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The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

By Larsson Stieg

  • Window Douglas’s

Stieg Larsson was born in Sweden in 1954. He grew up living with his grandparents in a rural community where he had to use cross-country skis to get to and from school; he loved it there, much more than the urban environment he lived in with his parents after the death of his grandfather. Larsson started out with an interest in science-fiction and, in the 1970’s, he wrote many short-stories, edited fanzines, and became of the Swedish science-fiction fan club called Skandinavisk Forening for Science Fiction. Larsson also worked as a journalist and had strong political convictions which led to his creation of the Swedish Expo Foundation, aimed at counteracting the growth of white power in schools. In the early 1990’s Larsson worked to expose extreme right-wing and racist organizations in Sweden by documenting the research he discovered and having it published.

Larsson died of a heart attack in 2004 and, after his death, the manuscripts for three novels were discovered. The novels had been written for some time though he never made a move to have them published until just shortly before his death, as he wrote them for his own enjoyment. Posthumously the novels were published; the first of which, “Men Who Hate Women”, was published in the US as “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and earned Larsson the Glass Key Award in 2005. Subsequently the second and third novels, “The Girl who Played With Fire” and “The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” were published in 2006 and 2010, respectively. Reportedly, there also a great deal of a fourth novel found as well as the outlines for a fifth and sixth, expecting to culminate in ten novels total. The novels are now being adapted to film.


Throughout the series Lisbeth Salander is seeking revenge for “All the Evil” and the events that came from it. She was framed by her own father, his colleagues, and even her doctor, in a way that would give her a bad reputation and shape the way she lived her life. She is determined to get revenge on the people who wronged her in the past and forced her to life her life in solitude and secrecy. She also seeks revenge on those who have degraded her, like Nils Bjurman. Rather than just kill the people she wants to punish she uses her extreme intelligence and technological savvy to not only get back at them but to make them feel as she has felt.



Justice is a theme central to the series as Blomkvist, Salander, and their friends at Millennium and Milton Security are constantly investigating cases in a means to seek justice. Most of the series deals with Salander’s secretive past and the exposure of the men who were responsible for making her life hell. The third novel deals with justice the most as it involves proving Salander’s innocence in so many areas of her life that have been fabricated and covered up by members of the Section, an elite secret unit of Sweden’s Sapo.



Everyone has sex in this novel, especially Blomkvist who seems to be a sort of lady’s man. In the first novel, Blomkvist has a sexual relationship with Berger, Cecilia, and Salander, Salander is raped by her guardian Nils Bjurman, and they find out that Harriet was raped by her father and brother when she was younger. In the second novel, Blomkvist has sex with Berger and Harriet, and Salander has sex with George and Mimmi. In the third novel, Blomkvist has sex with Berger and Figuerola and Salander has sex with a married man while on vacation. Also, one of the main plots in the novel involves the sex trade in Sweden.



There are many ethical issues in the series, including rape, murder, Nazi-ism, lies, deceit, violence against women, and casual sexual relationships. While the main characters of Blomkvist and Salander may not seem to be the most ethical characters due to their liberal view of sex, their invasive investigative strategies, and their propensity for lies and revenge, they are much more ethical than the corrupt and often violent men that they work to bring down and expose. Salander, at one point, mentions to her lawyer Annika Giannini that she does not expect her to do anything illegal but does expect her to turn a blind eye to her own illegal activity.


Violence against women

There is a large amount of violence in this series, especially violence against women. Early in Salander’s life she dealt with watching her mother being abused by her father, after she was institutionalized she was forcibly strapped down for nearly half of the time she spent there, and she was raped by her guardian, Nils Bjurman. A group of men that Blomkvist and Salander are trying to bring down operate the sex trade in Sweden and have interest in violent pornography. Salander also steps into the property that she inherited from her father only to find that women were held there against their will and often killed.



Technology is central to Lisbeth Salander’s life. She is a hacker who goes by the hacker name of Wasp and she uses her skills to break into the computers of anyone she wants information on.When Salander and Blomkvist are not able to communicate with one another freely they do it discretely by leaving messages for one another on his computer which she has hacked in to. Also when she is in the hospital he sends her PDA in to her where she can communicate with almost anyone and also use the internet for research purposes. Everything in the series revolves around technology: Milton Security, email, computers, PDA’s, cell phones, video recorders, multimedia, etc.



Salander has never been able to rely on her own identity because there are too many negative assumptions and lies that go along with it, so she often goes by alternative identities, such as Irene Nesser. The ability to change her identity at the drop of a dime helps Salander to get information she would otherwise not be privy to, to move around undetected, and to transfer all the money belonging to a corrupt financier, Wennerstrom, into her own bank account. For a long time, Salander was living her life as the person that everyone thought she was, and it is not until she is vindicated that she can finally live life as herself.



There are many family connections within this novel and very few of them are positive. In the first, the extended Vanger family is being investigated for the disappearance of Harriet Vanger some forty-years earlier. It turns out that Harriet was being raped by her own father and brother. In the second and third novels, it comes out that Salander tried to kill her own father after watching him abuse her mother for years and in return he ruined her life by fabricating a police report and throwing her into a mental institution. She also learns that a giant blond man who is trying to kill her is her brother, Niedermann. The only positive familial relationship seems to be between Blomkvist and his sister, Annika.



Nearly every character in the novels is a criminal in some form. The lesser criminals are trying to expose those who are guilty of greater crimes. There are people guilty of lying, cheating, spying, breaking and entering, planting false evidence, murder, rape, sex trafficking, kidnapping, attempted murder, assault, participating in child labor, child pornography, drug trafficking, and technological warfare. There are criminals representing nearly every area of illegal activity imaginable. The good guys and bad guys are separated by those who commit crimes for the greater good and those who commit crimes out of pure corruption, deceit, and violent tendencies.



Lisbeth Salander lives in isolation for half of her life. After being committed to the mental institution, Lisbeth realized that she was being treated unfairly and was given a bad reputation. Once she was released into foster care and then guardianship she became a loner and lived up to the bad, and false, reputation that she was given. She did not ever allow herself to get close to anyone and had several one night stands. When she met Blomkvist she was taken aback by how sincere and kind he was toward her. Every time someone seemed helpful or nice Lisbeth assumed that they had an ulterior motive. She kept herself away from society, and immersed herself in a world of technology and spying so she would not have to feel the neglect and betrayal that she suffered at the hands of her own family.

Lisbeth Salander

Lisbeth is a highly intelligent hacker with a knack for investigation and a thirst for revenge. She is pegged in the media as a psychotic serial-killer who is a lesbian and into S&M. Salander tried to kill her father when she was twelve years old after watching him abuse her mother for years. He was a very powerful man who had Lisbeth locked away and deemed insane and who eventually tries to kill her. She lives most of her life in isolation and trusts no one after being betrayed by her own family. She eventually learns to trust a handful of people who prove their worth when they risk their own lives to bring down the people who are trying to destroy her.


Mikael Blomkvist

Blomkvist, also referred to as “Kalle”, is a journalist who does investigative reporting and is quite the lady’s man. He is quite ethical, despite his propensity for sex and spying, and is a die-hard friend to Salander even when she does not want him to be. He has a strong desire to expose people who are committing wrongful acts, such as a corrupt financier, a rapist/murderer, sex traffickers, and dishonest members of the government. He is the publisher of Millennium magazine, which focuses mostly on government and economic issues. He finds out the truth about Salander’s life and works hard to take down the men responsible for “All the Evil” that got her locked up.


Erika Berger

Erika Berger is the editor-in-chief of Millennium, though she briefly works for SMP. Berger and Blomkvist have had an ongoing affair for over twenty years despite her marriage to Greger Beckman; in fact, her husband has no problem with the affair. Erika remains a good friend to Blomkvist and is eager to help him in any investigations he may be working on, including Salander’s case. Salander intensely distrusts and dislikes Erika because of her relationship with Blomkvist but in the end is forced to admit that Erika is her ally and is completely trustworthy. Erika is responsible for printing many stories that blow the cover on corrupt activities.


