Mistborn Reading Guide-Part X – Creatures Part I: Koloss


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 one of the creatures who were created by the Lord Ruler who he used to bring about order in the Final Empire.


  • Koloss were creatures created by the Lord Ruler as soldiers using the art of Hemalurgy in order to quell rebellions and fight enemies
  • As with all creatures created by the Lord Ruler, koloss also have a weakness; they can be mentally controlled (Chapter 40 in The Hero Of Ages)

Physical Description

  • Koloss are deep blue in color and completely bald with no visible hair (Chapter 19 in The Well Of Ascension)
  • Their eyes are the color of the sun at dusk (Chapter 10 in The Well Of Ascension)
  • They vary greatly in size; younger ones are just 5 feet tall while older creatures are lumbering hulks of 10 feet or more (Chapter 10 in The Well Of Ascension)
  • A koloss’ body continues to grow throughout their lives while their skin doesn’t (Chapter 10 in The Well Of Ascension)

Young Koloss

  • The oddest feature of a koloss is its skin which hangs loose and folded making them look like a fat man Koloss 2might with all the fat drained away leaving loose, sagging skin behind (Chapter 10 in The Well Of Ascension)
  • Their skin isn’t connected very well when they are young; it hangs around their red, blood-dropped eyes, the skin sags, revealing the facial muscles (Chapter 10 in The Well Of Ascension)
  • Their skin sags around the mouth a few inches below the chin, the lower teeth and jaw are completely exposed (Chapter 10 in The Well Of Ascension)
  • Their ears hang low, flopping down beside their jaw-line; their nose is formless and loose, with no cartilage supporting it (Chapter 10 in The Well Of Ascension)
  • Their skin hangs baggily from their arms and legs and their only clothing is a crude loincloth (Chapter 10 in The Well Of Ascension)
  • They are similar to men in their younger years but they never stop growing until they eventually die (Chapter 10 in The Well Of Ascension)
  • No one had ever been able to determine if koloss have different genders

Older Kolosskoloss 1

  • Older koloss have skin that isn’t as loose but still doesn’t fit right; their nose is twisted at a crooked angle, pulled flat against the face by an enlarged head that sits on a stumpy neck (Chapter 10 in The Well Of Ascension)
  • The skin around the mouth doesn’t fit quite right; the lips don’t close completely and the holes around the eyes are too big so they expose muscle from beneath (Chapter 10 in The Well Of Ascension)
  • They continue to get bigger as they age, growing until their hearts no longer support them until they die, killed by their body’s own growth imperative (Chapter 10 in The Well Of Ascension)
  • Before they die, they get very large and very dangerous (Chapter 10 in The Well Of Ascension)
  • Most koloss bodies give out before they reach 20 years of age (Chapter 10 in The Well Of Ascension)
  • The more “ancient” creatures are often a massive 12 feet in height, with stocky, powerful bodies (Chapter 10 in The Well Of Ascension)
  • Few koloss live that long and not just because of heart failure; their society is extremely violent as koloss have uncontrollable anger and often kill each other out of pure hatred (Chapter 10 in The Well Of Ascension)
  • Koloss reproduce and age quickly (Chapter 10 in The Well Of Ascension)

Weapons and Accessories

  • Koloss carry crude looking but massive, wide, brutish iron swords – the bigger the koloss, the bigger the koloss_jaspersandnerweapon (Chapters 10 and 42 in The Well Of Ascension)
  • Sometimes their swords are so blunt, they were almost like clubs (Chapter 3 in The Hero Of Ages)
  • When a koloss reaches a size where they think they needed a larger sword, they only have two choices: find one that had been discarded or kill someone and take theirs – a koloss population can often be crudely controlled by increasing or decreasing the number of swords available to the group (Chapter 42 in The Well Of Ascension)
  • Koloss all carry pouches that they keep tied to their swords; they don’t carry weapons in sheaths: the swords are simply bound on their backs with leather straps which they tie to their pouches (Chapter 19 in The Well Of Ascension)
  • The pouches look like coin pouches but because the koloss don’t have an economy it is believed that these pouches carry personal possessions (Chapter 10 in The Well Of Ascension)
  • Sometimes a koloss carries just one pouch; although some of the larger creatures in a group carry several (probably confiscated from other koloss they have killed) (Chapter 10 in The Well Of Ascension)

