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.
The Fight against the Koloss
One of my biggest worries about the beginning of this book is that the fight scene here is too long, particularly for the beginning of a book. But I wanted to show this fight in chapter three for a few reasons. First, I wanted to have a dramatic beginning. I also wanted a good excuse to reintroduce Allomancy and how it works, and I’ve found that battles are the best place to do that. Finally, I wanted to indicate what the feel of this book would be.
Book one was underscored by the heist story and book two by the siege of Luthadel. Book three is underscored by epic war. That’s not all it is, but the wars and battles are a big part of what drives this book.
Unfortunately, having to stop to explain Allomancy slows things down. I think I did it better in this book than I did in book two, but it still makes this fight a tad dry.
Writing Fight Scenes
A fight should be more than a blow-by-blow. I’ve talked about this before. In a book, you can’t get away with action for the sake of action—at least not in the same way you can in a movie.
With a visual medium, viewers can simply enjoy the blow-by-blow. Character X hits Character Y can be exciting. In books, it’s dreadfully boring. I think I went a little too far toward that in this chapter.
What makes a fight work? Well, emotional impact for one. If we’re tied to a character and think that they might be in danger, that can make a fight work—but only insofar as we’re seeing the danger’s emotional effect on the character. (Which is something books can do far better than movies.) Also, interesting discoveries and ramifications can work to make a fight more exciting.
Why is Elend forcing these men to fight like this? Where are the armies he promised? How are they going to win? Hopefully these questions drive the action. Thus the final way to make something exciting in an action scene is to show the characters being clever through the way they manipulate the fight or the magic or the area around them.
That’s just my take on it.
I held off on using this metal because while I knew what it had to do, I also knew that it would make atium far less important.
The way I built Allomancy, there is a logic to its framework. Atium shows other people’s futures. Gold shows your own past. Each group of metals has internal and external powers. Therefore, one of the two alloys (either atium’s or gold’s) had to show other people’s pasts—the Eleventh Metal from book one, an alloy of atium.
The final metal of that group, then, had to show your own future. I wanted this to be an alloy of atium. But the problem was that it couldn’t be. There is always a pushing metal and a pulling metal to each set. The pull always comes first; the push is always the alloy. The two external metals (that do things to other people) have to be grouped together, and the two internal metals (that do things to yourself) have to be grouped together.
That means atium and gold are both pulling metals, and the ones that do things to you both had to be related to gold—and both metals that do things to other people had to be related to atium. Therefore, even though initial logic makes it seem that the alloy of atium should be the one that shows your own future, the way the magic is arranged means that it has to show other people’s pasts. [Editor’s note: Careful readers may intuit something else about this that Brandon is holding back.]
The Inquisitor’s Speed
What the Inquisitor does here at the end is very important. If you’ve read book two recently, you may recognize this as what Sazed did when he tapped speed at the end of that book.
The Inquisitors are gaining Feruchemical powers, which makes them very, very dangerous. Mixing Feruchemy and Allomancy is what made the Lord Ruler so formidable. Fortunately, it took him a long time to figure out how to mix the powers correctly, and the Inquisitors haven’t had the time to practice, regardless of the force controlling them.
Elend Takes Control of the Koloss Army
The truth is that Ruin wanted Vin and Elend to get this army of koloss. He wanted them to keep up their quest and to surround themselves with his minions. Now that he’s got Marsh and company churning out new Inquisitors, he figured that he could risk—and probably lose—one here in order to keep Vin and Elend thinking that they were doing the right thing. After all, if the Inquisitors are fighting them, then they must be on the right track.
Again, Ruin is playing them. Though, one other thing to note is the attempt to get a spike into Elend here. In Ruin’s opinion, that also would have been an acceptable end to this fight, and another good reason to toss away an Inquisitor. He wasn’t successful, but he got close. If Ruin had been quick enough to block Vin as she grabbed one of the koloss, the rest of the book would have been quite different.