Mistborn is a series of epic fantasy novels written by American author Brandon Sanderson and published by Tor Books. The first series, published between 2006 and 2008, consists of The Final Empire, The Well of Ascension, and The Hero of Ages.
To prepare readers for the second trilogy, Sanderson wrote a transitional sequel, The Alloy of Law, which then turned into the first installment in the four-book Wax and Wayne series set 300 years later. The Wax and Wayne book titles are: The Alloy of Law, released on November 8, 2011, Shadows of Self, released on October 6, 2015, The Bands of Mourning, published on January 26, 2016, and The Lost Metal (working title), currently in production.
Sanderson also published a companion story to the original trilogy, titled Mistborn: Secret History, on January 26, 2016. There are two other planned trilogies, but they have no projected completion dates.
The series primarily takes place in a region called the Final Empire on a world called Scadrial. One thousand years before the story begins, the ruler of the Final Empire, the Lord Ruler, gained access to a divine power at what is called the "Well of Ascension" where he is rumored to have defeated the unknown danger called the "Deepness". With this power, he remade the world and everything in it into its state at the beginning of the first book. In the Final Empire, a Dominance is a territory within the Lord Ruler's empire.
Luthadel is the capital of the Central Dominance and the entire Final Empire. Luthadel is the heart of the Lord Ruler's power, as well as the site of his palace, Kredik Shaw. Before the Lord Ruler remade the world, Luthadel was a mountainous region known as Terris. To hide the true location of Old Terris and the Well of Ascension, the Lord Ruler moved the mountains elsewhere and named that region "Terris" instead. Terris is the ancestral home of the Terris people. It is a mountainous region located north of the Northern Dominance. The Terris Dominance is the only Dominance to retain its original name. It was historically the home of the Well of Ascension. Urteau is a key crossroads city in the Northern Dominance. It was the traditional seat of House Venture although the family is based mainly in the capital. Later it came under the control of a Skaa dominated government led by a man calling himself 'the Citizen'. Urteau is also famous for its canals that mysteriously ran dry. It plays a key role in the third novel. Fadrex City is an important cross roads city in the Western Dominance. Although all cities outside of Luthadel are forbidden from having walls, Fadrex City has a natural rock formation that makes it very defensible. Lord Cett made this city his base after the fall of the Lord Ruler for this very reason.
The nobility are the descendants of the early supporters of the Lord Ruler. The Lord Ruler gave them the gift of Allomancy because of their support, through a substance that exists only in the Well of Ascension. The Allomantic power has been passed down through the generations, but their Allomantic gifts have grown weaker over the years. "Mistings" have only one of the many Allomantic powers, while "Mistborns" have all the powers. At first there were few Mistings, but now Mistings far outnumber Mistborn. Allomancy is the main reason the interbreeding of nobles and skaa was made illegal by the Lord Ruler. The Lord Ruler had more control over the Nobles, so he didn't want the skaa to have Allomancy. Skaa are the descendants of the people who did not support the Lord Ruler when he first came to power. During the reign of the Lord Ruler they were oppressed slaves treated brutally, with the law stating they belong to the Lord Ruler but loaned to the nobility for work. There were multiple skaa rebellions over the centuries, but they never came close to succeeding. All skaa Allomancers have some noble blood.
Before the Ascension of the Lord Ruler weapons technology had progressed to the invention of gunpowder. At the beginning of his reign the Lord Ruler deliberately suppressed knowledge of gunpowder and most other advances. This was done to prevent technology undermining his military strength and being used against him in rebellions. This left only archers as the only long-range military option, and it left skaa rebellions at a disadvantage because archers require considerable training. The only major advance since the Lord Ruler's reign started is the invention of canned food.
