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    PewPewPokemon

    If I spend thousands of dollars and fly halfway across the world to go to a book signing, what can I expect? I've never been to one before, and likely never will again. But Stormfather take me if this doesn't seem like a once in a lifetime opportunity.

    Brandon Sanderson

    You are more than welcome to come! But I do always feel a little strange when people spend a lot of money to come see me, as I'm not convinced I'm worth it.

    Here's how a signing goes down: I usually speak for about an hour, which is divided into three segments. I generally start with a short (15 min or so) talk about something I'm interested in at the moment. Usually it relates to the book somehow, or to the fantasy genre. Then I do a Q&A with the audience for maybe 25 min. Then I do a reading for maybe 20 min. (This is usually from something I'm working on that isn't yet published.)

    From there, I sit down and start doing the signing. This part takes a long time--four to six hours, depending. You usually get a line number from the store based on a couple of factors. (When you arrived and if/when you bought your book.) I strongly suggest checking with the store you plan to visit, as some of them have stricter policies than others about being required to buy a copy of the book to get into line. (Most of them don't require it, but let the people who bought the book from them--which is most people there--go first.)

    You get maybe thirty seconds or so with me, during which you can ask a question and get a picture, if you want. (I always feel bad it's such a short time.) I will generally personalize up to three books, though I will sign as many as you want. Most stores only sell the US edition in the US.

    If you mention you came from New Zealand, you will most likely be the person who came the longest distance, which I usually reward with a little pin.

    All of these signings will be relatively packed, I'm afraid, so I can't suggest one over another being faster. But they're also all very good stores, and are generally willing to let you leave and grab food, then come back closer to your chance to get a book signed.

    General Reddit 2017 ()
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    Torrieltar

    For those who haven't seen this before, Brandon recently updated his website to show that he's started working on a new "Mystery Project".

    Anyways, Brandon mentioned in his interview with Crendor that, over the summer, he finally managed to craft a really solid outline for Dark One, and I'm almost certain this is his mystery project.

    Dark One is a Cosmere YA story that has stymied Brandon for years on end, so it'd be no surprise that he'd want to write it as soon as possible now that he's "finally cracked it" and has a storyline he's confident with. I can just see him cackling at the idea of springing this on us out of the blue after all these years. We're on to you, Brandon!

    Brandon Sanderson

    It was almost Dark One...but I have other plans for that right now.

    This is a different book that has been brewing for many years that I finally decided to work on. I probably won't talk about this until State of the Sanderson, though, because it will take some explaining.

    General Reddit 2017 ()
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    Blightsong

    Who drew [the Oathbringer endpapers]? Are they in-world art?

    Brandon Sanderson

    These are in world paintings done by the Oilsworn, one of the people Shallan studied when practicing her art. The actual paintings were done by the Oilsworn's real-world counterpart, Dan Dos Santos, who did the cover of Warbreaker.

    There are two more pieces in the back, done by someone else, which are also in-world art pieces. They're all part of a larger theme, and are equally gorgeous.

    Phantine

    I assume these are paintings of heralds, then?

    Brandon Sanderson

    These two [in the front of the book] are Ishar and Ash. The back two are Jezrien and Vedel.

    ConvolutedBoy

    Ash is so much more...shiny than I expected, but I guess that's Lightweaving for you. I love the space background too.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Remember, these are in-world artifacts. So this is how someone painted her from their imagination, based on lore. These are Rosharan versions of the paintings of the prophets along the top of the Sistine Chapel.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Vin Confronts Lady Patresen

    I played with this scene, our first ball scene in hundreds of pages, several times—trying to find the right balance I wanted to convey. I wanted to have a nice circle pointing back to Vin's interactions with Shan in the first book, showing how far Vin has come. However, I knew I didn't want to dedicate much time to it, and I didn't want Vin to fall out of character. So, this is the scene that came out. A short, blunt scene with Vin pushing the politics of the party to fit what she wants, rather than playing the games the way they're supposed to be played.

    Originally I had Vin's attack convince Lady Patresen to seek Vin's favor, but a friend of mine, Janci, convinced me that it was far more realistic to have the lackeys suddenly switch sides instead. For setting me straight, Janci gained the dubious right to rename Lady Patresen, who had been called something else before. And, being who she is, Janci named the woman after herself—then said, "I get to be the girl who gets spurned by Vin! How cool is that?"

