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Headscratchers: Mistborn: The Original Trilogy
  • Preservation and Ruin were once people, or got their consciousness from people; we even read about Preservation's body. BUT Preservation couldn't build sentient life without agreeing to work with Ruin. But how did they agree without having minds?
    • Humans exist on other planets. The two of them were people from some other world, who gained god-like powers, and then went to an empty planet and created life there.
      • Confirmed, Mistborn takes place in the same universe as several of Sanderson's other books.
  • I'm trying to figure out exactly how to classify hemalurgic spikes, that is, whether they can be clearly compared to other sorts of magical artifacts. They contain a tiny fraction of someone's soul, so at first I thought they were Soul Jars, but that turns out to be something different. Does anyone have an idea what else they're like?
    • Everyone has spiritual DNA, a spirit web, which contains their personality and magic. By using a spike to stab the right location you can take a small fragment of their spirit web, bound with some magic from preservation and ruin, and implant it into another person by stabbing the spike onto that person and pinning the soul to them. Similar to Powers as Programs.
    • In terms of tropes, the best match I've been able to find is The Corruption. Oddly, I haven't found anything about literally stealing powers from others (except Mega Manning, which isn't really right in this instance), so there may be something out there I'm missing.
    • It's also Blood Magic Powered by a Forsaken Child, obviously, but those are more descriptions of how it works than of an actual spike.
    • Your Soul Is Mine?
    • I like to think of them like the chakra-receiver-piercings from Naruto's Pain/Nagato
    • I was wrestling with this one for a while myself, and eventually settled on Soul Fragment, which I believe is now listed in our entry.
    • Power Parasite.
  • There's a rather disturbing throwaway line in one of the chapter headings about how the concept of the Balance—an assertion that nobility are taller, stronger and smarter while skaa are shorter, hardier, and more fertile—has a basis in truth. WHAT the heck was the point of that line? It does fit the Lord Ruler's ambitions, but it feels distinctly creepy to have Fantastic Racism that has its roots in truth. (And don't say that the differences were mostly gone by the time the books take place. That's still many centuries of the Balance being real.)
    • I think that it was suppose to hint at how the Empire ended up such a brutal place. The Balance was real, yes, but it was something created by the Lord Ruler when he altered mankind. He divided the world into nobility and skaa, and told the nobility that they were to rule and the skaa were to be ruled. I doubt it was something he believed himself, he probably just used it as an excuse to conquer and oppress everyone. Everyone else though, they believed it to be true, as they could see the difference between a nobleman and a skaa. This is probably why, even a thousand years later, the skaa are treated so badly, and why the nobility don't care; they really believe the skaa to be fundamentally different beings, and that that makes them less than human.
    • I always saw it as just an example of how Rashek's playing God seriously screwed things up and turned the planet into a Crapsack World. Well-intentioned or not, his stint as God did a lot of damage both to the world as a whole and to humanity- less than what Ruin would have done, obviously, but still so far-reaching that it affected humanity on a genetic level and could only be cleared up by massive restructuring of the world itself.
    • It serves as a red herring about the Mists' purpose. Personally, I am much less disturbed by the throwaway line after watching District 9: the one film about an Oppressed Minority where the minority is nasty, dangerous, and often incomprehensible, and that shouldn't matter at all.
    • They said that it used to be true, but that after a thousand years, skaa and nobles had interbred so much (despite the laws against it — or maybe the laws were a relatively recent attempt to stop it? I can't remember) that it's no longer really the case. Thus why people even without any noble blood can successfully impersonate nobility by the time the story begins.
    • The only major distinguishing feature between nobles and skaa is Allomancy. Kelsier points out in the same conversation that height and intelligence differences -such as they are- are mainly because the skaa have serve malnutrition on average, and nobles have fewer children because lots of them sleep with skaa whom they then kill.
    • The story everyone's been told is that the nobility are in charge because they're the descendants of the Lord Ruler's friends/companions. But in Hero of Ages we find out that the Lord Ruler's friends actually became kandra, so an alternate explanation had to be given for why he divided the world into nobles and skaa.
      • The nobility weren't descended from his friends, but they were descended from his early supporters- specifically, kings he bribed to his side with allomancy, per both Hero of Ages and its Annotations.
      • The original kandra were his Feruchemist friends, while all the other Feruchemists were turned into mere miswraiths. The original Allomancers were his non-Feruchemist friends/allies/supporters. No contradiction.
    • I don't think it clashes with the world or the message that much. Just because someone is less intelligent, sturdier and built to have more children doesn't mean that they deserve to be mistreated or that they shouldn't have a choice in how their lives turn out. The fact that the Balance is real - because of the villain - doesn't make what the heroes stand for any less significant.
  • Maybe I just missed something, but I always wondered, why did the Lord Ruler need to use Hemalurgy in the first place? He already had all the abilities of Allomancy and Feruchemy, so for him Hemalurgy is redundant, and he knows that it leaves the user open to mental control. What was the explanation for him deciding to use it?
    • Well, there are a few things. Hemalurgy allows one to increase the strength of one's Allomancy and Feruchemy (Allowing one to, say, see through a copper cloud). In addition, the Lord Ruler wanted a corps of loyal, powerful, inquisitors which he could only get with using Hemalurgy to combine Feruchemy and Allomancy in people. Finally, using Hemalurgy on others allowed him to control them, in addition to making them much more powerful, so the risk posed by Ruin would be seen as worth the benefit, especially given that with his Allomancy and Feurchemy abilities he could almost certainly overpower any attempt Ruin made to control his troops.
    • I suppose I can see why he would decide to use it on his minions, then, if there was only a small risk from Ruin. But why would he use it on himself? He's already one of the most powerful allomancers, by virtue of being one of the first, and combining both abilities let him increase his Feruchemy to an insane level. The only reason for using it would be him wanting people to screw with his head.
      • The only Hemalurgy he used was those Atium bracers of his, and he could not risk those items being removed from his body as Vin demonstrated quite nicely.
