that I knew early in the series that I wanted Sazed to end up as the Hero of Ages and ascend with the power. I felt it was the only way to deal with the world ending and have it start anew. Plus, he's the only one who really deserved it, as he was the only one of the characters who ever cared much about religion.

    I kept this in mind while revising the first book, as I'd finished the rough draft of book three by that time. I planned how to use his religions and feature them in the novels in a way that would show off their finer qualities.

    In a way, this is my compromise. As I've said, I don't believe in the "spokes on the wheel" theory. Not every religion can be true, if only because they—logically—disagree on so many points. But every one of them can teach things that are true. This is something I actually believe. And, like many of my beliefs, it ended up influencing how I wrote this book.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
    #5767 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Eighty-One - Part Four

    Vin's Sacrifice

    Killing Elend and leaving Vin alive would have been, in my opinion, more tragic than what happened. As I establish in a little bit, there is an afterlife in this cosmology. Better for them both to die and to be together.

    There were only two ways that Ruin could have died in this book. The first would be to have him give up his life as Preservation did. I don't think that was very likely.

    The second way is the one I've been subtly pushing the reader toward from the very beginning of the novel. Ruin and Preservation are opposites. Equal, particularly while Ruin doesn't have access to the chunk of his power trapped in the atium. The only way, then, for him to be killed would be for Preservation to smash his power against that of Ruin and destroy both of them. It's a form of balance. Either you block and stop each other, warding each other away, or you overlap and destroy one another.

    This was the role Preservation chose Vin to play all those years ago. As she surmises, he needed someone to do what he could not. He had been too corrupted by his power, and could not destroy Ruin. If Vin had held the power for millennia as Preservation had before her, then she too would have lost the ability to destroy Ruin.

    It needed to be someone fresh to the power, still separate enough from it to be able to kill Ruin. Preservation knew that if he did not sacrifice himself and let someone else take up the power, then Ruin would eventually win and the world would end. Imprisoning Ruin was always only intended to be a delaying tactic.

    The delay was so that the power could find a new person to bear it. Someone who could do what Preservation could not.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
    #5768 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Eighty-One - Part Three

    Elend's Death

    I rewrote Elend's death scene a number of times. In the first draft, it happened much more quickly. He and Marsh met, Elend's atium ran out, and Marsh cut him down. Elend always got his "we've won" line, but Human wasn't getting viewpoints, so we didn't cut there. Nor did we have Vin fuel Elend's metals or have him burn duralumin and atium at the same time.

    I just felt he needed more. Part of this was due to the reactions of alpha readers, and part of it was due to my own desire to make his last scene more dramatic. I wanted there to be a closeness between him and Vin at the end, and I also had too many people asking what would happen if you burned duralumin and atium at the same time to ignore that possibility.

    So, I rewrote several times, eventually landing at this version. As for why I killed him . . . well, for the same reason that I kill any character in one of my books. It just felt like the right thing to do. It's hard to explain when we get down to specifics like this. On one hand, the rational side of me can explain that there need to be casualties to make victory worth something, and Vin needed to lose Elend so that she'd be willing to do what she had to in order to kill Ruin. Logic says that this book was about Vin and Elend defeating Ruin no matter what the cost to themselves, and allowing them to give their lives for the victory was noble and completed their character arcs.

    Emotion, however, is what drove me—not logic. It just felt like the right thing to do. It was the right ending for the book. Now, I could have chosen a different ending. I know that I could have. It would have felt contrived to me, and would have lacked bite. Yet perhaps readers would have liked it better. I honestly don't know what doing this (killing both of my main characters) will do to my readership and if people will still want to buy my books after this. The founder and president of Tor Books, I know, would have preferred that I didn't kill my two main characters.

    But in the end, I went with what I knew was the better ending. By doing this, at the very least I've earned something. From now on, readers will know that nobody is safe in my books—and that will create tension, will make the novels feel more real. (Note that I didn't do this because I wanted to make readers feel that way. It's just a side effect.)

