||This article describes a work or element of fiction in a primarily in-universe style. (September 2012)|
|Published||2006 - 2011|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover and Paperback)
The Mistborn series is four high fantasy novels written by Brandon Sanderson and published by Tor Fantasy. The series consists of the original trilogy of Mistborn: The Final Empire, Mistborn: The Well of Ascension, and Mistborn: The Hero of Ages published between 2006 and 2008, as well as a stand-alone short novel titled Mistborn: The Alloy of Law released on 8 November 2011. The fourth book takes place about 300 years after the original trilogy.
- 1 Geography
- 2 People
- 3 Technology
- 4 Creatures
- 5 Supernatural powers
- 6 Gods
- 7 Religion
- 8 Sequels
- 9 In other media
- 10 Reception
- 11 References
- 12 External links
The series primarily takes place in a region called the Final Empire on a world called Scadrial. One thousand years before the story begins the king of the Final Empire, the Lord Ruler, gained access to a divine power at what is called the Well of Ascension. With this power he remade the world and everything in it into its state at the beginning of the first book. In the Final Empire a Dominance is a territory within the Lord Ruler's empire.
Luthadel is the capital of the Central Dominance and the entire Final Empire. Luthadel is the heart of the Lord Ruler's power, as well as the site of his palace, Kredik Shaw. Before the Lord Ruler remade the world, Luthadel was a mountainous region known as Terris. To hide the true location of Old Terris and the Well of Ascension, the Lord Ruler moved the mountains elsewhere and named that region "Terris" instead.
The Pits of Hathsin were in the Central Dominance, where atium was mined. When Kelsier destroyed the atium crystals, he freed the slaves and the Pits were abandoned. When the Lord Ruler was killed, atium mining was eliminated altogether. The Pits were named for the dozens of cracks in the ground, where men were forced to crawl down to find the small geodes with centers of atium beads. Slaves were crushed to death by rockfall, or executed if at least one geode per week was not found. Possibly thousands of unknown or uncared for dead corpses remained underground, lost in deep crevices.
The cracks in the ground were marked by fences by the Terris people, when the Pits became their new home. The remaining infrastructure from the old mining camp had buildings, shelters, and most importantly, fresh water along with farm crops of resilient hardy plants adapted to ash that needed little water. Once settled, the Terris people improved the valley, building more structures, brushing ash from the plant foliage to provide grazing for the adapted short-legged sheep that roamed the hills, and returning to their heritage of herding, before the Lord Ruler's Ascension. The Terris people's lives became easier than most on Scadrial, living in pastoral villages that replaced the once brutal prison camps.
Terris is the ancestral home of the Terris people. It is a mountainous region located north of the Northern Dominance. The Terris Dominance is the only Dominance to retain its original name. It was historically the home of the Well of Ascension.
After the Collapse of the Final Empire and the Lord Ruler's death, Ruin controlled the Steel Inquisitors to destroy the Terris homeland and all its inhabitants. Many of the murdered Terris were used in Hemalurgical killings to create more Inquisitors.
Tathingdwen was the former capital of the Terris Dominance, burned by the Inquisitors during their assault on the Terris Keepers.
Urteau is a key crossroads city in the Northern Dominance. It was the traditional seat of House Venture although the family is based mainly in the capital. Later it came under the control of a Skaa dominated government led by a man calling himself 'the Citizen'. Urteau is also famous for its canals that mysteriously ran dry. It plays a key role in the third novel.
Fadrex City is an important cross roads city in the Western Dominance. Although all cities outside of Luthadel are forbidden from having walls, Fadrex City has a natural rock formation that makes it very defensible. Lord Cett made this city his base after the fall of the Lord Ruler for this very reason.
- Eastern Dominance
Mostly rural farms and villages, it is the most chaotic and unsettled of the five Inner Dominances. In the southern part of the Eastern Dominance is The Conventical of Seran, a Ministry stronghold, where the Steel Inquisitors and High Obligators of the Lord Ruler's religion had retreated after the Collapse.
- Farmost Dominance
Small region, mostly coastlands.
- Remote Dominance
It is a somewhat mountainous region located south of the Southern Islands.
- Crescent Dominance
It is a mountainous region located east of the Northern and Eastern Dominances.
The nobility are the descendants of the early supporters of the Lord Ruler. The Lord Ruler gave them the gift of Allomancy because of their support, through a substance that exists only in the Well of Ascension. The Allomantic power has been passed down through the generations, but their Allomantic gifts have grown weaker over the years. At first there were few Mistings with only one ability, but now Mistings far outnumber Mistborn. Allomancy is the main reason the interbreeding of nobles and skaa was made illegal by the Lord Ruler. The Lord Ruler had more control over the Nobles, so he didn't want the skaa to have Allomancy.
