By Sanderson Brandon
By Sanderson Brandon
The second book in Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series, The Well of Ascension brings the story to even more epic proportions. Sanderson shows just how far his ideas and magic system can go, leaving the reader begging for more right up to the last page (and beyond). If the first Mistborn book wasn’t epic enough for you, you’ll be happy to note that The Well of Ascension features characteristics you’d expect from epic fantasy, such as opposing armies, massive battles, multiple characters, and unholy powers that threaten the entire world.
Brandon Sanderson is an award-winning author, creative writing teacher, and leader in the epic fantasy genre. But he wasn’t always this way. In junior high, Sanderson had given up on books because, though he loved to read as a kid, the titles suggested to him were almost never to his liking. In junior high, his love for reading was reborn when he discovered genre fiction (especially fantasy and science fiction).
Though Sanderson started college as a biochemistry major, during a two-year sabbatical (which he spent as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Seoul, Korea) he discovered he loved writing much more than science. He came back, changing his major to English, and plunged deep into the world of a fantasy writer. He even worked with, and was eventually Editor in Chief of, “The Leading Edge”, his university’s science fiction/fantasy magazine.
After his first book, Elantris, was published with Tor, Sanderson later published his Mistborn trilogy, The Alloy of Law, Warbreaker, and The Way of Kings. The Way of Kings is the first of a proposed ten-volume series of epic fantasy fiction.
Aside from his original works, the list of which keeps on growing from year to year, Sanderson was also entrusted by Robert Jordan’s estate to finish the Wheel of Time series with three final books. In 2009, he released The Gathering Storm; in 2010 he put out Towers of Midnight; and in 2012, we look forward to reading A Memory of Light.
Sanderson has also branched into middle-grade fiction with his Alcatraz series of books. Aside from all his writing work and his teaching position at Brigham Young University, Brandon also co-hosts the award-winning podcast for fiction writers, Writing Excuses.
In the first Mistborn book, The Final Empire, a thieving crew helped the skaa resistance topple a thousand-year empire, with an immortal tyrant/god at its head.
Vin grew up on the streets, a skaa thief that was constantly beaten and abused. She met Kelsier, a Mistborn skaa who recruited her into his crew. Their plan: overthrow the Final Empire and kill the Lord Ruler. They plan out how to collect an army of skaa rebels and train them, as well as how to upset the balance in Luthadel, the capital of the Final Empire. Vin agrees to help the crew. Kelsier agrees to train her in the arts of being a Mistborn.
As a year passes, Vin becomes a very able Mistborn. She also learns how to be a lady from Sazed, the Keeper, and she infiltrates the nobility at balls and parties to spy on them and help the crew. They manage to build a sizable army in the caves close to Luthadel. Everything goes south when a large percentage of the army decides to go out and practice fighting against a minor battlement. They are defeated, everyone killed. Kelsier and Vin run out to the caves to find that only a few thousand men of their army stayed behind.
The crew tries to salvage the situation, smuggling the small army of rebels into Luthadel and finally starting the house war that’s been brewing for months. In a sudden turn of events, the crew discovers that some of their friends are to be executed publically. Kelsier manages to saves them, only to die at the hands of the Lord Ruler.
That night, because of Kelsier’s death, the skaa begin to revolt. It turns out that Kelsier has been planning this from the start, having stocked up on weapons for the rebels to use. The skaa overthrow the city, while Vin enters the Lord Ruler’s palace to assassinate the “God” of a thousand years. Even though she is at first captured by the Inquisitors, Vin is able to escape, with the help of Sazed and Elend Venture. She and Marsh, who turns out to be an Inquisitor now, kill the Lord Ruler and the Inquisitors, toppling the Final Empire. In the chaos of that night, Elend sets himself up as king, promising to rule with justice and equality in mind.
The Well of Ascension begins one year after the overthrow of the Final Empire. Elend Venture is now king of Luthadel, and Vin is his personal bodyguard. Elend has proposed to Vin, since they are still very much in love, but Vin turned him down, believing that she is not the right woman to be at his side. Elend has searched the entire city for the Lord Ruler’s atium, but none can be found. Sazed has left Luthadel, eager to begin his new life as teacher, traveling from village to village, giving out the vast knowledge he has stored on his metalminds.
Now, an army approaches Luthadel, eager to take over the city. That army belongs to Straff Venture, Elend’s father. In the last year, he has established a strong kingdom to the north. Now he expects he son to simply hand over Luthadel. Meanwhile, Vin is plagued by two kinds of followers. One is a man, a fellow Mistborn, and the other is some kind of spirit made of mist. She has her companion, OreSeur the kandra, by her side.
Things become more difficult when a second army, lead by Cett, marches to Luthadel’s gates. Now Elend has two armies as his door, both desiring control of Luthadel. Since neither army can attack the city without opening itself to attack from the other army, Luthadel is relatively safe. Elend convinces the assembly, part of his government, to allow him to talk to his father. He hopes he can play the two armies against each other.
Sazed finds some etchings from an ancient Terris prophet, and he makes rubbings to take back to Luthadel and study. On his way home, he discovers a third army on its way to Luthadel: an army of monstrous koloss warriors, controlled by a now insane Jastes Lekal.
Elend meets with his father and is able to convince him not to attack, using Vin’s great power as a threat. When he arrives, however, he discovers that the assembly has removed him as king. An election, in which only the assembly members can vote, must be held within a month, or else the kingship will fall on Elend again. Among the candidates is Cett, one of the men threatening the city.
Meanwhile, Vin spars several times with the strange man that’s been following her around. His name is Zane, and he’s both a spy of Straff and Elend’s secret brother. Zane wants Vin to run away from Luthadel, claiming that normal people always use Mistborn, as if they were simple weapons. Vin also faces the silent, mysterious mist spirit a few times, and she begins to hear a allomantic pulse, urging her to go north.
Vin also works with the research tools available to her to understand what the deepness was in ancient times. Sazed and Tindwyl, a Terriswoman and fellow Keeper, also work to understand both the nature of the deepness and the Hero of Ages.
