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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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This week's Writing Excuses podcast covers the business of writing comics, again with Jake Black filling in for Brandon (whose we-don't-ever-discuss-it stint writing the webcomic "American Bachelors with Mecha(s)" is not nearly as relevant as Jake Black's professional experience in the industry).
In the most recent Mistborn 3 annotations, Brandon talks about Preservation's power and the working mechanism of Hemalurgy. He specifically does not say anything about Adonalsium. Writers can be so cruel.
They've got big theories because all my books are connected, so yes. They have lots of theories talking about that.
I'm not going to waste Brandon's time with this—maybe someone else can answer.
Regarding the ending of the Mistborn Trilogy: What was up with Ruin having red hair? Is that significant? Does it mean that Ruin was originally a human who gained his powers somehow? My friend thought that Ruin was actually another red-haired character in the series, though I don't remember his name. I think he was a minor captain or something.
(My apologies for how vague this is—it's been a while since I read the series)
Will do, but I have to be honest—there is something off putting about having to do internet research to truly understand the ending of a book/series.
I try to make all of the cosmere stuff "bonus material" so to speak. I don't think it's essential to understanding Mistborn to know Ruin's origin. Those who want expanded information can find it, and theorize upon it. However, I intend to warn people up-front before writing any book where you have to know this to understand it.
Within the realm of Mistborn only, all you really need to know is that someone was holding this power—and that the 'individuals' of Ruin and Preservation were people, changed by the power they held. It holds to the theme of the story, with what happens regarding Sazed and other characters.
Are Shards all paired? Does Endowment have a counterpart?
RAFO. Also, yes and no. Not all Shards have perfect counterparts like Ruin and Preservation.
Why were Ruin and Preservation linked together?
Because they're such perfect opposites. Basically it's just an opposites attract thing.
Hey Brandon! As much as I want to fan-gush, I'll keep it short so you can get back to your A Memory of Light drafting.
How was Sazed/Harmony able to communicate with Waxillium near the end of the book? During the original trilogy, Ruin could occasionally implant thoughts into people's minds, but he couldn't just listen in whenever he felt like it. Is Harmony just way more powerful?
There is interesting discussion about this one below, which I like to see. I thought this might spark some discussion. Remember that human beings were given more of preservation than Ruin during their creation, which led to Preservation eventually being overwhelmed by Ruin. That was the bargain; people would be of preservation at their core, but in turn Ruin got to claim the world once Preservation wound down.
Another factor to consider here is that Wax was given a special earring designed for communication with a being that he actually worships.
The last two metals are Chromium and Nicrosil. We'll reveal what they do on the Allomancy poster. Suffice it to say that in the next trilogy, the main protagonist would be a Nicrosil Misting. And, to make a Robert Jordan-type comment, what those two metals do should become obvious to the serious student of Allomancy... (It has to do with the nature of the metal groupings.)
If I read the poster correctly, and have the correlations down, these metals are the external enhancement metals.
The simplest idea is that they do to another person what Aluminum and Duralumin do to the Allomancer burning them. If this is true, then Chromium would destroy another Allomancer's metals (useful skill, that, especially in a group of Mistings fighting a Mistborn) while Nicrosil would cause the target's metals that are currently burning to be burned in a brief, intense flash. This could be used either to enhance a group of Mistings or to seriously mess up an enemy Allomancer.
The other metals do not have exact one-to-one power correlations like that, so it seems more likely to me that they would work differently. It could be like an area effect weakening or enhancing spell. You would want an enhancer in your party, and you wouldn't want to go up against a weakener.
Nicrosil is a rather more complicated alloy than the others. It's an interesting one to pick, rather than something simpler like nichrome (though I guess that's actually a brand name).
Ookla is right, the others don't have 1/1 correlations. But I liked this concept far too much not to use it.
In a future book series, Mistborn will also have become things of legend. The bloodlines will have become diluted to the point that there are no Mistborn, only Mistings—however, the latter are far more common. In this environment, a Nicrosil Misting could be invaluable both as an enhancer to your own team or a weapon to use against unsuspecting other Mistings.
