Mistborn

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For a thousand years the ash fell and no flowers bloomed. For a thousand years the Skaa slaved in misery and lived in fear. For a thousand years the Lord Ruler, the “Sliver of Infinity,” reigned with absolute power and ultimate terror, divinely invincible.

There's always another secret.

Long ago, a conqueror and philosopher was acclaimed as the Hero of Ages and sent to vanquish an ancient evil known only as the Deepness. The nature and character of the threat has been lost to the mists of time, but the Hero was evidently successful in his quest, as the Deepness was destroyed and the Hero returned in triumph, but not without great cost—the sun became red, Ashmounts filled the sky with ashes that forevermore fell to the earth, plants withered and turned brown, and mysterious mists (whispered by the superstitious to be sentient and malevolent) enwreathed the lands by night. But humanity survived, even prospered, and years passed.

The Hero, having unlocked the secret to immortality, installed himself as the Lord Ruler of the world and became their deity. He granted those who supported him in his quest titles and lands of great power and influence, and a magical power known as Allomancy. Those who did not support his rule were turned into the downtrodden peasant race, known as "skaa", who have since worked the fields in virtual slavery for their masters. A thousand years later the ruling class consists of the decadent descendants of the Lord Ruler's ancient companions, who hold massive balls and festivals in their stone keeps as the rest of the world slaves away. The Lord Ruler impassively reigns over both sides as king and god with his bureaucratic priesthood, his army of beastlike monsters known as koloss, and his brutal, near-inhuman enforcers the Inquisitors. The Lord Ruler, immortal, with unlimited power, keeps the world stable and relatively prosperous under his autocratic rule, and has reigned for so long that most people consider him virtually unstoppable, a force of nature.

The main plot begins with a rebel that seeks to overthrow the the Lord Ruler. That man is named Kelsier, who arose from the ranks of the skaa. Kelsier was once a thief, blithely stealing from the nobility for the sheer joy of it, until he was betrayed, captured, and sent to the Pits of Hathsin, the Lord Ruler's most brutal prison, a mine where prisoners are forced to find one piece of the precious metal atium every seven days or face execution. No man had ever escaped from the Pits—but Kelsier did, earning him the epithet "the Survivor of Hathsin" and a seething desire for revenge against the Lord Ruler. In the Pits, Kelsier had come into his powers as a Mistborn—a special, powerful type of sorcerer that comes along only very rarely, and supposedly only among the nobility. While most magicians ("Mistings") can "burn" only one type of the eight allomantic metals (iron, steel, tin, pewter, brass, zinc, copper, and bronze), generating a very specific effect, Mistborn can burn all eight and some extra ones besides, giving them extensive power and versatility. Among the nobility, Mistborn are mostly used as elite assassins, but Kelsier had other plans.

Gathering up many of his old friends from the criminal underworld (most of them themselves allomancers), Kelsier begins raising the skaa revolution once more. Unlike previous attempts at rebellion, however, who mostly tried a purely military strategy and were soundly defeated every time they raised their head, Kelsier plans to hit the Lord Ruler at the place where he's most vulnerable: his vaults of atium. As for the Lord Ruler himself, Kelsier claims to have a trump card: the so-called "Eleventh Metal", obtained on the edges of the world where even the Lord Ruler has no power.

His plans look more prosperous when Kelsier's double-agent brother detects these powers in a Street Urchin named Vin. Unbeknownst to her, she also has the power of a Mistborn, so Kelsier quickly recruits her and begins her training. With two Mistborn and the support of the underworld, the rebellion churns along at a pace it never has before, and slowly the populace begins to believe in them.

Part Heroic Fantasy, part heist novel, Mistborn: The Final Empire is the first novel in Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy.

Sanderson plans for another two trilogies in this world. A standalone cum bridging novel, The Alloy of Law, was released on November 8, 2011. Alloy is set several hundred years after the conclusion of Hero of Ages, and draws significant inspiration from The Wild West and The Gay Nineties.

A pen-and-paper role-playing game is also in the works, to be released around the same time, and Sanderson is in talks for a film, though nothing concrete has been established thus far. An upcoming video game, titled Mistborn: Birthright, was announced for Fall 2013 (since delayed to Fall 2015 due to studio staffing issues and development for newer consoles).

Sanderson has compiled lengthy annotations for each chapter of the book at his website, detailing the development of the series and clarifying various plot points. Note that they're chock-full of spoilers.

See also Elantris, Warbreaker and The Stormlight Archive for more books by Brandon Sanderson.

Tropes used in Mistborn include:


  • Above Good and Evil: Ruin explicitly states that good and evil are terms that have no relevance to him. He considers his actions to be both natural and inevitable.
  • Abusive Parents: Straff Venture. More emotional distance (though he is openly disparaging) than actual physical or mental abuse, but when push comes to shove it's quite clear that Straff considers his children nothing more than tools to bring him more power. And then there's what he did to Zane...
    • Hell, nobles in general. They will regularly beat their children in hopes of making one experience a snap and awaken their allomantic potential.
  • Action Girl: Vin, after coming into her powers, takes Action Girl badassery Up to Eleven.
  • After the End: The books are set in a world that is very clearly post-apocalyptic. The third book reveals what happened.
  • A God Am I: The Lord Ruler, Ruin.
  • All Deaths Final: Even after Sazed becomes God, he can't return souls to their corpses, although he is apparently in contact with them.
  • All There in the Manual: a lot of things, even things mentioned in spoiler tags on this very page, are mentioned in Sanderson's liner notes on the website, or on forums etc. For instance, the name of the world, the name of the god-metal which makes mistborn, etc.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Kelsier is subject to this in-universe. Is he a noble messiah fighting for his peoples' freedom, a vengeance-driven fiend, or a Glory Hound fighting the Lord Ruler to become a legend? Different characters have different views, but the Kelsier the reader comes to know has elements of all three.
  • Exclusively Evil: The Koloss, which are so violent they can't even be trusted around humans (or each other, really). This turns out to be a Justified Trope—and the justification borders on nightmarish.
  • A Man Is Not a Virgin: Inverted by Sazed, who has been a eunuch since soon after he was born and is thus physically incapable of having sex, but still ends up in a romantic relationship with a woman... and ultimately turns out to be the real Hero of Ages. Also appears in Elend's backstory: when he was young, his father took him to a skaa brothel to cement his "manhood". As per the law to prevent skaa/noble interbreeding, the girl was killed afterward. When Elend found this out, he refused to sleep with another skaa woman, unlike most nobles.
  • And I Must Scream: Marsh in Hero of Ages. Ruin has absolute control over his body, but whenever he's focusing elsewhere Marsh's mind goes back to being Marsh again. However, he still can't control his own body.
  • Angst Dissonance: In-universe example: Vin's reactions to reading the Lord Ruler's logbook that she found in Kredik Shaw. She decides that he sounds far too whiny for a man who conquered the world and became a Physical God. Turns out she's right. The diary belongs to someone else
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: Ruin and Preservation, and presumably other Shard gods as well.
  • Anti-Villain: Yomen, the Obligator leader from Hero of Ages, is a very skilled leader and has very understandable motivations for his actions—he could very easily have joined the heroes if he didn't hate them for overthrowing his god (Yomen thinks He's Just Hiding). The Lord Ruler himself qualifies as well, though we only learn it post-mortem.
  • Anyone Can Die: Countless unnamed skaa and nobles, in addition to cast members. In Mistborn, Kelsier dies; in Well of Ascension, Clubs, Dockson, and Tindwyl die; in Hero of Ages, Elend and Vin die.
  • A Plague on Both Your Houses: The Lord Ruler has one of these towards the end of book 1.