      • But why use Hemalurgy in the first place? It would be entirely possible to have just regular bracers instead. This usually wouldn't bug me so much, except the last book implied he was only evil because Ruin was using Hemalurgy to drive him insane. Which he had absolutely no reason to use in the first place.
      • Because using regular bracers would mean a mistborn or lurcher could easily remove them from his being. Metal that's implanted in ones body is impossible to remove with everyday allomancy remember?
      • ^ That doesn't really answer the question. Just sticking metal into your body doesn't make it a Hemalurgic spike. There really is no reason he couldn't have used regular metal instead.
      • ^ Whether or not Lord Ruler actually used Hemalurgy on himself is debatable. The only thing we know for sure is he had two bracers impaled into his skin, and there was a reason for the implants.
      • ^ Whether or not the Lord Ruler used hemalurgy on himself has, for the moment, received a Shrug of God during a Q & A session, with an implied promise that it will be discussed in future books.
      • And while he's got metal implanted in him, he might as well take full advantage of it and enhance his powers even further. Personally, I'd say he was arrogant enough to think he wouldn't have to worry about Ruin (and Ruin is really about the only one powerful enough to influence the Lord Ruler through hemalurgy anyway, notwithstanding that it's not common knowledge that you can control hemalurgic beings via allomancy).
      • Just finished re-reading Hero of Ages, and this question is actually explicitly answered in Sazed's "annotations". Ruin talked to Rashek from inside the Well, just like he did to Vin, and though he wasn't able to convince Rashek to free him, he did teach him how to use Hemalurgy without cluing him in as to the cost. By the time Rashek figured that out on his own, he'd already created legions of monsters that could be controlled out from under him and had a psychotic god monologuing in his head, and it was too late...
    • I don't think that the Lord Ruler ever actually did use hemalurgy on himself. He did have that atium stuck in his flesh, but that was to keep people from Pulling/Pushing it rather than to use it hemalurgically. The reason Ruin could talk to him was because he took the power from the Well (ie, Ruin's power), not because he had a hemalurgic spike.
      • The power from the Well is Preservation's power, not Ruin's- it's there to keep Ruin bound (Sazed mentions in the headers that Rashek only touched one of the powers, which was Preservation's). Word of God is that he used hemalurgy on his atium bracers, and he probably didn't realize what it would do to him until it was too late.
    • You guys. The Lord Ruler is/was AN IDIOT! Okay?
      • Well, if you want to get technical, he was insane, not stupid. Still, the point that the man was canonically prone to illogical behavior stands.
    • Are you serious? 1: the bracers were not hemalurgic spikes, the were feruchemical metalminds. 2: they were not made of Atium, they were made of gold.
      • The bracers were atium- they needed to store youth, not health (though he presumably also had gold metalminds somewhere on him, considering his Healing Factor). Word of God indicates that he could also use them as spikes (since they pierced his skin) though we don't know what, if any, hemalurgic charge they carried.
  • I can't figure out how Allomancy is the power of preservation. I mean buring metal to gain power sounds more Feruchemish (taking something and converting it to energy) to me.
    • According to Word of God (not Brandon, Harmony) Allomancy is of Preservation because it does not deplete any of the user's own reserves, instead drawing on external power. Hemalurgy is of Ruin because every time you use it, power is lost (a spike doesn't hold all of someone's strength or speed or Allomancy). Feruchemy is of both because you first lose energy then get it back.
    • For one thing, we just have Sazed's word for it that Allomancy is of Preservation- he may be God now, but he's not entirely omniscient or omnipotent, and some of what he says in the headings was just guesswork. Apart from that, I'm not certain I understand what you're saying- burning metals to release energy is the definition of Allomancy- Feruchemy stores up the body's own energy for later use, and Hemalurgy leeches off someone else's. In any event, Allomancy uses the power in the metal, while preservation simply stores power, and Hemalurgy requires destruction to access its power (making it of Ruin). Really, both Allomancy and Feruchemy sound like Preservation at work to me, but hey...
      • Preservation works to prevent entropy, which requires energy to be constantly applied. Allomancy draws on that energy. Feruchemy draws its energy from the Feruchemist, just rearranging the time and place they can use their natural traits. Ruin is creative entropy. For anything created using Hemalurgy, the whole is less than the sum of its parts. i.e. for every Inquisitor, 8-20 Mistings/Feruchemists were killed.
    • Allomancy is of Preservation because it adds energy to the world that doesn't exist before. By metabolizing the metal, an Allomancer gets a burst of power from Perservation's own body, which is the source of all Allomantic power.(This is why Vin is able to draw on the mists, Preservation's body, for power.) Feruchemy is not of Preservation, because it does not add energy or release it from an existing source, but rather stores energy that the Feruchemist already has, and allows them to tap it later.
    • What is created or destroyed in these magics are aspects of the soul. Metals are just the catalysts. Humans are spiritually composed of Preservation and Ruin. It is their Preservation part of the soul that does Allomancy and it is that part of the soul which A) creates something out of nothing and B) isn't used up. Metals being "used up" is a natural limiter sort of how metalminds can be "filled up" or hema-spikes "leaked out".
    • Allomancy doesn't fit with the philosophy of Preservation. It removes something from the world permanently. For me it was a moment of Fridge Logic when I considered it later, as I had already thought about the fact that Allomancy is an inherently doomed magic system, In the end all the accessible metal in the planets crust will be used up. Then the Fridge Brilliance hit, Feruchemy is philosophically sound as a Preservation magic, however given the Chessmaster nature of Preservation, Allomancy is the only way of getting rid of atium. Meaning that Allomancy isn't Preservation's magic, but rather Preservation's tool to destroy Ruin's body. Not of Preservation, but created by Preservation, if that makes any sense.
      • I'm not sure about the metals truly being destroyed, atium isn't, may be the other metals weren't. It could be the metals became the mist after being burned, or perhaps went back down the mines. 1000 years is a long time for mines to stay open. The Lord Ruler built his city near mines, and several of those cities were around a while.
