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2012-04-30: I had the great pleasure of speaking with Harriet McDougal Rigney about her life. She's an amazing talent and person and it will take you less than an hour to agree.
2012-04-24: Some thoughts I had during JordanCon4 and the upcoming conclusion of "The Wheel of Time."
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What would have happened if Ruin *did* get the atium? Yeah, the world is destroyed, but how does Ruin "absorb" the atium so he can utilize the power?
He would metabolize it, just like the normal people have to do. However, if he did get it he would then be able to destroy the world.
Why is there such an imbalance between the amount of atium and the amount of lerasium in the world? Also, why are atium and lerasium very imbalanced in Allomantic power (Lerasium is far more useful than atium, really)?
There isn't. Leras is just spread out further. He is in the mists, in the Well, and in the lerasium. Ruin's power however is considerate strictly in atium.
Does Ruin have a pool, similar to Preservation's pool with the Well of Ascension and Skai's pool in Elantris?
Yes. His pool is the pits.
How long is the lifespan of an Inquisitor?
It depends on the powers they're given. Some burn up quickly, and others are extended. In general though they do tend to have slightly longer lives. Since Marsh has the missing bag of atiums he's going to be around for a while.
In the future when atium is rare again and we have a good Table of Allomantic Metals, which metal steals Allomantic Temporal powers?
It will be on the table when Brandon brings them out. Feruchemy is the next poster to come out. Until then RAFO.
How could a person from Scadrial access Shadesmar? An alloy of a god metal?
He RAFOd me on this one and said it was a plot point for future novels.
Kel said he ended atium production for a few hundred years. Will atium reappear in Alloy and such, or did Sazed move the Pits?
Why on earth does Marsh have a Feruchemical Atium Spike? You've said that Ironeyes is in fact Marsh. Did Ruin spike someone for him? Or did Sazed grant him the power?
Dead inquisitors Vin killed. Some were granted the spike for reasons I haven't spoken of yet.
Are there 50 Allomantic Metals?
Nearly. Does Harmony have a metal?
Is that an alloy of Lerasium and Atium?
You're along the right lines.
Marsh is alive. I changed this from when I talked to [Peter]. I realized some things about his use of Allomancy that would allow him to survive. Actually, he is immortal. He can pull off the same Allomancy/Feruchemy trick that the Lord Ruler did. (And he knows it too, since he was there when Sazed explained how it was done in Book One.) He's actually the only living person who actually knows this trick for certain. (Though there's a chance that Spook, Ham and Breeze heard about it from Vin and the others.) So yes, if there were another series, Marsh would make an appearance.
I thought that trick required atium and involved burning the atium. With all the atium gone and Sazed not making any more, it would therefore not be possible even for a full mistborn/feruchemist. Am I wrong, is Sazed providing atium specifically for Marsh to allow a friend and valuable servant to survive, or what?
Marsh has the bag of Atium that KanPaar sent to be sold, as well as several nuggets in his stomach. So, I guess 'immortal' is the wrong phrase. He's got the only remaining atium in the world and can keep himself around for a long, long while—but he WILL eventually run out. Unless Sazed does something.
The metal chunk that Elend ate is intended to be something of a mystery. Much like atium, actually. Suffice it to say that atium isn't, and never was, what people thought it was.
I intended Allomancy to be much like a real science. People investigate and put things into boxes, trying to describe and understand the world around them. That doesn't mean they always get things right, however.
Let me say this, as I don't want to spoil too much. If that metal Elend ate were fused into specific alloys with certain metals, it could have instead created Mistings of each of the different Allomantic powers. Atium's abilities are not entirely explored yet either.
I'm surprised no one else has asked but does this new world have atium? If atium was the body of Ruin then it would seem when Sazed took up Ruin's power he would have reabsorbed all of the atium. New atium then would be bits of Sazed's new powers and weaken him with each newly formed bead. It would seem then that if atium exists it would be much rarer, and mean that Sazed would not be able to control this process.