You don't know what I do for mankind. I was your God, even if you couldn't see it. By killing me, you have doomed yourselves....

  • Apocalypse How: A type X, complete destruction of the planet, is Ruin's immediate goal. He's stopped with about an hour to spare, though much of humanity had already started dying off.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Atium and its alloy are completely fictional metals.
  • Arc Number: Sixteen, though it mostly shows up in the last book. Sixteen is hardcoded into the laws of physics by Preservation, as the number of metals with magical properties and the percentage of Mistings in the population, among other things. The heroes first take note of this oddity when they realize that the number of people fallen ill in the mist is oddly precise....
  • Arc Words: As an unusual instance of meta-Arc Words: Adonalsium.
    • Also Kelsier's "There's always another secret". While the exact phrase doesn't come up that often, it's an excellent shorthand for everything going on in these books.
    • "Survive".
  • Are These Wires Important?: The easiest way to kill an Inquisitor is to pull out a single spike between their shoulder-blades..
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Kelsier certainly thinks so, though the truth is a bit more complex; some nobles are truly evil (Straff), others are actually quite decent (Elend), still others are Lawful Neutral but still ruthless (Cett), and most are completely disconnected from reality.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Sazed. Previously, Vin and Rashek, though both too briefly to completely fix things. Then Vin again, when she became the new Preservation. Even before that, the two guys who became Ruin and Preservation in the first place.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: The Lord Ruler deliberately built multiple weaknesses into the races he created via hemalurgy. The shared weakness are emotional allomancy that will bring a Koloss, Inquisitor or Kandra under the allomancer's control and removing their hemalurgic spikes.
  • Author Avatar: Elend—per Word of God, Sanderson shares in particular his fondness for reading at impolitic moments.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Averted. Though the Lord Ruler is a Physical God, the most powerful nobles after his death are a Tineye and a man who is not only not a Misting (much less a Mistborn) but also paraplegic.
  • Awesomeness By Analysis: How Vin managed to defeat Zane despite his burning of atium giving him a huge advantage. She realized she could figure out what future action on her part he was reacting to by his movements and change it at the last moment to surprise him.
  • Axe Crazy: Koloss, the Inquisitors. Drawing your power from Hemalurgy tends to leave you a little... homicidal.
  • Badass: Kelsier, Vin, and (in Hero of Ages), Elend and Spook, too. Sazed has carefully rationed moments of it. Every Inquisitor also counts.
  • Badass Bookworm: Sazed, and also Elend.
  • Badass Cape: All Mistborn; the standard attire is a "mistcloak" made up of many individual tassels, designed to make the wearer blend in with the mist while flying through the air. So ubiquitous that Zane's not wearing one is extremely distinctive.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: The whole premise of the series revolves around what would happen if the Evil Overlord actually won. Though it's a bit more complicated than that. The ending of The Well Of Ascension is a very straightforward example, however.
  • Batman Gambit: The crew's plan to fell the Lord Ruler in addition to Kelsier's sub-plan of the skaa revolt.
    • Amateurs. Ruin launched a Batman Gambit that encompassed both of those Gambits.
      • Both of which end up all going according to Preservation's Gambit Roulette .
  • Battle Couple: Vin and Elend become this in The Hero Of Ages.
  • Becoming the Mask: Vin worries that pretending to be an aristocrat might change her. She eventually accepts the part of herself that likes gowns and dancing.
  • Betty and Veronica: Vin has this dilemma in Well of Ascension, with Elend as Betty and Zane as Veronica. Elend wins.
  • Big Bad: The Lord Ruler in the first book, Straff in the second, and Ruin in the third book, who was actually the driving force all along.
  • BFS: The Koloss wield them, and Vin uses one to bisect Straff Venture in one blow towards the end of The Well Of Ascension. It was awesome.
    • And his horse.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The first book, as well as the third (and by extension the whole trilogy). The second is a full-on Downer Ending, especially once you realize just how bad the Sealed Evil in a Can that Vin let out was.
  • Black and Grey Morality
  • Black Magic: Hemalurgy. For each power you gain from it, you have to brutally murder someone and then physically nail a fragment of their soul to your own. Not only that, but using it also grants Ruin a degree of power over you.
  • Body Horror / Eye Scream: The Steel Inquisitors. Each one has numerous spikes driven into his body, including his eyes, but they don't appear inconvenienced by it, even having superhuman vision despite having a pair of frigging spikes for eyes.
  • Building Swing: Mistborn can perform a variant using their pseudo-magnetic pushing and pulling abilities.
  • Bulletproof Human Shield: Subverted in Hero of Ages. Spook tries to use a downed attacker as a shield, but didn't count on his opponent being willing and able to stab straight through the guy to hit him.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Various people (and even races) throughout the books. Some more than others.
  • Broken Bird: Vin, especially early on.
  • Cain and Abel: Elend is Abel and Zane is Cain.
  • Cape Busters: Many nobles employ hazekillers, normal people trained specifically to fight mistings. But against a full mistborn, especially Vin, they're pretty much useless. (Kelsier had quite a bit of trouble with half a dozen, and he's one of the best alive.)
  • Caper Crew: a fairly odd crew. Kelsier is the Mastermind, Yeden is the Backer, Dockson is the Coordinator, Ham is the Muscle and Vin is the New Kid, but Clubs is sort of a Concealer (he uses his copper Allomancy to hide the others' Allomantic signatures) and Spook uses his Super Senses to be a Lookout. Also, Kelsier doubles as the Distraction, a second Muscle, and the Burglar.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Subverted with Lord Cett, who is to all appearances an arrogant, self-confessed tyrant who doesn't give a damn about anyone other than himself. His bark, however, turns out to be much worse than his bite.
  • Character Development: Lots of it for everybody, but the Lord Ruler is the most notable case because almost all of it happens after he's dead. In life he's portrayed as something approaching a Complete Monster, but as the reader learns his motivations and history he becomes almost an Anti-Villain.
  • Chastity Couple: Sazed and Tindwyl.
  • Chekhov's Gun: By the end of Hero of Ages, it's more like Chekhov's Armory. Especially significant ones are the epigraphs in Well of Ascension and Vin's earring and the religions stored in Sazed's copperminds.
  • The Chessmaster: Pretty much everyone, from Ruin to Kelsier. But the ultimate Chessmaster crown definitely goes to Preservation.
  • The Chick: Lady Allrianne Cett. Vin's first reaction to meeting her is basically "what was that pink thing that just flew past me?"
