Mistborn Reading Guide-Part I – Gods And Religion

670Mistborn 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



Preservation and Ruin are the two opposing gods of the Mistborn world, Scadrial.  They were described as “Shards of Adonalsium”; fragments of the power of creation.  They created the world and all of its people.  They couldn’t create alone however – for to preserve something was not to create it – and neither could they create through destruction only.


The world was created out of a clash between two forces, sometimes rendered as chaos and order, sometimes named destruction and protection.  Preservation wanted to create men – to create life capable of emotion.  They agreed 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.

Preservation obtained a promise from Ruin to help make men – but at a cost – that Ruin could one day be allowed to destroy the world.  Then Preservation betrayed Ruin to keep him from destroying the world and gave away most of his consciousness to imprison him.  This took away the bodies of both gods – leaving only remnants of themselves behind.  Ruin’s body became the metal atium and Preservation’s body became the mists.  (Chapter 70 in The Hero Of Ages)

Preservation and Ruin were forces, not men.  They didn’t have bodies like men.  They were equally powerful – two aspects of a single power.  They pushed equally upon the world around them.  (Chapter 71 in The Hero Of Ages)Ruin


  • Ruin is the destructive Terris god who was accidently released by the Lord Ruler when he took Preservation’s power at The Well of Ascension (Chapter 72 in The Hero Of Ages)
  • He was described as the force of devastation, entropy and decay in the world (Chapter 72 in The Hero Of Ages)
  • Eons before, Ruin was tricked by his opposite god, Preservation, who created life, which had more of Preservation than Ruin (Chapter 72 in The Hero Of Ages)
  • Before the Lord Ruler released him, Ruin’s consciousness was trapped by the Well of Ascension and kept mostly impotent (Chapter 14 in The Hero Of Ages)


  • After Vin released more of his power, it was still not yet complete but he still affected the world in subtle ways by whispering in the ears of his servants and by changing the text of documents not written in stone or metal (Ars Arcanum in The Hero Of Ages)
  • Ruin wasn’t omnipotent – some suspected that he could move about freely, watching the world and seeing what was happening in various parts of it. No walls could block Ruin’s view – it seemed to be able to watch anything – except a man’s mind (Chapter 13 in The Hero Of Ages)
  • Ruin’s body or rather his power was inhabited by power and energy in the same way a person inhabits flesh and blood (Chapter 13 in The Hero Of Ages)
  • On the night Rashek and his group of Terrismen discovered the Well of Ascension, Ruin’s existence was first observed as black smoke clogging the back room where the Well was located (Chapter 13 in The Hero Of Ages)
  • Ruin’s mind was focused at the Well of Ascension.  So his power tended to coalesce there more than that of Preservation’s (Chapter 71 in The Hero Of Ages)


  • Ruin was able to influence and control people with spikes driven through them: Inquisitors, koloss, and kandra
  • Ruin was also able to speak to Allomancers with unstable personalities such as Vin (through her earring) and Zane and Spook (with spikes driven through them)
  • Each Hemalurgic spike driven through a person’s body gave Ruin some small ability to influence them.  This was mitigated by the mental fortitude of the one being controlled (Chapter 75 in The Hero Of Ages)
  • In some cases – depending on the size of the spike and the length of time it had been worn – a single spike gave Ruin only minimal powers over a person.  He could appear to them and could warp their thoughts slightly, making them overlook certain oddities (Chapter 75 in The Hero Of Ages)
  • An example of this was when Vin habitually wore an earring she got from her mother. She would hear what she thought was her brother Reen speaking to her.  Later, she discovered that it was actually Ruin speaking to her because her ear was pierced with an earring


  • Ruin’s body was the atium metal
  • If he got a hold of all the atium, Ruin could finally rule the world
  • The Lord Ruler was aware of Ruin and also that atium was his body
  • Because the Lord Ruler knew that Ruin might one day come searching for his body (the atium), he named the First Contract and put the kandra in charge of it. It was their task to protect, hide and keep it (Chapter 71 in The Hero Of Ages)



  • Preservation was the fundamental opposite of Ruin
  • fog-manHe was the creation god of the Terris people
  • After Preservation imprisoned Ruin at the Well of Ascension, his power was left behind in the form of a pool of liquid (Chapter 71 in The Hero Of Ages)
  • This reduced him to the wisp of himself which was known in the books as the mist spirit
  • The power in the Well of Ascension wasn’t all of Preservation.  It was part of him – his influence was everywhere.  Some of it concentrated into that pool.  The rest was elsewhere and everywhere in the form of the mists (Chapter 71 in The Hero Of Ages)
  • It was revealed that the mists were Preservation’s body and power which was why they swirled around someone who used allomancy
  • Preservation’s body – a tiny trace of which was carried by every human being – was the very same essence that fueled allomancy (Chapter 38 in The Hero Of Ages)

