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Interviews: Mistborn: The Well of Ascension Annotations

Summary:

Entries

66

Date

Aug 1st, 2007

Type

Verbatim

TourCon

Well of Ascension

Links

brandonsanderson.com

  • 1

    Brandon Sanderson (Title Page)

    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.

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  • 2

    Brandon Sanderson (Acknowledgements)

    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.

  • 3

    Brandon Sanderson (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.

    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.

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  • 4

    Brandon Sanderson (Dedication)

    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 writer.

    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.

  • 5

    Brandon Sanderson (Chapter 1)

    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 chatper 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.

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  • 6

    Brandon Sanderson

    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.

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  • 7

    Brandon Sanderson (Chapter 2)

    Allomantic fights are fun.

    I'll admit it. I LIKE to write things that are fun. I'm an entertainer—and that is what my stories try to do. I think there's great value in that.

    That said, I think this might be my least favorite fight in the book. You may remember that I said the same thing about the first battle in book one (that's the fight where Kelsier takes on the Hazekillers in Keep Venture.) Getting the mechanics of Allomancy down, showing things step by step, takes longer, and lacks a bit of finesse. I hope this fight was still enjoyable, but it was far too step-by-step to be really great, in my opinion.

    The fights I really like are the ones where there is a beauty—a sense of grace and poetry—to the fight itself. The one at Keep Hasting later in this book is a much better example off that.

  • 8

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, this is what I wanted to have in chapter one (see the last annotation.) Reading it again, I can see—yet again—why that was a bad instinct. It's much better here, in chapter two. I still feel that it's a tad long. I cut it down significantly (if you can believe that.) I worry that pacing wise, we spend too long in a fight for this early in the book. However, some of the things I get across in this battle are invaluable for the rest of the story. I introduce the Watcher, and I get rid of Vin's atium—thereby compounding the large danger of the kingdom being at war with the more personal danger of Vin being stalked while she's exposed without any atium.

    We'll get to a third level of danger—that of something threatening the entire world—later on.

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  • 9

    Brandon Sanderson

    Moshe wanted me to cut this chapter further, but admitted that there wasn't really any way to do it. I hope it's fun to see old characters—such as OreSeur—coming back to us in different forms, having changed a bit during the time between books.
  • 10

    Brandon Sanderson

    Also, thanks to my writing group for the Soundsticks suggestion. They probably don't remember it—it's been years since one of them suggested it (I think Nate H. was the one who actually said it) and I thought it was a great idea. This is a perfect way to deal with a Mistborn—they're going to have enhanced senses, so you play off of that and make them pay. I love this, since I talk so much about balance and use of force in Allomancy. Actions and reactions. I wanted this magic to feel very Newtonian.

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  • 11

    Brandon Sanderson (Chapter 3)

    Well, there you go. That chapter (with a big chunk of two) was originally the first chapter of the book. Oddly, moving it back made the book move more quickly, for me at least. It's strange how you can sometimes speed up a novel by ADDING material.

    Speed in books, however, has little to do with how long the book actually is, and everything to do with how captivated the reader is.

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  • 12

    Brandon Sanderson

    There were a couple of interesting edits that I made to this chapter. First off, Elend's proposal to the Assembly. It was a major point of revision in the book.

    One of the biggest problems the novel had in the first draft was that readers weren't getting the right idea for the theme and plot of the novel. In early drafts, Vin's worries about the Deepness and the Lord Ruler's final words came before Straff's army arrived. So, readers were surprised when the middle of the novel spent so much time on politics and war. They wanted to learn more about the Well of Ascension. (Which IS important, but not as present—particularly at the beginning—as the rest of the plot.)

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  • 13

    Brandon Sanderson

    The second half of this chapter, where Vin and Elend are chatting, is where the book finally starts to feel 'good' to me. I'm mostly past the exposition reminding you of what happened in Book One, and I can get into more 'showing' of character rather than reminding of past events.

    I could have, perhaps, done something different with these reminders. I could have told you less, and let you remember on your own. Or, I could have worked the reminders in more delicately. However, the former would have left some people confused, and the later would have taken many more pages. I eventually took the easier, and time-tested, route of reminder exposition. We'll see if people like this or not, but it really did seem like the best way in this novel. (Interestingly, there's a thread about this on my forums right now.)

  • 14

    Brandon Sanderson

    I just really like Elend and Vin's relationship. It's one that really shouldn't work, but for some reason, they just get along so well in my head. I doubt that they could explain it either—but the two fit together in a very strange, 'opposites meet' kind of way. They actually have a lot more chemistry, for me, than Sarene and Raoden—though those two are far better matched for each other. Maybe that's because the frustration and confusion Elend feels seems very realistic to me. He never really does know what Vin is feeling, even though her emotions are so blunt and simple when we're in her viewpoint.