  • Chickification: Averted. Vin does develop from a pure tomboy to having more feminine interests (namely balls and dresses), but she never stops being a badass—if anything, she becomes more powerful as the series goes on, culminating in defeating twelve Inquisitors at once before becoming a god.
  • The Chosen One: The Hero of Ages, played with in many, many ways before everything is through.
  • Combat Clairvoyance: Atium causes this, letting one see things a few seconds before they happen. It makes one almost invincible unless the opponent also has atium, which essentially nullifies the effect.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Applies somewhat to the Koloss, and happens later but is justified in Vin's fight against the 13 Inquisitors, due to her tapping into Preservation's power to superfuel her Allomancy once her Hemalurgic earring was taken out by Marsh. She was a hair's breadth from dying before that.
  • Corrupt Church: The obligators are an interesting example, in that they're a religious body who's main concern is power in this world rather than honoring God—but this is exactly what their god designed them to be in the first place, as he himself cared more about running an efficient empire than looking into the spiritual well-being of his people. They also have some overlap with Religion of Evil (because they form the backbone of a hellish totalitarian government) and Path of Inspiration (because their god really isn't a god, making the whole religion based on a deception).
  • Crapsack World: And how.
  • Creepy Monotone: The Lord Ruler has one of these, owing to the general emotional detachment that comes from living for a thousand years and Ruin messing with his head.
  • Curb Stomp Battle: Various throughout the series, most notably Kelsier vs the Lord Ruler (which actually went exactly as planned for both sides) and Vin's fight against the 13 Inquisitors at the end of Hero of Ages (which flipped who was getting curb-stomped halfway through).
  • Dating Catwoman: Vin (one of the most important members of La Résistance) with Elend (son of the Final Empire's most powerful nobleman) in Final Empire. Also Spook and Beldre in Hero of Ages.
  • Dark Action Girl: Lady Shan Elariel.
  • Dark Magical Girl: Vin has definitely got the personality.
  • Dark Messiah: The Lord Ruler is a very successful one, though it helps that he really did save the world. Kelsier is a heroic example—he knows he's not really a god, but paints himself as one in order to give the skaa something to believe in so they will rebel. In Hero of Ages, Ruin attempts to manipulate Spook into becoming one.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: Kandra are the masters of this.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Several characters, really, but particularly Vin.
  • Decided by One Vote: The election in Well of Ascension.
  • Deconstruction: Of a lot of High Fantasy tropes; Word of God is that Sanderson was aiming at deconstructing the Evil Overlord, Chosen One prophecies, and The Hero in particular. By extension, this series is also an example of the Deconstructor Fleet at work.
  • The Determinator: Spook in his role as Survivor of the Flames.
  • Devil but No God: Played straight, subverted, and finally inverted in Hero of Ages.
  • Die or Fly: Allomantic abilities are awakened by being brought to the brink of death, assuming you have the right "spiritual genetics". This process is called "Snapping".
  • Does Not Like Shoes: While mostly glossed over, Vin likes to go barefoot when using Allomancy (which is, almost always).
  • Doomed Moral Victor: Kelsier, deliberately and effectively.
  • Double Subversion: The Eleventh Metal. Kelsier insists it is the key to defeating the Lord Ruler. So when Vin burns it, it just shows her how the Lord Ruler's life could have become. And then she uses the knowledge she gained from those images to realize that the Lord Ruler had killed the one everyone thought was the Hero of Ages and took his place.
  • Downer Ending: Well of Ascension: Ruin, the Big Bad behind everything is released upon the world, and everything's getting darker.
  • The Dragon: Each Big Bad has one—the Inquisitors collectively for the Lord Ruler, Zane for Straff, and Marsh is forced to become this for Ruin.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The end of Hero of Ages. Also Kelsier's philosophy in general.
  • Epigraph: Each chapter is headed with one, taken from a document that exists in-universe and is read by the main characters. Interestingly, in each case they are presented in such a way as to mislead the reader in some way.
  • Eleventh-Hour Superpower: Vin's ability to draw on the mists, though she could have done it at any time if not for Ruin's counterinfluence.
  • Elite Mooks: Hazekillers and Koloss.
  • Emotion Bomb: What happens when Vin combines duralumin with zinc or brass. Straff Venture describes it as feeling "as he imagined death would."
    • Similarly, the Lord Ruler uses an immensely powerful soothing to try and rob anyone near him of the will to resist him. It's normally very successful.
  • The Empire: The first book has the heroes attempting to overthrow it. The second and third deal with the aftermath.
  • Eunuchs Are Evil: Thoroughly averted with Sazed.
  • Evilly Affable: The Koloss are uncontrollably violent (and deeply disturbing once you find out their origin), but they're so very simple-minded that it's hard not to laugh at them sometimes, from their utter bewilderment (even through their blood frenzy) that something as small as Vin is fighting (and killing) them, to their matter-of-fact acceptance of any reason for suddenly pairing off and fighting to the death ("He ate my horse."), to Vin trying to explain gender to one of them (they're a One-Gender Race).
  • Evil Overlord: The Lord Ruler. Though he's actually a Deconstruction, and was the only thing standing between mankind and extinction for a thousand years.
  • Evil Versus Evil: The Lord Ruler against Ruin. The readership winds up much more sympathetic to the Lord Ruler - at least he was trying to accomplish something constructive.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Ruin does exactly as his name implies: he wants to destroy everything in existence.
  • Extraordinarily Empowered Girl: Vin.
  • Face Heel Turn: Marsh, though this wasn't entirely his fault.
  • Face Stealer: The Kandra, who are essentially smarter mistwraiths have to eat a person's bones to take on their form. Partially to give themselves a skeleton to work with and partially to get the information needed to mimic the body.
  • Fake King: Sort of. The switch happened immediately before the man who was replaced would have become king; so in a way the imposter was "king" all along, but he doesn't deserve it as much as people assume. And while he spent his reign committing constant acts of mass murder and oppression, he was also constantly working against the real Big Bad; see The Good, the Bad, and The Evil below.
  • Fantasy Gun Control: Justified: The Lord Ruler was afraid of that guns would make rebellions easier (since gunmen require considerably less training than archers). So, he destroyed them all, killed those who knew how to make them, and then spent a millennium crushing human scientific progress to the point that everyone forgot they had ever existed and were unable to experiment to make more.
    • Utterly averted by the time of The Alloy of Law. Guns are everywhere.
  • Fate Worse Than Death: After Marsh is turned into an inquisitor, he is unable to break free of Ruin's control for even the second or so it would take to kill himself. And worse, when Ruin does focus his attention, he loses control not only of his body, but his mind is twisted to match Ruin's outlook until the attention drifts elsewhere.