    Either way, this is where this book was pushing from the beginning. Vin and Elend followed in Kelsier's footsteps. They were both ready to give their lives, and in doing so, saved those they love. In my opinion, that's not a tragic or sad ending. It's just an honest one.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
    #5769 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh, and as bonus aside, let me point something out to you. Human and his group of koloss were inside the Homeland when the sun came out, destroying everything on the surface. They were still there when Sazed rearranged the world and fixed things. TenSoon and the kandra were also inside, though they had been turned into mistwraiths. Hum . . . Wonder what happened to them. . . .

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
    #5770 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Human Enters the Tunnels

    And here we also get some Human viewpoints. I believe I mentioned that he'd be returning. I didn't manage to do very much with him, but my alpha readers demanded something. (These two short scenes with him, as well as the epigraph saying he'd be back, were added in a later draft.) I figured that he deserved a little more screen time after what he'd done for the team, and I had wanted to show the koloss bursting in on the Trustwarren. This seemed like a perfect answer to both problems.

    As I've said, I wished I could work Human in a little bit more. At least this lets us give him a parting goodbye.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
    #5771 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    One of the things I also wanted to do before the series was done was show someone burning atium without regard for it running out. I wanted to show the awesome power of the metal. And then I wanted to have them lose.

    Why? Many reasons. Because violence may work to solve some problems, but it isn't always the answer. In fact, it's often a poor answer, even if it's the only answer. (As it was for Elend.) Killing koloss doesn't solve anything in the long run.

    Yes, atium is amazing. Yes, showing it off like this was inevitable in the book. However, I figured that most fantasy novels would get to a point where the character drew on the ultimate hidden weapon, and then would save the day. I didn't want to do that. Not just because I like to do the unexpected, but because it didn't fit what I wanted to say with this book. It didn't fit what felt right.

    A twist is no good if it's just there to be a twist.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
    #5772 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Eighty-One - Part Two

    Charging Them Is Madness

    Vin probably should have figured out what Elend was doing, being kind of a god now and all. (Or at least she has a fraction of a god inside of her.) However, remember a few things.

    She doesn't know that many of Elend's troops have been turned into Allomancers. She's also been very distracted lately. On top of that, the man she loves is charging two hundred thousand koloss. Even if she'd connected that he'd be burning atium, her opinion would still have been that he couldn't fight that many and survive.

    In the end, she was right. So her concern was warranted.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
    #5773 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Using the Atium

    I hope that the use of all that atium in this chapter was spectacular enough for you—after all, I waited three books to finally have them find the Lord Ruler's cache. I think that discovering it before this moment would have been anticlimactic. In books one or two, it would simply have meant wealth. The characters getting rich is all well and good, but I think that would have meant a letdown for the reader. All of that anticipation for something so mundane?

    Instead, I wanted to use an entire army's—or at least a large platoon's—worth of Allomancers burning atium to fight two hundred thousand koloss.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
    #5774 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Eighty-One - Part One

    Prophecy

    I wasn't certain how I wanted to treat prophecy in this book. On one hand, it's a staple of fantasy books—and my goal in this series was to take the fantasy staples and turn them upon their heads in a way that hadn't been done before. That meant I needed to include and use them, and so I did. In book two, the prophecies turned out to be false, and Ruin used them to trick Vin into releasing him.

    However, the fact that he twisted the prophecies left me with the implication that they had once been true. What does that mean, though? If you look at prophecies in our own religions, very few of them are used like fantasy prophecies. In fantasy novels, it seems like prophecies are intentionally obscure, abstract things intended to confuse people and act as some kind of twisted guidebook for the hero to live his life. Yet, in modern religion—specifically Judaism and Christianity—prophecy is more general. Prophecy in these religions means things like "in the end, the faithful will win." They're general or symbolic. Of more use to the population as a whole, rather than applying to one distinct individual.

    Sazed and Tindwyl have a great discussion about this in book two. Regardless, I make use of the prophecies here in the final book. As far as I'm concerned, they were given to the original Terris people by Preservation as a means of maintaining hope. They were a promise—a hero will come; that hero will protect you. Have faith.

    Warsaw signing ()
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    Questioner (paraphrased)

    What would happen if Allomancer was also an Awakener and Awakened metal he'd burn?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    If he did that, he’d get Allomantic power and also get back the Breaths used in Awakening the metal.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
    #5776 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Don't Try This at Home

    As for the Resolution—the kandra mass suicide—well, don't try this at home, kids. This is one of the more discomforting parts of the book, and I don't want to advocate religious extremism in this way. Remember, this is a fantasy book—just like you shouldn't try jumping off your house and using a coin to Push off of, you shouldn't participate in mass-suicide death cults. The kandra had special circumstances, as they were in the process of being taken over by a dark god when they killed themselves.