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  • 15

    Brandon Sanderson (Chapter 4)

    Sazed was many people's favorite character in the first book. I knew pretty early on in the writing process of that book that Sazed would become a major force in the novel. In fact, he was one of the very first characters I outlined and built in my head. Who he is, and what he stands for, is quite integral to the plot arc of the entire series.

    So, knowing that, you probably aren't surprised to see him become a major viewpoint character in this book. I loved writing his chapters. The way he sees the world—always trying to look from other people's viewpoints, always trying to understand others and give them the benefit of the doubt—makes him very dear to me. He is pleasant to write about, and his inner turmoil (we'll talk more about that later) is so much more painful because of how basically a nice person he is.

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  • 16

    Brandon Sanderson

    My favorite plotting mechanic of the Sazed chapters, particularly these early ones, is the fact that the peasants don't really care about what he wants to teach them. The Keepers were a very important element from the first book—people who had worked so hard to memorize the things of the past and keep them safe for the day when the Lord Ruler died. This is, in part, a nod to Fahrenheit 451.

    However, there's also a bit of an arrogance to that organization. They have the truth, they keep the truth for everyone else, and they are the ones who will bring it gloriously back to the people. Supposedly.

    I wanted, in this book, that glorious return to be underwhelming for the Keepers. A group of scholars wouldn't, I think, even have considered that nobody would CARE about the things they researched and memorized. Their battle is far from over. I think that convincing the people to learn is much more difficult a task than memorizing the information in the first place.

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  • 17

    Brandon Sanderson (Chapter 5)

    One of my writing groups had an intense reaction against Vin killing the dog in this scene. I'm not sure, still, WHY they got so upset—but they really didn't like it that she killed a dog "in cold blood" as they put it.

    So, her little "I'm sorry about this" in her head is there for them. At least now they know she kind of wishes she didn't have to do it.

    That dog had it coming, though.

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  • 18

    Brandon Sanderson

    If you paid any sort of attention during the last book, you were probably expecting a new metal or two to show up in this book. I dropped a lot of hints that there were other metals.

    It was a little bit of a stretch to let there be metals that, despite the thousand-year history of Allomancy, weren't known. However, I rely on the fact that the Lord Ruler had informational control over the society. There are A LOT of things that he knew that aren't known to a lot of people.

    Duralumin is a real alloy from our world, commonly made from Aluminum. Actually, a lot of things we call aluminum—particularly industrial aluminum—is actually duralumin. Aluminum, pre-electrolysis, was really tough to get. It's said that Napoleon had a set of aluminum plates that were more valuable than his gold or platinum ones.

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  • 19

    Brandon Sanderson

    Elend comparing himself to Kelsier is a kind of theme for him in this book. I wanted Kelsier to leave a long, long shadow over these next two books.

    A lot of people couldn't believe that I killed Kelsier, since he was such a ball of charisma, and the driving force for the first book. (A lot of others CAN believe it, but are rather annoyed at me for doing it.) However, I happen to like this book specifically because of Kelsier's absence.

    He overshadowed everything when he was alive. Elend could never have developed as a character—and even Sazed and Vin would have had trouble—as long as Kelsier was there dominating everything. He was a character at the end of his arc—while the others are still only just beginning. It's so much more interesting if they have to do things without him.

    Just part of Kelsier's arrogance, I guess. Both as a character in the book, and externally to it. He dominated so much that he had to go.

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  • 20

    Brandon Sanderson

    I worry just a tad about the light-hearted feel of the end of the chapter here. Originally, this scene was in the book BEFORE the army showed up to attack. In the original draft I showed Elend and company living (and fighting off assassins) without knowing that an army was bearing down on them. Moving the army so that it began the book on the horizon was the major pacing change I made that sped up the book, and increased the tension.

    However, we missed a few of the more light scenes—like the upcoming sparring—and I didn't want to cut them because they were so indicative of character. I decided to leave them in. Kelsier's crew is accustomed to dealing with stress and remaining jovial. The only change I really had to make was in the Elend viewpoints, which you will see in the next chapter. Still, I hope the tone isn't off—that's a real worry when you transplant scenes from a previous draft, as opposed to writing them new when you change as much as I did at the beginning here.

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  • 21

    Brandon Sanderson (Chapter 6)

    So, here's a little of the jovial friendship that I mentioned in the last annotation. One of the things I like about these books IS the way that the characters can get along and relax. It's a bit tougher to pull off in this book—with Kelsier gone, and with everything falling apart—but it's still there, where I can squeeze it in.

    Spook is a character I groomed through the first book to do more than you might originally expected from him. He doesn't really come to his own for some time yet, but you should be able to see changes start to appear in him—subtly, of course. You'll see a lot more from him later on in the series.

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  • 22

    Brandon Sanderson

    This fight scene is, in my opinion, a lot more fun that the previous one. It's what I want—quick, dramatic, and shows off character by the way that the various people approach the fight.