    • Kandra who break their Contracts are executed. Kandra who do something worse are thrown down wells and given just enough food to survive. Since they're immortal but can barely move at all without a set of bones, they always eventually go insane.
  • Fill It With Flowers: This was Mare's dream, although nobody in the setting had ever seen flowers. When Sazed ascends to godhood, he makes her dream come true.
  • First Time in the Sun: Happens twice. Early in the first book, when Kelsier is teaching Vin about using tin, she uses it to see the stars through the mist for the first time. In the final book, Vin's duralumin-powered steelpush forces her so high up that she ends up above the mist, and becomes the first person in a thousand years to see the stars without the mist in the way.
  • Five-Man Band: A few different configurations. In all three books, Ham is The Big Guy and Sazed can be considered The Smart Guy. Beyond that, the lineup changes:
  • Functional Magic: Not one, not two, but three entire separate-but-related systems.
    • Allomancy:An Inherent Gift type system. People are born with the knack or they are not.[1] Allomancers can ingest and "burn" metal to allow a specific effect, from Super Senses to manipulating emotions. "Mistings" can only burn one metal (and thus get one effect), while "Mistborn" can burn any/all of them.
    • Feruchemy: Another Inherent Gift system. Feruchemists are Terrisman who are born with a genetic knack. They store certain attributes in metal trinkets, which they later "tap" to boost that attribute. The attributes that can be stored depend on the material it's being stored in, and range from senses to various mental qualities (quickness of thought, emotional resiliency), to physical traits (like speed and strength, but also things like mass and age). Storing and tapping things works on a 1:1 scale. When you store strength, you become weaker; if you store strength by becoming half as strong as normal for 10 minutes, then you can tap that strength later to become twice as strong for 10 minutes—or four times as strong for 5 minutes, etc.
    • Hemalurgy: this dread art is a terrible form of pseudo-Equivalent Exchange Blood Magic, where a victim's abilities are permanently transferred into a recipient via metal spikes used to impale both victim and recipient at certain points in their bodies. The victim is killed, but the recipient is unharmed by the spikes -- even if he should have been, as with spikes through the brain or through the heart. Like allomancy and feruchemy, the attributes transferred are dependent on what materials are used. Unlike allomancy and feruchemy, hemalurgy can even grant the recipient allomantic or feruchemical powers, though only from an allomancer or feruchemist "donor+", and only one attribute at a time.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: Sazed at the end of Mistborn when he let himself get captured to rescue Vin from Kredik Shaw. He swallowed a pewtermind to tap for super strength when he saw an opening.
  • Gambit Pileup: Given that it spans all of creation and most of people influencing it are dead well before their true impact is felt, yes this trope is in effect. The shortest possible explanation is still a textwall covering at least five different instances of someone being Out-Gambitted: Preservation outgambits Ruin and seals him in the Well of Ascension, Kwaan outgambits Ruin and has his nephew become the Lord Ruler by taking the power at the Well, Ruin outgambits the Lord Ruler by having Vin kill him and release the power of the Well, the Lord Ruler retroactively outgambits Ruin with the underground storehouses and the kandra, and finally Preservation ultimately (and also retroactively) outgambits Ruin by getting Elend to destroy all the atium and die which in turn gets Vin to sacrifice herself to finally kill Ruin. Whew! And that's just the general overview, to properly explain the specifics and details would take... well, an entire novel trilogy.
  • Game Breaker: The Lord Ruler. Combining Allomancy with Feruchemy to create an "infinite loop" of stored power and age is very reminiscent of the way a smart Magic: The Gathering player can combine card abilities in unforeseen ways.
    • Appropriate comparison; Sanderson is One of Us and a Magic player.
  • Genre Deconstruction: Of High Fantasy.
  • Gentleman Thief: Kelsier and Breeze both fit the archetype, though neither does much actual stealing for profit's sake during the main plot.
  • Glass Cannon: Coinshots (Mistings who can only telekinetically push against metal) are like this; as their name suggests, they can launch coins and other metal projectiles like bullets, making them incredibly dangerous at long range, but unlike a full Mistborn they're no better at surviving in close quarters than any other human.
  • God-Emperor: The Lord Ruler.
  • God Is Evil: Again, the Lord Ruler. Though he was more Well-Intentioned Extremist than anything else, if a bit crazy due to Ruin's influence. Ruin is a more straight example, but he's less the God than a god.
  • God of Evil: Subverted with Ruin. Though he is evil by basically everyone's standards but his own -- wanting to destroy literally everything -- he's not a god of evil, but of entropy and decay, and was just as vital to creating the world as Preservation was.
  • The Good, the Bad, and The Evil: Kelsier and the rebellion vs. the Lord Ruler and The Empire vs. Ruin
    • The three competing kings from the second book fit this perfectly as well—Elend is the good, Cett is the bad, and Straff is the evil.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: If you're a guard wearing a breastplate, the best you can hope for is to get casually tossed aside by a Mistborn. If you're not lucky, you're going to be the one tossing aside your comrades. The guards are at least Genre Savvy about this; they can detach their breastplates immediately if they realize they're up against an Allomancer or Mistborn.
  • Guile Hero: Kelsier. Full stop. Vin has elements as well- she doesn't have his flair for all kinds of plans but she's still very good at thinking on her feet.
  • Hannibal Lecture: Ruin does this to Vin, trying to convince her that everything she has done over the last two and a half books has ultimately served his purposes. He even gives her a nickname -- "Beautiful Destroyer".
  • Healing Factor: Mistwraiths and Kandra can heal flesh wounds almost instantly, though they can't heal bones. Pewterarms and Mistborn heal faster than normal by burning pewter. Feruchemists can use gold to store health, and then use that as a healing factor when they need to. Inquisitors have a healing factor as well, and the Lord Ruler has this to an insane degree—supposedly not even having him decapitated or burning him down to a skeleton was enough to kill him, though according to Word of God these incidents were exaggerated.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: Feruchemical atium, which lets the Feruchemist alter their age, is generally considered a pretty worthless power since you'd have to, for example, spend an equivalent amount of time old in order to make yourself young. It's also the secret to the Lord Ruler's immortality- as a Compounder (hybrid allomancer/feruchemist) he was able to combine his abilities to create essentially a closed loop of infinite youth for himself.
