The "chandler's rejected wares" line is one of my favorites in the chapter. I'm glad I was able to keep it, since it was in a section of the chapter originally that I decided to cut.
The "chandler's rejected wares" line is one of my favorites in the chapter. I'm glad I was able to keep it, since it was in a section of the chapter originally that I decided to cut.
This was the hardest chapter in the entire book to write.
That's often the case for me. I will write a first chapter, continue on through the rest of the book, and then be forced to write the first chapter a few more times to get it right. For this book, I wrote the chapter some five times. If I'm feeling proactive, I'll post some of these chapters in the deleted scenes section about the time Mistborn 3 comes out.
Anyway, I just couldn't get the right feel for the first chapter. I wanted to start with a dramatic fight scene involving Vin (you now get that in chapter two) but every time I did, the book actually felt too slow. That's because, in order to have a fight, I need to explain Allomancy.
I started to get this one right when I backed off of the fight a bit and just had Vin creeping through the city. This let me get out a little bit about Allomancy before I threw her into the fight.
However, I didn't actually get it right until I added the Elend and Ham scene at the beginning. This scene had been in the book, but much later. The first chapter wasn't the only one I rewrote, actually—this entire first section of ten chapters underwent some significant revisions to fix the pacing. Originally, I didn't say much about the army until the later chapters, after Vin's fight.
However, I realized that I needed to give the sense of large-scale danger to the book before I got into the smaller danger of Vin's fight. Elend and Ham here talking sets the book off right—it introduces the conflict right off, shows what we're going to have to worry about in this book, then gives context to Vin's fight.
This book is dedicated to my maternal grandmother. The last one was dedicated to my paternal grandmother.
I didn't just do that for cohesion. I see a lot of both women in myself. Mary Beth (from book one) is free-spirited and wacky. That's the easiest side to see in me, the fantasy write.
Phyllis, however, is a dedicated hardworker. She is, to me, a symbol of simple, uncomplaining dedication. (Well, not completely uncomplaining. Grandma is great at grumbling.)
However, if something needs to be done, she just does it. Always. She's like 90 years old, and she's still just plugging away, the same as always. She's a real inspiration to me, and I think that I owe a lot of my success to the things she instilled in my mother–who instilled them in me. Getting published took a lot of hard work–those of you who've read a lot of my annotations know I wrote 13 books before I sold one. The sense of "just do it"-ness that my grandma gave me helped quite a lot when I needed to work, write books, and learn to make it in this field.
I've already talked about how much I love the maps in this book. Isaac is amazing. He also did the chapter symbols, which are interesting in that they are based off of the symbols in the first book. If you compare, you can see that they're the same symbols, only changed. The idea is that these symbols in this book are earlier versions of the same alphabet in the previous book, used here since this book will be partially about the characters looking into what happened in the world a thousand years back. You can imagine the epigraphs (the italicized things at the beginnings of the chapters) written in this alphabet. Modern people in the book, then, write in the version of the alphabet that is used in book one.
We had planned some pretty dramatic artwork to use in the book along with these–some large-scale symbol glyphs using the alphabet–but eventually decided not to go with them. Not only was Isaac swamped, but Tor was giving us grief about the length of the book (I'll talk about that later.) In the end, I'm glad we went with only these–they are elegant, and I like how they work with the previous symbols.
Maps and Interior Art
Isaac has gone well beyond the call of duty here.
The art department wasn't expecting there to be revisions to the maps, and they actually complained a little bit when it happened, thinking that they'd get charged again. Isaac, however, just wanted to make certain that the maps in the book fit with the context of the novel. So, he updated both maps, making certain that they included key points, and were revised to show new places. There are also a lot of cameos and inside jokes sprinkled through them, if you know where to look. I believe that there's a bookstore on the city map named after my agent, and a canal shop named after my editor. There's a mountain named for the best man at my wedding, and a lot of things like that.
There's not a whole lot to say here. A lot of people are returning time and time again as alpha readers. They should get awards or something.
I decided to expand a bit and give some different kinds of acknowledgments this time around. The more I learn about the book industry, the more I realize how many people it takes in order to create the product you now hold. People like Yoder, Dot Lin, and the bookstore sales forces are all part of the "Brandon Sanderson" name, in a way. It's kind of like Brandon Sanderson is, in part, a pen name for the hundreds of people who collectively create a novel.
This title was fairly easy to choose. Actually, the titles of all three books were easy to choose. I originally toyed with calling The Hero of Ages the Final Hero. So, because of that, I was tempted to come up with a "final" title to use for book two.
