Recent entries

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #10601 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 ()
    #10602 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 ()
    #10603 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 ()
    #10604 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 ()
    #10605 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 ()
    #10606 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 ()
    #10607 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 ()
    #10609 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.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #10610 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    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.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #10611 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    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.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #10612 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    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.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #10613 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    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.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #10614 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    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.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #10615 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    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.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #10616 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    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.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #10617 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    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.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #10618 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    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.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #10619 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    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.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #10620 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    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.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #10621 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    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.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #10622 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    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.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #10623 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    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.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #10625 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    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.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #10626 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Demoux's History from Book One

    This might be a good place to give you a little bit of Demoux's history, by way of reminder. He was one of the first recruits to Kelsier's army, and Ham promoted him to captain almost as soon as he (Ham) took control of the troops who were hiding in the caves back in book one. When Kelsier came to inspect those caves, Demoux led him around a bit. Then, Kelsier used Demoux in a display where he humiliated a dissenter.

    Eventually, Yeden took the army and decided to attack a fortified position. Some of the troops thought this was against what Kelsier had told them to do, and these stayed back in the caves. Demoux was their leader.

    He's also named after my good friend and former roommate, Micah DeMoux, who also did the jacket photo of me in the backs of all of my books. Captain Demoux actually looks just like Micah, in my mind, though with the fitness of a soldier.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #10627 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Vin Follows Demoux

    And, this chapter just keeps going! It's one of the ones that suffered a bit from the rearrangement of some of the sequences, in this case I moved the "Chase down Demoux" scene from an earlier chapter into this one to keep the suspense going.

    I wanted this scene for two reasons. The first, obviously, is to round out Demoux just a bit and make spotting the imposter a more difficult problem for Vin. However, an equally important part of it was my desire to show how the Church of the Survivor is evolving.

    Those of you who have read Elantris know that I'm fascinated by religion. In this case, I want to show a fledgling religion, and try to postulate how one would develop. A lot of the observations made by Vin here, then, are my attempts at tracing the beginnings of religious movement. Right now, there is no doctrine or ceremony—just belief and hope.

    And one of those hopes is that Vin will somehow bring the sun and plants back to the way they once were. I don't hit the visuals on the world as hard in this book as I did in the last one. Hopefully, it's present enough in the setting to make you remember that the sun is red because of the haze in the upper atmosphere. Plants are brown, not green, and there are no flowers. The prophesy that Vin will restore these things is new, relating to some of the things that Kelsier used to talk about.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #10628 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Error in the Hardcover edition

    I forgot to mention it in the appropriate chapter (I think it was way back in twenty-six) so I'll mention it here. Maybe I'll move this eventually.

    Anyway, the hardcover edition of the book had of the more embarrassing typos in the series. (I think we got it fixed for the softcover.) It relates to Clubs and his Allomantic abilities, which is why this scene made me think of it. Way back in chapter twenty-four, I mistakenly (during one of the very last drafts of the book) mention Clubs as being a Seeker, not a Smoker, and burning the wrong metal.

    I knew I'd do this some place in the series. The thing is, Clubs was originally going to be the team's Seeker, with Marsh being the Smoker. I swapped this before I started writing, but there is still some latent belief on my part that Clubs is a Seeker. And, because of that, when writing quickly and smoothing over rifts made by re-arranging chapters, I wrote the wrong metal down. (And it isn't just a single word typo; I think I even talked about him being a Seeker, and being able to sense what metals people are burning. Something like that.)

    All I can say is. . .whoops!

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #10629 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Vin Viewpoint; she and OreSeur listen in on Breeze and Clubs.

    Vin gives away a valuable secret here. OreSeur, previously to this, hadn't know that she could pierce copperclouds. However, the way that she first tells him that Allrianne is a Rioter, while Clubs is there burning his metal, is too big a clue. He just figured out Vin's secret.

    And, by way of reminders, Kliss was the woman that gossiped a lot at the balls, and whom Vin tried to manipulate. Turns out that she was an informant playing Vin the whole time. Shan is Elend's former fiancée, a woman he didn't know was Mistborn, but who tried to assassinate him. Vin managed to kill her in a rather dramatic scene involving arrows, half naked girls, and a big, stained glass rose window crashing to the ground. One of my favorite sequences in the first book.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #10630 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Breeze Viewpoint Continues. After speaking with Elend, he visits Clubs.

    The friendship between Clubs and Breeze came mostly because I wanted to give Clubs just a little more screen time. I also liked the irony of the pairing—the Soother and the only man on the crew who is completely immune to him. It makes for a nice juxtaposition.