Dragan Armansky

Armansky is the head of Milton Security, the company that Lisbeth Salander does her freelance investigative work for. He does not always have the relationship with Lisbeth that he develops by the end of the series. He does not find her trustworthy, and believes the rumors about her, but she is a great investigator so he keeps hiring her. When Armansky finally sees who Salander really is he works with Blomkvist to expose the Section and the elaborate betrayal of Salander that they set into motion when she was only twelve years old. Despite his initial skepticism, he proves an invaluable ally.


Nils Bjurman

Nils Bjurman is the guardian who is assigned to Salander after her original guardian, Palmgren, is assumed dead. He is into violent pornography and sexually abuses Salander on more than one occasion. She gets back at him by tattooing “I am a pig, a pervert, and a rapist” on his stomach and video-taping her rape. He is murdered by Niedermann when it becomes apparent that he knows too much about Zala and has connected Zala with Salander. Bjurman makes a final appearance in at Salander’s trial when the video of her rape is shown to the court, proving that Salander is not lying about her life story. The video is so gruesome that the judge cannot watch it.


Miriam “Mimmi” Wu

Mimmi is a good friend of Salander and is a sociology student. She is a lesbian who works at an erotic clothing store called Domino Fashion and she and have a sexual relationship. Mimmi does not learn about Salander’s past until the second book. She had been living in Salander’s old apartment when it was raided, and she was taken into for questioning about Salander’s whereabouts.Mimmi remains a good friend to Salander throughout the series though when Salander is on trial Mimmi is staying in Paris with her parents where she is attending school.


Annika Giannini

Annika is a lawyer and the sister of Mikael Blomkvist; she is married and has two children. Generally her legal expertise centers on women’s issues but during the final book she reluctantly agrees to serve as Salander’s lawyer in her murder trial. Annika is annoyed with having to visit Salander in the hospital all the time, especially when she will not reveal any personal details about herself and she and Blomkvist keep many secrets between the two of them. Annika proves to be invaluable in the courtroom and has Salander cleared of all charges and released from her guardianship.


Alexander “Zala” Zalachenko

Zala is first revealed to have something to do with sex trafficking, as discovered by Dag Svensson. Eventually it is learned that Zala is a very powerful man who gets away with anything he wants because of all the government secrets he knows; he is also Lisbeth Salander’s father. After Salander tried to burn Zala alive for abusing her mother, he had a false police report written and had her committed to St. Stefan’s Psychiatric Center where Dr. Teleborian worked with him to ensure that she would be seen as extremely mentally ill and never escape the stigma. He catches up to Salander, shoots her three times, and buries her unaware that she is still alive. She axes him in the face, and, when he is in the hospital, he is killed by a member of the Section because he knows too many secrets.


Ronald Niedermann

Niedermann is also referred to as the blond giant. He is responsible for the murders of Dag Svensson and Mia Johansson after they discover Zala’s involvement in the sex trade. He also murders Nils Bjurman after he sees that he has made the connection between Zala and Salander.Niedermann works closely with his father, Zala, to kill his sister, Salander, though she escapes death.He is on the run for a very long time while his father dies, and Salander recovers and stands trial but he is found by Salander at the end of the series when she is exploring a property left to her by Zala.Salander leaves him at the mercy of a vicious motorcycle gang and the police.


Jan Bublanski

Bublanski is in charge of the investigation into the murders of Dag, Mia, and Bjurman.At first the evidence points to Lisbeth Salander and that is what he believes, but eventually he realizes that she is being framed. Bublanski and a few others work very closely with Blomkvist in the investigation into the Section and their massive cover-up that led to Salander being institutionalized. He is a very moral and ethical character who proves to be a very powerful and trustworthy ally for team-Salander.


Holger Palmgren

Palmgren is Salander’s original guardian when she is put under guardianship. They have a very close relationship and he is one of the few people that Salander finds herself able to trust and confide in. When Palmgren suffers a stroke, Salander thinks that he has died and she receives Nils Bjurman as her new guardian. In the second book, Salander finds out that Palmgren has been alive the whole time and is living in a rehabilitation center. He always works to protect Salander as is evidenced by the fact that he got her the job at Milton Security, and he testified strongly in her favor at her trial; he delivered evidence that another doctor at St. Stefan’s tried to stop Dr. Teleborian from abusing her.


Dr. Peter Teleborian

Dr. Teleborian was the head psychiatrist at St. Stefan’s Psychiatric Center to which Salander was committed when she was twelve years old. He gave her drugs that would affect her mood, strapped her to her bed almost half of the two years that she spent there, and fabricated false reports that labeled her as mentally unstable. Teleborian has been working in cahoots with the Section but that is not the worst of it, he is also into child pornography. When Salander hacks his computer she finds over 9,000 pornographic images of children and learns that he belongs to a network of people who trade child pornography with one another.


Monica Figuerola

Figuerola is a member of the branch of Sapo known as “the Unit” which serves to protect the constitutional rights of the Swedish people. Figuerola is very intense and passionate, she loves working out and reading, and she works very hard to help Salander’s case even when it involves risking her own life. She develops a sexual relationship with Blomkvist which quickly turns into something more for her, and surprisingly seems to turn into something more for him, as well. She has a problem with his relationship with Berger but Berger promises to stay out of the way as long as they want her to.


Henrik Vanger

Henrik Vanger is the patriarch of the extended Vanger family and former head of the Vanger Corporation which is, during the first book, run by his nephew Martin. He hires Blomkvist to investigate the disappearance and assumed death of his niece Harriet which occurred some forty years earlier and to write a Vanger family biography. Vanger is suspicious of his family, especially his three Nazi brothers who dislike him because he married a Jewish woman and he thinks that a family member is responsible for Harriet’s disappearance. If Blomkvist can solve the case, then Vanger will be sure that he receives the information he needs to take down corrupt financier, Wennerstrom.


Dr. Anders Jonasson

Dr. Jonasson is responsible for keeping Salander alive after she is shot three times by her father, Zala. Dr. Jonasson has heard of Salander’s reputation and knows that she is the prime suspect in three murders, but he does not care, his only job is to dig the bullet out of her brain and keep her alive. Dr. Jonasson quickly realizes that Salander is not what the media is portraying her to be and keeps her safe from harm while she is in his care, even refusing to allow Dr. Teleborian anywhere near her. At the request of Blomkvist Dr. Jonasson sneaks Salander’s PDA to her while she is in the hospital so they can keep in contact.

Lisbeth Salander and her father, Alexander Zalachenko who tried to kill her, are flown to Sahlgrenska Hospital. Zala is being treated for the axe wound to the face that Salander gave him. Salander is being treated by Dr. Jonasson who thinks someone was very smart to have covered Salander’s hip and shoulder wounds with duct tape to keep them clean. Jonasson realizes that there is a bullet in Salander’s brain and though he finds out that she is the prime suspect in a triple murder case that has no bearing on the fact that he is going to make sure she lives. Mikael Blomkvist is still at Zala’s farmhouse, handcuffed, and rethinking what has happened. He duct taped Salander’s wounds, set her keys, fake passport, and PDA in his briefcase, and waited for the police to arrive. He directed them to Niedermann, who he tied to a road sign earlier, and two men were sent to get him. Blomkvist called the cop, Paulsson, a moron because he only sent two men so Paulsson arrested Blomkvist for having a gun on him. Salander’s bullet-removal surgery went well, and Jonasson was able to get the bullet and bone fragments from her brain. Blomkvist finds out that Niedermann killed one officer and injured the other before getting away and he is furious. He calls Jan Bublanski to tell him the news and Bublanski updates Jerker Holmberg and Sonja Modig on the new information. Blomkvist and Inspector Marcus Erlander have found evidence that leads them to believe Salander was buried alive at the farm.

