The following is commentary, written by Brandon, about one of the chapters of MISTBORN: THE WELL OF ASCENSION. If you haven’t read this book, know that the following will contain major spoilers. We suggest reading the sample chapters from book one instead. You can also go to this book’s introduction or go to the main annotations page to access all annotations for all books. For those who have read some of MISTBORN 2, any spoilers for the ending of this book will be hidden, so as long as you’ve read up to this chapter, you should be all right.
As I said before, the Zane chapters originally started earlier in the book. I pushed them back in order to keep the mystery a little longer and to streamline the beginning.
Now I can finally get into his story. Zane is important for several reasons, many of which I can’t really explain without spoiling not only this book, but the next one. One of his most basic functions is to provide a foil for Elend. An opposite. Elend is safety, and Zane is danger. They share many similar features, but in Zane, most of those features are twisted.
He also represents a throwback to Kelsier. He is more like the Survivor than he’ll probably ever understand.
Making him insane like this was a gamble on my part. I worry that, at first, it seems cliche. There’s a whole lot more going on with Zane than you might assume, but your introduction to him is that of a schizophrenic villain who likes to cut himself. This might just seem like a grab-bag of psychosis, but I ask you to stick with me on this one. Zane has been many of my alpha-readers favorite character.
Straff is generally everyone’s least favorite character–though that’s kind of what I expected. He’s not insane; he’s just a terrible person. Those do, unfortunately, exist–given his power and upbringing, he’s not all that surprising in his bullyness.
I wanted to provide a range of villains for this series. The Lord Ruler was one type of villain–the untouchable god, distant and mysterious. Straff is another: the downright, simple bully with too much power and not enough wisdom. Zane is our third villain–sympathetic, edgy, and possibly more dangerous than either of the two.