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    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
    #6301 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Part One Wrap-Up

    Setting the Scene

    Like always, part one is a little slow. I'm working on my style, trying to get the pacing better in the first third of my novels. However, one feature of my style is the setup, followed by fast-paced endings. I don't want to lose that; I just want to make sure every part of a given book is fun to read.

    There are a lot of good things happening here, but also a lot of establishment. How Allomancy and Feruchemy work, what has happened to the characters in the year between books—the setup for the conflicts of this novel. Things start to pick up in the next section, and we add our final viewpoint: Spook.

    Overall, I'm pleased with part one and the way it sets the scene of the book. The world is ending. People everywhere are in trouble. Elend, Vin, and the team have no idea how to fight it—they're just doing their best at guessing.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
    #6302 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Thirteen

    Marsh Decides to Kill Himself…Again

    This is, unfortunately, another throwaway chapter for Marsh, more intended to remind you that he's around than to actually accomplish anything. I still think this is better than just abandoning his viewpoint for most of the book, then coming back to it near the end. However, I like what I do in the next couple of sections—where we get to see him working toward something—better than these chapters of him just sitting.

    This one is particularly annoying because it's simply showing him waffling back and forth. In the previous chapter, he decided that he couldn't ever get up the strength to kill himself. In this one, he decides again to kill himself.

    There is some good stuff in here—we get to see why he makes the decisions he does, and we get a tiny bit of backstory on the Marsh/Kelsier/Mare relationship. We get to see Marsh in conflict, which is good.

    However, reading back through the book, I'm feeling that I like the Marsh chapters in part one the least. Ah well. Somebody had to have the worst sections.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
    #6303 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Physical Signs of Impending Doom

    The earthquake here, by the way, was added in one of the later drafts. My editor and I decided that we needed something else to show that the world was approaching collapse—not just sociologically and not just because of the mists. The earthquakes and the rumblings from the ashmounts are an indication of this. Watch for more of them.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
    #6304 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Mistborn Tropes, Kelsier and Elend's Leadership Styles

    As I mentioned previously with giving Vin a "sidekick" in each book, there are other cycles that I've tried to use in each of the three novels in order to give them a sense of cohesion. I felt this was important because of how different the themes of each book are, and I wanted to give a sense and reminder that they were all in the same series together.

    In this case, we have the "discuss the plan" scene. The first of these is the most obvious, back in book one. Kelsier leads this one with the chalkboard and talks everyone through the plan to overthrow the Lord Ruler.

    In book two, we had the scene where Elend presented his plan to play Cett and Straff against each other. Now, in book three, we have the discussion of the mists closing in and the team's goals of capturing the two remaining powerhouse cities.

    I like the comparison between these three scenes and what they say about Elend and Kelsier. In book one, Kelsier's plan is pretty much already in his head—he says that he wants to discuss things with his team and get ideas from them, but if you pay attention it's clear that he manipulates the conversation into going with the plan he wants. He offers one form of leadership.

    In book two, Elend's meeting is a near disaster. He arrives late and tells them about his plan—only to find out that the crew already has their own plan. He then has to talk, wiggle, and persuade to get them to go with the plan he's come up with.

    In book three, you have Elend the emperor. Gone is the guessing and insecurity. This is the plan presented by a man at war to his troops and advisors. He asks for ideas, then takes them and puts people to work on them. He presents his goals clearly and expects them to be accepted.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
    #6305 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Twelve

    Vin Talks to Elend about Breeze

    Vin's right about Breeze trying too hard. You can see it in the previous chapter, where he tries so much to force Sazed to be happier. They're all stretched quite thin, as I've mentioned before, and this is how Breeze shows the effects of that. His jokes become forced, and instead of being quite sarcastic, he starts to be cheerful and peppy. It's a complete act for him, but that's how it goes.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
    #6306 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    TenSoon Declares That Vin Is the Lord Ruler's Successor

    I think TenSoon's argument here is a good one. If the Seconds had stopped to give it some real thought, they might have decided that he was right. Without the Lord Ruler, their religion and society were destined to degenerate into chaos. But if they'd picked Vin to follow instead, the Seconds could have perhaps kept it all going.

    However, that would have felt too much like a relinquishment of power. In truth, some of them were pleased at the fall of the Lord Ruler, for it removed the great force ruling over them. His death left them, in essence, free. Without the First Contract, they could govern themselves, particularly now that mankind had forgotten how to control kandra by using Allomancy.

    TenSoon spoiled that last part, of course. Perhaps you can see why they're so determined to punish him.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
    #6307 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Eleven

    OreSeur

    If I ever do any short stories in the Mistborn world, one I would like to write would be from OreSeur's viewpoint near the end of the events of book one.