The Mists     Tatra-Mountains7__880


  • Mists were deep and mysterious, dark and omnipresent.  They were one of the great constants of the Final Empire and came every night.  Thicker than a simple fog, they swirled in definite patterns – almost as if the different banks, streams and fronts of mist were living things –playful-like, yet enigmatic and eerie (Chapter 14 in The Hero Of Ages)


  • In the later years after the Lord Ruler was killed, mists started appearing during the day
  • Several people reported that the mists even violently killed certain people
  • As the day mists increased, they began to make many people sick; some would die while others would eventually recover and become immune to the mistsickness
  • More than one person reported feeling a sentient hatred in the mists.  This was not, however, necessarily related to the mists killing people.  For most – even those it struck down – the mists seemed merely a weather phenomenon, no more sentient or vengeful than a terrible disease (Chapter 20 in The Hero Of Ages)
  • For some few, however, there was more.  Those it favored, it swirled around.  Those it was hostile to, it pulled away from.  Some felt peace within it, others felt hatred.  It all came down to Ruin’s subtle touch and how much one responded to his promptings (Chapter 20 in The Hero Of Ages)
  • Ruin, subtle as ever, knew that he could not stop the mists from doing their work. He could, however, do the unexpected and encourage the mists.  And so, he helped make them stronger, causing them to appear during the day.  That brought death to the plants of the world and created the threat that became known as the Deepness (Chapter 81 in The Hero Of Ages)


  • People misinterpreted the mists’ intent, as the process of Snapping Allomancers caused some – particularly the young and the old – to die.  This hadn’t been Preservation’s desire but he’d given up most of his consciousness to form Ruin’s prison and the mists had to be left to work as best as they could without specific direction (Chapter 81 in The Hero Of Ages)
  • The mists were never the enemy, they were trying to help.  They weren’t killing people, they were making them sick.  They were Snapping people, bringing them to power and making them able to fight (Chapter 70 in The Hero Of Ages)

      Drawing on the Mists

  • Several times during moments of pure desperation, Vin was able to draw upon the 5ba34d847c096843f46303545259f2c3mists for strength. She didn’t know how or why but it just happened.  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)
  • Later, Vin 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)

 The Deepness

  • The Deepness was a subject of much debate; it was supposedly something great and powerful, though some scholars had dismissed the entire legend was a fabrication concocted by the Lord Ruler (Chapter 30 in The Well Of Ascension)
  • The Lord Ruler’s story was that the Deepness was a horrible, mysterious monster or force or supernatural beast – a dark god (Chapter 30 in The Well Of Ascension)
  • He claimed to have defeated it when he Ascended (Ars Arcanum in The Hero Of Ages)
  • Others thought the Deepness was more mundane – an army of some sort, invaders from another land (Chapter 30 in The Well Of Ascension)
  • Much of what was known of the Deepness came from oral lore (Chapter 30 in The Well Of Ascension)
  • It was later revealed that the Deepness was the mists and that the Lord Ruler didn’t defeat them so much as hold them back (Ars Arcanum in The Hero Of Ages)
  • The Deepness was actually Ruin’s attempt to control the mists, increasingly covering the land with them during the day and causing the crops to fail (Ars Arcanum in The Hero Of Ages)

 Steel ministry


Image may contain: 1 person
Steel Ministry Obligator

The Steel Ministry was the name of the religion that the Lord Ruler established for everyone else to worship him

  • It was also one of the Lord Ruler’s governmental organizations, made up of those known to to practice the art of Hemalurgy
  • The Steel Ministry was large, with a wide range of responsibilities and many different types of officials.  An acolyte (also called an Obligator) received tattoos around his eyes, indicating the canton in which he served.  As he gained rank, he gained additional facial tattoos
  • 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


  • The responsibilities of the Steel Ministry were divided among the Cantons
  • Each Canton had a specific purpose and was located throughout the Empire
  • It was implied that the Steel Ministry was vast, with many cantons, though only a few were specifically mentioned
  • The four Cantons mentioned in the books were: Inquisition, Orthodoxy, Resource and Finance

The Canton of Inquisition

  • Image may contain: sky, cloud and outdoor
    Soothing Station towers

    During the Final Empire the Canton of Inquisition of the Steel Ministry was run by the of Steel Inquisitors and acted as law enforcement, especially over the magical elements of society

