Author Topic: Why HoA *had* to end the way it did *Spoilers*  (Read 1832 times)

happyman

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Why HoA *had* to end the way it did *Spoilers*
« on: November 13, 2008, 07:04:58 PM »
To begin this thread, I would like to say that I really, really liked HoA on the first read-through, and that hasn't changed at all since then.  I found the ending satisfying emotionally, and although there were several questions I wanted answered, I agree with the decision to not put them in the book.

Because of this, I didn't think too deeply about Vin and Elend's deaths at the end.  I knew it had happened, and its a bit jarring to think of Mistborn without them, but it wasn't a major issue for me, especially with the afterlife alluded to  in the epilogue.  However, I have seen many other forum posts (and more than a couple of Amazon.com reviews) which were negative, and I strongly suspect that at least some of that comes from the ending (more than one referenced the ending in a non-spoilerish way as being 'bad' or 'disappointing' and I seriously doubt that it's Sazed's ascension they are referring to).  These posts got me thinking about their deaths, and I've come to some conclusions that I feel need to be expressed.

Vin and Elend were good people with high ideals who lived during very hard times.  I'm not completely certain where Vin got her ideals from, but she acted on them most of the time.  Elend largely got his ideals from books, but he also acted on them, especially in WoA, where he stepped down as king, willing to obey the rule of law.  Unfortunately, the hard times they lived in forced them to make hard decisions.

They got involved in wars.  Some of the things they did got people killed.  When they deliberately let the villagers stand out in the mists, people died from that.  When they let their troops stand in the mists, people died.  I think their decisions were the right ones, but they were still the people that made the decisions that directly lead to the death of innocents.  When Elend decided to keep the city from Straff, people died in the resulting battles, perhaps more than would have if he had let Straff take everything.

These examples go on and on.  I don't have much time left, but I know that we could multiply these examples by ten.  They spend a lot of time worrying about these decisions, which is good, but the fact remains that they made them.  The only thing I can think of that really didn't match up was when Vin slaughtered Cett's retinue.  And she knew it afterwards, and she was tricked into it.

Again, I think they made the right decisions for the most part.  I think that the decisions they made really were for the best, even if they didn't always work out for the best.  But I think that, in all honesty, it wasn't simply enough for them to say that they were sacrificing people's lives because it was for the best.  I think that for the sake of completeness, for the sake of integrity, for the sake of living above and beyond the here and now, that they had to show that they were sacrificing other people for the good of the rest.

This part is tricky because every way I think of saying it feels like understatement, but what better way could Brandon have of showing that they were really, honestly, deeply, truly sacrificing others only for the good of all, than to sacrifice themselves?  What I'm talking about here isn't something trite, like the cliched "redemption=death," but rather simple character consistency.  Which would you rather have as the main characters:  ones who let others die, knowing it is inevitable, but saving themselves despite the negative consequences, or ones who, when it really becomes necessary, go to the chopping block as willingly as the soldiers they already sent to their deaths?  We all know which category Vin and Elend belong in, not because they told us but because they showed us.  Thus the ending was a necessary part of their character arcs, not an unfortunate ending tacked on "just because."  It completed them, just like Kelsier's death completed him.

Thus I actually hope that Brandon does not bring them back.  It would seem like cheating, in some ways.  Many, many people died during the final days of the world.  Doubtless their loved ones would like to have them back as well.  It seems like special pleading to get the named characters back alive but leave everybody else to suffer alone, especially when we can give a name and a purpose to the being who would be responsible for the return.  I, personally, would like it if even Sazed couldn't bring them back from the dead, at least for the moment.

Anyway, that's my thoughts.  Any comments?  I'm certain at least a few people will disagree with me.
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little wilson

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Re: Why HoA *had* to end the way it did *Spoilers*
« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2008, 07:26:27 PM »
I know the reason why they died. I understand that, and I have no problems with it. I don't even really have a problem with Vin dying, even. It's Elend that gets me. I knew he couldn't really beat Marsh, but I had a hope that MAYBE he would. And to be honest, it's not even really that he died that affects me. It's HOW he died.

Decapitation? Really? I don't think it fits the character. I really don't. I mean, it works, yes. And it makes sense that Ruin would do that--because he's ticked that he lost his body, and sure El's dying from the chest wound, but let's make it final. That makes it easier to rub into Vin's face (speaking of which, I loved that part where Ruin's like "HA! I killed him! How do you like that?").....

I don't know. I've got so many mixed emotions about the end. I LOVED it, but I wish that they hadn't died. And yet, their deaths worked so well. I wouldn't want it changed. Even though it hurt (although I really didn't cry a whole lot. I cried more at Kell's death then I did for Elend, which is surprising because I like El a lot more then Kell).

