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    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Vin Tries to get to Luthadel in Time

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

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

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

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

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

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #9152 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Fifty-Two

    The Battle Begins

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

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

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

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #9153 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

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

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

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

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

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

    He'll blame himself. Book Three.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #9154 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Sazed Sees The Koloss Begin to Attack

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

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #9155 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Fifty-One

    Vin Sees the Mist Spirit while Traveling

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

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

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

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #9156 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Sazed and Clubs, then Tindwyl in the Keep

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

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

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

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

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

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #9157 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Straff Survives

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

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

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #9158 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Vin and Elend Traveling North

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

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #9159 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Fifty

    Allrianne Finds the Bandits

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

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

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

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #9160 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Straff Plot Climax with the Poison

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

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

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

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #9161 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Forty-Nine

    Elend and Vin Ride out of Luthadel, Allrianne Joins Them

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

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

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

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

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

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #9162 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Part Four Wrap-up

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

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

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

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

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #9163 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Forty-Eight

    Vin and Elend's Marriage

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

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

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

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

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #9166 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Vin Kills Zane despite his Atium

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

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

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

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #9167 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    OreSeur's Betrayal

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

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

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

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

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #9168 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Vin And Zane Fight

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

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

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

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

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #9169 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Forty-Seven

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

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

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

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

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #9170 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

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

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

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

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

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #9171 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Vin Investigates the Lord Ruler's Palace

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

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

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #9172 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    The Crew Discusses, sometimes angrily, what to do

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

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

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

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #9173 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Forty-Six

    Breeze Goes to Sazed's Clandestine Meeting

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

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

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

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #9174 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Elend and Vin Visit Sazed in Turn to Ask about Relationships

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

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

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

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

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #9175 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    They Discover That the Rubbing Has Been Ripped

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

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #9176 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    They Discuss Religion

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

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

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

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #9177 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Forty-Five

    Sazed and Tindwyl Really Get Into Their Studies

    I like that the rubbing turned out to be a kind of Rosetta stone for synonyms. It's the kind of tiny connection you make as a writer that makes so much sense and just fits perfectly into the story. It's small enough that I doubt anyone will notice it—but it's meaningful to me.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #9178 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Elend Finds Vin

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

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

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

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #9179 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

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

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

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

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #9180 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Forty-Four

    Breeze and Clubs watch the Army go

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

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

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #9181 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Vin Assaults Cett's Keep

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

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

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

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

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #9182 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Forty-Three

    Vin Looks over Elend at Night, then Zane Arrives

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

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

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

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

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #9184 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Elend Goes into the Koloss Camp

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

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

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

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

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    Ham helps Elend Sneak out of the City

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

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

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

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    Chapter Forty-Two

    Elend Organizes Off Duty Troops to Salvage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Elend Thinks about Losing his Kingship on his Balcony.

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

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

    We managed to get through it and get married.

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    Forty-One

    Sazed and Tindwyl discuss Alendi and the Lord Ruler

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

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

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

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    Vin Uses Allomancy on OreSeur

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

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

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    Chapter Forty

    Zane Visits Vin after the Fight in the Assembly

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

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

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

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    Zane and Straff meet with Penrod in the night

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Chapter Thirty-Nine

    Zane's Plan

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

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

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

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    Part Three Wrap-up

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

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

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

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

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    Elend and Vin get attacked by Allomancers

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

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

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

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

    Mistborn have a tendency to be over-confident.

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

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

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

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

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    Chapter Thirty-Eight

    Vin waits for Elend to reveal his plan before the Assembly

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

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

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

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    Elend talks about Arrogance as a kingly attribute

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

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

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

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    Chapter Thirty-Seven

    Sazed and Tindwyl discuss the Deepness

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

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

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