I guess I am trying to understand why he would want to allow any atium to make its way into the hands of people or rather out of his control?
I was happy when Elend finally burned duralumin with atium. I was holding my breath hoping that someone would eventually do it. However we didn't really get any info as to what Elend experienced. Does a duralumin-enhanced atium burn allow a person to see significantly farther into the future? If so, being that Elend's army was dying all around him did he get to see into the afterlife? Also if you could tell us what he saw that would be awesome. Did something he saw make him not want to avoid Marshes strike?
On a similar note if someone burned electrum with duralumin would they get to see significantly into their own future?
There is much here that I can't say, but I'll give as much as I can. Elend saw Preservation's ultimate plan, and Elend's own part in it. What he saw made him realize he didn't want to kill Marsh, and that his own death would actually help save the world. Like a master chess player, he suddenly saw and understand every possible move his enemy could make. He saw that Ruin was check-mated, because there was one thing that Ruin was not willing to do. Something that both Elend and Vin could do, if needed. And it's what they did.
So, in answer to your question, Elend stayed his hand. This is one of the reasons why I changed my mind and decided that Marsh had to live through the end of the book. Elend spared him; I needed to too.
The powers of Ruin and Preservation are Shards of Adonalsium, pieces of the power of creation itself. Allomancy, Hemalurgy, Feruchemy are manifestations of this power in mortal form, the ability to touch the powers of creation and use them. These metallic powers are how people's physical forms interpret the use of the Shard, though it's not the only possible way they could be interpreted or used. It's what the genetics and Realmatic interactions of Scadrial allow for, and has to do with the Spiritual, the Cognitive, and the Physical Realms.
Condensed 'essence' of these godly powers can act as super-fuel for Allomancy, Feruchemy, or really any of the powers. The form of that super fuel is important. In liquid form it's most potent, in gas form it's able to fuel Allomancy as if working as a metal. In physical form it is rigid and does one specific thing. In the case of atium, it allows sight into the future. In the case of concentrated Preservation, it gives one a permanent connection to the mists and the powers of creation. (I.e., it makes them an Allomancer.)
So when a person is burning metals, they aren't using Preservation's body as a fuel so to speak—though they are tapping into the powers of creation just slightly. When Vin burns the mists, however, she'd doing just that—using the essence of Preservation, the Shard of Adonalsium itself—to fuel Allomancy. Doing this, however, rips 'troughs' through her body. It's like forcing far too much pressure through a very small, fragile hose. That much power eventually vaporizes the corporeal host, which is acting as the block and forcing the power into a single type of conduit (Allomancy) and frees it to be more expansive.
Boy, this is a hard one to ask because it's been such a LONG process. There were bits of all of this popping around in my head almost twenty years ago, so it's going to be hard to define where what fit into place when.
Allomancy and Feruchemy were originally planned separately. I linked them together into this book when I realized that the 'focus' items that could store attributes could be metal, and therefore work wonderfully with the Mistborn book I was planning.
Hemalurgy came from the image of Inquisitors first, then developed as a need to integrate it in with the other two in a way that evoked the power of "Ruin" rather than the power of Preservation. I figured that Ruin would steal, and it was a great way to add a third magic without having to overload people with a whole new set of powers. The process of writing this series, since I did all three books together, was an interesting one, and I made a lot of connections as I went. Some of the latest things on the timeline were figuring out how to fit atium and the Preservation nuggets into the already built framework. But I don't know if I can give you an exact list. Partially because there would just be too many spoilers in it.
They spike the drinks at one of the nobility's balls with trace amounts of Atium, then cause a bit disturbance. (Often, the Inquisitors themselves arriving will do it) and burn bronze and watch for brief pulses. The body will burn metals instinctively if it can, which has been shown quite often in the series. This is also how they get a lot of their secret information about who is a Misting and who isn't. It's not a perfect method, since you have to watch for Copperclouds messing things up, but it is effective once in a while.