      • Honestly, though, Hemalurgy does seem more of a sucky kind of Preservation, since people's powers are normally lost when they die, and with Hemalurgy they are somewhat protected from destruction. You could make a decent argument that Sazed just has it backwards.
      • Except that you have to kill to use Hemalurgy, as far as we know, and energy still leaks out- uselessly, unless the spike is stuck in someone and said energy has somewhere to go. Word of God is that Ruin deliberately designed Hemalurgy to be Powered by a Forsaken Child so that people who were tempted by the power it offered would kill for it. (And Word of God is that Sazed is right).
    • Personally, I always thought that Sanderson contradicted himself by making Allomancy the power of Preservation. Wasn't it a major point that Preservation can only preserve, not create without Ruin's help? By that logic, Feruchemy would be a much better fit for Preservation, as power or knowledge is stored and therefore preserved within the metalminds. Allomancy, on the other hand, generates power that wasn't there before, which may fit with the general conception of Preservation being the 'good' god, but is not actually the same as preserving existing power.
      • Allomancy doesn't create new power- it uses the metal as fuel to access Preservation's power in comparatively small ways (except for Atium, obviously, which is fuelled by Ruin). None of the three magic systems create energy from nothing; the primary difference is where the energy comes from, how you get it, and what it does.
      • A minor point but I belive it's stated somewhere that burning metals dosen't create power, it just allows the Allomancer to access the power of Presevation that makes up their soul, hence why some Allomancers are more powerful and injesting Lerasium 'adds' on more power. It's mentioned by Sazed that before the Lord Ruler created modern Allomancers the mists were the only way to Snap people, as there was less overall Preservation in the human race.
    • Word of God has now talked about this; apparently which Shard a magic system stems from determines more how you get it than what it does. Allomancy is of Preservation because it grants extra powers, allowing the wielder to preserve their own strength. Hemalurgy is of Ruin because it requires the practitioner to harm others (and possibly the self) to use it. Feruchemy, which draws on the bodies own strength and neither permanently preserves or damages it (what with it being an Equivalent Exchange based system and all) is therefore of both/neither.
    • Allomancy burns the metal, but it doesn't destroy it - it converts it. The metal essentially becomes the energy that powers the Push or Pull of the allomancer. Both matter and energy cannot, by ordinary laws of physics, be created nor destroyed, but both may change form. The matter becomes energy, and probably coalesces back into matter eventually (due directly to Preservation's influence) so that (a) the amount of energy in the system doesn't get out of hand and (b) so that allomancy doesn't burn itself out. The net gain, perhaps, would be if the amount of energy gained is disproportionate to the amount of metal burned (I'm not about to run the math to see what would be needed for this to be true, but I presume mass defect calculations would be appropriate).
  • Marsh. The whole book was setting him up for a Heroic Sacrifice. Why didn't he follow through at the last moment? Instead, he stays under Ruin's control, beheads Elend, and is never heard from again. What happened to him? Was he just killed on the battlefield like a nameless mook?]]
    • The Heroic Sacrifice for Marsh was a Faux Shadow- he was only able to seize control of himself from Ruin once, and he thought he was going to use that to kill himself, when he wound up using it to tear out Vin's earring. As this enabled Vin to absorb Preservation's power, Marsh was indirectly responsible for the entire victory :), and got to live through it to boot (Word of God confirms he's alive, and has enough spikes to duplicate the Lord Ruler's powers, so he's immortal too link ). Also, I'd say he was more The Dragon (or at least a Giant Mook) than a regular mook at the final battle, but that's just Trope-picking.
      • Exactly. On top of this, it's suggested that although he would have liked to kill himself by pulling the key spike out of his back, he never could have (ie it was an impossible goal), because even if he regained enough control to try, Ruin would be able to stop him in time. He was able to pull out Vin's earring because it was faster/simpler than reaching around to pull out his own spike, and because Ruin wasn't expecting it.
    • Just to note, it has been confirmed Marsh will show up in a Mistborn sequel. link
    • In The Alloy of Law he's known as Ironeyes, and is the embodiment of death. He shows up at one point talking about carrying out his "brother's work". Word of God says that Kelsier's still alive and kicking somewhere out there, so the implications of this are very intriguing.
      • Kelsier's not alive, he's just hanging around as a spirit, refusing to move on to the true afterlife. Because he's stubborn and can't leave things alone.
  • Poor Marsh, first the Inquisitors, then Ruin itself. He does attract all the wrong kinds of attention. But I wonder, why did Ruin give Marsh a spike to manipulate age? From the look of things, it's plans were to kill or corrupt Vin so she doesn't become the new Preservation, find the rest of his body, then wipe out all life on the planet. Considering Vin was able to move the planet, I imagine if he wanted to, he could've just hurled the thing into the sun. Why would be need/want a nearly immortal Inquisitor?
    • Remember, once an Inquisitor has stolen feruchemical powers, his spikes double as metalminds, and Marsh had at least one atium spike so he'd acquire the power to burn atium in the first place. Knowing what he did about the Lord Ruler, I'm sure lots of possibilities would have opened up for Marsh once he was free of Ruin's control.
      • Who is the "he" in your second sentence referring to? I'm wondering why Ruin wanted to keep Marsh around for a long time. I might be mistaken (and I apologize if I am), but it seems like you explained why Sanderson kept Marsh alive.
      • My "he" referred to Marsh. I was saying that he got the potential to use the immortality
      • Ah. I don't think that works however. Even though he could burn atium, Marsh wouldn't have the power to store age unless it was taken from a Feruchemist.
      • As to why Ruin gave Marsh immortality, it may have been as part of a contingency plan. It's true that Ruin wanted to destroy the world quickly, but he was unable to because he didn't have enough power. If he failed to prevent Vin from ascending (and he did end up failing), then things would go back to a stalemate. Humanity would have hidden away in the Lord Rulers storage caverns for quite some time, as that is apparently what they were for, and the atium would have remained hidden as well. So he gives his servants immortality while he can, so he won't be completely screwed over if his plans end up failing and he can't create any more Inquisitors.
