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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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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 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.
So I have a couple of questions....
I loved the book, it was all great UNTIL Vin and especially ELEND died. I can see why you did it, but I was crying so hard when Vin confirmed Elend was dead. I actually had an urge to burn the books right then and there and pretend it had never happened. Either way, I continued reading and then found some sliver of hope when Sazed said he hadn't figured out how to restore the souls YET, he said he would get better at it.
1)Does that mean that he might someday, maybe, hopefully (pretty please) bring them back to life? I suspect that you might not answer, but can I at least hope? Cause if anyone deserved to live a full NORMAL life it was Vin and Elend. Besides, it would ROCK if Elend and Kelsier ever got to meet each other......
Aw man.....I'm still crying over Elend....Is it wrong I get so attatched to characters? Its just that Elend and Vin got so little time together. It's so sad. Which reminds me: You mentioned, when someone asked about Sazed meeting Twindyl again, that he hadn't because he hadn't reached that space where souls were and the ones that were trapped in the in between were the ones that had a connection with either the physical or the concious world. Those weren't the exact words but it was something like that that IMPLIED that Vin, Elend and Kelsier were somehow still connected with the earth because unlike Twindyl the hadn't progressed past that in between place.
2) Am I right and maybe going somewhere, or am I talking total nonsense and simply trying to cope with the loss of Elend?
One of the reasons for that line at the end is to give you, the reader, the power and authority to bring to the characters the ending you wish. I may do more in this series, but until then, please take the future of the characters wherever you want in your own mind. (Also, you mention that they had such little time together—which is true, but also remember that there was a year between books one and two, then another year between books two and three. They spent most of this time together.)
The door is open for a return of Elend and Vin. Will I write it? It isn't likely to be soon, if I ever even do. Does that mean it won't happen? No. Not at all. If I write more Mistborn books, they will be hundreds of years in the future. During that time, Sazed could have learned to get souls into bodies, given Vin and Elend a life together somewhere away from the others, where they wouldn't have to struggle quite so much like they did through their lives, then ushered their souls on to the beyond. Or they could hang around with him, working with him as he takes his next steps to shepherd humankind on Scadrial. Or neither of the above. Imagine it how you wish, for I'm not going to set this one in stone for quite some time, if ever.
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 didnít 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.
How did Vin and Elend change during the course of the story?
This story, the series is about them, itís about progression. I talk about the plot for books, for instance, the Mistborn series is about a group of thieves taking out a Dark Lord, but books, for me, are about character. Action is only as interesting as it happens to people you care about, in my opinion, and a setting is only as fascinating as charactersí ability to interact with it. The progression, who characters become, is really where I think fiction can shine. In a different medium, you just donít have the time to do what we do, and we can show across a span of years how someone starts as a street urchin and ends up as a queen. You can show this and you can show the internal changes, and the struggles inside of them that leads to this.
The story, about, for Vin and Elend is the story of them coming to accept each otherís different worlds. Vin starts as a street urchin, and she understands that life. Elend starts off as a nobleman, and he understands that life. As they start to interact and begin to have romantic interest in one another, their two worlds sort of collide and start sucking each other into each otherís worlds. Vinís progress is learning that there is a part of her that can survive in this world of nobility, and of balls, and of political intrigue. But Elend, just as much, needs to understand that thereís a need to be able to survive ďon the street,Ē a need to be able to take care of yourself rather than being pampered. Itís a role-reversal for the two of them, how it works as the series progresses.
Hero of Ages is the third and final book of the Mistborn Trilogy. One of the things I love about this book is that it is the ending. I like to end things. I donít want to leave people hanging. I like my stories to come to a conclusion. I promised people at the beginning, when I was writing this series, that it would be three books: and I would give them a dramatic, powerful ending. Endings are my favorite part, honestly, of novels. In a given novel, I love telling you the ending, and Book 3 is kind of a book that is an ending itself. The entire book is an ending. Itís a big climax: itís exciting, and itís powerful, and it fulfills things that have been building in the series for three books now. I was able to write the trilogy straight through when I was preparing, and so I had Book 3 drafted before Book 1 even went to press, which allowed me to really make these three novels cohesive. I have seeds in the very first few paragraphs of Book 1 to things that become climactic powerful moments in the end of book 3. Book 3 is just an overload of action and excitement and character climaxes and just an amazing, just, romp through this series. Iím really excited about people being able to finally read it because Iíve been waiting for quite a while to make good on the promises I made at the beginning.