    It is good to note that Allrianne did, in fact, seduce Breeze—and not the other way around. She's a girl who knows what she wants and how to get it. You'll see a viewpoint or two from her later on.

    Clubs lies here in this scene, by the way. He says that "Money" is the reason he joined with Kelsier. He says it so quickly and naturally that even Breeze buys it. But, if you remember the scene in the first book when he joined, you'll know his real motivation. He wanted to spit in the Lord Ruler's face. He knew he was going to get caught and killed eventually, and he wanted to do it in a dramatic way.

    Thing is, his team actually won. Go figure.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #10631 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Breeze Viewpoint in the Warehouse with the Refugees.

    Breeze didn't want to go with Elend to meet with Cett (for the dinner.) That isn't only because Breeze didn't want to see Cett, but because he wanted to go and help the refugees. (That chapter actually happens on a different day, so I brought him back to visit again so that I could show you him working with the people. In the Mistborn novels, unlike Elantris, I keep a strict chronological progression from chapter to chapter and scene to scene. So, if a chapter comes after another one, it's always later in time as well.)

    I realize that I'm in danger of making all of my protagonists too good. Showing Breeze as being somewhat less cynical on the inside than he projects inches me toward this line. However, I LIKE people who are heroic. I try my best to make things rough on them, and to give them some quirks to keep them a little grey, but the honest truth is that I believe most people are good at heart. They WILL help others, if given the chance.

    Plus, Breeze likes to study people, and this is a great place for him to do it. He can mix his focus in life with making other people feel better. Of course, there's also the fact that Kelsier himself manipulated Breeze and made a better man out of him. Put a person in charge of the weak and poor, give him the right motivation and direction, and I think that an many cases he'll come to love them. Even if that man is Breeze.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #10632 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Thirty-Six

    Sazed visits the Refugees, and meets Tindwyl there.

    This scene with the refugees isn't, actually, a new addition to the book in later drafts, though it works wonderfully to remind the readers of the siege. It was in the very first draft.

    Tindwyl did wonder if Sazed really cared about the people or not. You see, in her mind, if he DID care about the people of the empire, he wouldn't be in Luthadel at all—but out doing what a Keeper should. It was good for her to see him here, trying to help as best he could, ignoring his studies to care for the sick. He does care; he's perhaps the most caring person in this series. He's just trapped, trying to do what is best for as many people as possible.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #10633 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Cett's lies

    By the way, the three lies Cett told: First, that he didn't care if Allrianne ran off,. Second, that he wasn't annoyed to find that Breeze was having a relationship with her. Third, that he had told three lies during the conversation. (He'd actually only told two, but that made it three, which makes this comment wonderfully self-referential. That's why he said "Good Luck figuring out what they are.")

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #10634 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Thirty-Five

    Vin and Elend dine with Cett

    And, we have our second "ball" scene in this book. Some people really enjoyed those in the previous book; at least one reviewer hated them. However, I like them–particularly for the visuals they let me use when going into the gorgeous noble keeps. As you may recall, these are based loosely on gothic cathedrals, which I just think would be an awesome place to have a ball.

    Cett was, perhaps, too fun a character to write. I needed someone the opposite of Straff, and it was very fulfilling to write in an enemy to this series who was completely straightforward and belligerent. He still stands out to me, quite different from any of the other antagonists in the series.

    He knows Elend well–that should be enough to hint that he kept an eye on things in Luthadel, despite his attitude which implies that he didn't care about the place. He's watched Elend's rule very carefully, debating whether to make an alliance or to make a play for Elend's throne. If the truth be told, he would have probably gone for the alliance if Straff hadn't moved against Luthadel.

    He walks a careful line. He's not a good man, but he IS an effective leader in some respects. I wanted him to offer a third viewpoint on leadership in this book, one that is actually accurate. Being a leader isn't easy–not at all. There are a lot of ways to do it, and I don't want to imply that any one of these people–Elend, Cett, or Tindwyl–are wrong. That's what makes it so tough to be a leader.

    Cett offers the perspective of open, honest tyranny. He doesn't lie to you. He tells you just what he's going to do, and he has a point that many of the things he does are safe.

    But, what do you choose when you have to choose between safety and freedom? You can probably guess that I wrote a lot of this book during the heightening of security in America surrounding the September 11 attacks. The last couple of years, there has been a lot of talk on this topic, and it wormed its way into my writing. I didn't put it there intentionally, but I did monopolize on it when I found it there.

    I don't have any answers. I just write what I see, and force my characters to make choices.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #10635 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Zane attacks Vin, then reveals that he's Elend's brother.

