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Hello to all who happen to read this, and welcome to my blog. Who am I, what is this blog about, and why should you care? Well, I am Matthew Hollingsworth, known as Mad_Scientist on this site. This blog is about storytelling, both my own attempts at creative writing, and my thoughts on the various storytelling mediums that exist. And you should care because I think some of you might find my thoughts interesting, and those of you who are also aspiring writers might find it encouraging to read about someone who shares the same struggles.
With that out of the way, onto my first post, the topic of which is what I consider to definitely be the greatest video game plot twist of all time. That is a bold claim to make, and I give the caveat that of course I have not played all video games, so it's possible there is a twist I don't know about that is better. But I find that unlikely, for I am talking about the "greatest video game plot twist" not "the greatest plot twist in a video game." There is a difference in my mind.
What is that difference? For me, a really good "video game plot twist" or "video game story" is something that takes advantage of the unique merits of the video game medium. There are many games with good stories that could have been easily told in a movie or a book without losing any impact. These are fine stories, but by not taking advantage of the strengths of a video game as a storytelling vehicle, they miss an opportunity for greatness. A truly great video game story is one that cannot be told somewhere else properly, one that loses something if you try to strip it out of the game and put it into another medium.
So what are the strengths of a video game when it comes to telling stories? Some would argue there are none, but that is not true at all. One of the main great strengths of a video game story is the ability to incorperate player choice into the story. When characters in a book or a movie face tough choices, they make the choices regardless of what the viewer thinks should be done. There is a strength in that, in seeing a character you've grown to love make what you feel is the wrong choice and being unable to do anything about it. But there is a different advantage in a video game where you must make the choice yourself. Faced with two or more tough options, none of which are clearly the right one, all of which could permanently alter the fate of the character, and it's up to you to decide what to do, how do you respond? There is a strength in that which gives video games a completely different dynamic.
Technically, choose-your-own-adventure books had an element of choice in them long before video games existed, but I'd argue that video games are pretty much the successors of choose-your-own-adventure books, and can handle the element of choice even better.
Another big strength of video game stories is how they can draw you into the main character's situation, because you are the one controlling the character. In some RPGs, it's beyond just controlling, you pretty much are the main character. And even in games with a character that is less defined by the player, it is easy to get sucked in and identify with him strongly. Thus, if done properly, story events and plot twists that affect the main character drastically can have an even greater impact in a video game than elsewhere. When you combine that with the above element of choice, you have something magical. For example, when a main character who you have spent hours guiding through various trials and struggles suffers some horrible calamity as a direct result of a tough choice that you yourself made earlier, the impact will be incredibly strong if done right.
The stories that are great video game stories, and not just great stories that happen to be stuck in a video game, are made by those who know the strengths of video games and take advantage of them. And the great video game plot twists also take advantage of them. So if that is what makes a great video game plot twist, what makes something "the greastest video game plot twist of all time"? Something that goes even further. Something that is not just a great plot twist in its own right, but which also is so in tune with the nature of a video game that it is literally impossible for the twist to occur in any other medium. Not just a twist that will lose impact if taken out of a video game, something that simply cannot be done outside of a video game.
Does such a twist truly exist? Yes, one does, and it is in a game called 9 Hours 9 Persons 9 Doors.
9 Hours 9 Persons 9 Doors (or 999 as I will call it from now on) is a game released for the Nintendo DS last year in the US and two years ago in Japan. It's genre would either be classified as a "visual novel" or an "adventure game," and in truth it has elements of both. Most of you are probably aware of the old classic adventure games, such as the King's Quest series, which tended to focus on story, exploration, and puzzle solving. You might not know about a visual novel though, as it is a term for a type of game not seen outside of Japan much.
A visual novel is pretty much a true choose-your-own-adventure book in video game form. They usually have little to no puzzle solving and don't even have a huge amount of graphics (despite the "visual" part of their title) and instead have lots and lots of text and description and dialogue. The "novel" part of the name is just as important if not more than the visual part. They are known for long and complicated stories full of many branching paths based on player choices, with tons of different endings.
(A fairly notable sub-set of them also tend to be erotic, but that's a whole other subject)
999 contains all the puzzle solving of a traditional adventure game, but also contains the limited artwork (during non-puzzle solving segments) and heavy text and description of a visual novel, as well as a visual novel's many branching story paths. The visual novel and adventure game segments are actually somewhat separated from each other, as you will have a large segment of puzzle solving as you escape from some rooms, then follow it with a big story segment full of dialogue, descriptions, and choices, and follow it with another puzzle segment, etc. Fortunately, the puzzle segments also contain plenty of story and are well designed, so the gameplay flows together nicely despite what it might sound like from above.
But you're not reading this for a review, so I described the gameplay mainly so that you'd have a basic idea how the game works. Moving on to the story and the "greatest video game plot twist," I should of course warn you that spoilers are heavy from this point on.
In 999, you play as Junpei, a 20-something college student who suddenly finds himself awakening in a room he doesn't recognize on what seems to be a boat. After figuring out how to escape the locked room, he meets 8 other people and learns that all of them have been kidnapped by someone who only identifies himself as "zero" and will be forced to play something called the Nonary game in order to escape the ship they are on before it sinks in 9 hours. To do that they will have to solve challenges and ultimately pass through several special numbered doors until they reach the door with a 9 on it, which will be the exit. Hence the title.
It seems like a fairly standard setup: a bunch of strangers are brought to some location by a mysterious person and have to work together to escape and/or survive, while not knowing if they can all trust each other. Fortunately, there is a good reason this idea is such a popular setting, and 999 does an excellent job with it, so soon you will be drawn into the story and characters despite the somewhat cliched initial premise. What follows is a fascinating tale that also creates a background story combining intriguing real life history with myths and both real and pseudo science. You may find yourself checking google often just to see what parts of the game's story are real and what parts are made up.
The game also does a good job of merging story and gameplay in a creative manner. One of the common complaints adventure games have gotten is that their puzzles are often nonsensical and/or completely arbitrary, and are just thrown in so that the player has something to solve. But the entire premise of 999 involves the fact that zero created challenges for the people trapped to overcome, so the presence of the puzzles is perfectly explained and does not detract from the story. About the only thing the game does that seems initially a little odd is how it separates Junpei's thoughts and words, which are shown in first-person on the top screen, and the descriptions of events that are going on, which are detailed in third-person on the bottom screen, which takes a little getting used to at first but soon becomes natural and seems the obvious choice.
And then you will reach the end of the game and die horribly. Ok, that's not 100% guarranteed, but chances are it will happen your first time through. Fortunately, 999 is designed to be replayed, and after you save your data you can restart the game and this time fast-forward through the story segments you've already seen until you reach a point where you have to make a choice or something you haven't seen before occurs. This makes it quick and easy to explore different options. You will make different choices and open different doors, and learn further pieces of the story. And you'll probably still die again at the end. But eventually, you're figure out how to get the true ending.
And that is where things go nuts. Final spoiler warning.
In order to reach the true end of 999, you'll have to get a specific bad end first. For those who have played video games a lot this won't seem odd, for many games do not let you get the best ending on your first playthrough, and force you to unlock the true ending through various methods. What will seem odd is the way Junpei starts knowing things that he only could have learned through some of the other playthroughs, things he should not possibly be able to know on this playthrough.
When another character confronts Junpei about his strange knowledge near the game's climax, Junpei will be stumped. But at that point, the descriptive text at the bottom screen, the thing that has been there the entire game, forgotten, simply a part of the visual novel's genre conventions, will change. It will switch from third-person to first-person. "The answer was simple. He knew because I knew."
As the now suddenly first-person narrative goes on and reveals more details, talking about how it has watched and guided Junpei since the beginning and how it was able to view the other timelines where Junpei failed, you will realize something. The text on the bottom screen was always first-person. It's just that Junpei was never the character you were playing as. The entire game, you though you were controlling Junpei but were in fact playing as someone else. (And no, it's not you as in you the player. It's an actual character in the game)
Everything that you dismissed as simply being a part of the standard conventions of a video game will suddenly make sense. The reason why getting a certain bad endings was needed before unlocking the true ending: it's not just because "video games do that a lot," it's because the character you were actually playing as was able to view the failed timelines and use the knowledge.