Skaa are the descendants of the people who did not support the Lord Ruler when he first came to power. During the reign of the Lord Ruler they were oppressed slaves treated brutally, with the law stating they belong to the Lord Ruler but loaned to the nobility for work. There were multiple skaa rebellions over the centuries, but they never came close to succeeding. All skaa Allomancers have some noble blood.
When the Lord Ruler ascended to power, he altered all of humanity to be capable of dealing with ash and caused additional slight physiological differences between skaa and nobility. Initial changes made the nobility less fertile, taller, more intelligent, while the skaa were made to be shorter, hardier, and to easily procreate. After a thousand years of sociological and biological mixing, the differences had been almost completely erased. When the series first starts, the skaa are beaten, oppressed, hopeless, superstitious about the Mists and treated as subhuman, less than animals, and it is acceptable for a Noble to have sex with a skaa woman as long as she is immediately killed to prevent Allomantic powers from spreading.
Before the Ascension of the Lord Ruler weapons technology had progressed to the invention of gunpowder. At the beginning of his reign the Lord Ruler deliberately suppressed knowledge of gunpowder and most other advances. This was done to prevent technology undermining his military strength and being used against him in rebellions. This left only archers as the only long-range military option, and it left skaa rebellions at a disadvantage because archers require considerable training. The only major advance since the Lord Ruler's reign started is the invention of canning food.
Mistborn: The Alloy of Law takes place approximate three centuries later and technology has advanced to an early 19th-century level.
Kandra are highly intelligent life forms without distinct shape, physically resembling Mistwraith in their natural form, however, they are shapeshifters. The prime function of the kandra are as spies, because of their notable ability to imitate any being. They can consume dead creatures, memorizing and replicating the physical traits perfectly. They are nonviolent and valued for their skill as impersonators. They adhere rigidly to their societal mandate called 'The Contract', which forbids any killing, and through which they offer their services to humans. To hire a kandra, you must pay him or her with atium, the most powerful Allomantic metal. There are other jobs for kandra to perform in their Homeland, such as the teaching and instruction of a child kandra, considered a prestigious job among kandra.
The First Generation of kandra were converted by the Lord Ruler, from pre-Ascension Terris Worldbringers, the sect of spiritual leaders and Feruchemists, resulting in the kandra calling him "Father". Worldbringers mainly used their Feruchemical abilities creating copperminds to store knowledge as religious philosophers and scholars. After the Worldbringers were wiped out by the Lord Ruler during his Ascension, the Order of the Keepers in the Final Empire were inspired by their memory, dedicated to preserving pre-ascension knowledge of religion and other studies.
The First Generation then created all subsequent generations through "Blessings", using the art of Hemalurgy, with a pair of hemalurgic metal spikes provided by the Lord Ruler each century, giving the number requested by the kandra. During the thousand plus years of the Lord Ruler's reign, there have been Eleven Generations, with a Twelfth Generation unlikely, as their Father is dead. Without the Lord Ruler, the kandra cannot create new Blessings, or new kandra. Sometimes referred to as "mistwraiths that have evolved". It is revealed in the third book Mistborn: The Hero of Ages that kandra were first created from the Terris people and do not die naturally, essentially immortal. The "Blessings" given to a mistwraith grant sentience with additional benefits, with each kandra receiving one of the four Blessings: Awareness, Potency, Presence or Stability.
Blessing of Awareness: A pair of tin spikes which grant a kandra increased senses, similar to Allomantically burning tin.
Blessing of Potency: A pair of iron spikes which give a kandra great strength similar to an Allomancer burning pewter, but not exactly the same, and it will not grant the limitless energy received by burning pewter.
Blessing of Presence: A pair of copper spikes which grant increased mental capability, includes the ability to focus despite physical discomfort or distraction, exceptionally sharp memory, resistance to madness, and the inability to lapse into unconsciousness due to shock. This Blessing also counters at least some of the mental weakness that is caused by Hemalurgy; kandra with these spikes are much less vulnerable to being controlled by Ruin than is the norm.
Blessing of Stability: Rarely used, the Blessing of Stability is a pair of zinc spikes that endows its receiver with emotional fortitude, rendering them much more resistant to control by emotional Allomancy.