Modig and Holmberg head to Goteborg to meet up with Blomkvist and Erlander. Blomkvist finds out that Salander is recovering from surgery, but still unconscious and Zala is recovering as well. Blomkvist tells the others he knows where Salander has been living, but he does not want to say because she has nothing that is private anymore and an innocent person should not be treated that way. Richard Ekstrom, who had been in charge of the murder investigation, is nervous about meeting Bublanski because he had put all the heat on Salander and it turns out she is innocent. Gunnar Bjork is brought in to be questioned because he is the person who wrote the report that institutionalized Salander when she was only twelve. Blomkvist calls his sister Annika to be Salander’s lawyer, though she is reluctant to represent Salander. There are eight people who Niedermann is suspected of killing and another woman, Anita Kaspersson, has gone missing and it seems Niedermann is guilty of that, as well. Annika visits Erika Berger at Millennium and learns that Erika has taken a new job with a different publication and will be leaving Millennium though she has not told anyone yet. Annika tells her she must share the news as soon as possible, especially with Blomkvist. Erika delivers the news at a meeting and Malin Eriksson is given her job as editor-in-chief.

Modig and Erlander question Zalachenko at the hospital. He wants to press charges against Salander, his daughter, for trying to kill him and denies the claims that he was abusing Salander’s mother years ago.  He says that Niedermann had been abusing him, and he has no idea where the man has gone. When Salander regains consciousness she is able to count to ten which is a relief to Dr. Jonasson because it means he did not damage her brain with the surgery. She remembers everything including being shot by Zala and buried alive by Niedermann, she even remembers being found by Blomkvist and is happy to be alive. Salander takes a nap and when she wakes she finds out that Zala is still alive and just down the hall from her. Blomkvist, who is also well-rested, begins writing the story of Lisbeth Salander on his iBook. The women who had disappeared, Anita Kaspersson, is found alive, but Niedermann has not been seen. Blomkvist returns to Sweden and has breakfast with Christer Malm, art director of Millennium, and her boyfriend. Malm tells Blomkvist about Berger’s new job. Blomkvist goes to see Berger and tells her that he is not mad, but he wants her to write a last piece for Millennium about Salander and Zala.

The members of the Svavelsjo Motorcycle Club are in search of Niedermann. They go to the house of their treasurer, Viktor Goransson, and find that he and his girlfriend have both been shot dead, and all of the money the Club had saved up is gone. Zala is visited by one of the Security Police, Jonas Sandberg. Zala tells Sandberg that if the situation with Salander does not disappear he will go public with all of the political secrets he has been holding on to. When Salander hears Sandberg’s voice asking to see Zala she realizes that he is only two rooms away from her. When Sandberg leaves Zala worries about Niedermann and is comforted in the fact that there does not seem to be anyone who is aware that Niedermann is his son. The Stockholm police make the decision to arrest Bjork for writing the police report in 1991 that suggested Salander be committed to St. Stefan’s. They also wonder what to do about Dr. Teleborian because it seems obvious that he told them lies about Salander’s time at St. Stefan’s. Andersson praises Modig for her good instincts, as she was the only one who realized that Dr. Teleborian was lying the first time they questioned him.

Blomkvist spends some time catching up with Berger; the two have been in an ongoing affair for twenty years. The next day Blomkvist meets with Armansky, head of Milton Security, who wants to support Salander as long as his contribution is legal. Evert Gullberg, a seventy-eight year old man, checks into a hotel in Stockholm. He has been a member of the Sapo, Security Police, for his entire life. In the 1960’s, he worked for a top-secret branch called “the Section” which allowed him to spy on anyone in Sweden, including government officials, without permission. The Section is responsible for giving Zala his new identity and covering up his crimes. Zala stops being quite so violent for a while, until he refuses to stop beating his girlfriend, Agneta Salander, and their daughter Lisbeth throws a gas bomb at him. The Section has Lisbeth locked up in a mental institution for fear that the information she leaks could uncover the existence of the Section and its role in covering up Zala’s crimes; they are helped by Dr. Teleborian who used to work for Sapo. Now Zala is back in Gullberg’s life as the mess with he and Salander is threatening the Section. Salander can hear Zala outside of her hospital room, and grabs a nurse’s pencil for protection before she falls asleep.

Gullberg is retired now but visits the new head of the Section, Birger Wadensjoo, to discuss with him and Jonas Sandberg what they will do about Zala. A nurse finds Salander’s pencil and takes it away and Salander confides in Dr. Jonasson that Zala tried to kill her; he tells her he will visit again soon. The Section decides to get Ekstrom on their side and then to take Bublanski and Modig off the case because they are on Salander’s side. They will put Faste in charge because he hates Salander and they must find every copy of Bjork’s report to have Salander committed. When the meeting is over, Gullberg visits Fredrik Clinton, a sixty-eight year old man who is dying, and asks him to come back into the Section for one last job. The Section is going to keep a watch on Blomkvist and his sister, Annika Giannini, and steal their copies of Bjork’s report and Gullberg thinks that he has a way to convince Zala to hold on to the secrets he knows. Modig and Erlander visit Salander in the hospital and tell her that Annika is going to be her lawyer, which Salander agrees to. She says she has no idea of Niedermann’s whereabouts and realizes that they do not seem to know that he is her brother. Modig informs Salander that Zala wants to press charges against her, but they do not believe him. Salander wonders if they have ulterior motives because they are being too nice.

Blomkvist, Armansky, and Holger Palmgren decide to work together to prove that Salander is innocent and to expose the secrets that have been hidden for so long. Gullberg takes a train into Goteborg and writes twelve letters on his way, being sure to leave his fingerprints on each. At the station, he makes copies and mails out the originals. Salander wakes from a nap and sees that Zala was watching her while she was sleeping. As he heads back to his room she decides that she can break the glass next to her bed and use it as a weapon to kill him; but just when he is getting up from bed a nurse makes her lie back down. Annika comes to visit Salander and gives her a coded message from Blomkvist which Salander takes to mean that her secrets are safe with him. Gullberg faxes the copies of his letters to several people and then heads to the hospital where he shares an elevator with Annika who is visiting Salander again. Gullberg goes into Zala’s room and shoots him in the head three times then goes to Salander’s room and waves his gun at Annika. Annika blocks the door and locks herself and Salander in the bathroom. Gullberg goes back to Zala’s room, sits in the chair, and shoots himself in the head. He lives for a few days after Dr. Jonasson operates on him, and it is revealed to the public that he is a tax lawyer who was being investigated by the Sapo and had threatened Zalachenko. It turns out that Gullberg had cancer and was going to die so the suicide mission was a means for Zala to be silenced and the Section to stay secret. Bjork is hung to die in his home by two men who make it look like another suicide. Annika is attacked and her briefcase carrying the Bjork report is stolen, and Blomkvist’s copy is stolen as well from his apartment. Blomkvist is sure his phone is bugged so he calls Annika and says in his most worried and frantic tone that their key piece of evidence is gone.

Berger is starting her first day at her new job, the news organization Svenska Morgon-Posten (SMP). She goes to the glass-cage office of editor-in-chief Hakan Morander where she can see the whole newsroom. He tells her that she needs to help SMP because it is in trouble. Blomkvist is being followed by some men in a gray Volvo and Malm has been taking pictures for evidence. The Volvo is registered to Goren Martensson, who is evidently Sapo. Blomkvist purchases a few prepaid cell phones which are untraceable that he, and his team will use to contact one another regarding information that may be sensitive. Blomkvist tells Armansky about the Sapo following him; Armansky has always liked the Sapo because of their work against the neo-Nazis, but he is realizing that some of the Sapo are not good.Armansky asks Blomkvist if he can speak to a friend he has inside Sapo that they can trust and who will help Salander; Blomkvist gives the okay.

