Here is the second batch of annotations for The Alloy of Law. As with all of the other annotations here on the site, each annotation contains spoilers for the current chapter. Spoilers for chapters after the current one are hidden by spoiler tags. We recommend you read the book before reading the annotations!
I didn’t really intend Ranette to become a kind of “Q” figure, providing Wax with a cool gun. I had written into the outline (once I added her) that he got a new Sterrion from her.
However, I wanted some more quirk to her character. Beyond that, I felt that one of the things this book should do is show the ways that Allomancy—and dealing with Allomancers—has entered the common conciousness of the world. It makes sense to build guns to deal with them, just as now we build guns specifically to deal with armor, or specific situations a combatant might find themselves in.
I felt that I wanted to integrate the Metallic Arts more into real society. You may notice, for instance, that I worked hard in this book to work Allomancy and metallurgy into the way that people speak. The metaphors they use, the way they see the world. A person who is up to no good is a “bad alloy.” That sort of thing.
It would be possible to overdo this, of course, but I feel—looking back objectively at the original trilogy—that I didn’t do enough of it. That’s okay, because in the orginal trilogy Allomancy was something that you kept hidden, and the common people didn’t know much about it. Feruchemy was an underground art, and only the Inquisitors knew of Hemalurgy.
Now however, at least two of the three are very common in society. I wanted to account for that. Building Vindication, the special Allomancer’s gun, was a way to integrate the two halves of this book—the historical western and the fantasy.
In the summer of 2010, my wife and I visited New York. My editor, Moshe, is a life-long New Yorker and a repository of details and facts. (I’ve found this is a common thing in a lot of editors; they tend to be the type to pay attention to details.) The result of this was him towing us all over the city, telling us little tidbits about this building or that one.
Well, one of the stories he told us was about the early days of skyscrapers, and how people would race to build the highest building. He talked about some of the famous rivalries; I think that’s the first time I began to envision a cool Allomantic fight taking place in the heights of an unfinished skyscraper. Five months or so later, I wrote this scene.
Miles as a God
I had to be careful about the Miles “Are we not gods?” monologue, as I feel this is a theme that’s come up a little too often in the Mistborn books. The Lord Ruler had it, Kelsier had it to an extent, and Zane flirted with it. We ran into it with Spook as well.
I like that it’s a running theme—this would be a real concern, I feel. In our world, we talk about one race or gender being superior, but in the end there’s really no scientific basis for it. Yes, people are different, but I find no solid argument to one group being better than another. That hasn’t stopped a lot of people from trying to prove it.
Well, what if there were something like Allomancy? It’s the only major magic system I’ve done that is genetic. And in this world, you have the only solid argument of “Well, one genetic line is obviously superior to another.” That creates for some troubling things to think about, I should hope. It goes further than skaa and nobility, as talked about in the first trilogy.
If you were Miles—who, by genetics, was practically invincible and immortal—I think it would be very hard to not to start thinking of yourself in this way. So it keeps popping up as a theme. (Eventually I’ll really dig into it, rather than flirting with it as I have in most of the books.)
[Assistant Peter’s note: This is the last of the annotations that Brandon has written for The Alloy of Law. It’s remotely possible that he will find time to get back to writing annotations in the future, but for now he’s focusing his writing time on the fiction itself.]