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.
Vin Stares out at the Mists, decides to go with Zane, then changes her mind
This scene with Vin at the beginning feels just a tad redundant to me. That’s because it covers some of the same ground as the one with her trailing through the Lord Ruler’s palace in the last chapter. The problem is, I like this scene so much more–it seems to me that the writing is better. So I didn’t have the heart to cut it, even though I’d just added another scene that did many of the same things.
This is one of the scenes in the book I worked toward for a long, long time. I knew I had to get Vin’s decision just right, and then do Zane’s betrayal with equal power. I wanted the reader to be feeling that this was inevitable, once Vin made her decision.
Why did she decide to stay with Elend? It comes down to what she said. Zane jumping when she reached for the vial reminded her of something–that she didn’t want to go back to a life where she was suspicious and jumpy. She didn’t want the life that he offered. The thing she saw in Elend was the ability to live without fear–or, at least, without the fear that those around her didn’t trust her.
Vin And Zane Fight
The mists enter the room here, which is–again–intentional. A lot of these things have to do with the deeper worldbuidling we won’t get into until book three. However, suffice it to say that they were forced to enter by something.
Zane’s “You were supposed to save me” is something that I really don’t expect to make sense. Despite what God says at the end, Zane is a little bit insane. He’s gone too long listening to the voice, thinking himself mad, and doing things like slaughtering his way to the top of Cett’s keep. He’s not stable anymore.
The fact that God doesn’t tell him to kill Vin is what drew Zane to her in the first place. He figured it must mean something–that somehow, if they were together, he’d be able to drive the voices from his mind. For that, he risked everything–that, and the ability to have someone else to be with. He could leave Straff only if he had someone else to rely upon. Someone to save him.
When Vin turned against him–as he saw it–then he had to go back to what Straff wanted. He’d promised his father that he’d deal with Vin. And so he had to. If she wouldn’t come with him, he had to kill her.
Several pieces had to come together to make this chapter work. Beyond the obvious Vin/Zane motivations, we had to understand OreSeur–or, actually, TenSoon–enough that his betrayal makes sense.
This is the great plotting device I stole from Mistborn Prime. The kandra are from that book, and the spy who turns out to be the hero’s own kandra made for a wonderful plotting device. I had to do it again, lest the chance for that wonderful twist be lost.
The reason this works so well for me as a plot sequence is because I can see TenSoon’s heart. He and Vin start off rough, and he has no problem planning to betray her. Yet as they grow to be friends, TenSoon grows tormented for the betrayal he was continually forced to perpetuate. It makes for very strong plotting and character on his part, and gives us a surprising bang of a twist here at a climactic scene. It also sets up wonderfully for him as a viewpoint character in Book Three.
Of course, some of you may have seen that he was the traitor. That’s unfortunate, but expected. Readers are just too darn smart sometimes. If you didn’t get it, then don’t worry–you were just caught up in the story. There are an awful lot of clues, though. Any time Vin asks “OreSeur” about something from the past, he hedges, then guesses, and is hesitant. She notes a lot during the beginning of the book that he’s acting oddly, not like himself, but attributes it to him being in the dog’s body.
Vin Kills Zane despite his Atium
The other thing I had to foreshadow, then make work in this chapter, was the way to kill someone who was burning atium. This is also something I stole from Mistborn Prime, and I’m afraid that it worked better there.
The thing is, I just haven’t spent enough of the plot with Vin working on this problem. Killing an atium-burner was a major plotting conflict in Mistborn Prime, which was a much shorter book, without so much going on. In this book, we have many, many different plotlines and secrets interweaving. And so there wasn’t a whole lot of time for Vin to worry about how to survive without atium.
According to the laws of Allomancy, this is very in-line with how atium works. Only someone burning atium can change the future–but they can change it accidentally by showing someone else what to do.
Vin Controls OreSeur and Uses Him
Vin learning to control the kandra is also something that had to be twisted together so that it could be used here. I wanted this knowledge to be there for use later in the book, and for the next book, so I figured this was a good place to begin introducing it as a major aspect of the magic system.
God Says Farewell to Zane
I wanted to jump into Zane’s viewpoint so that we could see the voice depart from its usual way of speaking. Just a little hint for later in the series. Yes, there is a LOT more going on here than it seems at first glance.