On Erika Berger’s fourth day at SMP Morander has a heart attack and dies in his office. Erika is forced to take charge before she was anticipating. Annika is aggravated with visiting Salander every day and also with the fact that Salander and Blomkvist are always keeping things from her. She is happy, however, that Salander does not talk to police because it will only hurt her in court. Salander is not crazy about working with Annika Giannini either, because she does not like to talk about her feelings nor does she feel as though she should have to because all of the things that are happening to her are not her fault.Salander wonders how her friends Armansky, Palmgren, and Mimmi are doing and hopes they are okay.  Dr. Jonasson sees her dragon tattoo and asks her why she got it; she says she does not want to talk about it, but she does show him the entire tattoo which he thinks is beautiful. Dr. Teleborian wants to see Salander, but Dr. Jonasson will not allow it and insists that he does see any signs that she is mentally ill. Jonasson asks another doctor, Dr. Kalgren what she thinks of Salander, who apparently has requested reading material about brain research, and Dr. Kalgren thinks that she is withdrawn but mentally stable.

Blomkvist continues to write his book about Salander and Zala which he wants to have published during Salander’s trial, at the same time that Millennium will publish Dag Svensson’s book on sex trafficking.Blomkvist needs to get ahold of Salander before he will publish anything about her, and he decides to hire someone who is working at her hospital, Idris Ghidi. Erika Berger is having a hard time with some of the employees at SMP and has to threaten to demote the new editor, Holm, if he does not start cooperating with her. She also vetoes a story written by a reporter, Johannes Frisk, which suggests Salander is guilty of selling steroids; she makes a rule that every story involving Salander must be approved by her before publishing because Salander’s name has been dragged through the mud enough.  Frisk understands that every story written about Salander can be used against her, and he is put in charge of researching all of the articles written about Salander for truthful content.

Blomkvist heads to Goteborg and hires Idris Ghidi, the janitor at Salander’s hospital, to do a job for him. Meanwhile, Ekstrom who is prosecuting Salander’s case gets a visit from a member of the Section named Nystrom. Nystrom tells Ekstrom that it is very important to Sweden’s national security that Zalachenko remain a secret. Also, Salander is not to be trusted because she is mentally insane and the entire police report from 1991 is a fabrication of an event that never occurred. Henry Cortez, who works for Millennium, uncovers a story that involves a Swedish company knowingly using toilets which were made in child sweatshops. Ekstrom makes the move to fire Bublanski, Modig, and Andersson from Salander’s case because they are all supporters and replaces them with Faste who hates Salander, just as he was told to do by the Section. Bublanksi thinks that there are no copies of the original Bjork report left, but Modig tells him that she still has one and will not hesitate to go to press with it if she deems it necessary. Idris Ghidi puts a cell phone in a vent in the wall next to Salander’s room, and will change the batteries daily as per Blomkvist’s orders. Blomkvist meets with Dr. Jonasson to tell him how dangerous Dr. Teleborian is and convinces him to bring Salander’s PDA to her. Armansky and Bublanski are trying to think of a way they can help Salander now that they are off the case.

Armansky has a meeting with Torsten Edklinth, the leader of Sapo’s Constitution Protection Unit, which is known as “the Unit”. The Unit deals with people’s constitutional rights and works against neo-Nazis and any racial or ethnic hate issues. Armansky tells Edklinth about Salander and the involvement of the Sapo. Edklinth knows that if the story is true then Salander’s rights have been violated. Monica Figuerola, a tall good-looking woman who is also a member of the Unit, is let in on the situation and immediately confirms that Dr. Teleborian has had dealings with the Sapo before. She also confirms suspicions that the man in the Volvo who has been following Blomkvist, Goren Martensson, works for Sapo, but she cannot find any department that he may be working for. Berger is still having problems at SMP as no one takes her ideas seriously. After lunch that day Berger has an email waiting for her in which someone has called her a whore and threatened to rape her with a screwdriver. While the address says SMP, the IT manager tells her that the address the email came from is a fake. Figuerola wonders how to go about her investigation of Evert Gullberg, the man who shot Zalachenken. She reads a book in bed and contemplates booty-calling her friend Daniel Mogren. She wonders if it may be time for her to settle down and have children.

Dr. Jonasson visits Salander and asks her about Dr. Teleborian who has been trying very hard to see her.  He says that once she has been moved to jail he will be allowed access to her whenever he wants so perhaps they should draw out her recovery process a bit. As he leaves, Salander sees that he has left her PDA on her pillow. On the PDA Salander finds that Salander has left her a letter stating that a group of friends are working to get her out. She also realizes that she has an internet connection, goes onto her hacker website and begins forming a plan with her hacker friends. She finds another letter from Blomkvist detailing what she is being charged with; the attempted murder of Alexander Zalachenko and the assault of Carl-Magnus Lundin who is the ponytailed man who attempted to kidnap her. Blomkvist tells Salander that he will have to share her life story, and everything that she keeps private to prove that she was institutionalized when she was perfectly sane and that Dr. Teleborian is working with Ekstrom. Also, he would like to fix her public image and he wants permission to do it all.

As part of the plan to keep her in the hospital longer Salander has headaches, and vomiting and Dr. Jonasson notes that the scan of her brain is irregular. Figuerola has been following Martensson, the guy in the Volvo, and sees him go to Blomkvist’s house. Blomkvist leaves his apartment, and pretends that he is not being watched, but he notices the Martensson and Figuerola. As the Volvo guy, and another enter Blomkvist’s building, Blomkvist and Figuerola watch separately and Blomkvist also takes down Figuerola’s license plate number to find out who she is. At SMP Berger is fighting with the board to push through her ideas to help save the company, to no avail. Figuerola is taking pictures of Martensson and his accomplice, identified as a locksmith called Lars Faulsson, and notices another woman taking pictures of them, as well. She follows the woman back to Milton Security. At Millennium Cortez has been investigating the toilet scandal and finds that the chairman of the company is also Erika Berger’s new boss, the CEO of SMP. There are fake emails still going around SMP, one of them is supposedly from Berger telling another woman she wants to have sex with her. Figuerola finds out that the other woman spy is Suzanne Linder, an employee at Milton Security. Blomkvist and Berger have dinner together, and she gets mad and storms out when he tells her that her boss is involved in the toilet scandal. She quickly comes back, and they get a hotel room together, but someone is watching them.

Salander is on her PDA, writing out her story. Erika Berger calls her husband, Greger, when she wakes up and she feels terrible for not calling him the night before. He is upset that she did not call, but he has no problem with her relationship with Blomkvist. Erika wakes Blomkvist, and they have sex again before they leave. When Erika gets outside she sees that someone has slashed the tires on her car. Salander gets ahold of Plague and asks him to hire a hacker named Trinity for her and to have Trinity come to Sweden. Faste is upset when he hears that Salander is having some setbacks with her recovery but Dr. Jonasson says that she will be healthy enough when her trial comes around in July. Edklinth is beginning to understand what has happened to Salander over the course of her life, and he asks for a meeting with the prime minister. The prime minister sees that Salander has been wronged and deserves to be protected from any other wrongdoing in her life, but he cannot interfere with the trial; therefore, he cannot help her unless she wins. Trinity arrives in Sweden and he has brought his colleague, Bob the Dog, with him to see Plague.

Blomkvist makes his way to Salander’s new and very expensive apartment, careful to not be seen because he needs someplace to stay where he feels comfortable. He pings Salander on her PDA, and she tells him where to find documents Plague got off Ekstrom’s computer. The documents confirm that Ekstrom is working with Sapo to have Salander committed again. Plague has also hacked Dr. Teleborian’s computer and sent the results the Salander. There are countless numbers of pornographic images of children and evidence that he is part of a group who trades child pornography. Salander had always suspected Dr. Teleborian of being attracted to young people, though he never made any advances toward her; she wishes that she had gotten rid of him when she had the chance years ago. Salander sends the information from Teleborian’s computer to Blomkvist. Modig finds out that Fredrik Clinton, Hans von Rottinger, and Evert Gullberg are all members of a secret section of Sapo, and she shares this information with Blomkvist, who now refers to the secret Sapo as “the Zalachenko club”.Berger is still getting inappropriate and threatening emails as SMP, the hackers tap into Ekstrom’s phone, and Figuerola discovers that Gullberg was part of Sapo.