    The thing you can try is what Sazed did, actively using his religion and calling upon a higher power to bring him help. This is one of the core tenets of many religions—that we, as humans, cannot do all things on our own and need the help of others. I'm not exactly sure (again) what I'm trying to say by having Vin be the one who answers and saves Sazed. But, well, in this theology she's now his god, so I guess it all makes sense. Strangely.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
    #5777 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Eighty - Part Two

    Sazed Sees Mistwraiths

    I worry that I didn't get to show mistwraiths very much in this book. It's not that big of an issue—they're only a minor world feature, and are only tangentially important. Still, they're a part of the kandra past and culture, and I want readers to understand what they are and what they have to do with the kandra life cycle.

    Remember, all of the kandra save for the First Generation were born first as mistwraiths. That race of creatures breeds true, and has only a fifty-year lifespan. They die off, but birth new members. Taking one of those new members and adding spikes to them, however, awakens them and brings them sentience. They're part human, just like the koloss who remember having once been human.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Testing the Mistfallen

    Originally, I didn't have Elend have Demoux and his soldiers take a look at their metals until a little later on. Alpha readers correctly noted this, however, pointing out that it was one of the very first connections they made. I had to put it off mostly for dramatic reasons, which you'll see in the next chapter, but I decided I could insert these few lines of Elend telling the men to go test themselves to see if they were Allomancers.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
    #5779 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Eighty - Part One

    Her Eyes Lingered Fondly

    If you've been keeping track, this Terriswoman is, indeed, the romantic interest I promised Micah DeMoux by the end of the book. He said he didn't care if he ended up with an important character—that didn't matter to him. He just wanted Captain Demoux to find romance. It took some working, but I managed to work it in. The story behind this is, of course, Captain Demoux and his troops showing up to lend organization and authority to the Terris people, who had been flooded with refugees.

    Demoux and his men created law and order, stopping the petty theft and the like that had been a problem with the refugee bands. He essentially took command of the entire place, though he was very respectful to the Terris leaders. This woman, daughter of one of the Terris elders, fell in love with Demoux for his honor and his respectability, and he began to reciprocate.

    Even as the world neared its end, she and Demoux were able to find love.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
    #5780 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    The Resolution

    TenSoon and the other kandra resist Ruin and are able to pull the spikes from their shoulders. There are a couple of reasons why they can do this.

    The power that Allomancers have to take control of them is the same power Ruin has. That control is exerted in the form of mental pressure through emotional Allomancy. As can be seen from Marsh's viewpoint, it is more than simply forcing the body to act as Ruin wishes. The extreme pressure on emotions changes the very way the mind thinks, tricking it into doing exactly what Ruin wants. The flaw in Hemalurgists leaves them open to this kind of manipulation.

    Kandra, who only have two spikes, are far more difficult to control than koloss or Inquisitors. Vin is able to control TenSoon with ease in book two, but that's partially because he wanted her to do so. He would have been able to resist her. If she'd continued to push, she could have broken him, but it would have taken time.

    Even Ruin's pressure wasn't enough to take control immediately. The kandra had a few moments during which they could overcome him and maintain their free will. Beyond that, they were in a cavern surrounded by metal ore in the walls, making it very difficult for Ruin to see what was going on and interfering with his ability to control them.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
    #5781 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Seventy-Nine

    The Mists Chose Someone

    There's a lot more going on behind the scenes than even the author of these epigraphs knows. Reasons why Vin was chosen, and why the power of Preservation needed a new mind to control it.

    The author is right in that Preservation did need someone to control its power, and it did seek for a host in which to invest itself. It began this search with what mind it had left about sixteen years before the return of the power to the Well of Ascension, just as it began a search for a new host before the return of the power the previous time.