The separation between the top and bottom screens? You will realize that throughout the entire game, the top screen has represented Junpei and the bottom screen has represented this other character. That is why you'd sometimes see Junpei's thoughts in first-person on the top screen and other times get descriptions of how he was feeling in third-person on the bottom screen. The fact that you've always solved every puzzle using the bottom screen? That's not just because the only touch screen on the DS is the bottom screen and it makes it convenient for puzzles, it's because Junpei hasn't truly been solving the puzzles himself, he's been getting help. Which also neatly fits in with why he'd always be the one to solve a puzzle, not his companions.
The twist is beautiful in the way it takes things most people will have assumed were simply "the way a DS game works" or "the way a visual novel works" and actually makes them part of the story, but it is most incredible for the fact that it is a twist that relates to who you have been playing as the whole time. The concept of a player character is something unique to video games, which is why this twist is impossible to do elsewhere.
Oh, someone could try something similiar. Someone could write a novel with third-person narration and have it switch to first-person. But that would be a different twist, one where you don't think the narrator is a character and suddenly realize it is. Interesting, but different. Someone could make a movie or book where it was obvious from the start that the narrator was a character, and then reveal that the narrator is not the person most people thought, but that would also be different. The narrator of a story is something completely different in concept than the character you play as in a video game.
999 has a great story, and tons of twists I have not mentioned (including just who exactly the character you are really playing as is). But above all, this one twist stands alone for completely redefining everything you thought you knew about the game, and taking advantage of the concept of a "player character" to tell a twist that is literally impossible anywhere else. And that is why I declare it the greatest video game plot twist ever.
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Wow, hello there to anyone who might be reading this. So, I stopped the reread a few months ago, due to classes deciding that I actually needed to be doing hard work in order to keep up, and I wanted to stay ahead, so I pretty much stopped everything that wasn't school related. Then, after finals were over, I totally forgot about this in my attempt to get a job (which was successful, by the way, I now am a driver for Pizza Hut). But last night I remembered! So yeah, if anyone is still interested, here is the third part of The Final Empire Reread!
As it was with the previous parts, this is for people who have read the entire series. So far I haven't said anything that touches on Alloy of Law, so if you're trying to avoid spoilers for the first few chapters, don't worry, nothing in here will spoil it.
Epigraph: “In the end, I worry that my arrogance shall destroy us all.”
What happens: Vin Pushes against a coin to send her flying into the mist. She thinks about the freedom of being Mistborn, and how this was what she always missed without knowing it. She keeps pewter at a low burn, as it gave her a great sense of balance. She has copper on, and she flares tin to enhance her senses. She looks over at the city of Fellise, noting how there are fewer lights than in Luthadel. She sees several blue lines appear out of nowhere, forcing her to jump in the air. She quickly chases after her opponent, but eventually loses him. She knows the general direction he went, though, so she grabs a few coins, and then throws her pouch of coins through the air that direction. A bunch of coins were shot out of some bushes, and then appeared out of the bushes. Vin quietly got above him and showered her coins down on him, then attacked with her glass knives. Her opponent jumps back, and gets his coins back and shoots them at Vin. Vin is forced to abandon her weapons to avoid the attack. She jumped back at Pushed on the coins, flying backwards as her opponent, too, is pushing on the coins. She flared steel, and her opponent also flew backwards. She he a tree, he hit a wall. She flared pewter and ignored the pain, but eventually the tree broke. Kelsier comes over to her and tells her that she doesn't need to drop her weapons and put out her hands while Pushing. She also should avoid Pushing matches with other people, because she weighs so little. He then gives her a flattened and bent coin, the one they had the match over. He then leaves, saying he'll see her at the mansion.
Vin went and got her coin pouch, thinking about how she wasn't worried about being ready to face other Mistborn with Kelsier, but was worried about pretending to be noble. Camon had been good at imitating noblemen, but he had a confidence that she lacked. She worries about it all the way back to the mansion, also trying to figure out who Renoux was. She gets to the mansion, and sees Sazed with a woman on the staff named Cosahn. They tell her that Cosahn is going to cut her hair. Cosahn, while working with her hair, berates Vin for treating such lovely hair so poorly. Sazed assures her that the hair will be better taken care of in the future. He then tells Vin that Kelsier was not back yet, and Vin thinks about how Kelsier had been to several noble houses over the last two months, both in Luthadel and Fellise. He used many different disguises and motives in his attempt to confuse the nobility.
Sazed then asks Vin if she would like to hear another proposal, which makes her sigh. He tells her about the Nelazan, a people who believed in a religion called “Terlagism” after their god Trell. The Nalazan lived in near one of the poles, apparently, and thus had odd day/night cycles.
“The Nalazan believed that there was beauty in darkness and that the daylight was more profane. They saw the stars as the Thousand Eyes of Trell watching them. The sun was the single, jealous eye of Trell's brother, Nalt. Since Nalt only had one eye, he made it blaze brightly to outshine his brother. The Nelazan, however, were not impressed, and preferred to worship the quiet Trell, who watched over them even when Nalt obscured the sky.”
Sazed goes on to say that it is a good religion, and that it's believers mapped the entire night sky. Their ways suited Vin, who prefers the night. Vin says that that's all right, and Sazed says he will keep looking for a good fit for her. Vin asks how many religions he can possibly know, and he says he is aware of five hundred and sixty two religions. Vin wants to know how he can have so many memorized, and Sazed says he has methods. Vin asks what the point is, and Sazed tells her that when the Lord Ruler falls, his people will be there to return mankind to their original religions. Vin realizes that he's trying to get her to believe in religions that are a thousand years dead, and wonders if everyone involved with Kelsier is insane. Sazed says that whenever the Lord Ruler falls, the Keepers will be there to return mankind to their forgotten truths. Vin asks about Keepers, and Sazed says there aren't many of them.
Sazed then asks if they can go back to their lessons, and Vin says yes. He asks her to named the Great Houses of Luthadel, and Vin does so. He then asks her who she is, and she replies that she is the Lady Valette Renoux, and lists her family background. She is amazed and a little overwhelmed at being at court, and she will be flattered by the attention she receives. Sazed jokes with her about how well she could learn if she stopped avoiding their lessons, and Vin asks if all Terrismen are lippy to their masters, and he says that only the successful ones do.
Kelsier comes back, and says that Vin's haircut looks good, and congratulates Cosahn. She blushes as she says it was nothing, and Vin asks for a mirror. She realizes she looks like a girl, and then hears Reen's voice telling her that she doesn't want to look like a girl, but she finds herself wanting to ignore the voice. Kelsier jokes that they might make her a lady yet, which makes Vin glare at him. Sazed remarks that she needs not scowl so much, and Kelsier says that's unlikely, as she does so love making faces. Cosahn says that she has a bit more work to do, and Kelsier takes Sazed away as Cosahn finishes up with Vin.
Kelsier asks Sazed how the training is going, and Sazed says very well, and that Vin is quite clever for a street urchin. Kelsier says that most of them are, which Sazed agrees with. He then says that Vin avoids her lessons if she can, and Kelsier remarks that that's probably her way of keeping control in her life. He asks if she is ready or not, and Sazed says he's not sure. He says that she's good in controlled situations, and has even done well entertaining guests with Renoux. They won't know how well she does until she is at a party, though. Kelsier says that they have to get her in soon, otherwise the job won't work. He also complains that he doesn't have enough time to teach Vin all the metals. Sazed says that perhaps have the Mistings in the group teach her the metals they are best with. Kelsier agrees that it's a good idea, but looks worried, and Sazed asks what's up. Kelsier tells him about the Steelpush match that they had. Even though Vin weighs less than half of Kelsier, she gave him a good pummeling. Sazed says that power is also a factor, but Kelsier says the difference in power is not supposed to be that great. She also seems to instinctively learn everything he teaches her. He says that when Vin goes to dances, Sazed should accompany her, and Sazed said it would be odd if he didn't. Kelsier then says that Vin is going to the next ball, which will be held at Keep Venture.
Commentary: Hey, Alendi! Guess what. You almost did destroy the world in your arrogance! I hope that makes you feel better.