  • Heel Face Turn: Played with multiple times. Lord Cett does one near the end of Well of Ascension not out of any change of heart, but because he thinks his chances are better that way. In Hero of Ages, we get one from Yomen after he decides that Vin is the Lord Ruler's true successor, and from Quellion after his Brainwashed and Crazy is fixed. The Lord Ruler is an odd example; his eventually-revealed motivations change his characterization from Complete Monster to Well-Intentioned Extremist, giving him a semi-Heel Face Turn in the eyes of the audience well after his death.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Multiple examples, particularly in the first and third books, none of which are possible to mention without massive spoilers.
  • How Do I Shot Web?:
    • Vin goes through this when Kelsier first tells her about her powers, though she gets over it fairly quickly in the grand scheme of things.
    • Also happened to the Lord Ruler when he first got the power from the Well of Ascension. In his case, it was a rather bigger deal, as it was his clumsy use of power that lead directly to the ash-covered brown-planted setting of the series. Vin has a similar experience when she absorbs Preservation; notably, her attempt to stop the ashfalls nearly lights half the planet on fire.
    • Averted, however, with Sazed. As he takes in both Ruin and Preservation's power, he dumps the entirety of his copperminds into his expanding mind, giving him enough information to fix everything without creating unintended side-effects.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: What Vin thinks when she's introduced; see Broken Bird.
  • Humans Are Special: Humanity contains power of both Ruin and Preservation. As a result, humans can both protect and destroy, while Ruin and Preservation are limited to destruction and protection, respectively. This is ultimately what allows Vin to destroy Ruin, as Preservation could not attack Ruin, but Vin, with Preservation's power, can. Exactly as planned.
  • I Am the Noun: Kelsier: "I am Hope!"
  • I Fight for the Strongest Side: Lord Ashweather Cett's plan in Well of Ascension.
  • Imaginary Enemy: Vin always hears the memories of her long-gone brother Reen telling her she can't trust anybody. It turns out that the voice she hears is neither imaginary nor her brother.
  • Immortality Inducer: The Lord Ruler's bracers serve this function, though he made them himself. By exploiting a loophole in the magic system, he was able to store his youth and vitality in them and increase its output exponentially- so long as he's wearing the bracers, he's as young as he wants to be, with everything that implies. When the heroine rips the bracers off him during their duel, he instantly reverts to his real age - of over one thousand.
  • Implacable Man: The Inquisitors and the Lord Ruler.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Coins are a commpon weapon used by Mistborn and steel-burning Allomancers. They're common enough that steel-burners are referred to as "Coinshots."
  • Improvised Weapon: For an Allomancer, anything made of metal can be a deadly weapon. In an early scene, Kelsier kills several men with a paperweight. One of the most amusing and versatile weapons they can use are guards - or rather, guards' breastplates.
  • Insecure Love Interest: A double example. Vin thinks she's too Book Dumb and violent for Elend; Elend feels he's too much of a passive screwup for Vin.
  • Insistent Terminology: OreSeur or rather TenSoon does not enjoy eating rotting meat, he enjoys eating aged meat.
  • Intro-Only Point of View: In the prologues.
  • It Was Here, I Swear: Sort of. Ruin slowly changed the wording of the prophecies about the Hero of Ages to mislead people into doing what he wanted. The only things recordings he can't change are memories in someone's head or writing engraved in metal, so the only one to notice was one person with a Photographic Memory.
  • Just Between You and Me: Ruin appears to Vin when his victory seems certain, for no better reason than to gloat. In doing so, he betrays some of his humanity and helps her realise that he has weaknesses.
  • Kill and Replace: How kandra operate, by necessity. Oddly, they're also bound by Thou Shall Not Kill, so they have to get someone else to do the actual killing.
  • Knight Templar: Quellion in Hero of Ages, who thinks Kelsier has come back from the dead and wants him to kill all noblemen and any skaa who don't follow the Church of the Survivor. It turns out that "Kelsier" is actually Ruin, who is just using Quellion as one of many tools to kill people.
  • Last Villain Stand: The Lord Ruler gets one in The Final Empire.
  • Luke, You Are My Father: Vin knew who her father was, but he thought she (and her mother) had been killed as per the Lord Ruler's law. It's not particularly important to her, but it's eventually used against her father (Tevidian, the Lord Prelan of the Obligators) by the Inquisitors.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: All three magic systems are thoroughly logical and internally self-consistent.
    • To the point where fans figured out the magical effects of certain metals after the series was over, even though those metals had never been used during the story and it wasn't explained in appendices, just by filling in the gaps in relationships between established ones.
    • The allomantic external pushing and pulling powers are a very down-to-earth version. People who burn Iron or steel can push or pull on metal objects (two separate powers; only Mistborn have them both). The force goes either straight toward or straight out from their own body, and it allows very little fine control (making stunts like a Bullet Catch or forcing one person to shoot another like Magneto does exceedingly difficult). Finally, if the metal object is strongly anchored or heavier than the person doing the pushing or pulling, then the person will be moved, not the metal object (Unless they're also pushing or pulling on something else on the other side of them). These abilities can still be used in lots of impressive ways, but they require a lot more care and thought than similar powers do in other settings, and many uses of Selective Magnetism are completely impossible.
  • The Magocracy: Kinda-sorta. The ruling class can inherit Allomancy, while the commoners shouldn't be able to. But not all of the nobles have such powers, nor are all of the commoners without, (due to nobles not killing their commoner lovers/prostitutes like they're supposed to.)
  • Man Behind the Man: Ruin. Preservation ended up being the Man Behind the Man Behind the Man.
  • Man in White: Elend in Well of Ascention and Hero Of Ages. Invoked, since the point was to make him stand out; in a place where constant volcanic eruptions bury the entire country in ash, a white uniform is especially distinctive.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Breeze is something of a subversion—he loves manipulating people (and the fact that he's a Soother helps), but he's not malicious about it, being a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, and often winds up using his skills to help people.
  • Mass Super-Empowering Event: Surprisingly, the mist sickness in The Hero of Ages. It was an effort on Preservation's part to get every potential mistborn and misting to Snap and awaken their allomantic abilities to give humanity an edge once Ruin escaped his cage.
  • May–December Romance: Between Breeze and Alrianne Cett in The Well of Acension.
  • Meaningful Echo: Kelsier's dying words are turned into a Pre-Mortem One-Liner by Vin against the Lord Ruler at the end of the first book.