The great thing about Book 3 is that I'm introducing a completely new magic system. Each book has had its own. We'll start talking about Hemalurgy, and Steel Inquisitors, and where they come from. A lot of the origins of things that people have been wondering about since Book 1. The last 200 pages are just some of my favorite writing that Iíve ever been able to write because I was able to bring things to a head and to a close. I hope you enjoy it.
And, Elend. He's one of my other favorite characters in the series. You'll see more of himódon't worry. I really wanted him to walk the line between being clever and just plain dense (in the way that men can sometimes be.) Some people accuse me of writing Elend too much like myself. In truth, I could see myself sitting at a party reading a book, rather than paying attention to the pretty girl trying to talk to me. Or, at least, that's the way I would have been when I was growing up.
I'll talk more about Elend later. Though, I do want to note something important. It's a law of storytelling that the girl is going to end up talking to the one boy at the party that she's not supposed to. So, don't pretend you didn't see it coming.
Apparently, both the names "Elend" and "Straff" are words in German. I certainly didn't intend that, though I did try to make the names have a similar feel, since they're father and son. It's funny how often we fantasy writers come up with words that actually mean something in another language.
With Shards? Because they only have so much power they can access at a certain time, but yet they still have more energy. So how does that work? Is it just they have so much power they can use at any given time?
[still slightly confused] What are you talking about? Like which shards?
Ruin and Preservation. Since we know the most about them.
Ruin and Preservation were a specific instance, because almost all their energy was thrown into resisting each other. Keep that in mind. Even after Preservation was only a shadow, basically all of it was "Let's keep Ruin from destroying the world". So they were polar opposites. Set in balance. But slightly unbalanced in a couple of ways, that eventually, that slight imbalance [led to the Mistborn Trilogy]. They are a special case, because of that.
So then why are they hesitant to directly fuel Allomancy?
Why are they hesitant to? What do you mean by directly fuel Allomancy?
You mention in the Hero of Ages Q&A that they can directly fuel Allomancy, like Vin does with Elend, but it requires expending their energy in a way they are hesitant to do.
Because it imbalances them more. Does that make sense? So if you are putting your energy here, rather than fighting the other force, that gives them an edge somewhere else, while trying to gain an edge here. And you have to make sure that's really worth it. Like a chess game. Is it worth sacrificing my pawn here to expose myself over here.
That makes sense.
Why did you have to kill Vin and Elend?
They demanded that they be allowed to take the chance they did. And I just let them take the chance. I didn't kill them, I just let them take the chance that they demanded that I let them take. That's kind of a cop-out answer, I'm sorry, but that's what it feels like to me. And if I always make it so that there are no consequences, then the books have no heart.
I don't want to be unsympathetic to people's love for these characters, but I feel that as a writer I must resist the urge to bring back characters in this manner. I feel it would undermine my storytelling. I never want to get to the point where people read and the tension of a character being in danger is ruined by the thought, "Well, even if they die, they'll probably just be brought back in the future."
I'm not saying I won't ever do it, but I want to be very sparing. I like how Robert Jordan did it with a certain character's return in TofM. It was foreshadowed, built into the story itself, and relevant.
There are characters--in the 36-book-cosmere-superoutline--who return when thought dead. Some have not met their perceived end yet, while others have. So it's going to happen, but I want it to be very rare.
Hey Brandon, love all of you work and so does everyone I give them to. Keep up the good work.
Which of your protagonist characters do you dislike the most as a person? Taking into account that you know all of their inner secrets and motivations.
On the flip side. Which of your antagonists do you connect with the most? The Lord Ruler seems an obvious choice as he was misunderstood by everybody for so long. But still, I'm curious.
This is a tough one, as while I'm writing, I HAVE to like everyone. However, the most disturbing of them is probably Kelsier. He's a psychopath—meaning the actual, technical term. Lack of empathy, egotism, lack of fear. If his life had gone differently, he could have been a very, very evil dude.