    He was a complex individual, a true kandra in many ways—but also a rebel. It was no accident that he was assigned to Kelsier's team, who were planning to overthrow the empire. OreSeur was one of the only kandra willing to take that Contract, and he came out of a long retirement in the Homeland to accept it.

    His motivations were his own, and I'd like to explore them. What would a kandra think, joining a movement to overthrow the Father of his own religion? What would he think when that movement actually succeeded? How would he react to, then, being assigned to care for the woman who had held the spear that killed the Lord Ruler?

    Many of the Third Generation, TenSoon and OreSeur included, weren't as devout in their dedication to the Lord Ruler as many others. OreSeur himself had seen what the Lord Ruler had done to the world and the people in it. And yet, fighting against the man who was revered by his people in such a holy light?

    Anyway, it would make for a good story. I can't tell it here, unfortunately, but maybe somewhere else I will.

    Eventually, I'll explain why the kandra think that they are of Preservation, when the other races are of Ruin. We'll get to that, don't worry. Just watch for it in the text of the book.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
    #6308 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Religious Philosophies

    There is a belief that many people hold in the world, and I like to call it the "spokes on the wheel" belief. This is the belief that as long as you struggle hard and try to live your life well, you'll make it to heaven, or nirvana, or whatever lies on the other side of death. People who believe this tend to take an "It doesn't matter what road you take; they all lead the same place" approach. Every religion is a spoke on the wheel, leading to the center.

    There is a lot of nobility to this belief. It's an attempt to be inclusionary, and the people I've met who believe this way tend to be sincere—or at least very accommodating—in their personal convictions.

    I don't write books to disprove any one philosophy or belief. People who believe this way are not idiots, nor are they fools. This was the belief Sazed followed through the first two books of the trilogy. However, I see a danger in this set of beliefs, and Sazed's trials in this book are a result of that danger. If you believe everything, it seems to me that it is difficult to find any hard-and-fast truth.

    Monotheism has its own problems, and I explore those in other books. Don't take this as a bash against your beliefs if you follow Sazed's previous philosophy. I simply saw a potential conflict, and couldn't help but explore it.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
    #6310 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Ten

    Sazed's Struggle

    Here I can see how giving Sazed something to do—letting him study his religions one by one—makes his viewpoints far more interesting. The previous version of this chapter, which perhaps I'll post, had him simply riding along, listening to Breeze, despairing. That was boring.

    Yet, making one small tweak—giving him something to do—changed that dramatically, at least for me as I read the chapter. It allows Sazed to struggle, and a struggle can be even more tragic than a loss. Either way, it's more interesting to read because conflict is interesting. Here, he's trying—even though he's failing—to find meaning in the world. He can try to shove aside his depression and read his pages instead.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
    #6311 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    MeLaan

    It's never fully explained who MeLaan is, so I'll give you the background here. One thing that kandra do is take Contracts serving mankind in exchange for atium. However, there are other jobs that kandra can do back in the Homeland. One of the more prestigious ones includes the training and instruction of a child kandra.

    This can take years and years, as kandra grow very slowly. TenSoon was appointed as a "parent" of a single kandra during his lifetime. (Many of the Fifth Generation have been parents dozens of times, but the Thirds are a rebellious group, and it was only after much consideration—and political pressure in the Homeland—that Thirds were given chances.)

    MeLaan, then, is kind of TenSoon's adopted daughter. She has something of a hero-worship crush on him, inspired by his gruff style and adventuresome personality. Her idolizing of him borders on a romantic crush, and this makes TenSoon somewhat uncomfortable.

    There you go. Now you can astound your friends with Mistborn background trivia.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
    #6312 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Nine

    TenSoon and Chronology

    I probably should have found a way to stagger these kandra chapters a little bit better. We get a lot of them up front in the book, and then they dribble away through the late middle. The problem is that I didn't have very many pages to devote to TenSoon's story. I decided that rather than having one or two long chapters, I'd split it up and have five or six short chapters.

    However, I generally follow a straight chronology in my books—meaning that page 22 is almost always later in time than page 21, no matter which characters happen to be on the different pages.

    That means when I split TenSoon's trial into three chapters, I had to keep them all very close together, since they were covering a single day. I didn't want to—say—stick in a TenSoon chapter, jump a week forward to Vin's section, then jump back to TenSoon's trial.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
    #6314 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    The Symbol of the Spear

    I'm not trying to overtly duplicate Christianity with the spear becoming the symbol of the Church of the Survivor much like the cross became for Christians. It just seemed a very natural symbol, and I do very much like playing with the idea of how a religion grows and changes from a loose set of beliefs into an organized theology.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
    #6315 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    The Koloss Named Human

    Human is another reader favorite from this series. He completes a cycle of characters I'd conceived from the beginning of the series.

