Mistborn Reading Guide-Part V – Allomatic Metals Part I

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Mistborn is a sci-fi/fantasy trilogy written by author Brandon Sanderson.  The series is really hard to describe but what I’ve said to others is that it’s like a collision between The Lord of the Rings and X-Men.

As an avid reader, I am picky about who I read.  When I was introduced to Brandon Sanderson and finished reading Mistborn, I placed him as one of my top 3 favorite authors.  He knows how to introduce and develop characters, he maintains a strong storyline and he captures the reader’s imagination.

As I read through the books, I gathered information about the world of Scadrial, the characters in the books and the science behind the three mysterious super-human abilities Sanderson created.

Spoiler Alert

*****THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS INFORMATION THAT REVEALS THE PLOT OF ALL THREE BOOKS IN THE MISTBORN TRILOGY – IT SHOULD BE USED FOR REFERENCE AND RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY*****

This is the first post about Allomatic metals found throughout Scadrial that affect Allomancers.  It talks about Allomatic theory and how metals affect Allomancers

allomatic metals

Allomatic Theory

  • Allomatic theory teaches of 10 metals: the 8 basic metals and the two high metals (gold and atium)
  • There is also an eleventh metal (malatium) that is very rare
  • The 8 basic metals are “paired” so that one is the opposite of another
  • For example, iron Pulls metal while steel Pushes metal or brass soothes emotions while zinc riots emotions
  • On many occasions Mistborn multi-task and burn two or more metals at a time
  • For example, they might continue to burn copper to hide their Allomancy while they also burn tin to enhance their senses while they simultaneously burn iron and steel to travel from one place to another
  • The lower 8 metals come in sets of 2 with groups of 4 (Chapter 20 in Mistborn)
    • Two external metals and two internal metals – one each that Pushes and one each that Pulls
    • An internal metal doesn’t change the Allomancer’s opponents; it changes something within the Allomancer that has a direct effect on the opponents
    • An external metal alters an opponent directly
    • For example, with iron an Allomancer Pulls on something outside and with steel, the Allomancer Pushes on something outside
    • With tin, an Allomancer Pulls on something inside (their senses) and with pewter, an Allomancer Pushes on something inside (their strength)
  • There are two types of Allomatic metals – a base metal and an alloy
    • Base metal
      • A 100% pure metal that has no other metal mixed in with it
    • Alloy
      • A mixture of a percentage of a pure metal with a percentage of another pure metal
      • For example, 96% aluminum mixed with 4% copper creates duralumin
      • Effective alloys that do not harm a Mistborn are usually discovered by experimentation or trial and error before they are used
    • Each metal, if swallowed by an Allomancer, gives them certain abilities that
      567b353c00f6d7a47e10609e4663fd64
      Vials of metals used by Allomancers

      enhance their strength, capacity and skills in specific areas

    • If an Allomancer focuses, they can distinguish the sources of metal inside them
    • There are instances where Mistborn are able to draw upon the Mists for strength during moments of pure desperation. Vin was able to do this without even burning her metals.  At first, she didn’t know how or why – it just happened (Chapters 65 and 67 in The Hero Of Ages)
    • Later, she realized that when her earring was out and she was no longer under Ruin’s control, she could do this. She breathed the Mists into her body.  She somehow pulled them into her and used them to fuel her body with an incredible Allomatic surge of power.  It was as if they reacted to her need.  She did this when she killed the Lord Ruler and when she battled Marsh (as an Inquisitor) during the siege of Fadrex (Chapters 65 and 67 in The Hero Of Ages)
    • Vin also battled 13 Inquisitors at Luthadel and drew upon the Mists for strength.  She didn’t have to use duralumin to enhance her metals.  Each metal was enhanced all by itself.  The metal reserves within her did not vanish.  Instead they grew stronger – vaster (Chapter 73 in The Hero Of Ages)

 Allomatic Terms

      Snapping

  • When a person is born with the genetic Allomantic endowment, they cannot burn metals until the Allomantic ability is awakened within them
  • An Allomancer’s powers are latent at first (Chapter 17 in Mistborn)
  • The process of Allomancy being activated within a person is called Snapping
  • Snapping has always been the dark side of Allomancy. A person’s genetic endowment may have made them a potential Allomancer but in order for the power to manifest, the body has to be put through extraordinary trauma (Chapter 81 in The Hero Of Ages)
  • The philosophers said that an Allomancer couldn’t command the metals until they had seen death, rejected it and survived; only then could their powers be awakened (Chapter 17 in Mistborn and Chapter 21 in The Hero Of Ages)
  • Allomancy only manifests itself after some traumatic event; something intense, something almost deadly (Chapter 17 in Mistborn)
  • For example, Kelsier snapped and became aware of his Allomancy after his wife was murdered in front of him and he was alone in The Pits (Chapter 17 in Mistborn)
  • In some noble houses a child (usually before adolescence) who was thought to possess Allomatic abilities was severely beaten nearly to death in order to cause them to snap and bring out their Allomatic abilities.  Some of these children died from these beatings (Chapter 21 in The Hero Of Ages)
  • Though Elend spoke of how terrible his beatings were, unlocking Allomancy in a person was easier than it was at first.  For they had the infusion of Preservation’s power in human bloodlines via the nuggets granted to nobility by the Lord Ruler (Chapter 81 in The Hero Of Ages)
  • When Preservation sacrificed his body and the Mists were created, they began to snap people.  This action was one of the only ways to awaken Allomancy in a person, for the genetic attributes were buried too deeply to be brought out by a simple beating (Chapter 81 in The Hero Of Ages)
  • The Mists of that day created Mistings only, of course – there were no Mistborn until the Lord Ruler made use of the nuggets (Chapter 81 in The Hero Of Ages)

