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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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I did know it was going to be a series. When I was writing Mistborn, it came because—well, I had sold Elantris, and my editor came to me and said, "What do you want to do next? Do you want to do an Elantris sequel?" And I said, well, I really like Elantris being a stand-alone. But I had this unique opportunity where the next book didn't have to be in for about two years. Sold Elantris in 2003; it was coming out in 2005. That meant my next book had to be turned in in 2005. Two years' time, I thought if I write really hard, I can finish an entire trilogy before the first one has to be turned in, which would let me write a whole series, and have it all work together and be internally consistent and all of these things. And so I did know it was a series from the beginning.
The ideas are varied, they came from all over the place. One of the ideas was the desire to tell a story about a world where the dark lord had won. I love the classic fantasy stories, but I think that it's been done really well, and doesn't need to be done any more. I think Robert Jordan nailed it. I think, even if you look—you've got Tad Williams, you've got Raymond Feist, you've got David Eddings, you've got Terry Brooks—all doing this hero's archetype journey. It's been done, it's been covered, what else can I do? And so, the story where the hero went on a quest, and then failed and the dark lord took over, that was a fascinating idea.
Another idea was my love of the heist genre, where you get a gang of specialists who each have a different power. I had never seen a fantasy book do that in the way I wanted to. There are some that do it, and do it well. But you know, where everyone had a different magic system, every person a different magic power, got together and did something. One of my favorite movies is the movie Sneakers—something like that, but with magic.
And those two ideas rammed together with an idea for a magic system that I'd been working on, and an idea for a character I'm working on, Vin's character. Those were all developed independently. All started to ram together. I explained, ideas are sometimes like atoms and when they ram into each other, you get a chemical reaction and they form molecules. Cool different things happen when ideas ram into each other, and that's where those came from.
Thank you! During the early days of my career—before I got published—I found myself naturally creating a new magic system for each book I wrote. I'm not sure why I did this. I just found the process too involving, too interesting, to stop.
For Mistborn, I came to the book wanting several things. I wanted a great magic system that would enhance the graceful, martial-arts style fights. This was going to be a series of sneaking thieves, assassins, and night-time exploration. And so I developed the powers with a focus on that idea. What would make the thieving crew better at what they did? I based each power around an archetype of a thieving crew. The Thug, the Sneak, the Fast-talker, etc.
At the same time, I wanted to enhance the 'industrial revolution' feel of the novels through the magic system. I wanted something that felt like an industrial-age science, something that was a good hybrid of science and magic. I found myself drawn to Alchemy and its use of metals, then extrapolated from that to a way to release power locked inside of metal. Metabolism grew out of that. It felt natural. We metabolize food for energy; letting Allomancers metabolize metal had just the right blend of science and magic.
For Warbreaker, I was looking back a little further, shooting for a more Renaissance-era feel. And so, I extrapolated from the early beliefs that similarities created bonds. In other words, you could affect an object (in this case, bring an object to life) by creating a bond between it and yourself, letting it take on a semblance of your own life.
Moving beyond that was the idea of color as life. When a person dies, their color drains from them. The same happens when plants die. Vibrant color is a sign of life itself, and so I worked with this metaphor and the concept of Breath as life to develop the magic. In this case, I wanted magical powers that would work better 'in' society, meaning things that would enhance regular daily lives. Magical servants and soldiers, animated through arcane powers, worked better for this world than something more strictly fighting-based, like in Mistborn.
I did leave it open. But that's partially because I feel that part of any good book is the indication that the characters continue to live, the world continues to turn. I want readers to be free to imagine futures for the characters and more stories in the world.
For Mistborn, I'm not planning—right now—to do any Spook books. I do have plans to do another trilogy set in the world, though it would take place hundreds of years later, once technology has caught up to what it should be. Essentially, think guns, cars, skyscrapers—and Allomancers.
Actually, no. This one was finished off back before I knew anything of A Memory of Light or before I'd read Name of the Wind. Hopefully, the smoothing is a result of me trying to work out kinks in my storytelling ability. I'm learning to distance out my climax chapters, for instance. (I think I've I'd have written this book years ago, I'd have tried to overlay Spook's climactic sequence with the ending ones, for instance, which would have been a mistake.)
Also, of the three books, I worked the hardest on this one. Choosing that ending—even though I'd planned it for some time—was very difficult. I knew that it would anger some readers. I also knew that it was the right ending for the series.
I'm glad it worked for you.
I have to admit, I am one of those angered. I will be so glad when this cliché of killing off the heroes will finally pass. I escape to fantasy for the happy ending. If I wanted to be depressed I'd grab a 3-dollar bottle of Mad Dog 20/20 and drink it all and contemplate my mundane life. I can't spend much time reflecting on the book because of the mental picture of Vin and Elend dead in a field keeps popping up instead. They didn't even get a chance to reproduce.
Now outside of the horrible ending (which wasn't surprising in the least because it is so common to kill the heroes) I enjoyed them. I absolutely cannot wait to read your books written 10 years from now. You can definitely pick up the improvement in transitions and character development in each book I've read from you. I'm quite often reminded of David Eddings although I'm sure plenty would disagree. And while Eddings isn't one of my favorite writers to be at his level (to me) so early in your career leads me to believe great things will be coming.