  • Obligators of the Canton of Inquisition were marked by the regular Ministry tattoos with the addition of a stark red line (Chapter 27 in Mistborn)
  • In addition to dealing with anyone that went against Ministry protocol, the Canton of Inquisition also held bases all around the city of Luthadel called Soothing Stations
  • These stations were in place to dampen the emotions of everyone in the area, calming and depressing them
  • In addition, it was possible that many Inquisitors found skaa Mistings this way (Chapter 27 in Mistborn)
  • By revealing that Vin was the daughter of the Lord Prelan Tevidian, shortly before the death of the Lord Ruler, the Canton of Inquisition gained dominance over the other Cantons (Chapter 36 in Mistborn)


  • In The Well of Ascension, Sazed and Marsh visit a place called the “Conventicle of Seran” that had been empty for some time
  • It was a sort of temple for the Canton of inquisition where new Inquisitors were created
  • Sazed is the only non-Inquisitor to ever enter and leave there alive
  • While there, Sazed discovers a message inscribed in a sheet of metal
  • The epigraphs for the chapters in The Well of Ascension are taken from this message
  • Notable Steel Inquisitors:
    • Marsh – infiltrated the Canton of Inquisition to aid the Skaa Rebellion and was eventually turned into a Steel Inquisitor
    • Kar – the Steel Inquisitor who captured Vin, presented charges to her father Tevidian and became the head of the Steel Ministry for a short time before Marsh killed him (Chapters 36 and 38 in Mistborn)
    • Bendal – the Steel Inquisitor who originally hunted Reen and Vin because he was convinced Tevidian sired an illegitimate child and was eventually killed by Kelsier (Chapters 37 and 34 in Mistborn)

The Canton of Orthodoxy

  • Image may contain: 1 person
    Vin’s father, Lord Prelan Tevidian Tekiel

    The Canton of Orthodoxy had organizational dominance over the other three cantons

  • As the authority in bureaucratic matters, any mercantile contracts, divorces, weddings, land purchases, inheritances and any other important dealings could only be authorized by the Canton of Orthodoxy
  • If an Obligator hadn’t witnessed an event or sealed any documents, it might as well not have happened or been written (Chapter 23 in Mistborn)
  • There was a long standing rivalry between the Canton of Orthodoxy and the Canton of Inquisition
  • The Canton of Inquisition believed that they should have dominance over the other Cantons
  • They are eventually given the dominance when they captured Vin and proved that she was the Lord Prelan’s half-breed daughter (Chapter 36 in Mistborn)

Notable members of the Canton of Orthodoxy:

  • Lord Prelan Tevidian Tekiel – Vin’s father, an Obligator (Chapter 26 in Mistborn)

The Canton of Resource

  • The Canton of Resource was in charge of maintaining supply lines to the other Cantons, for feeding the people and maintaining the canals (Chapter 44 in The Hero of Ages)
  • The national headquarters of the Canton of Resource was in Luthadel while the Western Dominance’s regional headquarters was in Fadrex City and housed one of the Lord Ruler’s supply caches (Chapters 44 and 27 in The Hero of Ages)

Notable members of the Canton of Resource:

  • Lord Aradan Yomen (The Hero of Ages Ars Arcanum)

The Canton of Finance

  • c9df115c328ddefe1c72f4dace15db42
    Inside the Canton of Finance

    The Canton of Finance was charged with the financial operations of the Final Empire

  • Their work included the transport of funds
  • The Canton’s headquarters was an imposing building
  • It was tall and blocky with a massive rose window in the front, with two red banners hanging down beside the window, proclaiming praises to the Lord Ruler
  • Upon entering the building, one would find a desk at the end of an extended entryway, with an Obligator manning the desk
  • Decorations within the building were sparse and lacking
  • It was often described as austere, bearing only the most necessary furniture and simple grey carpeting, the walls also lacking adornments
  • An exception to that rule was the waiting room – with plush chairs and lavish décor, the room clearly catered to the tastes of visiting nobles (Chapter 2 in Mistborn)


Image may contain: 1 person
High Prelan Arriev

Notable members of the Canton of Finance:

  • High Prelan Arriev – An extremely high ranking Obligator with tattoos extended all the way back to the his ears and up over his forehead.  After Vin used emotional Allomancy on him, he set Bendal on her tail (Chapter 2 in Mistborn)
  • Prelan Laird – A relatively high ranking Obligator.  He originally dealt with Camon’s crew.  Vin was first discovered as being an Allomancer when she used emotional Allomancy on him (Chapter 1 in Mistborn)

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


1.  Mistborn Wiki. Retrieved January 7, 2015, from http://mistborn.wikia.com/wiki/Mistborn_Wiki

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

3.  Sanderson, B. (2007). The Well Of Ascension (First ed.). New York: Tom Doherty Associates.

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

5.  The Copermind. Retrieved August 18, 2015, from http://coppermind.net/wiki/Category:Mistborn


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s