    I probably should have cut this scene, honestly. The book is a little too long. It's 250,000 words, where both Elantris and Mistborn 1 are around 200,000. I worried about this, particularly since the original Well of Ascension was only around 235,000, but we added 15,000 through editing to make the pacing work.

    Regardless, when this beast got in, the people at Tor (the typesetters and the like) immediately raised a warning flag. However, some of the things they said surprised us. They said that the hardback for Mistborn 2, by their counts, was going to be over 700 pages long! Well, I knew that the book was a bit longer, but Mistborn 1 was under 500, so they were claiming it was around 40% bigger—and unpublishable.

    My editor went to bat, claiming that 1) It was only really about 20% bigger and 2) That didn't matter, because the book was the right length—it worked well, and was paced well, and that he didn't want to cut it. We caused a big mess of various people arguing, and then finally the people down in production called up and said they'd done a re-assessment, and that the book would be around 560 pages or so. Very doable.

    I don't know where those extra 140 pages went. If you find them, let me know...

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  • 23

    Brandon Sanderson (Chapter 7)

    Here's where we start to get some of our first real hints of the dominating plotline that will overshadow these two books: The Lord Ruler is dead. What in the world have we gotten ourselves into?

    As I mentioned in the previous Sazed annotation, I really like his scenes for the conflict represented in them. He is a rebel, but he feels so bad for it. It's always nice when you can make a character feel some very real turmoil for doing the RIGHT thing.

    We will go a lot more into Sazed's character, and how he is regarded by the other Terrismen, in future chapters.

  • 24

    Brandon Sanderson

    Marsh was a tricky one to write in this book. Everybody loves him, for some reason, and they were really happy I didn't make him a bad guy at the end of book one. The more I put him into book two, the more readers tended to like him there as well.

    However, I've got enough characters in this book that I couldn't really focus on Marsh as much as I would have needed to, so I backed off on him. You'll see some of him in the next few chapters, but then he fades into the background. Simple reasoning is that the book was long enough, even in the planning stages, that I knew I couldn't tackle Marsh and what was going on with him. Not yet, at least.

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  • 25

    Brandon Sanderson

    Conventical is Moshe's word, by the way. I'd originally called it the Covenant of Seran. However, not only did the Halo games decide to make good use of the word Covenant, but my editor found it somewhat inaccurate. So, he suggested Conventical—which I liked immediately. It's a real word, though I think I spell it differently, which refers to a meeting of high level church officials. The term fits with the Steel Ministry, which doesn't have priests, but instead has Obligators and doesn't have a Priesthood, but instead a Ministry. Everything's pseudo-religious, instead of being directly 'on' religious.

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  • 26

    Brandon Sanderson (Chapter 8)

    So, Moshe and I BOTH worried about the fact that we've got two shadow mysterious figures showing up at the beginning of this book. Part of the problem is the rewrite, which mashed things together at the beginning of the novel, increasing the speed—but then melding things together as well. Originally, the mist spirit showed up before the Watcher. Now they both are introduced in the same chapter, which happens to be the second chapter.

    That makes me worry about overlap and confusion, but we decided there was nothing to be done about it. As the story progresses, hopefully they'll be differentiated enough in the reader's head to keep them straight. (It doesn't help that I have creatures in this world known as mistwraiths, which are different from either the Watcher or the mist spirit. Sigh.)

  • 27

    Brandon Sanderson

    Metal vials. People may wonder why Allomancers use them. Why ingest only small bits of metal, which could run out on you? There are a couple of reasons for this.

    First off, you don't want to eat too much metal because, simply put, it's poisonous. Kelsier talks a little bit about this in book one, and it's given token nods from characters throughout the series. I don't do a whole lot with it—dying from metal poisoning isn't the type of extended disease you tend to deal with in a novel that only covers a few months time, like this one.

    The second reason for metal vials is more simple. Allomancers with the right powers can Push or Pull on sources of metal—the larger the metal source, the harder the Allomancer can Push on it. So, little flakes of metal make a terrible Anchor, and so if you're caught wearing your vials, you aren't giving much of an advantage to your enemies.

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  • 28

    Brandon Sanderson (Chapter 9)

    A very short Sazed chapter. Mostly, this was just here because I had to remind the readers that Sazed was doing things. Getting to the Conventical is going to take enough time that, if I hadn't thrown in a small chapter like this, you would have gone a long time without seeing Sazed.

    The things he mulls over here, then, are reinforcement of his character and his conflicts. It's also helping establish Marsh. Not because of what is said, but simply because you see them both again, and are therefore reminded of the things I talked about last time I was with him.

    I wrote Mistborn One mostly chronologically, regardless of viewpoint. I did that with this book for the most part too, but I did write a lot of these Sazed chapters together, in bulk, so that I could keep the tone and voice right. I knew how many chapters from his viewpoint I needed, and I knew where they had to go, so I divided up what needed to happen and went from there.