      • Humanity was created with more Preservation than Ruin. This made Preservation actually weaker than Ruin. I think Preservation managed to restore the power balance by taking a piece of Ruins's body and making it slowly coalesce in the Hathsin mine. Now that I think about it, I'm guessing Ruin gave Marsh and probably other Inquisitors immortality on the off chance that the search for that last bit of himself would take a long time.
  • Where the heck did Kelsier get the metals he used to fight his way out of Hathsin?
    • By-product of normal consumption? It's how Vin was getting by her entire life until Kelsier discovered her, and I imagine food for prisoners has quite a lot of dirt in it.
    • I figured he managed to find a shipment of Atium. We've seen in book three that even Mistborn can be defeated by someone only burning that metal.
    • I would say he wouldn't even have to find a shipment. He worked in the atium mine, he could have gone down 1 final time. Then came back up and kicked ass.
    • The guards who run Hathsin don't expect their charges to suddenly Snap, much less Snap into Mistborn, so they probably don't bother avoiding keeping metal around. Kelsier could have swallowed a random pewter spoon, used that to smash a table and eat the steel nails, and then start slugging people and shooting them with coat buttons. If nothing else, that would be enough to force his way into wherever they keep the atium.
  • Who taught Kelsier?
    • Kell's teacher is mentioned a couple of times, but never in great detail, and he goes pretty much unremarked. A mistborn that good? Surely this might be somethign to worry about? Sequel Hook?
      • Presumably he was a half-skaa Mistborn criminal like Kell and Vin who got very good in order to stay alive- beyond that, I'm pretty sure I saw Word of God confirming that he was dead, though I can't say where...
      • The sequel (if one is published) will take place several centuries after the events of the original trilogy. Ergo, even if the man survived, he will be dead by the start of the book.
      • There's going to be a Mistborn RPG released in November 2011, and it will apparently include a short story dealing with Kelsier's training. Check Sanderson's website for more details.
      • Kelsier's teacher was named Gemmel, and he's pretty badass, but also kind of crazy, and pushes Kelsier off buildings several times. There's also the fact that Kelsier notices the mists avoiding him, which tells me Gemmel probably has a Hemalurgic spike, which is how he's so damn good at Pushing and Pulling.
  • Zane's atium cache. Zane hid all the atium Straff gave him in a tree bole near Luthadel. Two things bug me about this: 1, why didn't Ruin find it? It might not have made much difference, but it was out on its own, not hidden by any other metal... 2, is this a Chekhov's Gun for a future novel? A Mistborn or Seer who happened across that atium could have a fight seriously turned in their favour.
    • I'd guess Ruin did find it, but it likely wasn't enough to seriously boost his powers. I'd say that it was more about showing that Zane was (literally) Crazy-Prepared and not as under Straff's boot as Straff thought.
    • Ruin did know about it, since he had heavy influence over Zane. However, as he taunted Vin and Marsh inferred, Ruin is adept at playing the long game. He had no need to seize it when one of his puppets already controlled it; the two are effectively the same in Ruin's mind. In fact, in a roundabout way you could also call it Ruin's cache instead of Zane's, since it's plausible he's the one that influenced Zane to cache the atrium rather than burn it given that Ruin probably didn't want any more of his body burned than needed.
  • Can one Mistborn (or spiked individual) Push and Pull on the same piece of metal at the same time, and essentially balance it a distance away from his body? If they do, could they then change the angle of the manipulation, and produce, essentially, telekinesis?
    • If it was possible, getting enough fine control to do something useful with it seems like it would be incredibly difficult, take a lot of practice, and still be clumsy compared to what, say, a Jedi could do. Add in the comparitive rarity of Mistborn and Inquisitors, I'd say its very likely that few people would even seriously try it for those reasons.
    • Zane did something similar to this by pushing and pulling the same coin to allow him to upright himself. This is supposed to show that he has crazy levels of control. Kelsier also pushed and pulled on long metal rods to get them to spin, also portrayed as more badass than a normal mistborn could do. Also note that no matter how many pushes and pulls one applies to something, the object's center of mass can still only be pushed or pulled in a straight line away from the body. Even if you can get the object itself to spin in any direct, you can't get full telekensis.
    • Since you can only Push/Pull directly toward/away your center of mass, I don't think you could ever really "hold" something still in place no matter how good your control was, because gravity would be pulling it down to the ground even if you got it hovering still in the air some distance from you. The only exception would be directly above your head, I guess. Other than that, the best you would be able to do would be to get objects to "orbit" like Kelsier did in his last fight.
    • In the House of Ashes novella, there's a mention of a Mistborn who constantly was Pushing and Pulling on all the metal around him equally, making his Pushes/Pulls exceptionally powerful whenever he lessened one of the two.
  • The Book 2 Wraith "Clues". Seriously, WTF is up with them being the least helpful possible? Would it have been *that* difficult to, say, carve a message into a mirror that says "Read the Steel" with steel underlined several times? And then gesture pointedly at it. None of this cryptic "rip out a sentence" nonsense.
    • This probably has something to do with the fact that the mist spirit has, at best, a vestigial remnant of a mind. Hero of Ages pretty much explicitly spells out that's why communicating with it is so hard- it's not really Preservation, just a distant echo of Him.
    • He couldn't talk (not enough power left), couldn't write (Ruin would change it), and couldn't even manifest directly without a great deal of effort (and being outside in the mist in the first place). He had pretty limited communication options.
      • They have mirrors in the palace, and Ruin can do jack shit about stuff written on steel. If the manifestation is strong enough to stab people and repeatedly cut out a specific portion of the page, it should be able to do that. Or just cut out the page in the shape of a message I guess, since I don't think Ruin can do such macro-scale stuff as reassemble a piece of paper that's been cut in half.
