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The Hero of Ages

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The Path to Mistborn Three

By Brandon Sanderson

(Note, this essay is spoiler-free for those of you who haven’t read the first Mistborn book!)

One of the things I wanted to do with the Mistborn trilogy was make it internally cohesive. I wanted each book to have its own story and climactic moments, but it was even more important to me that each book be part of a whole. When I’m reading a series, few things bother me as much as getting a sense that the author doesn’t know where he/she is going with the books. I really like a strong sense of building tension, of interconnection between volumes, and a hint of a master vision.

This presented a problem. You see, I’m an outliner. I like to plan and plot quite a bit before I start writing a book. However, even an outliner like myself can’t nail down every little point in a story. Beyond that, the experience of writing is a supremely creative one. One has to be ready to toss out entire sections of an outline if something better, more evocative, more interesting comes along. This has happened in every novel I’ve written so far, and I understood that if I didn’t have the same flexibility when writing the Mistborn series, the books (particularly the later ones) would feel stiff. However, if I didn’t make and stick with an outline, I wouldn’t be able to foreshadow events in the third book appropriately and give the series the cohesive feel that I wanted.

At that point, I began to realize something very daunting: if this series was to become what I wanted it to be, I was going to have to write all three books straight through in a short period of time. I would have to work furiously and intently enough to get the third book done before the first book went to press. If I could manage that, I knew that I would have flexibility to write all three books with the creativity they demanded, but also be able to revise the first book so that it would be a proper introduction to the following two.

So I sat down to write. It was a grueling eighteen months, but I did manage to get a rough draft of the third book done before the copyedit (the last chance for me to make substantive chances) of the first one was due in. That was late 2004.

Four years later, it’s finally time to release Mistborn: The Hero of Ages, the third and final Mistborn book. I’ve now been working on this series for five years, tweaking the text of the second two volumes, creating the cohesive—yet individually separate—trilogy of books that I originally imagined. It turned out better than I had even hoped that it would. There are hints and clues about the climactic events of the third book foreshadowed in the first few paragraphs of the first book. And they’re not just dropped in; they’re a substantive part of the original volume. All three books form one larger ‘super-book.’

It’s hard to explain how excited I am that people can finally read this last volume. Those of you who know my books may be familiar with the fact that I love endings. I want them to be explosive, imaginative, and shocking—yet at the same time expected, without unforeshadowed twists. I focus a lot of my energy on making my endings satisfying to those who have invested so much time in reading my books.

Mistborn: The Hero of Ages is an entire book that is, in a way, an ending. It’s the climactic sequence to half a million words of build-up. I feel that it’s the best book that I’ve written to date.

If you think you know what is going on in these books, just wait for this final volume. Remember what Kelsier always says:

There’s always another secret.

(from the Tor/Forge October 2008 newsletter)