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Storming the Tower: a Vin/Wax comparison


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Throughout the Wax and Wayne Era we've seen how Wax is a reflection, in some ways a shadow of sorts, of Vin. Without going into too much detail, the similarities but also deliberate differences are there.


Both serve both Preservation and Ruin (though the roles they play in their link of a sort to both is important). They are rare in speaking to Ruin/Harmony through their mino-spikes. They are designed killing machines, who act to help others. And in terms of contrasts, we see after some conflict with the idea of their "role", Vin embraces it much earlier than Wax, if anything becomes too involved in the idea of being the hero whereas Wax is too reticent. At first. 


But the fundamental difference between them, the one that defines their characters and roles to Harmony, is wonderfully highlighted in this book in one scene. 


In The Well of Ascension, Vin storms a Tower with her perceived enemy at the top. It's a distraction or trap of sorts, but she realises this only later. She starts in a fury, avenging an attack on the man she loves, with whom her complex and currently fraught relationship has driven to a rash act, and kills paid soldiers (who are here for their jobs rather than ideological opposition to her) with skill, ease, and some contemptuous pleasure of sorts. However, as the sickening ease with which she clears the entire Tower and ends lives becomes clearer to the reader, we end up with her realising the horror and maybe even evil of what she's done, after us, at the end. She doesn't kill her "enemy" at the end, despite her companion, who embodies Ruin in a way, urging her on. She realises that it's not who she is at her core, despite her identity at this point being wrapped up, for many reasons, with the idea of being a "weapon", a "tool" for Elend, doing evil in a good cause. She has to confront the fallacy of this for the first time, ending all those lives but refusing to take the last one, embracing the Preservation in her. In the end, despite everything she thinks of herself, she's far more Preservation than Ruin.


For me that Tower is THE defining moment in Vin's character arc. There are other big ones and it's nowhere near the end, but it's the one that highlights that who she is, is different to who she thinks she is and others are trying to make her think she is. It's truly her nadir but one that triggers so much growth and insight. That bit of her arc is one reason I will always think WoA is underrated.


In the Lost Metal, we get a superficially similar set up. Wax storms a Tower, frighteningly efficiently, with a companion, with his foe at the top but discovers afterward that it was a trick, a diversion. 

But the way the scene is told, and the feelings and realisation of the PoV character, are inverted. Wax becomes more into it as he progresses. Wayne has to stop him from final killing that he's prepared to do at the end. His realisation is the acceptance that's he is Harmony's sword, that he is what Vin thought she was, a tool who kills to make the world better. Not just that, but it's a huge part of him that he denied about himself even earlier in this Book. 


I just thought this was a beautiful bit of writing that really showed us the heart of our two lead characters, and some of Brandon's best and least in your face writing 



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