      • Vin's own experience with the power of Preservation shows that it wasn't just Ruin who was blinded by metal - both of the gods were. Preservation *couldn't* write in metal, any more than Ruin could.
      • Not a bad point re: tearing paper into letters, but Preservation was already pretty senile by this point (having given up too much of his power between creating humanity and imprisoning Ruin) so he probably didn't think of that.
      • Mirrors aren't metal. They're a thin sheet of silver or other reflective metal with a thin pane of glass set over them. Ruin can alter any message, even ones cut into glass, and do so with such swiftness that he can alter the words before someone who is watching the writing process can read them.
  • The 16 Allomantic non-god metals and Atium. As seen here there are 16 non-god and non-Atium metals, and therefore the same number of types of Misting, however, as shown in the last volume, a 16th of these are shown to be Atium Mistings, or Seers, implying that Atium is one of the sixteen. One possibility is one of the existing 16 Mistings, can also burn God-Metals, but you would think that Sanderson would have already pointed this out.
    • Word of God says that Preservation intentionally switched out one of the lesser known non-god metals (cadmium, I think) with Atium as part of his plan. This seems to be common knowlege in his forums
    • Major revision. After Sazed achieves godhood he explicitly says there are only two undiscovered metals (external aluminum and external duralumin), not the four there turned out to be when the official allomantic chart was released. This is likely because atium and malatium were supposed to be temporal metals in the original 16—atium is just external electrum, and malatium is just external gold.
  • Regarding Atium, it became hellishly rare during the last book, but there was one cache which wasn't mentioned or apparently noticed by anyone - Zane stored up almost all the atium his father gave him in a cache near the city, along with his mistcloak. Was that atium ever found, by Ruin, Preservation, the Kandra, or anyone else? If not, is there any chance it could be found and used at some point in the future?
    • I assumed that Ruin would know of the cache, and that the Steel Inquisitors took it for their spikes during the course of Hero of Ages. We know Marsh has at least one atium spike, and given the rate at which atium burns, even if Zane's cache was extremely large in Allomantic terms, it could still have been enough for only one spike. Presumably there were other stockpiles as well—we know that Straff, at least, had some—but again, the Inquisitors could easily have found and either burned these or used them for Hemalurgy.
  • It doesn't make sense that atium is Ruin. All through the third book, and maybe even earlier, I was expecting to find out that atium was Preservation's body or whatever. It would make perfect sense: atium lets you see the future and avoid any danger in it, just like Preservation lets you have a future. Then I get to the end and it turns out that atium is actually Ruin incarnate, just because it happens to be used mainly in combat. This makes no sense. Are there any metals made more of Preservation than they are of Ruin, or is the metallurgy system just unbalanced in Ruin's favor? Also, Ruin can't see metal, or change it the way he can change other things. I had figured that was because metal naturally degrades less than most other things (it varies, but it's certainly more stable than, say, organic material), but now apparently there's one kind of metal that is directly made out of him. Could he see writing on atium?
    • The metal that turned Elend into a Mistborn was Preservation's body; what it would do if burned by someone who was already Mistborn we don't know. Also, Ruin and Preservation apparently can't see or alter metal because it carries too much energy in this setting; remember that after Vin becomes Preservation she sees the pieces of metal Elend is using to fly as "spear of light"- in other words, it's too "bright" for the gods to look at, and as such they can't see it clearly or change it.
      • I think Brandon said that if a Mistborn burned that metal (Lerasium btw) it would double their power. Also, if you make alloys out of Lerasium and another metal it would make a Misting that could burn that metal. Except maybe atium.
    • It's also worth noting that making you insanely good at combat is only atium's allomantic application. It really shines in Hemalurgy, Ruin's own magic system, where per Word of God it can be used to steal any power or trait from the victim (whereas normally you're limited in what you can steal by what kind of metal your spike is made of).
    • According to Word of God (and as stated above), Preservation altered Allomancy to bring Atium into the fold. That turned Allomancy into a tool for depriving Ruin of its body (albeit temporarily), and by giving it such an extraordinarily useful power Preservation ensured that people would always want to burn it or at least hoard it away, (unknowingly) putting Ruin's body out of its reach.
  • How do Inquisitors heal so rapidly? They heal like they've got Feruchemical Gold, but apparently they just use Allomantic powers until Hero Of Ages? Word of God is that the Lord Ruler really was trying to exterminate the Keepers, so it seems unlikely the creation of Inquisitors would be dependent on a steady supply.
    • Hemalurgy can be used to steal more than just Allomantic and Feruchemic powers; it can steal non-magical abilities as well. Stolen physical strength+pewter is probably sufficient to do the trick.
    • It's actually possible to reuse spikes if an Inquisitor dies though the spike would lose energy before it's transferred of course. Considering that there were around 20-30 of them (Vin fights a bit over a dozen of them in book 3 and Marsh kills like ten of them in book 1) I'd say it's not a stretch for most of them to have gold spikes.
    • It's entirely possible that the availability of spikes containing Feruchemical Gold is a major limiting factor upon the number of Inquisitors that can be created. IE, it's so hard for them to find new Keepers to get new ones from, so they're more or less limited to however many spikes with that power they already have. It's also entirely possible, for that matter, that an aged unto retirement (for they don't get to have the Lord Ruler's youth trick) Inquisitor might store up a ton of health into his Gold spike before giving it up - in fact, they might combine it with a pewter burn/drag to have more health to store. That way, the new Inquisitor gets a charged goldmind, which could be important if they get too injured as the Inquisitors implant their spikes (as it seems they're not at all careful to avoid harming the subject - even though the spikes themselves cause little damage, if the victim/recruit struggles too much they might be hurt). Might be they do this with all of their metalminds.
      • feruchemy doesn't work that way. A Keeper/Inquisitor can only use a metalmind they've filled themselves. They can't use another's. Feruchemy, according to the notes in the appendix of The Alloy of Law, is a temporal shift of a person's attributes. Hemalurgy is the only art that can outright steal an attribute.