  • Medieval Stasis: The Lord Ruler deliberately suppressed scientific and technological progress, in order to maintain stability in the land and to protect himself from guns.
    • Fridge Brilliance: One of his concerns might have been that Ruin could easily spike anyone with the help of guns.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Kelsier and Tindwyl
  • Messianic Archetype: Lots of characters play around with this trope -- Alendi was one in the backstory, the Lord Ruler presented himself as one, Kelsier deliberately became one to the skaa so they would have something to believe in that was powerful enough to cause them to rebel, and for much of the last two books Vin acts as one. But the series' real messiah turns out to be Sazed.
  • Mordor: Pretty much the whole world. It's not as barren as some examples, but the sun is still red, what plants that survive are drab and colorless, and thanks to a chain of volcanoes the sky is covered in perpetual clouds of smoke and ash. And then in the third book it gets worse.
  • Multitasked Conversation: Happens in the second and third books.
  • My Death Is Just the Beginning: Kelsier
    • And the Lord Ruler. He wasn't planning on dying, but he knew it was a possibility and his long-term scheming took it into account.
    • And ultimately, Preservation, although he lived on as a shell of his former self for a long time.
  • Eucatastrophe: Final Empire is close. Hero of Ages is even closer.
  • No Guy Wants an Amazon: Averted by Elend's relationship with the Mistborn Vin. Doesn't stop her from worrying about it, though.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: The final battle of the first book, where the Lord Ruler effortlessly wipes the floor with Vin and Marsh at the same time, while casually proclaiming his divinity. And then Vin got ahold of his bracers...
  • Non-Action Guy: Elend in the first two books but not in Hero of Ages.
    • Also Spook, to a degree. Though he's pretty tough, having grown up on the streets, the fact that he's a Tineye means he can't really compete with most of the other characters on a physical level and knows better than to try. He also Takes A Level In Badass in Hero of Ages.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Multiple examples across the whole trilogy, thanks to the Gambit Pileup going on. It finally turns out that, from start to everything leading up to the end, the entire series, including the post-apocalyptic setting, was the result of good people trying to do good things and getting screwed over.
  • No Ontological Inertia: Once Vin rips the Lord Ruler's bracers off, all that age he'd been holding back starts to come back, fast.
  • Not Quite Flight: Mistborn can damn near fly by Pushing and Pulling and metals just right; Vin invents a technique allowing her to cross distances extremely rapidly by juggling mid-sized metal pieces, such as a few horseshoes.
  • Not So Different: Zane and Vin, especially from Zane's perspective.
  • Numerological Motif: An in-universe example, but the number sixteen has a nasty habit of showing up a lot. Especially in the third book. The most obvious example of this motif is Allomancy, which is organized into four sets of four related metals.
    • And it's not just Allomancy, either. Those 16 metals have uses in all three systems (we just don't know all of them). Also the number of people who were Mistfallen aka Atium Mistings. It's explained that the number 16 was used as Preservation's way of showing that he was giving them a hand after he died.
  • Obfuscating Disability: In books two and three, Vin consistently maintains the suspicion that Cett is Mistborn, simply because he is paraplegic. As far as we know, he is not, unless he's still hiding it after the conclusion.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: The author's rather fond of this one, and especially of having female characters do it.
  • Offing the Offspring: It's revealed towards the end of Mistborn that Straff Venture is conspiring with House Elariel to have Elend assasinated, though Vin finds out and foils the attempt in the nick of time.
  • Oh My Gods: "Lord Ruler!"
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Ruin.
  • One-Gender Race: The Koloss. Because they're an artificially created race and don't reproduce naturally, this is not an issue for them.
  • One-Man Army: At the beginning of the third book, Elend promises two armies to the residents of the town. One is the attacking koloss army, which he takes control of once their leader is down. The other? Vin.
  • Orphan's Plot Trinket: Vin's earring, given to her by her mother when she killed Vin's younger sister. Also, it's a hemalurgic spike that Ruin uses to talk to her and is the method by which Vin's bronze allomantic power is strong enough to pierce copperclouds.
  • Our Orcs Are Different: Koloss, which are actually humans who have been transformed into monsters by careful application of hemalurgy.
  • Out-Gambitted: Several times. Notably, the Lord Ruler is Out-Gambitted by Kelsier, everybody trying to find/be the Hero of Ages was Out-Gambitted by Ruin, and Ruin himself was Out-Gambitted by Preservation.
  • Patrick Stewart Speech: Vin gets one of these near the end of Hero of Ages, combined with a Shut UP, Hannibal directed at Ruin. It was awesome.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Mistborn are generally treated with the same degree of respect as a tactical missile strike. This goes double for Vin.
  • Physical God: The Lord Ruler has learned how to use a combination of Allomancy, Feruchemy, and Hemalurgy (possibly) to become something close to this; combining Allomancy and Feruchemy lets you break the rules of both in some major ways.
  • Pieces of God: Humanity's sentience is explained by each human having a minute fraction of Preservation's power in them.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Vin stands "barely over five feet tall." Don't let her size fool you; even before her ascent into a Physical God, she burns pewter so much and for so long that she becomes a "pewter savant," an Allomancer whose body has become "addicted" to the constant use of a given metal, but who gets drastically more effect out of it than normal Allomancers.
  • Planet of Hats: According to the annotations for Chapter 78 of Hero of Ages found on his website, Brandon Sanderson deliberately tried to avoid this trope, specifically citing how boring Our Dwarves Are All the Same gets after a while. Lampshaded by Sazed in that same chapter when he says, referring to TenSoon: "There is a kandra who fits in with his people as poorly as I do with my own."
  • Plea of Personal Necessity: The Lord Ruler, "You don’t know what I do for mankind." Surprisingly, he was largely telling the truth. On the other hand, he may have no longer had the sanity left to do what needed done.
  • The Power of Trust: A major theme throughout the entire series generally, but especially with regards to Vin's Character Development.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: Hemalurgy. Sometimes literally, as is the case with Vin's earring, made from her baby sister's soul.
  • Power Parasite: Called Hemalurgy. By killing a person with a metal spike and implanting that spike in your own body, you can steal one Allomantic, Feruchemic, or human power from them. Some Hemalurgists, like the Steel Inquisitors, might have up to twenty spikes.
