By Larsson Stieg
By Larsson Stieg
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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 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. 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.
Mikael Blomkvist, who goes by the nickname Kalle, is a journalist whose career takes off when he catches a gang of bank robbers who had managed to elude the police. Years later and well into his career as a journalist Kalle is just leaving court as he has been sued by financier Hans-Erik Wennerstrom and has been found guilty of libel. Kalle’s punishment is three months in jail and a fine of 150,000 kronor, which is the equivalent of approximately $20,000. Kalle takes some interview questions outside of the courthouse and heads downtown to a café where he catches a news story about himself on the television. Kalle is one of the co-owners of a magazine called Millennium and is also one of its writers and publishers. He hopes that the magazine will not suffer from his conviction and also hopes that will be able to afford to keep his apartment though he is not sure how he will manage his fine if he does not sell it. Kalle began looking into Wennerstrom about seventeen months earlier when his friend, Robert Lindberg, tips him off that Wennerstrom may be corrupt and stealing government money.
The head of Milton Security, a company that specializes in security systems, bodyguards, private investigators, and identifying threats, is a man named Dragan Armansky. The top private investigator at Milton Security is a twenty-four year old woman named Lisbeth Salander. Armansky does not approve of Lisbeth because her rebellious image does not fit in with the conservative image of the company; she looks like a teenager and she has piercings and two tattoos, one of a wasp and one of a dragon.Armansky did not want to hire Lisbeth, but he was convinced to by a lawyer named Holger Palmgren.Lisbeth is socially challenged, but her work gets undeniable results so she is allowed to work freelance. Lisbeth and Armansky are meeting with a lawyer named Dirch Frode to discuss investigating Mikael Blomkvist. They learn that Blomkvist is a journalist who investigates corrupt financiers, he is very honest and moral, and he has a steady income though his conviction and subsequent fines will likely hurt him. Lisbeth is asked to investigate the Wennerstrom case and more information is given on Blomkvist; he is divorced from Monica Abrahamson, and they have a daughter who lives with her named Pernilla, also he is currently dating the editor-in-chief of Millennium named Erika Berger. Berger is married, but her husband, Greger Beckman, does not mind their relationship.
Around 5:00pm Blomkvist goes to see Erika Berger and urges her to fire him from Millennium because his conviction will likely hurt the magazine. She agrees that she will fire him but only temporarily. The two agree that they will meet at Blomkvist’s home that night; they have been in love since they met twenty years earlier in school to be journalists. The relationship between Kalle and Erika ended Kalle’s marriage because they cannot stay away from one another, but Erika’s husband does not mind their relationship. By 4:00am Kalle still cannot sleep because he keeps thinking about Millennium. He goes to the computer and finds a press release has already been posted announcing that he has left the magazine; he and Erika wrote it together earlier that day. When Erika agreed to let him go from Millennium, she was not happy about it, but she tells him that it will not be forever, just long enough for the whole thing to blow over and then he will finally expose Wennerstrom for what he is.
After Erika and Kalle spend the weekend together, he heads into Millennium office on Monday, which is closed for the Holidays. He receives a phone call from Dirch Frode offering him a job with Henrik Vanger. Vanger used to be the head of a group of industrial companies, which have been very successful and powerful; Kalle cannot imagine what kind of job Vanger could have for him, but thinks about meeting with him.
On Christmas Eve Lisbeth Salander brings her mother presents in the nursing home where she lives, despite being only forty-six years old. Her mother asks if she has spoken to her sister, but she has not and neither has her mother in some time. Her mother calls her Camilla, her sister’s name. Blomkvist spends his Christmas Eve with his ex-wife and daughter, Pernilla. He has dinner with his sister and on the way he calls Frode and agrees to meet with Vanger. The next day he meets Frode who takes him to Vanger’s home. Vanger wants Blomkvist to write a biography on his family but really he wants him to find out who killed his niece Harriet and also to find out who mysteriously sends him flowers each birthday.
Blomkvist had no idea that any member of the Vanger family had been murdered. He learns that on September 24, 1966 (nearly forty years earlier), the entire Vanger family had assembled on Hedeby Island for dinner, as they do every year. Harriet had attended a parade and came home at 2:00pm, and at 2:15 there was a truck accident that blocked the road from the island to the mainland. Over the next twenty-four hours, no one can enter or leave the island, and it is during this time that Harriet disappears; each of the 64 people on the island is a suspect. Harriet was last seen around 3:00pm by the pastor. The cause of death is not known because Harriet’s body was never found; Blomkvist is skeptical that there was even a murder at all because there is no body; Harriet could have just run away. If she was killed then it was a clean murder, and her body must have been taken away on one of the rescue boats because there was no trace of blood or anything. Lisbeth Salander spends her day reading Blomkvist’s book, sending an email asking to meet someone, visits Wennerstrom’s office and sneaks into the electrical room to take a picture, and returns home to find a response email from the mysterious someone saying she can come over.
At approximately 4:30pm Kalle is still speaking with Vanger, who believes that one of his own family members killed Harriet. A news photographer took photos on the last day Harriet was seen; some of them are photos of her at the Children’s Day Parade. He also took a few pictures of Harriet’s bedroom, in one the window is closed and in another, taken later in the day around 3:45pm the window is open.Vanger has eliminated every family member who appears in another photo at the same time as a suspect, but someone was in her room and no one will admit to it. Blomkvist does not think the evidence is sound and wonders why Vanger is so intent on finding the killer and he admits that he has been obsessed with it ever since she disappeared. Lisbeth visits her mystery friend, Plague, and he gives her an electronic cuff. Back at the Vanger home Henrik Vanger is telling Blomkvist about the pressed flowers that Harriet gave him every year for his birthday; ever since her appearance he receives one in the mail each year and he thinks it is her killer messing with him. Lisbeth leaves Plague’s house and checks in at Milton. Vanger tells Blomkvist that he will pay him 2.4 million kronor if he will agree to move to the island, write the biography, and try to find Harriet’s killer; he will get paid whether the killer is found or not. He also tells Blomkvist that if he takes the job he will be given the information he needs to prove Wennerstrom is corrupt.
It is 9:00am and Blomkvist is meeting with Erika Berger and the art director of Millennium, Christer Malm, in the magazine’s offices. He is there to tell Erika that he has decided to accept Vanger’s offer to live on the island for one year, write the biography, and try to help him solve his sister’s murder.Erika does not want Kalle to take a whole year off, but she knows that once he has made up his mind she cannot change it. She worries that once he leaves she will not be able to get him back. At about 1:30 that afternoon, Lisbeth Salander gets a phone call from Frode telling her that the investigation into Blomkvist is off. She does not want to give up the investigation because she likes to learn people’s secrets.
On Friday Blomkvist arrives at Hedeby Island and Henrik Vanger gives him a tour while taking time to point out some family members he thinks are suspect: Henrik’s Nazi brother Harald, Harriet’s mother Isabella, Harald’s daughter Cecilia, and Harriet’s brother and the CEO of the Vanger Corporation, Martin. Blomkvist doubts his ability to solve Harriet’s case, but he promises to put all of his effort into it, even when he serves his 3-month prison sentence which will happen later in the year. Blomkvist makes his way to the guesthouse in the cold and when he arrives he tries to call Erika repeatedly. In the middle of the afternoon on Saturday, Blomkvist receives the files on Harriet and goes through them to get an idea of the case. On Sunday night, Kalle reads through Detective Morell’s police report, which is thorough though did not result in any leads so the investigation was called off. He interviewed Martin Vanger and Anita Vanger and also noted that Harriet’s wallet, purse, and clothing were left in her bedroom.
Blomkvist runs into Martin Vanger on Monday morning when he is coming out of the house. Martin introduces himself to Blomkvist and invites him over for dinner sometime. Lisbeth Salander is about to enter the office of her guardian, Advokat Nils Erik Bjurman, but hesitates. As a teenager, she got into some trouble and was put in a psychiatric ward; she was appointed to Holger Palmgren as her guardian and the two of them had a very happy and comfortable relationship for more than ten years until he developed a brain hemorrhage. She does not like Bjurman as he puts her on an allowance of her own money and she is not allowed access to her own bank account. Back on the island Blomkvist interviews Henrik Vanger for hours, taking notes and listing forty suspects, some of whom are dead. Of Henrik’s four brothers, three became Nazi’s and Harald in particular does not like Henrik because he married a Jewish woman named Edith.