    In each book, Vin is given an assistant—someone to watch over her and guide her. In book one this was Sazed, who Kelsier charged with watching over Vin. Eventually, Sazed became his own force in the books and could no longer fill this role. At that point, Elend asked TenSoon to watch over her, and he became her attendant for book two. Now in book three, TenSoon is a viewpoint character in his own right and Vin is left without an assistant.

    Human fills that role for this book. I had planned him to have a much larger place in the novel than he eventually got—I intended to do something more like with TenSoon in book two, where Human was always accompanying Vin. However, I feared repeating myself in that way, as the TenSoon/Vin relationship in book two worked so very well. I didn't want to do another story about Vin and her inhuman companion growing to trust each other and becoming friends. So, I reduced Human's role in the book. A koloss would make a terrible sidekick anyway.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
    #6316 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Eight

    Killer Mists

    The mists kill now. That was a major plot point from book two, so I hope you haven't forgotten it.

    Not only was it necessary for the mythology of the world—as will be explained—it was a necessary shift for Vin's personality. This series is about, as I've stated before, the concepts of trust, betrayal, and faith. The mists are the one thing Vin thought she could trust, but now they have turned against her. How she deals with that is a big part of this book.

    If you watch throughout the book, Vin has a stronger reaction against the mists than other characters. True, they're worried about the way it's killing people, but Vin is bitter—almost hateful. This is partially because she feels betrayed, but another factor is the taint of Hemalurgy—and therefore Ruin's touch—in her blood.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
    #6317 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Kandra Culture

    We get to dig a little bit deeper into the kandra culture here. True Bodies were one of the more interesting things I wanted to discuss in this series, and I'm glad I finally found a chance to show them off.

    It makes perfect sense to me that kandra would turn their skeletons into works of art. Some have asked me why they don't do more—take their bodies more to the extreme. But TenSoon addresses that right here, in a way. The kandra are too used to having human shapes; that is what makes sense to them. It's odd how something inherited from a society's oppressors can become an important part of that society's culture.

    I worked for a long time to make the kandra culture feel real and interesting. The idea of shape-shifters is not new, particularly changelings who take the place of humans they meet. And so my means of making the kandra distinctive can't come from what they are but who they are. Their culture, their thought processes.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
    #6318 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Seven

    Avoiding Hints about the Epigraph Author

    The epigraph to this chapter, where the epigraph author discusses that he/she is going to refer to each group as "we" is very important, though most readers skip over it. What she/he is saying here is that you aren't going to be able to guess who he/she is simply by looking at which parts of this book she/he discusses. And that's all I'm going to say, because typing he/she all the time is getting very annoying/frustrating.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
    #6319 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Six

    Marsh Is Still Around

    Short little Marsh chapter here. This is partially just to remind you that he's still around, since he has a part to play in this book.

    I learned a little from book two, where I had wanted to use Marsh more but wasn't able to squeeze him in. There were a lot of complaints about this from alpha readers and fans talking about how Marsh was one of their favorite characters, and how they didn't like it that he disappeared throughout most of the book.

    The problem I run into is that I can't show too much of what he's doing, as that would reveal Ruin's plans prematurely. I do go into some of what Marsh is up to in subsequent chapters, but I felt that at this point it was too early. So, fairly late in the revision process, I added this chapter in as a reminder of his mindset and what he's up to.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
    #6320 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    The Storage Caches

    One of the major revisions I made to the book during drafting was to reduce the number of storage caches. Originally I'd planned for eleven or twelve. The one here in Vetitan was still going to be the penultimate, with Fadrex being the last—the team just would have discovered more of them between books.

    I changed this in order to make the cache in Fadrex seem more important. I wanted to get across the idea that taking that city was vital to the plans and goals of the team, and making it have one of five caches instead of one of twelve seemed to help with that.

    In the first draft, the major draw of the final cache was the hope that it contained atium. But I realized that atium just wasn't that useful anymore—or, at least, many of the reasons it might have been useful are no longer important to the characters. Vin's instinct is right—the atium is more important than it might seem at first, but the original draft made it look like they were chasing a hope for something that wasn't even very useful. So, during revisions, I inserted Elend's acknowledgment that they don't really need atium, and I also added Vin's instinct that it's vital. We'll see how this plays out.