    Unfortunately, just as Ruin took control and manipulated Alendi, he took control and manipulated Vin.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
    #5782 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    TenSoon to the Rescue

    This chapter is also for all you TenSoon lovers out there. He finally gets to show up and lay some smack down. This short action sequence lets TenSoon be a hero, which he deserves, and Sazed once again shows that he's a far better soldier than he thinks. After reading his part in the siege of Luthadel, the reader should have no problem accepting that Sazed—with two metalminds—can take down four surprised kandra. He is a much better warrior than he lets on.

    However, he should never have thought that last line of the chapter. The one that reads, "What harm could they possibly do?" I probably should have cut the line, as it feels like a cliché, but it really was what Sazed was thinking.

    Foolish, foolish Sazed.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
    #5783 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Fantasy Stereotypes

    Sazed makes an interesting note. "There is a kandra who fits in with his people as poorly as I do with my own," he thinks. Why is it that I tend to create a culture, then build characters who are in direct opposition to the way that the rest of their people act? I think there are a couple of reasons.

    First off, as I've said, I feel that characters are driven by conflict. The person who is a perfect example of what his people revere just doesn't have as much conflict as the person who is in opposition to his own social mores. A Terrisman rebel, a kandra with wanderlust, a Dula who is depressed—these types of people just seem more interesting to me.

    In addition, fantasy has a reputation for defining an entire culture based on a single individual. If you meet a dwarf, then you know how all dwarves act because each and every dwarf is just like this dwarf. It's common in fantasy books to let race or nationality be the same as personality. I react against this, and so intentionally create characters who don't fit in with their own people as a means of showing that any culture can create a multitude of different types of people.

    I have to be careful not to let this be a crutch, of course.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Seventy-Eight

    Sazed's Second Time in Prison

    The other time Sazed was imprisoned was, of course, when he was thrown in jail in an attempt to get close to Vin and rescue her. That was way back at the end of book one. It strikes me as very amusing that the kandra have trouble adapting to what to do with a prisoner like Sazed. They eventually just lock him in one of their standard kandra prison cells and come by pouring water on him like they would one of their own.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Penrod's Dying Message

    Here we get to see the aftermath of Marsh spiking Penrod. This is what could have happened with Spook, had he not made the decision he did at the end of his sequence of chapters. I figured that after watching Spook's narrative, we didn't need to explicitly see what Penrod did to cause so much destruction and damage, ending with his own death. Knowing that he was spiked, then seeing TenSoon's reaction to the terrible things happening in the city, should be enough to let your imagination flow.

    In truth, it was a house war—which I believe was mentioned earlier in the text—that did much of this damage. The dangers that Kelsier rioted up and nearly loosed on the city four years before finally snapped and were allowed to run free. (Previously, Elend held off the skaa and the nobility from tearing the city to pieces.)

    Poor Luthadel. It has taken a real beating. First the rebellion, then the siege, and now this. This is our last scene in the city for the series; we leave it behind as a corpse.

    Note, however, that are indeed people hiding underneath Kredik Shaw, as Elend feared. A lot of them, in fact. As many as fled to the pits. But I didn't want to deal with this in the book, as it would be distracting.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    "Something in the form of that which we'd seen before."

    There's one other cool item to note in this chapter. If you read Ruin's words carefully, he admits that he has indeed seen human life somewhere before. This means that there is life on other planets in this cosmology, and that Ruin and (presumably) Preservation have experience with those other planets.

    Another building block for the larger story.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Seventy-Six

    The North Pole

    One of my big challenges in the geography of this world was figuring out how we could have a kingdom set at the pole of the world while at the same time maintaining a normal day/night cycle. My original plan was for the Well of Ascension to be located a distance to the north of Luthadel, up at the geographic north pole of the planet. When I was revising the second book, I realized that wouldn't work for various reasons. (More on this on the MISTBORN 2 Alternate Ending deleted scene page.) I changed things so that when the Lord Ruler held the power in the Well, he decoupled the geographic north pole and the magnetic north pole.

    In our world, the magnetic north pole is located about eleven degrees of latitude south of the geographic north pole. On Scadrial, the two poles were originally in the same location. When the Lord Ruler moved the planet too close to its sun and realized he didn't have the control to place the planet in the proper orbit, he created the ashmounts to cool the atmosphere. He also wanted to keep access to the Well under his control, so he decided to build his capital city right above it. However, he realized that on a planet with a tilted axis, a city at the north pole would have seasonal daylight variation so extreme that at the height of summer the sun would never set and during the dead of winter the sun would never rise. He could remove the axis's tilt, but that would just make the sun perpetually skirt the horizon all year round.