This is a fun chapter. We get to see Allomancy in action after we know what Allomancy is, and what the metals do. It's ridiculously obvious that she's fighting Kelsier, and it makes me wonder why Brandon tried to hide it. I like how you don't need to use your hands to Push and Pull metals. That always bothered me with things like the Force. Why do you need to have your hands to move things with your mind? Maybe it's like with the Wheel of Time, where if you get used to using your hands, it becomes harder to not use your hands. But yeah, it's cool how you can Push and Pull without making any movements at all. Just a mental tug or push on some blue lines.
Yay for haircuts! I love hair. I think hair is the prettiest part of most girls. The Vin on the cover of the book also happens to have my favorite hairstyle and color for the ladies. Sorry, random I know, but hair looks nice!
This is my favorite religion of ALL TIME. Trelagism. I'm a stargazer. I go out to the desert at least once a year for stargazing, during the perseids meteor shower. If you live anywhere near somewhere that has no lights, like a desert or a forest, you should go do this. It's such a wonderful experience. My favorite date I ever took a girl on was taking her out to the desert to stargaze. It was wonderful. If this was a real religion, then I would not be an atheist. As it is, one of my false religions for a book I want to write is partially based off of this religion, and partially based on the song “Fires at Midnight” by Blackmore's Night.
The night/day cycle that the Nelazan have is due to being near a pole. For those of you who don't know much about geography, the further away you are from the tropics, the weirder your day/night cycle will be. If you're north or south of 66.5 degrees latitude, then you'll get only daylight during the summer, and only night time during the winter. Certain tribes in Canada lived in this as well, and would hunt using the aurora borealis. Whoops, that's kind of off topic. Oh well. One of my life's dreams is to see the aurora someday.
Back on topic. I'm surprised Vin doesn't pursue what a Keeper is quite yet. He has that many religions memorized, and her main question isn't “how” but “why”. Silly, silly Vin. Although, it's probably best not to be forced to explain Feruchemy yet anyway.
As for the why... I never really understood Sazed's reasoning. Dead religions tend to remain dead, or are revived in bastardized cult versions that involve weird rituals. I like the idea of keeping them, but it should be for the purposes of history, not preaching. People aren't usually jumping to find a new religion if that religion isn't practiced by anyone else. And if memory serves, Sazed's intro in Well of Ascension will prove me right. As far as this book goes, at least.
Vin has started to ignore Reen's voice in her head. That's a big step for her. Wanting to look like a girl, and actually be a girl, is also a big step for her. Vin is meant to be a girl. Not a girly girl, of course, but a girl. To me, this is the first true bit of Vin that comes out. Hi Vin! Don't be shy! Come on out and play! Oh wait, she can't hear me, can she? Oh well, I can't wait until Hero of Ages.
Vin instinctively learning Allomancy is pretty interesting. I forget... is this due to her connection with the mists? I guess it would have to be. It kind of reminds me of Awakening in Warbreaker. Doesn't one of the Heightenings grant instinctive Awakening?
Epigraph: “It amazes me how many nations have united behind our purpose. There are still dissenters, of course - and some kingdoms, regrettably, have fallen to wars that I could not stop. Still, this general unity is glorious, even humbling, to contemplate. I wish that the nations of mankind hadn't required such a dire threat to make them see the value of peace and cooperation.”
What happens: Vin walks down one of the slums of Luthadel to meet with Breeze. She looks around and feels that with all the ash, the city seems brighter at night than during the day. She avoids some soldiers and enters a soup kitchen. She waits in line with other skaa, and presents a wooden disk to the doorman, who subtly indicated where she should go. She goes in and finds Breeze, who fails to get her to converse with him. He asks for some wine of a rebel who is there, who regards him suspiciously. Breeze tells him that whether or not he's Soothing the rebel, the rebel was told to make Breeze comfortable. Vin asks if he Soothed him, and Breeze said that he didn't. He then tells Vin about the “noble art of manipulation” and how Soothing is more than just Allomancy. Vin replies sarcastically, and Breeze explains to her that everyone tries to manipulate people. Soothers, Rioters, and Mistborn simply have an advantage over everyone else. He goes on, saying that Allomancers can't read minds any better than other people, so if you blindly Sooth them, then you may not get the desired result. So you must judge what the person you are trying to manipulate is already feeling, then nudge them in the right direction, then use that new emotional state to your advantage.
Ham comes in and tells Breeze about the security situation and how to get out in case of emergency. They stay silent for a bit, before Ham tries to ask Breeze something, who cuts him off twice. Vin then asks what he was going to say, and Ham asks if they are doing the right thing with the Lord Ruler. Vin asks if it matters, which gets a chuckle from Breeze. Ham insists that it does matter. He asks Vin if the Lord Ruler is God, and Vin says that's what the Ministry claims. Breeze steps in and says that they actually consider him to be a piece of God only, a Sliver of Infinity. Ham says that toppling the Lord Ruler might be a bad thing, because God defines right versus wrong. Ham seems disappointed at Vin not caring much, but the rebel says Kelsier has arrived, and Ham leaves for the perimeter. Breeze goes to some peepholes, asking Vin to bring his chair. She hesitates before doing so.
They see a bunch of a skaa workers and Yeden sitting in a room. Kelsier calmly walks into the room and talks with Yeden for a bit. Kelsier begins his speech after a bit, and Breeze tells Vin that Soothing and Rioting are different than other forms of Allomancy because you can produce the same general effect with either, with the exception of extreme emotional states and being emotionless. As Kelsier gives his speech, Breeze mutters what he wants, sending in serving girls with different colored clothes to tell his Soothers and Rioters what emotions to Soothe and Riot. Vin lowers her copper and tries to sense what Breeze is doing using bronze, forgetting that Club's apprentice in the room is Smoking them. Turning her copper back on, she listens to Kelsier's speech. She realizes he's not telling them about what they skaa would be doing if they joined with him. A man in the audience tells Kelsier that he's a fool, and that the Lord Ruler would kill him. Kelsier tells them that he is the thing that the Lord Ruler could never kill. Breeze sends in a serving girl to signal amazement, and then Yeden gives his own speech. During the speech, Breeze makes the skaa a little more loyal, attempting to keep them from going to the Obligators, thought Kelsier has covered his tracks very well. He also Sooth's Yeden's worries away. Vin lowers her copper again, and tries to feel what Breeze is doing to them all emotionally. It takes her a while to notice anything, but eventually she realizes she is feeling everything that Breeze is muttering. Vin realizes she wants to take lessons from all the other Mistings in the group. Yeden ends his speech, and Breeze makes them feel strong passion. Vin asks him if the emotions will fade, and Breeze explains that if you tie a memory to an emotion, you remember it better and more strongly.
Ham comes in and says that it went well, and Breeze replies that it's not enough and that they need more meetings. Ham says that that would be difficult, and Breeze nods, saying that Kelsier wants to hold a progress meeting that night.
Kelsier stands on top of Club's shop, looking in the direction of the Pits of Hathsin, wondering where the atium goes after being harvested. Barely a tenth goes to the nobility, which means that the rest most be stockpiled somewhere else. A thousand years worth of the metal would be enough to intimidate everyone. He then looks to Kredik Shaw, which is Terris for “Hill of a Thousand Spires.”
Sazed comes up to talk with him, and Kelsier thinks about how excellent of a find Sazed was, due to his people's secretive nature. The Lord Ruler had tried to hunt the Keepers to extinction, and the other Terrismen had been subjugated since. Kelsier asks Sazed to tell him another religion, and Sazed tells him about Jaism.
“Jaism was founded by a single man,” Sazed said. “His true name is lost, though his followers simply called him ‘the Ja.’ He was murdered by a local king for preaching discord— something he was apparently very good at—but that only made his following larger.
“The Jaists thought that they earned happiness proportional to their overt devotion, and were known for frequent and fervent professions of faith. Apparently, speaking with a Jaist could be frustrating, since they tended to end nearly every sentence with ‘Praise the Ja.’ ”
“That’s nice, Saze,” Kelsier said. “But power is more than just words.”