    You may be interested to know that I planned a prologue for this book, originally, with Sazed seeing the mists during the day. He was going to ride past a valley, see it creeping along inside, then rush down and find it gone by the time he arrived. That's when he was to hear the rumors of people killed by it, then rush off, and eventually get lucky enough to find a person killed just a day before.

    I never wrote that prologue. I just didn't feel that I needed it, and didn't want to start with that scene—I wanted something more active, rather than something mysterious, for the opening. As I revised the book and tried to focus the reader more and more on the politics and warfare, rather than the mists (particularly at the beginning) I decided that a prologue that dealt with the mists would be out of place.

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  • 29

    Brandon Sanderson (Chapter 10)

    There was an epic battle with my editor over some revision changes to this chapter. I though that the word to use for a place where someone stands to address a crowd was a "podium." He said that was an adulteration of the language, and that the pure, classical word to use was "lectern."

    He won.

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  • 30

    Brandon Sanderson

    On a more serious note, this section contains some of the more lengthy additions to the rewrite. Elend's speech, and the arguments against it, were all added in the very last draft. As I said before, the first draft had Elend giving a much different proposal, as the army hadn't arrived yet.

    This works TONS better. I worry that Elend comes off a little too strong—or, well, not weak enough—in this scene. I originally included it to show some of his faults as a leader. However, other readers have indicated that they thought he came off as too weak. Even if this is a book about Elend becoming a leader (or, at least, that's a big chunk of the novel) he doesn't have to quite as hopeless as I originally painted him.

    So, perhaps we've got a good balance going on here.

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  • 31

    Brandon Sanderson

    Obligators. This is the first time you see them in the book. It isn't the last time you'll see them, but it's nearly so. They just don't have much of a part in the story now.

    I toyed with making them villains in the novel, involving them a lot more in politics, but discarded that concept. I decided that 1) The Lord Ruler's power was broken, and that fighting against remnants of it would be a little anti-climactic. 2) There just wasn't any more space in the book for more villains.

    The armies invading Luthadel, and their leaders, are bad enough. Part of my rational is that the warlords—not the priests—are going to be the real danger in this new world. The priests were a force for stability. Now that everything has been overthrown, they simply won't have any power to be of a threat.

    Though, I will note that a major force in the third book is, indeed, an obligator who has taken control of a section of the empire.

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  • 32

    Brandon Sanderson (Chapter 11)

    A few things to watch out for. There might be an extra "Silver" or "Silvereye" stuck in the books somewhere.

    If you read the annotations in the last book, you'll know that I changed the Allomantic metal of silver into tin at the last minute. I couldn't find a good alloy of silver, and though I liked "Silvereye" as a word much better than "Tineye" I decided to go with the choice that was more logical for worldbuilding, rather than the one that sounded better.

    There could still be a spare silver or two hanging around in this book, since it was written before I made the swap. (I just found one in Book Three and got it changed right in time.)

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  • 33

    Brandon Sanderson

    Here we get the return of Breeze, a perennial favorite of the Mistborn world. He gets far more screen time—and depth of characterization—than Ham, Clubs, or Dockson do. You just can't develop everyone. (Especially if you're not George R. R. Martin.) I did my best with the side characters, and Breeze and Spook turned out the best, in my opinion. You'll see more of both of them, and learn more about them, as the series moves along.

    I love this rescue scene, and I got to use the "Vin splits and arrow with its own arrowhead" scene, which was one of the coolest moments in Mistborn Prime. (Long story. Read the Mistborn 1 annotations.) There's a certain arrogant flare to this scene, and it ends up working quite well, I think.

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  • 34

    Brandon Sanderson

    Kandra are a race that will also get a lot of development as the series progresses. During the development of this book, I tried to resist using the 'there's a spy among us' plot, but in the end, I just couldn't do it. The pieces were all there, and I wanted to play with the concepts of trust and reliability.

    In the first book, Vin learned to trust. She learned that it was better to trust and be betrayed than to suspect everyone. The nice twist on that in book one was that there WAS no traitor in the book. Everyone stayed true to Kelsier and his vision.

    So, in this book, I had to sew seeds of distrust. I wanted Vin to have to deal with those problems again, and really have to confront her suspicions and paranoia. The only way to do that was to have her begin suspecting members of the crew.

    Besides, you don't just put in a race of shapeshifters then ignore the tension of people wondering if someone they know has been replaced. That would just be irresponsible.

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  • 35

    Brandon Sanderson (Chapter 12)

    This chapter is meant to be our 'pay off' chapter for the time we've invested into Sazed over the last few chapters. I, personally, think it's the coolest chapter in this section of the book.

    Feruchemy really turned out well as a magic system, and I'm glad I found a place for it in this book. It connects with Allomancy perfectly; I'm actually surprised at how well they go together. (As you may recall, I originally tried out Feruchemy in a book I now call Final Empire Prime.)