Koloss Food

  • Koloss can subsist on practically anything (Chapter 10 in The Well Of Ascension)
  • They prefer meat but they can eat any kind of plant – even grass, going so far as to pull it up by the roots to eat; they are also known to eat dirt and ash (Chapter 10 in The Well Of Ascension)

How Koloss Fight

  • d693359c0dc36d6a98e01f08e061cccd
    Koloss fighting a Mistborn

    Koloss are very dangerous warriors, some as strong as ten men (Chapter 10 in The Well Of Ascension)

  • Koloss always began a battle by fighting among themselves, enraging more and more of their members (Chapter 51 in The Well Of Ascension)
  • They either did as commanded by an Inquisitor or Allomancer or simply attacked (Chapter 42 in The Well Of Ascension)
  • They usually attacked each other unless they were in a blood frenzy, where they are most dangerous (Chapter 1 in The Hero Of Ages and Chapter 42 in The Well Of Ascension)
  • If the blood frenzy wears off, koloss grow frustrated and turn to looting (Chapter 1 in The Hero Of Ages)
  • They fight without coordination between individuals. If a koloss’ comrade was in trouble, he won’t bother to help.  They attack directly, without guile and try to use blunt force to overwhelm (Chapter 1 in The Hero Of Ages)
  • Koloss aren’t stupid, just unsophisticated and predictable to a fault. They attack at the easiest way possible and only in a direct manner  (Chapters 1 and 37 in The Hero Of Ages)

Fighting Against Koloss

  • A good strategy in fighting koloss is to have up to two men assigned to small ones and three or four for the big ones. It is close to impossible to maintain a large front but this strategy can keep humans alive the longest (Chapter 1 in The Hero Of Ages)
  • In fighting koloss, it is advised to attack the legs, bringing it down before going in for the kill. When fighting a small one, it is wise to ensure your sword or spear doesn’t get caught in their loose skin (Chapter 1 in The Hero Of Ages)

Controlling Koloss

  • Inquisitor with Koloss
    An Inquisitor controlling a group of koloss

    Koloss are resistant to normal emotional Allomancy, particularly when they are already being manipulated by someone else.

  • If duralumin is mixed with zinc or brass, only a Mistborn or Inquisitor can break through and pull on a koloss’ emotions, thus taking control of a large group – sometimes up to 30,000 members.  This requires time, luck and a determination to fight tirelessly (Chatpers 3, 8 and 63 in The Hero Of Ages)
  • Once a Mistborn or Inquisitor has control of a koloss, they can control it indefinitely and they remain bounded to them – whether they are sleeping or awake, burning metals or not, as long as they live – unless someone else steels control of the koloss (Chapters 5, 8 and 61 in The Hero Of Ages)
  • Several powerful Mistborn can control koloss by Pushing on their emotions all at once (Chapter 5 in The Hero Of Ages)
  • Controlling koloss isn’t a subtle thing – their minds are too dull for much beyond simple commands. They can be ordered to attack, to freeze or to follow and carry things.  They can’t be directed precisely or instructed to speak a message or even to accomplish a goal (Chapter 61 in The Hero Of Ages)
  • Koloss have little chance of breaking free from being controlled. Four spikes and their diminished mental capacity leaves them fairly easy to dominate.  Only in the throes of a blood frenzy do they have any form of independence.  Four spikes also makes them easier for Allomancers to control.  Koloss can be taken by a determined regular Push, particularly when they were frenzied (Chapter 67 in The Hero Of Ages)