“Oh, quite indeed,” Sazed agreed. “The Jaists were strong in their faith. Legends say that the Ministry had to wipe them out completely, since not one Jaist would accept the Lord Ruler as God. They didn’t last long past the Ascension, but only because they were so blatant that they were easy to hunt down and kill.”
Sazed says that he doubts the religion would suit Kelsier. It was brash, but too simplistic. Kelsier tells him that he knows him too well. Kelsier asks him if the religions fought after the kingdoms had all fallen, and Sazed said they had indeed. Sazed gave a few reasons as to why they did, but Kelsier said that they all had passion. Sazed agreed. Kelsier asks if there was a religion that considered the slaying of noblemen to be a holy duty, and Sazed said that he doubted it. Kelsier then said he should found one, and they went off to the meeting.
Vin studies Marsh as they wait for the meeting to start. He looks a lot like Kelsier, except very stern. She waved Lestibournes over, and asked if Marsh was a nickname. He says no, it is his real name, and he used to be called “Ironeyes” until they associated that with the Inquisitors. Vin thanks him, and he left, and the meeting started.
Kelsier asks for news, and Breeze says that they're going to fall short of the 10,000 men they promised Yeden. Kelsier asks if Dox can get more meetings, who replies that he probably can. Yeden asks if they can risk that, as news of them is spreading. Dox agrees, and Kelsier says that they'll start working in other towns in the area, and asks if Breeze can form his Soothers into two effective groups, who replies that he probably could. That still will be a problem with security, which brings up the issue of infiltrating the Ministry. Marsh says he needs more time to do so. Yeden and Clubs both insist that he won't be able to do it. Vin then chimes in, saying that there was a lesser Obligator who was open to bribes that Theron knew how to get in touch with. Dox says he'll get in touch with Theron. Kelsier asks about resources. Dox says Ham has two ex-military skaa who can train the men. He also has been working on deals with Renoux on getting weapons, but it was slow getting contracts. However, once the weapons started coming, they should come in bulk. Breeze then mentions that he's been hearing rumors about the eleventh metal, and Kelsier says that's a good thing. Breeze asks if that might not bring the Lord Ruler's attention, and Kelsier says not to worry, and that he would be paying the Lord Ruler a visit soon. One of Ham's guards enters, and whispers something to Ham. He informs them that Camon's lair was hit by the Ministry.
Commentary: A lot in this chapter. I'll start with the epigraph. Part of Brandon's inspiration for this story was him asking himself the question, “what if the Dark Lord won?” For example, what if Frodo had failed? It eventually evolved into “what if Sam killed Frodo, took the ring, and overthrew Sauron,” but we'll get into that later. In a lot of these epic fantasies that focus on the hero's journey, you get the nations of the world coming together, whether it be by force or otherwise. Lord of the Rings is an example of it, though I think Wheel of Time is a more realistic version. There would be dissenters, and there would be some kingdoms that didn't make it in time. And it would be nice if we had a world government. Oh well, that's not the way it is.
Soothing and Rioting, my favorite of the original eight metals for noncombat purposes. I completely agree with Breeze as he talks about people always manipulating each other. Some people do it more, others less. For some people, it's a game, for others, it's a necessity. I, personally, enjoy earning the trust of other people. I consider myself a trustworthy guy, and I really enjoy proving that to other people. That said, Soothing and Rioting someone to get this result? No, that's not just an advantage. That's like drugging someone to earn favor. A lot of people I know have said they would want to be a Soother or Rioter if they were a Misting. I disagree, though. Although, between the two, I prefer Rioting, which is depressing, as Soothing is much more often discussed in the books. It would be too hard not to use my powers on others, and I really don't like Soothing and Rioting being used on friends. And for the most part, I only try to “manipulate” friends.
We also get in to this idea that you can get the same result from Soothing and Rioting unless you're going for extremes. If you want someone to trust you, you can Riot their trust, their loyalty, their love, or any other number of things. You could also Sooth their suspicion, their dislike/hate, their anger... you get the picture. You probably did before I started talking about it, but I want to drive it home. It's really cool how Brandon points it out as well. I realized this immediately, as I am good at reading people's emotions, but my friends who have read this book that aren't as good at reading emotions did not pick up on this until this point. They thought of Soothing being used to make someone calmer, and Rioting being used to make someone more excitable.
Vin also realizes that Breeze's touch on her emotions would not have been noticeable unless she were looking for it, compared to Kelsier's “punch in the face” as she describes it. Until this point, she is a little mad at Kelsier for shoving her off to other members of the group for training. At this point, though, she realizes she wants to be trained by Mistings for each of the metals. She gets it into her head from this that Kelsier is only so-so with each of the metals. This is, of course, not the case. Kelsier is a master of Pushing and Pulling on metals, but Vin hasn't realized this yet.
Ham's discussion about the Lord Ruler, in my opinion, does matter. But not for the reasons that he explains. Throughout history, tyrants are overthrown. Tyrants often times do, in some way, provide for their citizens. Just because that tyrant is a god, or God, does not mean they shouldn't be overthrown. And yes, I might not be the best person to talk about overthrowing gods, as I can honestly say I don't believe in anything outside of science, luck, and love. A question for anyone religious out there... and I really hope this question isn't offensive. If you were to find out that your God/gods/other form of superior being (or Supreme Being, for you French Revolution fanatics) was real, but was a tyrant, how would you react? I think it is an interesting question. Again, I really hope I'm not offending anyone. I'm not trying to say that religions are all headed by tyrant gods. I'm just trying to see if this question was a bigger deal for people who are religious.
Jaism is not as interesting of a religion as Trelagism, unfortunately. As Sazed says, it's simplistic. I found it dull, as a matter of fact. I don't really know of any religions that make you want to strangle the person you're talking to because they constantly refer to their savior.
We again get Kelsier talking about the killing of noblemen like it is nothing. It's unnerving, as it is probably supposed to be. Sazed definitely disapproves of Kelsier being so flippant about death, the second person we see disapproving of Kelsier's tactics after Marsh. We also get in this chapter that Breeze is uneasy about Kelsier spreading rumors about the Eleventh Metal. This will evolve into a small amount of dissension later.
Other than that, all we have is Camon's lair getting hit. I'll talk about that in the next section.
Epigraphs: “It seems Rashek represents a growing faction in Terris culture. A large number of the youths think that their unusual powers should be used for more than just fieldwork, husbandry, and stonecarving. They are rowdy, even violent - far different from the quiet, discerning Terris philosophers and holy men that I have known. They will have to be watched carefully, there Terrismen. They could be very dangerous, if given the opportunity and the motivation.”
What happens: When they reach the hideout, Kelsier tries to keep Vin from seeing the room, but she silently but surely makes him let her in. Kelsier and Dox move into the room, and Vin sees what they had been protecting her from. Bodies lay scattered across the room, limbs torn off of bodies and flung aside. Vin isn't sure what she should feel about it. The men had beaten her and starved her, yet also had saved her from the whorehouses. She felt numb, but knew that Reen would have been angry with her for feeling that way. Dox says that it was an Inquisitor, and Kelsier nods his agreement. She turns around to watch Sazed step in behind her. She regarded him with curiosity. Ham was securing the area with his men, but other than him, the other Mistings had all remained behind. Kelsier had originally tried to keep Vin out of it as well, yet had allowed Sazed to come without hesitation. Vin wonders if maybe he's a warrior. She also notices that he enters the room calmly, and didn't appear shocked by the carnage, which interests Vin.
She then sees Ulef's corpse, which is sporting a broken face and a shattered ribcage. Which makes Vin shiver. Kelsier says that this is bad, Inquisitors don't usually deal with small time crews. Vin asks if it's the same one that had her scent earlier, and Kelsier says that it's likely. He says only about 20 Inquisitors exist in the Finale Empire at a time (I think careful counters have put that number closer to 30, though, and that Brandon said that sounded about right or something), and only half are in Luthadel at any given time. Vin says that it's her fault, and Kelsier says no, it's Camon's fault for trying to scam an obligator. He asks Vin if she's going to be all right, and she says that she didn't have any friends there. He says that's coldhearted of her, and she says that she knows. She thinks to herself that Ulef's wounds look more like the work of an animal than a single man. She feels that the Inquisitor must have had help, looking around and seeing that the amount of bodies could easily be everyone there. Then she remembers Kelsier saying they don't know much about the Inquisitors.