I would like to ask you one thing to consider when writing endings. Fantasy is an escape, please don't ruin it with such depressing endings. When you have had the opportunity to look upon your dead wife in her coffin, reading about others dying isn't fun at all. It is absolutely terrible. Happily ever after.
I understand your anger. I wrote the ending that felt most appropriate to me for this book and series. I didn't find it depressing at all, personally. But people have reacted this way about every ending I've written.
I won't always do it, I promise. But I have to trust my instincts and write the stories the way they feel right to me. I didn't 'kill off' Vin and Elend in my mind. I simply let them take risks and make the sacrifices they needed to. It wasn't done to avoid cliché or to be part of a cliché, or to be shocking or surprising, or to be interesting or poetic—it was done because that was the story as I saw it.
I will keep this in mind, though. I know it's not what a lot of people want to read. Know that I didn't do it to try to shock you or prove anything. And because of that, if a more traditionally happy ending is something that a story requires, I'll do that—even if it means the people on the other side of the fence from you will point fingers at me for being clichéd in that regard as well.
If it helps, realize that one of the reasons I added the lines in Sazed's note was to let the characters live on for those who wanted them to live on. I ALMOST didn't have Spook even discover the bodies, leaving it more ambiguous.
A manifestation of Ruin's gathered consciousness, much like the dark mists in book two. The lake was still around in Vin's era, but had been moved under ground. (Note that the Well is a very similar manifestation. You've also seen one other manifestation like this....)
The "lake" was barely ten feet deep—more like a pool. Its water was a crystalline blue, and Raoden could see no inlets or outlets.If that's what you're hinting at...I never thought of the connection before! I just kept thinking of Aether of Night, and never thought of this pool at all.
Both are accurate, but the first is what I meant, as most people here don't have access to Aether.
I'm also thinking that the Dor in Elantris is another Shard of Adonalsium. Certainly in the Elantris world, where the Dor came from is rather ambiguous, which I expected it would be. Of course, if other Shards of Adonalsium do exist, the Dor could have come from that source.
I will RAFO from here on the other Shards of Adonalsium, as it would be better for me not to give spoilers. Please feel free to speculate. Readers have met four shards other than Ruin and Preservation.
Have we met these four by name, or just by influence? I can't think of a name that would go with the one that the Elantris lake is a manifestation of.
Hoid could be one? I know nothing his purpose other than that he shows up in lots of different books, sometimes begging and sometimes telling stories. Since most of these series happen on different planets (though two of them may happen on the same planet as each other), I'm assuming he has mad planet-hopping skills.
Ookla, I'm going to be tight lipped on this, as I don't want to give things away for future books. But I'll tell you this:
You've interacted with two directly.
One is a tough call. You've never met the Shard itself, but you've seen its power.
The other one you have not met directly, but have seen its influence.
I thought Nightblood was explained sufficiently for my tastes in Warbreaker, so I doubt that it is a Shard, but I've been plenty wrong before. Also, I don't know if Hoid could even be a Shard. Certainly he has mean planet-hopping skills, but I don't know what purpose a celestial storyteller would have in this universe. He doesn't really have the same kind of power as Ruin or Preservation did, so normally I would rule him out right off the bat. But it is possible that these Shards come in many shapes, not just in the near-deific quantity Ruin or Preservation had. I think it's a bit of a stretch to say Hoid is a Shard... but, then again, I don't have any ideas for what those four other Shards are.
Maybe Hoid is just a traveler trying to find remnants of Adonalsium and stories about them. He doesn't need to be a shard, I suppose.
This is slightly a tangent, but here is a relevant chunk from the Warbreaker Annotations. As this won't be posted for months, I'll put it here as a sneak preview.
This whole scene came about because I wanted an interesting way to delve into the history. Siri needed to hear it, and I felt that many readers would want to know it. However, that threatened to put me into the realm of the dreaded info dump.
And so I brought in the big guns. This cameo is so obvious (or, at least, someday it will be) that I almost didn’t use the name Hoid for the character, as I felt it would be too obvious. The first draft had him using one of his other favorite pseudonyms. However, in the end, I decided that too many people would be confused (or, at least, even more confused) if I didn’t use the same name. So here it is. And if you have no idea what I’m talking about. . .well, let’s just say that there’s a lot more to this random appearance than you might think.
Brandon, I believe in one of Sazed's epigraphs, he actually called it "Adonasium" rather than what you are referring to here, which is "Adonalsium". I'm thinking that's just a typo, right?
I don't suppose you could tell us which book series of yours will tell us more about Adonalsium, would you? You know, just so us theorizers on the forum know when to properly theorize about these things...
Well, I guess this means that the proofreaders did not add the "L" when I marked the error on the manuscript.(sigh). Yes, the correct spelling is Adonalsium. I will try to get this fixed for the paperback, but I've been trying to get that blasted steel/iron error in the back of book one fixed for two years now. . .
If it helps, Sazed would probably under-pronounce the "L" as that letter, like in Tindwyl's name, is said very softly in Terris.