    Of course, the reason Vin has an instinct that atium is vital is because of Ruin's touch on her emotions, driving her to seek out the final cache, where Ruin himself hopes to find that atium. To him, Vin and Elend are just another pair of pawns—in some ways more useful than Inquisitors because they don't even know they're following his goals. Ruin isn't sure if these caches will have the atium—he's in fact rather suspicious that this is a ruse of the Lord Ruler—but he's willing to dedicate some resources to the possibility, hence what he did to send Elend and Vin searching out the caches. He worries that there will be some kind of guard set at the final cache or the atium that has been told to watch for Inquisitors and keep them away, and he feels that using Vin and Elend is both more clever and potentially more effective than just sending an Inquisitor.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
    #6321 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Five

    Vin and Elend's Plans and Progress

    This is my personal favorite of the opening chapters. I love how it establishes what Vin and Elend are trying to accomplish, but at the same time shows how stretched thin they are. Both bounce around from one emotion to another, and the argument near the end of the chapter is a good example of just how exhausted they both are.

    Elend is more forceful now. He's become a wartime leader, a much different man than he was in book one, when he went to parties and read books. He's fighting to find a balance between being the man he thinks he should be and the man he knows he has to be. It all works very soundly for me.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
    #6322 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Four

    Sazed's Depression and Search for Truth

    And we finally get to do the first Sazed chapter.

    It seems that each book presents different challenges. In book two, Sazed's scenes flowed easily and perfectly, much as TenSoon's chapters did in this book. However, in book three, I couldn't get Sazed's chapters to work right. I had to do several revisions.

    The main problem was that in the first draft of the book, Sazed just sat around moping all the time. I wanted to show him in the clutch of depression, having given up on all of his religions. In that draft, he'd already decided that all of his religions were false and that there was no hope.

    But his chapters were a major drag. They were rather boring to read, and even when exciting things were happening, Sazed himself was just too depressing. That came from two problems. First off, his depression just didn't feel right—it felt like I was telling people he was depressed, rather than showing someone who really had depression. Secondly, he wasn't doing anything. That's an accurate portrayal of someone with depression, but it sure is a drag to read.

    So, I revised heavily and came up with the idea of Sazed looking through his portfolios searching for truth. I like how this turned out. Not only is he being active now, but it feels to me that he's more depressed—despite being active—because of the way he thinks and the edge of despair you can feel each time he eliminates one of the religions in his portfolio.

    At the same time, I took out a lot of his thoughts about how depressed he was, and instead just let his outlook on things show that depression. I'm still not sure if I got the balance perfect or not, but this is such an improvement on the previous drafts that I am very pleased with it.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
    #6323 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Elend Takes Control of the Koloss Army

    The truth is that Ruin wanted Vin and Elend to get this army of koloss. He wanted them to keep up their quest and to surround themselves with his minions. Now that he's got Marsh and company churning out new Inquisitors, he figured that he could risk—and probably lose—one here in order to keep Vin and Elend thinking that they were doing the right thing. After all, if the Inquisitors are fighting them, then they must be on the right track.

    Again, Ruin is playing them. Though, one other thing to note is the attempt to get a spike into Elend here. In Ruin's opinion, that also would have been an acceptable end to this fight, and another good reason to toss away an Inquisitor. He wasn't successful, but he got close. If Ruin had been quick enough to block Vin as she grabbed one of the koloss, the rest of the book would have been quite different.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
    #6324 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    The Inquisitor's Speed

    What the Inquisitor does here at the end is very important. If you've read book two recently, you may recognize this as what Sazed did when he tapped speed at the end of that book.

    The Inquisitors are gaining Feruchemical powers, which makes them very, very dangerous. Mixing Feruchemy and Allomancy is what made the Lord Ruler so formidable. Fortunately, it took him a long time to figure out how to mix the powers correctly, and the Inquisitors haven't had the time to practice, regardless of the force controlling them.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
    #6325 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Electrum

    I held off on using this metal because while I knew what it had to do, I also knew that it would make atium far less important.

    The way I built Allomancy, there is a logic to its framework. Atium shows other people's futures. Gold shows your own past. Each group of metals has internal and external powers. Therefore, one of the two alloys (either atium's or gold's) had to show other people's pasts—the Eleventh Metal from book one, an alloy of atium.

    The final metal of that group, then, had to show your own future. I wanted this to be an alloy of atium. But the problem was that it couldn't be. There is always a pushing metal and a pulling metal to each set. The pull always comes first; the push is always the alloy. The two external metals (that do things to other people) have to be grouped together, and the two internal metals (that do things to yourself) have to be grouped together.

    That means atium and gold are both pulling metals, and the ones that do things to you both had to be related to gold—and both metals that do things to other people had to be related to atium. Therefore, even though initial logic makes it seem that the alloy of atium should be the one that shows your own future, the way the magic is arranged means that it has to show other people's pasts. [Editor's note: Careful readers may intuit something else about this that Brandon is holding back.]

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
    #6326 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Writing Fight Scenes

    A fight should be more than a blow-by-blow. I've talked about this before. In a book, you can't get away with action for the sake of action—at least not in the same way you can in a movie.