    Here, you finally get to see some REAL Feruchemical tricks. Sazed can do so much more than just make himself strong (like he did in book one) or memorize things. If you think about it, there are an awful lot of things that can be done to intertwine Allomancy—with its Pushes and Pulls—and Feruchemy, where a person can increase or decrease their weight.

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  • 36

    Brandon Sanderson

    By the way, you probably remember form book one the way that Inquisitors see. They have such a subtle touch with Steel and Iron, and their lines, that they can see via the trace metals in everyone's bodies and in the objects around them.

    The thing is, any Allomancer with access to iron or steel could learn to do this. Some have figured it out, in the past, but in current times, nobody—at least, nobody the heroes know—is aware of this. Except, of course, for Marsh.

    And he chose not to share it.

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  • 37

    Brandon Sanderson

    The scene where Sazed walks along inside the Conventical and talks to himself, speaking into the coppermind, is what really appeals to me about this chapter. It isn't often that, as a writer, I get to do something like this—switch up the narrative style, let myself do a monologue in first person present tense. The tense shift is, I think, what lets these scenes be so creepy. You get to feel, I hope, like you're with Sazed, walking along in the near dark, listening to a quiet voice-over that doesn't dispel the gloom, but just echoes back to you even more creepily.

    This was one of my editor's favorite scenes in the book as well. The part where Sazed describes where Inquisitors are made, and where he walks the corridors, with minimal narrative interjections by me gave this chapter a tone unlike anything else I've ever written.

  • 38

    Brandon Sanderson (Chapter 13 Part 1)

    I hope this first paragraph isn't too overly-poetic for you. I have a tendency to dabble in writing poetic language, and can veer into sections of prose that are a bit over-written. But, my editor didn't strike this down, so I assume it's all right.

    The things Vin talks about in this first scene are, essentially, the things that will come to form the plot of the entire series. In the original drafts of the novel, she worried about these issues much earlier in the book. However, I backed off on them to let the siege take form first.

    It's not that these worries about the Deepness and the past aren't important—they're VERY important. And, they'll play a big part in this book. The armies and politics, however, are the established plot of the novel. This book—book two—isn't about the deepness. It's about the "What Next?" So the characters overthrew the empire. What's next? In my opinion, what they're doing now–struggling to keep something going, rather than tear it down—is far more difficult than anything they did in the first book.

    This grueling process is going to have a powerful influence on their characters, and make from them the people they need to become in order to deal with the events of the final book. In a way, that makes this the most important—and most interesting—book of the trilogy. It's the one which is about character over plot.

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  • 39

    Brandon Sanderson

    My goal with Vin, here, is to take the mists from her. Kelsier gave them to her in book one, and now it's time to take them away.

    They are the haven of the Mistborn. But, if you watch as the story progresses, you will see that I slowly take them away and leave her without.

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  • 40

    Brandon Sanderson (Chapter 13 Part 2)

    This Elend scene here is almost a direct parallel of the scene in book one where Kelsier first introduces the plan to his people. Elend has a much harder time of it. In fact, this scene—in conjunction with the scene with the Assembly—is supposed to establish Elend as what he is: a man with great ideas, but poor leadership techniques. He's brilliant and scholarly, but he doesn't know how to get people to do what he wants.

    This is reflected in his speech patterns, and has been since book one. He likes to use the phrase "Now, see," followed by an observation. He doesn't command, and when he argues, he uses very passive sentences. All of this is—hopefully—makes your subconscious see him in a certain way.

    The only reason he convinces the crew to go along with them is 1) he's right, they like to gamble, and this is the type of plan they like and 2) they already know him, and his ideas have earned a measure of trust from them.

    When necessary, Elend CAN give a brilliant speech. He can make people dream and hope. He just isn't good at arguing, and is rather poor at being a dictator.

    This scene, by the way, is another substantially rewritten one. I focused a lot more on the idea that the crew was going to have to deal with a long siege in the rewrites.

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  • 41

    Brandon Sanderson

    You might be curious to know that I based Elend, in part, on my editor Moshe. I don't know that it was conscious—in fact, I just noticed the connection while writing right now. However, the speech patterns and the way he thinks are very similar to Moshe, and I kind of see him in my mind as looking like a younger version of my editor. I guess I see Moshe as a sort of heroic guy.

    He wouldn't make a very good dictator either. But, then, I think that's a good thing, since I have to work with him. :)

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  • 42

    Brandon Sanderson (Chapter 14)

    Yes, it was probably stupid of the crew to leave Elend alone with Tindwyl. I pushed this situation a little bit farther than, perhaps, is plausible. However, you have to remember how the Terris people are regarded by those in Luthadel. Terrismen are, in general, such kind and loyal servants that it's hard for Elend and the others to feel distrust for one.