Blomkvist takes Martin Vanger up on his dinner offer and dines with Martin as well as his longtime companion Eva who is his dentist and lives out of town. On another day, Blomkvist meets with Cecilia who he finds to be very friendly; she wants to know if Blomkvist is as obsessed with Harriet’s mysterious case as her uncle is. When Blomkvist meets Harriet’s mother, Isabella, she is not very kind to him and tells him to stay out of her business. Blomkvist visits with Detective Morell who also believes that Harriet was killed, possibly because she knew something about someone who did not want their secret revealed. Morell says that Harriet is his one unsolved mystery that he cannot shake, and every detective has one. Blomkvist is set to serve his sentence on March 17 and would like to continue working on the case from prison. Erika finally stops being mad at Blomkvist and returns his call; she comes to visit him for dinner and spends the night. Lisbeth Salander has her third meeting with Bjurman who asks her inappropriate sexual questions that she has no intention of answering but keeps her cool about; she knows that Palmgren would never speak to her the way Bjurman does.
Blomkvist brings Erika to meet Henrik Vanger, who tells her that he wants to invest in Millennium because he knows it is having financial problems. Erika accepts the offer without even consulting Blomkvist about it, and he realizes that they had planned the offer before they had even officially met, a suspicion with Erika confirms. She tells Blomkvist that she had started making the deal a week ago because she was mad at him; he does not stay mad at her for very long. Blomkvist finds out that Harriet became more introverted in the final year of her life and had been exploring different avenues of Christianity. Morell points out some strange initials and 5-digit numbers in the back of Harriet’s date book that he thinks could be clues, but he could never figure out what they mean. Lisbeth is meeting with Bjurman to ask for money to buy a new iBook because hers was run over. Blomkvist sees a light on in Cecilia’s house so he goes to see her and she seduces him, which leads to sex. Bjurman touches Lisbeth’s breasts and she tries to keep her cool so she does not go to jail. He tells her she must do whatever he asks or he will put her in jail, and he forces her to give him oral sex. In the bathroom, she tries to gather herself and get his semen off of her; he writes her a check on her way out the door.
Lisbeth Salander does not report the sexual abuse from Bjurman because she does not have a good track record with the authorities, though she does have evidence in the form of bruises and semen. She knows that she will somehow punish Bjurman for the way he treats her because she always punishes those who brutalize her, which is part of why she was put in a psychiatric institution when she was younger. She misses having Palmgren as a guardian because she never had these problems with him. After Blomkvist and Cecilia finish having sex, they start to talk about Harriet. Harriet’s parents, Isabella and Gottfried, had a terrible relationship filled with drinking and abuse; after Gottfried drown in the lake by the cabin where he had moved Harriet became withdrawn. Martin was a mess because he found the body, but he recovered pretty well and Anita, Cecilia’s sister, moved to London to get away from the family including Harald, her Nazi father. Lisbeth wants someone to help her with Bjurman, but she does not want her friends in Evil Fingers to know she is under guardianship and she does not want to trouble Armansky or Plague with her problems. She decides that she will plan a surprise for Bjurman on her own.
Lisbeth looks into Bjurman’s life to see if she can find any dirt on him but finds that he has an ex-wife would is happily remarried and nothing strange seems to be happening with anyone else who is under his guardianship. She feels that she should find a way to kill him now. As Blomkvist and Cecilia continue their affair, he still considers her to be a suspect. Lisbeth is so consumed with finding a way to kill Bjurman that she ignores Armansky’s calls to offer her a job. Finally, she decides that she cannot kill Bjurman because she does not want to be a ward of the state again so instead she tries to develop a way to keep him under control. Blomkvist is settled into Hedeby and writing the biography, currently a chapter on the Nazi brothers. He also tries to figure out the initials and numbers written in Harriet’s date book. Bjurman is happy that Lisbeth wants to meet with him because he was worried he would be reported and he now needs to teach her who is boss. At 8:30 Blomkvist goes to see Cecilia to talk about Harriet and Lisbeth shows up at Bjurman’s apartment where he handcuffs her to the bed, and rapes her. Blomkvist leaves Cecilia’s house around 3:00am and Bjurman finally lets Lisbeth go around 4:00am.