    With a visual medium, viewers can simply enjoy the blow-by-blow. Character X hits Character Y can be exciting. In books, it's dreadfully boring. I think I went a little too far toward that in this chapter.

    What makes a fight work? Well, emotional impact for one. If we're tied to a character and think that they might be in danger, that can make a fight work—but only insofar as we're seeing the danger's emotional effect on the character. (Which is something books can do far better than movies.) Also, interesting discoveries and ramifications can work to make a fight more exciting.

    Why is Elend forcing these men to fight like this? Where are the armies he promised? How are they going to win? Hopefully these questions drive the action. Thus the final way to make something exciting in an action scene is to show the characters being clever through the way they manipulate the fight or the magic or the area around them.

    That's just my take on it.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
    #6327 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Three

    The Fight against the Koloss

    One of my biggest worries about the beginning of this book is that the fight scene here is too long, particularly for the beginning of a book. But I wanted to show this fight in chapter three for a few reasons. First, I wanted to have a dramatic beginning. I also wanted a good excuse to reintroduce Allomancy and how it works, and I've found that battles are the best place to do that. Finally, I wanted to indicate what the feel of this book would be.

    Book one was underscored by the heist story and book two by the siege of Luthadel. Book three is underscored by epic war. That's not all it is, but the wars and battles are a big part of what drives this book.

    Unfortunately, having to stop to explain Allomancy slows things down. I think I did it better in this book than I did in book two, but it still makes this fight a tad dry.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
    #6328 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    A Kandra Perspective

    I knew I wanted a kandra viewpoint in this book. They have a unique perspective on the setting and the mythology of the world, and beyond that they're just plain fascinating to me. I like their culture, and I'm glad I finally found a place to show the Homeland, their true bodies, and so forth. (More on this in upcoming annotations, of course.)

    In addition, TenSoon's viewpoint offers a contrast to the battles, sieges, and wars going on in the other viewpoints.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
    #6329 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Two

    TenSoon

    I wrote the TenSoon chapters separately from the rest of the main storyline. (In fact, I wrote in three sections, since I did Spook as a chunk as well.) So when I wrote this, I didn't know exactly which chapter in the book it would be.

    I decided to place it early. Not only did I feel I needed something short to split up the two big Elend chapters, but I wanted to introduce TenSoon as soon as possible. His chapters were the favorite of many of the alpha readers, as they offer a completely new experience and mark our first viewpoint in this series from a creature of a different species. (As I think about it, this is probably the first viewpoint in any of my books from a nonhuman.)

    This chapter is short, mostly giving background and setting the stage for TenSoon's viewpoint chapters. I found it curious that I got such a good response from readers about his chapters, since TenSoon is forced to be mostly reactive. He's imprisoned, undergoing trial. He can't really do much other than speak. Yet readers found the chapters compelling and interesting.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
    #6331 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Fatren's Viewpoint

    I knew early on that I'd need to start with a viewpoint from someone we haven't seen before. I thought that someone fresh would allow us to get a distinct sense of what has happened to the world in the months since the end of book two. The viewpoints of the main characters would be clouded by events—I wanted someone who could show us what was really happening.

    That meant using a skaa peasant in one of the outlying cities. I wanted to show a different slice of life and indicate how hard things were. In addition, I felt I wanted to hit right away on the fact that this book would be about the world ending.

    Hence we have Fatren. I toyed with making him a main character, but I eventually discarded that idea. I think this is the only chapter from his viewpoint. I hate to use a throwaway viewpoint so early in the book, but the alternative—making him a main character just to avoid having a throwaway viewpoint—was a bad idea. We already have too much to focus on with Elend, Vin, Spook, TenSoon, Sazed, and Marsh all being major viewpoint characters in the novel.

    Adding TenSoon, Marsh, and Spook gave us enough that was new in the way of viewpoints. We didn't need Fatren—except for this first scene. Here, we get to see Elend from an outside perspective, and I think this does an excellent job of providing contrast—both against the hopelessness of the world and against the Elend that readers have in their head.

    He's changed, obviously. The beard and rugged looks are meant to indicate a year spent fighting koloss and leading humankind as it struggles against extinction. Using Fatren's viewpoint gave me a powerful way to update the world and explain what's changed. I'm pleased with how he turned out.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
    #6332 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter One

    Part One Title

    The title of this section of the book is "The Legacy of the Survivor." If I recall correctly, part one of the first book was "The Survivor of Hathsin" and part one of book two was "The Heir of the Survivor."

    Kelsier still overshadows these books. In this chapter particularly, I wanted to show an entire group of people doing essentially what he did in book one. Just as Kelsier faced down an Inquisitor, this band of soldiers is going to charge an army of koloss.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
    #6333 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Magic System Focus

    I've mentioned before that, in my mind, each of the three books has a focus on one of the three magic systems. Book one introduced Allomancy. And in book two, Sazed became a viewpoint character, and his story is very important to that book. Through him, we see Feruchemy work.