    I was very pleased with this scene when I wrote it. I'd known from the beginning that I wanted to bring another strong female character into this book, as well as give Elend a mentor for kingship. Tindwyl fills both of those roles remarkably well. She also gives us another look at Terris culture—it's always difficult in a book like this to distinguish the cultures from the people. If you have only one Terrisman in a book, then he doesn't just represent himself—he represents all of his people. And so, unless you show another side of that culture, the person and where they come from become the same thing.

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  • 43

    Brandon Sanderson

    This is the first twinge of distrust between Vin and Elend. She doesn't tell him about seeing the Mist Spirit again.

    It's a small thing, I admit, but for me—as a writer—it was intended as a dangerous first step. Vin's ability to trust is still fragile. And, if she thinks that Elend will mock her or disregard her, she'd rather keep it in.

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  • 44

    Brandon Sanderson (Chapter 15)

    This is the first twinge of distrust between Vin and Elend. She doesn't tell him about seeing the Mist Spirit again.

    It's a small thing, I admit, but for me—as a writer—it was intended as a dangerous first step. Vin's ability to trust is still fragile. And, if she thinks that Elend will mock her or disregard her, she'd rather keep it in.

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  • 45

    Brandon Sanderson

    This is, perhaps, the most overtly foreshadowing chapter in this book. I'm trying to tie quite a large number of threads together in this series, and it was a challenge to keep them all in the air at the same time.

    The events in this chapter, then, will wrap back around to things that happen near the end of this book and in the next book. Mostly, I'm showing the real danger of the mists—that there IS indeed a reason to fear them. Either way, remember one thing from this chapter. Some people were killed (and there's a connection between the two people you've heard described specifically as dying from the mists) some people got away, and some people had seizures, but then were all right later.

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  • 46

    Brandon Sanderson (Chapter 16)

    Vin in her room

    This first scene is a classical Brandon scene—a character studying, thinking, and exploring who they are in their own head. Some people find my narrative style—with the thoughts, the conclusions, and the debates in the head—to be a little slow. I can understand that, even if I don't agree.

    I like knowing my characters. A chapter like this really works for that, in my opinion. It seems to me that in too many books, you never really know a character's thoughts, feelings, and logic enough to understand why they do what they do. So, I spend time on those things.

    This scene is important for the decisions Vin makes about herself. She is not the type of person to second-guess herself. In a way, she shows some of the very things Tindwyl tries to get across to Elend later in the chapter. Vin encounters a problem, mulls over it, then comes to a firm decision to trust herself.

    Oh, and the line "he was the type of person who could defy reality" in reference to Kelsier is one I stole from my friend Annie. She said it about me, actually. It was in reference to how I belligerently believed that I could do something like become an author—a job that very few people can have, and even fewer people can make a living at. She said it long before I got published.

    Always stuck with me.

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  • 47

    Brandon Sanderson

    Elend on the wall

    Now you can see why Elend's proposal—giving him power to hold the city until he met in parlay with the kings—was such an important plotting device. Don't worry; I'll get into the problems with the proposal soon. It's by no means hard-fast, and I realize that a simple promise like this is not going to hold for long in the face of something like a siege.

    Still, it lets me set up the siege. This section here is actually one of the very newest in the book. I wanted a section that officially began the "siege of Luthadel" making it firm and fixed in people's mind, so that they would know for sure what the conflict was.

    Adding scenes like this one increased the size of some chapters far beyond what I normally write. This is one. It's interesting to note that, for a given book, my chapters tend to end up being around the same length. It's not completely intentional; it just happens that way. This book, however, has that rhythm thrown off quite a bit now.

  • 48

    Brandon Sanderson

    Tindwyl's training

    I chose to only show a few sections of Tindwyl training Elend—I figured that these could get laborious if I did too many of them. This isn't "My Fair Lady," after all.

    We never get to see Elend learning to duel, for instance. As a writer, I tend to react strongly against things I've seen done too often. That doesn't always make me not include them in books, but sometimes it does. Training a man with the sword, for instance, seems to have been done enough that you can just assume that it happened—and imagine it happening—without me going into detail about Elend's practice sessions.

    This scene that is included, however, is rather important. Elend's new look, and his decision to let his hair get cut, represent the first change we pull off for him: The visual one.

  • 49

    Brandon Sanderson (Chapter 17)

    So, now the Watcher is named. I didn't originally intend him to remain mysterious for so long. In fact, in the original draft, I had a viewpoint from him fairly early on. That's been moved back in this version, to make things flow more quickly at the beginning, but also so that you could form your opinion of him externally first. He has a... particular way of seeing the world, and I felt it better to introduce that later, so that it wouldn't overshadow the other aspects of his personality quite as much.