  • Prophecy Twist: And how! The Terris prophecy of the Hero of Ages uses a gender neutral pronoun to refer to the Hero, which Sazed takes to mean the Hero could be male or female, allowing for Vin to be the one. It actually refers to Sazed himself, who as a eunuch since infancy is technically "gender neutral" himself.
  • Prophetic Fallacy: Ruin has been changing the wording of the prophecies about the Hero of Ages in order to make them do the exact opposite of what they're supposed to.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: The Koloss can be seen as a parody of this. The entire race has only two modes- apathetic (when they just lie around in apparent boredom) and homicidal (when they try and kill anything within reach, including other Koloss if they can't get anything else). The only reason the Lord Ruler was able to use them as shock troops was because he knew an allomantic trick that let him control their minds.
  • Rapid Aging: Happens to the Lord Ruler without his Immortality Talismans just before he is killed.
  • Redshirt Army: Most of the rebel army assembled in Mistborn. They get slaughtered when they attack a Final Empire garrison and expose themselves, letting an army of Empire reinforcements show up and stomp them into the ground.
  • Reign of Terror: Quellion sets one up in Urteau in Hero of Ages, to the extent that he's pretty much a Robespierre Expy. Of course Ruin was pulling his usual Man Behind the Man tricks -- this time for both the Reign of Terror and La Résistance.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Vilified: Averted. Though the main characters in the first book are all rebels, plenty of people outside their group think they're evil (or just plain stupid), Kelsier's motives are heavily implied to be as much or more about glory and revenge than helping people, and there is even questioning in the second book about whether killing the Lord Ruler was really a good thing for the world.
  • Rich Bitch: Shan Elariel, who comes off almost as a female Draco Malfoy at first, but turns out to be much more dangerous than she looks.
  • Roof Hopping: How mistborn usually get about cities when they are pushing/pulling on metals.
  • Sad Clown: Less "sad" than "furious," but Kelsier considers cracking jokes no matter what the situation to be a form of rebellion against the world.
  • Sanity Has Advantages: Invoked by Zane. He's quite open and accepting about the fact that he's nuts (what with that little voice in his head telling him to kill everyone), but he considers this a weakness and tries to compensate for it.
  • Schizo-Tech: Armies fight with medieval weaponry and the land is worked by state-owned slaves, but there are also canning factories and mills, and large canals stretch across the Final Empire. On a more individual level, people carry pocketwatches, a technology that wasn't developed until well after the Renaissance.
    • Justified. The Lord Ruler suppressed technology that could be inconvenient for him, such as guns, while allowing ones which presented no threat.
  • Science Is Bad: Averted pretty nicely, in that one of the reasons they need to defeat the Lord Ruler is that he is choking the world's development—technology, fashion, and even language have barely changed in the thousand years of his rule.
  • Scry vs. Scry: Atium vs. Atium. Notably in Vin's duel to the death with Zane. Atium normally gives you the ability to see a couple seconds into the future, causing you to see ghostly images of something happening shortly before it happens for real; when two Mistborn burning atium engage, though, the ability gets scrambled.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Double-dipped with Ruin: the Well of Ascension held his consciousness. The majority of his power was held in the atium cache.
  • Sequel Hook: The adventures of newly-minted Mistborn Spook, though Sanderson has said any sequel would be set far in the future.
  • Shadow Archetype: Several—The Lord Ruler to Kelsier and Sazed, Zane to Vin, Straff to Elend.
  • Shoot the Dog: Well, they don't have guns, but otherwise, this literally happens in The Well of Ascension.
  • Shrouded in Myth: The Lord Ruler and later Kelsier.
  • Slasher Smile: The Inquisitors have these. Kelsier's smile might be considered this too, at least from the point of view of the nobility.
  • Sleeves Are for Wimps: Ham, the Thug, almost never wears sleeves. At one point when he's forced to wear a uniform, he gets even by ripping the sleeves off later and wearing it like that.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: The characters tend to start out at the extreme ends of the scale and gravatate towards the middle as they're given more Character Development. The extremely idealistic Elend gets a large dose of reality, and the super-cynical, street-savvy Vin eventually learns to trust others. The series itself has traits from both ends, putting it somewhere in the middle.
  • Smug Snake: Straff. Most of the nobles and obligators seem to be that way, really, but he's the one we get to know the most.
  • Soul Fragment: The hemalurgic spikes which empower the inquisitors, koloss, and kandra (and possibly the Lord Ruler) are created from a piece of metal used to kill someone. They retain some kind of strength or ability from the victim, as well as a part of their soul.
  • Spirit Advisor: Reen's voice in the first book, and the trope is played with in the other two.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Zane.
  • Start of Darkness: The Lord Ruler's gets explored, though the one we're initially led to believe was his was actually someone else's.
  • Suicide Pact: The Kandra are bound by one as part of a Plan from The Lord Ruler.
  • Supernatural Sensitivity: a Misting who can burn bronze (known as a "Seeker") can detect Allomancy, but a Misting burning copper (a "Smoker") can hide it. Copper clouds aren't a perfect form of defense, though, because under certain rare circumstances, a Seeker can punch through them and find you anyway.
  • Super Reflexes: Available by burning atium, in the form of getting to see what your opponent is going to do seconds before he does it and being able to react accordingly.
  • Super Senses, The Nose Knows: Tin grants this.
  • Super Strength: Pewter grants this, along with limited Super Speed and a minor Healing Factor.
  • Taking You with Me: How Vin kills Ruin. Turned out to have been the end plan of Preservation all along; Preservation just couldn't do the deed itself because it was an act so counter to his being as to be impossible.
  • Ten Little Murder Victims: One of the trusted heroes gets replaced in the second book by an impostor.
  • Thanatos Gambit: Kelsier.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: The Kandra's own law forbids them from killing humans. Those who break it are confined for life.
  • Together in Death Elend and Vin.
  • Took a Level in Badass: In the third book, Spook. He gains incredibly heightened sense from constantly flaring tin, to the point that he can dodge a sword swing because he can 'feel the swing through the air'. He then gains yet another level when he gains the ability to burn pewter, though he loses that level by the end, only to gain about fifteen more levels by becoming a Mistborn
    • Elend also takes a level in the third book, after becoming a mistborn at the end of the second.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Vin is almost this ensemble in one person, considering the disparity between her noblewoman and Mistborn personas which she eventually comes to terms with. A more traditional example happens in the second book, whenever Vin and Allrianne interact.