The elections are interrupted by a pack of allomancer assassins. Vin nearly dies trying to protect Elend. Afterward, Penrod, a nobleman member of the assembly, is chosen as the new king. His plan is to simply hand Luthadel over to Straff Venture. When Vin wakes up, recovering from her injuries, she and Zane attack Cett’s keep, killing many of his men but leaving Cett and his son alive.
Cett and his army withdraws, and Straff prepares to attack. Zane promises to either kill Vin or get her to leave the city. He also tells his father to wait and not attack; better to let the approaching koloss army attack the city and move in when both enemies (the Luthadel guard and the koloss forces) are weak.
Zane attacks Vin, and Vin is barely able to defeat him, killing him in the process. Elend and Vin are married by Sazed, and then they prepare to leave Luthadel for the north, to follow the pulses Vin feels all the time. Meanwhile, the rest of the group must prepare for the coming koloss attack.
With Vin, Elend, and Spook out of the city, the koloss attack Luthadel. The city guard struggles to defend the gates, but they eventually fail, the koloss entering the city and slaughtering soldier after soldier. Vin, far away, realizes that the pulses are coming from Luthadel, and she races to return and help defend the city. When she arrives, she begins to kill koloss by the dozens.
As Vin’s metals start to run out, she discovers that she can control the koloss by soothing them. She is able to help take back the city. Then, the remaining koloss, under Vin’s control and the remaining soldiers of Luthadel come out to face Straff’s army. Cett’s army joins them, and Vin rushes in to kill Straff and most of his generals, leaving the men without direction. In the end, Vin manages to secure the two armies, as well as the city, under Elend, Elend being made the new Emperor.
After the battle, Vin takes a prolonged sleep to recover, and Elend returns to discover that he is Emperor. Also, Vin awakes to search for the origin of the pulsing, the Well of Ascension. They all go together and find a secret chamber under Kredik Shaw, the palace of the Lord Ruler. There, they find the Well of Ascension, and Vin prepares to enter, planning to release the great power instead of keep it for herself. The mist spirit hurts Elend, cutting him across the belly. Although she is tempted to keep the power for herself and use it to heal Elend, she decides to give it all up.
The moment she gives up the power, she realizes that she was not supposed to do so, for she has now released something evil and powerful into the world. Elend’s life is saved by swallowing a metal bead that turns him into a powerful allomoncer.
The king of Luthadel. Once a nobleman, the son of Straff Venture, Elend took the lead after the Lord Ruler was killed, one year ago. He is a scholarly kind of person, at home amongst tall stacks of books, but in this book he learns how to act more like a king. In the end, he is healed of a fatal wound by becoming an allomancer.
From the start of the Well of Ascension, Vin is considered by many a hero, because she killed the Lord Ruler. She works as bodyguard to Elend. She and Elend marry, and she discovers that she is the Hero of Ages. She saves Luthadel from a koloss army, and then she makes the great mistake of giving away the power of the Well of Ascension, accidentally releasing an ancient and powerful evil.
Sazed is a keeper and man from Terris. He is a feruchemist, which means he can store certain physical attributes, as well as knowledge, in metal jewelry. He returns to Luthadel after finding a strange etching from Kwaan, an ancient Terris philosopher. Sazed is convinced that something bad is going to happen now that the Lord Ruler is dead. Sazed falls in love with Tindwyl, another keeper. He loses faith in everything after Tindwyl dies.
OreSeur is the name of the kandra that Kelsier had hired to impersonate Lord Renoux in the first book. After Kelsier dies, the contract that OreSeur follows falls upon Vin. As a result, OreSeur is sworn to follow Vin and do as she commands. When Vin discovers that bones have been left in the palace, she knows another kandra is impersonating someone on the crew. She never suspects OreSeur, until it is too late. OreSeur has been killed by TenSoon, Zane’s kandra. In a massive battle between Zane and Vin, TenSoon helps Vin by reminding her that she can control kandra through soothing. After Zane dies, TenSoon must go back to his land and be assigned a new contracted owner.
Tundwyl is a Terriswoman and keeper, just like Sazed. She comes to Luthadel to specifically teach Elend how to act more like a king. She also helps Sazed to research about the Hero of Ages. She dies in the battle with the attacking koloss army.
Straff Venture is the father of Elend. He left Luthadel the night the Lord Ruler was killed, and now he returns to take Luthadel as his own. He struggles to control his son, Zane, who is a Mistborn. He ends up addicted to a certain drug, and he is killed by Vin in the final battle outside Luthadel.
Cett is the second king that comes take Luthadel. He marches on Luthadel with an army almost as large as that of Straff. He takes a gamble by entering the city and running for King of Luthadel, an election that he loses. After that, Vin attacks the keep Cett is staying in, killing most of his men. He escapes the city and withdraws his army. Later, he is convinced by his daughter, Allrianne, to return and help Luthadel. He then bows before Elend as his emperor.
She is the daughter of Cett. She escapes his army and seeks shelter in Luthadel, where she has fallen in love with Breeze. Later, when the city is about to be destroyed, she escapes and returns to her father’s army. She convinces him to return to Luthadel and help Elend’s armies. She is a soother, though few know it.
Zane is the secret son of Straff. For many years, Straff has had skaa mistresses, collecting a small army of bastard mistling and Mistborn children. Zane is one of them. He follows Vin at first, and he spars with her a few times. He tries to convince her to come with him, leaving Luthadel. In the end, he attacks Vin, and she is forced to kill him.
Dockson was a member of the original crew that overthrew the Final Empire. He now works for Elend, helping run his kingdom. In the end, he is killed by attacking Koloss.
Clubs, another member of Kelsier’s original crew, is now a general in Luthadel’s army. He is a smoker, which means he can hide allomantic abilities from others. He is a bit of a drunk, and he and Breeze strike up an unexpected friendship, drinking together late at night. Clubs dies at the hands of the Koloss.
Breeze is a soother, meaning he can sooth the emotions of others. He works as an advisor to the king. In this book, we learn that he grew up as a nobleman, and we also see a side of him that few get a glimpse of. While he gives off the idea that he’s self-centered, only thinking of himself, he actually is constantly soothing others to help them cope with problems and face their fears.