    What Rashek decided to do (and he had to make split-second decisions in the brief time he held the power) was to shift the crust of the whole planet so that the Well was at a latitude that would have more standard seasonal variation, and to re-create the Terris mountains in the new North (to maintain the rumors that the Well was located there). He worried that the new location of Luthadel would be too hot due to the latitude, but it turned out that moving the Well created an unexpected effect. The planet's magnetic pole followed the Well as he relocated it—and the ash from the ashmounts was slightly ferromagnetic. (Ferromagnetic volcanic ash has some precedent in our world.) So the interaction of the ash with the planet's magnetic field's new alignment meant that its protective cloak over the area of the Final Empire caused it to be cooler than the now unprotected geographic north pole.

    One side effect of this is that all compasses point toward Luthadel. Since it's been that way for a thousand years, no one finds it odd–in fact, it's used as evidence of the Lord Ruler's divinity. It also makes it mathematically very easy to pinpoint one's exact location in the Final Empire using a combination of the compass reading and noon observations. Not that it's easy to get lost in the Final Empire in the first place—the geographical area of the planet's surface that the Final Empire covers is actually quite small.

    Ultimately, when it comes down to sophisticated geography and astrophysics, I'm out of my element. If there are mistakes in my reasoning above, that is why I write fantasy and not hard sf.

    And I still haven't said anything about what happened at the south pole.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    The First Contract

    I was originally tempted to include the full text of the First Contract. In the end, however, I didn't write it. There wasn't a good place for it, and I felt that we already knew the important information from it without reading it. It would simply have slowed down the plot at this point.

    Plus, the questions and problems it could have raised weren't worth the trouble. By including it, I would have taken the chance of contradicting myself or setting up other problems that—at this point in the book—I just didn't want to have to work out.

    So we don't get to read it. Sorry. There aren't any hidden secrets in it, though.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Sazed Decides

    However, we should back up and talk a little about Sazed's decision in the first part of the chapter.

    I'm not certain that I'm trying to say anything specific with these sections. As I've mentioned, I don't look to insert themes in most of my books. I write the themes that are important to the characters, and what I say varies based on whose viewpoint we are in.

    Sazed has been struggling between his logical side and the side that desires some kind of faith to form a groundwork for his life. The problem has been in his attempts to analyze religions like one would a machine—input and output. The difference for him comes when he looks at the lives and writings of those who believe. That is what changes his heart.

    In the end, he decides to elevate his faithful side over his rational side in this one instance. You can always question. Skepticism is as dangerous as faith, in my opinion, because it is difficult to know when to stop. You can become such a skeptic that you refuse to take anything at all as true. At some point, you need to decide when to stop questioning.

    This is where Sazed decides he will stop. You may decide somewhere else.

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    Chapter Seventy-Five

    The Second Generation Seizes Control

    This chapter is another indication of my attempt to space out the climaxes in my books. We've had the big Vin fight with the Inquisitors; now I'm going to back off from things just a tad so that the reader has time to catch his or her breath. That isn't to say that the next few chapters aren't going to be more quickly paced than ones from the middle of the book; I just hope that they're not quite as breakneck as similar chapters from Elantris or some of my other books with overwhelming endings.

    I had fun with these sections because I was able to make good on some tensions and interactions that were going on since the first TenSoon chapters. TenSoon himself isn't here, but we are paid off for the time we spent with him getting to know the kandra in the Homeland, as now their interactions with Sazed directly affect the major conflicts in the series.

    Some readers worried that the revolt of the Seconds here was a little out of nowhere. I read through again, just in case, and this is one of those situations where I disagreed with the alpha readers. I believe I've fully established that the Seconds enjoy being in charge, and have somewhat let their power go to their heads. We've rarely seen them offer to the Firsts the same reverence they demand from everyone else. Beyond that, they were just embarrassed in front of the kandra people, and the Firsts began to speak of requiring the mass suicide of the entire race.