As for your other question, you will have to wait and see. Now, you could search my old books for clues, but I would caution against this. While there are hints in these, they are not yet canon. Just as I changed how things were presented in the Mistborn books during editing, I would have fixed a lot in these books during revision. Beyond that, reading them would give big spoilers for books yet to be released. White Sand, Dragonsteel, and Way of Kings in particular are going to be published some day for almost certain. (Though in very different forms). Aether of Night should be safe, as should Final Empire prime and Mistborn prime, though of those three, only Aether is worth reading, and then only barely. (It is still pretty bad).
Why did Ruin give off Allomantic Pulses? Because Preservation did and they're two sides of the same coin? Allomancy is of Preservation, so I figured that's why he did...
Manifestation of the awesome power he held, mixed with Vin's increased ability to sense these things. Allomantic pulses are like a ripple of sound in the fabric of creation itself—the power of creation being used, creating a drum beat to those attuned to it. Ruin created a similar beat when his consciousness was near.
In one of the bumps, Sazed mentions a discussion between Vin and Ruin in which Vin asks Ruin why she was chosen to release him from the Well. Did this discussion occur in the in-between afterlife where Vin, Elend, Kelsier, etc., were, or did it occur off-screen while Vin and Ruin were busy stopping each other from affecting the world?
I was fairly sure she asked it while she was a prisoner of Yomen, but I could be wrong.
What was she supposed to do? Well, this is difficult to answer, since the prophecies have been changed and shifted so much. Originally, the prophesies intended for a person to go take the power every thousand years and become a protector of mankind for a period of time. Someone to keep an eye on Ruin in Preservation's absence and watch over the world as he would have done. Imagine an avatar who arrives every thousand years and lives for their lifetime blessing the people with the power of Preservation, renewing Ruin's prison, and generally being a force for protection. (Note that Ruin wouldn't have gotten out if the prison wasn't renewed, he'd simply have been able to touch the world a little bit more.) Obviously, it changed a LOT during the years that Ruin was playing with things.
What should she have done? Well, Ruin's release was inevitable. Even if she hadn't let him go, the world would have 'wound down' eventually. The ashfalls would have grown worse over the centuries, and the next buildup of the Well might not have come in time for them to do anything. Or, perhaps, mankind would have found a way to adapt. But Ruin was going to get himself out eventually, so the choice Vin made was all right. There weren't really any good choices at this point. She could have decided to take the power and become a 'good' Lord Ruler, trying to keep the world from falling apart. Of course, she would have had to make herself immortal with Hemalurgy to make that work right. And since she was already tainted, chances are good she wouldn't have ended up any better than the Lord Ruler himself.
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.
Well, I'd sure pay to see it in theaters! ;)
To be more serious, I think this series—particularly the first book—is quite cinematic. I'd love to sell movie rights on it, assuming I can find the right people to work with. So if you have any contacts, let me know.
Glad you liked the book, Rainbow!
You may want to note that the moment Preservation dropped out and let the last of his consciousness die, someone was waiting in the Cognitive Realm to seize the power and hold on for a short period until Vin could take it up more fully. You'll find him using it to whisper in moments of great stress in the book, to one person in specific in two places. (I'll bet someone on here has already found them.)
He never could just let things well enough alone....
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.
This essay I just posted:
Started as a blog post for this thread, talking about the old books I wrote to give context to my previous post. It outgrew the length of a proper forum post, so I put it on the site instead. But this might help you understand some of my history as a writer, not to mention explain the origin of all these old books Ookla that references all the time.
I remembered a thread from ages ago in which Brandon posted a list of the books he'd written, I looked it up when I realised it wasn't in the article, and I figured you guys might be interested too, so here it is.
1) White Sand Prime (My first Fantasy Novel)
2) Star's End (Short, alien-relations sf novel.)
3) Lord Mastrell (Sequel to White Sand Prime)
4) Knight Life (Fantasy comedy.)
5) The Sixth Incarnation of Pandora (Far future sf involving immortal warriors)
6) Elantris (You have to buy this one!)
7) Dragonsteel (My most standard epic fantasy
8) White Sand (Complete rewrite of the first attempt)
9) Mythwalker (Unfinished at about 600 pages. Another more standard epic fantasy.)
10) Aether of Night (Stand-Alone fantasy. A little like Elantris.)
11) Mistborn Prime (Eventually stole this world.)
12) Final Empire Prime (Cannibalized for book 14 as well.)
13) The Way of Kings (Fantasy War epic. Coming in 2008 or 2009)
14) Mistborn: The Final Empire (Coming June 2006)
15) Mistborn: The Well of Ascension (Early 2007)
16) Alcatraz Initiated (YA Fantasy. Being shopped to publishers)
17) Mistborn: Hero of Ages (Unfinished. Coming late 2007)
18) Dark One (Unfinished. YA fantasy)
19) Untitled Aether Project (Two sample chapters only.)
Thanks for posting that. Note that I can never quite remember which was first, Aether or Mistborn Prime. I always feel that Aether should be first, since it wasn't as bad as the two primes, but thinking back I think that the essay is more accurate and I wrote it between them.
This would be the new list:
1) White Sand Prime (My first Fantasy Novel)
2) Star's End (Short, alien-relations sf novel.)
3) Lord Mastrell (Sequel to White Sand Prime)
4) Knight Life (Fantasy comedy.)
5) The Sixth Incarnation of Pandora (Far future sf involving immortal warriors)
6) Elantris (First Published)
7) Dragonsteel (My most standard epic, other than the not-very-good Final Empire prime.)