Lisbeth cannot get out of bed for a week due to rectal bleeding and pain; she ends up getting a tattoo on her ankle to remind her what has happened. On Saturday, she goes to see Bjurman at his apartment and Tasers him in the armpit until he goes down on the bed. Cecilia thinks about how Harald, her father, ruined her life, and she called Blomkvist. Bjurman comes to and realizes that he is handcuffed to his own bed. Lisbeth inserts a plug into his anus and plays back for him the recording she made when he was raping her. She tells him that if he does not give her back control of her bank account, get rid of her guardianship, and stay away from other girls then she will turn him in. She gets a set of keys to his house and tattoos him above the crotch, “I am a pig, a pervert, and a rapist”, before she leaves. Blomkvist and Cecilia have sex and Blomkvist tells her that he will be leaving for prison soon. Lisbeth Salander asks Armansky if he has a job for her but he is mad at her for ignoring him before so he says he does not. She hears on the news that Vanger and Erika Berger have struck a deal for Millennium and have declared war on Wennerstrom and Blomkvist is in jail. She makes it her mission to find out how these people are all connected and why.
Blomkvist serves a reduced sentence and works on the case the whole time; he did not mind prison and the other inmates were nice to him because they had seen him on television. He visits Vanger as soon as he gets out and the old man is happy to see him; Cecilia, however, is not as happy to see him. He sees that Martin is at his yacht down by the water, and he returns to his house where he looks at the pictures from the day that Harriet went missing; he realizes that Cecilia is in a large number of the pictures.Cecilia shows up to see him, dressed like she was in the photos, and asks if they can start back where they left off and gets naked. Erika Berger walks in on them in bed the next morning, and feels terrible so she makes them breakfast. Cecilia is confused so Blomkvist explains the relationship that he and Erika have; later the three of them have dinner with Henrik Vanger. Blomkvist spends time at Gottfried’s cabin where he knows Harriet spent a lot of time and finds some of her belongings. Later that week he visits with Cecilia who tells him she cannot have a relationship with him anymore because of Erika. He tells her he wants to be friends, and she agrees but she needs time away from him first.
Kalle Blomkvist is six months into his research, and he has found two new decent leads. He finds a photo of Harriet at the Children’s Day Parade where she is looking past the camera and has a terrified look on her face. He finds pictures in the archives of the local paper, The Hedestad Courier, which he had not yet seen. While going through the photos he finds one of Harriet’s bedroom, which he had not seen before. He sees that there is a face in the window, and he is sure that it is Cecilia’s face and he worries what things she could possibly be keeping from him. He finds a picture that is of a couple taking a picture of whatever Harriet was viewing with fear. He decides he must find this couple and see if they still have the photo; in another photo he sees them getting into a car with a bumper sticker that says “NORSJO SNICKERIFABRIK”.
Blomkvist goes to see Cecilia to ask her some questions and instead runs into her father, Harald, who tells him that his “whore isn’t home”. He heads over to see Henrik who tells him that Harald does not approve of Cecilia since she dated a Jewish man in the past. Blomkvist learns that Cecilia is in London visiting Anita. Henrik is very happy with the headway that Blomkvist is making in the investigation.When Blomkvist gets back to his home, he finds that Pernilla, his daughter, is waiting there for him and he cannot help but notice how she resembles Harriet. When Blomkvist is taking Pernilla to the train to go to camp she mentions the bible quotes on his wall; Blomkvist is confused until he realizes that the numbers and letters from Harriet’s date book that he had posted on his own wall are bible verses and Pernilla saw that. One of the passages explains the way that a girl named Rebeckah was murdered as Morell had explained to him; Blomkvist learns that she once worked for the Vanger Corporation. Henrik is taken the hospital the next morning because he had a heart attack. Blomkvist talks to Dirch Frode who tells him to keep investigating and recommends Lisbeth Salander to help him. He finds out that Salander investigated him as well and when he reads the reports he realizes that she must be a hacker because she knew things that only could have come from his own computer.