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Thirty - Part Two

    Vin Doesn't Explain Her Dress

    This chapter and the next Vin/Elend chapter form the major force of nostalgia in the book. I love the ball scenes—in fact, I think the one in the next chapter makes it another of my favorite chapters in this book (the third on that list so far).

    Here we get Vin's line "We Mistborn need not make sense," which is a direct quote from Kelsier back in book one, where he bursts in on the crew through the balcony door, surprising them after a night of creating political tension between the houses.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Anyway, I'm glad I was able to work Ham's penchant for logic puzzles back into the book. There hasn't been much room for Ham lately, and he hasn't had a chance to really shine since book one. We didn't get to see much of him during the Siege of Luthadel, nor do we get all that much from him throughout this book. He's always there, in the background, but never does anything very significant. He's just Ham—good natured, pleasant, and rather unmotivated. He's also the only family man on the crew, unless you count Cett with his two children.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Thirty - Part One

    Vin Arrives in Her Black Gown

    This is kind of a girly moment in the text. I put these in sometimes. Too many female readers have complained to me that I don’t linger enough on what people wear, and I figure that Vin—trained by Kelsier—would know the power of a surprising entrance. Hence the drama of her appearing in that unexpected dress.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Breeze's Relationship with Sazed

    Breeze reacts strongly upon entering the storage cache because this is the first time he's seen one of them. At the end of book two, if you'll recall, he was left psychologically shaken to the point of being unable to function. I thought about playing with that as a character trait for this book, but decided—as I've mentioned before—that I already had too many viewpoint characters.

    So anyway, after book two closed, Sazed too was left dazed and frustrated—by the loss of Tindwyl. In order to keep from getting lost, he dedicated himself to nursing Breeze back to health, alongside writing fact sheets on all of his religions. Breeze and Sazed formed quite a bond of friendship during this period, as both reacted to the trauma of the siege of Luthadel. Allrianne was there, of course, helping with Breeze—but she's not particularly good at the whole "helping someone recover from intense trauma" thing.

    Breeze never visited the storage cache in Luthadel. By the time he was feeling well enough to be mobile, that topic was blasé, and Elend needed him to go on ambassadorial trips. Breeze asked to bring Sazed along, which seemed a good fit, and the two of them have been pretty much hanging out together since then.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Twenty-Nine

    Narrative Clues about Spook's Condition

    The scene here where Spook goes into the building without a torch, and Sazed stands outside waiting, is a direct parallel of a scene in book two where Marsh does the same thing to Sazed. Both Spook and Marsh can see in ways Sazed cannot, and both tend to forget others aren't as talented in that area.

    That's not the only similarity. I intended Spook's glasses with cloth wrapped around them to be a reference to how an Inquisitor looks with spikes through the eyes. Both these parallels are designed to be big clues about what's happening to Spook in this book.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Homicidal Hat Trick

    My editor tried very hard to get me to cut the "homicidal hat trick" line. Not because it wasn't clever, but because he felt it was anachronistic, as the phrase is commonly a metaphor for some quite modern sports. However, I was able to prove via Wikipedia (which is infallible) that the term was used as early as the nineteenth century and didn't always refer to sports, but to three wins in a row in even simple games of chance. So, grudgingly, he let me keep it.

    I love the line because of the way that little section harks back to the old Elend. He's still in there, hidden behind the emperor-at-war exterior. The old Elend could be clever and awkward at the same time, just like he is here when he tries to make a point to Vin but comes dangerously close to an insult instead. That's the same guy as the one who would, while standing on the balcony at a party, compliment a lady and then immediately turn back to his book and ignore her.

    And, on that note, I believe that I warned you about the coming ball scenes. We're going to have another nostalgia chapter fairly soon, and it's one of my favorite chapters in the entire series.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Correspondence on Metal Sheets

    The metal letters mentioned several times in the book (including in this chapter) were almost all changed to metal in late drafts. (Save the Goradel letter later on; that one was metal from the start.) I realized I wasn't giving enough of a sense that the characters were paying attention to Ruin's ability to change text that isn't on metal, and I wanted to show them taking precautions. I have my writing groups to thank for getting on me about this one.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Twenty-Nine

    Guns in Fantasy

    Gunpowder is mentioned in the epigraph. It's odd how we fantasy fans feel an inherent and deep aversion to gunpowder. We have this idea that guns will damage the fantasy feel of a book. I still remember reading a fantasy book when I was younger—I think it was one of Robin McKinley's—and running across a passage where it mentioned that the characters had rifles. I felt suddenly and strangely betrayed, as if the book had just been ruined.

