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    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


    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.

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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Twenty-Five


    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.

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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.

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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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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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.

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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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.)

    The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Kelsier's Snapping

    Why didn't Kelsier Snap before he went to the Pits? I don't have an answer for you, not even in spoilers. He did live a hard life and it is odd that he wouldn't have Snapped until that moment when he saw his wife beaten to death.

    They say that the more powerful a person is, the more trauma it takes to get them to Snap and the more dangerous that Snapping is.

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    Chapter Seventeen

    The Mists Strike Down Demoux

    I knew we needed a meaningful casualty from the mistsickness, somebody who we knew and cared about. I don't know if readers care about Demoux, but he's the only one among the crew who could be susceptible to the mists. My intention is that striking him down here impacts the reader directly, making the danger of the mists more concrete.

    I maintain a paranoid worry that somewhere in this book, or the previous one, Demoux went out into the mists and should have fallen sick then. I can't think of an instance, and I do believe I could reasonably make this the first time he's exposed to them. But still I worry that I've missed something. I'm sure my loyal—and very meticulous—fans will let me know if I did.

    (Note that Demoux would have had to go out in the mists after the time when they started killing people. This happened while Vin approached the Well of Ascension—by way of trivia, the mists changed the very moment the full power of the Well returned to be drawn again. Anyway, any times Demoux went into the mists before then would not have inoculated him.)

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    Chapter Sixteen

    Spook Reacts to the Citizen's Reign

    This is another of my favorite chapters. (So far, that count includes this one and chapter five.) In Spook's sections, I think this is one where I managed to get the balance of language, action, imagery, and theme to work just right. Not too much exposition, the fight isn't too long, and we've got some very nice descriptive passages. This is the first chapter I imagined when I planned to write Spook's sections.

    My biggest worry about the Spook chapters, however, is the plot with the Citizen. To be honest, the oppressive peasant regime isn't new—either in history or in fiction. I decided upon it after a great amount of consternation.

    I worry sometimes about coming off as clichéd. It's very difficult to get that balance down between being familiar and being radically new. My goal is to have new and interesting plots, characters, and settings in books that still feel like they are epic fantasy. I'm never sure if I'm erring too much on the side of the familiar or writing things that are too inaccessible. (The names in Elantris, for instance, strayed too far into the inaccessible for some people.)

    This plot feels just a tad on the overused side. However, I thought it was something very important to show in the world. Kelsier's preaching was too harsh, in my opinion—it was what was needed at the time, but now that the empire has fallen, it becomes brutal and violent. I wanted to show what would happen if a group of skaa peasants followed Kelsier's advice with exactness.

    Spook discovers that the Citizen is using Allomancers. However, this is a hypocrisy perpetuated by Kelsier himself. He hated the nobility, but was one of them—at least, he was a half-blood who was raised to their culture. He acted far more like a nobleman than he did a skaa, as Vin pointed out back in book one.

    Anyway, I thought about what would happen if Kelsier's vision became reality, and this is what I came up with. There is more going on here—things that relate to the overarching plot of the book—but the basic concept is just what it seems to be. I toyed with doing a form of government that was more radical and new, but I eventually decided that the historical approach of the lower class becoming as intolerant as the former ruling class was the most logical.

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    Vin Observes the Mists

    There's a lot going on in this chapter, even though it seems to basically be filler. Again, the setup in my books can be rather extensive. I apologize if you find this sort of thing slow, but it's how I work. Maybe if I point out some of the important factors of the chapter, it will highlight what I'm trying to do.

    First off, we have Vin pointing out to the reader that the mists are definitely supernatural. Included in this are the fact that they don't go indoors, the way they pull away from Vin but spin around other Allomancers, and the way they vanish too quickly before the sun. Added to that is the part where Human says he can sense a hatred from the mists.

    These things are all related and connected to Vin in ways that—if you've read the book already—you should be able to pick out on your own.

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    Chapter Fifteen


    I've expressed before that I wish I could have done more with Ham. Of the main crew, he's the only one other than Clubs who never got even a token viewpoint in the series.

    I just didn't have the time for everyone. Perhaps, as I write more and more, I'll get better at covering more ground with fewer pages. That will let me branch out into studying more of the lesser characters and rounding them out. However, for this series, I had to pick and choose carefully. Ham's story didn't have enough conflict, tension, or growth in it. So, I went with Spook and TenSoon instead.

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    Chapter Fourteen

    Spook Enters the Stage

    And so, here we have our first Spook chapter. When I wrote these books, I'd been planning Spook's sections for quite some time and was very excited to write them. As I said earlier, I wrote them all together, like a mini-novel of their own, then interwove them with the Vin/Elend sections and the TenSoon sections.

    Spook has always been a personal favorite of mine. His silly nonsense of a language from the first book was a lot of fun, and even then I began planning what I could do with him were I to make him a viewpoint character. The first thing I had to do was, unfortunately, get rid of the dialect—it annoyed too many people, and it just wasn't comprehensible enough.

    The second thing I had to do was give him conflict. Clubs's death, and Spook's absence during the Siege of Luthadel, gave me a large chunk of that. But from there I needed more—and I wanted to do something different with Allomancy for him. Hence the idea of the tin savant, a person who has burned and flared tin so much that it has changed his body.

    We'll get a lot more on this as the book progresses. However, my feeling has been that these novels have focused too much on the powerful and the very capable. I love Vin's and Elend's scenes, but we needed something from someone a little bit lower on the power scale. I wanted to do these Spook sections to show someone more average, someone most readers usually ignored, doing amazing things.

    Originally, I wrote Spook a little bit more unhinged. He was cocky in his new powers to the point of being a little too off-putting. During the final revision—the one where I added Sazed's studies of the religions—I backed off on Spook's intensity in these first few chapters from his viewpoint, trying to make him a little more sympathetic and a little more trustworthy.

    Yes, he's done serious damage to his body by ignoring the advice not to flare his metal too much. (See book one where Kelsier gives this same advice to Vin.) However, he now recognizes what he's done and explains why he's doing it.

    Other than that, this is another setup chapter reintroducing us to Spook, giving us his motivations and place in the book, and showing off his magic a little. The next chapter from his viewpoint has a lot more going on.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    Chapter Eleven


    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.