Helwar

Misconceptions on Metal Arts

6 posts in this topic

Hi!

It's been a while since I last read Mistborn but after a friend asked me to clarify some things (I didn't, because it was spoilers! told him to RAFO!), this came back to my mind.

While I was reading era 1, I painted in my mind a different distribution of Metal Arts and Shards.

I think the Arcanum describes Allomancy as "End positive" because power is gained, and links it to Preservation; Hemalurgy is linked to Ruin as it is "end negative", and Feruchemy is neutral, balanced, so it's a mix of both Preservation and Ruin.

 

That goes totally against my headcanon. Yeah, it's headcanon so who cares, but still...

IMHO it should be:

- Feruchemy - Linked to Preservation: No power is lost, no power is gained. Metalminds are never "used up". Everything is preserved.

- Hemalurgy - Linked to Ruin: Power changes "hands" but some is lost in the process. The spikes degrade by themselves too.

- Allomancy - Linked to both Preservation and Ruin - Power appears from nowhere, and as payment metal is consumed, disappeared from existence.

 

It is known that Leras and Ati joined because their own powers didn't allow them to create, but it was the mix of both that gave them that ability. Allomancy looks like that, you create a surge of power where there was none, in payment some metal is consumed. Feruchemy gains nothing, what you use is what you saved earlier; and hemalurgy is a lossy power, you get a diminished, stolen power.

 

Sanderson links Allomancy to Preservation and calls it "End Positive" because power is gained... But preservation by itself couldn't create... ANd in the process you are destroying metal...

 

I dunno, it doesn't make any sense to me.

Not like it matters much because I'm not the one writing these fantastic books but its an itch I hadn't scratched yet...

Does any of you think something along these lines? Or has another viewpoint that helps me see this as Sanderson does?

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The Shards are a huge (technically infinite) mass of Investiture which is 'flavored' by the intent of that Shard. Preservation as the entity holding the Shard can't create but a human using Preservation's power is not the same thing. The End-ness of a magic system isn't strictly linked to the intent but is a measure of net energy. Allomancy is End-Positive because all the 'work' is being done by Preservation's Investiture, which the allomancer is acting as a conduit for, via the metal. Feruchemy is End-Neutral because there's no net change and hemalurgy is End-Negative because there's a net loss of Investiture involved in the creation of a spike.

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Questioner

So in Scadrial we know that Allomancy is end-positive, and Hemalurgy end-negative, and Feruchemy is neutral, right? Is there such a concept on Sel, with the magics?

Brandon Sanderson

All of the magics on Sel, every one of them, is end-positive.

Questioner

Okay. And what fuel-- well, it's not a fuel. What focuses it? It's-- no, not that too.

Brandon Sanderson

They all draw power from the Dor. None of it's coming from the people. That's what this refers to, right?

source

 

Edited by Weltall
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For what it's worth, per WOB the End-Positive, End-negative stuff is not a cosmere-wide thing or even objectively accurate, rather it's descriptively useful in the case of Scadrial specifically.  That beings said, the idea behind End-positive, Neutral, or Negative is about where the Investiture comes from and goes.  Allomancy is End-Positive is considered such because it creates a direct conduit to the Preservation's Infinite store of Investiture, specifically (unless you are burning Atium, which is the only exception that forges a connection to Ruin instead), with the burned metal being converted directly to Pure Investiture that forms the conduit.  Feruchemy is End-Neutral because in a Conservation of Energy sense there is no outside source of Investiture so the system wont gain or loose any (with the WOB caveat below).  And Hemalurgy is End-Negative because no matter what you do you will never get all the Investiture back out that goes in, because it leaks energy from the moment it is created.  The rest is more of a moot Chicken or Egg conversation: is Hemalurgy negative because of Ruin's nature, or Ruin's choices?

 

 

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Questioner

So for the Old Magic, in this classification system of end-positive, end-neutral, and end-negative, where would that fall under?

Brandon Sanderson

So, almost every magic in the cosmere is end-positive, almost every magic is relying upon an external source of Investiture to power it. So that phrasing is mostly more relevant to Scadrial than anywhere else, because that concept is how I'm dealing with things like the laws of thermodynamics, and even what they call end-neutral is relying a little bit on the power of Investiture to facilitate. So even an end-neutral magic system as they define it on Scadrial is actually not end-neutral. What you get put in you get out, but the power is facilitating that transfer… So that phrasing is kind of a... Take that as a science on.. Scadrial that does not extrapolate well, and may not even be 100% accurate.

Moderator

That would have been a great thing to know before we did the cosmere magic panel. *laughter*

Brandon Sanderson

I look at it as, is an Investiture externally powering the magic, and if you look at Allomancy, yes it is. You are drawing that power out. Feruchemy, you are putting Investiture in from your own body, it's your energy transferring to Investiture, which is being stored, which you are then drawing out, and things like that. But that changing forms is facilitated by the magic. Whereas you're stealing stuff with-- So you could look, for instance at the magic on Nalthis, you could look at that one as being-- as kind of working as end-negative, meaning "I am taking it away from someone else", or end-positive depending on if you're the one receiving it or not. So again, it's a phrasing that can be useful as a tool but doesn't scale well to the other magics.

source

 

 
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The whole positive, negative, and neutral thing is more confusing than helpful I think.

Hemalurgy is end-negative because Investiture is "lost," in creating a hemalurgic spike in the sense that the Investiture in the spike is at least slightly less than what was ripped off of the victim's spirit web, but in actuality, the Investiture that doesn't get stored in the spike isn't destroyed, it is just diffused and presumably returned Harmony or left to do whatever free-Investiture does.

In a way, Hemalurgy is the most end-positive of all systems in the Cosmere because the spikes can be reused after the bearer dies, which gradually increases the number of possible magic users, whereas the other metallic arts gradually are becoming less common.

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I could see if going both ways - thematically, it would make sense for allomancy, increasing power, to be a combination, as you said, as that is explicitly said in the text about them needing to work together to create. And feruchemy can best be described as preserving something, and the person storing is not being ruined any more than a bottle is ruined by poring from it. But I also can see its importance with the themes of the story, allomancy being of preservation works with the mists being attracted to allomancers and repelled by hemalurgy, the power at the well having to be tied to allomancy and being of preservation, and the Terris religion being about both Ruin and Preservation. And the Lerasium, if allomancy was of both, would have to be an alloyed metal. I think it can go both ways.

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I thought there was a possibility to create 16 new allomantic metals with atium. I would assume that someone burning those metals would use power from ruin. So in that case allomancy could be a magic of both shards.

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