    We will, of course, see lots more Feruchemy and Allomancy in this book. However, we also add Marsh to introduce us to Hemalurgy. The secrets behind how this magic system works are a major focus of the plot of this volume, as they explain to us how Ruin and Preservation operate.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
    #6334 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Prologue

    Book two didn't have a prologue—if you read the annotations, you can find out about the one I was planning to use but then decided to drop for various reasons.

    However, I always knew that this one would have a prologue. Why is this a prologue and not chapter one? I'm not sure I can explain it—I just had a sense of what it needed to be.

    It's a glimpse rather than a full chapter. It's from a viewpoint that, while important to the book, doesn't carry a lot of weight in page count—we won't see Marsh again for a number of chapters. Plus, it stands out as being the closest thing to an evil character viewpoint in the book. All of these things scream prologue to me, as they give a hint of what is to come, but don't immediately indicate how the story is going to start.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
    #6335 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Maps

    Just like the other two books, the maps in this volume are brought to you by the talented Isaac Stewart—video game designer, writer, and all-around great guy. Isaac is a member of my writing group, and he started work on the maps for Hero of Ages early, since we knew we'd want maps of Urteau and Fadrex to replace the map of Luthadel (which doesn't have as big a part in this book as it did in the others).

    I'm curious to know what people think, opening this book and seeing these two cities instead of the familiar Luthadel. Part of me still wishes I'd been able to set the book in Luthadel.

    And yet, I worried that that setting was played out. In book two, the action came to the characters—but I wasn't certain I wanted them to still be sitting there, dealing with the problems life threw at them. I wanted them to be out proactively seeking to head off the end of the world.

    That required them to leave Luthadel, and while I did find opportunity for a few scenes in the city, they aren't the focus of the book.

    I like how both of these maps turned out, as they both have visual elements that were challenging to describe in the text. For Urteau, the streetslots are an unusual image, and I think the map helps get across the idea of the empty canal streets. Fadrex was an even bigger problem—it was tough to get down the descriptions of the rock formations around the city that provide natural fortifications. I think that the map here gives me a leg up on description, as it adds a visual image I can work from before I even have to begin describing.

    I know some readers complain about how fantasy writers feel a need for maps, but for me it's always been a vital part of the experience. The map is an initial visual image that begins to pull you away from our world and deposit you someplace else. David Farland always says that one of the goals of fantasy—and reading in general—is to take you somewhere new. Maps are the gateway into doing this, and I'm happy to include them in my books.

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    Acknowledgments

    As usual, this page has a couple of inside jokes buried in it. In the first Mistborn book, I referred to Peter Ahlstrom (one of my longtime friends and alpha readers [Editor's note: and now the assistant who's editing these annotations]) as "the incalculable Peter Ahlstrom." He got a big kick out of this, partially because he didn't know what the heck it meant. (I don't either.) He even went so far as to make a T-shirt that said "Incalculable" on it and wear it to one of my signings. (I had to think for a while to get the joke, to be honest. It had been forever since I'd written that acknowledgments page, and I'd forgotten what I'd written.)

    Anyway, this time around he gets to be The Indivisible Peter Ahlstrom. I don't know what that means either.

    Ben Olsen is another friend I tend to make fun of. I don't know why. Tradition, I guess. This time around, I realized Olsen is almost a kandra name. Ben OleSoon he became. And Eric "More Snooty" James Stone came about because he and Eric J. Ehlers got into a lighthearted argument about how they were snooty for including their middle initials on the acknowledgments page.

    These are all wonderful folks who helped me in creating these books, and they have my thanks. I know most readers skip this page, which is why I like to add Easter eggs to it.

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    Dedication

    This one is for my brother, Jordan. He is, in a word, awesome.

    I don't know if any of you had to grow up with a domineering older sibling, but I know my brother did. I'm the eldest, and when we were growing up, I was the "good" son. I did everything right (not really, but I know it seemed that way). I was the one who got the good grades, who did what he was supposed to, was responsible—all of that. I know it was rough on Jordan. It took me until I was in my twenties to snap out of the sense of entitlement that growing up this way gave me.

    Many younger siblings, I think, would have reacted bitterly to a brother like me, even going so far as to cut off contact. Yet Jordan has remained my stalwart pal. He put up with a lot when we were younger, and he didn't give up on me. He's fiercely loyal, a wealth of information, and a great webmaster.

    Thanks, Jordo.

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    Title Page

    Originally, this book was going to be called The Final Hero. In the first draft of book one, that was the term I was using for the hero from Terris lore. I changed this for a couple of reasons.

