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    White Sand vol.1 release party ()
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    Who's your favorite character that you've ever created?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Who's my favorite character that I've ever created? They're all like my children, and so I can't say who my favorite is. It's usually-- I use Robert Jordan's answer to this, which was, "The one I'm writing right now." And today I was writing... uhp, that's a spoiler. *crowd laughs*

    White Sand vol.1 release party ()
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    What about a Magic-- like, card game? *interrupted*

    Brandon Sanderson

    A card game? So if the board game does well and people like it the next thing they want to do is a card game. Those I play. So, you know, not just Magic. I've played a lot of different TCGs and things. And so that we can do, and that I will be involved in if they do one. I can directly tell them if it's fun or not.

    Footnote: The board game referred to is Mistborn: House War.
    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson


    And so, the circle is complete. Sazed returns to the south and visits the Conventical again, Elend returns to the city wall.

    Hopefully, I revealed this well enough for you to understand what you need to in order to make this book work. There are a lot of holes, I know. I've already apologized for that–we'll answer all of them in book three.

    For now, understand that something was imprisoned, and it hijacked the Terris religion–the prophesies–and used the Well of Ascension to get free.

    Book three is about the real theme of these books. Survival. It's going to be a tough road.

    As a wrap up, I guess I'll say that for me, this book was about Vin and Elend testing and proving their standards. In the beginning, they both made certain determinations about themselves and what they wanted to accomplish. Elend intended to make a good government and not be an exception to his own rules.

    Vin intended to love the good, kind man of Elend rather than the man of the street–the hard, strict man that was Kelsier. (See Chapter Ten, where Vin snuggles in the chair with Elend, for an in-dialogue outline of her belief system for this book. This is the offering of the challenge. The trial comes later.) They are both tested, then, in these assertions–Elend by losing his throne, Vin by being forced to take a long hard look at her own heart and what she really wanted. To her, Zane represented the past. Did she return to that, or did she look forward to the hope–and the future–that Elend represented?

    They both hold strong. That's the true victory of this book. The release of Ruin disregarded, this book marks great success for the characters. They were tested in their absolute most vital of personal convictions, and they passed. This prepared them for the final book. Now that they'd proven their ideals, they could bear the weights and griefs of the empire.

    Of course, there is also Sazed. One of my goals in writing this book was to fix Elend and Vin. But another big one was to break Sazed. While they held firm to who they were, he has been forced to reassess his convictions, and he finds them wanting. Chapter fifty-four was one of the saddest chapters for me, personally, to write. In many ways, Elend and Vin have nearly completed their arcs as characters. But Sazed and Spook have just begun. And that is what leads us into Book Three.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Fifty-Nine

    Nothing is worse than trying so hard to do the right thing, then discovering that it was the worst thing you could have done.

    I wrote this final chapter to be a slight upswing in the plot so that we wouldn't end on such a sour note. No, I didn't kill Elend. I sure wanted you to think that I would, but I never planned to. I had always intended them to discover where the first Mistborn had come from when they reached the Well of Ascension, and this bead of metal is very important to the cosmology of Scadrial and, indeed, the entire overarching story of my books as a whole .

    Elend was intended to become Mistborn from the very early stages of this book's development. So, I figured I ought to do something to him that would make him NEED to be Mistborn. Why did I want to make Elend Mistborn? I know it bothered some readers. I felt I'd explored his character as well I could in this book, and I needed something to upset the balance–tenuous as it is–that he'd arrived at here. He's not going to replace Vin–you'll see in the next book that Elend as a Mistborn doesn't change as much as you might think. But it does put him in new situations, and those situations allow him to progress as a character in the way I felt he needed to.

    Anyway, this will make for a very interesting book three. Also, the mist spirit–now, maybe, you can see a little of what it was trying to do. It was struggling to find a way to get Vin to NOT go to the Well of Ascension. Giving hints to Sazed, scaring her, threatening Elend, pointing in the opposite direction. However, it is rather hampered in what it can do, as we'll find in the next book.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Deleted Scene

    Originally, by the way, this cavern was discovered up in the mountains after Vin, Elend, and Spook traipsed through the snow for a while. Yeah. I know. This works so much better. I'll go ahead and post that as a deleted scene, but don't think too poorly of me. Sometimes, you try things in your books that just don't work. You can't be afraid to experiment, however.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Vin Gives up the Power

    Writing toward this scene where Vin would have to take the power, then give it up, was one of my focuses in this novel. I had to get her, as a character, to a point where she'd be able to do something this gut-wrenching.