I take it either Spook did not have children or Sazed made him a reduced-strength Mistborn rather than giving him the full potency of the 9 originals and Elend?
Spook is a reduced power Mistborn.
Very interesting about the Nicrosil.
So, if there is no more atium, then that would mean in any future trilogy, there would only be 14 metals, right? Somehow, that doesn't seem right, but maybe that is because it irks me that one quartet to be left incomplete with the absence of atium.
Would it be possible for Sazed to create a replacement metal, by chance, or will the temporal quartet remain inherently empty? It doesn't seem like it's too far of a stretch for Sazed to make more metals: after all, the metal Elend ate was a fragment of Preservation, and now Sazed holds Preservation.
That's a RAFO, I'm afraid. Suffice it to say that what the characters think they understand about the metals, they don't QUITE get right. If you study the interaction between the temporal metals, you might notice an inconsistency in the way they work...
Uh-huh. That was already noticed by theorizers in the forums here. Gold works like Malatium and Electrum works like Atium. Yet they're on opposite corners of the metal square.
Ah. I wondered if that had been noticed.
I can guess two possible options for the Kandra.
1. God Sazed endowed the gift of presence on the now mistwraiths.
2. Some of the Kandra survived in the cave with the Terrisman and people of the city, along with the small mistwraiths, these are re-born with the spikes they pulled out during the resolution.
I can imagine too that some Kandra on assignment may have hidden in the shelters with the rest of humanity.
Yes, they live. The people were smart enough, eventually, to replace their spikes. (And there were a couple who were on assignment who made it to storage caches.)
However, there will likely never be any more of them, since Hemalurgy is required to make them. They are now some of the few people who can communicate directly with Sazed, who—like Ruin—can whisper to people most easily when they are connected to him via spikes. With some speculation, you can probably guess what kind of roles the Kandra will end up playing in future books.
On a broader level, is hemalurgy officially dead, then? Or is it still extant in some Ruin-free (but still messy) form? (If it's gone, is there any imbalance since Preservation's magic power is kept and Ruin's isn't?)
Is Hemalurgy dead? No, not at all. It, like the other two powers, was not created by Ruin or Preservation, but by the natural state of the world and its interaction with the gods who created it. It still requires the same method of creation, but very few people are aware of how it works.
Allomancy, Feruchemy, and Hemalurgy all work as they once did. However, now they are more directly affected by the presence or absence of the mists, which will slowly return to the world but not be of the extent they once were. (The mists are now an extent of Sazed's power, and where they roam, he is better able to influence things. There will also be two kinds of mists.) Note that in the future, Feruchemy powers will start to fracture and split, creating Feruchemical "Mistings."
Yes, this means that in the future series, it will be possible for a person to have one Allomantic power and one Feruchemical power. It will create for some very interesting mixing of powers.
When did Preservation decide to imprison Ruin in the Well? No need to be specific, I should think. A simple "Near Alendi's time" or "Way before Alendi's time" would suffice, or whichever time of reference you want to use.
Also, this one is not a question, but nice Hoid reference in there. I especially like it how the Ars Arcanum refers to Slowswift as "bears a striking resemblance to a well-known storyteller." I'm on to you...
Ruin and Preservation were not the only Shards of Adonalsium, though they are the only ones on Scadrial at the moment. Sazed's ability to be both at once is actually something I drew from Eastern mythology, where it is believed that the ability to contain two opposing forces at the same time represents ultimate harmony. The Buddha, for instance, was said to have performed the miracle of producing both fair and ice from his hands at the same time.
Is "Scadrial" the proper name to refer to the Mistborn world?
Scadrial is indeed the name of the planet.
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.
Kwaan went into hiding, and he was eventually discovered and executed by Rashek. He wasn't among the First Generation, though he would have been if he hadn't turned against Rashek. Rashek kept the plate, however, just as he kept Alendi's logbook. Partially because even then, Rashek was going a little mad, but partially because of the reminders about his old life they contained.