    First off, I just didn't like the way The Final Hero sounded. Something about it felt off to me. In addition, if I titled book one The Final Empire and the last book The Final Hero, then it seemed that the second book should also be The Final (Something)—and I didn't like that either. The Well of Ascension is actually my favorite title of the three, I think.

    So I toyed around with other words and terms I could use. Eventually, I settled on The Hero of Ages. I'm satisfied with it, but it's not my favorite title. If you've read the books, then it makes perfect sense and is a great capstone title to the trilogy—but to those who haven't, I think it comes off as a rather bland title.

    Regardless, I'm now very glad I didn't go with The Final Hero. People were confused by book one having final in the title, as they weren't sure if that book were the first or last in the series. I think having another book with final in the title could have been even more confusing—particularly if I decide to do any more books in the Mistborn world.

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    Book Wrap-Up

    And . . . those are the annotations! I hope you enjoyed reading them. As you can probably tell, I write them rather quickly. This, of course, is to give them that feel of an improvisational director's commentary. (And it has nothing to do with the fact that when I work on them for a book, I'm usually about three weeks behind deadline on turning in the copyedit. Why do you ask?)

    Joking aside, I'm quite proud of this book and what it does. I think it's the first time I've blended plot twists, humor, worldbuilding, and romance all together in a book the way I've wanted to from the beginning of my writing career.

    Would I do anything different? Perhaps. I still wish Parlin had a more compelling character, so there could be more emotional impact when he died. I wish the ending had a bit less of a deus ex machina feel to it. But overall, I think the writing here is a big stride forward for me.

    Thanks again for reading, both the book and these annotations.

    Brandon Sanderson

    October 2008

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    Vasher Explains Some Things, but Leaves Some Things Hidden

    I'm worried about leaving Vivenna's two questions unanswered. One is pretty obvious—how Vasher can hide how he looks—but the other is unintuitive. I wish I could explain better in the book, as I said above, but I decided in the end to just leave it hanging. It's a bit of a violation of Sanderson's First Law, but not a big one. The reason I feel I can get away with it is because Vasher didn't use his nature as a Returned to solve any problems. It is more a flavoring for his character than it is important to him getting out of danger or fixing things. He could have done everything he needed to in this book without being Returned. So I feel it's okay not to explain why he can be Returned and not die when he gives away his Breaths.

    Can Vivenna change her appearance more? She can indeed. She could actually stoke that fragment of a divine Breath inside of her and start glowing like a Returned. She can't change her physical features to look like someone else, but she can change her age, her height (within reason), and her body shape (to an extent). It takes practice.

    And yes, the scraggly miscreant is how Vasher sees himself. Not noble and Returned, which is part of how he suppresses his divine Breath.

    Events in the second book may change that.

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    Vivenna Goes with Vasher

    I was always planning this ending for her. She's still got a lot of growing she can do as a character, and I think she'll make for a very interesting heroine in a sequel. She could never return to Idris and face her father; doing so would be returning to a lot of people who expect her to be like she was. But she can't stay with Siri either. She still hates Hallandren and just wants to be free of it—free where she can calm her fury and really explore who she is now that her life is no longer dominated by the need to go marry the God King.

    Life has been very unfair to Vivenna. It's time for her to live for herself. Here we finally have the last reversal of the book. Siri has become the queen; Vivenna is running away from responsibility, out into the wilds. And it (hopefully) feels very natural for them to be in these roles.

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    Vivenna and Siri Reunite; Vasher Shows Off His Returned Breath

    I believe that this is the first time in the book that Vivenna and Siri talk to each other. (Weird, eh?) I knew I couldn't make their reunion very effusive, since they're both Idrians, and Siri has learned to control herself. Plus, the situation is very tense. (And beyond that, despite Vivenna's coming to rescue her sister, the two were never terribly close. They were sisters, but separated by five years or so.)

    This chapter focuses on other things, primarily the changes in the God King's personality and the revelations about Vasher. For the first, I hope they are plausible. Remember, the God King has grown a lot with Siri's help. Beyond that, he's been trained to look regal and act like a king, even if he's not had any practice talking like one. I think he works well here, projecting more confidence and nobility than he really feels, speaking in ways that don't make him sound too stupid, yet still betraying an innocence.

    The bigger surprise is Vasher's revelation about his nature. I almost didn't put this in the book, instead intending to hint at it and save it for the second book. The reason for this is that I knew it would be confusing.

    The big question is, if Vasher is Returned, why can he give away his Breaths and Awaken things without killing himself?

    The answer is simple, in many ways, but I'm not sure if I have the groundwork for it properly laid in the book. (Which is why I hesitated in explaining it.) Remember when Denth said that Awakening was all or nothing? Well, he lied. (I think you've figured this out now.) A very skilled Awakener can give away only part of their Breath. It depends on their Command visualizations. So Vasher needs to always give away everything except for that one Returned Breath that keeps him alive. As long as he has that one Breath (which he's learned to suppress and hide), he can stay alive.