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  • 50

    Brandon Sanderson

    One of the things I wanted to do with these books was to slowly transform characters so that their weaknesses became strengths. It's an odd little theme, hardly visible, I think—and not really that important. However, it's there. Vin is learning to be a scholar, despite how much she protests and fights against the transformation.

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  • 51

    Brandon Sanderson

    This fight is for the Allomancy junkies. I don't think there's another one quite as technical as it is in the entire rest of the series.

    I try to give variety to how my fight scenes are handled. The spar between Ham and Vin was quick and visual. This fight is all about pushes, pulls, and weight. I fear that it's pretty hard to imagine, and unless you're really into Allomancy, I suspect that many of you skimmed most of it.

    Yet, writing a book is about putting in lots of things for lots of different people, I think. Allomancy is fun because of its versatility—I can to all kinds of things with it. This was just one of them.

    So, if you really like how Allomancy works—with the pushes and pulls, the vectors, mass, accleration, and all that, this is a present for you. A chapter really showing off what two Mistborn can do when expertly manipulating their powers.

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  • 52

    Brandon Sanderson

    If you didn't see the Zane/Kelsier comparison later, I bring it up here. In a way, Zane's purpose in this book is to represent things that Vin never really had an opportunity to choose.

    She ended up with Elend. However, there is another option, and that was the option that Kelsier represented. The option that Zane represents. Despite her assurances to Elend that she didn't love Kelsier, there WAS something there. Kelsier had a magnetism about him, and since he died, Vin didn't ever have to choose between him and Elend.

  • 53

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh, and I don't know why Kelsier didn't think of the coin in the mouth trick. Probably since I didn't think of it until this book—so, if the one who created the magic system can miss that little trick, then I figure Kelsier is allowed to.
  • 54

    Brandon Sanderson (Chapter 18)

    As I said before, the Zane chapters originally started earlier in the book. I pushed them back in order to keep the mystery a little longer and to streamline the beginning.

    Now I can finally get into his story. Zane is important for several reasons, many of which I can't really explain without spoiling not only this book, but the next one. One of his most basic functions is to provide a foil for Elend. An opposite. Elend is safety, and Zane is danger. They share many similar features, but in Zane, most of those features are twisted.

    He also represents a throwback to Kelsier. He is more like the Survivor than he'll probably ever understand.

    Making him insane like this was a gamble on my part. I worry that, at first, it seems cliche. There's a whole lot more going on with Zane than you might assume, but your introduction to him is that of a schizophrenic villain who likes to cut himself. This might just seem like a grab-bag of psychosis, but I ask you to stick with me on this one. Zane has been many of my alpha-readers favorite character.

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  • 55

    Brandon Sanderson

    Straff is generally everyone's least favorite character—though that's kind of what I expected. He's not insane; he's just a terrible person. Those do, unfortunately, exist—given his power and upbringing, he's not all that surprising in his bullyness.

    I wanted to provide a range of villains for this series. The Lord Ruler was one type of villain—the untouchable god, distant and mysterious. Straff is another: the downright, simple bully with too much power and not enough wisdom. Zane is our third villain—sympathetic, edgy, and possibly more dangerous than either of the two.

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  • 56

    Brandon Sanderson (Chapter 19)

    Some of my readers thought that Sazed expended far too much of his speed in order to get to Luthadel. I don't agree. What he saw in that village disturbed him greatly. Remember, he's been spending the last six months investigating news of the mists killing people, and now he found an entire village where something like that happened. He's worried and he's eager to get back to Luthadel. In the face of that, the use of his metalminds makes sense, I think.

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  • 57

    Brandon Sanderson

    The koloss army was another thing that got shuffled about in this book. Originally, the Luthadel folks discovered its advance pretty early on. All of their discussions, then, talked about the fact that they had three armies bearing down on them.

    I pushed back knowledge of the koloss for a couple of reasons. First off, koloss are scary—and I think they deserve to be treated differently from the other two armies. Their appearance can throw a real wrench into things later on, once Elend and company hear about them. It allows for the reader to know something that most of the characters do not, and leads to anticipation and tension.

    In addition, it gives Sazed another good reason to exist in the plot. Now he knows about the koloss and nobody else inside the city does. His mission, therefore, is even more vital. He has to bring information back to his friends.

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  • 58

    Brandon Sanderson

    Koloss are something I've been trying to work in for a time. Originally, in the very first draft of Mistborn one, I had them make an appearance in the prologue:

    The skaa worked the fields with the lethargy of the hopeless, their motions methodical and listless. Though the sun's light was darkened and ruddied by the ever-present smoke, the day was still oppressively hot. Yet, no skaa man paused to wipe his soot-stained brow—being seen resting by a koloss fieldmaster would invite a whipping.

    So, the skaa worked. Eyes down, watching the dirt by their feet, they dug at the weeds—daring not to speak, barely even daring to think. Koloss stalked amidst them, blood-drop eyes alert for signs of skaa laziness.