      • It is explicitly stated in the RPG that Hemalurgic Feruchemy allows you to use the metalminds that had been filled by the person the Feruchemical power was taken from, but only the ones appropriate to the taken power - this is because you are, in effect, using THEIR power. The same should extend to spikes that move from one person to another.
    • BTW, it's stated in the epigraphs of The Hero of The Ages that the original inquisitors were indeed given the power of feruchemical gold through hemalurgy. Note that it's not necessary for the healing feats shown by inquisitors for them to be compounders (though mistborn inquisitors would be), they heal on a level more similar to Wayne than to Miles from the sequel (i.e. the inquisitor giving Vin aluminium is said to still have scars from arrowheads). As for where they got the feruchemists to steal the power from, it's also possible that the breeding program also accounted for the propagation of some feruchemists just for this reason (keeping a close attention that they didn't mix with noble blood).
  • How does Aluminum fit into Preservation's theme? So, according to Brandon, Hemalurgy is related to Ruin because you have to kill someone in order to use it, and the transferred power is somewhat weakened by the process, thus creating a net loss. Meanwhile, Allomancy is of Preservation because, while it does consume bits of metal, it generates more power than those bits of metal are worth, creating a net gain. But then how does Aluminum fit into that? If an Aluminum Misting burns the metal, they don't accomplish anything except getting rid of that piece of metal, and if a Mistborn does it they lose that piece of metal as well as any others they have ingested. Where's the net gain in that?
    • Presumably, it's there to round out the enhancement metals and keep the whole thing balanced properly (since you've already got a metal that dramatically enhances your own powers by burning all your metals at once, one that enhances other peoples' metals, and one that drains other peoples' metals, the way allomancy is set up dictates a metal that draws the metaphorical short straw)- Preservation may not have much of a direct say in what, exactly, specific metals do under his magic system. Also, I think Word of God has hinted that there's more to aluminum that meets the eye, but don't quote me on that one.
    • Sanderson has now mentioned in a Q@A on 17th Shard that aluminum could be used to purge the body of unwanted or invasive magical effects as well, if you knew how. None of the characters appear to be aware of this, however (though I doubt it would be powerful enough to, say, force Ruin's influence out for long, since he's a Shard and all... wonder if it could protect you from being soothed/rioted, though?)
    • Perhaps the purpose of it in the system is to preserve allomancers? Consider, for a second, the effects of impure metal. Despite what Vin says in the second book, burning an impure metal can kill - it's highly unlikely, but it can happen. If an allomancer is physically quite weak (due to lifestyle, illness, or whatever else), burning an impure metal could kill them. Further, if an allomancer has too much unburned metal in their system, that could kill them - laid out pretty clearly in the RPG mechanics, in fact. Aluminum, and its external variant Chromium, exist to prevent that from happening. A Mistborn can get rid of their own excess metal (and it's probably not truly destroyed, though where it goes to is a different question), and a Misting can get a Mistborn or Leecher (Chromium Misting) to do so for them. Pretty convenient, and lifesaving should someone get tricked into eating a bunch of impure metals - Preservation would have to build a way into its power to prevent that power from killing its user (but, conveniently, the user can use the ability that power gives them without regard to Preservation's mandate, which fits nicely into its overall plan).
    • Note that the Ars Arcanum is an in-universe text, and some applications of metals may not have been considered by the author at the time of writing. For example, per above aluminum is capable of purging the one burning it of unwanted Investiture. As there are known world-hoppers in the Cosmere, an example of such a use that may not have been considered is burning aluminum to cancel Surgebindings; generating enough energy to do such would likely fit into Allomancy's end-positive schema.

  • Why didn't the Lord Ruler leave a note in metal outside the Well of Ascension saying, "If you release the power, you will release Ruin, the god of destruction, and probably destroy the world"? He knows about Ruin and metal, and if he did that and the person coming believed him, then the end of the world could be avoided. I know that it ended up better because he didn't, but there's no way the Lord Ruler could have known that.
    • Doubt it would have accomplished anything. TLR's loyal followers (the obligators and some of the nobility) wouldn't have needed any explanation beyond "stay out", and his enemies (power-hungry nobles and skaa rebels) would have assumed it was a trick. Plus, the Well was supposed to be secret and Ruin was screwing with his head. Honestly, the last explains a lot of his less-than-rational behavior as is pointed out in-universe.
  • According to Word of God, when Elend burned atium and duralumin at the same time, he saw and understood the future much farther in advance than atium normally allows, so he knew that if he just let himself die then Vin would destroy Ruin, Sazed would seize control of both Shards, and the world would be saved. If the duralumin/atium combo is that strong, how come Ruin never had an Inquisitor burn them together? We know he had at least a couple with both powers, so he could have used their insight into the future to find out about where the atium cache is hidden or if one of his Inquisitors was going to betray him. For a being with superhuman intelligence and thousands of years to plan, seems kinda odd this didn't occur to him.
    • He might not have considered it at all. Don't forget that Allomancy wasn't Ruin's power, it was Preservation's. All Ruin can really do is destructive stealing of those abilities It might, quite literally, sit outside of his area of knowledge.
    • Besides, Elend wouldn't have needed to see very far into the future to learn all those things. Atium normally just lets its user see what's going to happen a second or two before it does. Even with the duralumin + atium trick, Elend could have had that foresight extended up to what, an hour, maybe? Even less? There wasn't all that much time between him using that trick and all those events coming to pass. And Elend had all the atium in the world at his disposal. Ruin might have gotten an Inquistor to do the same thing, but anytime he does it there is no real guarantee for him that anything all that important will happen in the next sixty minutes, and it wastes a lot of atium, so why bother?
    • Also remember that Elend was an uncommonly powerful Allomancer, owing to how he became a Mistborn. Presumably the Lord Ruler didn't turn any of the other first-generation Allomancers into Inquisitors, so none of them were powerful enough to perform the same feat. Attempting to do the same through Hemalurgy would require many of the rarest Mistlings, which were also the only way to create more Inquisitors. Considering Ruin was already willing to wait a thousand years for his plans to come to fruition, trying to consolidate enough atrium spikes in one Inquisitor to see that far ahead versus having that many more Inquisitors probably didn't seem to be the greatest use of resources.