    That's silly, of course. A story can have guns and still be fantasy—at the very least, Pirates of the Caribbean proves that. Still, I'm always hesitant to use guns. Maybe I will someday, but for now I'm keeping them out. Fortunately, in this series I had a very good and interesting reason why we could have nineteenth-century canal and civil engineering technology but no use of gunpowder.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Vin Senses She's Being Followed

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

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Vin Tells Slowswift Why He Should Care

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

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Yomen is one of my favorite characters in this book. In fact, I've liked all three main human villains—the Lord Ruler, Zane, and Yomen—from this series. All were intended to present an antagonist who, in some ways, wasn't as expected. You'll see much more of Yomen in the future, of course, but know that Slowswift isn't lying. Yomen is a good man—and a dedicated one. Perhaps too dedicated.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    In a similarly amusing cameo (I must have been in a cameo mood) we have Slowswift—who is based on Grandpa Tolkien. (See this picture.) The name itself comes from his love of wordplay and of names that are inherently self-contradictory.

    I'm no Tolkien scholar—I don't know the man's personality or how he would have reacted to this situation. I'm just a layman and a fan—who for some reason felt like sticking in a tiny side character in imitation of the master. We authors do strange things like that occasionally.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Architectural and Character Cameos

    Many of the High Noble keeps I described in the first book are real buildings. Keep Venture, for instance, is based on the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. Well, Keep Orielle here is based on the LDS Salt Lake Temple, only with more stained glass. Go read the description again (I think it's in this chapter) and maybe you'll be able to see it.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Vin's Tactics Improve

    Cloth-wrapped coins are something I probably should have thought of in the very first book. The problem is that I worked very hard to establish the "we use coins as weapons and to jump around" idea that I wasn't thinking about ways to improve the method. The coins are cheap, abundant, and effective, not to mention aerodynamic. However, they're also noisy. Adding a thin layer of cloth makes a ton of sense when using them to jump around.

    Also, Vin finally ditched the mistcloak. Her reasoning is correct, unfortunately. I loved the image and the symbol of the mistcloak, but it was no longer useful, so it was time for her to go about without one. I'm sure there's symbolism in there somewhere—finally becoming her own woman, shrugging off the mantle Kelsier gave her, something meaningful like that. The truth is, I didn't think about that. I just acknowledged that the cloak no longer made sense. It was too noisy to be worth wearing.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Twenty-Seven

    Vin Reminisces about Her Early Days with the Crew

    There's a lot to talk about here. First off, this is one of several nostalgia chapters I threw into this book. When I worked on the second book, I missed getting to write about some of the themes from the first book. Gone were the balls and a lot of the banter, and Kelsier's death removed one of the series' most dynamic characters.

    When I got to this book, I wanted to see if I could blend what worked well in the first book with what worked well in the second book—and then, of course, add some things unique to this book. Among the most charming parts of the first book were the balls and the noble society.

    So here we get to have Vin contemplate those days as a slight foreshadowing to gear us up for a few scenes that hark back to those days. As this is the final volume of the trilogy, I think it's very appropriate to recapture some of the tendrils from the first book and weave them in.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Allomancy's Mental Effects

    An interesting side note is to watch how Allomancy—all of its forms—enhances the mind in some way. Though the original concept for the magic system focused on different powers—some physical, some mental—the final product always had a mental component. Notice how, when burning tin, Spook is more able to focus on solitary conversations in the room. Or how his mind can filter out the mist or the cloth he wears. Burning pewter or tin will also make the mind more alert and awake. Burning atium not only lets one see a little bit into the future, but also lets one process that information in a useful way.