      Burning

  • Burning occurs when an Allomancer uses a specific metal they have ingested and activates their special ability
  • When an Allomancer burns a metal, they feel a warmth from within their gut (Chapter 5 in The Well Of Ascension)

      Flaring

Vin was one of the greatest Mistborn ever known
Vin was one of the greatest Mistborn ever known
  • Flaring happens when an Allomancer burns a metal more quickly in order to enhance an ability they need for a short period of time
  • They can flare their metals more powerfully for an extra boost
  • When metals are flared, they run out quicker than if they are just burned at a normal rate
  • It is unwise for an Allomancer to flare their metals too quickly
  • Flaring metals like pewter and tin can “stretch” their bodies
  • Flaring metals push their bodies even further than burning
  • If they stretch too far for too long, things start to break
  • An Allomancer can flare a metal so high that their maximum strength is limited (Chapter 27 in Mistborn)

      Extinguishing

  • Extinguishing happens when an Allomancer quits burning a metal; consequently it’s ability is turned off
  • A withdrawal from the power given by a metal can sometimes leave a beginner Allomancer feeling weak and exposed; especially if they burn pewter for strength

      Allomatic Pulse

  • An Allomatic pulse is the signal given off by an Allomancer who is burning metals
  • Only a Seeker burning bronze can “hear” an Allomatic pulse
  • Only a Smoker burning copper can create a Coppercloud and thus cover up any other Allomancer’s pulse as long as they are standing within the Coppercloud

      Anchor

  • An anchor refers to a piece of metal that an Allomancer Pushes on or Pulls on when burning steel or iron

How Allomatic Metals Effect Allomancers

  • The more pure the metals are, the more effective they are
  • Allomancers sometimes use a file to shave off bits of metals they find but they have to make certain the metals are pure or alloyed correctly (Chapter 27 in Mistborn)
  • Metals are usually prepared as flakes in a vial with an alcohol solution that can be swallowed

    A vial pouch for Mistborns
    A vial pouch for Mistborns
  • This alcohol solution keeps the metal flakes from corroding and helps the Allomancer drink them down (Chapter 19 in The Hero Of Ages)
  • These vials that contain pure metals are prepared and sold specifically for Allomancers
  • In every city, there are small groups of merchants who provide powdered metals for Allomancers (Chapter 27 in Mistborn)
  • Those merchants have a vested interest in making certain that all of their metals are pure (Chapter 27 in Mistborn)
  • If the metal’s purity mixture is off by just a tad, an Allomancer can still get some power from it; however, if the percentage is too far off, an Allomancer can get sick
  • Burning bad metal for an Allomancer is far worse than the feeling of coming off a “pewter drag” which can give an Allomancer a bad headache (Chapter 27 in Mistborn)
  • It is unwise for an Allomancer to sleep with metals inside them; they usually burn them off before they go to sleep; in this respect, many of the Allomatic metals are to a small extent poisonous (Chapter 25 in The Well Of Ascension)
  • With Allomancy, every action taken has consequences; the person who can best judge the consequences of their actions will be the most successful (Chapter 7 in Mistborn)
  • For example, burning pewter makes the Allomancer stronger.  If they carry something heavy when pewter runs out, they can seriously hurt themselves  (Chapter 7 in Mistborn)
  • Another example is if an Allomancer burns tin to enhance their senses and steps into a bright room, they can be blinded (Chapter 7 in Mistborn)
  • Metal inside an Allomancer’s stomach can not be affected by another Allomancer. For example, the metal can not be Pulled out of an Allomancer’s stomach (Chapter 8 in The Well of Ascension)
  • By drugging an Allomancer long enough for them to pass the metals through their body, one can take away their powers (Chapter 54 in The Hero Of Ages)

Allomatic Savants

  • Savants are Allomancers who flare their metals so long and so hard, that the constant influx of Allomatic
    A Savant
    An Allomatic Savant

    power transforms their very physiology (Chapter 15 in The Hero Of Ages)

  • In most cases, with most metals, the effects of this are very slight (Chapter 15 in The Hero Of Ages)
  • Bronze burners, for instance, often become bronze savants without knowing it. Their range is expanded from burning the metal so long (Chapter 15 in The Hero Of Ages)
  • Becoming a pewter burning savant is dangerous, as it requires pushing the body so hard in a state where one cannot feel exhaustion or pain. Most accidentally kill themselves before the process is complete and the benefit isn’t worth the effort (Chapter 15 in The Hero Of Ages)
  • Tin savants, however, are something special. Endowed with senses beyond what any normal Allomancer would need – or even want – they become slaves to what they touch, hear, see, smell and taste.  Yet, the abnormal power of these senses gives them a distinct and interesting advantage (Chapter 15 in The Hero Of Ages)
  • Spook became a tin savant by constantly burning the metal to the point that he had to wear a rag around his eyes to avoid from being blinded even in fading light
  • One could argue that, like an Inquisitor who had been transformed by a Hemalurgic spike, the Allomatic savant is no longer even human (Chapter 15 in The Hero Of Ages)

Other Posts from “A Reader’s Guide to Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn Trilogy”:

Part I – Gods and Religion

Part II – Supernatural Powers

Part III – Supernatural People

Part IV – Groups of People

Part V – Allomatic Metals Part I

Part VI – Allomatic Metals Part II

Part VII – Feruchemal Metals or Metalminds

Part VIIIHemalurgic Spikes

Part IX – Events, Terms, Places and Titles of People

Part X – Creatures Part I: Koloss

Part XI – Creatures Part II: Mistwraiths and Kandra

Part XII – Characters

References

1.  Sanderson, B. (2008). The Hero Of Ages (First ed.). New York: Tom Doherty Associates.

2.  Sanderson, B. (2006). Mistborn (First ed.). New York: Tom Doherty Associates.

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