Elend. I see myself as an idealist like him.
I continued to ask about the Lord Ruler and his Allomantic strength. There's an upper bound to the amount of power you can get from being a savant. Brandon said that, obviously, the Lord Ruler wasn't using duralumin and Elend could only get that powerful in Soothing using duralumin. He implied that there was a way to Compound to enhance Allomancy. (Note, we have discussed this on the forums a while back. This isn't news.)
Who do you want to be like Vin and Elend?
I donít really cast people in my head. And so I would rather let the director decide that and the casting director and things. Itís not one of my things, is to cast people.
For a while, I really- I was kind of hopeful for Ellen Page, but I donít think thatís viable now, I think that sheís too old now.
In Well of Ascension, there are two strange "voice in the head" experiences. One of them is with Sazed and Marsh are fighting, and Sazed realizes that he can burn the metal rings that are now in his stomach. But the other one is with Elend, when a voice comes, and heís not sure where it comes from. It says something like "If you have a dagger, the only way to win is to go in for the kill"
That one, where it came from, is Ė I know what you are searching for, but itís actually just an old (something) from weapons training. Heís just dredging- heís not sure where it came from because he never thought he would need any of it, he thought he was just going to be a scholar. But his father did have him trained in weapons, so itís just instinct that he got from one of his old mentors in fighting.
So thereís nothing to see there, so no, heís not (something).
Okay. We were just wondering if it was Preservation, or Kelsier.
Nope. Unfortunately, no. I do that on occasion, but this time...
Oh! Did Ati- We see Elend and Vin in that kind of holding pattern with Sazed at the end, did Ati perish? Or did he also stay in the holding pattern?
Ati perished. He is gone.
A lot of your works that are stand alone novels or seemingly completed stories, you have announced or started working on sequels for. Are there any stories that you feel complete and don't need to work on the same world or characters again? Or do feel there is always some new tale to tell about every world you make?
Thanks for being involved in the reddit community so much, and for writing books I've enjoyed very much.
It's hard, because the way I plot I always have to know what happened before the book and what will happen after the book. Knowing that doesn't mean that I have to continue. It's also hard, though, to say no to fans who are so passionate about a specific project.
The Vin/Elend story is most certainly done. As is the Raoden/Sarene story, as is Siri's story from Warbreaker. So there are completed threads. There might be other stories to tell in those worlds, though, so I'll avoid closing the door on them for now. (That said, it did feel very good to finish the Wheel of Time for good, and look forward to putting some of my own works to rest in a similar way.)
I wasn't planning on Elend getting as big a part in this book as he ended up having. However, the more I wrote scenes with him, the more interested I became in him as a character. He doesn't exist just to provide a romantic interest for Vin—he exists to show the human side of the nobility. I knew that I needed at least one nobleman who was presented favorably, otherwise Kelsier's harshness wouldn't have the contrast it needed. So, I designed a young man that Vin could meet at the balls.
Yet, when I started writing the scenes with Elend, I found them flowing very easily. I really liked his voice and his relaxed affability. MISTBORN, being about such a harsh world an society, threatened to become too dark. I needed another character like Elend to provide moments that were more lighthearted. He also gives us scenes that are interesting in a more thoughtful way, rather than a dark way. He turned out much better than I'd hoped, and is probably the biggest and most pleasant surprise of the novel.
Why would Elend bring a dangerous book like this one to the ball? We'll talk a little bit about that in the next chapter. However, I can offer some further insight.
The thing is, Elend goes and meets with his friends after balls, and they discuss political theory and the like. Elend is the leader of those meetings, and guides the discussions, and so he feels that he needs to be ready to present interesting ideas and arguments to keep the conversation going. That's why he's always reading at balls and taking notes—he's getting ready for the night's meeting. He's the type who is always preparing, right up to the last minute (I'm the same way.)
So, it makes sense for him to bring the books he wants to talk about with him to the ball. He's been sheltered, and doesn't really believe that he'll ever get in trouble for what he reads, and so he has a habit of being careless with his reading material. Hence, we end up with him in a room full of obligators and nobility, reading a banned book.
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.
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.
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. :)
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.
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.