    • Yeah, the Inquisitor will see the future but Ruin can't read minds and can't make the Inquisitor tell him.
  • I understand why the earring prevented Vin from drawing on the mists most times she tried, but why was she able to draw on them in the first place? This gets even more puzzling when she absorbs all the mists, turning her into the next Preservation. I know the mists are Preservation's body, but could anybody have done what Vin did? If so (which I doubt), why didn't it happen sooner, and if not, why could Vin do it? She's not the Hero of Ages, Sazed is, and her ability to pierce copperclouds has an explanation, so what's special about her that allowed her tap into the mists?
    • I think it was just a combination of her strong natural affinity for allomancy (remember, the chapter headers of Hero of Ages reveal that she Snapped during her birth) combined with the fact that she was born around the time that the power would return to the Well and in the same city as the Well to boot. So Preservation's power singled her out early as an ideal host, and Ruin's interest in her followed shortly after.
    • Pretty much. Vin could draw on the mists because Vin was The Chosen One. Preservation and Ruin both noticed her and both went after her immediately. Preservation gave her the power to draw on the mists, Ruin drove her mother crazy and shoved the hemalurgic spike into her to cancel that out.
      • OP: The problem with the explanation that Vin is The Chosen One is that she is not, in fact, the Hero of Ages. That, in short, is my problem with this line of reasoning.
      • And how is that a problem? Vin wasn't The Chosen One of the prophecy, but that doesn't mean she couldn't get chosen indepdently of the prophecy to fill a different role. Vin was chosen to take up Preservation's power and kill Ruin, so that the Hero of Ages, aka Sazed, could combine both powers and restore the world.
      • So what if Vin isn't the Hero of Ages? Is there some cosmic export limitation on how many people gods can choose to invest power in that I was never made aware of?
    • Here's my theory. Preservation's body is spread across the earth in the form of mist, but he is still technically alive. When Vin is born, he allows her to use the mist, but was countered by Ruin. But if the earring was all that prevented her, why didn't she become preservation when her earring was ripped off by the lord ruler? Because preservation is still alive. He granted her the power to draw on the mists, not to consume them. However, by the end of Hero of Ages, Preservation is well and truely dead (we know for certain because he left a corpse). Therefore, when Marsh rips off the earring, the raw power already had a conduit to Vin, and was now looking for a new host. When Vin becomes preservation, she consumes the mist. All of it. Preservation's power has been diluted into mist since he lost his mind thousands of years ago. Now it is all concentrated in one place. Vin. So when Vin dies, Preservation's powers have no guide at all and are centered around her corpse. Theoretically, anyone could have tapped them, since the power was desperate for a wielder. As for Ruin, his power was never diluted, just stolen and imprisoned. So you have power sources that are no longer guided by any directive other than "Find new owner" free for Sazed to snatch right up, and then hey presto insta-God.
    • It's all explained in the epigraphs of the third book: the Well of Ascension also had the function of attuning the user to Preservation's power, so that before the Well, Vin was not able to completely absorb the mists as she did later, and this is why she didn't ascend as Preservation when facing the Lord Ruler. It's also stated that the death of Preservation's mind after appearing to Elend made the mists desperate to be absorbed, and that only Vin was able to draw upon them because she was chosen by Preservation. If anything, it's strange that Sazed could absorb them, but that's probably because he's the Hero of the Ages
    • It is also important to remember that until Ruin was released, Preservation's mind was still around, albeit weakened greatly. It wasn't until Preservation's mind completely died at Ruin's hands that Vin could inherit Preservation's power.
    • Word of god says we don't know yet, that's in a future book. Knowing Sanderson, it won't necessarily even be a future Mistborn book.

  • How was Preservation able to stab Elend with a sword? By that point in time, he was unable to do anything other than "protect". His whole plan came about because he needed someone who could "destroy to protect", so even though he planned to heal Elend later, he shouldn't have been able to hurt him.
    • Injury and damage are within Preservation's purview, as long as it is part of the process of preservation. That's the entire reason why he was able to formulate a plan based around using Vin to kill Ruin in the first place. What's the difference between the sword he uses to strike down Elend, and Vin? Both are weapons to destroy something to preserve something greater. Preservation is, in and of itself, tied in with small-scale destruction; minor acts of destruction are fundamental to most methods of repair, after all.
    • Ruin is stated to be aware that "by building one thing, he can knock down two others" and capable of acting accordingly. It stands to reason that Preservation understands the analogous process, and could thus injure Elend in order so that people nearby would give him the Lerasium bead.
      • Preservation didn't injure Elend in order to make him Mistborn; it was to try to make Vin use the Well's power to heal him, so she wouldn't release Ruin.
    • The difference between Preservation not being able to destroy Ruin himself - hence imprisoning him instead, and ultimately needing Vin to do it for him - and being able to stab Elend, is the fact that he knew Elend would be healed and thus not die. Vin would heal him either with the power of the Well, or with the Larasium bead (via pewter). But destroying Ruin outright, no qualifiers - that he could not do, because of his nature as Preservation.
  • During her fight with Zane in The Well Of Ascension, Vin swallowed a big ball of lead. Shouldn't that have had consequences?
    • I'm assuming she forced it back up offscreen (she mentions doing so earlier, albeit that was when she thought it was atium and didn't want to waste it). Pewter probably protected her from adverse side-effects.
  • The Lord Ruler is constantly generating an immensely powerful Soothing. Creations of Hemalurgy are vulnerable to emotional Allomancy. How are Marsh the Inquisitor and OreSeur the kandra able to conspire against him?