However, I quickly decided that I liked Hero of Ages instead of Final Hero (you'll see why in Book Three.) So, way back as far as the first chapters of book one, I was planning book two to be named The Well of Ascension.
I think it's a great title. I've been wanting to release some books with titles that have more classical fantasy feels to them. Well of Ascension really works well. In fact, as I write this annotation, it's December of 2006, and I'm on Book Tour with David Farland. He just got done complimenting me on the title! So, I guess maybe I'm not the only one who likes it.
The title, obviously, comes from the place the Lord Ruler visited to gain his godhood. Hopefully, this indicates to the reader a little bit of what the book will be about. Though, I do worry about this for reasons I'll explain in a bit.
The only other fun thing to note is that I have a devil of a time spelling Ascension. I always want to spell it "Ascention" instead. Curse my lack of spelling ability! I feel like an idiot every time I write it the wrong way. What kind of writer can't spell the title of his own book? I feel like a punch line waiting to happen.
Well, there you have it, the complete annotations for The Final Empire, Book One of Mistborn. The paperback of this comes out in just about three weeks, so my goal of getting all the Annotations posted before the paperback release has been achieved.
This was a very fun book to write. In a couple of months, Book Two will come out—which was, in turn, the most challenging book I think I've ever written. (But we'll talk about that during the annotations.)
Every book has things that turn out just like you imagined, things that surprise you, and things that never quite work out. In this book, the "heist" feel for the book is the one that never quite worked out. I sit and look back through the pages, and can still imagine the book as it was in my head before I wrote it. It's kind of an odd feeling to then have this book, which shares some attributes with the imagined novel, yet deviates in some important ways.
The power of the characters was what worked well—the thing that I wanted to have happen, then was pleased when it finally worked out. Kelsier's surprise at the end was a similarly nice payoff, as was the way that Allomancy worked out. Elend was a surprise, as was the amount of time I ended up spending in the ball scenes.
All in all, I'm very pleased with this book—I think it's better than Elantris, if not as "meaningful", and achieves just what I wanted. A second book to show off what I can really do.
I hope you enjoyed reading it.
The Final Empire Project: November 2001-July 2007
The name "Ars Arcanum" deserves a note as well. I’ve always liked how Ann McCaffery named her appendix the "Dragondex" in the back of her Pern books. One of the biggest draws of my books are the magic systems, and since I intend to do a new one for every series I write (and many, like the Mistborn trilogy, will have multiple magic systems per series) I wanted some sort of "catch all" title I could name the appendixes in each of my books.
I fiddled around for a while. Ars Magica was my first choice, since it's kind of a cool Latinate take on "Magical Arts" or "Magical Skills." However, there's an RPG out with that name, and I figured I wanted to stay away from their title. Ars Arcanum, then, was my next choice. I ended up liking it better, if only because it has a little more true Latinate feel to it.
It's kind of surprising to me, but to some people, appendices like this can be very divisive topics. There are people who will pick up a book and check to see if it has a map and appendix–and if it has both, they're more likely to read it. (I was actually one of these when I was younger.) I guess the philosophy here, if I analyze my teenage self, was that if an author put so much work into a book–and if the book was so complex–that there had to be an appendix, then that was a book I wanted to read.
Others have the opposite reaction, I've come to learn. I've met people who think that this sort of thing in the back of a book indicates that the author is sloppy, and can't tell a tight story. Or, that the story is going to be too complicated to enjoy.
In Elantris, my first book, I fought for a pronunciation guide and a cast of characters in the back. I like appendixes, though now it's mostly because my untrustworthy brain often forgets who characters are. With the Mistborn trilogy being as complex as (hopefully) I want it to be, I figured I'd need cast lists in order to help you remember book one when reading book two.
So, book two has a bigger appendix. However, I wanted to do something in this one as well. One thing I knew people were going to ask about was a way to keep the metals straight. That's why I developed the quick reference chart, and my friend Isaac did that beautiful metal table for a visual reference–I absolutely love how it looks.
My magic systems are generally like a new science for the world in which they are practiced, so I like the feel this gives. Hopefully, you found this appendix useful. If not, I suspect you'll really appreciate the one in book two, as the cast of characters there will provide a lot of helpful reminders.
Epilogue - Part Three
And here we come to the final scene of the book.
This one is important for several reasons. I intentionally made it focus around Reen's voice in her head, since the very first chapter of the book where we see Vin, she's dealing with those same whispers from Reen.