Any time an obligator who is not a Misting joins the Ministry, he is unknowingly given a larger chunk of atium and then forced into a series of rituals that will drain him physically and get the body to react and burn the metal. This was how Yomen was discovered.
Yes, as has been pointed out:
A powerful peace swelled in Elend. His Allomancy flared bright, though he knew the metals inside of him should have burned away. Only atium remained, and the strange power did not—could not—give him this metal. But it didn’t matter. For a moment, he was embraced by something greater. He looked up, toward the sun. (From the text.)
As a note here, the powers granted by all of the metals—even the two divine ones—are not themselves of either Shard. They are simply tools. And so, it's possible that one COULD have found a way to reproduce an ability like atium's while using Preservation's power, but it wouldn't be as natural or as easy as using Preservation to fuel Allomancy.
The means of getting powers—Ruin stealing, Preservation gifting—are related to the Shards, but not the powers themselves.
Are there a limited amount of atium and lerasium alloys for each metal?
Hmm, yes…I suppose there would be but there are…
More than sixteen?
Yeah, way more than sixteen.
Oh wow. Okay. That's fascinating. More than sixteen and less than infinite.
The other big part of this chapter is, of course, the plan. This is where the story has been pushing up to this point. I worry that even still (despite several cuts) this section feels a little too much like an info-dump. I couldn't really get around that, since Kelsier is—essentially—dumping some information on the crew.
This is also where I begin to diverge from the 'heist story' framework. I started with that concept to write the book, but as I proceeded with the plotting and the writing of the actual novel, I realized that the heist structure was simply too small to fill the larger concepts for the trilogy I was working on.
So, in rewrites, I came back and reworked this section to take to focus off stealing the Lord Ruler's money. The truth is, Kelsier wants to overthrow the government and get back at the Lord Ruler. The money isn't half as important to him. And, as the story progresses, you'll see that the crew spends most of its time on the army.
Originally, by the way, Yeden wasn't the one who hired the team. There was no employer—Kelsier just wanted to try and overthrow the Lord Ruler. The main way I took the focus off of stealing the atium (making this less of a heist book and more of a Mission: Impossible style book) was to put the focus on raising and training the army. Having Yeden be paying them to get him an army worked much better for this format.
This chapter is where, in my opinion, the book starts to get good. These kinds of chapters are part of what I write for—good, solid character interaction with some intellectual problem-solving going on. I really like the way that the crew works through their challenges here. The items presented really do sound quite daunting as they're listed; yet, by the end, I hope that the reader feels as the crew does—that this plan could actually work, if they pull it off right.
I had to rewrite this scene several times, bringing the focus away from simply stealing the atium. By the last draft, I had something I was very pleased with. It outlines things simply enough, yet doesn't make everything sound TOO easy. At least, that is my hope.
One odd thing I've heard—and noticed—about new writers as opposed to more experienced writers is that the more experienced ones tend to make their books last longer. Many first books take place in a matter of days, or perhaps weeks. Yet, books by more accomplished writers tend to span months or years.
It might just be coincidence relating to books I've read. I mean, there doesn't seem to be any reason it would be true. Yet, it certainly holds for myself. My first books happened very quickly—even ELANTRIS, which was my sixth, happened in only the space of two months. Yet, in MISTBORN, I let more time pass between sections and chapters.
I think, perhaps, newer authors are intimidated by plotting over such a longer stretch of time. Or, perhaps, it's just something unconscious.
Either way, we've jumped in time—something necessary for this book, considering the amount that needs to be done in order for the job to get pulled off. This was one of my first clues that I couldn't do a straight-up heist novel with MISTBORN. The book covers too much time, and too much has to happen before the ending can occur. I just didn't feel that most of what the crew would be doing would be interesting to a reader, and I wanted to focus too much on Vin's character growth to let me focus on the 'heist' of stealing the atium.