Ham is a thug, meaning he can burn pewter and increase his strength. He is also an amateur philosopher, always posing confounding questions. In the battle against the koloss, Ham’s arm is badly hurt, but he manages to survive.
Spook (a nickname given to him by Kelsier in the first book) is a tineye, meaning he can improve his senses by burning tin. He escapes Luthadel with Elend and Vin, but he also returns with Elend when Vin realizes that the Well of Ascension was in Luthadel all along.
Jastes Lekal was once a close friend of Elend’s, another young nobleman of Luthadel. Now, he has gone somewhat crazy and he’s taken control of a koloss army. His control, the source of which being a large some of counterfeit money in the form of wooden coins painted gold, is weak and unsure. In the end, Jastes loses control of his koloss, and he runs to find Elend, Vin, and Spook. Elend executes Jastes for threatening his city.
Marsh is Kelsier’s brother. In the first book, he was turned into a Steel Inquisitor. He also learned the secret to how to kill the Inquisitors, making him a pivotal ally in the fight against the Lord Ruler. Now, Marsh’s involvement in things is confusing at best. He leads Sazed to the etchings made by an ancient Terrisman named Kwaan. Later, Marsh shows up again to try and kill Sazed, in order to prevent Sazed from interfering with Vin’s search for the Well of Ascension. Marsh is knocked out at the end, but later he disappears.
Kwaan is an ancient Terris philosopher, the man who found Alendi to be the Hero of Ages. Later, Kwaan obviously discovered that the prophecies were all a trick to get someone to release an ancient evil from the Well of Ascension. He had his nephew kill Alendi and take the power for himself, becoming the Lord Ruler. Later, Kwaan left the etchings in a steel wall, since, according for him, only that which is written in steel can be trusted.
Alendi is a character only mentioned in Kwaan’s writings. He was to be the Hero of Ages. He was a good man who sometimes had to do not-so-good things. He intended to release the power from the Well, but he did not know that the Well was protecting a great and evil power from being released to rule the world. Alendi was killed by Kwaan’s nephew before he could find the Well.
Though not exactly a character in the book, the species known as the koloss play an important role in the story of the Well of Ascension. The koloss were the secret weapon of the Lord Ruler, massive, warlike creatures that live for violence. They grow throughout their lives, starting about the size of a man and ending up looking like giants. Their blue skin, however, never grows. It begins loose and sagging and ends up so tight it rips and bleeds in many places. In this book, a koloss army attacks Luthadel. Vin finds out, almost too late, that the koloss, a creation of the Lord Ruler, can be controlled by a very strong soothing.
Another species created by the Lord Ruler, the kandra can also be controlled by strong soothing. Kandra eat the bones of a dead person or animal, generating a perfect imitation of that animal or person. OreSeur, the kandra that is bound by contract to Vin, is killed by TenSoon, the kandra of Zane. Vin doesn’t know about it until later.
The world of Mistborn is an interesting one, but it’s much simpler compared to Sanderson’s later novels. Nearly all of the story of the first two books takes place in Luthadel, the capital city of the Final Empire. The architecture and dress of the world feels early Victorian. Sazed visits some areas outside Luthadel. For example, he sees a place called the Conventical of Seran, a fortress once run by obligators and Inquisitors.
The world of Mistborn is dark and dirty. Ash falls from the sky constantly, ash that originates from the distant ashmounts. The sun is deep red and all the plants are small and brown.
Every night, the air becomes thick with some kind of mists. These mists are different from fog or smoke. They are almost living, energetic anomaly, constantly swirling and moving. The mist cannot enter any building, evaporating as soon as it drifts into an open door or window. Most skaa (and some noblemen) are afraid to go out into the mists, thinking their souls will be lost forever. In this second book, the mists start coming earlier each evening and staying later in the morning.
The Final Empire was divided into several regions, called Dominances. For example, Luthadel is in the Central Dominance, while the land of Terris is far into the North Dominance. Now that the Lord Ruler has died, these regions have fallen under the control of noblemen, making themselves kings. There is some talk of islands off the coast of the continent, perhaps leading to more lands untouched by the Final Empire, though there is no mention of anything beyond whatever ocean the world ends at.
The magic system of the Mistborn novels is technical and complex, but at the same time, it quickly becomes familiar enough to the reader to not slow down any enjoyment of the story. Each power or ability a character might have is just as defined by its limitations as by what it can do. Tin, for example, allows an allomancer to see through the mists at dark and hear with keen skill, but it also causes the one burning it to feel pain more acutely.
There are two major magic systems in these books: allomancy and feruchemy. Let’s look at each of these a little more closely and see how they can be combined. Also, we’ll see evidence that there must be other systems of powers in the world of Mistborn that are not explicitly discussed in the first two books.
Allomancy is the ability to burn metals within one’s stomach, giving that person some kind of power however long the metal is burning. Some skaa halfbreeds and nobles can only burn one or the eight basic metals, making them a Misting. If someone can burn more than one metal, that person can burn all of them, making them a Mistborn. The metals come in pairs, one metal in each pair being an alloy of the other. One metal in each pair can “pushes” while the other “pulls”.
Steel and Iron, for example, make a pair. With steel, an allomancer can push metals away from his/her body. Iron allows the allomancer to pull metals to him/her. When either steel or iron (or both) is burning, the allomancer sees blue lines coming from their chest, connecting them to whatever source of metal there happens to be nearby. The more intense the line, the larger the source of metal. This, of course, means that allomancers that push or pull metal have a disadvantage. If you’ve ever read an X-men comic, you may expect an allomancer to manipulate metal like Magneto, Master of Magnetism. Unfortunately, Mistborn have a very limited control over metals around them, being only able to push or pull them in relation to their own bodies.
With this pushing and pulling, weight is an important factor. If an allomancer pushes on something heavier than them, their own body is likely to move. Also, pulling on something lighter than them, like a coin or nail, can result in death if that metal object comes shooting into the allomancer’s chest. Precision and a working understanding or physics is necessary to jump and fight like a mistborn does.
Tin and Pewter also push and pull, but on the allomancer’s own body. Tin, for example, causes one’s senses to become incredibly acute. They can hear far away or see even in a mist-covered street at night. Pewter, on the other hand, makes the body stronger, quicker, and more graceful. An allomncer can survive a high fall or sever beating while burning pewter, or could even run for many hours at a time without tiring. Of course, these abilities, too, have their limitations and weaknesses. As was said before, someone burning tin can easily be overwhelmed by bright lights or loud sounds. Tin also makes pain sharper. Pewter may make someone strong, but if you run while seriously injured, you can die, since the pewter was the only thing keeping you alive.
Zinc and Brass push and pull the emotions of others, allowing the allomancer to manipulate people. With Zinc, the allomancer can riot emotions in others, causing them to suddenly feel more angry or hesitant. Brass sooths choice feelings. A skilled Soother or Rioter can manipulate others by picking and choosing which emotions to push or pull. If this is done subtly and expertly, the person being manipulated may never even know allomancy is being used. Breeze, being a powerful soother, often gets people to do or feel what he wants, and his victims often have no idea their emotions are being played with.
Finally Copper and Bronze, the last two of the eight primary metals, have to do with seeking or hiding allomantic activity. Someone who burns bronze, a Seeker, can detect when others are using allomancy around them. Marsh, Kelsier’s brother is a Seeker, and he give Vin some tips on how to distinguish between what metals are being burned and by whom. Whoever burns copper, however, can counteract this, hiding his/her allomancy from seekers. Copper also prevents someone from being able to push or pull their emotions. Smokers can burn copper and create a copper cloud, which covers others around them. Misting thieving crew could never survive without having at least one smoker on the team. Vin discovers later in the book that a very skilled allomancer can even discover someone is using allomancy from under a copper cloud.
Other metals are found in this book. Atium, for example, allows the allomancer to see the future actions of his/her opponent. The only way to counteract atium is to burn atium yourself, which will cause the two atium-burners to counterbalance each other, giving no one an advantage. Gold, on the other hand, causes one to see an alternate version of him or herself, what they could have been if they’d made different decisions. Kelsier finds what he calls the “eleventh metal” which allows one to see alternate or past versions of others.
Since the overthrow of the Final Empire, Vin has been actively searching for more metals. She knows that Aluminum, once burned, will take away the metal store in one’s stomach. Duralumin, an alloy of Aluminum, does something very different; when it is burned along with some other metal, duralumin super boosts the power of that other metal. When Vin burns steel and duralumin, for example, she can steel jump across very long distances. A boosted soothing is enough for her to take control of both kandra and koloss. Another strange and unnamed metal is the bead that Elend is given at the end, which turns him into a Mistborn.
A very different set of abilities from Allomancy, Feruchemy is an art practiced by some Terrismen called Keepers. Although both feruchemy and allomancy involve metal, the two differ greatly in how those metals are used and what abilities such give the user.
Feruchemits, like Sazed, can store knowledge or certain physical traits in metals that they wear on their bodies. Each keeper has entire libraries worth of information in the earrings or bracelets they wear, allowing them to recall details with stunning accuracy. While ever Keeper holds the same information, each individual will often specialize in one area of knowledge. Sazed, for example, loves religions and beliefs. He takes pride in the thousands of long-dead religions he can speak about at will.
At other times in the book, we see Sazed able to use strength or speed that he’s stored up in his jewelry. Tapping into strength, Sazed can make his physical muscles grow to incredible size, making him stronger than ten men. He also taps into weight, to make himself lighter of heavier. He can store health in gold to heal later. But this, like everything, has a limitation.
Feruchemy is all about balance. For someone to become very strong, they must first spend a lot of time feeling very weak. That way they store the strength in a metal that they wear. They can do the same with age, being very old for a day to look young the next, or speed or eyesight or hearing. They must take much time to prepare in order to have a few minutes of great power. Sazed, for example, spends many hours preparing for the koloss attack by storing a wide range of senses and attributes into a set of rings on his fingers. In that time, he is so weak and slow that he can barely function enough to eat.
The Lord Ruler, from the first book, showed us an example of what can happen is an allomancer is also a feruchemist. He would be old for a time, building up youth in a bracelet, then swallow and burn parts of that bracelet to multiply the amount of youth he’d saved up. By this trick, the Lord Ruler was able to live for a thousand years and show extreme strength and power for limited periods of time.
In the end of the book, Vin discovers the location of the Well of Ascension. The well seems to be filled with some kind of liquid metal, which, when covering her body, fills Vin with unimaginable power. The details of this power are not explained in this book. We’ll have to wait until the second book to find out!
A possibly related note: It seems that people with metal spikes inserted in their bodies are contacted by some otherworldly being. Zane, for example, learns he is not really crazy right before he dies. The source of the voice he always hears is the small metal spike in his chest. Marsh is also being controlled in some way by something else. He even admits he doesn’t know why he’s doing what he does when he attacks Sazed at the end of the book. We can look forward to all of this being explained in the third book of the Mistborn Saga.
This second installment of the Mistborn Saga is larger and more complex that the first. Here are some overarching themes that are touched on in the Well of Ascension
Sazed believes that the prophecies regarding the Hero of Ages are true. Tindwyl, his fellow keeper and research partner, does not. Although Sazed is able to talk about, in detail, hundreds of religions and belief systems, he claims to believe in all of them, a fact that confuses others. In the end of this book, when Tindwyl dies, Sazed feels lost and decides he cannot believe in anything again. When he discovers that the writings he and Tindwyl had been studying are false, being manipulated by some unknown person, he decides his whole life, and everything he’s ever believed in, has been a sham.
Sazed, Tindwyl, and even Vin try to find the truth in the stories of the past. What was the deepness and what caused the ash to fall from the sky. While Sazed and Tindwyl work at researching the rubbings Sazed finds, comparing that with all the vast knowledge they contain in their metalminds, Vin reads through the log book again and talks to OreSeur/TenSoon to learn more. The idea is always the same: the past is almost impossible to understand completely. Sazed puzzles over why Kwaan would want to kill Alendi even though Alendi was obviously good and virtuous person. In the end, Sazed discovers that the prophecies were a trick, a fact Kwaan discovered just in time to prevent Alendi from releasing a great evil into the world.