The First Contract was originally a series of promises made by the kandra First Generation to the Lord Ruler, written in steel, and codified as the first kandra laws. The first thing a kandra learned upon awakening from his or her life as a mistwraith, the First Contract contains commands to revere earlier generations, simple legal rights granted to each kandra, provisions for creating new kandra, and a demand for ultimate dedication to the Lord Ruler. The kandra Origin Legends include the First Contract, the Waiting, the Protection of the Trust and the Resolution. Most kandra believe, or want to believe that the First Contract and the Origin Legends are ancient anachronistic words, philosophical and abstract, either frightened by the contents or the requirement of great sacrifices. The elders know that the First Contract is not simple ceremony or metaphor, but an explicit set of instructions and actions to take when the world begins breaking, when Ruin returns, the kandra were to join the Father and serve him. The possibility of the Father being dead was not included, leaving some of the kandra to decide if the Father is dead, they must serve Vin. However, the First Contract contained a provision which, if invoked, would require the mass suicide of the entire kandra people.
Due to their advanced age, the First Generation appear to be made of darker coloured flesh which tend to hang off them when they are wearing bones. When they are in their Homeland, all Generations prefer to use the form of a True Body, a set of false bones, human-shaped, crafted by a kandra artisan. Some True Body forms are quartz, with translucent skin, allowing the stone to sparkle faintly in the light, others are made of simple stone. The Second Generation number twenty, with bones constructed of the purest crystal, some with a deep red tint, impractical with fragile bones but for administrator roles in the Homeland, the weakness of the bones was an acceptable trade-off for their sparkling beauty. Kandra have spent ten centuries enslaved to humankind, serving the Contracts in an effort to keep themselves safe. Most of the kandra hate humans for their situation. Ironically, even when kandra wear True Bodies, the forms are human, two arms, two legs, faces, even while they curse humankind for keeping them enslaved. The Unbirthed are the mistwraiths, which form a body in random shapes, connecting bones in odd arrangements, making almost artistic designs from both human and animal bones.
Numbers of kandra in each Generation vary. Elder generations, Firsts, Seconds, Thirds were small in number, since many had been killed in the early days, when the humans had feared them. However, later generations were well populated, the Tenth Generation had over a hundred individuals in it.
The Kandra Homeland's most sacred room is the Trustwarren, with a platform where only the most blessed or cursed were allowed, surrounded by tiers of seating for the entire kandra population. There is a small hole cut into the steel disk of the Trustwarren platform floor. The Trust, which is the collective kandra secret Treasure, of all the atium collected by kandra from their inception, lies directly underneath. The death of the Lord Ruler/Father results in upheaval for all life. The kandra believe in Worldbringers that spoke of a time when the Resolution occurs. As the Destroyer of the Lord Ruler, some kandra believe The Trust belongs to Vin.
Kandra are of Preservation, chosen of the Father, and are forbidden to kill. Humans and koloss kill each other, but both are of Ruin. Although considered treasonous within kandra society, on rare occasions one can kill other kandra under orders from the Contract holder, but this results in either imprisonment or execution by kandra elders. Executions are performed by pouring acid on an imprisoned kandra or by means of starvation.
The Secret of the Kandra, forbidden to be revealed to any non-kandra and punishable by death, is that the Lord Ruler designed all life forms with secret control mechanisms only he knew of, with the kandra and the koloss having a hidden Allomantic trigger, in which they can be controlled when an Allomancer "pushes" on their emotions.
Kandra people state they are of Preservation, while the koloss and Inquisitors are of Ruin. Yet, kandra bore Hemalurgic spikes like the others. However, the spikes cause only minor transformation in new kandra, which are made from Mistwraiths, not humans, resulting in bodies almost identical to Mistwraiths, but with expanded Cognitive, Physical and Spiritual abilities. Although hemalurgical spikes dehumanize Humans, Koloss and Inquisitors, the spikes return humanity to the Mistwraiths, who were originally human Terris Feruchemists, now Kandra. Created by the Lord Ruler to be spies, most interpreted this as meaning that he planned to use them as spies in his new government, because of their ability to imitate other people. While they were used for this purpose, something much more complex and grand was in their existence. They were the Lord Ruler's double agents, planted with Hemalurgic spikes, making Ruin believe he controlled them. Ruin always searches for his body, the atium Treasure, the Kandra Contract payment, secretly stored in the Kandra Trust for a thousand years. Yet the kandra were taught, bound, to pull the spikes free when Ruin tried to seize them. In Ruin's moment of triumph, when he'd always assumed the kandra would be his on a whim, the vast majority of them immediately switched sides and left him unable to seize his prize. They were of Preservation all along.
Mistwraiths are concentrated mistforms and mindless scavengers with the ability to add the bones of creatures they consume to their own forms. They are part of the reason why Skaa fear the mists. Named the Unbirthed by Kandra, the Mistwraiths can become Kandra.