Hah. So in Cosmere, does physics work the same way in the physical realm as it does in our world? Specifically, particle physics; and are atoms made up of protons and neutrons and electrons, and is light photons, etc?
So what's at the core of an atom of Atium? Ate-teum? Also how do you pronounce it? At-teum?
Yes. And the matter is just normal matter, but it's wrapped in the spiritual. The Spiritual DNA [or something] is what makes it magical.
(Note: he might've said slightly more about this but I didn't write it down and I don't remember. Sorry for not bringing a tape recorder :(/> )
Ok. The gemhearts/stormgems/whatever that are grown inside the beasts in Way of Kings ... is that the same as the way Atium is grown inside geodes in the Pits of Hathsin?
It's similar. The pits are an area where there's like a leak from the spiritual realm into the physical. That's what happens there.
I recently picked up the Mistborn Adventure game and am loving it. I made a character who is a blind Mistborn because hey, I thought it would make for some interesting possibilities. As I understand Allomancy, he can hear/sense well enough to get around with Tin, plus even though he's blind he can still "see" Steel lines (like the inquisitors), and I assume Atium would work the same way—that is, he could still "see" Atium shadows. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
No, you're right. That works. He'd have to burn metals a LOT though. It might warp him a little. :)
The metal that's stumping me is Gold—what happens when a blind person burns Gold—especially if he "sees" a version of himself that isn't blind? Can he see the other version or just hear/feel/sense him? What about the other version, can it see things? Could a blind person use gold in this way to see the world around him?
A blind person would indeed sense these things, but not have the vision with the eyes. In the same way that a blind person still dreams, but doesn't "See" in them. (As I understand it.) I'd suggest talking to someone who is blind and getting their take on how this would work.
Feruchemy is about multipliers. The more the Lord Ruler aged, the less "multiplier" he could store in his metalmind. And the more he aged the more he would need to Compound to stay alive. There could exist an upper bound to the amount of time the Lord Ruler could survive off this trick.
Can you elaborate on the use of atium at the end of Mistborn: The Well of Ascension?
Heh-heh-heh. Yeah, this is a pretty in-depth one. So . . . yeah. How about I send you to my annotations for that chapter, where I explain in depth on my website. I have annotations of all of my books. And in Mistborn 2, if you read the chapters through there—like I can't talk this through in the right way—and if you go look at the annotations and read those chapters, the explanation is in depth in there. And hopefully the explanation there will make better sense to you than what I can blab out off the cuff right here.
This is the first chapter where we get to see atium work. The metal is one of the most interesting aspects of the magic system, in my opinion. In fact, one of the things that made me want to start writing MISTBORN was this idea of an extremely rare metal that gets used up by the world's mages. It felt natural to me, then, that this metal would do something very powerful.
Allomancy is, basically, a physical/combat oriented magic system. So, the spectacular power of atium would have to be something physical, and useful on a one-on-one basis. The ability to see slightly into the future, with the atium shadows, felt like a very interesting image to me, so I went with it.
In MISTBORN PRIME, the main character lacked atium—and spent most of the book trying to get ahold of it. (He actually stumbled across an atium mine hidden in a small village, which was being oppressed by a tyrant.) It is a small nod to the original book that I developed the plot of this one to be characters trying, essentially, to get ahold of some atium.
Just a lot more of it.
Could a person Soulcast more atium and lerasium if they had a bead?
No. Investiture messes things like that up.
So, were the other remaining group of soldiers that fell sick all still mistings of the other base metals?
So, did Preservation bump out one of the base metal types so those could be Atium mistings? And if so, which was it?
Yes, that's right. It would probably have been one of the metals that was difficult to get at that level of technology. It would have been Chromium - Chromium would be hard gather at that time. Actually, no, it would have been Aluminum. (about a minute later, while signing someone else's book) - Hold on, there's a caveat to that last answer. Let me finish signing this and expand on that. So, it would still have been Aluminum, but not for the reason your thinking. It would have been Aluminum, but there's an asterisk next to that answer.