Ham comes in and says that the area is secure, no Obligators or Garrison in sight. Kelsier says that's normal, the bodies were left to be discovered. Vin moves toward Sazed, who's murmuring to himself. He tells her that he was doing a death chant for the bodies, from the Cazzi religion. He offers to teach the religion to her, as they were very familiar with death, but Vin says no. She asks Sazed if that's the religion he believes in, and Sazed says he believes in all of them. Vin asks if they contradict each other, and he says they do indeed. However, he respects the truth that is in every one of them. Vin asks why he chose that prayer for this, and he said it felt... appropriate.
Dox calls Kelsier over, and everyone goes over to see a particularly nasty looking corpse. Kelsier and Vin identify him as Milev, who Kelsier left in charge. Vin asks what's up, and Kelsier says that he was tortured. Ham asks if they should move base, but Kelsier says that Clubs wouldn't have been idiotic enough to be recognized on the way to the meeting. No one in the room could have betrayed them, but they all realize that no one should have been able to find that lair either. Kelsier pulls Dox aside. Vin edges closer, trying to hear, and Sazed tells her no. She then burns tin, and hears Dox talking about going to see someone a few times like he was asked, giving Kelsier a location. Kelsier nods, then yells for Ham. This makes Vin jump, earning her a disapproving eye from Sazed. Kelsier tells Ham to get the others to the shop.
Kelsier is annoyed by the slow pace as he walks to where he is trying to get to. He walks among the slums, listening to the beggars. He goes around, searching for Camon, and is unable to find him. He thinks maybe that Camon had gained a better spot, or maybe he'd been taken by the Ministry. He realized that there weren't any beggars by the north corner of the intersection, so he burns tin and smells blood. He then took off his clothes that had any metal on it and made his way over to the corner. He found Camon there, hung in a way that I won't repeat because it's sickening. His body showed signs of torture. He hears something from behind him, and ends up attacking Vin, who deflects his attack. Kelsier starts yelling at her about how dangerous it was, Vin cowering against a wall. He started to calm down, and then realized that Vin was Soothing his emotions. He looked at her again, and realized that she had “made an art of making herself seem harmless” and that her Soothing was very, very subtle. He wonders how she got good so quickly, and tells her she doesn't have to use Allomancy on him. She flushes and says it's just habit. Kelsier says that it was bad manners to manipulate a friends emotions, and in the court, it was considered an insult. She nods, then looks at Camon with grim satisfaction, and asks if they tortured him in public. He says they did. She asks about the hook, and he says it's a ritual killing for people who misused Allomancy, and said that he must have known what Vin was. She asks if that changed anything, and he said it didn't. She asked about the Inquisitor, and he tells her that they should get going.
Commentary: Wow, this chapter is gory. Didn't have to deal much with that in his other books... Mistborn is special that way. Lots of torture, lots of death, lots of gore. At least in Warbreaker, it happens in the background where we can't see it!
That's right, Alendi. Watch those packmen. They want to murder your face to death! I'm serious, they totally do. They're going to give you a chance and try to lead you away from the Well of Ascension, but they're going to fail, because you're stubborn and only listen to people who tell you what you want to hear!
Poor Vin. I can't begin to imagine how confusing those emotions must be for her. These people watched while Camon beat the crap out of her, and yet without them, she'd either be pregnant with some rich skaa's kid, or dead because some nobleman got bored of her. Also, death just... it has to be painful to see. I'm pretty young, I haven't had to deal with many deaths... just my grandparents and my clarinet teacher. I really can't imagine what it's like to go through this, seeing people you knew ripped apart. You know what? I don't want to ever know.
Seriously, back to all this gore. Ulef and Camon's bodies are described in quite vivid detail. I love and hate it both. It's... chilling. I react strongly to gore and brutality. Basically, I'm a wuss. I also have a very strong gag reflex. It likes sneaking up on me. It didn't this time, but I vaguely recall it doing so when I read this chapter the first time.
I just went to the interview that The 17th Shard did with Brandon just before Way of Kings came out but didn't release until months later, and Brandon said he imagined there being about three dozen Inquisitors at any given time throughout the whole Final Empire. I think, just from my quick skim over the book that I did before I started the reread, that there were about ten in Luthadel, including the one that Kelsier killed. Suddenly, the plan to free the Final Empire doesn't look so hot anymore. Even without the whole Ruin thing, these guys are religious fanatics. You kill their God, they're going to be pissed.
I like Sazed. While he isn't heroic in the same way Vin, Elend, and Kelsier are, he has really interesting character progression. I totally agree with his “all religions have truth in them” thing. I love learning about different religions, especially ethnic religions, because they all have a view on the world. Most of the religions that we hear about in Mistborn are ethnic religions. They take some aspect of life that is important to them, like the night sky, or flowers, or death, and base their beliefs around that. Most religions in our world do the same thing.
Man, there's really not much to say about this chapter. It's a good chapter, but it's short, and mostly is just there to make us realize “hmm... something else is going on besides what we know.” Vin's Soothing is subtle, we see more of her character's true nature, we find out that Sazed preaches many religions he doesn't fully believe in and contradict each other. I can't wait until Sazed goes atheist. I'm going to have so much fun bitching at him.
Epigraph: “What would it be like if every nation-- from the isle in the South to the Terris hills in the North-- were united under a single government? What wonders could be achieved, what progress could be made, if mankind were to permanently set aside its squabblings and join together? It is too much, I suppose, to even hope for. A single, unified empire of man? It could never happen.”
What happens: Vin is uncomfortable in her noblewoman's dress, though she admits she looks quite different in it. Her gown is a light blue, and she is wearing a sapphire necklace and a ruby bracelet. She thinks about leaving-- what she has on her and the three thousand boxings Kelsier had given her would last her decades, at least-- but decides against it, not really knowing why. She eventually admits to being curious about how the job will go, and enticed by what Kelsier has offered her. She goes into her carriage, where Sazed is waiting for her.
On the way, Kelsier decides to jump on top of the carriage to surprise Vin, saying it's repayment for her sneaking up on him the previous week. He tells her that she looks splendid, and that the disguise was perfect. Vin asks if they could maybe use informants instead of Vin to find out information, and Kelsier gives several reasons why that wouldn't work as well. He tells her to make note of anyone who seems interested in her, because that likely means they're interested in Renoux. He says that they need to replicate the previous house war, which was devastating. Vin asks if the Lord Ruler will be there, and he says no, it's beneath him, and even if he was, he couldn't read minds, so not to be worried. He then tells her not to worry, as all they need to do is establish Valette Renoux. He finally assures her that he will be nearby, in case something goes wrong.
Venture Keep is particularly bright, due to eight very bright lights surrounding the rectangular building. The lights were surrounded by mirrors, directing the light into the keep. Vin was wondering why they were outside the keep when the dance would be inside of it, when Sazed told her to stop gawking. They walk up to the keep, Sazed giving her advice when she was doing something wrong. Vin is on the verge of freaking out, wanting nothing more than to find a corner and hide, until she realizes that no one is looking at her. They saw her dress, her bosom, and her jewelry, but not her. Upon realizing this, she realized that she was hiding in plain sight, and instantly calmed down enough that she was able to remember her lessons. She then looked around and took in what the keep looked like. It was about four to five stories high, longer than it was wide, and had several stained glass windows that the bright lights from outside would shine through. There was a string orchestra playing to her left, and to her right was a lot of food, being taken to tables by serving men in white. Sazed gets her a solitary table, saying that it marked her as single, and as soon as she was finished eating, she would be asked to dance. She begins to freak out, but Sazed tells her to simply refuse, and they would assume that she was too flustered by her first ball.