The murdered Terris Feruchemist people are the Mistwraiths. After the Lord Ruler's Ascension, he killed his ancestral people, the Terris Feruchemists, to eliminate threats to his power by future challengers with Terris Feruchemical abilities identical to his. During his reign, the Lord Ruler implemented a Breeding Program of all other Terris people in case any subsequent generations displayed Feruchemical abilities. He also ordered Steel Inquisitors to attack the Terris homeland to hunt down and kill even child Feruchemists, with no evident survivors. In time the Inquisitors' constant search of any hidden Feruchemists expanded to include their killing with Hemalurgic experiments and recruiting. The mists began with Allomancy, connected to Preservation and Ruin, and have a direct relationship of attraction and repulsion to all creatures linked with the three Metallic Arts, Allomancy, Feruchemy and Hemalurgy. In book 3, Vin learns from her koloss named "Human" that koloss hate the mists because the mists hate them. The mists are repulsed by creatures of Ruin, including Inquisitors.
Koloss are of Ruin and are violent creatures that kill, with superhuman strength that grow to a maximum height of about 13 feet, at which point their hearts cannot support their bulk and they die. They only have two emotional states: boredom and rage. Easily triggered, many koloss kill each other daily for personal possessions or no reason at all. Although powerful in combat, they are seldom used, for they have a tendency to savagely kill any creatures near them, innocent humans or enemies in battle, making them unsuitable for attacking cities and other civilized targets. They can be controlled with emotional Allomancy by a very powerful Mistborn or a group of Soothers.
It is revealed in the third book that they were created by the Lord Ruler through Hemalurgy, which is of Ruin, as a powerful, fiercely loyal army controlled through the use of Allomancy by any powerful Mistborn or group of brass mistings. Made from Hemalurgic spikes, which extract then transfer powers to another and grant a specific residual ability, similar to Allomancy. The spike steals the power of Preservation that exists within the soul of all people, the power which gives all people sentience. A spike can only hold so much of a Hemalurgic charge, restricting creation of spikes that grant infinite strength, no matter how many people those spikes killed and drew power from. By taking the power at the Well of Ascension, Rashek was granted instinctive knowledge and an expanded mind of many things, including Hemalurgy, and with a little practice, he was able to intuit where to place spikes that would create the servants he wanted. Each spike, positioned carefully, determines how the recipient's body is changed. A spike in one place creates monstrous, near-mindless beasts, as in koloss. In another place, a spike will create a crafty, yet homicidal, Steel Inquisitor. Similar to Inquisitors, the creation of a koloss was very brutal.
Destroying five souls, individual iron spikes are hammered through four regular people's hearts, killing them, followed by hammering those four spikes strategically in a fifth human, causing them to becomes a koloss. The cost of Hemalurgy is balanced out by each pair of spikes granting what kandra call the "Blessing of Potency", but each spike also distorts the koloss body a little more, making it increasingly inhuman. Hemalurgic spikes change people physically, depending on which powers are granted, where the spike is placed, and how many spikes someone has. Inquisitors, for instance, are changed drastically from the humans they used to be, with hearts in different places from those of humans, and brains rearranged to accommodate the lengths of metal jabbed through their eyes. Koloss are changed in even more drastic ways. Although having superhuman strength and increased size, koloss are barely intelligent, with only faint abilities to reason and communicate. As a result of this, many koloss insist that they are human and have semi-human attributes. The Lord Ruler periodically supplied the koloss with fresh spikes and skaa captives to produce new koloss and they were designed to quickly die out. If the koloss got free from his control, they were supposed to kill themselves off and end their own rampage. However, after Vin killed the Lord Ruler, the koloss learned how to reproduce on their own by harvesting the spikes from their dead brethren and re-using them. The power of the spikes decreases with re-use and results in koloss that retain more of their former humanity.
A koloss once said to a human "We will kill you. Take your cities. Then we will be human."
In the thousand years of the Lord Ruler's reign, he kept the koloss separate from humanity, with very little known about them beyond their brutal killing and simple bestial nature. When an Allomancer "controls" them, the koloss convey emotional struggle through the Allomantic link, dislike of being controlled, the desire to break free and attack the Allomancer, but it cannot. The Allomancer can mentally give the koloss general commands at a distance, such as "attack" or "stop," but does not have fine control, such as having them say specific words. The link is retained, whether awake or asleep, burning metals or not, unless someone manages to steal control of the koloss.
After Harmony's Ascension, however, the koloss were transformed back to mostly normal humans, and now live as a tribal race in the Roughs.
The three Metallic Arts symbolize the three Realms of Existence; Cognitive Realm, Physical Realm, Spiritual Realm.
Allomancy is of Preservation. In the rational case of Allomancy, net power is gained. It is provided by an external source, Preservation's own energy.
Hemalurgy is of Ruin. It destroys. By taking abilities from one person and giving them to another—in reduced amounts—power is actually lost. In line with Ruin's own appointed purpose—breaking down the universe into smaller and smaller pieces—Hemalurgy gives great gifts, but at a high cost.