Here, I wanted to show the progress Vin has made in one final moment. I don't think of my books as romances, but they certainly have romantic elements. The Vin/Elend relationship was actually one of the parts of the book that was less planned (as I think I've mentioned). I knew I wanted her to get involved with a man of the court, but I wasn't sure where I'd take it, or how it would end.
I think my books have happy endings. Ominous ones, sometimes–and bittersweet ones, definitely. But they're happy, at least for me. I'm an incurable romantic, and I like it when two people find each other.
Of course, this isn't the end. Vin and Elend don't really have a relationship yet, they have the budding beginning of one. We'll deal with the more. . .testing elements of relationships in the second book. For now, however, they get to be happy. That's a rare enough thing in the Mistborn world that it's worth noting.
Remember the Lord Ruler's final words. They're important. The lack of atium will impact the second book greatly, as well the fact that Kelsier is dead. Overthrowing the Lord Ruler was tough, but it was still the easy part of this trilogy. Things get hard from here on out. . . .
Epilogue - Part Two
The discussion of Feruchemy and Allomancy working together is one of the most complicated magical explanations I've ever done, and I hope it works. One of the fun things about my books are the magic, and it's really tough to walk the line between making magic that has technically interesting aspects without making it either a) too complicated or b) feel like I'm just making it up as I go along.
I was trying to get across here an unexpected consequence of mixing the two magics. Like how certain chemicals react oddly when mixed, or even like two computer programs running on the same computer can cause odd reactions, letting someone use Feruchemy and Allomancy together makes for some very strange mixtures of the powers. (I intend to get into this later.)
Of course, what this also does is un-deify the Lord Ruler somewhat, which is intentional. I don't want it to undermine the accomplishment the characters have made–what they did was difficult and they have achieved a great victory. However, what I'm trying to give in this book–however–is a sense of foreboding.
Yes, Elend is chosen as king. I wondered if this would be seen as a stretch or not, which is one of the reasons I didn't put it in scene. I think it's easier to believe if I simply explain that it happened, rather than trying to make it work in narrative. The problem is, after the big climax with Vin and the Lord Ruler, I think anything involving Elend's actual speech would have been a distraction.
So, I leave it at this. It's a foreboding ending, I know. Elend is king, but honestly, none of these people have ever done anything like this before. The crew has no experience with government, and Elend has very little. (Though he at least knows a lot of theory.) So, then, this is set-up for the next book, where I wanted to ask some very tough questions. It seems to me that overthrowing the empire would actually be easier than trying to make it run smoothly. This is what the group is going to have to deal with.
Epilogue - Part One
This last epigraph is actually out of order. Most of them were chronological as Vin read from the logbook. This one, however, doesn't actually come after the one before it. I just put it here because it felt like it belonged at the end.
I did, actually, write most of these epigraphs (or bumps–or whatever you want to call the things at the beginnings of chapters) in one lump, then cut them apart, as I think I've mentioned. I did the same thing for book two, actually, where there's a different kind of puzzle going on in the narratives.
Finally, we get to have a nice little scene with Vin and Sazed standing over the body of the Lord Ruler. This is another good metaphoric scene, where he has been cast down by the people he sought to oppress, much as the skaa cheering outside have cast down the empire that sought to oppress them. The rising sun outside, of course, is a nod to this.
And the Lord Ruler dies in the same way that Kelsier did, with a spear in the chest while he's laying on the ground, defeated.
Chapter Thirty-Eight - Part Four
So, my favorite secret in the novel is the fact that the Lord Ruler is actually Rashek. I'm still not sure if this revelation will mean as much to readers as I want it to–it depends on them reading, and caring, about the story that happened in the past. However, when it all comes together, I think it really pays off.
So, the concept that started me on this book was "What if the Dark Lord won?" I thought about that, then figured it would be more scary if the hero had become the Dark Lord–only something worse. Kind of a "What if Frodo kept the ring?" idea. Well, I eventually decided to twist that into a "What if Sam killed Frodo and took the ring, then became a Dark Lord?" Like Kelsier says, there's always another secret.
The story, of course, grew into much more from there. The interaction between Rashek and Alendi (the unnamed hero from the logbook) was interesting enough to me that I decided to give it its own story, told through the chapter bumps. I see this book as actually having three prime viewpoint characters: Vin, Kelsier, and Alendi.
My favorite kinds of revelations are after this nature–things that the reader has been familiar with, yet not quite understanding, the entire book. Things you could have figured out much earlier, if you'd really been paying attention to the right clues.
