The following is commentary, written by Brandon, about one of the chapters of MISTBORN: THE HERO OF AGES. 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 of Brandon’s books. For those who have read some of MISTBORN 3, 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.
How Hemalurgy Works
The epigraphs to this chapter and the ones around it talk about Hemalurgy. I’m feeling that by now, you’ve figured out what it does. You use a spike on an Allomancer or a Feruchemist, killing them and charging that spike with power. Then you drive that spike into someone else, and they gain that same power. (Though they get a little bit less than the person who died. In some cases, if the spike sits outside of a body for a long time, it can lose a lot of its potency.)
Though this mechanism doesn’t add any new powers to the world, I really like the way it works. With Allomancy and Feruchemy, we already have a lot of different magic powers to keep track of. I wanted something from Hemalurgy that wouldn’t simply add to the list of abilities, but would instead fit with the feel and the nature of the magic. Something to balance Allomancy, in which a lot of power can be obtained without much direct cost to the Allomancer.
Hence, Hemalurgy. In a way, it has the most potency of all the powers, for with it you can make anyone an Allomancer or a Feruchemist. You can steal single powers from the other two arts, then mix them in a person as you wish. It adds a different element to the world—a way to obtain more power, a way for a common man to become like Vin or Kelsier, but at a terrible price. It works perfectly with who I wanted Ruin to be and what I wanted the conflict of these books to become. What is the cost of power?
Cause and effect, action and reaction.
One of the problems with Spook’s sequences is that I had to break the chapters timewise longer than I’d wanted to. Originally, these latest three or four Spook chapters happened in the course of a week’s time. However, when I added them into the rest of the book, I realized I had to space them out a lot farther because of the things happening in Vin and Elend’s timeline.
So it’s a little bit awkward. Three chapters ago, Spook heard men mention the rumors Durn was spreading about him. Then we had two chapters dealing with Sazed and Breeze’s arrival. Only now can Spook finally track down Durn and demand to know about the rumors he was spreading.
It would have made much more sense to have had Spook find a way to do this earlier, but I just couldn’t work it in until now. The “count the skulls” thing is coming up too; I haven’t forgotten it. Unfortunately, it suffered from this same issue.
The Voice Is Real
One of the most important events in this chapter was when Kelsier’s voice told Spook “You’re not in danger.” This presents strong evidence that Spook isn’t simply hallucinating. The voice knew who was coming before Spook did, and has information Spook does not.
The discovery of the metal vials in the burning house should have given enough proof of that, I thought. However, some alpha readers still had trouble. They wondered if Spook was simply making up all the things he was hearing.