From the beginning of the book, it is obvious that Elend and Vin love each other. They stay in the same palace, and they look for opportunities to spend some “alone time” together. But Something stops them from formalizing the relationship. Vin turned down Elend’s marriage proposal, thinking that she wasn’t really the right person for him. During the book, Elend starts to feel the same. They even both go to Sazed, asking advice about love. Eventually, Vin is badly hurt, and while Sazed is helping her, she asks him to marry her and Elend. Sazed himself is also in love with Tindwyl. But he is a eunuch, and as such, he feels he has nothing to offer Tindwyl. By the end of the book, they have established a loving relationship, that is until Tindwyl is killed in the battle to protect the city.
Zane tries to convince Vin that she is being used by the others. He says that this is the way of the Mistborn. They are nothing but tools–knives–to kill the enemies of their owners. They are not allowed to make their own decisions. In a way, both kandra and koloss are the same. They were created by the Lord Ruler to be used like tools. Both can be controlled by a powerful enough allomancer.
Tindwyl comes to help Elend learn how to be a king. He is smart, and he cares about his people, but he doesn’t know how to lead. His first year of kingship, he spends most of his time studying and writing things. But Tindwyl shows him that much more is involved. He learns how to have confidence and how to talk to others in a way that commands their attention. He learns how to gain the respect for others. At first, the reader may think that Tindwyl is teaching Elend little more than how to be rude and superior all the time, but by the end of the book, it is obvious that the changes are for the positive. Elend learns that being king means taking charge and helping your people, and he does this even when he is no longer officially the king of Luthadel. Vin commands the other kings to serve under Elend, making him their Emperor. That means Elend will get to practice what he has learned about being a strong leader. Given the situation the world faces at the end of this book, the world will need a better Emperor that ever.
King Elend Venture stands atop Luthadel’s wall, watching an army approach. Fifty thousand men make up this force, which, compared to Elend’s twenty thousand rookie army, is quite a threat. The army is controlled by Elend’s father, Straff Venture, and Elend doesn’t know what to do about the threat. He talks to Ham on the wall, and Ham wonders is Elend could use his relationship with his father to broker a deal. Elend is not hopeful. Meanwhile, Vin comes upon an intersection of streets in the dark mists of night, cautiously looking around herself. She signals OreSeur the kandra to come out of hiding. She’s been sneaking around because she thought she was being followed. Just when Vin starts to think she isn’t being followed, coins spray from the shadows, heading right for her and OreSeur.
Vin manages to dodge the coins, calling for OreSeur to leave. After she is attacked again by coins, she sees her assailants–eight men, a mixture of Misting assassins. The thugs among the group attack in a coordinated way, combined with the coinshots’ spraying coins. In the fight, Vin is helped by a mysterious man that has been watching Vin from a distance for some time now. A coin from this watcher is fired at a coinshot. Later, as Vin takes down some of the thugs, another coin from the watcher kills the smoker of the group. At first, Vin doesn’t understand why use a coin on the smoker, since he could do nothing other than burn copper. But then Vin burns bronze and discovers that someone else is burning copper. That means one of the coinshots is a Mistborn, able to burn all the metals! Vin quickly swallows atium, provided by OreSeur, and is forced to face the other Mistborn. Both burning atium, neither Mistborn has an advantage. But then the other Mistborn’s atium runs out, and Vin quickly kills him. They start their way back home, OreSuer seriously injured and the mysterious watcher already gone.
Elend, in his room, struggles with the problems facing his kingdom. The army outside is a threat, and some in the appointed assembly want to surrender now before an attack or siege can begin. Meanwhile, Vin patrols Keep Venture, walking along the rooftops, watching for assassins or attackers. She peaks in on Elend through the skylight, just to make sure he’s okay. Using bronze to scan the area around her for allomancers, she senses someone, someone who thinks that a copper cloud will hide them. Vin searches for this person, and sees a mysterious figure in the mists. But it’s like no one is really there. Suddenly, that person disappears, dissolving into mists. Meanwhile, Elend is in his study when Vin drops in on him. They talk, Vin reporting the nights activities. She says she’s seen the watcher again. And she mentions the strange mist-person she just saw. Elend chalks it up to a stressful mind playing tricks on her. Ham enters and reports that the bodies of the allomancers that attacked Vin have been identified. They are not from Straff Venture. They are Westerners, perhaps under the control of a man named Cett.
Sazed, who has been traveling around various southern villages to teach the newly freed skaa, inspects a body that the locals have found. It appears that a man has been killed by the mist. He body is twisted and broken on the ground. The people watch as Sazed alone buries the man. After, Sazed says a prayer, and the skaa ask about it. They seem uncomfortable learning about any religion that doesn’t involve the Lord Ruler. They feel the Lord Ruler has abandoned them. Sazed promises, instead, to teach the people more practical things.
Vin walks down a busy market street in Luthadel, watching the crowds around her. She wonders about her own identity; is her a noblewoman or a skaa or a Mistborn? She realizes she is being followed by a member of the church Kelsier’s death caused, the religion dedicated to the Savior. They call her the heir. They start to ask many questions, and Vin just runs away from them. She ends up in some kind of pet shop. There, she buys a large and mean wolfhound, knocking it unconscious and carrying it home. She gives the unconscious wolfhound to OreSuer, for him to take the new body (since his old one has been damaged in the fight the other night). OreSuer objects, but he is bound by his contract with her and obeys her completely. Meanwhile, Vin turns her attention to a package from an expert in allomancy. He travels and find new and interesting metals for her to try. Aluminum, she knows, will cause all your metals to dissolve within you. Vin thinks an alloy of aluminum may have the opposite effect. Vin takes the package to find Elend, who is talking to Dockson. Dockson leaves, and Elend says that he knows the man doesn’t like him. Ham arrives and Vin tries the new metal. She needs Ham because, if the metal makes her sick, she’ll need someone to help her get back to bed. This duralumin appears in her power reserves when she swallows it, but when she burns it, nothing happens.
Elend watches as Vin and Ham spar in the sparing yard. Elend is joined by Spook and Clubs; as they watch, they place bets on who will win. Though Ham is obviously bigger and stronger, Vin is more graceful and agile. In the end, she beats him. The group chats for a bit, and Elend and Vin separate from the rest. Vin eats, at Elend’s acceptance, and then she returns to her room to find OreSeur now in the form of a wolfhound.