These clues, then, led to the source of the Lord Ruler's immortality. It has been foreshadowed that age is one of the things that Feruchemists can store up, and we've established that the Lord Ruler can change his age. So, I don't think it was too great a stretch to make Vin understand that his Feruchemical storages were somehow behind his immortality. You'll get more explanation of this in the epilogue.
Chapter Thirty-Eight - Part Three
My one disappointment with this chapter is that I had to end up making it look like I was breaking my own rules. The Allomancy-Feruchemy-Hemalurgy triad is one of the most complex magic systems I've ever devised. The interplay between the three systems, mixed into the mythology of the setting (which involves the mists at a foundational level) makes for some very complicated rules. I try to explain them as simply as possible–simple, basic rules are necessary for most sequences to work.
Yet, the depth of complexity leads to some things that are confusing at first glance. I wasn't planning on having Vin draw upon the mists in this book–I was going to save it for later–but the initial version of this chapter (which had Vin simply grabbing the bracelets off the Lord Ruler’s arms with her hands) lacked the proper drama or impact. So, I moved up my timetable, and gave her access to some abilities she wasn't going to get until the next book.
A lot of the "Rules" of Allomancy are, in my mind, like our basic rules of physicist. They make simple sense, and can be explained easily. However, they only apply when generalities–or large-scale events–are explained. When you get down to the really advanced physics, traditional Newtonian Laws start to break apart.
The same is true for Allomancy. The vast majority of Allomancers aren't powerful enough to look beyond the basics. For them, simple rules like "You can't Push on metals inside of someone's body" apply. It's much easier to tell someone that, as opposed to "People's bodies interfere with Allomancy, making it much harder to affect metals inside of them–so hard, in fact, that only some people you'll never meet can Push on metals inside of people's bodies."
It is a matter of degree of power. Vin, for reasons I'll explain eventually, has access to far more Allomantic power than regular people. The Lord Ruler is the same way, though for different reasons. And so, he can affect metals that are blocked by blood. Vin has to draw upon another, external source of power in order to produce the same effect, but it is possible for her.
Narratively, I worry that this looks too much like I'm breaking my own rules. However, I had to balance drama with effect in this chapter, and eventually decided that I could make it work. I've established throughout the book that there are flaws in the commonly-perceived laws of Allomancy. There are metals nobody knows about. You can pierce copperclouds. In fact, one of the unwritten laws of Allomancy is that it isn't understood as well as everyone seems to think.
Two attributes that can be stored up by Feruchemists, by the way, are healing and the ability to move very quickly. The Lord Ruler had access to both of these abilities in extreme, augmented ways, which was part of what has made him so powerful. More on THIS sort of thing in book two.
By the way, the mists getting pushed away from Vin and Kar here is a clue of some sorts. Inquisitors push away the mists, rather than attracting them, when they use their powers. I'll explain this in book three too.
Chapter Thirty-Eight - Part Two
You were probably expecting Marsh's return–at least, you probably were when you read the chapter where he "died." Making Inquisitors via Hemalurgy requires killing other people (see book three for an explanation of the process) so there's a lot of mess involved.
Anyway, I planned for his return here. I wish, again, I could have done more with him. There was another whole book going on with him being watched by the Inquisitors–him thinking that he'd earned their suspicion when they were really just impressed with him and planning to make him one of them. That's how it usually works with Inquisitors–they grab a new recruit, usually an older one, and "draft" him into their ranks before one of the other Cantons has a chance to corrupt him too much. So, they were looking to make another Inquisitor, and Marsh happened to be the most promising recruit training in Luthadel at the time.
He never understood how far his infiltration would take him, or what it would end up costing him. The payoff is that he figured out how to kill Inquisitors–they were all built to have a weakness, so that the Lord Ruler would have power over them if he needed it. Pull out the right spike, and they come tumbling down.
Marsh's plan to kill the Lord Ruler is a good one too. Unfortunately, the Lord Ruler's power doesn't come only from Hemalurgy, but from other things as well. If he'd pulled off the bracelets instead. . . .
Vin's attempt at killing the Lord Ruler was, I thought, rather clever. I made a point of making her be able to touch her past self when she was burning gold. There are a couple of reasons why this didn't work. First of all, the images are just that–images. When Vin touched the face of her past self, it was all part of the illusion that gold produced. None of it was real. So, even if she HAD been able to touch the image of the Lord Ruler's past self, she wouldn't have been able to hurt the Lord Ruler himself by killing it.
