The following is an author’s annotation that relates to a specific chapter of the book MISTBORN: THE FINAL EMPIRE. Note that the following is NOT the text of the actual chapter, but a companion to the chapter, revealing “behind the scenes” information. If you have not read the book up to–and including–this chapter, you risk serious spoilers! Please, if you haven’t read MISTBORN, go visit the sample chapters, or perhaps purchase the book via Amazon.
You can navigate between annotations by using the list of links on the left. The very first annotation has a more detailed explanation of what is going on. If you want to start there, go to this link. Note–thoughts in the following annotation that might spoil later chapters have been hidden. You can reveal them via the button on the left, and they will appear in red. Not all chapters have hidden text–in fact, relatively few of them do. Thanks!
Apparently, both the names “Elend” and “Straff” are words in German. I certainly didn’t intend that, though I did try to make the names have a similar feel, since they’re father and son. It’s funny how often we fantasy writers come up with words that actually mean something in another language.
The pathway that Vin uses is called a Spikeway–or, at least, that’s my informal title for it. I had a lot of trouble deciding how I was going to move people between Luthadel and Fellise (which, by the way, used to be named Tenes. I changed the name because of conflicts with other names in the book. And, for the life of me, I can’t remember which names those were.)
Anyway, the spikeway occurred to me as an interesting application of the magic system that also solved a narrative problem in the book. I needed to get Kelsier back and forth quickly. So, I devised this. Often, this is the way things like this occur to me in writing. I’ll see a need–such as Mistborn needing to travel–and fill it by applying the magic system in a logical way. This is one of the advantages of writing Hard Fantasy, where the rules of the magic are very well defined. You can actually be creative in the way you apply things.
This is the first chapter where we get to see atium work. The metal is one of the most interesting aspects of the magic system, in my opinion. In fact, one of the things that made me want to start writing MISTBORN was this idea of an extremely rare metal that gets used up by the world’s mages. It felt natural to me, then, that this metal would do something very powerful.
Allomancy is, basically, a physical/combat oriented magic system. So, the spectacular power of atium would have to be something physical, and useful on a one-on-one basis. The ability to see slightly into the future, with the atium shadows, felt like a very interesting image to me, so I went with it.
In MISTBORN PRIME, the main character lacked atium–and spent most of the book trying to get ahold of it. (He actually stumbled across an atium mine hidden in a small village, which was being oppressed by a tyrant.) It is a small nod to the original book that I developed the plot of this one to be characters trying, essentially, to get ahold of some atium.