Sazed tries to teach some skaa people the basics of reading and writing, but they seem less and less interested, especially as the sun goes down and the mists come out. Sazed dismisses the class, wondering if what he is doing, his job as Keeper to teach others, is what he should be doing–or at least if it’s what he wants to be doing. One of the skaa summons him, claiming the Lord Ruler has returned. Sazed goes to investigate, only to find that the new visitor is Marsh, an Inquisitor, who has come looking for him. Marsh has come to tell him that the Conventical of Seran, a fortress once used by Obligators and Inquisitors, is empty. Marsh wants the two of them to go and investigate. Sazed is excited to see what wonders this place could have. What new information could he find and preserve for the greater good?
Vin jumps, soars, and flips around the keep’s walls, and OreSeur manages to keep up with her. Vin is impressed by what that wolfhound body can do. Vin puts the kandra to the test, giving the chase all she has, but always OreSeur manages to keep up with her. She spots the watcher, observing her again. This time, Vin decides to chase him, asking OreSeur to keep up with her if he can. They chase and spar a little, deadly daggers being used like a child’s toys. The watcher tries to hide from her, but he obviously doesn’t know that she can penetrate copper clouds. She pretends she can’t sense him. While still burning tin, Vin also decides to try out that new metal duralumin again. Her senses explode when she does. Everything becomes too overpowering, and then her tin disappears. Vin discovers that this is the purpose of duralumin; it can super boost another metal, but as a result that metal runs out very quickly. The watcher comes out of hiding, and they talk. He says he’s an enemy, but he’s also obviously insane. Vin needs OreSeur to hold vials of metals for her, and the kandra shows that he can open his skin and hold things inside.
Sazed and Marsh walk down a dusty highway, talking. Marsh asks why Sazed has left Luthadel, why he has abandoned his friends. Sazed says he is a keeper, and so his job must be to teach people around the world about the things he has stored in his metalminds. But Sazed is not completely satisfied with his own answer.
Vin joins the group for a meeting with the assembly. While waiting for Elend, she talks to Ham about what Elend is trying to do in Luthadel. She thinks he’s trying to make everyone a nobleman, which she thinks can’t work. Elend arrives and talks to the assemble about them allowing him to talk to his father before any action is taken. The assembly agrees, though many in the group want to just surrender immediately to Straff. After the meeting, Elend notices a tall woman in the back. It’s obvious she is from Terris. Suddenly, Elend receives the report that another army has arrived outside Luthadel.
Elend stands atop the wall, again, looking at a newly arrived army. Whoever it is, the two armies are not working together. The group sees someone riding away from the second army at high speeds, and Spook, the tineye, sees that it is Breeze. Vin uses steel and duralumin to jump all the way to where breeze is, defending him from the few men that pursue him. When Breeze rides into Luthadel, he says that the army belongs to Lord Cett and that he worked hard to convince the man to come here. Two armies, each wanting to take Luthadel, are now at a stand-still. Neither can make a move without being defeated by the other. Later, Vin and Elend discover that a clean set of bones have been found in the palace, meaning another kandra is in their midst.
Sazed and Marsh arrive in the Conventical, which, like Marsh said, is empty. They explore the area inside. Marsh leaves Sazed alone, going upstairs to see what’s there. Sazed is instructed to stay on the ground level. Sazed continues to explore, recording descriptions of everything he sees into a metalmind. He happens upon some kind of torture chamber, which Sazed figures is the place Inquisitors are made. The dried blood all over the floor must be from when the spikes are beaten into Obligators’ heads and bodies. Sazed is about to leave when he notices another doorway in the back of that room. It leads to another little room, the back wall of which being a wall of steel with writing etched into it. The writing is in the Terris language. Marsh comes and says they need to go. Sazed makes a rubbing of the wall for further study later. He knows now that he must go to Luthadel to study this correctly.
Vin and OreSeur stand outside in the mist. Vin thinks the mist is coming earlier each night and staying longer. She asks OreSeur more about kandra, so as to catch the imposter in the palace. He explains that a kandra cannot break his/her contract. For them, the contract they have with a human is sacred. Vin also learns that kandra cannot use allomancy. In fact, allomancy cannot be used against them. Their emotions can’t be smoothed or rioted, and they won’t even know that someone is trying to affect their emotions in this way. Vin also confronts another spirit-like form in the mists, the same mysterious figure from before. When she tries to touch it, her arm goes numb. Meanwhile, Elend convinces the group that they must play the two armies against each other, getting them to fight each other instead of Luthadel. After the meeting. Elend meets the Terriswoman he saw from the meeting. She insists on meeting with the king alone. The others reluctantly agree.
Elend learns that the woman’s name is Tindwyl. She is an acquaintance of Sazed’s and another keeper. Even though every keeper holds the same knowledge, each one might specialize in something. While Sazed studies religions, Tindwyl knows many biographies. She knows what it takes to be a great leader, and she wants to share that with Elend. When Tindwyl leaves, Vin comes and she and Elend talk about the plan they have to get the armies to fight each other. They also discuss how they’ll be able to find the kandra in the palace.
Sazed and Marsh have been walking from the Conventical to Luthadel for several days now. On this morning, Sazed wakes up and Marsh is gone. The keeper decides to go ahead alone, knowing that Marsh can catch up later when he can. Sazed happens upon a town in which all the people seem to be dead. Outside, herds of animals roam freely. Each building is full of dead, starved people, and there are mounds of dead bodies at each door–those that tried to go outside. Sazed finds one man alive; he’s fed himself on the flesh of others inside the same building. He claims the mist killed anyone that walked outside. Afraid to leave the buildings, the people starved to death inside. Sazed tries to help the man, but then he must continue on his trek to Luthadel with a renewed sense of urgency.
Vin sits on the floor with the log book, written by the man that was to be the Hero of Ages, the book found by Vin the first time she entered the palace of the Lord Ruler. She separates the pages and puts them into stacks, organizing them by what each page talks about. She is most interested in the “mist spirit” the writer saw, something similar to what Vin has been seeing. Meanwhile, Elend Stands atop the wall, overlooking the two armies at his doorstep. He talks to clubs about being a good king. Later, Tindwyl gives him new clothes to wear, a white general’s uniform with a cape, to make him look more like a king. He also gets a haircut. Then, Elend goes off to find Vin in her room.