Kandra are highly intelligent life forms without distinct shape, physically resembling Mistwraith in their natural form, however, they are shapeshifters. The prime function of the kandra are as spies, because of their notable ability to imitate any being. They can consume dead creatures, memorizing and replicating the physical traits perfectly. The First Generation of kandra were converted by the Lord Ruler, from pre-Ascension Terris Worldbringers, the sect of spiritual leaders and Feruchemists, resulting in the kandra calling him "Father". Worldbringers mainly used their Feruchemical abilities creating copperminds to store knowledge as religious philosophers and scholars.
Mistwraiths are concentrated mistforms and mindless scavengers with the ability to add the bones of creatures they consume to their own forms. They are part of the reason why Skaa fear the mists. However, mistwraiths are relatively harmless. Named the Unbirthed by Kandra, the Mistwraiths can become Kandra. Koloss are of Ruin and are violent creatures that kill, with superhuman strength that grow to a maximum height of about 13 feet, at which point their hearts cannot support their bulk and they die. They only have two emotional states: boredom and rage.
The three Metallic Arts symbolize the three Realms of Existence; Cognitive Realm, Physical Realm, Spiritual Realm. Allomancy is of Preservation. In the rational case of Allomancy, net power is gained. It is provided by an external source, Preservation's own energy. Hemalurgy is of Ruin. It destroys. By taking abilities from one person and giving them to another—in reduced amounts—power is actually lost. In line with Ruin's own appointed purpose—breaking down the universe into smaller and smaller pieces—Hemalurgy gives great gifts, but at a high cost. Feruchemy is the power of Balance. Of the three powers of the metallic arts, only it was known to men before the conflict between Preservation and Ruin came to a head. In Feruchemy, power is stored up, then later drawn upon. There is no loss of energy—just a changing of the time and rate of its use. Terrismen or Terriswomen with Feruchemical abilities are called Keepers. Not all Terris were Feruchemists only very few. Each Keeper has a specific field of knowledge on which they focus, but all Keepers carry all of the previous Keeper's knowledge.
The term "Twinborn" was not introduced until the fourth book. A Twinborn is a person with one Allomantic power and one Feruchemical power. There is no relation between the Allomantic and Feruchemical metals of a Twinborn and most of them have different ones. A Twinborn having the same Allomantic and Feruchemical affinities significantly enhances both, even if the abilities themselves are unrelated. It also allows Compounding, where an allomancer burns a metalmind which provides significantly more feruchemical effect than the charge of the metalmind.
Preservation and Ruin are the two opposing gods of the Mistborn world, Scadrial. They are described as Shards of Adonalsium; fragments of the power of creation. Preservation and Ruin agree to a pact between gods, with an initial stalemate between them, each aware that only together could they create and achieve their separate goals while knowing they would never gain complete final satisfaction. Preservation could not keep things perfect and unchanging and Ruin could not destroy completely. Ruin is of destruction, without malice but intent on reducing everything to the molecular level. Imprisoned by Preservation in an attempt to prevent Ruin from destroying the world, Ruin's consciousness was trapped by the Well of Ascension and kept mostly impotent. Ruin's remaining strength enables it with small powers to alter writing and Feruchemical Memories, but not writing inscribed in metal or normal memories. It was Preservation that wanted to create life on Scadrial, but needed Ruin's help to do so. In exchange for Ruin's help, Preservation promised that Ruin would be allowed to destroy everything one day. However, after they had succeeded in creating the world, Preservation reneged on its bargain and sacrificed a significant portion of its power to create the Well of Ascension as a prison for Ruin to prevent the destruction of the world.
The Steel Ministry is the name of the religion that the Lord Ruler established for everyone else to worship him. The Lord Ruler allowed the Nobles to control most aspects of the empire, such as the production of resources, but he used the Steel Ministry to control the Nobles. The Steel Ministry had two groups of people used to control different aspects of society; Steel Inquisitors and Obligators. Inquisitors are creatures of Ruin; their powers gained through Hemalurgy. An Inquisitor is created when several Hemalurgic spikes are pounded through a Feruchemist or an Allomancer into the body of a human, usually an allomancer or an existing Inquisitor. The obligators were drawn from the ranks of nobles, usually Allomancers and are trained in the arts of bureaucracy and the teachings of the Steel Ministry. They are marked by tattoos which decorate their face and body; the more tattooed an obligator is, the higher his rank. They served as witnesses for every possible legal contract (e.g., business deals and marriages), which meant that they were privy to all happenings among the nobles. Most obligators are mistings with the power of allomancy called a "seeker", meaning that they can burn a metal to see if there are other alomancers near by. This gave the Lord Ruler great control over the nobility, as any contract not witnessed by one of his obligators did not officially take place.