Vin looks around and sees that there are people talking and walking around, sometimes passing her, and sometimes gesturing to her. She notes that that part of Kelsier's plan was working. She also notes a large number of obligators, apparently policing the nobles. She looks at the stained glass windows and sees religious scenes depicted in them. She sees the Deepness depicted in many of the windows, and wonders why it was depicted as so formless. She thinks maybe the Lord Ruler scammed everyone, but isn't sure. She wonders how anyone could defeat something like this, if it ever had existed. She then shakes herself, realizing she wasn't thinking about the price that had gone into making such wonders. She sees the pillars in the hall, and thinks that they aren't just pillars, but masterpieces. She looks at the dancers, and sees that many of the dresses made hers look plain in comparison. She finds herself wondering if the people she saw even noticed the skaa they were supressing.
Vin ate slowly, but still finished the meal fairly quickly. Only a few minutes after she did so, a man asked her to dance. She said that she was too flustered to dance, but maybe next time she would. Sazed congratulates her, and tells her that she will have to dance with him in the next dance they both attend. They will surely have her trained on how to dance by then. Sazed tells her that she will be attending two or three dances a week, which makes Vin realize that she'll need more dresses. Sazed approves of her reaction, and asks her to dismiss him to go to the stewards dinner. He would be able to overhear conversations between the self important servants, and that Vin would be fine without him, so long as she continued doing what she was doing. She dismisses him, and he says he will return in an hour. Vin finds herself alone, but remembers that Kelsier is out there watching somewhere. She rejects three more offers for dances. Vin quickly finds herself bored and hot, as wearing a dress and ankle long undergarments covers most of her body. She turns her attention to the obligators, and realizes that they do perform a task at the party. Every so often, a group would wave over an obligator. Vin decided she wanted to know what it was about, so she burned copper and tin so that she could overhear it happening at a nearby table without being found. She hears someone swearing to the obligator something about an engagement and who they would let know first, and the obligator says that he witnesses and records it. There is then an exchange of coins.
The people at the table soon rise, so she gets bored as she has no one left to eavesdrop on. She begins watching two obligators, and realizes that one of them, the one with more tattoos, was her father. This frightened her, even though she knew that he didn't even know about her existence. She started looking around for a distraction, and saw a lone balcony. She was drawn to it, as her instincts told her to find a place where she could observe the couples without being seen, and where she could stretch her legs a bit. She waves over a servant, who tells her how to get there. She reaches the top, and is enjoying the view, until someone from behind her mentions that the problem with going to get your wine refilled is that a pretty girl would take the opportunity to take your spot. Vin sees the man, who is incredibly unfashionable, wearing a suit that was not the finest and was disheveled, and seemed to fit too loosely. He was carrying a rather large book that Vin felt was too big. She apologizes, and the boy tells her it's all right, and if she scoots over, there's enough room for both of them. He promptly begins reading, and Vin gets annoyed by his lack of attention, and wonders if maybe a fancier dress would have caught his attention. She asks him if he always reads at balls, and he replies that if he can get away with it, he does. She notes that it defeats the purpose of coming to social events, and he then points out that she refused three dance partners. She pauses, and says there were four, and that she doesn't know how to dance well. He tells her she's not as timid as she looks, and she points out that he is the one reading a book instead of talking to her, and that he never introduced himself. He tells her she's as grumpy as his father, though far better looking. She glares at him, and he introduces himself as Elend, and asks politely if he can share the balcony with her. She wonders how he knew about the dance partners, and asks him again why he reads instead of participating. He says he's not the best dancer ever, and that all the balls feel the same anyway, and he's been over partied. Vin says that maybe he'd be a better dancer if he practiced, and Elend sighs, saying that she wasn't going to let him get back to his book, to which Vin says she never intended on it. He put the book away and asks her to dance, smiling when Vin is left speechless. He takes that as a no, and says that the couples below probably would not appreciate them trampling their toes anyway. He asks her what she thinks of her first ball, and she says it's overwhelming, to which Elend says that despite his dislike of the Venture family, they do know how to throw a ball. He says they're an ostentatious lot, and that they have to throw the best party, and that their servants are beaten afterward because they didn't clean it fast enough. He then says that Vin's Terrisman is looking for her, which freaks her out a bit, and leaves quickly, Elend saying that he was going to go back to reading, then. She apologized to Sazed, who tells her not to do so, as it was unseemly, and tells her that moving was a good idea, he just thought she was too nervous to do so, or he would have suggested it himself. He asks what she was doing up there, and she tells him about Elend. When he hears the name, he pales visibly, and tells her that she was chatting with Lord Elend Venture, the heir to the house. He says that she's far beneath him, and they quickly leave. As they reach the carriage, Vin burns tin and looks up at Elend and thinks that he's looking at her, which makes her smile.
Commentary: This chapter is proof that fantasy books don't need to be all about war, death, and magic to be excellent books.
First of all, epigraph. Yeah... the Final Empire did kind of come about due to some immortality and religious falsehoods and insanity. So, I guess Alendi was kind of right!
Second of all, Vin's dress. I can't imagine what this would have been like. I used to be very uncomfortable wearing fancy clothing, but I imagine that in most situations, suits and tuxes are easier to wear than gowns. I also was raised as a cub scout, boy scout, musician, and took three years of cotillion. So if I was uncomfortable until my junior year with fancy clothing after having been raised to wear fancy clothing, imagining Vin going from ash stained thieves clothing to frilly dresses. That's got to be insane and mind blowing to her.
Now, to the real issue at hand here. I AM JEALOUS OF YOU, VIN. I want to go to a ball . When it comes down to it, I now love anything formal. I own a tux, a remnant of my music ed major days, and I wear it on every occasion possible. Unfortunately, the last occasion was my ex-girlfriend's senior prom, which was last year. It was one of the best nights of my life, though. I love dancing. We also were one of about six couples on the dance floor who were actually dancing, rather than the girl moving her chull up and down against the boy's crotch. THAT'S NOT DANCING. Rawr. Grinding is not dancing, and I am envious of Vin for being able to go to a ball where people aren't grinding. Also, a string orchestra. SO much better than that hip hop music that just... meh. This rant is probably going to make an appearance again when Vin actually starts dancing at the balls, but that's quite distant in the book. She needs to get almost killed first. I hear that does a lot for your dancing skills.
HI, ELEND! I think part of it is that we don't get many Elend viewpoints in this book (three max), but Elend seems a lot more confident in this book. His flirting with Vin is very innocent, but still a decent form of flirting. Keeping her off balance, keeping her guessing, it's quite interesting to read. It's better at the next ball, though. Elend is great. But I still feel that he comes off as really confident in this book, when a big part of Well of Ascension is about how he isn't really that confident. I guess you could say that he does have a lot more to do in that book, being king and all, but still. It feels a little off to me. Either way, though, I love Elend in this chapter.
It is painful to me when Vin notices that people aren't noticing her, but are noticing her dress and makeup. It is better for the story, and Vin certainly appreciates it, but I have problems with this in real life. I don't like it when girls wear massive amounts of makeup to dances. I love their dresses, but I love them because they enhance the beauty of the girl who wears them. And I really hope that when I go to dances, people don't just look at my tux (which is excellent, I do admit). I know this is a weird place for this rant, but I'm a weird person.
The way Vin feels about Kelsier has always confused me at this part of the book. Brandon has said that she has a bit of a hero figure crush on him, which makes sense. I just didn't notice it the way a lot of other people seemed to, because I never really saw them becoming a couple. It just seemed wrong.
Protip: when going undercover and meeting a cute boy, get his surname. You'll be able to find them later, or it'll be easier to avoid them should you need it. Sazed is right about being nervous to hear about the encounter. Especially since it ends with Vin smiling to herself, thinking of Elend watching her.
So yeah, sorry this took... three months or something to get out. I am going to continue this without a specific schedule, because my life is unpredictable right now, but I think I can get in a weekly submission until school starts at the very least. Hope you enjoy it!
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Everything I need to know I learned from Mistborn. Maybe this is because I’m just nerd, but when I come across some kind of problem, I find myself turning to books and movies and video games for solutions to my problems.
As Kelsier once said, “Every action we take has consequences…both in Allomancy and in life.” I’m the kind of person that weighs the costs of my actions before I do much of anything. I know some people who do not, and they seem to be perpetually angry, depressed, stressed, or all three because they keep getting in their own way. Everyone’s life would be much simpler if they would learn to apply this basic principal.