Vin is in her room, piles of paper all around her on the floor. She continues to sort through the pages, rearranging them as she rereads different parts. She even starts to take notes of some quotes that she wants to remember. OreSeur watches her, commenting that she should use the desk instead of the floor. Elend walks in, and he is amazed that she is researching. He is also impressed with her penmanship, based on the pretty letters in her notes. Elend takes Vin with him to meet the messenger that has come from his father’s army. Vin is shocked to find that this messenger is also the man that was following her, the watcher. The messenger’s name is Zane, and he acts like an ambassador. Later, Vin and OreSeur wait outside for Zane. The two Mistborn spar, jumping from one rooftop to another. Zane says that Vin is different from the rest. She shouldn’t allow herself to be used by them. Vin doesn’t know what he means. When Zane leaves, Vin is sure she wants to spar with him more.
Zane comes back to his camp, or his father’s camp. He has a guard summon is father to the strategy tent. While waiting, he gives one of the soldiers strategic positions of the forces in Luthadel. Straff comes in and Zane tells him about the day’s activities, including what was said between Zane and Elend. They talk over a cup of tea. Straff, being a tineye, burns tin and smells poison in the tea he’s drinking. He knows Zane is always trying to poison him. He defiantly drinks the tea anyway and dismisses Zane. After, Straff summons one of his mistresses, a woman named Amaranta, who prepares a concoction of medicines in a special tea for Straff. He drinks the new tea, hoping he’ll live again this time.
Sazed has traveled six weeks worth of distance in six days, using his metalminds from time to time. Whenever a metalmind runs out, he leaves it on the ground, trying to lessen the amount of weight he has to carry. He notices several pillars of smoke ahead, sure sign that there is an army or camp of some kind. He is surprised to see that the army camp is made up of koloss, a dark blue kind of monster barbarian, once controlled by the Lord Ruler. Sazed is found by a koloss patrol. They force him to come down from the tree he was hiding in and follow them into the camp. Sazed is surprised once again to see that the man controlling these koloss is Jastes Lekal, a one-time friend of Elend Venture. Jastes says that he plans to conquer Luthadel as his own. He ends up letting Sazed go, under the condition that Sazed tell Elend about what he has seen. Sazed leaves, feeling even more urgency about getting to Luthadel.
Elends meets with his advisors–Ham, Breeze, Dockson, and Vin. Tindwyl is there, too. They try to talk Elend out of this plan he has to go into his father’s camp and trick him into fighting Cett. They don’t think Elend can con someone like that, but Elend is insistent that he can manipulate his father any time he wants. Plus, Elend argues, he’ll have Vin with him, in case Straff tries to take his own son hostage. Vin, listening in to the conversation, discovers through bronze that Breeze is soothing Elend to make him more confident. After the meeting, Tindwyl chastises Elend for not acting more like a king. Kings cannot doubt themselves. They must always feel that they are the right man for the job and convince others of the same through sheer confidence. The discussion is interrupted when Elend gets word that Cett’s daughter has arrived in Luthadel, looking for Breeze.
Cetts daughter, Allrianne, has left her father’s camp and come to Luthadel to see Breeze, whom she affectionately calls Breezy. Breeze is completely embarrassed by this, but the rest of the group gets a good laugh at his expense. Allrianne says she hated staying in her father’s camp; she needs comforts only a city can bring, like fresh water and a bed. After Allrianne leaves to freshen up, the group decides it may be beneficial to keep her. It may prevent her father from attacking too soon.
Vin, hides, suspended in the mists, just above Keep Venture. She spies on Ham as he walks across a courtyard. As she follows him, as a predetermined time, OreSeur jumps from behind some boxes and howls, scaring Ham. Ham reacts by flaring pewter. This confirms to Vin that he is not the kandra imposter. Vin admits to Ham that she is out of atium, meaning she’ll die the next time she fights a Mistborn with atium. She wonders is there is a secret to killing someone with atium. Ham doesn’t think so, although there have been some theories about how to do so. It may be possible, for example, to surprise them somehow. After that, Vin has a heart-to-heart with OreSeur. They talk about the way kandra are often treated, beaten by their own masters. They spot someone approaching the keep’s walls. It turns out to be Sazed, who has returned with, as he puts it, “problems and troubles.”
Sazed is telling the group in the kitchens late at night, what he saw in the Koloss camp. They are not happy to know that a third army is on its way to Luthadel. Sazed does not know how Lekal is controlling the creatures, but the group does know that 20,000 koloss could beat an army of at least four times that many humans, meaning there is nothing stopping them from reaching and taking Luthadel. Finally, Sazed also share his fear regarding the mist killing people. He thinks something was released when the Lord Ruler was killed, although he never personally saw the mist kill anyone. Cett’s daughter comes walking in, half disheveled, asking what’s going on. They dismiss her and the group breaks apart, everyone either going to bed or to some corner to thin. Vin takes OreSeur outside to patrol. Back in his room, Sazed meets Tindwyl, an old friend of his. She criticizes him for returning and having strange theories about the mist.
Vin is outside, thinking about the beating she hears to the north, just like the writer of the log book, the supposed Hero of Ages. Zane finds her, and again he tries to convince her to leave Elend and Luthadel, claiming that she is being used by them and that she can do much better on her own, free to do as she pleases. Vin insists that she is very happy doing what she is doing and that no one is forcing her to do anything.