Figuerola is waiting for Blomkvist at his home and takes him with her to a meeting with the prime minister, the minister of justice, and Edklinth. At the meeting, Edklinth tells Blomkvist that Gullberg was head of a group in the Sapo called “the Section”. They ask if Blomkvist will join them as a consultant. Berger knows that she must resign from her job because of her boss’s involvement in the toilet scandal, but she does not know how to tell him. When she gets home, she steps on a piece of glass and sees that someone has thrown a brick through her window and written “whore” on her wall.While this is happening Blomkvist is having dinner with Figuerola. Salander has been working on writing her life story and when she gets to the part about being raped by Nils Bjurman she feels as though the story is unreal. Salander tells Annika Giannini that she is using her hacking skills to help her win her case and while Annika does not have to do anything illegal she has to turn a blind eye to the fact that Salander is. Erika Berger goes to the ER for her foot then calls to have a new window put in but settles on covering the hole with plywood for the time being and calls Milton Security to install a new security system. As she sleeps that evening armed with a golf club, she realizes that the person harassing her via email is the same person who vandalized her apartment and slashed her tires.

Armansky notifies Berger that a man named David Rosen will be coming by to install new security measures; Berger lets him in before she leaves for work. Dr. Jonasson asks Salander if she is ready to leave the hospital, and she agrees that she is ready to face the music and she is going to leave her PDA with the doctor so it stays safe. Blomkvist has a meeting with Edklinth and Figuerola at the Unit about the Section and how they are going to get evidence about the members. Blomkvist reveals evidence that Dr. Teleborian is communicating with someone named Jonas in Sapo, but he does not reveal how he knows because it cannot become public knowledge that Salander is a hacker. Blomkvist goes back to Figuerola’s house after the meeting and she seduces him. When Berger gets home, Rosen has finished installing the security, but it is not all in place yet so he offers to send Suzanne Linder who also works at Milton to come and stay with her for the night because Greger is out of town. Berger has coffee with Linder then goes to bed where she realizes that the file about her old boss, and some of her personal items including letters, a diary, and a video are missing; she thinks her stalker must have taken them while she was at the ER.

Salander finishes writing her life story and sends it over to Blomkvist. She trusts that Blomkvist’s plan will work but if it does not then she will have to escape from wherever she is held. She looks into Armansky’s computer because she has not looked there in a while and finds out that someone is stalking Erika Berger. She used to be mad at Berger because of her relationship with Blomkvist, but she is over it. Dag Svensson’s book about the sex trade in Sweden is about to come off the presses at Millennium and Blomkvist plans to have his book about the Section ready to be released when Salander’s trial starts on July 13. Dr. Jonasson tells Salander that tomorrow she will be going to Stockholm where she will be held in a prison. Berger feels sick as she heads into the SMP offices; she is pinged by Salander who requests access to the SMP computers. Figuerola and Blomkvist are planning to take their relationship further after the investigation is over and she wonders whether she is in love with him.

Blomkvist reads the memoir that Salander sent to him and thinks that it will suit its purpose perfectly. Salander checks in on Dr. Teleborian’s computer and finds that he is set to meet a member of Sapo, Jonas, in less than an hour. Salander sends a ping to both Blomkvist and Plague, but neither answer so she calls Erika Berger from Dr. Jonasson’s phone and tells her to call Blomkvist so he can catch the meeting. Blomkvist is alerted to the meeting by Berger, and he and Cortez both set off to it. Figuerola is sent to tail Jonas, and one of Millennium staff, Lotta Karim, follows Teleborian. Blomkvist is interested in knowing how Berger knew about the meeting. Jonas turns out to be Jonas Sandberg from Sapo; Teleborian was followed right to the police station. Figuerola calls Bublanski to inform him of Teleborian’s whereabouts and Modig heads to the police station to find out who Teleborian is meeting with there. She waits a long time for him to emerge and when he does he is accompanied by Faste and Ekstrom; Modig takes a photo and tells the team the news.

Blomkvist finds out that Salander is to be moved to a prison in Stockholm. Greger Beckman returns to his home and finds Suzanne Linder there who explains to him about Erika’s stalker. When Salander is transferred, she will lose her internet access so she does some last minute research to find out that Erika’s stalker is Peter Fredriksson, a coworker at SMP. She gets in contact with Blomkvist to tell him the news and then she is taken to prison. Blomkvist tells Berger who her stalker is, and Berger relays the message to Linder. Linder wants to confront the stalker but instead she follows him to Berger’s and sees him looking in her windows; she knocks him out with her baton and handcuffs him. Linder drives Fredriksson home, steals his hard drive, and takes back everything that he stole from Berger.Fredriksson had gone to high school with Erika, but he resented her for never noticing him. Linder tells Fredriksson he better leave Erika alone and never go back to SMP. When Erika gets her belongings back, she is very happy.

Berger is called into her boss Borgsjo’s office at SMP, and he is furious and accuses her of loving the media attention. Fredriksson had sent him a copy of the article from Cortez that accuses him of being involved in the toilet/child labor scandal. She tells him that he should resign, and he wants her to stop Millennium from publishing the story. Berger calls Holm, the news editor at SMP, and tells him that she is resigning from her job there. She asks Holm to publish Cortez’s article on the front page of SMP and calls Cortez to get the okay. Erikkson asks Erika to come back to Millennium as editor-in-chief again, and she accepts the job. Dr. Teleborian goes to the prison to visit with Salander and Salander has a strong desire to kill him. Salander does not speak to him, but he tells her that he is sure she will lose the court case. Berger leaves SMP and heads back to Millennium.

Blomkvist’s book called “The Section” is sent out to printers and will be released on the day that Salander’s trial begins. He heads to his cabin where Figuerola soon meets him. Figuerola asks Blomkvist if he is in love with either Berger or Salander and he says that if loving someone is the same as liking them a real lot then he loves several women. She is curious as to what other girls have been to the cabin, and he tells her Berger, Salander, his ex-wife, Harriet, and another woman. She seems to think the cabin is some sort of love nest, but he tells her that he does a lot of different things there like reading writing, and relaxing. He feels like things are in the process of becoming serious with Figuerola and that idea seems to make her sad. Borgsjo resigns from SMP after Cortez’s article is published on the front page of the magazine. Wadensjoo discusses with Clinton his worries that the Section will be linked to illegal activities. Clinton thinks that they should kill Salander, but Wadensjoo does not want any other murder to take place at their hands. Nystrom comes in with the news that Salander has written her life story out and delivered it to the prosecution. Ekstrom is not happy with Salander’s statement and tells Annika Giannini that it is not true, but Annika insists that it is. The Section wants to read Blomkvist’s book that he wrote about them, and they set out to the place they hear it is being published, but when they get there they see a car from Milton Security and decide to forfeit their mission. They want to discredit Blomkvist so they plant a large amount of cocaine in his apartment.Figuerola and Blomkvist find out that the Section was seen at the publishing house.

Blomkvist gets a call early in the morning from Milton telling him that his security alarm has gone off.At Milton, he watches the surveillance video with Linder and Armansky and sees Jonas Sandberg enter his apartment with a key and plant cocaine in speaker and a bunch of cash in his dresser. The surveillance video is given to Edklinth and a copy is also given to one of Blomkvist’s connections who works at TV4; in the case of Blomkvist’s arrest, the video will be played on television. Clinton and Nystrom have planned a hit on Blomkvist while he is dining with Berger; it will appear to be drug related, and he will be discredited. The members of the Section are set to be arrested while Salander is on trial as per Prosecutor Gustavsson of the National Prosecutor’s Office. Figuerola is in a meeting with Modig, Andersson, Bublanski, and Edklinth when she receives word of the hit that is being planned on Blomkvist and they head to Samir’s Cauldron where Blomkvist has taken Berger to dinner. Blomkvist heads to the bathroom and runs into a man holding a machine gun; Blomkvist aims the gun at the ceiling when it goes off and he tackles the man to the ground. Figuerola and the others appear just in time and both of the hit men, the Nikolich brothers, are taken into custody. Blomkvist is treated at the ER and then he and Berger are taken to a safe house. Berger tells Figuerola that she does not want to stand in the way of their relationship, so she will try to stay away from him.