    It was extremely cruel of me. And yet, there's a beauty to being cruel like this to characters. (It's why George R. R. Martin is a genius.) I plotted out this particular plot element from the beginning of the first book, as I wanted to not only upend some fantasy tropes in the series, but approach them from a post-modern perspective. If people are so powerfully motivated by the concept of prophesy and religion, then what better way would there be for a force like Ruin to manipulate them than to use that sensibility against them? In many ways, Book One was my look at the concept of the Dark Lord in fantasy fiction while Book Two is my look at the concept of prophesy as used by fantasy. (Book three is my look at the concept of the hero.)

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Marsh Vs. Sazed

    But first we have the Marsh Sazed battle. I really like this scene, since I get to do something very new with it. Do you remember when I promised you that you'd see some cool interactions between Allomancy and Feruchemy?

    I realized almost immediately, when designing Feruchemy, that I could do some very fun things with it mixing with Allomancy. With how much that Mistborn depend on their Steelpushes and Ironpulls, a person who can change his weight would have an enormous advantage. Everyone always says that Allomancy is the better combat skill, but that's just because the resource it uses–metal–is far more plentiful than the resource Feruchemy uses. Put the two into a battle together with enough power to spare, and the Feruchemist will almost always win.

    At the end of this, Ham gets to do something. Makes me glad that I wrote him back into the story after forgetting about him. . . .

    Oh, and that blow to the head was no slight blow–Sazed's actually wrong. That strike will lay Marsh out for some time. Remember what Ham said about two pewter burners canceling each other out? Well, you just had a very strong soldier flaring pewter hit a man who was simply burning it in the back of the head with a stick hard enough to break it. Marsh is out cold.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Fifty-Eight

    Ruin Escapes

    So, yes. The crew has been manipulated. Everyone's been manipulated for a good thousand years. By this thing wanting to be released.

    You'll find out more in the next chapter, but realize here that most everything about the traditions from the old days–the prophesies, all of that–has been manipulated.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson


    One of the things about this novel is that the bookends–the beginning and the end–are very closely tied together, with only small strands weaving through the middle. Here, at the end, we come full circle. We find a body, just like the one that Sazed found in the first chapter where we introduced him. Next, we run into Marsh, who vanished so many months ago.

    He's actually been in the city. Some of Demoux's people reported seeing an Inquisitor, if you recall, and Vin found footprints inside of Kredik Shaw. Marsh has been here the whole time, watching and waiting.

    Now he has something to do.

    I'm not sure if it's a good thing or a bad thing that the beginning and the ending are tied so closely together. On one hand, I worry that you've forgotten about Marsh and the killings the mists caused. On the other hand, I like the symmetry in this book. You think you're done with it after the siege of Luthadel.

    Then this happens.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Vin Goes to Kredik Shaw

    Originally, the Well of Ascension WAS in the mountains. That's the big reason for the rewrite of the ending. This section of the book felt TOO disjointed with the rest of the novel, and I felt that I needed to move the Well to Luthadel. That way, the fight for the city meant something–and I didn't have to send Vin out, have her come back, then send her north yet again.

    It works far better this way. Of course, I had to do some major rewriting–and I had to explain why the Well isn't in the mountains. But, in this case, fixing one thing gave me motivation for fixing something else. I had worried about how easy it was to find the Well, and how difficult it would be to take Vin and Elend into the mountains to find it. All very awkward. Both the history and the current story work much better when I decided to have the Lord Ruler have moved the Well down and put his city on top of it.

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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Fifty-Seven

    Sazed In Charge of the City

    Sazed's in charge here. There's one small problem with that. Sazed's not very good at leadership.

    It's not his fault. He just doesn't have the skillset for it. Unlike Elend, who had a buried desire to lead–and the skills to become a king, if he learned how to use them–Sazed just wants to be a quiet scholar. We saw this when he gathered the crew and couldn't keep them from arguing. We see it again here.

    He's much more in his element when he looks through the book he wrote with Tindwyl. Though, of course, losing her is starting to hit him pretty hard. He keeps wavering back in forth emotionally, and that's intentional. He is confused, and doesn't know what to do.

    Here's another Couple of things we'll find answers to in book three:

    How Vin drew on the mists, and why she could do it.

    Why she can feel the pulsing of the Well and nobody else can.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Elend Runs into the Terris Refugees.

    The point of the Terris refugees here is to show us that there is more to the world than just Luthadel. I wanted to hint at politics going on behind the scenes. That's been hard in this series, since so much of the book is focused in a certain geographic location.

    In this case, we get wind of what the Inquisitors have been doing. Their strike was intended to kill the Terris leadership–but not just that. Hinted at in the very beginning of the next volume that the Inquisitors captured a large number of Keepers to use for drawing out their powers.