    The mind is such a big part of what makes us who we are. I wanted Allomancy to impact the characters—to have an effect you could see on the minds of those using it. As I've stated, one of the places where books can outshine television or movies is in the ability to see exactly what is happening inside a character's thoughts and emotions. By adding a mental component to each of the Allomantic powers, my hope was to play off of this strength of the written form.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Twenty-Six

    Spook Starts to Believe in Kelsier

    In this chapter, Spook begins to turn into the person he was during the first draft of the book. In that draft, he immediately listened to Kelsier's voice and didn't question its existence at all. The revision changed things so that he was surprised when he heard it, looking around several times, uncomfortable. This works better in many ways, though the starkness of how unhinged his constant burning of tin had made him before was kind of sad to lose.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Felt

    Oh, and Felt gets a mention here. I don't know if you remember him from book one, but he was the spy who Elend sent to tail Vin one night and figure out who she truly was. He was loyal to house Venture, and Elend inherited Felt from his father when Straff fled Luthadel and left behind most of his servants and men.

    A third son of a very minor nobleman, Felt is used to working for a living—something that does happen to a lot of nobility in this world, even if the ones you see most of the time are either too busy ruling, stealing, or going to war to bother with things like that.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Assassinating King Yomen?

    The assassination card is one that I'm always very hesitant to play. Perhaps it's old-fashioned morals on my part, though I think it's more that I'm saving up the "guilt from assassinating so many people" character conflict for a different book sometime. I'd like it to be a major theme sometime as I work out what it does to a person to kill in such a way.

    However, the lack of assassinations in book two is, I think, one of the weak parts of the novel. To be honest, despite my own explanations and rationalizations, I think there probably should have been more of an attempt by the good guys to simply kill Straff and Cett.

    I try to do a better job in this book, mostly by doing what I probably should have done in book two—I pointed out the danger of assassinating a man who, himself, had a Mistborn who could reach those you love. As soon as the game gets personal and knives start stabbing in the night, things get very dangerous for the leadership on both sides. I think that people would want to put that off as long as possible while they pursued other possibilities.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Twenty-Five

    Fadrex

    Fadrex was originally named Fadex. However, nobody—not my editor, my agent, or my writing group—liked that name. I added one letter, and suddenly it was okay. Go figure.

    This city, as I mentioned earlier, was very tough for me to figure out how to describe. I can picture it quite distinctly in my head. Of course, I've spent a lot of time in southern Utah, where rock formations like this are plentiful. If you Google "Cathedral Valley" you can get an idea of what this area might look like—except that the formations in Cathedral Valley are a little bit higher and more spread out than what I imagine for Fadrex.

    Sometimes I wish I could crawl inside the heads of my readers while they experience these stories and see what they imagine the places to look like. I've said before that I like how fiction is participatory—that each person who reads my books imagines slightly different things; each person gets different images for places and characters. I'd like to know what they see, just for curiosity's sake. There's no wrong way to imagine these people, just like there isn't a right or a wrong way to pronounce the names. It's all up to you.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Twenty-Four

    TenSoon the Wolfhound

    TenSoon made a much better wolfhound than he did a person. He'd been on lots of Contracts, and his ability to re-form a body was second to none. During this book, he was probably the single most talented kandra alive when it came to manipulating his shape and creating believable human features even without a model to use as a guide. He was certainly faster than any other kandra.

    However, when it came to acting a role and playing a part, TenSoon was only average. He didn't have OreSeur's flair for imitation, where he got so into a part that he began to think of himself—to an extent—as that person. TenSoon was more prone to letting his true biases and feelings come through.

    Fortunately, Vin forced him into the wolfhound's body. The gruff voice, the blunt ability to speak his mind, the powerful body designed for speed and jumping—this fit TenSoon perfectly, far better than I think he even realized himself. It also freed him, playing off his natural wanderlust, the same wanderlust that had sent him out on Contracts time and time again.

    If life hadn't intervened, he would have been perfectly content to spend the next century or so acting as a wolfhound guard and attendant to Vin and her children. Assuming he didn't eventually surrender to his wanderlust and head out into the wilderness where he could finally be free of all the politics and Contracts.

    I'm not sure if he ever would have done it. His sense of duty, his sense of responsibility to his people, was as strong as his desire to run free. Either way, it was a shame that the world had to up and end on him. Things were finally, after seven centuries of life, looking up for TenSoon.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Twenty-Three

    Spook Remembers Clubs

    Ah, fever delusions are such useful things for us authors. Every character should go through a few of them so that we have an opportunity to explore their backstory through the use of a very timely flashback.

    On a more serious note, I'm glad I had an excuse for this one. I like to avoid flashbacks when I can—they're usually more of a hassle and an annoyance than they are useful. However, on occasion they can add something that would have been very hard to get across any other way. This is one of those times. We get to see Spook as a kid, the day that Clubs recruited him.