Vin: We went shopping, Allrianne. Once.
Allrianne: I know. That makes us practically sisters! *Vin facepalms*

  • Traumatic Superpower Awakening: Allomancers must "snap" in order to awaken to their powers. Mostly this is physical trauma, as enforced by parents beating their children severely, but can also happen emotionally, as with Kelsier seeing his wife's death.
  • Troperiffic: Just look at the rest of the page. Sanderson loves using lots of recognizable tropes and then either subverting them, deconstructing them, or just playing them straight in cool ways.
  • True Companions: Kelsier's crew, much to Vin's initial amazement.
  • Unskilled but Strong: The Koloss rely on brute strength and sheer numbers to defeat their enemies. Elend as a Mistborn also falls under this trope.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Pretty much everyone at one point or another.
  • Verbal Tic: When Sazed offers an observation or opinion, he almost always ends the sentence with "I think". As in "the building is burning down, so we should be leaving, I think". Elend starts with "now, see" whenever he's trying to be forceful or persuasive, which has the unfortunate effect of making him less so, though Tindwyl cures him of this eventually.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: The Lord Ruler is an interesting example—most people hate and fear him, but because everyone thinks he's God they still won't dare cross him or rebel against him. Until Kelsier's death and apparent resurrection turns him into a God as well, that is.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Zane during his final fight with Vin in The Well of Ascension.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: The refined Soother Breeze and the easygoing Thug Ham are always sniping at each other, but place great value on their friendship.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: The Kandra, which can turn themselves into anything with a few restrictions—they can't produce a rigid skeleton of their own, and they can't reproduce an individual's features exactly without digesting them first to see how all the pieces go together.
  • Waif Fu: Very much Vin's stock in trade. She's about five feet tall, weighs maybe 90 lbs sopping wet, and she will kick your ass.
  • Was Once a Man: The Steel Inquisitors. Also the Koloss and the original Kandra.
  • Weak but Skilled: Sazed, who is a force to be reckoned with when he gets creative with his Feruchemical abilities even though he can't match Mistborn or Steel Inquisitors in raw power. For long, that is; one of the tradeoffs of Feruchemy is that all the power has to be paid for, in advance, by the user... but he can use as much of what he's stored up as he wants, as fast as he wants, letting Sazed turn into The Incredible Hulk for a few minutes and squash a bunch of koloss. Allomancers get their power "for free" just by swallowing metals, but there's a limit to how hard they can push it.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Lord Ruler, for all the many evils he perpetuated, was nonetheless trying to save humanity from an even worse threat. Kelsier has shades of this as well—though he's pretty solidly a good guy, he can be quite manipulative and has no mercy for noblemen.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: Kelsier doesn't care about the Mooks or nobles he kills while performing his duties.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: OreSeur, in the second book.
  • What Measure Is a Non Super: Straff takes a very dim view on offspring, like Elend, that aren't born with Allomancy.
  • What Could Have Been: In-universe, the allomantic effects of gold and malatium. Gold is something most people only ever try once; it shows you what your life could have been like if things had been different and is described as being unpleasant at best. Malatium does the same thing, but lets you see other people's possible lives rather than your own.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Though he is aware of the ugly side of life (thanks to his Complete Monster of a father), Elend is certainly a political idealist. Eventually he does learn that trying to introduce a hybrid constitutional monarchy/democracy to a world that has known only theocratic totalitarianism for the last thousand years with no transition whatsoever is really dumb.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Once again, the Lord Ruler; justified: Ruin's thousand years of psychological torment wore on the Lord Ruler pretty badly.
    • Hemalurgy in general, too. According to Sanderson's website, the whole process would best be described as ripping out a bit of someone else's soul and stapling it onto your own. There's no possible way that's good for your long-term mental health.
    • And it sure doesn't help that Hemalurgy brings one closer to Ruin. One spike is enough for him to sense you and push on your mind; constructs with more spikes, like koloss, can be forcibly controlled, and the Steel Inquisitors are basically hand puppets for him.
  • Worthy Opponent: How Vin initially views Zane. Elend also views Yomen as a worthy intellectual opponent.
  • You Are Who You Eat: The kandra can take on the appearance of anyone whose bones they absorb. They are, however, literally contractually obligated not to kill humans. Their employers must provide the bodies to be impersonated.
  • You Will Know What to Do: How to use Eleventh Metal.
  • Yin-Yang Bomb: Crops up in several places. First off, the secret to the Lord Ruler's immortality: Having Feruchemy and Allomancy allows one to break the rules for both by getting more out of a reaction than he put into it; combining the two allowed him to have unlimited youth and also to display his other abilities, like Wolverine-level regeneration. Steel Inquisitors and Vin can pierce the obscuring effect of copperclouds due to a combination of Allomancy and Hemalurgy; someone who could already burn bronze who is pierced with a Hemalurgic spike bestowing that same ability essentially has it doubled in power. And most impressively, the creation of life itself: Neither of the two gods Ruin and Preservation can create life unless they agree to work together; seperately, Ruin can only destroy and Preservation can only... preserve.
    • And Sazed in the end, who absorbs the powers of Ruin and Preservation into his body to become God.
  • You Cannot Kill an Idea: The crux of Kelsier's plan to overthrow the Lord Ruler.
  • You're Insane!: Everyone says this to Kelsier at least once. Usually turns out to be Crazy Enough to Work, though.
    • Straff frequently says this to Zane, as well, though he doesn't mean it in a good way. It turns out that while Zane actually is unstable, most of the more visible traits of his madness were the result of Ruin's influence on him.
  1. Subverted once when Elend becomes Mistborn by ingesting larasium near the Well of Ascension