The other reason is important as well. The thing is, the Eleventh Metal isn't actually an alloy of gold, but an alloy of atium. If you understand Allomantic theory, you'll understand why this has to be. Each quartet of metals is made up of two base metals and two alloys. The base metals are the Pulling metals, like iron and zinc. They are also made up of two internal metals and two external metals. Two change things about you, two change things about other people.
The Eleventh Metal, like atium, changes something about someone else. Both have to be external metals–that's the way the pairing works. Gold (and its compliment) change things about the Allomancer.
So, atium shows the future of someone else, malatium shows the past of someone else. Gold shows the past of yourself, and electrum (gold's compliment) shows your own future. (We'll talk about that in a different book.)
So, anyway, the Eleventh Metal (malatium) matches with atium–both of which create images from other people. And, just like atium shadows are incorporeal, so are malatium shadows. That's why Vin couldn't touch the one she saw of the Lord Ruler.
Chapter Thirty-Eight - Part One
Vin's entrance here is one of my favorite scenes in the book. Short, but very cinematic. It brings together all of the best images in the book–Allomantic pushes, stained glass, swirling mist, and the mistcloaks.
The cloaks are something I really wanted to do. I realize that some readers have trouble imagining them the right way, but I wanted something distinctive for the mistborn to wear. Regular cloaks and capes are nice, but I wanted something that I could make my own, and the multi-layered tassel thing seemed to fit very well with the mist theme.
As I mentioned earlier, I tend to multiply viewpoints near the end of books. Kar's viewpoint here is another one–I knew I wanted to be outside of Vin's head for the entrance here so I could describe it properly. Plus, this let me show how Inquisitors see.
Chapter Thirty-Seven - Part Three
The following is a journal entry I wrote regarding this chapter three years ago. It's kind of fun that I finished it almost three years to the day from when I'm posting the annotation.
Chapter Thirty-SevenFinished 5-22-04
Okay, so Vin's running around in her skivvies again. There are a couple of legitimate reasons for this. First off, I figured that if I had an Allomancer captured, the first thing I would do would be to strip them completely. A little bit of metal can go a long way, and you don't want to miss any. Now, this isn't as big a deal for the Inquisitors, who can use Allomancy themselves to see sources of metal a person might be hiding on their body. However, I still think it would be standard procedure to take away the prisoner's clothing. I toyed–briefly–with having Vin be naked in this chapter. I decided I just didn't want to deal with that. Having an adult man get stripped and thrown in a cell is a bit different from doing the same thing to a young girl, I think.
So, this chapter is Vin's character climax. Here's where she finally realizes that part of trusting people is being trustworthy yourself–or, more importantly, part of not being abandoned is not abandoning your friends. Her choosing to stay with Sazed, followed by Elend's appearance, are very important events for Vin. Her decision is a fulfillment of her story-long character arc, which has transformed her form a jumpy, frightened, untrusting person into one that would stay behind with a friend she loves, even though she knows that she might be killed. Her reward, then, for this bravery is Elend's return–and the realization that there are people out there who love her enough to risk their lives for her. Her statement "You came back" to Elend is perhaps the most important line Vin gets to say in the book.
Her decision to go and fight the Lord Ruler is secondary to these things, I think–which is probably why this decision doesn't seem quite as well-founded as her decision to stay with Sazed. Still, the story has been pushing for a face-off between her and the Lord Ruler ever since Kelsier died, so I think that it works narratively.
I really want to get that final chapter written, but I have writing group in an hour, and I still haven't read one of the submissions. It looks like Vin & co. are going to have to wait until Monday to have their final climax. I don't expect it to be a long chapter–which is good, since I REALLY need to get to work on the Elantris rewrite. . . .
Finally, Vin gets to have her moment with Elend. I like the mixture of genuine emotion, humor, and power in this scene. There is some real pay-off here, in the narrative way that I like to do it. Instead of having some silly scene where Elend feels betrayed that Vin lied to him and is really a Mistborn, we get a scene where Elend gets to see her in her majesty, and is awed.
The return of Captain Goradel, the one who leads Elend to where Vin is being held captive, is a metaphoric nod to the fairy tale genre, where fantasy (partially) has its roots. Sometimes, if the lion doesn't eat the mouse but lets it go, the mouse comes back to save him. Help the old woman in the first part of the story, and she'll come back and bless you by the ending. And, convince the soldier to join the rebellion instead of just slaughtering him, and he'll return with your boyfriend and a bunch of soldiers to rescue you at the last moment.