    By this time, Clubs had already served in the Lord Ruler's army and had been wounded in the leg and discharged. Though I rarely mention it, the borderlands of the empire include a large population of rogue skaa who are constantly causing trouble. Despite what's believed in the rest of the empire, there were in fact some successful uprisings, most notably these clans who stuck to the desert wastes out there on the edges of habitable land.

    ...

    Anyway, Clubs had been discharged, an event that left him without a means of supporting himself. However, during his time fighting, he'd Snapped and become a Smoker. So, he found his way into the underground, where he was paid very nicely for his abilities.

    He was always a lot more softhearted than he let on. When he discovered what was going on with his nephew, he spent quite a bit of his savings to go rescue him and bring him back to Luthadel. Clubs spent twenty times as much money on travel expenses (skaa were forbidden to travel, so he had to stick to some very expensive hidden routes) as he did on that bag of coins he left with Spook's family.

    Spook never really knew how much Clubs sacrificed for him. Or perhaps he did—his uncle's death, after all, affected him quite dramatically. Clubs was a far better parent to the boy than either his father or mother ever had been.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Twenty-Two

    The Last Feruchemist?

    Sazed is likely not the last Feruchemist. The Lord Ruler tried for a long time to breed Feruchemy out of the population, and it's highly unlikely that now the power would simply vanish because the living Feruchemists were killed. The genetic trait is still there, suppressed in the population, but it would eventually resurface.

    That's not to say that the loss of the Synod wasn't a blow. That many living Feruchemists suddenly killed would wipe out a large segment of the population who could have bred Feruchemy true. However, the fact that many of the Synod were eunuchs made their usefulness in that regard less important.

    Remember, however, that Sazed is struggling with depression. It's easier for him to see things in a depressing light than it is to see them in a positive light.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    The Number Sixteen

    I worry that having Vin make this connection is one of the more forced events in the book. She'd just finished telling everyone that she wasn't a scholar, and now she discovers a pattern of numbers hidden in the statistics of how people fall sick? My original intention for this was to have her be in a mind-set where she was looking for natural rules—because of her earlier discussion of Ruin and his rules—which then allowed her to see this pattern.

    Rereading it, I'm not 100% pleased with it, but it's too late to make a change. I'd probably rewrite it so that Noorden or Elend make the connection, then let Vin connect that to what she's been thinking about. That would have been a much more natural progression.

    Note that here, Vin misunderstands what these numbers mean. She's looking for rules that bind Ruin. What she finds is not that, but instead a clue left by Preservation. Numbers are understandable to people regardless of language, and so Preservation decided to leave some clues for people to discover that would hopefully lead them to follow the plans he'd set in motion. In my prewriting, I'd intended there to be more hard facts to be discovered in the workings of the universe—numbers hidden in mathematical statistics that said rational things, like the boiling point of water or the like. All as a means of Preservation hinting to humankind that there was a plan for them.

    In the end, this didn't work out. I decided it would be overly complicated and that it would just be too technical to work in this particular novel. The only remnant of that plot arc became the number sixteen that Preservation embedded into the way the mistsickness works, intending it to give a clue about what the mists are doing to people. "You now are Allomancers!" is what this was supposed to scream. Unfortunately, the Lord Ruler's obfuscation of Allomancy—and the number of metals in it—left this clue to fall flat.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Twenty-One - Part Two

    Being a Leader

    Elend has always been a man prone to self-examination. I think it's one of the marks of a true scholar. In book one, he constantly compared himself to Kelsier. In this book, he no longer worries about trying to fill Kelsier's shoes. Instead, he worries that he is filling the Lord Ruler's shoes.

    The themes of what it means to lead, and what is required of a leader, are fascinating to me. In fantasy books, we can deal with these themes on a macroscopic scale. But that's the epic format. These books let us deal with issues in exaggerated ways, which makes them easier to talk about and reference. Just like a doctor might look at microbes under a microscope to see them in a larger way, we expand and blow up our issues—giving them epic scope—to make them easier to handle and explain.

    So, in a way, Elend's conflict here is an application of real-world issues. The fear of failure, the difficulty of living up to expectations, and what it means to lead and be followed.