Emotions, Behavior and Intelligence

  • f6be23221b6bedbdf456d2541e53edddKoloss only have three emotions: indifference, rage and fear (Chapter 19 in The Well Of Ascension and Chapter 3 in The Hero Of Ages)
  • When they feel fear, they don’t retreat during a battle because they don’t know how to act on this particular emotion (Chapter 3 in The Hero Of Ages)
  • Koloss become afraid when they see something small defeating something large – such as a Mistborn who is up against a 12 foot tall koloss (Chapter 5 in The Hero Of Ages)
  • No philosopher, scientist or scholar has been able to determine what sets off a koloss – greed seems a good motivation, yet they sometimes attack when there is plenty of food, killing a companion for his hunk of beef (Chapter 42 in The Well Of Ascension)
  • Other possible motivations for what might set a koloss off are pain and challenge to authority – both carnal, visceral reasons – but there seems to be times when they attack without any cause or reason (Chapter 42 in The Well Of Ascension)
  • Koloss have trouble dealing with the unexpected, so it takes them a while to adjust to new situations (Chapter 3 in The Hero Of Ages)
  • Koloss have talked about being human at one time but they can’t quite remember what it was like. In becoming koloss, their minds have been broken.  They have the strength of two to ten men but the mind of neither (Chapter 42 in The Hero Of Ages)
  • The koloss are more intelligent than they are given credit for. After the Lord Ruler was killed, they should have died out because they were so dependent on him for their own survival and “reproduction”.  However, they found ways to create more koloss and continued surviving (Chapter 42 in The Hero Of Ages)

How Koloss Are Made

  • Similar to the creation of Steel Inquisitors, the creation of a koloss is very brutal
  • All koloss used to be humans who were changed in very drastic ways (Chapter 41 in The Hero Of Ages)
  • It was originally thought that a koloss was made by combining two people but it was later discovered that they were made by the melding of five souls, as evidenced by the four spikes needed to make them (Chapter 40 in The Hero Of Ages)

Hemalergic Spikes

  • Hidden in the folds and rips of skin, koloss are pierced with spikes – smaller than Inquisitor spikes and made from different metals (Chapter 40 in The Hero Of Ages)
  • Each pair of spikes grants a power similar to a kandra’s Blessing of Potency. However, each spike also distorts the koloss’ body a little more, making it increasingly inhuman – the cost of Hemalurgy (Chapter 40 in The Hero Of Ages)
  • A bizarre ritual that all koloss practice is after a battle, they take the swords and pouches off other dead koloss. Then they move between bodies and rip or flay the skin off of all fallen koloss in order to retrieve the metal spikes that were hidden deep in their sides (Chapters 37 and 38 in The Hero Of Ages)
  • The metal spikes that are removed from dead koloss actually hold their skin in place like nails holding cloth to a wall (Chapter 38 in The Hero Of Ages)

Koloss “Reproduction”


  • For centuries, no one knew where new koloss came from, as it was a closely guarded secret kept by the Lord Ruler and became a great mystery until after he was killed (Chapter 40 in The Hero Of Ages)
  • Whenever koloss plunder a village, they replenish their numbers from the people they kill. During the siege of Fadrex, one koloss named Human started to demonstrate how to make a new koloss from dead humans but he was stopped  (Chapter 40 in The Hero Of Ages)
  • After the Lord Ruler was killed, the koloss should have also died out because the Lord Ruler would provide the metal spikes and the unfortunate skaa captives the koloss would use to create new “recruits”. This was how the Lord Ruler designed them.  If they got free from his control, he expected them to kill themselves off and end their own rampage (Chapter 42 in The Hero Of Ages)
  • With the Lord Ruler gone, there was no longer a fresh supply of spikes to create new koloss. Somehow, they discovered that they could reuse spikes taken from fallen koloss to create new members of their kind.  A spike could only hold so much of a Hemalurgic charge that decayed more and more after every use.  Because Hemalurgy dehumanizes koloss, it was thought that the more a spike was reused, the more human each koloss would become as the spike lost its Hemalurgic charge (Chapter 42 in The Hero Of Ages)

History of Koloss

  • 20c601a0af4d66237a54d96709ec9fffThe koloss were created as soldiers by the Lord Ruler and were so violent and uncontrollable that he was forced to keep them away from civilization; letting very little be known about them beyond their brutal prowess in battle and their simple bestial nature (Chapter 19 in The Well Of Ascension and Chapters 8 and 41 in The Hero Of Ages)
  • The Lord Ruler was able to control the koloss through mental Allomancy (Chapter 19 in The Well Of Ascension)
  • If the Lord Ruler marched koloss on Luthadel, the destruction it would cause could be even more dangerous than financial instability (Chapter 4 in Mistborn)
  • The koloss had been kept separate from mankind for centuries; the Lord Ruler only called upon them in times of great martial need, to quell revolts or to conquer new societies discovered on the inner islands; at those times, the koloss had caused absolute destruction and slaughter (Chapter 19 in The Well Of Ascension)

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


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

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

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

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


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