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    Vivenna and Vasher Talk about What to Do

    One of the biggest revisions to the ending was what to do with the D'Denir. When first drafting the book, I wasn't 100% sure on what Awakening could and couldn't do. I figured that Vasher could have Commands that would Awaken statues, and I wrote the ending that way.

    Unfortunately, through revising and developing the story, this ended up not being viable. I was also disappointed in how poorly telegraphed the use of the statues ultimately ended up being. So in revisions, I switched it to make them Lifeless created from bones, something special that Vasher came up with during the Manywar. I then added the concept of Kalad's Phantoms as a mystery in the book, so that readers would be expecting that army to show up by the end. I think this mitigates the surprise somewhat. (Though not completely; see below.)

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    What did Blushweaver achieve? In fact, she Returned in the first place to be involved in this ending as well. One thing to note about the Returned coming back is that they do see the future, but when they Return, they aren't guaranteed to be able to change anything. Before her Return, Blushweaver was a powerful merchant in the city, and very well known. She was assassinated after denouncing a group of dye merchants she'd worked with for their deceptive and criminal practices. Her testimony ended with them in jail, but it got her killed. That's how she earned the title of Blushweaver the Honest (which, if you'll remember, she eventually got changed to Blushweaver the Beautiful).

    She Returned because she didn't want T'Telir to fall to the invaders she saw taking it after Bluefingers and the others caused their revolt. That was why she gathered the armies. While she didn't succeed in her quest as well as Lightsong did, she did help out quite a bit. I think she's pleased, on the other side, with how things turned out.

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    Siri and Susebron Visit the Body of Lightsong

    I wanted to have this scene as a little epilogue to Lightsong's storyline. He was a great character, one of the best I've ever written, and I think he fulfilled his place in this book wonderfully.

    I often say that I don't see my endings as sad, even though they do tend to involve the deaths of major characters. In this case, Lightsong's ending is triumphant because of what he was able to achieve. At least that's my perspective on it.

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    Anyway, a lot of important things happen here. Note that Nightblood doesn't remember being drawn. When he was created, the Breaths gave him sentience as planned. (That was a big part of the goal in making him—to prove the existence of Type Four BioChromatic entities.) However, once he is drawn, his Command takes force and he acts much more like a regular Awakened object—but one with very strange abilities and powers. During this time, his Breath is diverted to creating the powers, and his mind goes fuzzy.

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    Chapter Fifty-Eight

    Vasher Finds Vivenna

    I'm torn about this ending. It seems like this last chapter is a little anticlimactic, and yet at the same time, there is still the major conflict of the book to resolve.

    Or is it the major conflict of the book? Probably not, as I think about it. This book's major conflicts were character conflicts. Yes, we want to save Idris, and it's important—but what happens with the characters has overshadowed that. Perhaps that's why this chapter feels just a bit tacked on. It's not as bad as the Well of Ascension second ending, however, and I think it's nearly the best way to format this story. That doesn't stop it from feeling a little extraneous, though.

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    Siri Is Rescued

    And here we have a big scene that a lot of readers have been waiting for. I apologize for making Siri need to be rescued like this, but I felt it was appropriate to the story. It's because of her teaching the God King and helping him become the man he is that he's able to do this.

    Remember that the Seventh Heightening (I think that's the one) grants a person Instinctive Awakening, meaning that once you reach that Heightening, you don't need any practice to learn to Awaken. Your Commands are obeyed instinctively. This doesn't mean that everything you try will work, but that you can make most basic Commands (grab things, that sort) work without having to try. In fact, figuring out most of the more complicated, previously unknown Commands requires a person to be of the Seventh Heightening.

    This power grew out of me wanting the upper Heightenings to do some very dramatic things. I do worry that this scene is a little deus ex machina. That keeps me from liking it quite as much as the Lightsong climax or the Denth/Vasher climax. But I feel that a story needs a great variety of climactic moments—some internal character moments, some external skill moments, some great twists, some expected payoffs, some big reveals, and some dramatic rescues. This chapter and the next take a shot at trying to cover a lot of those different types.

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    And by the way, we don't see Tonk Fah, Jewels, or Clod again in the book. They'll come back in the sequel. Without Denth's control, Tonks is off to start murdering and killing wantonly; by the next book, he'll have changed quite dramatically.

    Jewels, on the other hand, is taking Arsteel (Clod) to his brother, who is a master of Lifeless Commands. (Yesteel invented ichor-alcohol.) She hopes to find a way to restore to Arsteel some of his memories and personality.