Salander shows up for the first day of her trial with tons of makeup, ten earrings in each ear, and a mini-skirt. Ekstrom would like the trial to be held privately, and Giannini agrees. Blomkvist, Armansky, and the media are all forced to leave the courtroom. Salander is first questioned about her claims that Bjurman raped her; a woman who worked for the guardianship agency that Bjurman came from testifies that Bjurman would not have been capable of such behavior. Giannini asks the woman if she can give Bjurman an alibi for the night the rape happened and the woman says she cannot. Wadensjoo is the first member of the Section to be arrested by Edklinth and he speaks for five hours, spilling all of the secrets that the Section had been hiding.

Ekstrom questions Dr. Teleborian next. The doctor tells the court that Lisbeth Salander is a paranoid schizophrenic and that the rape sequence in her memoir is likely no more than an erotic fantasy. He refutes her claims that he kept her strapped down while she was at St. Stefan’s and says that this was only an illusion on her part as she has a hard time interpreting reality. Giannini is set to cross-examine Dr. Teleborian after the lunch recess. By the time court is back in session every member of the Section has been arrested.

When Giannini cross-examines the doctor she states that she has evidence that will back up every single detail in Salander’s memoir. She asks Dr. Teleborian how many times he had strapped Salander to her bed during the 786 nights she was at St. Stefan’s; he says only thirty times though Giannini produces medical records that back up Salander’s claims that it was 380 times. Teleborian states that Salander was seen as dangerous to both herself and others, as is exemplified by her tattoos and piercings. Dr. Teleborian testifies that Salander refused to eat though Salander maintains that she would not eat because Teleborian drugged her through her food. Another doctor at St. Stefan’s has gone on record stating that he does not think that Salander was mentally ill and was definitely mistreated by Dr. Teleborian. Teleborian claims that Salander is a drug and alcohol abusers, has an unhealthy sex life, and is prone to violence, but Giannini rips these claims apart as well. In a move, that shocks the court Giannini plays the video of Bjurman raping Salander and the judge makes her turn it off because she cannot watch it anymore. Blomkvist testifies that Teleborian’s latest report on Salander was written before he actually visited her, which proves that it is fabricated. Edklinth takes the stand and testifies that Teleborian is in cahoots with the Section which no longer exists as all of its members have been arrested. Teleborian is the next to be arrested, right there in the courtroom, and is charged with violating the child pornography laws.

Ekstrom realizes in this moment that he has been played for a fool by the Section, and Dr. Teleborian and Salander was innocent the entire time. Giannini requests that Salander’s charges be dropped, she be allowed out of guardianship, and she be compensated for emotional damages. Judge Iverson wants the weekend to make a decision but agrees to allow Salander to go home. Both Salander and Giannini protest and request that she make a decision immediately. Judge Iverson agrees to all of the demands, and Salander is set free. Blomkvist is thrilled that the plan worked, and is watching the video of Jonas planting cocaine in his apartment which is airing on the news. Blomkvist’s book is already a huge success. Blomkvist tells Berger that Figuerola is in love with him and that he may love her as well; Berger agrees to keep her distance as long as they are happy. Salander wants Giannini to bring her to see Mimmi at her old apartment, but she is told that Mimmi is in Paris. Giannini decides to remain Salander’s lawyer so Salander gives Giannini her new address. Salander does not have the words to thank Giannini so she just watches her drive away.

When Salander gets home, she finds her PDA, purse, keys, and mail waiting for her and realizes that Blomkvist must have been staying in her apartment while she was gone. There is a note waiting for her from Blomkvist with his cell phone number on it; she knows that it is up to her to contact him if she wants, and he will not make an attempt until she does. Salander feels immensely grateful to all of those who helped her and believed in her and does not know how to repay them. She takes a vacation in Gibraltar where she has an affair with a married man and drinks too much. She checks in with MacMillan, the man who handles her finances, and finds that she still has more than enough money to last her a few lifetimes. MacMillan convinces Salander to go see Mimmi in Paris, where she is going to school. Mimmi will be in Paris for a while but tells Salander that she wants to remain friends.

Salander finally returns to Sweden after a very long vacation and Giannini gives her grief for not be reachable. Salander had inherited some property from Zalachenko and decides she will finally check it out. She gets to the property and finds it is an abandoned factory, and it seems that people were held there against their will as she finds a woman’s passport as well as a dead body. Upstairs she notices that someone seems to have been living there and finds that she is face to face with her brother, Niedermann. When Niedermann got to the factory he finds two women tied up, learns that they were promised student visas, and kills them because he does not know what else to do. He feels good that Zalachenko is dead but now he is troubled by the existence of Salander, and knows he must kill her before he can leave Sweden. When Salander walks in the door, Niedermann feels as though it is a dream come true. She runs and hides in a tool cabinet; when Niedermann catches up to her she nails his feet to the floor with a nail gun; he does not feel the pain but he also cannot move. She does not kill him but instead calls the Svavelsjo Motorcycle Club who has been looking for him. When they arrive Salander calls the police, waits for them to arrive, and heads home where she takes a long, hot bath.After the bath the doorbell rings and it is Blomkvist. Salander sees that he wants to be friends and she knows she does as well; she opens the door, and lets him in.

Sazed is in his room, studying and transcribing the rubbings he found. He knows that these few pages of transcribed text could keep him busy for months or even years. Vin enters through his window and wants to talk to him about the deepness. Sazed talks about if the deepness is even real or if it’s just a made-up story, some propaganda spun by the Lord Ruler. Vin says she thinks it’s real and tells Sazed that she thinks it’s actually the mist itself. The log book and the rubbings don’t say the mist actually killed people but that people died because of the mist. That could be because a permenant mist that covered the ground would kill crops and live stalk, leaving people to die of starvation. Vin also tells Sazed about the mist spirit that has been following her.

The assembly gathers, and Elend gets an opportunity to explain what he has done with his father. He uses twenty minutes to tell of the situation with the two armies and how his meeting with Straff went. He tells them that he used Vin’s power to threaten Straff, a move that may protect the city for some time yet. Meanwhile, Vin tries to pay attention to Elend’s meeting. She sees Zane in the crowd, and he smiles at her. They then have nominations for who should run for king. Elend and Lord Penrod are nominated, and, lastly, Cett is nominated. The man reveals himself to be in the crowd.

Vin watches in shock as Cett reveals himself to the crowd and to the assembly. He uses his army outside the gates to threaten the people into voting for him. He also tells the crowd about the koloss army not too far away, a fact that Elend hasn’t told anyone.

Vin sits in her room, studying the stacks of papers she has there. OreSeur is there with her, and they talk about the religious beliefs of the kandra. They practically worship the Contract above all else, the agreement they have with their human masters. Meanwhile, Elend discovers that some of the wells in Luthadel are being poisoned by someone, probably one of the armies outside. Vin talks to Dockson, and in the conversation, she determines that he can’t be the spy. She and OreSeur turn their attentions toward a new option: Demoux, a captain of the guard.

Elend works to find a way to convince the assembly to name him king again, while Vin wants to tell him her theory about Demoux. Tindwyle gets upset with Sazed when she finds out that he helped write part of the laws Elend put into place a year ago. Vin leaves the group and finds Zane, who immediately attacks her. She thinks he wants to spar, like before, but the fight becomes aggressive and Vin must fight him to survive. Zane tells her that he was ordered to kill her and that this attack was a warning. There are also many refugees coming from the koloss army, on their way to seek refuge in Luthadel. After giving his two warnings, Zane leaves.