    There is also a lot of foreshadowing going on here with Spook. I wanted to lay the groundwork here for him becoming a viewpoint character in the third book. Burning tin as strongly as he does as consistently as he does is not good for his body, and he's doing serious damage to it. But he's grief-stricken and confused, and he fells like he's been sent away from important events because he's useless. Reminding himself of his Allomantic power is one of the ways he's dealing (poorly) with his uncle's death.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Fifty-Six

    Elend in the Mists after Vin Leaves

    I wanted to include a reference to mistwraiths in this book. They're a minor world element, but aspects of their origins are a piece of the puzzle that gets explained further. . .in book three.

    The mists are indeed coming earlier in the day, and they are staying later in the mornings. They're getting stronger, you might say. Elend doesn't know this, but some of the very outer parts of the empire already have mists lingering almost to the afternoon. The answers to why are coming. . .in book three.

    The mist spirit doesn't want Elend to go to Luthadel. And yes, it was using Allomancy on him. (Influencing his emotions, as it's done several places through this book.) It doesn't work very well. The thing doesn't have much of a mind remaining. The answer to why. . .yes, you guessed it. Book three.

    As you can tell, I'm using this last section of the book to set up The Hero of Ages. I didn't want to do this–I wanted all three books to stand well on their own. However, the events in the third book are just too large to deal with in one novel, so they spilled over into the end of this one. I actually began foreshadowing a lot of these things in book one–they were just easier to hide then.

    By the way, the scene where Elend stands there, looking into the darkness, hearing leaves rustle and thinking how frightening it is. . .well, that's a scene from my life. Nothing big, but one night I was just walking past a darkened backyard and I heard rustling like that. I stood for a while, looking into that darkness, realizing just how creepy it was to stand in shadowed light and stare into the void without knowing what was back there. I had to put that in a book.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Part Five Wrap-up

    The name of this section was Snow and Ash. I think that's pretty self-explanatory. While some of the section titles were tough to come up with, this one was rather easy. The image of the snow and the ash mixing was powerful to me because of how similar, yet at the same time opposite, the two materials are.

    It was a brutal section, and actually marks the pseudo-ending of the book. We've dealt with the major conflict that was raised in the first chapter. The armies are defeated with and the city is safe.

    However, there's still something to do. I had a lot of trouble deciding how to work the separate climaxes of this book. Did I try to interweave them, having Vin find the Well of Ascension even as the koloss were attacking? That seemed too obvious, and I felt one of the two plots would overshadow the other. Beyond that, I worried it would all just become a big mess, hard to follow. It IS possible to have too much going on during an ending.

    So I went with the other option—dealing with the armies, then moving on to a final, shorter section that focused on the Well of Ascension. We're getting into parts of the book that were very heavily revised, and so these are things that will probably end up with deleted scenes on the website, once I get around to posting them.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Sazed Watches Vin Defeat Straff's Army

    Sazed's scene here was one that I rewrote a couple of times. He watches the battle and doesn't participate. He was particularly hard to write here. He's got so much going on inside of him–he just lost Tindwyl, and with her went his faith. But, at the same time, he is expected to be a part of things–and his natural curiosity still makes him wonder if Vin is the Hero of Ages.

    The thing is, Sazed doesn't really believe in the Hero of Ages any more. So, the trick I had was how to make him perceive the scene here? Lacking faith, yet still curious? It was a difficult line to walk.

    Elend becomes emperor despite all of his attempts to set up a democracy. He has the throne given to him by force. In a way, this isn't exactly betraying his wishes to let the people do what they want. Elend deserves this throne. Cett came looking for someone to follow, Elend is actually the rightful Venture heir to Straff's army, and Penrod. . .well, he was made a subject king beneath Elend, so he didn't really lose his throne.

    It's a stretch, I know, and the Elend at the beginning of this book never would have accepted it. The Elend at the end, however, will take it and do his best for the people as emperor. Even if it hurts him to do so.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Cett Joins on Vin's Side

    Cett is a good man. He's also a bad man.

    He's a good man who thinks he has to be bad. He thinks that being harsh is the only way to secure his kingdom, and figures–since someone's going to do it–he might as well be the one. (I plan to deal with this entire concept of leadership more in a future book, by the way.)

    But a piece of him hoped that he'd be able to find what he did in Luthadel. Someone he could follow. Someone he respected.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Fifty-Five

    Vin Kills Straff

    I told you that I couldn't just let Straff die to a random poisoning. He's been an antagonist for far too long–surviving through two whole books. He deserved a sword in the head.