8 ) White Sand (Complete rewrite of the first attempt, turned out much better.)
9) Mythwalker (Unfinished at about 600 pages. Another more standard epic fantasy.)
10) Aether of Night (Stand-Alone fantasy. A little like Elantris.)
11) Mistborn Prime (Shorter fantasy, didn't turn out so well.)
12) Final Empire Prime (Shorter fantasy, didn't turn out so well.)
13) The Way of Kings Prime (Fantasy War epic.)
14) Mistborn: The Final Empire (Came out 2006)
15) Mistborn: The Well of Ascension (Came out 2007)
16) Alcatraz Verus the Evil Librarians (Came out 2007)
17) Mistborn: Hero of Ages (Came out 2008)
18) Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener's Bones (Came out 2008)
19) Warbreaker (Comes out June 2009)
20) Alcatraz Versus the Knights of Crystallia (November 2009ish)
21) A Memory of Light (November 2009ish. Working on it now. Might be split into two.)
22) The Way of Kings Book One (2010ish. Not started yet.)
23) Alcatraz Four (2010. Not started yet)
Will elements of your untitled Aether project be worked into the Dragonsteel series?
The Silence Divine (Working title. Stand alone Epic Fantasy. Unwritten.)These titles are news to me. You described two potential YA or middle-grade books to me and Karen when you came out to Book Expo, plus Dark One, but now I can't remember the plots except they were cool (and that one of them involved superheroes). Are they among this list? Also, is that really Harbringer or is it supposed to be Harbinger?
Steelheart (YA Science Fiction. Unwritten)
I Hate Dragons (Middle Grade fantasy. Maybe an Alcatraz follow up. Unwritten.)
Zek Harbringer, Destroyer of Worlds (Middle Grade Sf. Maybe an Alcatraz follow up. Unwritten.)
Bah! That's what I get for typing so quickly. Yes, Harbinger. It should be "Zeek" too. Short for Ezekiel.
Steelheart would be the superhero one, though that's a working title, since I'm not sure if it's trademarked or not. Haven't had much time for thinking about any of these books lately.
Brandon, here you said Alcatraz 4 is called Alcatraz vs. The Dark Talent; is that still the working title? Also, you mentioned Dragonsteel: The Lightweaver of Rens, but now you say The Liar of Partinel is a standalone. Change of plans? (I know you can't get back to Dragonsteel for a while.)
The Alcatraz titles are in flux because I need to know if Scholastic wants the fifth one or not. (They only bought four.) Dark Talent will be one of them for certain.
The Liar of Partinel was part of a two-part story told hundreds of years before the Dragonsteel epic. However, since I've dropped plans to go with Liar anytime soon—A Memory of Light has priority, followed by Way of Kings—I don't know what I'll end up doing with the second book, or if I'll ever even write it. I was planning on not calling either of these "Dragonsteel" in print, actually, and just letting people connect the two series on their own. It wouldn't be hard to do, but I didn't want the first actual book in the main storyline to be launched by Tor as "Book Three" since there would be such a large gap of time.
Jedal. After his father.
Which is the reason why Spook didn't like using 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.
It doesn't diminish. Or, well, it does—but only if you compound it. You get 1 for 1 back, but compounding the power requires an expenditure of the power itself. For instance, if you are weak for one hour, you can gain the lost strength for one hour. But that's not really that much strength. After all, you probably weren't as weak as zero people during that time. So if you want to be as strong as two men, you couldn't do it for a full hour. You'd have to spend some energy to compound, then spend the compounded energy itself.
In more mathematical terms, let's say you spend one hour at 50% strength. You could then spend one hour at 150% strength, or perhaps 25 min at 200% strength, or maybe 10min at 250% strength. Each increment is harder, and therefore 'strains' you more and burns your energy more quickly. And since most Feruchemists don't store at 50% strength, but instead at something like 80% strength (it feels like much more when they do it, but you can't really push the body to that much forced weakness without risking death) you can burn through a few day's strength in a very short time if you aren't careful.
I also wondered if you could explain that circle in the cave some more, I didn't quite get it.
I was sure Vin was the hero right up until the end, even though originally before I read the book, I was sure it would be Elend or Sazed. But then the epilogue author started naming people off, so I knew it wasn't them. But it only mentions Vin as 'she,' when talking about how she got her spike. I was sure one of the epigraphs was going to be: "And that girl is me."
The Sazed thing totally made sense in hindsight, I can't believe I didn't figure it out. And we were right about the "on the arms," bit being the part Brandon was referring to, good find Vintage!
I'm a little sad that the lake doesn't come into it more. But the Mist spirit and the Deepness were BOTH Preservation. That was cool.
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.
I'd first like to say that this series was fantastic. I was exceptionally pleased with how you tied everything together in this final book of the trilogy.
(1) This series has the best world-building, magic system, and over-arching plot of any epic fantasy I have ever read. I think George R.R. Martin is still the master of creating memorable characters, developing them, and having them interact with each other. Other authors, like Hobb and Rothfuss, are better at evincing emotion. You are an amazing writer yourself.
That being said, I have a couple suggestions for you.