    He has a lot to work through, and one of the earliest problems I had in writing this book was dealing with how I wanted to show Elend's progression as a character. I eventually did a rewrite where I focused primarily on him and his motivations, though many of those edits don't come to light until later in the novel.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    A Happy Obligator

    If you're up for trivia, we'll have a lot of it in this particular set of annotations. I've been living Mistborn for some five years now, and I've read each of the books around eight or nine times. So I've filled this one with allusions back to the first two.

    When Vin mentions that she'd once thought a happy obligator was always a bad sign, she's referencing a scene from the first few chapters of book one. She, with Camon—her crewleader at the time—visited a Ministry building to try scamming the obligators. They walked in to meet with the official there, but were confronted by a high prelan they didn't expect. He was smiling, and Vin's narrative mentioned her belief that smiling obligators were bad signs.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Elend's White Uniform

    Another interesting item to note is that Vin mentions how Elend's uniform was as white as they could get it. Some readers ask how it would be possible to keep clothing white in such circumstances.

    My answer is much along the lines of what Vin says here. If you, from our world, were to go and look at Elend's uniform, I doubt you'd call it white. Probably a light grey. However, compared to the world around it, it's very white. This is all relative. What the characters see is a brilliant white uniform, even though we would describe it differently.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Twenty-One - Part One

    Demoux Survives

    Yes, Demoux lives. He'd have died, save for a promise I made. If you've read the other annotations, you'll know that he was named for my former roommate Micah DeMoux. I always thought his name was cool, and wanted to use it for a character. He said I could, but made me promise two things. 1) His character had to get a girl eventually, and 2) His character had to survive to the end of the series.

    So Demoux couldn't die here. He's protected by a magical shield known as the author's promise to his pal.

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    Questioner

    I know you have an immense amount of your own work lined up but have you given any thought to revisiting The Wheel of Time?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So question is any thoughts of revisiting The Wheel of Time, ok. So, Robert Jordan was very uncomfortable with the idea of people writing in his universe. To the point that, if you read interviews with him, people would ask "So what happens if you die?" and he would say "I will order my hard drives to be bulldozed into a landfill and never accessed". He changed his mind at the end, partially because of the prodding on his wife who wanted to see it finished, and he said "I do want you to find somebody". But for those of us who know how uncomfortable he was with the idea, I just--

    From the beginning when I sat down with Harriet in 2007 or 2008 when we were talking about this, I'm like "I don't know that it's right to do any more books" and she said "Yes, I agree with you". So we presented a united front, because the publisher wants more books. They always want more books. The publisher's job is to get more books right, and both of us together just said this should not happen, because of Robert Jordan's wishes. And beyond that, he didn't leave any notes, right, for other things. I mean Robert Jordan was one of these discovery writers who didn't outline a lot. What he did is he had touchstone moments through the series he knew he was going to get to and he would write towards those. When I was given the outline for the ending, the "outline", what it was was the scenes he'd already written, and Q&A's with his assistants where they asked him what's going to happen with this person, and then a few of those touchstones written as a paragraph. This is what's going to happen to this character, this is what's going to happen to this character. There was no, like, A-B-C, no outline or anything like that, and it was very free-form.

    Anything else we would have to do, like he left two lines about what he was going to do for the sequel trilogy. It would have to be so much me that I don't think it would be appropriate. Now I can't speak for Harriet and the estate. Maybe they will change their mind on that. Certainly stranger things have happened, and if they do, I will support them and say go for it, but I probably wouldn't write them myself, just because I don't think it would be appropriate.

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    Questioner

    In Words of Radiance you have a great line which said "careful planning is the water which nourishes creativity". I was wondering if, when you wrote that line, were you specifically thinking about novel outlines?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So there's a line in Words of Radiance that's says "careful planning is the water which nourishes creativity". Was I specifically thinking of outlines? So when I speak most lines like this, I'm trying to speak through someone's eyes. That's Navani, I believe, who says that am I right? The idea being that that's the way they'd perceive it. There are other people who would disagree. Now I am a planner, so I understand that mindset a lot. I use a lot of outlines. There are other people who don't plan at all and their books still turn out awesome. So I think there are a lot of different ways to be creative. But I don't think that Navani thinks that there are a lot of different ways. If that makes any sense. She has a different perspective on it perhaps.