Vin is woken by a quiet bark of warning from OreSeur. She reacts by jumping out of bed, reaching for a dagger, and downing a vile of metals. She does all this before she realizes that the person that was “sneaking up on her” is actually Tindwyl the Terriswoman. Tindwyl obligates her to go shopping with herself and Allrianne, something Vin knows she will detest. They take a carriage to the market, the three women and OreSeur, who everything still assumes is just an ordinary wolfhound, along with Spook, who is forced to go to carry the girls’ bags. Vin manages to find a dress that she likes, and Tindwyl arranges for the dress to be made special for a Mistborn. Meanwhile, a someone has identifies Vin and a large crowd has gathered outside the storefront. Vin reluctantly goes outside to talk to them. They obviously worship her, calling her the Heir to the Survivor–Kelsier. She tries to say something that will inspire hope, but she feels that she is really just lying to them. Meanwhile, Elend is at the wall when Straff’s men attack. The guards and archers on the wall are in a total panic, and they barely kill a few of the invading wave before it retreats to the Venture camp. This was a test, just to try out Luthadel’s defenses, it is explained to Elend. Straff is sending a message, just before Elend is supposed to go out to the camp and talk to his father.
Vin opens the box sent from the dress maker, happy to find that the new dress is very well designed for a Mistborn, allowing her to move and fight freely. It even has secret hiding places for her daggers and some vials of metal. OreSeur does not think going is a good idea, since Vin and Elend would be alone in Straff’s army camp. Vin knows she must go anyway. Elend and Vin ride into the camp. Over the meal, Elend tries to manipulate Straff, but the man seems to catch on too quickly. Then he sends Vin out of the tent, so they can talk alone, father and son.
Straff and Elend talk inside, and things don’t seem to be going very well for Elend. Straff says he’ll just have Elend killed and demand Luthadel to open the gates to him. Elend says that if he is killed, Vin will kill Straff. Vin is outside, listening. She begins to manipulate Straff’s emotions, making him feel afraid. Finally, she smoothes away everything–every emotion he has, leaving him feeling empty and dead inside. The trick works, and Elend and Vin get out of the camp safe. Meanwhile, Zane has a little chat with Vin outside the tent, telling her that she is nothing but a knife to Elend. After they are gone, Straff commands Zane to kill Vin. Back in Luthadel, Elend learns that the assembly has voted to remove him as king.
The group meets together to see what they’re going to do about the assembly’s vote. They try to figure out if the assembly already has someone else in mind to put on the thrown, or if they simple want to send a warning to Elend because he has been ignoring them of late. The discussion leads to an argument between Breeze and Ham, as always, and Vin gets a taste of kandra humor when OreSeur whispers that he could always eat one of them and solve the argument. Later, Elend gets another lesson from Tindwyl about how a proper kind should act.
At night, Vin and OreSeur have a talk. OreSeur doesn’t think it’s healthy for Vin to keep herself awake for long periods of time, burning pewter to stay strong. He also doesn’t like the way Vin treats Zane, who should be her enemy. In the middle of the conversation, Vin realizes that she’s figured out what the Deepness is.
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.
Elend and Spook are making their way back to Luthadel, traveling by night, like Vin told them to. They happen upon a mistwraith and continue. Spook sees watchfires of an army ahead. He leaves Elend behind to check it out. Alone in the dark mist, Elend sees a ghostly figure–the mist spirit–standing before him. The spirit points north, insisting that he turn around. Spook comes back and tells Elend to come and talk to the refugees. They are from Terris, and they’re going the Luthade too, since a small army of Inquisitors attacked Terris and killed all the keepers. The refugees are looking for Tindwyl or Sazed, since they are the leaders of the Terris people now.
Cett, Penrod, and Jenarle argue about what they should do next with their collected armies. Sazed presides over the meeting, but he won’t allow them to do much of anything without Elend or Vin’s order. Elend is still not found and Vin is in a long sleep, recovering from her pewter drag and battle with the koloss. Sazed still feels like he doesn’t care or believe in anything. As Elend approaches Luthadel outside, Sazed is inside, studying the notes he and Tindwyl compiled. Vin comes in, finally awake. She says she must find the Well of Ascension. She knows it is here, in Luthadel. Later, Vin and Elend meet outside. She takes him to the Lord Ruler’s palace. She knows the well is here. Sazed, back inside, ponders over the notes he has. They don’t seem consistent at all. The mist spirit shows up and keeps pointing to passages in Sazed’s notes. Sazed realizes that Vin is going to make a big mistake. He runs to the Lord Ruler’s palace to find her. Meanwhile, Vin has found a secret stairwell in Kredik Shaw, She and Elend go down to see what’s below. Sazed runs into Kredik Shaw to stop them, but Marsh is waiting for him. He apologizes, even though he doesn’t know why he must kill Sazed now.
Vin and Elend walk deeper into the underground passage, passing racks of supplies. Vin knows she is getting closer to the well. Outside, Sazed and Marsh fight. Sazed doesn’t have near enough strength to defeat Marsh, a powerful Steel Inquisitor. Marsh pushes Sazed’s pouch of rings into him, the metal pieces cutting into his gut. Sazed feels the power in those metals and draws of some health that was stored in a gold ring. Vin and Elend find a final chamber, where the well is. They also find broken pots. A small bead has been left behind, similar to atium but different in color. As Vin approaches the well, the mist spirit comes and slashes Elend’s gut with a blade. Vin screams, but she’s too late. Outside, Ham attacks Marsh from behind, knocking him out. Sazed races to find Vin. Vin, inside, steps into the well and feels the power all around her. She want to take it for herself and heal Elend, but she feels like the right thing it to let it go. She does, only to discover that she has really let something horrible free.
Vin is weeping on the floor by the now empty well. The mist spirit signals for her to go to the broken pot and retrieve the strange metal bead from before, and then it signals for her to give it to Elend. The only thing Vin has to help Elend swallow the bead is a metal vial. She gives it to him and, to her surprise, he begins burning pewter while unconscious.
Sazed goes back to the Conventical of Seran, where the original meal etching is. He reads it and discovers that his own rubbing, notes, and metalmind memories had been changed by someone, presumably the creature that wanted to be freed. Thus, the etching starts by saying that only something written in steel can be trusted. The prophecy, Kwaan had learned, was all a trick. The Hero of Ages was supposed to release the power and set something evil free. Everything Sazed had ever believed or searched for had been a lie. Meanwhile, Vin and Elend are in Luthadel. Something is free, and the mist continues to kill people. But now Elend is a mistborn, having healed from his gut wound with the help of pewter. Vin doesn’t know what to do, feeling guilty about releasing that evil upon the world. Elend says that they will do as Kelsier taught them to do: survive.