Vin tries on another custom-made dress. Tindwyl tells her that Elend has nearly learned as much as he can from her; he’ll now have to learn to be a good leader through experience. Elend prepares his armored escort and carriage to go and see Cett. Breeze decides not to go, since he and Cett have history, which would only make the situation worse. When Elend and Vin actually enter the keep Cett is staying in and talk to the man, they discover just how sincere he is. He doesn’t want his daughter back, trusting that Elend will take good care of her. Cett wants Elend to step down from the election for king, and in return he won’t have Elend killed when he is made king. They also talk about the fact that no atium was found in all of Luthadel. Finally, Cett dismisses the two.

Sazed wanders through warehouse full of refugees from the koloss attacks, trying to help and health where he can. Tindwyl comes in and talks to him. She wants to see what he’s found–the rubbings he’s been transcribing. Meanwhile, Breeze has been listening in on the conversation, soothing both people in a way that would make them more friendly to each other. He walks among the refugees, trying to sooth away bad emotions and make them feel better. Elend and Ham come in, and Elend wants to make sure all the people have the clothes they need. Later, Breeze goes into the keep and has a secret meeting with Clubs. Though they always seem to hate each other, they drink together and talk; they’ve struck up a strange companionship. Allrianne walks in and tries to steal Breeze away. Vin, watching from outside, discovers that Allrianne is a rioter, since she was rioting Breeze’s emotions. She and OreSeur then go to find Demoux, still certain that he is the kandra spy. They find him in a little meeting of the church of the Survivor. He can’t be a spy, Vin decides. Then who is?

Sazed and Tindwyl sit together in the study, pouring over the rubbings, searching their metalminds for any references to the deepness or Hero of Ages. It’s morning, meaning they’ve been at it all night long. Tindwyl knows the course of actions Sazed takes is different from what the keepers want, but she is willing to stay with him and study these things further. Meanwhile, Elend and Ham walk along the wall. Ham comments that Elend looks more kingly than ever. As they walk, Elend announces that he has an idea to help Luthadel’s situation.

Vin, Elend, and the rest of the crew arrive early for the day of the election for king. Before the voting begins, Vin, trying to figure out what Elend has up his sleeve, discovers that he has joined the church of the Savior, in an effort to curry votes from the skaa members of the assembly. Suddenly, a groups of allomancers attack Elend and Cett. Vin manages to fight off the men, getting badly hurt in the process. After the fighting, the vote is moved to a more secure location, and the assembly members each announce their vote. Surprisingly, Penrod, a nobleman from the assembly is chosen the new king. Elend hands over his crown and leaves.

Straff Venture is angry that Zane sent a group of his allomancers to their deaths while Vin still lives. Zane promises that he has a plan to take care of her. Meanwhile, Straff meets with Penrod, the new king of Luthadel. Penrod is planning to give Luthadel to Straff, opening the gates to him and handing over the kingship.  Straff, on the other hand, doesn’t want to enter the city while Vin still lives. Later, Zane tells Straff that he has been poisoned again. Zane leaves, and Straff is forced to ride hard back into the camp so his mistress can make him another antidote tea.

Vin awakes to see that Elend is with her. He tells her that he is not king, and he reports that OreSeur, who was badly hurt in the fight, is currently digesting a new set of bones. Vin feels that Elend is now scared of her somehow because of the way she fought those allomancers. Vin goes back to sleep, and awakes to find Zane there. He accuses her, saying that she could have killed those attackers easily had she not been so distracted with protecting Elend and other innocents. Later, OreSeur visits Vin, in another dog’s body. They talk more about the Contract that binds all kandra. Vin uses brass and duralumin to push strongly on OreSeur’s emotions. Even though he at first does not react at all, with enough force, Vin hurts him very badly, and she felt like she were controlling him for a moment. She apologizes for hurting OreSeur, and he leaves to get some rest. Vin promise to never tell anyone what she’s discovered about kandra.

Sazed and Tindwyl continue to talk about the things they are learning. Something doesn’t make sense about the rubbings, written by Kwaan. It seems that Kwaan did not trust Alendi, but he also knew Alendi was a good man. But if Kwaan knew Alendi was good, why did he have his nephew, Rashek, to mislead or even kill Alendi? Elend comes in and asks for advice. After a discussion, he decides that being king isn’t about a title, but about doing something to help others. He returns to his closet and retrieves the white suite, the one made for a king.

Elend is hard at work, helping the people. He’s sending men out to dismantle the wooden parts of keeps and houses to use as firewood. The many refugees are cold and hungry, and he wants to help them. Someone comes with news that one of the gates under the river has been broken. That is how someone has been getting into the city and poisoning the wells. Also, other reports say that an Inquisitor is lurking about the city. Elend decides to go out and talk to Jastes, with the koloss army, himself. He rides out and meets Jastes, unable to make any kind of deal. On the way out, Elend manages to fight and kill one smaller koloss, earning the sword and pouch as his own. He looks into the pouch and discovers how Jastes is controlling the koloss. He’s paying them.

Vin sees Elend, now returned from his meet with the koloss army, inured and resting. Zanes comes and says that Cett was the one that planed the attack at the voting ceremony. Vin gets angry and decides to attack Cett. Zane and Vin attack the keep that Cett has been staying at in Luthadel. Together, they kill guards and hazekillers. Fueled by rage, Vin kills quickly, working her way to Cett’s room. She realizes that Zane is using atium, while she has none, and yet she’s killing just as easily as he is. They finally get to Cett’s room, where he is with his son. Vin fights them at first, but when she discovers that neither of them is an allomancer and that Cett doesn’t have a single allomancer with him, she leaves them behind, injured and scared.

The crew sees that Cett’s army is now leaving, a result of Vin’s attack on his keep the night before. Elend does not know why Vin attacked Cett like that. Some in the crew think she’s crazy, but Elend just sees her as determined. They also discover that the “coins” Jastes has been using to control   the koloss are fake, wooden coins painted gold. Elend goes to find Vin, who is hiding in the city. He finds her with OreSeur’s help. She says she must leave Luthadel and go north, to Terris. Elend says he trust her to do the right thing. They have one large bead of atium, and Vin gives it to OreSeur to hold for her.

Sazed and Tindwyl compare notes, studying the rubbing and other references they’ve managed to find. Tindwyl admits that she doesn’t believe in these prophecies, her interest in them being purely academic. Sazed, on the other hand, thinks Vin might actually be the next Hero of the Ages. While they talk, they discover that someone–or something–has torn a piece from one of the transcription pages. Vin comes in, while they try to figure out at what point were they both gone or occupied to not have seen an intruder going through their things. Vin asks Sazed how she can know if she’s in love. They talk about trust. After Vin leaves, Elend comes in and starts asking similar questions. Elend thinks he and Vin are too different to make a couple, but Sazed says that, to him, they are more alike than they think. After Elend leaves, Sazed realizes that Luthadel is going to fall soon; he needs to get both Elend and Vin out of the city before that happens.

Sazed calls a meeting with the members of the crew: Dockson, Breeze, Ham, and Clubs. He doesn’t invite Elend, Vin, or Spook. They talk about how the city is sure to fall. Straff apparently is in no hurry to take Luthadel. Instead, he’ll back off and let the koloss attack the city first. The koloss will win and enter the city, pillaging as they go. Then, with the koloss weakened and tired from the fight, Venture will ride in like a hero and save the city, defeating the koloss and taking Luthadel for himself. Sazed says that Elend and Vin need to get out of the city before these things happen. He wants Spook and Tindwyl to go with them. The rest of the group will have to stay and fight and die. Meanwhile, Vin feels she must follow the drumming she hears all the time. In Straff’s camp, Zane is attacked by his father’s men. He defeats them, but spares his father. He leaves, saying that tonight he will take Vin with him and leave Luthadel. He tells Straff that he should wait for the koloss to attack and then take the city.