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    Questioner

    Can you talk a little bit about writing your action sequences?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Writing action sequences, alright, alright... So writing sequences. The trick to writing an action sequence as a novelist is to not try to do what Hollywood does well, on the page. Instead do what a book does well. What I mean by that is, I can watch, like I assume most people can, Jackie Chan, he can fight for an hour and I'm loving it. He can introduce physical comedy into it and just the punches and stuff are just great, the blow by blow is fun. But if you tried to write a blow by blow in a book, you know "he punched him", then "he kicked him", then "he punched him really hard", and then "he jumped over and kicked him" it would just get boring. And so the way I think to write and engage the action sequences is, number one, make sure the reader knows very soon on what's at stake and have them care about what's at stake. Number two, get them inside the head of the character, so what the character's thinking, feeling and what connections they're making. In other words, make the fight sequence into a puzzle. Your main character's got to solve this puzzle in some way, and maybe the way to solve that puzzle is to just stab a bunch of people really hard, but you want to follow that thought process and have motion in the scene that involves the character's desires, goals, and thoughts, and things like that, and you'll have a stronger action sequence that way. It's the sort of thing that movies can't do. They can't show you the thoughts unless it's David Lynch doing Dune, and then-- have you seen that movie? You know how that turned out, it was really weird.

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    Questioner

    Do you have any idea which book of yours might make it to the movie theaters first?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Which one might make it to the movie theaters first? So right now it's going to be a race because I would say that a lot of things are kind of equal footing, because most of my options that we have for films lapsed last year and then we resold them. So we're kind of starting from scratch on everything. We sold Legion again, we sold Mistborn again, and we sold The Emperor's Soul shortly before.

    *crowd ooh's and aah's*

    And then we sold Steelheart like on Friday. Steelheart had been optioned and they let it lapse. Mistborn had been and Legion had been, so we've got four new companies basically working on it, but every time we do this my profile as a writer has raised to the point that we get a better crowd, if that makes sense. Like the Steelheart deal I'm really excited about. I love the producer, he's the guy that did-- did you guys see Real Steel? Did you ever see that, the Richard Matheson story? The guy who did that. I loved that, I thought it was-- it was one of those movies I watched expecting it to be dumb, and it was great. But he also did the Night at the Museum stuff, and things like that, and so I'm really excited about that.

    But the Mistborn script treatments are excellent, the best treatments I've gotten. What that means is that's what you write as a producer to give to a screenwriter to then write the screenplay, and then after that you get stars attached, and then after that someone finally gives you money and you make the film. So we're still a long way away, but the treatments are really good.

    And then, you know, the guys who have The Emperor's Soul are super enthusiastic. They're DMG, they made the Iron Man films with Marvel, they're super enthusiastic and they went down the cosmere rabbit hole. They bought it and then they're like, "who is this--" let me see this deleted scene about this guy named Hoid. So I gave it to them and they're like, "wait a minute", and they started reading everything. And so they've come back to me and they're like "sooo, um, the Sanderson cinematic universe..." So I don't know what's going to happen with that, but there's lots of discussion about things like that. And they've been talking to the Mistborn guys, and so--

    But this is all very new, meaning we're at the preliminary stages of all of it. There's like, nothing I can officially even announce other than "These people have bought these rights, these people have bought these rights". Maybe we'll get something made eventually. I've gotten really close before and it hasn't happened so, who knows.

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    Questioner

    How did you come up with the weird weaknesses for Epics in Steelheart?

    Brandon Sanderson

    How did I come up with the weird weaknesses for Epics in Steelheart? Honestly? Ooh. This is rule zero. I'm like, one of the things going on with Steelheart is, number one it has to fit the structure of the magic system, which you find out in book two, why people have the weaknesses they do, but number two, I'm like, I need to be coming up with some way to keep this a little more light-hearted because it really is about a bunch of people running around assassinating other people, so I didn't want to let that get tooooo dark, if that makes sense. I'm not really a grimdark writer, so I wanted to come up with some things that added-- just kind of played into the fact that superheroes, at their core, are kind of ridiculous, right. I mean, the whole genre, I love it but it's a little ridiculous and so part of this is just buying into all of that. Some of them it's just because I thought it was cool.

