There’s an old adage in writing. If things feel slow, have the protagonists get attacked. (I wonder what literary fiction would be like if they tried this out. . . .) [Editor’s note: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies?]
Anyway, I’d planned for this scene to happen a little later in the book, but I felt after Elend’s last scene—mostly discussion and wrestling with inner demons—that we needed something quick and action-oriented to speed things up. So I moved the battle up to here and had the camp get attacked.
In a way, therefore, Vin’s thoughts at the beginning of the chapter were my thoughts. Finally, a fight! A few of my writing group members echoed this feeling when they got to this chapter, which let me know I’d made the right choice. (Maybe it should have been even sooner.)
Half the Koloss Die
I had to have Elend lose some of his koloss, as just in the last chapter he was thinking that he’d be able to take the city for certain. It would mean losing a lot of lives—mostly on the other side—but he figured he could take it. That left only his morals keeping him from invading.
This way, we’ve got a double problem. Yes, he worries about the morality of invading—but he now also has to worry about the cost to his own army. It’s much more of a risk, which means more conflict and more tension. Hopefully.
The Elusive Allomancer
It didn’t occur to me until doing this annotation that Vin’s ability to pierce copperclouds has been a kind of minitheme for all three books. She discovered the power early in book one, and by using it was able to save Elend’s from getting killed by Shan and her assassins. In book two, it let Vin try to track down the spy, while also letting her hear the pulsings of the Well of Ascension before they were powerful enough for other Allomancers to recognize.
Now, in book three, it lets her discover this hidden Allomancer and begin chasing him down. Where she got her ability to pierce the copperclouds is a major factor in what is happening in this novel and how the plot will play out in the end.
If you’re wondering, then yes—this is Ruin appearing to Vin and acting as a Mistborn to distract her. Right here, he’s worried about the siege. He wants Vin and Elend to just attack the city and move on with it. He’s frustrated that his pawns aren’t doing what he intended them to do—at least not as quickly as he wanted. So he helps Yomen here by distracting Vin, hoping that by having them get attacked and losing some of their koloss they’ll get angry at Yomen and strike back in retribution.