Annotation Mistborn Chapter Eighteen Part Two
The following is an author’s annotation that relates to a specific chapter of the book MISTBORN: THE FINAL EMPIRE. Note that the following is NOT the text of the actual chapter, but a companion to the chapter, revealing “behind the scenes” information. If you have not read the book up to–and including–this chapter, you risk serious spoilers! Please, if you haven’t read MISTBORN, go visit the sample chapters, or perhaps purchase the book via Amazon.
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Chapter Eighteen Part Two
Shan was a later addition to the book. In the original draft of the novel, I did mention her in this chapter, but we didn’t see her–and Lord Liese didn’t mention her. As I wrote the first draft, however, I began to realize that I needed more tension and political wrangling in the Vin ball scenes. So, I expanded Shan and made her a larger character. Then, during the first rewrite, I added her in to this scene, along with some others.
The purpose of Shan, therefore, is to show that some of the nobility ARE the way Kelsier says. The thing is, most of what we get about the nobility come from him, and he has a very skewed perspective. Our only real opportunity to interact with them is at the balls, and so I knew I needed to cram a variety of personalities into this scene, so that people could have a chance to experience the range of the nobility.
Why would Elend bring a dangerous book like this one to the ball? We’ll talk a little bit about that in the next chapter. However, I can offer some further insight.
The thing is, Elend goes and meets with his friends after balls, and they discuss political theory and the like. Elend is the leader of those meetings, and guides the discussions, and so he feels that he needs to be ready to present interesting ideas and arguments to keep the conversation going. That’s why he’s always reading at balls and taking notes–he’s getting ready for the night’s meeting. He’s the type who is always preparing, right up to the last minute (I’m the same way.)
So, it makes sense for him to bring the books he wants to talk about with him to the ball. He’s been sheltered, and doesn’t really believe that he’ll ever get in trouble for what he reads, and so he has a habit of being careless with his reading material. Hence, we end up with him in a room full of obligators and nobility, reading a banned book.
The scene with the skaa getting killed in the courtyard was also added later in the drafting process. Moshe was worried that the Final Empire didn’t seem brutal enough–especially in these middle chapters, where it was easy to forget (as Vin almost did) how dangerous the world was. The balls and the frills were supposed to be distracting. However, I realized that I needed to bring people back on-course by throwing in a scene like this, where abject brutality could be contrasted with the night’s beauty.