    Obviously, I changed their place in the world drastically. During the drafting of book one, I was still working out what I wanted the koloss to be. I knew they were going to be something monstrous, and as the first draft of Mistborn One progressed, I slowly cut them from the book and decided to save them for book two. As the characters talked about them, the koloss reputation became more and more nasty—and I went so far as to explain that the Lord Ruler himself feared to keep them near human settlements.

    So, when it came to plan book two, I put a lot of effort into developing the koloss. I wanted them to be cool visually, live up to their reputations, and work within the worldbuilding and magic of the setting. You'll find out a lot more about them as the series progresses.

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  • 59

    Brandon Sanderson (Chapter 20)

    Elend is already progressing nicely as a king. There's a lot more time passing in here than I'm showing—lots of training and lessons. One of my worries is that Elend will develop too quickly. However, considering the situation he's in, I suspect that he knows he has to either adapt quickly or be destroyed. A few tense months can really change a person a lot.

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  • 60

    Also, we get to see here that Zane already has his fingers on Vin's emotions. She's beginning to question and doubt. This, however, isn't a quick change—you should realize that all of these questions were already there inside of her. Not only is she a teenage girl, and living during an emotionally volatile part of her life, but she grew up learning to distrust and fear betrayal. Though she's getting better, the old worries are all still there, and even a little bit of scratching at them reveals them again.

    She never really had to confront these things. Falling in with the crew, learning to trust, was actually easy in the last book. Kelsier was there to make everything work out all right, and Vin was always underneath the watchful care of Sazed.

    This book is about making her face these things directly.

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  • 61

    Brandon Sanderson

    We get to see a bit of depth from both Breeze and Tindwyl in this chapter. As I said earlier, I can't really spend the time to round out everyone on the crew, so I have to pick carefully. Breeze is one of my favorites, so I decided to work a bit with him in this book. As you'll find out later in the book (when we get a few Breeze viewpoints) he's actually a full-blooded nobleman. It's not really that important to the story; it's just part of who he is.

    Breeze has made a life and a reputation out of hiding his feelings behind his attitude. He likes looking like a scoundrel—not only does it let him get away with a lot of random things, but it also keeps people from poking too far into his past. There are a lot of skaa thieves who would react very poorly if they discovered that Breeze wasn't really one of them, but a nobleman who was forced to seek refuge in the underground.

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  • 62

    Brandon Sanderson

    I think Tindwyl has a lot of good points in her training. Some people rebel against the things she says, but I think that she has a good idea of what makes a leader. Or, at least, one kind of leader.

    The problem is, that isn't the only kind of leader that works. Still, in my mind, she knows that she HAS to be like that in order to react against Elend's frivolousness.

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  • 63

    Brandon Sanderson

    Remember the counterfeit coins? You find out about them again, at the end.

    Also, Elend's dismissal of the Assembly here—for the second time in a row, actually—is something that should raise a bit of a warning flag.

  • 64

    Brandon Sanderson (Chapter 21)

    The truth is that yes, indeed, Cett caught Breeze in bed with his daughter. In Breeze's defense, she kind of snuck in herself while he was sleeping and snuggled up to him. However, that wasn't why Cett chased Breeze out of the camp. You'll find out more about that later.

    I couldn't resist throwing in the ending of the last chapter, mixed with the beginning of this one. Ham's wisecrack about Cett catching Breeze with his daughter was just too good to not make true. The thing is, Breeze is always so controlled and self-important that it's good to throw him out of his element every once in a while.

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  • 65

    Brandon Sanderson

    This is a short scene, but one of the more important ones to show off a little character development in Elend. He is beginning to see some of the truth in Tindwyl's words.

    Pulling off a transformation like his was one of the great challenges of this book. Actually, the plot was pretty easy—but getting Elend and Vin's relationship down, along with the development of both of their characters, was much more difficult. It takes a subtle hand to make Elend learn to be a king without having him progress too quickly, and I'm not sure how well I did it.

    Vin's development—showing off her inner distrust without making her seem paranoid or making their relationship seem shallow—was even tougher.

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  • 66

    Brandon Sanderson (Chapter 22)

    Vin spies on Ham in the Mists

    This chapter has another poetic introduction—I warned you about those, I believe. I hope it isn't too out of place.

    Testing Ham in this way is something Vin really should have done earlier in the book. The problem is, I have a lot of things I need to pack into a relatively short space of time in this book. I did things in order of importance, and—oddly—testing the crewmembers took a lower precedent than getting Allrianne into the city or introducing Elend's plan to deal with the warlords.

    But, finally, we get to work a little bit on the impostor plot. There are dozens of ways that Vin could have gotten Ham to burn pewter—but she wanted to do one where he didn't know she was there and he where he would use the metal reflexively. She also wanted to do it when she knew he was alone. That way, she couldn't be fooled by someone burning pewter nearby to make it seem like Ham was burning.

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