The Church of the Survivor worships Kelsier, who served as its first martyr, and thus Vin, as the Heir to The Survivor, and Kelsier's 'disciple', was also worshiped. Kelsier created the Church as the means of spreading Hope for freedom and equality in the Skaa so they would finally rebel. With his death, the Skaa turned their devotion to Vin and Sazed, who are unsure of their own beliefs and initially uncomfortable with the worshiping masses. There are a number of other religions in the series which are studied for historical and philosophical purposes only. Sazed is a Terris Keeper whose specialty is in pre-Ascension religions. Sazed mentions that the Keepers recorded at least five hundred and sixty-two different belief systems including sects and branches of the same religions in their metalminds. However, none are currently practiced as the Lord Ruler has suppressed them.
In the Mistborn universe, magic is depicted as a supernatural force harnessed by three distinct disciplines: Allomancy, Feruchemy, and Hemalurgy. All three magic systems are based on metals which are used to grant specific abilities. Their power originates in the Shards Preservation and Ruin; the two god-like deities that are present in the Mistborn world.
The original trilogy is the first in what Sanderson calls a "trilogy of trilogies." The original second trilogy was to be set in an urban setting, featuring modern technology, and the third trilogy was to be a science fiction series, set in the far future. Mistborn: The Alloy of Law was set to be a transitional book between the original trilogy and the second trilogy. However, it turned into a fourth series, this time of four books. Sanderson's announcement on August 1, 2012 to write a sequel to Mistborn: The Alloy of Law, titled Mistborn: Shadows of Self, published October 6, 2015, meant Mistborn: The Alloy of Law would not stay a stand-alone novel. However, the series will not take the place of the originally-planned second Mistborn trilogy, but will instead become a spinoff series, with a third book published as Mistborn: The Bands of Mourning and the fourth book under the working title of Mistborn: The Lost Metal.
There is not a scheduled release date for the contemporary trilogy or the science fiction trilogy.
In early 2009, Brandon Sanderson announced he was working with Crafty Games to release a role-playing game based on the series. While the release date was originally placed as "sometime in 2009", it has been since quoted as fall, 2010.
The RPG was originally scheduled to be released in November 2011 to coincide with the release of the fourth Mistborn novel Alloy of Law. The Mistborn Adventure Game was released in December 2011 in PDF, softcover, and hardcover editions.
In January 2010, Brandon Sanderson announced that he had optioned the rights to the Mistborn books to Paloppa Pictures LLC. In Q1 of 2014 Paloppa Pictures' option ran out. In October 2016, the rights to the entire Cosmere universe, including the Mistborn series, were licensed by DMG Entertainment.
In March 2012, a video game prequel called Mistborn: Birthright was announced slated for a fall 2013 release. The game had been delayed until 2015 to take advantage of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One and then delayed again to Fall 2016. Sanderson said in a November 2016 Q&A that Mistborn: Birthright is "dead". Developed by Little Orbit, Brandon Sanderson had written the story of the game.
In 2016, a kickstarter campaign raised funds for a board game centered on the Mistborn series called "Mistborn: House of War". Developed by Craft Games "House of War" is the first board game set in the Mistborn world and takes players on an adventure to play the role of leaders of the great noble Houses, struggling to weather the cataclysmic events of the first novel of the series. The game is currently only in pre-order status, but is due to start officially releasing in 2017.Forbes magazine praises all of the books in the Mistborn series saying, "The narrative is crafted with such bloody precision, it’s nearly impossible to put the books down."