Feruchemy is the power of Balance. Of the three powers of the metallic arts, only it was known to men before the conflict between Preservation and Ruin came to a head. In Feruchemy, power is stored up, then later drawn upon. There is no loss of energy—just a changing of the time and rate of its use.
Allomancy is the most prominent set of abilities that people can have in Mistborn. It works by an Allomancer ingesting and then burning one (or more) of 16 specific metals to draw powerful abilities from them. Allomancers are uncommon, even among Great Houses.
After the Lord Ruler took the power at the Well of Ascension, he recreated the world until the power expended itself. In the Chamber of Ascension the Lord Ruler obtained the remnants of the Well's power, the god metal Lerasium, which he shared with his original supporters. The first group of Mistborn possessed the undiminished power of the Shard Preservation, which was then passed down through the lines of the nobility, weakening with each generation. Although forbidden by the Lord Ruler, children of mixed Skaa and Noble heritage survived, with a few eventually developing allomantic abilities. One of the Lord Ruler's seemingly "divine" powers through his thousand year reign was his essential Allomantic strength, but it was also part of each one of the original nine allomancers. This was why his powers were so much stronger than those of present-day Mistborn, although his ability to mix Feruchemy and Allomancy was what produced many of his secret abilities.
Allomancy is of Preservation. In the case of Allomancy, net power is gained. It is provided by an external source, Preservation's own energy.
Allomancers are divided into two main groups:
- Mistborn: people who can burn all of the Allomantic metals
- Mistings: people who can burn only one Allomantic metal
Feruchemy is the second most prominent set of abilities in Mistborn. It is an ancient trait passed down among the race known as Terrismen and Terriswomen. Those with this ability are known as Keepers or Feruchemists.
Feruchemy involves the use of the same metals as Allomancy but, rather than ingest the metals, they can be worn or carried by the Feruchemist. Unlike Allomancy, the metal itself is not consumed but is used as storage of the Feruchemist's own attributes. Feruchemists refer to the metals that they use as 'metalminds', e.g. 'Coppermind' or 'Ironmind'. As long as a metal is in contact with the skin and the Feruchemist has stored something in it, it can be drawn upon. Only the Feruchemist that originally stored the attribute can use it. In the original trilogy only those from the Terris region of The Final Empire have Feruchemical abilities.
Feruchemy is the power of balance. Of the three powers of the metal arts, only it was known to men before the conflict between Preservation and Ruin came to a head. In Feruchemy, power is stored up, then later drawn upon. There is no loss of energy—just a changing of the time and rate of its use.
- Feruchemists: people who can use all of the Feruchemical metals.
- Ferrings: people who can use only one of the Feruchemical metals. In the original trilogy any character shown or mentioned with Feruchemical abilities were full Feruchemists. The concept of, and characters who are, Ferrings was introduced in Mistborn: The Alloy of Law.
Feruchemical metals or 'Metalminds'
There are seventeen known Feruchemical metals, linked to different attributes stored. The primary difference between Allomancy and Feruchemy is the way that the metals are used. All an Allomancer needs to do to gain an ability is burn the appropriate metal but a Feruchemist must spend time without whatever attribute they wish to store. Another key difference is in how the abilities are expended. While an Allomancer can only burn metals at specific rates, a Feruchemist can expend the power they have saved at any rate they choose. In theory, this allows Feruchemists to enhance their abilities far beyond that of an Allomancer, albeit limited to how much ability they have stored.
A more specific example would be if an Allomancer wants increased senses all they have to do is burn tin, but a Feruchemist, using the same metal, would have to spend days or weeks with reduced capacity in whichever specific sense (sight, smell, hearing, etc.) they wanted to store.
Known ferrings types are:
Skimmers (ironmind), physical weight
Steelrunners (steelmind), physical speed
Windwisperers (tinminds), senses. One tinmind can store for one sense only.
Brutes (pewtermind), physical strength.
Firesoul (brassmind), warmth.
Sparker (zincmind), mental speed.
Archivist (coppermind), memories. Memories stored in a coppermind are entirely unavailable/lost until retrieved.
Sentry (bronzemind), wakefulness.
? (atiummind), age.
Bloodmaker (goldmind), health. A bloodmaker will spend time sickly to store health, and can later use stored health to heal much faster than normal and shrug off normally lethal wounds.
Gasper (cadmiummind), breath. A gasper has to hyperventilate for long periods of time to fill a cadmiummind.
Subsumer (bendalloymind), nutrients. A bendalloymind can store either solid nutrition or fluid intake.
Pinnacle (electrummind), determination. A Pinnacle drawing on his metalminds essentially moves himself into a manic state.
Spinner (chromiummind), luck.
Soulbearer (nicrosilmind), investiture. One of the least understood feruchemical powers, even by Terris people.
Trueself (aluminummind), identity.
Connecter (duraluminmind) spiritual connection between the ferring and others.
Terrismen or Terriswomen with Feruchemical abilities are called Keepers. Not all Terris were Feruchemists only very few. Each Keeper has a specific field of knowledge on which they focus, but all Keepers carry all of the previous Keeper's knowledge. Since knowledge stored by one Keeper cannot be accessed by another, an elder Keeper must recite their entire library of knowledge for the new Keeper to store in their coppermind. In many cases, this recitation may take months or even years. Every new generation of Keeper is charged with the mission to collect and store as much information as possible in their lifetime, to return to Terris when the time has been decided and pass all their knowledge on to the next Keeper, to always hide their Feruchemy from everyone lest their copperminds be destroyed and their knowledge lost forever, and above all, when the time comes and the Lord Ruler falls, to be ready to travel the land and teach their knowledge freely and openly to all that want it or need it.
There is a council of elder Keepers that make decisions concerning the use of copperminds and of where Keepers go to collect information; they are known as the Keeper Synod.
During The Final Empire, the Lord Ruler hunted any and all Feruchemists he could find and it was commonly believed before The Fall that Feruchemists had been entirely exterminated. Later it was revealed that they had not all been killed and shortly after The Fall, the Lord Ruler instituted a Breeding Program targeted at eliminating Feruchemical abilities. A few were then allowed to travel and teach the skaa the things needed to effectively live and be more productive. Survival knowledge like irrigating land and growing crops was explained to make the skaa more efficient as slave workers.
It is revealed in the third book that at the time of the Ascension, all living Feruchemists were turned into mistwraiths by the Lord Ruler in his paranoia that Feruchemical and Allomantic lines might mix, thereby potentially producing a person with his same powers, to challenge the Lord Ruler.
Hemalurgy is the corresponding power of the Shard Ruin, used for stealing a person's abilities or powers, which is the part of Preservation within all, by stabbing them in a vital organ with a spike made of one of the Allomantic metals, then driving it into precise "bind points" in the recipient's body, of which there are two to three hundred, faintly evocative of acupuncture. Hemalurgic spikes kill the original victim, but not the beneficiary in normally fatal places, such as when driven directly through the skull. Only one attribute can be stolen per spike, per person, and the power or attribute gained depends on where the beneficiary is stabbed, and which metal is used. Hemalurgy can be used to grant Feruchemical or Allomantic abilities as well as natural attributes. Hemalurgic abilities also work alongside other abilities; a Feruchemist with a Hemalurgic spike that grants Allomantic physical powers, for instance, will be able to use both Feruchemy and a specific physical Allomantic ability.
Hemalurgic spikes vary in size but a small bit of metal works as well as a large spike. Inquisitor spikes are made large to be intimidating, but a small pin may be as effective as a massive spike. Per the law of Hemalurgic decay, the longer the spike is outside a living body, the more the Hemalurgic charge diminishes, but Hemalurgic spikes can be reused. If a spike is removed from one person it keeps its Hemalurgic charge for a time, able to be used by someone else to gain the ability or power within that spike. The granted power can be different from what the original user had (if the spike was used to steal a group of powers e.g. Allomantic physical or mental) because the new user can place it in a different spot.
Hemalurgy is of Ruin. It destroys. By taking abilities from one person and giving them to another—in reduced amounts—power is actually lost. Unlike Allomancy or Feruchemy, net power is lost through Hemalurgy in line with Ruin's own appointed purpose—breaking down the universe into smaller and smaller pieces—Hemalurgy gives great gifts, but at a high cost.
The following metals steal the corresponding attribute:
Iron: Human Strength
Steel: Allomantic Physical Powers
Tin: Human Senses
Pewter: Feruchemical Physical Powers
Brass: Feruchemical Mental Powers
Zinc: Human Emotional Fortitude
Copper: Human Mental Fortitude
Bronze: Allomantic Mental Powers
Aluminum: Allomantic Enhancement Powers
Atium: A Hemalurgic wild-card, Atium can steal any hemalurgic attribute depending upon where it is placed, and it will do so better than the normal spike used to steal that attribute.
Hemalurgy is also used to create Koloss, Kandra, and Steel Inquisitors. To make Koloss, four ordinary people are stabbed through the heart with one spike each. Those spikes are then strategically placed on another person's body to turn them into a new Koloss. It is possible to recycle these spikes and use them on another person should the original Koloss die, but the power of the spikes diminishes with each re-use. To make a Kandra, two spikes created in a similar manner are put inside of a Mistwraith.
The term "Twinborn" was not introduced until the fourth book. A Twinborn is a person with one Allomantic power and one Feruchemical power. There is no relation between the Allomantic and Feruchemical metals of a Twinborn and most of them have different ones. A Twinborn having the same Allomantic and Feruchemical affinities significantly enhances both, even if the abilities themselves are unrelated. It also allows Compounding, where an allomancer burns a metalmind which provides significantly more feruchemical effect than the charge of the metalmind.
Preservation and Ruin are the two opposing gods of the Mistborn world, Scadrial. They are described as Shards of Adonalsium; fragments of the power of creation. Preservation and Ruin agree to a pact between gods, with an initial stalemate between them, each aware that only together could they create and achieve their separate goals while knowing they would never gain complete final satisfaction. Preservation could not keep things perfect and unchanging and Ruin could not destroy completely.
Ruin is of destruction, without malice but intent on reducing everything to molecular level. Imprisoned by Preservation in an attempt to prevent Ruin from destroying the world, Ruin's consciousness was trapped by the Well of Ascension, kept mostly impotent. Ruin's remaining strength enables it with small powers to alter writing and Feruchemical Memories, but not writing inscribed in metal or normal memories. Ruin also has the power to influence any creature pierced by a Hemalurgic spike, and any person that is already mentally unstable. Ruin also has some power to influence the mists to be more destructive than originally intended by Preservation, and it was this power, known as The Deepness, which originally threatened the world. Ruin is the power that enables Hemalurgy.
Before the events of Mistborn: The Final Empire, the Lord Ruler temporarily defeated Ruin by siphoning power from the Well of Ascension, which reinforced Ruin's prison. Ruin's body is atium, "body" meaning "power", as objects and energy are composed of the same things and change state from one to another. Power of godhood manifested in the world in physical form, Ruin and Preservation were not nebulous abstractions, but integral parts of existence, every object that existed in the world was composed of their power. Atium was completely of Ruin. The Pits of Hathsin were crafted by Preservation as a place to hide the chunk of Ruin's body that he had stolen away during the betrayal and imprisonment. The hidden Kandra Trust consists of their Treasure, a thousand years of atium Contract payments, the single largest body of Ruin. Kelsier didn't completely destroy the atium Pits, for the crystals would have regrown in a few hundred years, continuing to deposit atium, as the place was a natural outlet for Ruin's trapped power. When people burned atium, they drew upon the power of Ruin, turning them into efficient killing machines. They didn't use up this power, just made use of it. Once a nugget of atium was expended, the power would return to the Pits and begin to coalesce again, just as the power at the Well of Ascension would return there again after it had been used.
Ruin is first revealed at the end of Mistborn: The Well of Ascension, when Ruin tricks Vin into "giving up" the Well's power, which frees him. At the conclusion of Mistborn: The Hero of Ages, Ruin's power and Preservation's power are both absorbed by Sazed, a Terrisman Keeper, who uses his pre-Ascension Keeper knowledge and the Balanced Powers of Preservation and Ruin wisely and benevolently, known afterwards as Harmony's Ascension.
It was Preservation that wanted to create life on Scadrial, but he needed Ruin's help to do so. In exchange for Ruin's help, Preservation promised that Ruin would be allowed to destroy everything one day. However, after they had succeeded in creating the world, Preservation reneged on its bargain and sacrificed a significant portion of its power forever to create the Well of Ascension as a prison for Ruin to prevent the destruction of the world. To keep the prison strong, Preservation wrote prophecies for the Terris people that showed them how to renew Ruin's imprisonment by diverting the power, in the form of a metallic liquid, from the Well.
During the night the world is covered in Mist. It is revealed, late in the series, that the Mist is a form of the body of Preservation and that the mistsickness is another, more violent way of activating one's Allomantic powers, similar to the noble families' practice of beating children to near-death.
The Mists awaken Allomantic potential inside of people. Preservation designed this before he gave his consciousness to imprison Ruin and it is not a perfect system. The catalyst is the return of the power to the Well of Ascension. When the Well becomes full, it sets the mists to begin Snapping those who have the potential for Allomancy buried within them. Many won't be strong Allomancers as the abilities were buried too deeply to have come out without the mists' intervention. Others will have a more typical level of power and might have Snapped earlier, had they gone through enough anguish to bring the power out. Either can cause death. A reaction like physical anguish triggers it and brings it out because the Allomantic power comes from the extra bit of Preservation inside of humans, that same extra bit that gives them free will. This bit is trapped between the opposing forces of Preservation and Ruin, and to come out and allow it the power to access metals and draw forth energy, it needs to fight its way through the piece of Ruin that is also there inside. There are people who have Snapped because of intense joy or other emotions but less frequently and is more difficult to control.