    Oddly, there was a great deal of conversation in my writing groups about how to describe Straff dying. The thing is, Vin pretty much chopped him in half–but I don't imagine the koloss sword being that sharp, so I think it would smash and crush as much as cut, particularly considering how hard Vin hit. Some disagreed, and thought the cut should be clean.

    Eventually, after trying several things, I just went with this. It's abstract enough that you can imagine what you want. I didn't want to be TOO graphic, nor did I want to cause arguments about something that silly.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Sazed and Vin Talk to Penrod

    Penrod, by the way, is shell shocked. He's not thinking clearly–he's lost it because of the horror of what he's seen and been through. He was at one of the gates when they fell–he didn't just hide in the keep all the time.

    The scene where Vin walks away with the koloss in the mists, sword over her shoulder, all of them making silhouettes. . .well, that's one I wish someone would do an artistic rendering of sometime.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    When I was designing the Three Metallurgic Arts for these books, I knew that I wanted Hemalurgy to have a built in flaw. A flaw that, as a deconstructionalist might say, was created intentionally and relied upon by the very force hoping it won't exploit it.

    It was important to me that Ruin eventually be brought down, in part, because of things he did or flaws in his power. Preservation could simply build into the humans he created an innate goodness, then expect them to do as he hoped that they would. Ruin had to be able to directly corrupt and influence people. He felt himself stronger because he could MAKE them do exactly as he wanted.

    The problem is, for his magic to work–for him to exercise control over someone–he had to leave a hole, so to speak, that other people could wiggle through and use. And so the entire "control the koloss" plot sequence in Book Two was intended to set up Hemalurgy, and in a way predict Ruin's fall.

    Now, the only problem in all of this (for the heroes, at least) is that when Ruin actually got free, he was so strong that it was all but impossible for anyone else to "get through" the holes that he had left in his Hemalurgists. But it wasn't impossible. In a way, the foreshadowing in this book was meant to lay the seed that Ruin's control of his minions is not absolute. And an individual who wanted to resist him had that potential.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Vin Soothes the Koloss

    She does it by Soothing the koloss. I think this is probably the easiest of the twists in the book–after all, I showed her doing the exact same thing to a kandra, then told you that kandra and koloss were very similar. So this shouldn't have been too much of a logical leap. If Vin hadn't been exhausted and overworked here, she probably would have figured it out earlier.

    I thought it important, by the way, to show her fighting without her powers–and to show that she's still good, even when she doesn't have pewter steel or iron. She's a dangerous person. The metals just make her VERY dangerous.

    By the way, I used Kelsier's last words–obliquely–as the thing that pulled her out of her stupor when she fell to the lack of pewter. She's been burning it far too much for this entire book, and hopefully you're expecting her to have to pay for that at some point. She would have dropped unconscious if she hadn't thought of her friends.

    Kelsier would have been proud. His last words to her had been a chastisement, since she hadn't been treating their friends as well as she should have. He insisted on rescuing Spook from the cages, rushing into an obvious trap despite the danger. Vin has done nearly the same thing in returning to Luthadel.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Fifty-Four

    Vin Versus A Whole Lot of Koloss

    The Vin fight scene here is meant to be quick and a little bit abstract, giving you the sense that she's killed a lot without going into a lot of details on blocking and blow-by-blow. I figure you got enough fighting with Sazed, and now we need to advance the plot.

    In this chapter, we have a number of really nice moments that hearken back to the first book. Vin mentions several of them directly. There's the scene where she spins around atop Kredik Shaw, looking at the fires in the night. We'll have a scene like this in book three–a city lit by fire in the night as things change. We got one in Book One as well. Also, we have a scene here with Vin her thinking about how useless it is to try fighting an army on her own, referencing the time Kelsier wanted to do just that, and Vin kept him back.

    With this chapter, I'm pushing quickly for the end sequence. The real climax of the siege was meant to be Vin's arrival, and the rest of these chapters make for an unavoidable downswing. She still needs to save the city, and–now that she's arrived in time–I believe most readers are expecting her to succeed. The only question now is how she'll do it.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Straff and Cett Viewpoints

    We also have brief Straff and Cett scenes in this chapter, mostly so that you don't forget about them. Things are working with them, bringing them closer to where they'll need to be for the next few chapters to work, but they're not really doing anything at the moment.

    So we hop from them quickly, giving each of them a few poignant things to observe about the battle–and to let us take a breather from the action–before diving back in.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Clubs and Dockson die

    And, speaking of Breeze, here we have Clubs's death scene, as seen by Breeze. So, in truth, Spook was prophetic when he said that Clubs had said good bye to him for good.

