The Silverlight Scholar

Literary devices in Mistborn TFE

8 posts in this topic

My school is weird and has given me the opportunity to run a book club on a book of my choice. I would like to do a book club on Mistborn as it is relatively short (It is not Stormlight) and self-contained. However, I was hoping that I would be able to get some ideas for some of the more complex literary devices (themes, motifs, symbolism, things that literature teachers seem to like.) Any help I can get in making the book club a success would be greatly appreciated! 

Edit: something appears to have gone wonky and this thread was double posted. If somebody could either delete this or tell me how to delete it myself that would be great. to keep things from getting confusing, just respond to the other thread.

Edited by The Silverlight Scholar
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@The Silverlight Scholar If you look above the thread you started, you should see Moderation Actions. If you click on that, it'll give you the option to hide the post, which basically removes it from the forums.

Edited by ILuvHats
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so, let's see what comes to my mind.

trust is one big theme of the book. vin grew without trust, but she has to learn to trust her crew. also kelsier has his issue with mare coming from trust. a few times in the book there are discussions on whether it is better to trust and risk betrayal, or to not trust to stay safe.

prejudice and discrimination is another one. we see the skaa being mistreated by the nobility, but we also see kelsier and his crew being equally prejudiced. vin's rebuttal of kelsier ("you can't trust elend, he's a noble" "so are you") was a wonderful moment.

A big theme of the book is "there is always another secret". throughout the book, in fact the whole saga, we keep learning more and more complex things that change our perspective on what we knew. to be noted that they do not invalidate what we already knew. "you've been lied to all along" is a common literary device, but one that can easily have the reader give up on the book and skip directly to the last page, because if everything you are told before is wrong, why bother? in fact, the whole story of the lord ruler has much more truth that we would ever give it credit for at the beginning, and kelsier's secret plan does not invalidate anything of what he does before.

breeze also introduces some nice themes on manipulation, as in "getting other people to do what you want". how it is a big part of social interactions, and how it is used and abused. there are also a few interesting questions raised by ham. i'm thinking of the whole "if tlr is god, are we wrong in opposing him?" now, tlr is not god, but it ties nicely in the concept of right of rebellion. which is further compounded in the second trilogy, when we have wax defend the system instead.

you could also spend some time on the more generic concept of functional magic, what does it mean to have magic in a story, and tie up with sanderson's first law of magic, and compare with the concept of deus ex machina. I'm sure there's still people out there disliking fantasy because they think magic removes any logical foundation to a plot

it's all i can think of for now. you probably already knew most of this

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Another theme you could use is Sanderson's take on the origin of religion, and using religion as a tool for revolutionary action both in itself and against a theocracy. 

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@king of nowhere I picked up on the trust theme but having the others pointed out was really helpful. I also never would have thought of trying to tie in Sanderson's laws of magic and how those are used in the book. Have an upvote! :)

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there is also a nice subversion/deconstruction of many fantasy archetypes that is done in mistborn (mostly in later books, or i'd have thought to mention it earlier).

at the beginning, we are presented with the 11th metal, a legendary secret thing that has the power to defeat the villain. a villain who is otherwise immortal, without any real reason given. and we have seen this thing before - heck, the lord of the rings used it - and so we accept it without questioning it much. but in the end, the secret artifact that should defeat the villain does nothing - even getting into the secret chamber inside the lord ruler palace does nothing. and the immortality was actually powered by the same magic that the protagonists were using

 

also, you may not know that brandon wrote some commentary on each chapter on his site. he used to do that in the old times, unfortunately he does not anymore. they provide a lot of interesting insights into his stories, and they may give you some good material. link for mistborn annotations

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On 2/14/2020 at 8:05 PM, king of nowhere said:

there is also a nice subversion/deconstruction of many fantasy archetypes that is done in mistborn (mostly in later books, or i'd have thought to mention it earlier).

at the beginning, we are presented with the 11th metal, a legendary secret thing that has the power to defeat the villain. a villain who is otherwise immortal, without any real reason given. and we have seen this thing before - heck, the lord of the rings used it - and so we accept it without questioning it much. but in the end, the secret artifact that should defeat the villain does nothing - even getting into the secret chamber inside the lord ruler palace does nothing. and the immortality was actually powered by the same magic that the protagonists were using

 

also, you may not know that brandon wrote some commentary on each chapter on his site. he used to do that in the old times, unfortunately he does not anymore. they provide a lot of interesting insights into his stories, and they may give you some good material. link for mistborn annotations

LotR gave a very good explanation for why the ring’s destruction would depower (not kill) Sauron. It’s because he put so much of his power into it, and losing that power would cripple him until the end of time - literally, as he’ll get better after Morgoth gets free. What about this is not a good explanation?

The ring didn’t come from nowhere; Sauron created it with the unwitting help of the grandson of the greatest elven Smith of all time. It was infused with Sauron’s power and enhanced that power, a trick he learned from his master, Morgoth, who did this to the entire world (planet?)

After the Ring was destroyed Sauron was drawn into the Void where his master resides. After his first defeat, he was left too weak to manifest a physical form for centuries (which, being a Maia (angel) is not his natural state.) He will be released at Dagor Dagorath.

I’m pretty sure the books explained some of this stuff... The Silmarillion and HoME explain the rest - extensively!

@The Silverlight Scholar Breeze is actually a full noble, which leads to its own set of interesting discussions.

Edited by Kingsdaughter613
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Another subversion of a trope is the heist story - the book is built like a heist story, but in the end the atium wasn't the important part, and they didn't even find it.

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