There were two important events for Vin in this last scene. First, she decides to stay and try to save Sazed. As I note below, this is a character climax for her. She's not only grown to trust, but grown–somewhat–to sacrifice. Most of Reen's harm to her soul has been reversed by the care and love of a group of idealistic thieves.
The second thing Vin does of importance in this section is fight without her Allomancy. I think it's a nice moment for her, and lets her show some true bravery. One problem with making heroes as powerful as mine is that it's sometimes hard to find a challenge for them. Also, it's hard to present them as the underdog. In this scene, Vin gets to fight as just a regular person, and show that she's still better than most people, even without Allomancy.
Chapter Thirty-Seven - Part Two
Sazed's doings here are our first real glimpse of Feruchemy in action. It's a fun magic system–you'll see a lot more of it in book two.
The Inquisitor does a little bit of standard villain fair in this chapter, I'm afraid. He monologues for just a bit, then leaves Vin alone with Sazed. There was no getting around this, I'm afraid. At least I think I have a good explanation for why he does what he does. He's the one who is going to get named head of the Steel Ministry in just a few minutes–so he can't exactly hang around. In fact, the Inquisitors all really need to be there. The Lord Ruler wouldn't excuse them to go stand watch on a single half-breed girl.
The scene with Vin and the Inquisitor is the place where, finally, I got to bring some closure to the Reen plotline. What the Inquisitor says is true. When it came down to the end, Reen didn't betray Vin. He died before he let that happen.
Reen was not a good person. He beat Vin, he was selfish, and he was conniving. However, he did love his sister. Most of his beatings happened because he was worried that she would expose them somehow and get herself killed. He knew that the Inquisitors were chasing her because of her half-breed nature, and so he uprooted them constantly, moving from city to city. He kept her alive, teaching her to be harsh, but teaching her to survive.
And, in the end–after the Inquisitors got him–he didn't betray her. That says a lot about him.
Captain Goradel, by the way, is named after my friend Richard Gordon.
Elend stays true to character in this scene, coming in with his idealism and his talk of theory and politics. He really did turn out to be a good character, which is why you're going to see plenty of him later.
We start this chapter off with our only Dockson viewpoint. You'll notice that it's a hallmark of my style to start multiplying viewpoint characters as books draw to their climaxes. I like the feeling of chaos it creates, and I like the way it lets me show a lot of sides of what is happening. In addition, it just makes the endings feel more special, since you get to see from eyes you haven't before.
Chapter Thirty-Seven - Part One
Whew! Getting tense now. I love endings–they're my favorite parts of books to write. Once, I wrote 16,000 words in one day to finish up a book. (That was my record until I finished Scribbler a few weeks back. I think I did 23k on that book in one day to finish it off.)
I figured it would make sense that the Lord Ruler would be so old, so experienced, and so powerful that he wouldn't be able to be lied to. He's been around people for centuries and centuries. It's very hard to fool him.
His extreme power in Allomancy takes a little bit more explaining. It'll take me three books to get to the real reasons for that one. So, you'll need to be patient.
The obligator vs Inquisitor political maneuvering here is supposed to feel like only a sliver of a much larger political system. You can, hopefully, imagine the various Cantons struggling for dominance over the centuries. This right here is a nice little culmination of that, with Vin forming the apex of the Inquisitor argument.
I really like this scene because it shows that other things are going on besides Kelsier's plan and the crew's plot. It's very amusing to me that this entire other book happened at the same time–the Inquisitors researching, looking for weaknesses in the other obligator power structure, then hunting down Vin so that they can use her to prove their point. All of the things that have happened with Vin being hunted–their chasing of her and her brother for over a decade, their slaughter of Camon and Theron's thieving crews, the bait for Kelsier at the crossroads–all of this was done simply so that they could find Vin and use her to take control of the Ministry. It's ironic, really, that the two plots would intersect, and that Vin would find herself at the center of both of them.
Tevidian's death here was one of the reasons why I started the book with a discussion between a Lord and an obligator, explaining what happens to skaa women after noblemen rape them. There's a nice symmetry to the book in my mind–a cohesion bookended by an explanation in the first chapter, then a payoff near the end.
Chapter Thirty-Six - Part Three
The Lord Ruler's throne room is one final look at the gothic cathedral motif that has been a part of this book. I took the stained-glass concept to the extreme, expanding it to make a room that was really nothing more than one giant stained glass window. So, to me, it’s a fusion of the gothic motifs and a kind of new-wave artistic rendering. I found that appropriate for the final of the "ball rooms" that I get to show in this book.