Lisbeth Salander wakes up in the morning with a terrible hangover. The night before, she had been drinking with the people from Evil Fingers and also with her friend Mimmi. Mimmi spent the night with Lisbeth and though Lisbeth prefers guys, she also likes Mimmi. At 9:30, that morning Lisbeth answers her door wearing a sheet and finds herself face to face with Kalle Blomkvist. He has bagels and tells her that he has spoken to Armansky and would like her to work for him. While she showers, Blomkvist makes coffee and washes her dishes. Blomkvist tells Lisbeth that he is aware that she is a hacker, but he has no intentions of blackmailing her, he needs help deciphering the names and initials in Harriet’s datebook. Lisbeth agrees to help him. Later that day Blomkvist returns home and finds that someone has been in his guesthouse; he has his locks changed.
Blomkvist goes to visit Henrik in the hospital and runs into Cecilia’s brother, Birger, who treats him with hostility and tells him to leave. He also runs into Cecilia who asks him to stop investigating, but he refuses because he is under contract with Henrik. Martin Vanger shows up as well and cautions Blomkvist not to upset Henrik; he also agrees that he will talk to Erika Berger about taking Henrik’s place at Millennium. When Lisbeth Salander visits her mother she is not recognized. Blomkvist tries to find the couple in the photographs from the Children’s Day Parade. Salander finds that one set of initials in the date book is Magda Lovisa and the following Leviticus passage matches the manner of her murder from 1960; she also identifies another name as Rakel Lunde. Salander adds the name Lea Persson to her list as well, though the name is not in the date book, because her murder also represents a passage in Leviticus. Sunday morning around 10:00am Blomkvist visits with the woman from the parade photos, Mildred Berrgren. He finds the photo he needs and sees a person in it, but it is too blurry to make out a face.
When Blomkvist returns to Hedeby he finds out that Erika Berger was contacted by Martin Vanger but not to take Henrik’s place at Millennium, to insist that Blomkvist go back to Millennium and stop his investigation. Frode explains to Blomkvist that Isabella Vanger was to blame for encouraging Martin to get Blomkvist away from investigating Harriet’s disappearance. Lisbeth Salander drives out to see Blomkvist that night for dinner. She tells him that she not only identified five of the names from the date book but also three other names that she feels should be included. The rapes and murders of the girls, which all match up to Leviticus passages, occurred from 1949-1966. Blomkvist thinks that the Vanger family must have something to do with the murders.
Martin wants Blomkvist to go back to Millennium as soon as possible, but he wants him to solve Harriet’s case first so he agrees to keep the family away for as long as he can. Salander reads the police report, too quickly for Blomkvist’s tastes, and the two go through the photos from the parade together. The blurry person in the photo appears to be a man with a dark suit and a red patch on his shoulder; he also seems to be staring at Harriet. Salander wonders what Blomkvist thinks of the priest, Otto Falk, because he has the most biblical knowledge, knew Harriet well, and was the last to see her alive. Though he has an alibi for the disappearance, the burning down of Falk’s church ties in with some other arson cases which involved animal slaughter. They decide to have a look at any cases involving animal torture in the area. Lisbeth thinks that Blomkvist is strange because no matter what she does he always seems to respect her. One day she seduces Blomkvist, and they have sex. The next morning they find a dismembered cat on the porch, and Blomkvist recognizes it as Tjorven.
Lisbeth and Kalle together decide that someone is trying to scare them into coming off the case. Salander thinks that perhaps two different Vangers are involved here, one older and one younger. While Salander goes to Stockholm to have her contract with Frode extended Blomkvist goes to interview Otto Falk who tells him that Harriet was not a good Christian. Blomkvist thinks that maybe Harriet was working on the same investigation that he is working on. He continues to attempt a conversation with Cecilia about the photograph of her in Harriet’s room, but she ignores him. One night while Blomkvist is jogging someone starts shooting at him, and he is struck in the head with a ricochet piece of cement from a wall; he manages to outrun the shooter. Salander helps him to bandage his head and then he goes to see Cecilia, who denies being the person in the picture. Salander takes Blomkvist to the hospital because he needs stitches and then heads back to arm the guesthouse with security measures.