I'm assuming you meant Alendi hunted him down because he turned against Alendi. Or did Kwaan also turn against Rashek?
No, I meant that he turned against Rashek. Remember, the members of the First Generation were offered immortality in exchange for their Hemalurgy. They had to make this choice for all of the world's Feruchemists. Because his uncle had been the one who gave Rashek the chance to become the Lord Ruler in the first place, Rashek blessed him and included him in the decision. (Speaking directly into his mind along with the others during Rashek's moment of ascension.)
Kwaan was the only one who turned down this offer, calling it a betrayal of who they were as a people. Rashek could have just made him one anyway, but in a moment of anger, he tried to destroy Kwaan—which he couldn't do, not with Preservation's power. As the other Feruchemists changed, Kwaan remained the same. Rashek eventually hunted him down and killed him.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
So in the trilogy, we see that when someone has a Hemalurgic spike implanted in them, they can hear Ruin talking to them, both as a vision and in their head. However, we learn in the Hero of Ages that Ruin cannot hear a person's thoughts no matter how much under Ruin's influence they are.
In Alloy of Law, we see that Wax (and other Pathians) uses an earring to "pray" to Harmony, and we see that Harmony can hear his thoughts and respond.
So I guess this leads to three questions:
1. How does Harmony hear the thoughts of Wax, when it's explicitly pointed put that Ruin cannot?
2. Are the earrings that the Pathians use Hemalurgicly charged, as otherwise they would be of no use to Ruin, and therefore Harmony?
3. Or did Harmony completely change how that aspect of Hemalugy works?
How this all works dates back to the original design of the Magic system.
I wanted Ruin and Preservation to be complimentary opposites, like many things in the Mistborn world. Allomancy, for example, has Pushes and Pulls were are less "negate one another" opposites, but instead two sides to the same proverbial coin.
Ruin is invasive. The power is more "Yell" than "Listen." The philosopher would probably have some interesting things to say about the masculine symbolism of Hemalurgy and its spikes.
Ruin can insert thoughts. That power, however, can't HEAR the reactions. It's about invasion.
Preservation, however, is the opposite. Preservation listens, Preservation protects. (Perhaps to a fault—if there were no Ruin, there would be no change to the world, and life could not exist.) Because of this, Preservation can hear what is inside people's minds. It cannot, however, INSERT thoughts. (This is important to the plot of Hero of Ages.)
Harmony is both, the two complimentary opposites combined. And so, he inserts thoughts with Ruin and still uses Hemalurgy. He can also listen.
Yes, Wax's earring is Invested. (Or, in other terms, it's a Hemalurgic spike.)
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.
[Brandon being cautious about wording] Certain things built into a world are not the same. Not used in the same way. Meaning the energy of Preservation and Ruin inside of something living and growing—yes that's "of" them, but that's not direct force that they're using at that time.
Would a good example of that be Allomancy versus the blessings the Kandra have?
Yeah, yeah sure.
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.
Is there a Cosmere-specific term you use to describe, say, a Shard's power inside someone? For example, people on Scadrial had little bits of Preservation in them that made them sentient (and, with enough Preservation, Allomancy). This obviously doesn't make these people Slivers or Splinters, so I was just wondering if you had a word for it.
In my own terms, I refer to all of this as types of investiture. The degree, and effects, can be very different - but those people are invested. I term this Innate Investiture, and it is similar to what happens with people on Nalthis. That is also innate.
Thanks so much for all your writing, Way of Kings is the best book I've read in the last decade.
If Sazed were to die, would he drop the shards Ruin and Preservation, or would he drop the shard Harmony?
Excellent question. The shards are now intermingled, and would take effort to split apart. He would drop Harmony. (This is what Odium feared would happen, by the way.)