    If that wouldn't encourage a group of aristocrats to revolt, I don't know what would. The Seconds control the police force in the tunnels, and are the ones who truly rule the kandra. It makes sense to me that they'd do what they just did. You know, if I were in their place, I'd probably do the exact same thing. What the Firsts are talking about is very discomforting, and something that should make anyone—whatever their level of faith—sit down and question whether their beliefs really should require such a sacrifice.

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    Yomen Is a Seer

    That raises the question of how Yomen discovered that he was a Seer. He mentions that atium was too valuable to waste on testing for atium Mistings. That's true, but incomplete. The Lord Ruler did test his obligators for the power, particularly the high-ranking ones. Those he found were told of their power and used as an extra level of security. There weren't many, but there were some—and they tended to rise very quickly in the ranks (like Yomen) and be given important positions. Yomen's power with atium made him a valuable secret weapon, and when in a position of power, he could use his ability to quell rebels or perform feats of wonder to keep the people in line.

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    Chapter Seventy-Four

    Allomantic Secrets

    Some people have asked me why the Lord Ruler was so careful to keep secrets about Allomancy. What would it have mattered if he let out that there were atium Mistings?

    Some of the secrets offered a sizable tactical advantage. Keeping back duralumin and aluminum gave him and his Inquisitors (the only ones told about those metals, other than a few select obligators) tools that nobody knew about. Very few Inquisitors could burn duralumin (and most who did it gained the ability through the use of spikes reused from previous, dead Inquisitors—and those spikes were therefore much weaker.). However, those who did have the power could appear inordinately skilled in Allomancy, enhancing the Lord Ruler's divine reputation.

    Beyond that, knowledge is power. I believe that. And I think that if you're the Lord Ruler, you want to keep a few secrets about your magic system. Mistborn are very rare. Mistings among the nobility—particularly in the early centuries—were not rare. If they'd known about atium Mistings, it could have upset the balance by creating too many superwarriors.

    Plus, if there are unknown superwarriors to be had, then you want to keep them for yourself.

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    Vin Draws In All the Mist

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

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

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    "Government is far too inefficient to provide a suitable income."

    In Breeze's scene, we have another reference back to book one as he mentions telling Kelsier that he didn't want to rule. That's not 100% accurate—Breeze was actually talking to Yeden or Vin, I think. However, he did go on a diatribe about not wanting to rule or be in charge, since leading countries seemed like a bad way to make money. However, I can't find this scene now, so I can't point out exactly where it is.

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    Chapter Seventy-Three

    Cinematic Writing

    I sometimes wonder just how much writers from my era have been influenced by the visual media of entertainment we've experienced. How do I imagine things differently because of my childhood watching television and movies? What have the improvements in special affects done for my ability to visualize things I have not seen? How does my pacing, plotting, and description reflect my background and my exposure to media?

    I look at a chapter like this one, and it feels extremely cinematic to me. Not that I'm some great master of the cinematic form, but rather that I'm so familiar with that media—as are many of us—that I am drawn to it instinctively.

    The quick flashes from viewpoint to viewpoint—TenSoon, Breeze, Elend—showing what was going on, followed by a quick cut of Vin mid-action . . . it just feels right to me to do it this way.

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    Giving you power!

    That voice at the end of the chapter is Kelsier, who can finally speak to Vin, now that her earring is gone. She's close enough to the mists and Preservation's power that he can touch Vin's mind or a brief moment and send a few words toward her.

    The last words echo his famous line about the mists, the first thing he taught Vin about them on a mist-wetted street in Luthadel her first night of training.

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    Chapter Seventy-Two - Part Two

    Marsh and the Earring

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Vin Versus the Inquisitors

    Vin fights the Inquisitors, hoping to put herself in a situation where she can draw upon the mists. It's a reckless plan, but I hope it feels exactly like something Vin would do. She's tired of being manipulated; she knows the end is very near (less than a day away) and knows that she needs to do something. This is all she could come up with, and I think it's a good plan. (At least if you're Vin.) It's a final attempt to save the world or go out in a blaze, fighting down thirteen Inquisitors at once.

    This is my favorite fight in the book. The previous ones are all too warlike. I prefer the beauty of a couple of Mistborn fighting in the rain and the mist, as opposed to the characters taking out hundreds of koloss. This fight between Vin and the Inquisitors is the kind of thing I developed Allomancy to do in the first place.