Vin is in her room with OreSeur when Zane visits. He wants her to come with him, but she says she can’t because she doesn’t want to leave Elend. When Zane sees that she won’t go, he attacks her. They fight. When Zane starts to burn atium, Vin asks OreSeur for the large bead, a bead Zan had given her before. OreSeur doesn’t respond to her command. Vin discovers that OreSeur is not OreSeur. He is TenSoon, Zane’s kandra. Of course! There was no other spy. The bones they found were TenSoon’s and he had killed OreSeur! Zane corners Vin, but Vin uses a massive soothing to take control of OreSeur/TenSoon and attack Zane from behind. She then cuts the bead of atium fro TenSoon. But this is another trick. The bead is lead, with only a thin layer of atium. Soon, Vin is left helpless against a Mistborn killer with atium. Vin decides that Zane can see what she’s about to do, or, rather, what she plans on doing. If she attacks without thinking, though, she can, see in Zane’s reaction what she is going to do, only to change it at the last possible second. The trick works, and Vin defeats Zane. After Zane dies, she thanks OreSeur/TenSoon for helping her win. His contract is void, and he must return to his people. Vin goes to find Elend.

Elend is in his study when Vin comes in, bloody from her fight with Zane. She tells him that she killed him. He calls for Sazed, who comes to help with the wounds. While she is there, on the ground, she asks Sazed if he knows any wedding ceremonies. Of course, he knows hundreds. Vin asks which one is the shortest, and Sazed recalls one that only requires a declaration of love between the bride and groom before an ordained witness. Vin and Elend both say that they love each other, and Sazed declares them married. The wounds are clean, and Sazed sends Vin to get some rest. He also gives them a fake map to find the Well of Ascension. If the couple follows the map, they’ll be gone from Luthadel for a long time.

Elend and Vin prepare to ride out of the city. Tindwyl decides to stay in Luthadel. Spooks gets ready to go, and Allrianne will ride out, at Breeze’s insistence. So the four of them ride out, Vin quickly having to fight pursuers from Straff’s army. Once they are free, Allrianne breaks off to find her father’s army. Meanwhile, some of the crew watch as the escape, now sure of their own coming doom. Straff Venture hears of the escapes, but he has problems of his own now. He’s getting sick, which he knows is the result of poisoning from his son, Zane. He sends for his mistress, Amaranta, to fix him an antidote, but he discovers that she isn’t preparing what she normally does. She is actually killing, as she has for a long time. There never was any poison. Zane never tried to kill his father. But Amaranta, in her constant fixing of teas for Straff, has been causing him to become addicted to a rare drug. Without that drug, Straff will die. Straff, in a rage, kills Amaranta and then swallows as much powder from her medicine cabnet as he can, hoping to accidentally swallow some of the drug he needs before he loses consciousness.

Allrianne has made her way to her father’s camp, with the help of some bandits she’s tamed with her rioting. Her father, Cett, is not happy to see her. She convinces him to go back and join the winning party in the battle that is to come, although Cett promises that will likely be Straff. Meanwhile, Elend wakes up on the third morning out of Luthadel. He and Vin share a tent now, and he finds himself surprisingly comfortable on the hard ground, with Vin next to him. They get up and prepare the fire. It’s just the three of them: Elend, Vin, and Spook. Meanwhile Straff wakes up in bed. His men have taken care of him, and they’ve isolated the plant he needs to stay alive. When he hears that Vin and Elend have left the city, the men ask if they should attack now. Straff says no; they should pull back and wait for the koloss. Sazed meets with the others to plan a strategy for when the koloss attack. They plan to have a group of men at each gate. Saze and Tindwyl get a little time together, but then the warning drums begin to beat.

Vin is thinking about how the mist is staying later and later every day, instead of just disappearing with dawn, when she feels the pulsing of the mist spirit coming from Elend’s tent. She runs in, just in time to see the outline of that spirit lift some kind of knife to attack Elend, who is sleeping on the ground. She attacks the spirit and it disappears. Elend wakes up and never knows what was happening. She leaves Elend to sleep a little more and goes out to speak with Spook. He thinks someone is following them. Meanwhile, Sazed and the crew get ready, since it looks like the Koloss are about to attack. Men are at each gate, with one crewmember there to help. Straff sees that the koloss are attacking, but he tells his men to wait. Vin and Elend attack the camp of people that have been following them. It turns out to be Jastes. He’s lost control of the koloss, so he just left them. Elend kills Jastes because of his crimes against Luthadel. Vin discovers that the drumming sounds are getting softer, meaning the well is to the south, in Luthadel, and not in the Terris mountains.

Breeze works at his assigned gate, soothing soldiers by the dozen, helping them to be brave and fight well. The koloss pound at the door, while men atop the wall rain arrows down on the attackers. The koloss throw rocks up in return, smashing archers. Meanwhile, Vin runs towards Luthadel, burning pewter. She knows she will run out of pewter long before reaching Luthadel, and she wonders if the effect will kill her. But still she keeps running. Breeze and Clubs talk while the koloss continue to beat the gate. They blame themselves for being stupid enough to be in this mess, and they blame Kelsier for getting them into such responsibilities. Just then, the gates burst open. Meanwhile, Sazed gets word that Breeze’s gate had fallen. He doesn’t think he can really help. He notices that there is a crowd of skaa standing behind the defense force. When Sazed confronts them, telling them that they should flee to safety inside the city, the skaa answer that they are there to witness the fall of the koloss at the hands of Vin, who they are sure will return and make her appearance at Sazed’s gate. Then the gate breaks. Sazed musters his stored strength, growing in size, and faces the lead koloss, shouting for the men to fight. Vin, half collapsing and out of pewter, reaching a small village. At first she thinks to ask for pewter, but then she remembers how she used to travel with Kelsier on a path of metal bars in the ground. She asks for horseshoes, using them to “walk” by leaping, placing horseshoes ahead of her and pulling the ones behind to place further. In this way, she uses the horseshoes like stilts to help her travel in the air.

Outside Luthadel, Straff Venture sees that the koloss have now broken into the city gates. His men are ready to attack the koloss from the rear, but Straff decides to wait longer. Sazed, fighting the koloss, realizes that they need to get the gate closed again in order to survive. Using strength and weight, he manages to fight off the koloss and get the gate closed again. While getting a little break, a messenger comes and says that Tindwyl’s gate fell over an hour ago. Meanwhile, Clubs and Breeze are attacked and forced to run. Clubs is killed, while Breeze hides in a building. Dockson contemplates the root of their failure. He attacks a koloss, only to be cut down. Straff decides not to swoop in a save the city while the koloss are weak. Instead, he’d rather wait for the koloss to kill everyone and burn the city. Then Straff will move in. Meanwhile, Sazed fights on, wondering what happened to Tindwyl. He feels he is going to die, but then Vin arrives and starts killing koloss. Breeze is found by Ham and some others. They want to try to escape.

Vin continues killing koloss, several at a time. Sazed, outside Lord Penrod’s keep, begs the newly appointed king to go with them as they try to escape. Penrod insists on staying inside his keep. Vin continues to fight the koloss, but now she is almost completely out of pewter, steel, and almost every other metal. In desperation, to save some skaa from certain death, she super-soothes them, like she’d done to TenSoon, controlling the koloss with her mind. Sazed is standing outside Penrod’s keep when Vin walks up with koloss in tow. She orders Penrod to gather his men and put out the fires in Luthadel. Vin will take care of the koloss throughout the city. Later, Sazed finds Tindwyl’s dead body among the slain soldiers. He feels that all the faith, all the religions, he has always treasured is now useless. His life, he believes, has been a sham.

Straff wakes up and takes a sample of the drug he needs to stay alive. He gathers his men, expecting to be able to take the city now. But the koloss come out with the remaining soldiers of Luthadel. Vin jumps from among the koloss, sailing through the sky with a giant sword, cleaving Straff and his horse in half on impact. Allrianne watches these events from her father’s camp. She charges after them to help Luthadel’s army, forcing her father and his men to ride after her. Straff’s army surrenders, and Janarle, Straff’s general, is named the new Lord of the Venture army. Janarle, Penrod, and Cett all swear loyalty to Elend as their Emperor. Vin, needing rest, leaves Sazed in charge of the Empire until Elend can return to Luthadel.

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