If I can ask a question, I just read the Mistborn trilogy and, were Preservation and Ruin two different shards or a single one with their power split somehow? If they were two shards, does that mean a single person can hold more than one, since Harmony apparently holds both now?
They were two shards.
Yes, one entity can hold more than one. Remember that holding a shard changes you, over time. Rayse knows this, and prefers to leave behind destroyed rivals as opposed to taking their power and potentially being overwhelmed by it.
I have a question, if you are willing. Would Ruin be more compatible with Rayse, would he pick up that shard had he visited Scadrial and shattered him? All the shards we have seen that he has shattered seem rather different in intent than him—Honor, Cultivation, Love, Dominion. But Ruin seems more in line with Odium. Rayse has ruined the days of quite a few people.
Technically, Ruin would be most compatible with Cultivation. Ruin's 'theme' so to speak is that all things must age and pass. An embodiment of entropy. That power, separated from the whole and being held by a person who did not have the willpower to resist its transformation of him, led to something very dangerous. But it was not evil. None of the sixteen technically are, though you may have read that Hoid has specific beef with Rayse. Whether you think of Odium as evil depends upon how much you agree with Hoid's particular view.
That said, Ruin would have been one of the 'safer' of the sixteen for Rayse to take, if he'd been about that. Odium is by its nature selfish, however, and the combination of it and Rayse makes for an entity that fears an additional power would destroy it and make it into something else.
Where do the mists go in the day, why do they just disappear?
The mists are kind of like the physical manifestation of Preservation's power. During the day, the power is still there, but the mists that accompany them during the night are burned away by the sun. So really, it's more that they are somehow linked to Preservations power, and come out at night with the power, but they can't stay with the power during the day because of the sun.
Before the Ascension, why did the mists appear just as the Well was gaining power? Did they come out at other times?
This one is trickier. From what I got out of it, it's because the mists are a manifestaion of Preservation, and physical manifestations of Preservation (including Allomancers) are intended to do two things - stop Ruin, and protect the Well of Ascension. Which are kind of the same thing. So, when the Well was dormant, the mists didn't really have much to do. The Deepness form of the mists is a result of the conscious part of Preservation freaking out and trying to produce a way to protect the well, mostly by producing more Allomancers. That's why the mists do all the funky things in the Well of Ascension and Hero of Ages - they're trying to produce more Allomancers to combat Ruin.
Why did the mist sickness only happen after the Lord Ruler's death?
It didn't. It just happened on a much smaller scale. As you remember, the Lord Ruler basically meant stagnation. Because it seemed the Lord Ruler would be taking the power again (as was intended, and as apparently had been done many times before), and because of the extreme stability of the Final Empire, Preservation (though it really only had a shadow of it's mind left) wasn't as freaked out. After the LR died, Preservation began to attempt to create more Allomancers for the reasons mentioned in question 7. It also left clues, such as the number 16 everywhere, so that people would know it was Preservation doing it, and not just random chance, or ruin. Turns out that that didn't work so well.
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 he’s 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 – I know what you are searching for, but it’s actually just an old (something) from weapons training. He’s just dredging- he’s 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 it’s just instinct that he got from one of his old mentors in fighting.
So there’s nothing to see there, so no, he’s not (something).
Okay. We were just wondering if it was Preservation, or Kelsier.
Nope. Unfortunately, no. I do that on occasion, but this time...
Feruchemy ended up being a balance system, because of how polar Ruin and Preservation were. Any world with at least two Shards will result in a similar phenomenon.
Like Roshar. There is something like that going on there.
As Feruchemistry is the magic system combined from Ruin and Preservation's powers, and they created humankind on Scadrial, how is it that it only occurs in persons with Terrispeople in their ancestry?
I guess, specifically, does someone have to have both… with Connection, are there more than one elements that people would have to have to have Connection to… provide avenue to power from a different area.
Oh, um… there are multiple things that could help with it, yes. There are certain things that you can Connect through to make one strong Connection would be enough for variety of magics, yeah.
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.