There is balance to everything, like with Ruin and Preservation. Sometimes, it’s horrific to turn on the news or read the newspaper, because it seems like everyone is fighting each other, everyone is sick, and even our environment is out to get us with disasters like earthquakes and floods. I think it’s easy to forget that even amidst all the chaos in our crazy little world, there is lots of good. Volunteer work to help disaster victims. Animal shelters that find homes for needy pets. Boy scouts helping old ladies across the street. I think it’s something of a statement that in Mistborn that at first is a much bigger focus than Preservation. It’s easy to forget—or even ignore—all the good around us.
“Belief isn’t simply a thing for fair times and bright days, I think. What is belief—what is faith—if you don’t continue on after failure?” This one quote has helped me through a lot of hard times. I’m a fairly religious person, but I sometimes have days where everything seems to go wrong and no one is out there watching over me. Sometimes, I need to walk on my own and learn to fall so that I can pick myself up and not fall down again.
“At first glance, the key and the lock it fits may seem very different. Different in shape, different in function, different in design. The man who looks at them without knowledge of their true nature might think them opposites for one is meant to open, and the other to keep closed. Yet, upon closer examination, he might see that without one, the other becomes useless. The wise man then sees that both lock and key were created for the same purpose.” Look closely at the people around you. They may seem like something unnecessary, something that doesn’t make sense, but there’s always more than meets the eye. There’s always another secret. You’ll be surprised what you’ll find.
What about you guys? What has Mistborn taught you that’s helped you in your life?
This is an article I wrote as a submission to a contest in the Waggie, the vet school newspaper. Essay guidelines were write a 500-word humor article relating to vet school. So here's a sample of how dorky and weird I get. xD
Many new veterinary students struggle with gaining unwanted pounds during their stressful first year. Juggling the rigorous curriculum and the emotional demand of a veterinary education with a new nonexistent social life, coupled with easy, unlimited access to the excellent food available in Davis, including the free pizza often provided at lunch talks, can result in rapid weight gain. A recent study by Cornell University found that on average, freshmen gain about 0.5 pounds per week. (1)
Students often turn to diet, fitness programs, and even pharmaceuticals or surgery to cope with their expanding waistlines, but before you attempt harmful fad diets, spend your study time working out, or waste your money on weight loss pills with phony claims, take a moment to read this report and learn how you can successfully manage your weight for LIFE! This practical, flexible, easy, all-natural, scientific, and organic strategy allows you to eat everything you want, with no need for moderation. Dating back to the 19th century, with celebrity adherents such as the late opera singer Maria Callas (2) this time-honored traditional remedy has been proven effective.
Discover the solution of Taenia saginata, or the beef tapeworm! Simply ingest a little steak tartare containing our patented Cysticerci™, or encysted larvae, and feel the Taeniarrific difference as your very own cestode develops into an adult in your small intestine! Within three months your cestode can be up to 5 meters long, competing with you for nutrients, and helping you lose more weight than you ever dreamed you could, with no need for the expenditure of any effort. Find a new appreciation for your small bowel as you sense your cestode shifting gently within you with every wave of peristaltic motion, and take comfort from the stress of endless examinations with the knowledge that you are not alone.
The uniquely close attachment between human and cestode can result in a powerful emotional experience, in addition to the health and beauty benefits. Dr. Walter M. Boyce, DVM, Ph.D. of UC Davis says of this bond, “Some of our tapeworms are kind of the ultimate companion animals, cause you’ll have them for much of your life.” The therapeutic benefits of the human-animal bond are well documented; keeping companion animals has a significant correlation with reduced stress levels and better mental health.
Order your infective stages of Taenia saginata today, serve as the definitive host for a new best friend, and support the UC Davis Class of 2014!
Results may vary. Potential side effects include abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, constipation, weakness, nutritional deficiencies, intestinal obstruction, and occasionally death if incorrectly serving as an intermediate host for Taenia solium or other species of cestode.
(1) Questionable web statistics
(2) Possibly slanderous article from The Guardian
Here is today's prompt. I'm going to give it a shot:
Today’s prompt is a bit of a smorgasbord, and reflects the fact that we are at day seven. It asks you to write a poem with seven different phrases, ideas, or just plain old “things” in it. These are:
1) an example of synasthetic metaphor — one that describes one sensory perception using adjectives more naturally suited to a different sense (e.g., “a red noise,” or a “a bitter touch”)
2) a fruit
3) the name (first or last) of someone you knew in school
4) a rhetorical question
5) a direct address to the poem’s audience — “Reader” or “mom” or “Michelle,” or maybe just “You”)
6) a word in a foreign language
7) a reference to a game of chance (darts or pool or the lottery or etc).
How can you, a reader, know
What reddish thoughts run through my mind?
A haze of bloody tendencies
There for only me to find?
Like solitaire, I'm solitary
Keeping my motivos close
Hidden from the world around me
Wanting things that no one knows
A pink-brushed apple I am not
Though Mr. Cherry claims it's so
A daring accusation made
That only brings unneeded woe
I shall unleash the wrath within
When certain things have come to pass
But till that moment comes to be
Remember, troubled, that I last
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a winter morning
yields to autumn winds, and spring
falls further away
For today's poem, I went with a haiku (because it was a long day) about the obnoxious weather. I know, how pedestrian could I get, right?
We woke up and there was snow covering the ground (not to mention falling from the sky), and the rest of the day was full of crisp winds! It only began feeling like spring right before sunset. Nature's little April Fools joke, I guess.
a lifetime spent
would draw a veil over wonders
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As I continue down my neverending quest to become a halfway competent web designer, I am constantly reminded of how little I actually know. If you've ever done anything with CSS at all, you can understand how alluring it can be. Rather than messing around with the actual content of the site and manually styling every element individually, you can assign them all values and then edit those values in a separate, friendlier file.
The problem is when elements you thought were different have been assigned the same value.
Take, for instance, the header tags. h1, h2, etc. The IPB default skin is set up under the assumption that certain elements will always be displayed over a similar-colored background as each other. Maybe they weren't as creative as we are, I don't know. Anyways, this is a problem with a very high-contrast site like ours, which uses both light and dark backgrounds on a very abundant basis. I will often change one value to make it visible, only to find out that I accidentally changed something else rendering that illegible (or sometimes downright invisible), and I have to spend ages finding that other thing so I can change it back. Then I have to fix it so that they're either separate from each other, or - the easier way - slap a background color behind one of them and call it a day. It's frustrating in more ways than one, but I'm getting it. Slowly.
I don't know it all yet. Not by a long shot. In fact, I really only know a very, very small amount. But I'm going to make that small amount work as best as I can, and the more I do that, the more knowledge I add to it. I'm learning something new, and applying it to something useful and productive. It's a good feeling for sure, and I'm enjoying every step of this little journey. Even the hilariously awkward ones.
This site might make a Soulcaster out of me yet.
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You are going to love this theory. I guarantee it.
I was reading Andrew's article the other day, and that got me thinking about what makes magic work on a fundamental level in the cosmere. This will be somewhat of a rebuttal to you, Andrew, because this direction is far more fruitful. But it's much more than a rebuttal. In my opinion, this is quite a paradigm shift.
In any given Shardworld, magic is directly tied to a Shard. Everyone has pieces of Shards inside them. In Mistborn, everyone has fragments of Ruin and Preservation inside them. In Warbreaker, everyone has Breath. It's not unimaginable to think that this generalizes for any Shardworld, so I'm going to assume that always holds. In order to use Allomancy, you need to have "enough" Preservation in you. There's other stuff you need, too, like Snapping, but we'll discuss that later; it's not important anyways. The only real requirement for Allomancy is that you have enough Preservation. The rest is just book-keeping. And likewise, for Awakening, you need Breath, a fragment of Endowment.
So here's a question: why is Awakening different from Allomancy? Before you go saying this is a totally obvious question, let me remind you that there are distinct differences between Awakening and Allomancy. Awakeners never need to Snap, though Allomancers do (and the Shaod is sort of similar to Snapping, too, in a way). We want to discover the fundamental rules of how magic operates, right? So the question about the difference between Awakening and Allomancy isn't so dumb.