    • TLR wasn't trying to control either of them; he can control his hemalugrically-created servants with allomancy, but the only ones he seems to bother to do so at all times are the koloss (because the consequences of not controlling the race of gigantic super-strong berserkers at all times would be catastrophic)- the Inquisitors are quite clearly capable of exerting themselves independently of TLR when they feel like it (Kar and Bendal's whole plot against the obligators was plainly something he hadn't sanctioned, judging from his downright exasperated reaction to finding out about it), and the kandra were largely left to their own devices. Just being in radius of a general soothing wouldn't be enough. TLR never had knowledge that OreSeur was conspiring against him at any point, and after he found out that Marsh was a traitor, he just seemed to intend to beat him up for a while, then kill him.
    • Also keep in mind that he may not have realized that you could control Inquisitors with emotional allomancy, and neither Vin nor Elend even tried to control them. Inquisitors can only be controlled by Ruin.
      • Vin does it to Marsh in Yoman's palace, and it works. TLR probably knew it could be done; but again, he didn't see Marsh as a threat at that point, so he didn't bother.
      • No, Vin didn't. She used emotional allomancy on Marsh while he was still human. She never used it on him while he was an Inquisitor.
      • Yes she did, chapter 65 of The Hero of the Ages. She couldn't break his resistance with just a duralumin-enhanced soothing, but drawing upon the mist she managed to do it, though without being able to maintain control. She does get a glimpse of Ruin's mind and sends Marsh running, so that's still a success.
      • Irrelevant to the point of this discussion, which is about Inquisitors being emotionally controlled by the Lord Ruler. The Lord Ruler never had access to the mists.
  • TenSoon implies that back when Allomancers were stronger, Mistings could take control of kandra on their own. They were stronger because they were closer to the original Mistborn, and you don't get closer than burning lerasium, but in The Hero of Ages, Elend has to use duralumin. Is this just a case of area-of-effect Soothing and Rioting being less effective than focusing on a single target, at least as far as Hemalurgic interactions are concerned?
    • Controlling kandra demands a deliberate effort on the part of a Mistborn to control them, and at no point does Elend try to control a kandra directly. He uses duralamin to try to take control of koloss from an opposing Inquisitor who also had duralamin and was backed by Ruin.
    • Yes, sorry, that's what I meant, Elend has to use duralumin on the koloss. It just bugs me because, having twice as many spikes as kandra, you'd think koloss would be twice as vulnerable. Or does the number of spikes only count when Ruin's the one taking control?
      • It only counts for Ruin. Also, remember again that there was an Inquisitor opposing him, and Inquisitors have tons of spikes that grant them additional powers, on top of possessing duralamin. That makes the difference.
      • Especially since in that case Elend had to wrest control of the Koloss from the inquisitor, and that's harder than controlling a free one.
      • Two other points: 1. Elend didn't know he could do it with only brass or zinc, so he would use duralumin anyway. 2. He was trying to control several thousand koloss at once. Affecting that big an area does make a difference. Even a brass savant like Breeze can only affect a few hundred people at once unboosted.
  • In the sequels aluminium is stated to be allomantically inert, meaning that it can't be Pushed or Pulled with allomancy. How come no one seems to notice in the original trilogy? That would have made a great weapon for Hazekillers, tipped on its use as an allomantic metal (which was kept secret by the Lord Ruler) and lead to the discovery of duralumin much earlier, etc. Note that while not common, aluminum is stated to have been used at least for silverware by the nobles, meaning that some allomancer should have been around it, sooner or later.
    • Aluminum doesn't make good weapons. On the other hand, it's clear that the Lord Ruler had at least an idea of its properties; he did leave details of the other metals in the storage caches, after all. He might have specifically repressed knowledge of it, in the same way that he kept gunpowder secret. When you control the world through god-like magic, Anti-Magic becomes something of an annoyance.
    • They would have certainly noticed it, but the knowledge would have been of exceptionally limited use. It can't be Pushed or Pulled, so it's as useless to Steel or Iron Mistlings as stone or wood. It's terribly expensive, because the Lord Ruler has suppressed much of the technology that would eventually lead to cheap production becoming available. It makes poor weapons (aluminum has high malleability and ductility), so outfitting Hazekillers with weapons made from it would be worse in virtually every way than simply equipping them with weaponry made from sharpened stone and wood. Think of it in the same way a story about Iron Age soldiers finding a massive gold vein; it's a metal, but it's virtually useless for any purpose relevant to the story being told.
  • Hemalurgy requires the death of someone with a certain ability by a certain metal so the power can be stolen, right? So how did Vin's mother kill Vin's sister with an earring?
    • She stabbed her with it. Repeatedly. She could apparently hear Ruin (whether because of some innate craziness or she just had a spike somewhere no one ever noticed), and he told her what to do.
    • Or maybe she was a coinshot/lurcher, and used an allomantic Push/Pull to do the deed.
  • Why do people in the book call Ruin "him"?'
    • When he manifests in a discrete form, he generally takes male shapes ( Reen, Kelsier, Lord Ruler etc.). Vin thinks of Ruin as "it" before she meets him in a form she can interact with. Also, in the context of the Cosmere, Ati (the person who became Ruin) was apparently a guy, though I'd question exactly how relevant the pre-Shard gender would be as anything but trivia.
  • How can Steel Inquisitors be able to burn Duralumin? They would need to steal the power from a Duralumin misting, but given that the metal has no visible effects, they could do so only if they happened to be burning bronze while standing in close proximity to one such misting while they're burning Duralumin... and given that Duralumin burns instantly and doesn't exist in nature (therefore it's impossible for a misting to ingest it and burn it unconsciously), that's highly unlikely.
    • Mistborn possess the ability to burn every Allomantic metal, and presumably the Steel Inquisitors were able to get a hold of Mistborn at some point in time. This can also be seen as a limiting factor to Ruin's influence: every Mistborn that an Inquisitor is able to spike forces Ruin to choose which power to steal. Does Ruin choose to give an Inquisitor the ability to heighten the burning of every metal, or spike in another spot and give an Inquisitor the ability to Soothe?

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