    The Zane scene represents a major turning point in his character as well. I see it as important how much he reveals to Vin here. He, like her, has trouble trusting–and even though he's manipulating her, even though he's aware of what he's doing, having him tell her these things is a major breakthrough. At least, for Zane. Everything is a little twisted where he is concerned.

    Having him fight her with atium was, also, an intentional attempt on my part to remind you how vulnerable she is without the metal. I'm not even sure I can get across how little a chance she had in defeating him.

    Here I also mention Snapping here for the first time in this book. It's an important world element that, unfortunately, I think a lot of people tend to forget.

    It doesn't really matter until book three, however, so I'm willing to let it slide in this book, giving only occasional reminders.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #10636 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Vin comes to tell Elend what she's discovered.

    The way Elend treats Vin in this chapter puts a few people on edge. If you're in that group, realize that I want you to feel this. And, not just for plotting purposes. I just think it's more realistic.

    People get tired. People have trouble focusing. And people treat even those they love with indifference sometimes. This is particularly bad of people like myself–men who are quick to get focused on one project or another. I've done things just like this to my wife, unintentionally ignoring her because I am so tied up in my current project.

    It's not a good thing, but it IS natural and normal. Unfortunately, it prompts something very important: the return of Reen's whispering voice in the back of Vin's mind. She's been free of him for a long time now, but I thought it appropriate to bring him back. After all, that voice–partially a representation of her subconscious–was a large part of her character in the first novel.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #10637 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Thirty-Four

    Elend and his scholars inspect the law

    It was fun to write this scene with the scholars sitting around. I could show their different styles, with Ham browsing, Elend thinking about implications, Sazed reading very carefully line by line, and the obligator looking at the money trail. I added Noorden in because I wanted to do another nod toward the fact that obligators used to be a force in the world, and also because I wanted someone fresh in this scene–another character we could play with. We'll see him again, but not until the next book.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #10638 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Vin sees Demoux in the dark

    I ramped up the Demoux suspicion scenes during the final draft, since I figured I needed a pretty good red herring this late in the game to keep the heat off of OreSeur. Originally, the next "Vin Follows Demoux" scene happened right after she saw him sneaking out the first time. I moved this in the draft, giving her longer to suspect him

    The result was this scene, where she hasn't eliminated him as an option yet, but also knows that he snuck out at night. I had to rationalize why she wouldn't just grab him straight out, though I think I came up with pretty good rational. It makes sense, actually, and was one of the easiest fixes I made in this book. She WOULDN'T want to spring a trap on him, not yet. She'd want to watch and see what she could learn from him.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #10639 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    OreSeur and Vin discuss their interview with Dockson

    This series, in total, is about trust. About what it costs to trust people, and what you earn by trusting. In book one, Vin learned to trust–and she learned one of Kelsier's prime beliefs. That it's better to trust, and be betrayed, than to always worry about everyone around you.

    The theme, then, for this book is service and friendship, and trusting those you serve. Elend has to earn the trust of his people. Vin has to earn the trust of the kandra who serves her.

    OreSeur's explanations about the Contract are mixed with Zane's worries and problems with being Straff's tool. This story is, in part, about what it's like to serve–what it's like to be a tool–and the difference between a good leader and a bad one.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #10640 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Vin Tries to Determine if Dockson is the spy.

    This Dockson scene is one of my favorites in the book. I'm a little bit sad that Dockson, like Ham, doesn't have much time for development in the series. In book one, he only got a single good scene–the one that Vin references here. During that scene, we really got a good look at his personality and his inner demons.

    Those demons come up again in this scene, where we get to see the haunted worries of a man who has received what he wanted, but then come to realize that he shouldn't have wanted it so badly in the first place. He's a good character, Dockson is–but the only thing I can give him is one powerful scene per book. At least he gets one. Ham and Clubs don't even get that.

    By the way, Vin calling Dockson boring is particularly ironic here because during our first introduction to Dockson in book one, he tells Kelsier that he'd 'Grown boring' over the last few years.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #10641 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Elend discovers that a well has been poisoned

    This poisoned well scene is another one that was added to the book during the final draft. Much like Straff's test attack on the walls, this scene is here to remind you that the armies are out there, that Luthadel is besieged, and that things are not going well for the heroes. I don't want you to forget about the armies just because our focus is on politics for the moment.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #10643 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Smaller notes

    Two other small notes. First off, I drew the reactions of the skaa–wanting to go back to having a tyrant in charge–from some essays I'd read about the fall of the Soviet Union and some other modern countries which had received freedom, then wished for the days when things were easier. I think it's a sentiment that makes sense, even if it frightens me a little bit.