Now that I've made the question sound important, let me completely trivialize it with the easy answer: they are different because the Shards are different. Duh. That's fairly obvious. But in fact, this is precisely the key to understanding all magic.
My principle is simple: To interact with the spiritual power of the Shard inside you, it must be in accordance with the Shard's intent. (That is, the name of the Shard. Ruin. Preservation. Endowment. It is what the Shard wants to do. Look at the bottom here for that reference.) I'm going to call it the Principle of Intent, simply because that makes it sound important. Now I simply have to show you how important this principle is.
Let's say that Breath is the Nalthis equivalent of those fragments of Ruin and Preservation on Scadrial. These latent powers of a Shard can be accessed and manipulated. With Preservation's magic, I can do lots of cool things, but one thing I can't do is move that fragment of the soul around. But, I could do such a thing if I was using the right magic system. On Nalthis, Endowment endows. It makes perfect sense that Awakening can move pieces of souls around, because that's Endowment's intent. Indeed, I can do similar things with Hemalurgy, because it is inherently destructive. Ruin ruins. Endowment endows. Preservation preserves.
"But wait, why does Allomancy cause such rapid changes if it's from Preservation? That seems antithetical to Preservation's intent." There was a thread about this on Adonalsium.net, actually, and I couldn't come up with a proper explanation. Now I can. Watch closely, because this is fancy footwork. Think, for a moment, less about the external effects of Allomancy. Brandon's said that powers don't need to have rational explanations, just that they are bound by rules. Is there any particular reason why iron does the Physical Internal power rather than pewter? No, and that's okay.
Instead, let's consider what happens to that piece of Preservation inside you when you utilize Allomancy. Awakening moves spiritual energy, or endows it to something else. This doesn't happen with Preservation. There ought to be some reason why Preservation provides a net gain of energy with Allomancy instead of Awakening's system, and there indeed is. Preservation does preserve, it just preserves the piece of Preservation inside you (and for that matter, every aspect of your body. There is no direct physical cost to Allomancy in the act of burning metals). When you think about it from a Shard level, each Shard has a focus. Ruin and Preservation share a focus in metal. This metal activates some spiritual action, I'd imagine. Lock and key. The metal is the key to all the Metallic Arts. The metal must do something with respect to Preservation, and what's it going to do? With the Principle of Intent, that fragment of Preservation inside you wants to preserve itself, its spiritual energy. It also wants to preserve yourself. So, the only place it receive energy from is some external source, in order to preserve your own energy.
Slight side note: Another issue with Allomancy and its net gain is the idea that if Preservation "designed" Allomancy--though that term is a bit misleading, as I suspect no Shard explicitly could design something like that--he's losing energy. That's not true. The Well of Ascension refills every thousand years (technically, 1024 years). Utilizing it doesn't make it go away. Burning atium also regenerates eventually in the Pits of Hathsin. Likewise, there's no reason why this Allomantic energy actually goes away. It regenerates, too.
Wait a minute. I just got the most brilliant idea ever as I wrote that. Brandon said that Preservation or Ruin could, in principle, fuel any of the Metallic Arts, but he said that it expends power in ways gods are hesitant to do (I can't find the citation right now, but I think it's in the Hero of Ages spoiler thread). Why would it expend energy? Doesn't it all regenerate? No, I think not. Not exclusively. What if a Shard's power only regenerates when the Shard is doing something according to the Shard's intent? Atium is of Ruin, and so using that energy with respect to Ruining something will make it regenerate. The Well put Rashek into severe Preservation mode, making him extremely reactionary. So in a roundabout way, that again is Preservation. That kind of explains why dispersing the power broke Ruin's prison--it was an act not of Preservation, so the power wasn't conserved. Also, if this was true, it makes a heck of a lot more sense why Endowment Returns people, and why he isn't dead from doing so. The power all comes back eventually.
Ahem, that got off track. I'll build that theory in more detail, with better citations, later. Back to the Principle of Intent, with respect to the other Metallic Arts. It's been noted in the annotations that Ruin is selfish. So, fragments of its power wouldn't want to destroy itself, but it is perfectly okay with destroying other things. Hence Hemalurgy doesn't do much to yourself, and instead destroys other things. To use the analogy with Preservation, Preservation preserves spiritual energy, while Ruin destroys spiritual energy. I suspect that the greater amount of Ruin inside you, the more likely to perform Hemalurgy, however.
So why does Feruchemy work? Well, it's perfect balance. I can't utilize the power of either Ruin or Preservation here. They are balanced. I can't use either power up now. Were I to use or "access" the Shard's powers, they'd cancel each other out, so to speak. Nothing happens on the spiritual side of things (Okay, that's probably not true. It's just no spiritual energy is changed. I'm sure on some Realmatic level, both Ruin and Preservation act equally) So what happens if not doing something with spiritual energy? I draw from myself. This fits the Principle of Intent just fine.
You may be wondering why there'd be such a principle at all. Sazed could do all sorts of things when he held both powers. The difference here is that the body acts as a conduit--and not a very good one--for the power. Only once Vin's body vanished did the power become more expansive. I suspect this effect is due to the Physical, Cognitive, and Spiritual Realms. When a Shard's power is in a physical form, it does one specific thing (lerasium, atium). The Physical Realm seems to have a restricting effect. Thus, for humans, they access the power in their Shards in a more restrictive manner simply by being human. That's why the Principle of Intent appears to hold. Of course, even as a full Shardholder, the same principle applies eventually. The Shardholder's mind would be shaped to the Shard's intent over the centuries. Furthermore, Brandon said that Preservation or Ruin could, in principle fuel any of Metallic Arts, but he said that that expends power in ways gods are hesitant to do. Presumably, this is because while a Shard is a part of the power of creation and can do lots of amazing things, the Shard can more easily do things in line with its intent. Or, if I was right about the conservation thing, it's that a Shard knows the power will come back eventually. A Shardholder's consciousness apparently "feeds" off the spiritual power of the Shard, so if that power is all gone, that person dies.
Maybe you're not buying my principle. Don't believe me? Well, no theory is good unless it has some predictive power, so let's do some theorizing on other magics. I'd like to work with Elantris, but I don't know either Aona or Skai's Shard name, so it's going to be challenging to know just what they do. But Stormlight Archive is the perfect testing ground for a theory. We know all the Rosharian Shard's names, and there's a bunch of magic systems that don't exactly make sense.
I began pondering what exactly would Honor--the Almighty's Shard--do. Knowing the answer to this would give an intuitive understanding to the mechanism of his magic. But Honor is hard to pin down. Ruin ruins... Honor honors stuff. That's, uh, super helpful.
But you know what's really honorable? Oaths. Promises. Bonds. Oathpact. Surgebinder. Peter said on TWG that a Surge is what people on Roshar call a force (I'd assume things like gravity). Surge, plus a bond with a spren? Surgebinders. Congratulations, you are now a magic user. Honor's power comes from oaths and bonds. Perhaps it creates a spiritual bond of sorts. That's what Honor does.
There was also the question of what happened to Kaladin at the end of Way of Kings. He spoke the Second Ideal of the Knights Radiant, then he burst with power. Seems to me that this near unequivocal evidence that Honor uses these oaths in a specifc, magical way.
Then there's good old Szeth. How is he a Surgebinder if he doesn't have a spren? I'm not totally sure, but perhaps his strong oaths as a Truthless provides the sufficient bond for Honor's magic to work. Maybe there does exist a spren. Either way, those oaths are intricately tied with Szeth's Radiant powers. So, I'm calling it right now: if Szeth breaks his oaths, he will lose his powers.
I read a little bit of Way of Kings today, and I had forgotten that Jasnah said that two orders of the Knights Radiant have natural Soulcasting abilities. Now, recall that in the 17th Shard interview with Brandon, he said that there are ten powers (it seems to be ten Surges is the technical term), and you make an order of the Knights Radiant by picking from two of those Surges. I never realized before, but that must mean Soulcasting is a type of Surgebinding. That's kind of a scary implication. We've seen, what, Windrunners and Soulcasters, and there are ten more powers? Plenty more magic systems to go around, clearly.
But a more detailed analysis of Stormlight Archive magics is for another day, I think. Other theories for other days.
Source: The Principle of Intent
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