(2) The first contradicts itself, so take it for what it is. I would suggest that you write how you feel the story should be written. Getting inspiration from someone is one thing, but changing your work because some people want a happy ending or dark ending takes away from the purity of writing. The part you added in at the end where Sazed let Spook know Vin and Elend were happy in the afterlife really stuck me like a thorn. I think it was apparent how happy they were together in life and how necessary their sacrifices were. That would have been enough for me.
(3) My other suggestion is more of a plea really. Please don't extend this series just to capitalize on it. If you really feel there is more story to be told, then tell it. I, for one, thought the ending would have been perfect if allomancy, hemalurgy, and feruchemy would have faded from existence as their corresponding gods did. It would have been rather romantic to have people start over with a new "normal" world.
Congratulations again on completing a masterful work!
1. You humble me. I don't think I've NEARLY the skill for characters that Mr. Martin does, and that's not just an attempt at modesty. I hope to be there some day, however.
2. This is a tricky one. I didn't change the worldbuilding or the cosmology of the story in order to fit what people wanted, but I feel strongly about using writing groups and test readers to see if my intention in a book has been achieved. I show things to alpha readers to see what is confusing or bothersome to them, then decide if that's really something I want to be confusing or bothersome.
In my mind, the presence of a powerful being such as Sazed, mixed with some direct reaching from beyond the grave by a certain crew leader, indicated that there WAS an afterlife. However, test readers didn't get it, so I tweaked the story to make it more obvious. Perhaps I should have left it as is, but I liked both ways, and decided upon the one I liked the most in the context of reader responses.
I do plan to always tell the stories from my heart, and not change them because of how I think the reactions will be. But I do think it's important to know what those reactions are ahead of time and decide if they are what I want or not.
3. We are on the same page on this one. You can read other posts on the thread to see what kind of thoughts I might have for more Mistborn books, but I don't know if/when I will write them. It depends on the story and how excited I am to tell it.
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.
Well... I don't want to speak too much about the great beyond in the books, as in my opinion that level of cosmology is influenced by your own beliefs in the hereafter and in deity. Beyond that, I would rather not speak of what happens to the souls beyond the three Realms, as even Sazed doesn't know that.
Perhaps this will help, however. Like most of the leaders of soldiers in this series (Demoux, Wells, and Conrad included,) Goradel is based on and looks like one of my friends. In this case, it's Richard Gordon. He's read the book and cheered for his namesake's sacrifice and eventual victory. So the REAL Goradel knows. ;)
I still can't stop thinking that in my head. It's all that's really coming to mind at the moment.
I made the stupid mistake of finishing the book this afternoon in a public place. Therefore I looked like a complete moron as I burst into tears when Elend died. I think it was a good ending. I'm still not totally decided on that. I'm just in shock.
It's just so amazing how the books progressed, developing into this huge cosmic epic that I never expected from just reading The Final Empire a year ago. I guess in some sense what I'm feeling is a slight sense of... awe, maybe? I want to know how he comes up with stuff. I mean seriously, talk about not just writing another fantasy series.
But I'm also shocked that no one else seemed to have figured out that Sazed was the Hero of Ages. I thought it might be him when I started the book, but it could as easily have been Vin or Elend. But at about a third of the way through, page 215 to be exact, there was this line from Sazed thinking in his head:
"I am, unforunately, in charge."
"I am, unfortunately, the Hero of Ages."
No one else would have used the same wording as Sazed did when he was thinking to himself. I have to assume that was intentional on Brandon's part. It was very subtle... I'm actually surprised I noticed.
I'm gratified that you noticed. The Terris dialect IS very subtle. That speech pattern is one hint, the other is the use of "I think" to soften phrases at the ending. Beyond that, Sazed speaks with compound, complex sentences using frequent hedging to indicate that he's often uncertain. (That's another Terris speech pattern, not wanting to offend with language.)
The epigraphs in this book particularly (though I did it for Kwaan too) are intended to "sound" Terris, and like Sazed in particular. I didn't think anyone would catch it. You made my day!
For the love of good things, tell me who kills Asmodean?
Real question: Mistborn surprised me with its intensity. I didn't think that it would have as big of an impact on me that it did, and for writing it, thank you.
How long do things cook in your mind before you put them on paper?
When you write something as beautiful as "I am hope." Does it give you the chills? Where does something like that come from? I am just so fucking amazed that, even though I knew of his past with his wife and the mines, that you could make me think he was just doing it for greed reasons... then you bust out with this and I was floored. It cemented the entire trilogy for me. With that one line, I will forever buy anything you write.
The Asmodean killer is revealed in Towers of Midnight. (Look in the glossary.)
How long things cook depends on the project. Some, like The Way of Kings, cook for decades. Mistborn was a period of about 2-3 years. Others, like my children's series, are exercises in free writing with very little 'incubation' time give.
As for the last question...sometimes, it's hard to pinpoint how things come together, even for a planner like myself. I often compare writing to playing music. Often, a musician gets to the point where they don't know why their fingers move as they do—through a great deal of training, they learn to just make it happen. Writers develop similar instincts, but for plot, character, and prose.
You've been involved with some pretty big projects over the last few years. Tell us what it's been like working on the art for novels such as the Mistborn trilogy and The Way of Kings.