We get a quick Elend Scene here. This is the best I could do for a climax for him, since he really doesn't have much of a part in the book. (I think he only gets three viewpoints or so.) Considering the limited time, I think this is a fairly good character climax for him. He gets to stand up to his father and try to put some of his beliefs into action. One of my favorite lines is when he's sitting and thinking about the realities of a skaa rebellion, only to realize that he's on the wrong side.
Chapter Thirty-Six - Part Two
If I had a chance to rewrite the book again, one of the things I'd change is the scene where Vin gets caught here. If you want to imagine it this way instead, pretend that she dropped both Inquisitors completely, and therefore thought she was safe to inspect the room beyond. The Inquisitors can actually heal far more quickly than I've had them do in this book.
My problem with this scene is how easily Vin lets herself be cornered and captured. I think that breaking into the room is exactly the sort of thing she'd do. However, I just don't think the writing works here (around the section where she gets surprised and grabbed by the Inquisitor.) She's more careful than that. The way it's written makes it seem like she gets grabbed simply because that's what needed to happen. There isn't enough drama, or enough realization, to the scene.
I do like what happens afterword, however–Vin using the Eleventh Metal. In this book we get our first hints regarding just how much Allomancy has been hidden and obfuscated by the Lord Ruler. Vin realizes that the Eleventh Metal must be part of the structure of Allomantic theory, as is the metal that she's given that makes her lose all of her other metals. (It's aluminum, by the way.)
I hope you noticed the difference between the way Kelsier got into the room and the way Vin did it. She walked up to the guards at the front and talked them away, rather than killing them. She just strolled through the guard chamber–the place where she killed her first time–instead of attacking. Why attack? She's powerful enough that she can just slip through and escape.
For Kelsier, the killing was always part of the victory. Vin's more goal-oriented, perhaps. In addition, she doesn't like to kill. So, her way is to just slip by the men. Then, in the room, she doesn't get close to the Inquisitors–she takes them down with tricks. On the streets, she would have had to use very little to gain much. She needed to be extremely clever with the small advantages she had. She used Allomancy in small ways to great advantage. Now that she's more powerful, I think her cleverness and resourcefulness will lead her to be far more amazing an Allomancer than Kelsier was.
Hum, let's see. Anything I'm forgetting? I do mention boxings in this chapter. You might be interested to know (now that you've read pretty much the whole book) where I got the word. In my mind, boxings (the coins) are actually called "Imperials" on the official coffers. However, that was too boring a word.
So, the people call them boxings because they have a picture of Kredik Shaw on the back. The Lord Ruler's home–or, his box. Boxings.
Kelsier gets to have some last words in this chapter. He earned them, I think. I'm sorry to keep the truth of kandra from you so long, as I've said before. However, I needed to leave the explanation off so that the reader could experience the revelation with Vin here. Even if you'd already figured out what Renoux was, then I think this scene is more powerful by having the revelations happen like they did.
Anyway, Kelsier is among my personal favorite characters, if only for his depth. He is a complicated, multi-faceted man who managed to scam not only the entire empire, but his own crew at the same time. I felt I had to give him some last words, if only through a letter, so that the reader could bid him a proper farewell. In addition, I wanted him to pass that flower on to Vin–symbolically charging her with Mare's dream, now that Kelsier himself is dead.
Sazed gets a little preachy about belief in this chapter. He is actually expressing my own thoughts on the matter. A belief that is never tested isn't really that strong. Yet, I have other reasons to put this conversation in. Sazed himself is going to be tested a bit in future books–and I needed him to say these things here so that he could, later on, have to "put his money where his mouth is."
Chapter Thirty-Five - Part Two
I was forced to cut one of my favorite lines from the book, and it was in this chapter. I'll write it now. Near the beginning, the narrative says regarding Vin:
"She was, as if, nowhere."
Moshe convinced me that this sentence just didn't make enough sense. Yet, to me, it somehow expressed how Vin felt. She had been cut free by Kelsier's death. Yet, she was still there. She wished she could just meld with the mists–she felt as if her soul were already cast away. Yet, she couldn't vanish, as she wished.
Ah, cursed grammar, ruining a perfectly good sentence!
Backing up a bit, Vin's remembered conversation here is a real one. She had it with Kelsier during the scenes when she was first training with him. He promised that he'd catch her if she fell off the wall, not using Allomancy correctly. It might seem like a little scene to you, but to Vin, it was very important. It was one of the first candid conversations she had just between her and Kelsier, and it was one of the foundational turning-points in her life. (She decided that night to stay with Kelsier's crew instead of running away with the three thousand boxings he gave her.)