Blomkvist and Salander go over the pictures again and try to figure out why Cecilia is in so many. When they go over the Leviticus passages again, Blomkvist realizes that Salander has a photographic memory and she gets upset when he mentions it. He follows her outside and tells her that he thinks her memory is a gift. They investigate the Vanger family crypt and realize the cat had been burned there. Salander heads to the Vanger archives, given the access by Henrik, and Blomkvist goes to Henrik’s office to look over pictures again. He finds one picture of Cecilia and another girl who looks and dresses just like her; her sister, Anita. Blomkvist realizes this is why it seemed Cecilia was in so many pictures and also explains why Cecilia insists she was not in Harriet’s bedroom, because it was Anita. He finds a photo of a man wearing the same outfit as the blurry photo of the man Harriet was scared of and realizes it is Martin Vanger. He tries to calls Salander, but her phone is off. At the archives, she finds that Gottfried can be tied to all the murders except one, which happened after his death. Blomkvist goes to confront Martin and is shoved into the basement, a torture chamber. He is chained to the floor, and, when Martin asks where Salander is, Blomkvist lies and says Stockholm, but Martin says that he knows she is at the archives.
The dungeon is where Martin brings immigrant women and prostitutes; when he is done with them he disposes of their bodies off his yacht. In fact, he had a woman in the basement dungeon when Blomkvist came over for dinner. Of the killings that Harriet was investigating, Gottfried had killed seven of them and his son, Martin, had killed the eighth. Salander realizes Martin is probably responsible for the murders and when she cannot get ahold of Blomkvist or find him at the guest house she knows he must have gone to Martin’s. Martin tells Blomkvist that he did not kill Harriet though he wanted to, because they tried to turn her into a killer, but she did not want to be one. Martin hangs Blomkvist against the wall with a noose and cuts his clothes off; he has never had sex with any man other than his father but tells Blomkvist that he is going to rape him. Lisbeth shows up at that time and beats Martin with a golf club. She cuts Blomkvist down while Martin escapes in his car. Salander chases him on her motorcycle and he drives himself head on into a truck, which kills him. Back at the guesthouse Blomkvist wants to call the cops, but Salander thinks that someone else can do it and they should just let it go, though she will not talk about it when Blomkvist asks why.
While Blomkvist sleeps Salander goes through Martin’s basement and takes pictures. She finds binders with photos of girls in them and realizes that Martin has been killing since the 1960’s and has killed at least two girls per year for each of the past fifteen years. Salander keeps the photos of a naked teen girl who is not looking at the camera, burns the binders, and throws Martin’s laptop off a bridge. Frode comes over to the guesthouse, and they tell him what they found as Martin’s. Frode wants to call the police, but Salander asks that he keep her and Blomkvist out of it because they have not yet solved Harriet’s case but are close to. When Frode leaves, Salander shows Blomkvist the picture of the naked girl and they think that it is Harriet and that Gottfried and Martin were raping her; and that Martin kept raping her after his father died. They think that Harriet disappeared the day of the Children’s Day Parade because she saw Martin had returned from school, and she was afraid. They head to see Anita in London, and she does not want to speak to Blomkvist. She calls a woman in Australia and Salander listens in as she has hacked the line. The woman is happy Martin is dead, but says that the line is not safe and Anita will have to write her. Salander finds out that her mom died when they are going through London, and, though Blomkvist says he will postpone the trip to Australia to go with her to Stockholm, she said no and they part ways at the hotel.
Blomkvist lands in Australia and takes a rental car to Cochran Farm, which is the place that Anita Vanger had made her phone call to. The couple who owns the farm is Spencer and Anita Vanger who have been married since 1971. Blomkvist meets Anita and greets her in Swedish, calling her Harriet.Harriet looks shocked, but Blomkvist quickly explains himself because he realizes there are men around who could shoot him. He tells her he was in Martin’s dungeon and that only he and Salander know that she is alive, but he will have to tell Henrik as well. She explains that Gottfried had been raping her for a year, and her mother did nothing about it, though she knew. One night Gottfried was drunk, raping her, and tried to kill her so she pushed him in the lake, and held him down with an oar until he drowned. Martin knew what had happened and used it as blackmail to make her do anything he wanted. When Martin was sent to school, Harriet got a break but the day he showed up on the island again she knew she had to either run away or kill herself. Anita gave her clothing and allowed Harriet to hide out in her car until she could drive her off the island.