Writing, art, and book publishing have always been my biggest interests, so working on these great books has been very fulfilling.
I get the manuscript early on in the process, print it out, and go through the whole thing with a pencil, marking it up with notes about artistic details and tiny maps marking places in relationship to each other. Then comes my favorite part of the process: working with Brandon and his assistant Peter to make sure that my vision melds with Brandon's vision for the book. We usually do a lot of revisions and emails to get to the point where we're all happy with the results. I cannot say enough good about Brandon and Peter; they are both gentlemen to the core.
I know some of us have heard the story of how you came up with the symbols for Mistborn, but tell those of us who haven't how they came about.
I'd drawn about a half dozen pages of symbols inspired by my first reading of the book. Pages with dozens and dozens of tiny, intricate symbols—maybe someday I'll write a post about the process: Failed Allomantic Symbol Designs. But nothing was really working for me or Brandon.
I'd collected a lot of reference material for the steel inquisitors—nails, railroad spikes, those sorts of things—and one day when I was looking at a picture of a rusty pile of bent up nails, I saw the symbol for Iron. It was a Beautiful Mind experience. The symbol just jumped out at me. Glowing and everything.
After that initial experience with the symbol for Iron, it was easy to come up with the others. The bent nail part eventually became the crescent shapes used in the final book.
Something I had always wondered...ah well. Who makes the mistcoats/mistcloaks, anyway?
I did, I did.
K, good. I just wanted to make sure.
I feel kind of silly because it actually is a pun. And the entire Mistborn trilogy is therefore based on a pun. The first paragraph of the first chapter. But you know, if you can't tell from me naming my character Wax and Wayne, that I have a slight problem with puns.
I love that! I didn't even realize it until I started to explain it to my family, and I was saying that the main characters are Wax and Wayne. It was a good moment.
I do plan to write a sequel to The Alloy of Law between books in the Stormlight series, and will probably write more of those after that. The second major Mistborn trilogy is something I will write after book five of the Stormlight Archive.
If I'm not mistaken, you have great plans with this universe and you intend to write more trilogies set in this world. Would you tell us about this conception in some detail?
Sure. I originally pitched the Mistborn series to my editor as a sequence of three trilogies. Past, present, and future—epic fantasy, urban fantasy, and science fiction; all with the running thread of the magic system.
Since I just started coming out with the Stormlight Archive, I want to commit myself to that and don't want to dig into the second Mistborn trilogy for quite a while. Yet I want to prep people for the idea that Mistborn is going to be around for a while, and they are going to be seeing more books. I didn't want it to just come out of nowhere at them in ten years or whenever I get to it. So I decided to do some interim stories.
One of the things I'd been playing with was the idea of what happened between the epic fantasy and the urban fantasy trilogies. We have some very interesting things happening in the world, where you've got a cradle of mankind created (by design) to be very lush, very easy to live in, so a great big city could grow up there relatively quickly; civilization could build itself back up over the course of just a couple of generations. Yet there would be very little motivation to leave that area at first, which I felt would mean that you'd end up with this really great frontier boundary. The dichotomy between the two—the frontier and the quite advanced (all things considered) city in the cradle of humanity—was very interesting to me. So I started playing around with where things would lead.
To worldbuild the urban fantasy trilogy coming up, I need to know everything that happened in the intervening centuries. Some stories popped up in there that I knew would happen, that would be referenced in the second trilogy. So I thought, why don't I tell some of these stories, to cement them in my mind and to keep the series going.
I started writing The Alloy of Law not really knowing how long it would be—knowing the history and everything that happened, but not knowing how much of it I wanted to do in prose form. Things just clicked as they sometimes do, and I ended up turning it into a novel.
He would have taken over, because that character doesn't not take over. And it would have been a very different series, it would have been more heist focused, and not so much epic fantasy focused.
Would he have finished everything up a heck of a lot faster than Vin and Elend did?
Worse, but yes. Things would have gone very differently, how about that? The reason I decided it couldn't go that way was because I think the series just wouldn't have worked.
I spent most of my early career, as I kind of implied earlier, reacting against books that I had really liked. The main purpose for this being that I felt that Robert Jordan and various other authors really covered that type of story and that type of world really well. And so I said, "Well, what other room is there to explore?" And so you see me reacting against.
For instance, Mistborn is a direct reaction to the Wheel of Time. Mistborn began as the question, "What if Rand were to fail?" That's what spun me into creating that entire book series: what if the prophesied hero was not able to accomplish what they were supposed to accomplish? And that became the foundation of that book series. So you can see where I was going and things like that. A lot of times I will read something, and if it's done very well I'll react against it, and if it’s done very poorly then I’ll say, "Oh, I want to try and do this the right way". And both of those are kind of an interesting style of reaction to storytelling. So I would say I was deeply influenced, but it's more in the realm of, "Hey what have they done? What have they covered really well, and where can I go to explore new ground?"
You've said that Splintering a shard is essentially the same thing as the shattering of Adonalsium, repeated on a smaller scale.
And a while ago, someone asked you if Splintering was permanent or reversible, and you said that it can be reversed.
And shard holders tend to take the name of the shard they hold. So you've got Sazed, who goes by "Harmony" now, after taking up Ruin and Preservation. That makes me wonder, does he hold two shards... or one?
