Mistborn Reading Guide-Part IV – Groups of People


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.


This post is about the groups of people who are found on Scadrial.  Like many cultures on earth, the peoples and cultures of Scadrial are composed of a hierarchy of “casts” and certain others who are a part of the Final Empire.


  • tattooObligators are the most common official in the Steel Ministry
  • They are the eyes of the Lord Ruler; enforcers of his law (Chapter 23 in Mistborn)
  • They are consulted on every issue the nobles require, from business deals to marriage
    • They serve as witnesses for every possible legal contract such as business deals, land purchases, weddings, divorces or ratified inheritance of titles (Chapter 23 in Mistborn)
  • They collect a tax for these legal issues, helping fund the Lord Ruler’s armies
  • If an Obligator doesn’t witness an event, it never happened; if one doesn’t seal a document, then it might as well not have been written (Chapter 23 in Mistborn)
    • This meant that they are privileged to all the happenings among the nobles
  • This gives the Lord Ruler great control over the nobility, as any contract not witnessed by one of his Obligators did not officially take place
  • Unlike Inquisitors, they are normal, unaltered men who are recruited from the ranks of nobles, sometimes 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 tattoos an Obligator has, the higher his rank is
  • Prelans are the lowest ranking Obligators followed by Lord Prelans and then High Prelans
  • Obligators are allowed to marry



Representatives from various noble houses

  • The nobles 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 existed only in the Well of Ascension
  • Their Allomatic powers had been passed down through the generations but their Allomatic gifts had grown weaker over the years
  • At first there were few a Mistings with only one ability but later, Mistings far outnumbered Mistborn
  • The passing down of Allomancy via genetics was the main reason the interbreeding between 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
  • Nobles were less fertile, taller and more intelligent
  • The life of the nobles was rife with secrecy and plotting
  • Almost all nobles were driven by gaining money, power, or social prestige
  • All nobles were divided among different Houses – each house had its own agenda and worked towards its own betterment
  • Each house individually had its own political enemies and allies
  • Generally, leadership of a house was inherited
  • Some of the most notable noble familes in Scadrial were houses Aime, Buvidas, Cett, Conrad, Venture, Renoux, Elariel, Ladrian, Penrod, Tekiel, Hasting, Davar and Dartmoor (among others)
  • A close comparison of nobles on earth would be English nobles of the 1800s



Common Skaa

  • The skaa were direct 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 belonged 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 had some noble blood
  • The skaa were bred to be shorter, hardier and to easily procreate
  • Skaa were not technically slaves, because by law they were not property of their masters; however, in practice this was quite the opposite
  • The skaa were beaten, oppressed, hopeless, superstitious about the mists and treated as subhuman, less than animals
  • Because of this, many were timid in regards to the nobles
  • Skaa worked in fields, noble houses, the Steel Ministry, mills and anywhere in manual labor
  • Some skaa even volunteered for the Garrison and served the Lord Ruler as soldiers
  • Skaa generally kept to themselves and in the cities, a large number turn to a life of crime to sustain themselves
  • It was acceptable for a noble to become intimate with a skaa woman as long as she was immediately murdered afterwards to prevent Allomatic powers from possibly spreading to the offspring

Skaa field workers and house servants

The Skaa Underground

Kelsier and his skaa rebels
  • There are two sides to the Skaa Underground
  • The main portion consists of thieving crews and beggars
  • The other is the skaa rebellion
  • These are the skaa that want to overthrow the Lord Ruler and the Final Empire
  • They dream of a time when skaa and nobility can live as equals
  • But for the most part, most skaa are too beaten down to be convinced that they can rise up against the Final Empire
  • As a result, for about hundreds of years, the skaa rebellion didn’t accomplish anything until Kelsier came along and turned that dream into reality


  • A non-Allomancer who accompanies Allomancers on missions
  • This was usually done in the Skaa Underground



  • Nobles hire non-Allomancer guards, Hazekillerspecifically trained to combat and assassinate Mistings and Mistborn
  • Hazekillers work for most of the noble houses and some work directly for the Lord Ruler himself out of his palace, Kredik Shaw
  • They wear a loose fitting gray robe and are armed with simple, non-metallic weapons and shields, notably dueling canes and shields to deflect coins and other projectiles
  • They work in large groups to overwhelm Mistings (Chapter 5 in Mistborn)


The Garrison


  • The Garrison is Lord Ruler’s army
  • Each major city holds a Garrison post that is composed mostly of volunteer skaa soldiers
  • The Garrison was created to stop skaa rebels (Chapter 26 in Mistborn)
  • The Luthadel Garrison was a standing force of twenty thousand troops that was used to protect Luthadel from attack (Chapter 6 in Mistborn)
  • One of the focuses of the first meeting of Kelsier’s crew and the Skaa Rebellion was discussing how to neutralize the Garrison

Garrison generals

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. (2006). Mistborn (First ed.). New York: Tom Doherty Associates.


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