At Lisbeth’s mother’s funeral, she, Armansky, and Blomkvist are the only people in attendance. As they head back to Hedeby, Blomkvist tells Salander about Harriet and Salander is angry because Harriet allowed Martin to kill all those other women for nearly half a decade by not telling anyone. Blomkvist insists that while Harriet knew her father was a killer she did not know Martin was as well, only that he was a rapist. Blomkvist drops Salander at the guesthouse and heads over to see Henrik. He explains that Harriet was alive the whole time and had been the one sending him flowers each year; she had no idea that he thought she was dead. He brings Harriet in to see Henrik and goes back to the guesthouse where he finds Salander has packed and left. She comes back later that night and apologizes for her behavior; she tells him she has always been self-conscious about her photographic memory as well as other areas of smarts. Frode comes and tells Blomkvist that Henrik does not want Martin’s crimes published because it would only hurt Harriet at this point; Blomkvist is upset he cannot go to the police with the information. Frode gives Blomkvist the information on Wennerstrom, which he realizes he cannot use. Blomkvist thinks that Wennerstrom found out about the investigation and planted someone with false information for him. Salander tells Blomkvist that she hacked Wennerstrom’s laptop and has all the information he needs to expose the criminal.
Salander had used the cuff that Plague had made her to hack Wennerstrom’s computer and now has full access to it. Janne Dahlman, an employee at Millennium, had been serving as Wennerstrom’s informant so it was decided to feed Janne some false information. Blomkvist avoids Erika Berger because he is not ready to tell her what happened on the island. He sets up a cabin in Sandhamn and continues his investigation of Wennerstrom. Salander comes to stay with Blomkvist for four months after she returns from doing a job for Armansky in Stockholm. They reveal more information about Wennerstrom, such as his womanizing ways, and Blomkvist convinces Erika to allow him to run a forty-page special about Wennerstrom for December. He also wants Erika to open her own publishing company and to publish a book that Blomkvist is writing. Erika tells him that she has met the new CEO of the Vanger Corporation, Harriet Vanger. Harriet contacts Blomkvist to thank him and make sure he does not mind her being on the board of the magazine. Blomkvist tells Lisbeth that he has to reveal her as his source if he publishes his Wennerstrom information, but it is okay because Erika can be trusted. Janne Dahlman is fired, and Malin Erikkson is hired in her place. Blomkvist tells Erika that he cannot reveal Harriet’s story as it is for her to tell, but does say that Salander saved his life. Erika hugs Salander in appreciation and Salander tries to get away from her.
Lisbeth had spent weeks researching Wennerstrom and going through his financial information; she realizes that he is only worth about ten percent of the 90 billion kronor that he claims to be worth and has laundered a lot of illegal money. Lisbeth asks Blomkvist to borrow 120,000 kronor, but he tells her there is no need because he will be splitting the money from Henrik with her. Lisbeth does not want the money and instead just borrows what she needs to get to Zurich. Once there she takes on the identities of Irene Nesser and Monica Sholes at different hotels. She disguises herself as Monica and goes to a bank where she transfers money from Wennerstrom’s account into accounts that she had opened as Irene. She takes the money out and stashes the cash into safe deposit boxes, checks out of her hotels, and goes back to Stockholm.
The issue of Millennium which is entirely devoted to Wennerstrom is published, and the financial world is in an uproar about his various corruptions. Also Blomkvist’s book, The Mafia Banker, is published and PDF files from Wennerstrom’s computer are posted on Millennium website; this time every allegation is backed up. The authorities search for Wennerstrom for months but cannot find him though Salander knew where he was the whole time because he still had his laptop with him. When he is finally found he is dead in an apartment in Marbella, Spain. The money Lisbeth had stolen from his account was set to pay off some very bad men, and when she took it they hunted him down, with the help of Lisbeth, and shot him. Blomkvist reads the Financial Times one day and sees that a woman who is now being hunted by Interpol, Monica Sholes, stole 260 million from Wennerstrom’s account the day before the story about him was published. Blomkvist sees the photo of her and starts laughing. Blomkvist spends Christmas Eve with Pernilla and the rest of the holidays with Salander. Salander pays him back the money she borrows and realizes that she loves him though she accepts that he will probably never love her. After Christmas Blomkvist visits Henrik to get paid and leaves a note for Cecilia. Salander buys Blomkvist a sign that says “Heartbreak Hotel” because she knows he like Elvis but when she goes to bring it to him she sees him walking with Erika Berger. She wants to get violent with Berger but instead just walks away and throws the sign in the garbage.
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 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.