Well, maybe you did. It’s all right if you did; we in the fiction world have kind of acclimatized people to strange resurrections of long-dead characters. I’d guess it’s due to one of two things. Either 1) The author is so attached to the fallen character that he/she wants to have them return or 2) The author wants to do something completely unexpected, so he/she returns to life a character the reader isn’t expecting.
Unfortunately, both answers are based on emotions outside of what is commonly good for the actual plotting of the story. Do this enough, and readers are required to stretch their ability to suspend disbelief. This sort of practice is part of what earns genre fiction something of a bad reputation among the literary elite. (How can there be tension for a character if the reader knows that death doesn’t mean anything?)
The trick with saying this is, of course, that I’m as guilty of this as anyone. I’ve got two books in the works where I’m planning deaths and resurrections—though, of course, I’m building in these elements as plot points of the setting and worldbuilding.
Beyond that, there are lots of instances where this sort of thing is appropriate in fiction, and where it works. After all, one of the reasons to write fantasy is so that you can deal with themes like this that wouldn’t work in mainstream fiction. I just worry that we, as a genre, are too lazy with ideas like this. If we push this too far, we’ll end up where the comic book world is—in a place where death is completely meaningless.
Playing with Clichés
Well, that turned into a strangely unexpected rant. I’ll leave it because it might be interesting to you all, but I did want to continue with my original idea. I didn’t bring Reen back (or Kelsier back) because I feel opposed to this kind of plotting unless it is well foreshadowed in advance and built into the magic system. I did, however, want to make the reader think that I’d brought them back, as for some reason it gives me pleasure to bait readers into thinking I’m following the clichés, then ducking away from those clichés. (In a way, that’s what this entire series is about.)
As a nod to the intelligence of my readers, however, I didn’t let this one last for long. I figured that many would have figured out that the image of Reen was false, particularly after the epigraph strongly hints that Vin has been spiked. In addition, I wanted to use this scene to point out the difference between Vin and Spook. He’s an idealist and is rather fresh and inexperienced, despite what the crew has been through. Vin’s a realist and a skeptic, and is far more experienced. It makes simple sense to me that she would almost immediately see through Ruin’s tricks.