That's why it's important enough for her to remember here. Her entire foundation for the last year's time–Kelsier–has just been pulled away from her. Her abandonment issues are growing more and more powerful. Fortunately, something distracts her before she can sink more deeply.
Chapter Thirty-Five - Part One
If you couldn't tell, this is one of the climactic scenes I was writing toward.
I'll admit, I didn't have this exact twist down when I started the book. As I worked through the novel, I quickly began to realize that Kelsier had to have some master plan–something greater than he was letting on. That's just the way his personality is. Plus, I needed something that lent more weight to the book. Made it more than just the simple heist story that I'd originally conceived. (After all, a heist story could be told in far less than 200,000 words.)
Kelsier's real plan wasn’t firm for me until I wrote the scenes with him in the caves, influencing the soldiers. By then, of course, over half the book was written. So, I had to begin building Kelsier's true plan from there–and then do a rewrite to put it in from the beginning.
I had known from the beginning that Kelsier was going to die, and that he was going to gain such renown with the skaa (before his death) that the crew began to worry that he would turn into another Lord Ruler. Putting these two things together so that his growing reputation was part of his plan all along was the realization I needed to connect. Then, I could have the bang I wanted in the ending chapters, when the crew realized what Kelsier had been planning all along.
As surprises go, I think this is one of my better–but definitely not one of my best. It required keeping too much back from the reader when in Kelsier's viewpoint, and it required to much explanation after-the-fact to make it work. There's a much better surprise later on. Still, I'm pleased with the bang on this one–especially since I got to have such a beautiful scene with the crew standing atop the building, the mists coming alight around them, as if representing their own growing understanding of the job they'd always been part of.
Kind of an interesting question I guess, and it's mostly, like, Emperor's Soul.
It's funny because I was reading that book and I almost, almost thought that you put a twist where, like, her soul was stamped, and actually she was, like, not exactly who she thought she was. Did that ever cross your mind?
I did, but at some point, um--
Maybe it's a bit cheesy, I dunno.
--sometimes you twist so much. I felt that the more impact thing was the fact that she was planning this whole exit strategy to wipe herself away. I thought that was more telling about her than having her soul stamped. I did consider it, but it just felt like it was one of those over-twists, does that make-- make sense?
It might have--yeah, cause that's supposed to be a classic, like, "oh, *inaudible*" But anyway...
But you know, I mean there's some books where I've done--where I've like--this is the classic twist, and I like it, so I do it anyway.
What's your Magic color preference?
I draft, almost exclusively. So my color preference is whatever is open.
Umm, I lean more toward control than I do aggro, but what's--whatever is open--whatever I open I will go for.
You like dragons very much, right?
I do like dragons very much.
Well then you don't have dragons in any of your books.
One of my books has dragons. It's the one I wrote but didn't get published and will eventually re-publish, called Dragonsteel. So one of the very first I wrote had dragons, but I don't want to do dragons in every book. So I'm waiting for the book that it is right for.
So, any questions?
Well, I was kind of wondering, you've got this whole culture of, exactly that: people asking you questions about your stories outside of the stories.
I was wondering, is that something you developed or decided on? Or--
That I inherited from Robert Jordan. It had started happening a little bit, but it was really a thing that Robert Jordan fostered in his fans, that I got very used to doing. And so, I just kept doing it. I do warn my fans: I change my mind. And so, um, the things I say--they call them the Word of Brandon--Word of Brandon is level below what's in the text in hierarchy, because I will change my mind, and I will get things wrong when I don't have my notes and stuff. And so-- But yeah, but you can find collections of things I've said. And most of them are still true. Once in a while I'm writing a book, I'm like, "No, this just doesn't work out." But you know that--that just happens with everything.
Like I'm writing Oathbringer, right? And I've mentioned things in Dalinar's past before that are from my outline of Dalinar's past. I sit down, I write the flashback sequences, I'm like, "Oh no. Continuity error," right? And so we just have to go with fixing it in this book and then say, "First book's got a continuity error, guys." Because once you actually sit down and write out somebody's life across thirty years, you can't get them sometimes into places where you had noted stuff. So, it's--I wish I could be like 100% accurate on all things. It just doesn't work out. Even the books like Mistborn, that I wrote all three in a row, and then we edited them, and then sent them out--still had continuity errors, so. Ehh.