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.
Guns in Fantasy
Gunpowder is mentioned in the epigraph. It’s odd how we fantasy fans feel an inherent and deep aversion to gunpowder. We have this idea that guns will damage the fantasy feel of a book. I still remember reading a fantasy book when I was younger—I think it was one of Robin McKinley’s—and running across a passage where it mentioned that the characters had rifles. I felt suddenly and strangely betrayed, as if the book had just been ruined.
That’s silly, of course. A story can have guns and still be fantasy—at the very least, Pirates of the Caribbean proves that. Still, I’m always hesitant to use guns. Maybe I will someday, but for now I’m keeping them out. Fortunately, in this series I had a very good and interesting reason why we could have nineteenth-century canal and civil engineering technology but no use of gunpowder.
Correspondence on Metal Sheets
The metal letters mentioned several times in the book (including in this chapter) were almost all changed to metal in late drafts. (Save the Goradel letter later on; that one was metal from the start.) I realized I wasn’t giving enough of a sense that the characters were paying attention to Ruin’s ability to change text that isn’t on metal, and I wanted to show them taking precautions. I have my writing groups to thank for getting on me about this one.
Homicidal Hat Trick
My editor tried very hard to get me to cut the “homicidal hat trick” line. Not because it wasn’t clever, but because he felt it was anachronistic, as the phrase is commonly a metaphor for some quite modern sports. However, I was able to prove via Wikipedia (which is infallible) that the term was used as early as the nineteenth century and didn’t always refer to sports, but to three wins in a row in even simple games of chance. So, grudgingly, he let me keep it.
I love the line because of the way that little section harks back to the old Elend. He’s still in there, hidden behind the emperor-at-war exterior. The old Elend could be clever and awkward at the same time, just like he is here when he tries to make a point to Vin but comes dangerously close to an insult instead. That’s the same guy as the one who would, while standing on the balcony at a party, compliment a lady and then immediately turn back to his book and ignore her.
And, on that note, I believe that I warned you about the coming ball scenes. We’re going to have another nostalgia chapter fairly soon, and it’s one of my favorite chapters in the entire series.