    Also, only Vin would assume that someone HAS to be Mistborn, just because they happen to be crippled.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #10644 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Cursing in the Mistborn Series

    I've taken a little bit of criticism from certain readers for the swearing I put into these books. I know that most of you consider things like 'damn' and 'hell' to be very weak curses, if even swear words at all. However, to some people, they can be offensive. Since I didn't use them in Elantris, some readers were surprised to find them in this series.

    A writer must choose how to convey his ideas, and it's hard to make a choice that will please everyone. In the Final Empire, using curses like these–rather than just making up ones for their world–was necessary. I feel that a few (if relatively weak) 'our world' curses were needed for this setting, as made up ones just didn't work. The tone they set wasn't right.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #10645 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Cett Suddenly reveals himself at the Assembly Meeting

    Elend does need to learn a few things still. To be truthful, I think he's too honest to be a king. There are times when, as a king, I think you need to lie in order to comfort your people. You don't tell the dying man that he has no hope for survival. You don't let a man like Cett bully you into admitting that your Allomancer has been manipulating the audience.

    But, well, Elend is Elend. He does things the way that he feels he must, even if it gets him into trouble. Actually, in that way, he and Cett are very similar. They do what they feel they must.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #10646 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Thirty-Two

    Regarding the line to the effect of: "There are a hundred different courts with a hundred different smaller Lord Rulers" in the Final Empire.

    One of the problems created by my writing style is that it's hard to give a real feeling of scope to a kingdom or landscape. When you read something by Robert Jordan, for instance, you get to see a whole world full of peoples and places, since the characters travel all about. I prefer to set my stories in one or two locations, usually a large city, since this lets me focus on the political wrangling, and it also lets me give a strong sense of place to that area.

    It was impossible in these books–particularly the first book–to give a sense of how large and varied the Final Empire was. I threw in Spook's street slang and Sazed's cultural references to try to hint at the different ethnicity, but these were only that–hints.

    I don't regret the way that I write. However, I am aware of the issues involved in the choices I make. I think that's what you have to do in a book–you make trade offs, choosing to focus on some things and not others.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #10648 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Elend Nominates Penrod

    I hope that this chapter feels thick with some good political wrangling. Elend pulls of some fairly good maneuvers here, especially considering how far he's come. True, he was coached in a lot of what he did here, but the fact remains that he's learning and growing.

    Vin and Breeze give him a little TOO much credit for getting Penrod to nominate him, however. While Elend hoped that by nominating Penrod, he would get a nomination in return, he wasn't counting on it too much. No, in this case, Elend's basic goodness was simply being manifest. He figured that if not a single one of the Assembly was willing to nominate him to be king, he had no right to nominate himself. Better to let the matter die here than force a vote when nobody was even willing to consider him for king.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #10649 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Chapter Thirty-One

    Philen watches Elend enter the Assembly Hall

    We get a random viewpoint here. No, Philen isn't going to be a major viewpoint in the book. He just fills a role that you'll often see in my books–that of the section given to a random person because I wanted to show a different perspective on things.

    In this case, I wanted to show Elend entering the assembly hall, as he would be seen by someone sitting on the inside. This was one of the dramatic scenes that I planned from early on for the book, and it was nice to find a way to fulfill it.

    Of course, there's more to Philen's viewpoint than that one image. I also wanted to make him a little more memorable so that the next few Assembly meetings would work better. I've reinforced Penrod a bit, but I worried that Philen would be forgettable unless I gave him a viewpoint. And, since he is a modestly big player in the next little bit of political wrangling, it felt right to let him take the stage for a few moments.

    Finally, it was simply fun to write from a brief–but new–viewpoint. Philen thinks very differently from the other viewpoint characters. His sentences are quick and eager, and his internal narrative has a shallowness to it in both sentence structure and content. He's not very smart, but he is rather clever, and those things mixing together–along with his native eagerness–made for an interesting viewpoint to write.

    The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
    #10650 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    Sazed talks to Vin about Tindwyl's Past

    The other big thing in this chapter, of course, is Tindwyl. As I think I've mentioned, I wanted to include another strong female character in this book. Perhaps with this chapter under your belt, you can begin to understand Tindwyl better. Readers seem fairly well divided on their opinions of her. Some like her a lot, others dislike her violently.

    Me, I am quite fond of her. She voices a lot of my own concerns, and represents something that this group of characters needed. A firm voice for stability.

    She and Sazed actually have quite the history, which you will discover more of as the book progresses.