You could really answer that either way. The distinction is a really subjective one, and you could say that he's holding both shards, or that he holds one single Harmony.
The Mistcloaks are customized by the wearers.
(-I'm glad none of the characters went for hotpink-)
Then Kiley had a question. She's very soft-spoken so I'm not sure I got it all down right.
So how much, either consciously or unconsciously, do the diary entries from the Lord Ruler reflect the Rand-type characters?
That's the pitch to myself for Mistborn, years ago: "What if Rand failed, and decided to take over the world instead?" basically. It's more than that, though; it's, you know" "What if Frodo kept the ring? What if the hero from the monomyth failed, and instead became the tyrant?" And so, I consciously evoked that.
So did you ever see in that through the end, so that Rand didn't go....like, this is really similar, ever?
Not specifically, but you know, I was basing the idea off of that, yeah.
It was like, "This could be Rand's diary," you know.
Why did the Lord Ruler [in Mistborn] have to stay aged at times?
That's when he was doing his rebuild. He didn't really have to, but he let himself. He has to recharge periodically, and then stays on a higher and higher burn over the thousand years. It gets harder and harder. The way the magic works—he doesn't have to stay aged.
Is he burning or tapping?
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.
My favorite part of the Mistborn trilogy was Sazed and his scholarly work. I really liked how you described the motivations behind and the methods used in his analyses of religious doctrines. It seemed like you took a lot of care in writing about his quest.
Was Sazed's search inspired by any sort of scholarly work you've done, on religion or otherwise?
Yes, it was, though his sequence in the third was one of the most difficult to get right in any book I've written. Originally, I wrote it as him having already come to the conclusion he does near the end—that all religion is false—and that left him wallowing about in a depressive funk through most of the book. This was just horribly boring to read, and it was only through revision that I decided to show his quest.
I am a religious person, and have spent a lot of time thinking, questioning, and deciding what I believe and why. I don't think questions like these are easy ones to answer, and anything that is difficult is prime material for storytelling in my mind. Writing Sazed was an exploration for me as much as it was an exploration for the character.
What character of yours would be a great addition to Game of Thrones?
Ha! I don't know if I hate any of my characters enough to do that to them! What interesting questions you have! I think Kelsier from Mistborn would probably fit in the best. Not a lot of people pick up on this, but Kelsier is actually a psychopath. He likes to kill people. He takes pleasure and joy in it. He only lets this side of himself out once in a while, but there are points in the book where he takes down a nobleman, and he's just gleeful about the ability and the chance to do it.
In the Mistborn world, he's a hero because the people Kelsier is killing are oppressors. Part of the fun of writing him was the idea that in another story, if things had gone differently, he'd be the villain. But in this story, Kelsier is the hero, and it's because he's able to channel his being a psychopath into a noble cause, but still, there's a danger behind Kelsier's eyes that might let him survive in Westeros better than a lot of my other characters.
Was the Lord Ruler using feruchemy + alchemy to soothe all of the people around him? Or was he, as I like to think, flaring for so long that he became a Soother Savant?
He lived long enough and used his metals enough (particularly Soothing) to become nearly a savant in every area, if not a full savant.
I've got a non-Brandon-specific question. I just happened to think about one thing about authors: When do you decide if the character is male or female?
1. Did it happen to one of your characters that you changed the gender pretty late?
2. What is important when choosing the gender?
3. So why did you make Vin female and not male, for example? Is it much easier to write a male character as a male?
Personally, I don't like books where a woman is very physically strong. I don't know, I'm strange. gotta admit I stopped reading Mistborn after the first book due to it. As I said, I'm strange...Still love your books and I never was looking forward to a book as much as I am looking for followup of Way of Kings. (Not even Harry Potter LOL!)
1. Vin, in Mistborn, started as a boy. I wrote about one chapter of Mistborn with her as a guy, then changed. However, another character by that name had existed in one of my unpublished books as a boy.
2. This is hard to answer, as characters are very organic things for me. I don't plan them nearly as much as I do plots or settings. I go with my gut when writing them. I can't say why some "feel" right as male and other "feel" right as female. I write it and see if it works. If their voice is right, I go with it.
3. As mentioned, Vin swapped genders. It had to do with my writing instincts, her dynamic with the other characters, her backstory, and just WHO she is. I'm sorry that I'm not being very specific. Characters are hard to explain.
Pre-Hero of Ages, was the human population of Scadrial located only within the Final Empire? Were there people living beyond the lands of the Lord Ruler? If so, what happened to them?
The southern continent of Scadrial is inhabited. It still is. No contact has yet been made.
Hope I'm not too late! This question does contain spoilers for the first Mistborn book. I'm electronically inept to a degree so that's all the warning anyone will get.... Seriously, though.
Did you intend for the reader to almost believe Kelsier would come back to life... or was I just sort of crazy?
Yes, I did. And whether he is completely gone or not is actually something I want to be more nebulous than many people think it is.
You mentioned that one of your most popular series is the Mistborn trilogy. How did those books come about?