    The simple truth is that felt I had too many characters in the books. I couldn't flesh them all out, and I really needed to get rid of a few. Clubs was, unfortunately, one of the casualties.

    Of course, I didn't just kill him because I had too many characters cluttering the story. That was one of many reasons. I knew that I couldn't go through a siege without losing a few characters. It just wasn't realistic. The characters had dreaded this conflict too much, and they knew it was going to be dangerous–probably deadly–when the invasion came. I often say that I feel I can't protect my characters from the decisions they make. I did write in a little more power to some of Clubs' scenes in the book once it was certain that he would die here. The interactions between him and Sazed and him and Breeze in this novel were there partially because I knew he was going to die, and I wanted to give him some chances to participate in the story before going.

    Dockson was the other one I decided to kill. In the initial draft, the scene with him dying ended with a koloss killing him from behind, without him looking at it.

    My alpha readers complained profusely about this. So, at the request mainly of my friend Skar, I let Dockson grab a sword and charge before dying. Another send-off for Dockson is the comment he makes, noting that if the crew done things differently, turning on the nobility as he had wanted to in book one, he and the others would have been no better than beasts. It's his way of acknowledging that they'd done the right thing, and is a little bit of a redemption for him. He'd tried very hard to work with the noblemen, to make up for the atrocities he committed during younger years.

    The final reason that I knew Dockson and Clubs had to die was because I wanted to REALLY make you think that Sazed was going to die too. If everything is working right in these chapters, you'll be sitting there, knowing that Vin is going to arrive in time. Yet, you'll question, you'll worry, and you'll begin to fret. You'll see Clubs drop, then Dockson die, in rapid succession. Then we come to Sazed, and he falls, out of metals, out of hope.

    That's when I bring Vin in.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Fifty-Three

    Sazed Defends the Gate

    The Sazed fights scenes interest me because of how much of a contrast they are to the Vin fights. Sazed's scenes are so brutal–strength against strength, blunt fighter against blunt fighter. Vin fights with grace. Sazed is just trying to stay alive.

    I worked a lot on the plotting here of making Sazed's gate hold so long. When I planned the siege of Luthadel, I knew that I would need a very deep, character driven set of scenes with Sazed. It was the only way I felt I could add something new to this plotting sequence. The heroes defending their city during a siege has been done before. (One notable example being in The Lord of the Rings.) I was worried that I would be bored of writing these scenes, and so I decided to head that off by focusing in on Sazed here, who I thought would approach a battle like this in a new way.

    I don't know what readers thought, but I found myself drawn very much into writing the scenes, which is a good sign. They up going longer than I'd anticipated, which is another good sign. Something about the contrast of the quiet religious scholar in the middle of such a terrible war was fascinating to me.

    So fascinating, actually, that I forgot to write Ham into any of the scenes in these chapters. I didn't remember him until about chapter fifty-five. It was then that I remembered that the best warrior in the group had disappeared for the entire fight. So, I wrote him in, and added him to this chapter where Sazed gets to Breeze.

    You'd be surprised at how often writers do things like this, forgetting a character. It's a tough call sometimes to keep track of everyone who is involved in various parts of a complex plot. Don't even get me started on the challenge of keeping track of everyone while writing in the Wheel of Time world.

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    Brandon Sanderson

    Vin Meets the Skaa in the Hovel, then does her Horseshoe trick

    This scene was very important to the series as a whole. the people in the skaa hovel are just what Vin needed to see. We didn't get to experience a lot of it, but the run for Vin was very draining. It isn't easy to pewter drag. It wears you out, body and mind.

    The skaa people laughing, however, recharges her. She gets what she needs to keep going, if in an unconventional way. And this gives her, and us, validation for all the work that Elend has been doing. It's working. For these people, at least, the struggle is worth fighting.

    The series works best, I think, when read together as one long novel. I wrote them to feel separate enough that people wouldn't feel cheated when they read only one. However, so much of this story is meant to intertwine. For instance, this Vin scene will be made more powerful if you've 1) Seen how the skaa lived in their hovels back when Kelsier visited them in book one. 2) Remember what a pewter drag did to Vin in the last book. 3) Remember Vin using the spikeway from book one.

    I would have liked to have shown another spikeway in this book, but again, there was no room. Still, readers have really liked her horseshoe trick. I would point out, however, that not just anyone–not even any Mistborn–could figure this out as quickly and as well as Vin. Kelsier trained her well in the Pushing and Pulling of metals. That was his specialty.

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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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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?

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    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.

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    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.