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    Questioner

    Are you thinking of making a card game? I kind of searched your--

    Brandon Sanderson

    Am I thinking of making a card game? So Crafty Games who has the rights to the Mistborn stuff, they want to do a card game. I like what they've done with the RPG, if you play pen and RPG's we do have one, it's pretty decent, but first I think they're going to do a board game, and then that. So I have no plans to do one other than the standup cards, the one that are in the cosmere, may eventually have some sort of weird game that goes with them that I've come up with, but I can't promise when that'll actually happen. These ones don't have stats on them because they're not in the cosmere. But they're still cool.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Why the Lord Ruler Created the Kandra as They Are

    You may have noticed something in this chapter. TenSoon mentions the food pits that the kandra people cultivate, a mixture of algae and fungus that they grow in holes in the ground. Yes, they can survive on this. No, it doesn't taste very good. However, it doesn't need light to grow.

    Humankind couldn't survive on this mixture, unfortunately. However, one thing that is never brought up in the text is something that not even the kandra know. There are several reasons that the Lord Ruler created them as he did. One of those reasons was so that there would be a people who could survive beneath the ground, should the world above be destroyed by the mists. In other words, he created a race of subterranean dwellers to outlast humankind, should that become necessary. He was the one who gave them the Homeland as their inheritance and taught them to begin growing food that would survive underground.

    Then, of course, he decided to add the Resolution to their code of law. That was a precaution in case Ruin decided to claim them as his own. A bit self-defeating, true, but the Lord Ruler felt it was better for them to die than to become pawns of his most dangerous enemy.

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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Twenty

    What TenSoon Doesn't Know

    Remember that TenSoon doesn't know what happened at the end of the second book. This was kind of hard for me to keep in mind, as I kept wanting him to mention the day mists and the troubles up above. However, he left before the Siege of Luthadel ended—he doesn't even know that Vin survived the assault on the city, let alone that she found her way to the Well of Ascension.

    I considered having TenSoon overhear some kandra guards discussing these events so that he could use the information in his speeches, but I decided that would seem too contrived. He had to get along with what he knew, not what I wanted him to know.

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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Nineteen

    Spook Sees Kelsier in the Burning Building and Burns Pewter

    How, exactly, does one write from the perspective of a deranged, exhausted, dying man in the middle of a burning building? This is my attempt. Reading through it now, I particularly like how the imagery and Spook's disorientation come across. It works as a nice component to the previous Spook chapter.

    Yes, Kelsier appears to him. Yes, Spook can burn pewter. One of the reasons I decided to soften Spook's craziness in his first two chapters is that I wanted this chapter to stand out in more stark contrast. A sizable number of my alpha readers, after finishing this chapter and the next one, couldn't decide if Spook was in fact burning pewter, or if he had gone insane.

    My hope is that since I made Spook easier to relate to in the first two chapters, he'll be considered more trustworthy by readers. The fact that he can burn pewter is very important to the plot's development from this point on.

    My other worry with this chapter is that people will read it and think that I'm pulling a "Swiss Army magic" trick on them—inventing new powers and abilities just to get my characters out of trouble. I can assure you that not only is what's happening to Spook here logical and built into the magic system, but you've seen these things happen before in the series as far back as early portions of book one.

    If you want confirmation, realize that Marsh was given new Allomantic powers back in the first book via Hemalurgy, something very similar to what just happened to Spook. Also, very early in the series you got to see Ruin influencing people and speaking to them. Note Vin in book one and Zane in book two.

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    Brandon Sanderson

    Sazed and Goradel Discuss the Skaa Farmers

    The conversation between Sazed and Goradel in this chapter is an important one, as it shows the importance of a character's perspective. Two men looking at the same scene see very different things.

    Sazed, fighting depression and close to giving up, sees the skaa laboring and notes that nothing much has changed for them. They still have to work themselves near to death, and their lives are still gloomy.

    Goradel, who spent his youth being despised by his family and their friends, is now a captain in Elend's army—and is known among the skaa as one of the men instrumental in helping Vin kill the Lord Ruler. He's become something of a local celebrity in some segments of Luthadel. He looks on these same working skaa and sees hope and victory.

    As Sazed says in this chapter, being happy and optimistic isn't simply a choice one can make—at least, not a lot of the time. However, I think it's possible to find hope in very dark situations.

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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Eighteen

    Sazed Visits the Pits of Hathsin

    Sazed's visit to the Pits is foreshadowing, as we're going to make use of them as a setting later in the book and I wanted to establish what they looked like and what was going on there. It also, however, gave me a chance to frame Sazed's conflicts a little bit more by showing what the other Terris people think of him. (There will be more of that in the next Sazed chapter.)