As established, Ruin's control over creatures, and an Allomancer's control over them, grows weaker when that creature is going through some extreme emotions, like the koloss blood frenzy, due to the relationship between the Cognitive Realm, the Physical Realm, and the Spiritual Realm.
In Mistborn: The Well of Ascension and Mistborn: The Hero of Ages, Preservation manifests as a "mist spirit" that becomes weaker as Ruin gains power. At the end of the trilogy, Sazed, a Terrisman, absorbs the powers of both Ruin and Preservation and utilizes them to recreate the world as it was before the Lord Ruler's ascension. As the balance between Ruin and Preservation, Sazed becomes known as Harmony.
The Steel Ministry
The Steel Ministry is the name of the religion that the Lord Ruler established for everyone else to worship him. The Lord Ruler allowed the Nobles to control most aspects of the empire, such as the production of resources, but he used the Steel Ministry to control the Nobles. The Steel Ministry had two groups of people used to control different aspects of society; Steel Inquisitors and Obligators.
Inquisitors are creatures of Ruin; their powers gained through Hemalurgy. An Inquisitor is created when several Hemalurgic spikes are pounded through a Feruchemist or an Allomancer into the body of a human, usually an allomancer or an existing Inquisitor. Depending on the type of spike used (Iron, Steel, etc.), a different power is stolen. To create an Inquisitor, one must be impaled by a spike that already has a Hemalurgic charge. This is very difficult though, because one must place it in exactly the right place. Even a fraction of an inch off results in death, or at least a wasted spike. Under the Lord Ruler, Inquisitors were given the Hemalurgic spikes for Allomancy and one gold spike for storing and tapping Feruchemical health. Once they came under the direct control of Ruin, however, it was revealed that the Lord Ruler had not given them all the powers hemalurgy could bestow (especially many of the Feruchemical powers).
During the reign of the Lord Ruler, Inquisitors carried out his direct orders. Their primary duty was chasing down skaa Mistings and Mistborn, to kill them and steal their powers via Hemalurgy.
The obligators were drawn from the ranks of nobles, usually Allomancers and are trained in the arts of bureaucracy and the teachings of the Steel Ministry. They are marked by tattoos which decorate their face and body; the more tattooed an obligator is, the higher his rank. They served as witnesses for every possible legal contract (e.g., business deals and marriages), which meant that they were privy to all happenings among the nobles. This gave the Lord Ruler great control over the nobility, as any contract not witnessed by one of his obligators did not officially take place.
The Church of the Survivor
The Church of the Survivor worships Kelsier, who served as its first martyr, and thus Vin, as the Heir to The Survivor, and Kelsier's 'disciple', was also worshiped. Kelsier created the Church as the means of spreading Hope for freedom and equality in the Skaa so they would finally rebel. With his death, the Skaa turned their devotion to Vin and Sazed, who are unsure of their own beliefs and initially uncomfortable with the worshiping masses.
There are a number of other religions in the series which are studied for historical and philosophical purposes only. Sazed is a Terris Keeper whose specialty is in pre-Ascension religions. Sazed mentions that the Keepers recorded at least five hundred and sixty-two different belief systems including sects and branches of the same religions in their metalminds. However, none are currently practiced as the Lord Ruler has suppressed them.
The Terris prophecies include the Hero of Ages, the Well of Ascension and finally, Harmony's Ascension, which is the Balance of Preservation and Ruin.
The Kandra have collective knowledge and beliefs that trace back through their First Generation and includes information related to their creator, their creation, and a final Resolution of life.
The original trilogy is the first in what Brandon Sanderson calls a "trilogy of trilogies." The second trilogy will be set in an urban setting, featuring modern technology. The sequel Mistborn: The Alloy of Law is not a start to the second trilogy but is rather a stand-alone short novel. However, Sanderson's announcement on August 1, 2012 to write a sequel to Mistborn: The Alloy of Law, titled Shadows of Self, means it will not stay a stand-alone novel, but it will not necessarily turn into the second trilogy.
In other media
In early 2009, Brandon Sanderson announced he was working with Crafty Games to release a role-playing game based on the series. While the release date was originally placed as "sometime in 2009", it has been since quoted as fall, 2010.
The RPG was originally scheduled to be released in November 2011 to coincide with the release of the fourth Mistborn novel Alloy of Law. The Mistborn Adventure Game was released in December 2011 in PDF, softcover, and hardcover editions.
In January 2010, Brandon Sanderson announced that he had optioned the rights to the Mistborn books to Paloppa Pictures LLC. Recently, in Q1 of 2014 Paloppa Pictures' option ran out.
In March 2012, a video game prequel called Mistborn: Birthright was announced slated for a fall 2013 release. The game has been delayed until 2015 to take advantage of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Developed by Little Orbit, Brandon Sanderson had written the story of the game.
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