The evolution of a novel is such a complicated, complex, and strange creative process that it's hard to step people through it. I don't think even I can fully comprehend it. But by the time I was writing the Mistborn books, I was in a different situation with my career. I'd sold Elantris by that point and the publisher was saying, "We want something else from you." Rather than taking one of the thirteen books that I'd written before, I wanted to write something new. I wanted to give people my newest and best work. At that point I had time to sit down and ask myself, "What do I want to be the hallmark of my career? What am I going to add to the genre?" I want to write fantasy that takes steps forward and lets me take the genre in some interesting direction. At first I wanted to play with some of the stereotypes of the genre. That's a dangerous thing, though, because, as any deconstructionalist will tell you, when you start playing with stereotypes, you start relying on something that you want to undermine, and that puts you on shaky ground. I was in danger of just becoming another cliché. A lot of times when people want to twist something in a new way, they don't twist it enough and end up becoming part of the cliché that they were trying to redefine. But I really did want to try this and went forward with it anyway.
A lot of fantasy relies heavily on the Campbellian Monomyth. This is the idea focusing on the hero's journey. Since the early days of fantasy, it's been a big part of the storytelling, and in my opinion it's become a little bit overused. The hero's journey is important as a description of what works in our minds as people—why we tell the stories we do. But when you take the hero's journey and say, "I'm going to make this a checklist of things I need to do to write a great fantasy novel," your story goes stale. You start to mimic rather than create. Because I'd seen a lot of that, I felt that one of the things I really wanted to do was to try to turn the hero's journey on its head. I had been looking at the Lord of the Rings movies and the Lord of the Rings books and the Harry Potter books, and I felt that because of their popularity and success, a lot of people were going to be using this paradigm even more—the unknown protagonist with a heart of gold and some noble heritage who goes on a quest to defeat the dark lord. So I thought to myself, "What if the dark lord won? What if Frodo got to the end in Lord of the Rings and Sauron said, 'Thanks for bringing my ring back. I really was looking for it,' and then killed him and took over the world? What if book seven of Harry Potter was Voldemort defeating Harry and winning?" I didn't feel that this story had ever really been approached in the way I was imagining it, and it became one idea that bounced around in my head for quite a while.
Another idea I had revolved around my love of the classic heist genre. Whether it's Michael Crichton's The Great Train Robbery or the movies Ocean's Eleven and The Italian Job, there are these great stories that deal with a gang of specialists who are trying to pull off the ultimate heist. This is the kind of feat which requires them to all work together and use their talents. I hadn't ever read a fantasy book that dealt with that idea in a way that satisfied me or that really felt like it got it down. So that bounced in my head for a while as well.
One more of the ideas for the Mistborn series happened when I was driving home to see my mom. She lives in Idaho Falls, and after passing Tremonton on the I-15, I just went through this fog bank driving at seventy miles an hour. Even though my car was actually driving into the fog, it looked like the mist was moving around me instead of me moving through it. It was just this great image that I wrote down in my notebook years before I ended up writing Mistborn.
After a while, all these different ideas, like atoms, were bouncing around in my head and eventually started to run together to form molecules (the molecules being the story). Keep in mind, a good book is more than just one good idea. A good book is twelve or thirteen or fourteen great ideas that all play off of each other in ways that create even better ideas. There were my two original ideas—a gang of thieves in a fantasy world, and a story where the dark lord won—that ended up coming together and becoming the same story. Suddenly I had a world where the prophecies were wrong, the hero had failed, and a thousand years later a gang of thieves says, "Well, let's try this our way. Let's rob the dark lord silly and drive his armies away from him. Let's try to overthrow the empire." These are all the seeds of things that make bigger ideas.
After I outlined the book, it turned out to be quite bit longer than I expected, and I then began working through those parts that weren't fully developed yet, changing some things. I ended up downplaying the heist story in the final version of the book, despite the fact that it was a heist novel in one of my original concepts. But as I was writing it, I felt that if I was going to make it into a trilogy, I needed the story to have more of an epic scope. The heist was still there, and still the important part of the book, but it kind of became the setting for other, bigger things in the story, such as the epic coming-of-age of one of the characters, the interactions between the characters, and dealing with the rise and fall of the empire. But that happens in the process of writing. Sometimes the things that inspire you to begin a story in the first place eventually end up being the ones that are holding it back. Allomancy, the magic system in the book, was a separate idea that came about through these revisions.
I wrote the books in the trilogy straight through. I had the third one rough drafted by the time the first one had to be in its final form so that I could keep everything consistent and working together the way I wanted it to. I didn't want it to feel like I was just making it up as I went along, which I feel is one of the strengths of the series. I don't know if I'll ever be able to have that opportunity again in a series, but it certainly worked well for the Mistborn books.
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.
No, being a Savant is when you burn so much it alters your spirit, Compounding is similar but different.
He might have heard the question wrong here, I don't know. I should have asked it differently. But, there goes my theory :P
Can I make some guesses?
Is it Kelsier?
What does that mean?
That means I'm not going to answer that.
[impish grin] Ah ha ha ha. The Lord Ruler, heh heh heh, That is an excellent question.
Not going to answer?
Not going to answer that one.
Would you answer if Hoid used it for Feruchemy?
His bead? Hoid’s bead was—He originally got it because he wanted to be an Allomancer. [Note that he doesn’t actually answer the question.]
Are they bald by being bald, or do they shave their heads?
They shave their heads. Hemalurgy does not automatically make you bald.