Anyway. I hope Sazed somehow figures out a way to put souls back in bodies. I can't imagine Mistborn without them either, but I think if I get some kind of closure with the characters, it'll be better. The after-life thing just didn't quite do it for me. That said, I don't think they should be in either of the next trilogies. I think they should get a short story. Nothing big, and probably just for the fans--just to end the characters. But authors don't generally do stuff like that....
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Peter Ahlstrom

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Re: Why HoA *had* to end the way it did *Spoilers*
« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2008, 07:37:32 PM »
happyman, I think you've got a good point. I never had a problem with their deaths, even though it very much affected me emotionally, but I hadn't stopped so much to wonder why I felt it was the right way to go. Your argument is a convincing one.

little wilson: Honestly, Brandon may just have something with decapitation. He has used it in two other books (one of them publically available, but if you haven't read it, I won't spoil it by saying the title). But it may just be that it's such a final way to die, and sometimes that's the kind of death you need for the purposes of your plot (i.e. for the reactions of your other characters).
« Last Edit: November 13, 2008, 07:47:12 PM by Mok Apple Pie »
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apbadd

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Re: Why HoA *had* to end the way it did *Spoilers*
« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2008, 08:31:13 PM »
I am not in the least beat sad that Vin and Elend died and I am not disturbed by how Elend died.  I loved the characters, but their sacrifice was worth it.  And Elend's grueseome death did not go un-noticed.  Perhaps it was such a gruesome death that gave Sazed the courage to wander out into the increasing heat (along with the bodies dropping out of the sky of course).

Decapitation?  Seems like a fitting death from Ruin.  Furthermore, once Elend's body later pops up with a head it attests to Sazed's power as a God. 

GoryCat

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Re: Why HoA *had* to end the way it did *Spoilers*
« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2008, 08:37:15 PM »
(speaking of which, I loved that part where Ruin's like "HA! I killed him! How do you like that?").....

I liked the next sentence even better: "I Ruined everything!".  The capitalization was in the book.

Quote
Anyway. I hope Sazed somehow figures out a way to put souls back in bodies. I can't imagine Mistborn without them either, but I think if I get some kind of closure with the characters, it'll be better. The after-life thing just didn't quite do it for me.

For me, resurrection would be deeply unsatisfying.  Death is not just a narrative state; if you kill a character and then allow them to come back, you subtract from whatever was presumably the goal of their ultimate sacrifice.  If they chose death as a way of advancing their cause, it was because anything less than death would not have had enough effect; take away their demise, and suddenly it seems like just another hoop to jump through.

This is exactly the case with Vin.  Throughout the series, she had come up against skilled, dedicated opponents whose defeat strengthened and expanded her character: Shan, the Lord Ruler, Zane, the Inquisitors.  After acquiring the power and intellect of a god, there really was no further enhancement she could acquire; it would have denied the premise of the entire cosmology for her to have been able to defeat Ruin without giving up herself as well, since her power was exactly balanced with his and there was none greater.  Yet without defeating him, the world would die.  So she had to do it; letting Sazed bring her back would basically make her second life a sort of heaven-on-earth, and I think Brandon was angling for the new world to be something more of a washed canvas than a still-life of the reward for mortal suffering.  Because after killing a god, just what is left for her on earth?  It would be gratuitous to bring her back.

little wilson

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Re: Why HoA *had* to end the way it did *Spoilers*
« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2008, 09:17:23 PM »
I am not in the least beat sad that Vin and Elend died and I am not disturbed by how Elend died.  I loved the characters, but their sacrifice was worth it.  And Elend's grueseome death did not go un-noticed.  Perhaps it was such a gruesome death that gave Sazed the courage to wander out into the increasing heat (along with the bodies dropping out of the sky of course).

Decapitation?  Seems like a fitting death from Ruin.  Furthermore, once Elend's body later pops up with a head it attests to Sazed's power as a God. 

It was the gruesome-ness of the death that bothered me the most with Elend's decapitation. I mean, really. Decapitation CAN'T look pleasant. I don't think it's possible.

I think I'm still bothered by it because somehow, in my first read-through of the end, I skipped (and I really don't know HOW I did it) the part where Spook found their bodies. And so I still had the headless corpse thing in my head, and I was thinking that's how he ended up. But then the next day, I read the end again, and I came across that. It made me feel much better....And it does show Sazed's power, which is cool.

This is exactly the case with Vin.  Throughout the series, she had come up against skilled, dedicated opponents whose defeat strengthened and expanded her character: Shan, the Lord Ruler, Zane, the Inquisitors.  After acquiring the power and intellect of a god, there really was no further enhancement she could acquire; it would have denied the premise of the entire cosmology for her to have been able to defeat Ruin without giving up herself as well, since her power was exactly balanced with his and there was none greater.  

True. I never thought of it that way, but it totally makes sense. And it also explains why I wasn't bothered much by Vin's death. It just seemed right. Not that Elend's seemed WRONG, but....yeah.

And about the whole resurrection thing...I think that bringing them back with the knowledge that they have at the end of this would defeat the purpose of their sacrifice. So I agree with your sentiments on that. But I still wish that they could have an end. But then another little part of me says "They DID have an end, and it was a great one."...Right now, the second voice is winning the debate. In a couple hours, that could very well switch, though. I just can't seem to stop thinking about the end. It was too good....
"You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain."