Mistborn: Secret History/Summary
This page contains a chapter by chapter summary of Mistborn: Secret History. We hope this summary will make it easier to find specific areas of the book, as well as providing a quick plot refresher for anyone who doesn't want to take the time to reread the entire book.
- 1 Part 1: Empire
- 2 Part 2: Well
- 3 Part 3: Spirit
- 4 Part 4: Journey
- 5 Part 5: Ire
- 6 Part 6: Hero
- 7 Epilogue
- 8 Notes
Part 1: Empire
Kelsier stands before the Lord Ruler after his defeat of the Inquisitor and burns the Eleventh Metal. He sees a vision of the Lord Ruler's past as Rashek but can't figure out how to use the information. The Lord Ruler slaps him, and he flares the Eleventh Metal. He see a vision of Rashek taking the power at the Well of Ascension and changing the world. He dies. It turns out to be a painful experience. In this new Realm, things in the Physical Realm appear misty, except for metal, which shines. Leras arrives and Kelsier punches him. Despite his being a god, Leras appears to be weak and unstable. Other people, victims of the Lord Ruler's purge, arrive in the Realm with Kelsier and are almost immediately pulled away to the Beyond. Allomancers take longer to leave. Leras explains that Kelsier saw into the Spiritual Realm when he flared the Eleventh Metal and saw Rashek's Connection and past. Kelsier tricks Laras into revealing the location of the Well, and he races there, begging Leras for help in staying alive. So Leras "preserves" him by making him part of the power of the Well, trapped, like Ruin, but "alive."
Kelsier examines his prison and tries to break free, but cannot. At the other end of the cavern, he sees glowing bits of metal (the last two Lerasium beads). Some Inquisitors enter the cavern and dump the body of their fallen comrade into the Well. They keep his spikes in a container of blood so they won't lose potency. Kelsier asks Leras how the revolution is going, but Leras is fading and doesn't answer coherently. Leras reveals his plan for signalling his followers: using the number sixteen, the true number of metals in Allomancy. Kelsier watches as Vin kills the Lord Ruler, and the Lord Ruler shows up in the cavern, now in the Cognitive Realm. He tells Kelsier that he was only a pawn in letting Ruin destroy the world. He touches the power in the Well briefly then goes to the Beyond. Kelsier sits down to wait.
Part 2: Well
Kelsier sits in his prison, bored. He starts to sense "whisperings" and pulses from the power. He decides to gaze upon it, and he sees infinite decay and destruction. He gets really bored and starts talking to himself. Hoid shows up and chides Kelsier for destroying the Pits of Hathsin, the only perpendicularity that was easy to access. Hoid shows interest in the pool of power, so Kelsier punches him when he approaches. Hoid easily beats him up but doesn't actually damage his soul; Kelsier's pain is his own creation, his mind creating the pain that he expects. Hoid goes to the center of the pool and transitions to the Physical Realm. He triumphantly grabs one of the Lerasium beads and leaves. Leras shows up and Kelsier tells him what happened. He refers to Hoid as Cephandrius. He lectures Kelsier on the three Realms: Physical, Cognitive, and Spiritual. While Kelsier doesn't understand much of it, he has a new reason to fight and live.
With a renewed sense of purpose, Kelsier studies Ruin and his motives, riding out the pulses into the world. He occasionally sees the Drifter. He wonders about a certain mistborn that Ruin pays a lot of attention to. He realizes that Ruin is changing the Terris religion, but doesn't know why. He's infuriated when he figures out that Elend is king and pouts for days. But his craving for any sort of contact with his friends has him out on the pulses again. He sees Marsh as well, and decides that while he isn't fond of him, he does love him. He observes Ruin attacking Elend, but notes that he waited for Vin to see him do it.
Preservation is spending more time near the Well. His appearance is becoming less human-like, with half of his face missing and other parts of his "body" decaying away. He has a plan in place that he can't remember. He tells Kelsier that the power must not be released, but Vin will probably do just that, thinking it's right, just like Alendi would have. Ruin has confused Vin and made her distrust Preservation. Leras tries to stop her, but Ruin's tools are too strong. Kelsier suggests that he could take the power instead, but Leras tells him that wouldn't work in his current state, and in any case, he doesn't have enough Connection to him. Vin and Elend enter the chamber, and Kelsier gets an idea to motivate Vin to use the power instead of releasing it. He tells Leras to stab Elend, but he can't do it, so Kelsier grabs his arm and slashes Elend for him. Vin is distraught, but she releases the power anyway, being deceived by Ruin. The power rips through Ruin's prison, and he escapes.
Leras gets Vin's attention and has her feed Elend the last bead of Lerasium. Elend's soul lights up as he is Invested with Preservation's power and survives his wound by burning pewter. Vin is obviously happy and Kelsier compliments Leras, then leaves.
Part 3: Spirit
Kelsier leaves his prison and goes to find his friends in Luthadel. He finds them at Keep Venture having a funeral. He wants to stop Ruin, but Preservation appears and tells him that is impossible because Ruin is entropy, a universal constant. Kelsier mentions the plan that Preservation can't remember now and offers to help. He learns that Dox and Clubs were killed in the Koloss battle. Kelsier is angry at Preservation for his apathy and bitterness and grabs him. As he does, he sees into Preservation's depths and feels his pain and love for his people, so he winds up hugging him in sympathy. Kelsier also sees some people to the south. Preservation says he can find someone that might be able to help Kelsier do the impossible.
Kelsier follows a tendril of Preservation, out of the city, and to lake Luthadel. The lake rises like an island above the mists and feels more solid. There are even strangely substantial plants emitting mist on the stony surface. He continues on and Preservation's tendril goes away. He happens upon a campfire with two people. Having no weapon, he decides to just walk in on them, and they both recognize him and wonder how he's there. They introduce themselves as Khriss and Nazh. Kriss lectures Kelsier on the sixteen shards and Adonalsium. She arrived hoping to help, but Kelsier's destruction of the Pits of Hathsin means she can't get to the Physical Realm, and the Eyree won't talk to her. When they learn of Hoid's visit, they pack up to leave. Nazh gives Kelsier his knife and tells him where the Eyree are.
Kelsier asks Preservation about the Ire. They are from another land, who have died, but have not. They have built a city "in a place between worlds." Preservation gazes into Kelsier's eyes, giving him a vision of godhood and the future. He senses that his Connection to Ruin is much stronger than that to Preservation. In no possible future does he defeat Ruin, but he does sense some chance of Vin winning if he goes west. Preservation insists that the Ire won't help, but Kelsier doesn't plan on asking.
Part 4: Journey
Kelsier runs west toward the ocean, following a canal from Luthadel. He knows he can't beat Ruin, but he can try to help Vin beat Ruin. As long as he doesn't think about getting tired, he can just keep running.
Kelsier pauses at a town he used to live in called Longsfollow. He realizes how long he's been running and suddenly feels exhausted. He remembers that he killed several nobleman here in retribution for killing a skaa girl, and that had forced he and Mare to skip town. In the end, it only caused more deaths after the Inquisitors came -- just like the death of the Lord Ruler, who would have prevented Ruin from coming, will cause more deaths. He finds someone alive in the place where he used to live, and his thoughts turn to Mare. He asks Preservation where she is, and the man in the room hears him. Kelsier tries to talk to him, but he is mad and won't respond coherently. He continues on to the west.
Kelsier stops at a fire pit and learns how to start a fire with his mind. He notices a lot more ash on the ground. Skaa travel to the west, trying to escape the ash. He's lonely and craves interaction with anyone, even Hoid. He continues west.
Kelsier finally reaches the ocean after traveling for weeks. He's collected several things along the way. Objects with a strong Identity persist better in the cognitive realm. He calls out for Preservation, but there's still no response. Instead, Ati shows up and starts monologuing on how the world's doom is inevitable and natural. He tells him that the end is very near and that he can't do any good out here, which leads Kelsier to conclude that the opposite is true. Kelsier continues on, and Ruin taunts him, trying to break his will.
Part 5: Ire
Kelsier travels across the ocean. There is no light, so he improvises a torch with his burning logs. He feels a tugging at his soul -- an indication that he is leaving his world. He walks through a strange jungle that eventually thins out, trees becoming jagged stone-like sculptures. He sees a light ahead.
Kelsier creeps up to an enormous, glowing fortress. He touches the walls of the stone and sees another planet's green landscape. He can sink into the ground and walk through plants, but he can't get all the way through the stone wall into the castle. He climbs the wall instead, sinking his hands into the stone, and climbs through a window. The glowing energy source for the castle seems to be merging with his own soul. He eavesdrops on some guards and finds he can understand them, even though they speak a foreign tongue. He follows them into another room where he finds more guards and a large yellow gem. A woman enters the room and demands to know what's going on. The guards report an intruder, so they activate the "device" to see if anyone from Threnody is about. The woman is still worried even with a negative response, and she goes to talk to the rest of the Ire. Kelsier follows her, and he listens to their discussion on taking the Preservation Shard. The unknown intruder has spooked them, so they decide to move up their timetable and act now. Kelsier rummages around and finds a book describing a device that can enable someone to Ascend when Preservation dies.
Kelsier decides that stealing the orb from the vault would be too risky and difficult, so he merely waits until they come out with it. After about a week, the Ire and some guards leave the fortress on horseback. Kelsier stalks them. Every night they stop and make camp, drinking something that restores the glow to their skin. Kelsier spooks Alonoe by pretending to be Ruin. He continues to terrorize them as they press on, convinced that since "Ruin" can only threaten them, he can't stop them. He causes full out panic when he slices the leg of a horse with Nazh's knife and creates a Ruin puppet from a flaming cloak. Alonoe gets separated from the main group, and he fakes her death by wearing a robe from the fortress and "melting" into the ground, causing the main group to head home. He knocks out the guard with Alonoe and whispers from the shadows to leave the orb. She's terrified and complies. He orders her to walk back to the castle.
Part 6: Hero
Kelsier starts to run back to Luthadel in possession of the orb. He sees even worse destruction and deterioration than before. Three skaa die when a roof -- overloaded with ash -- collapses on them. Kelsier asks one of them as they transition through his realm if it's over, and she says that the end is near. After running for weeks, he suddenly hears Fuzz's weakened voice. He tells him to go to Fadrex instead. When Kelsier arrives, he's encouraged by the signs of life and activity. Preservation lays down a thin line of light for Kelsier to follow. He tells him about the orb, but Preservation says it won't help -- Vin must take his power, but she can't because Ruin has her. Kelsier is led by the thread of light to a city square full of beggars and once again meets Hoid, who shocks him but otherwise ignores Kelsier. Kelsier finds Vin there and desperately tells her to avoid Hoid. She goes the other direction, but Kelsier doesn't know if she actually heard him. Kelsier chases after Vin, apparently getting some help from Preservation, and he knows that Vin knows that he is there as she is trying to shake him. Suddenly Ruin's power attacks him, and Ati shows up. He reveals that the eleventh metal was his ruse to trick Kelsier, and he taunts him some more. Ruin explains that nothing is destroyed, just changed, and that he and Preservation are two sides of one coin. Kelsier tries to punch Ruin and is instead attacked, feeling immense pain.
Every time Kelsier tries to get close to Vin to communicate with her, Ruin blocks his path. Ruin takes on the form of a "spy," and Vin chases after him, leaving Kelsier behind. After Vin is gone, the Koloss attack Elend's army. As the Koloss die, they enter Kelsier's realm, and he is shocked to see that they are human from all walks of life. Kelsier learns from a dead Obligator that Koloss are created by spiking. Preservation shows Kelsier a vision of all the people Ruin controls: Inquisitors, Vin, a man on the throne of Luthadel, Spook, and Marsh. He tells Kelsier to get a message to Vin: don't trust anyone pierced with metal.
Kelsier searches for days for a semi-insane soldier that he can communicate with to get the message to Vin. Unfortunately, the man garbles the message and merely starts a brawl. Ruin arrives and taunts Kelsier again. He decides that he might be more effective fighting Ruin somewhere else -- away from Vin and Elend -- where Ruin has less focused attention.
Kelsier feels Preservation dying. Determined, he smashes the orb with Nazh's knife. Preservation gives him some final advice, including his last instruction: survive. Kelsier takes the power of Preservation after some struggle. Ruin shows up and Kelsier attacks, but his attacks are ineffectual. Ruin laughs and explains that Kelsier is essentially a memory of a person and can't control the power. Kelsier sees black lines tying him to Ruin. He tries to communicate with those who are open to him, but it still doesn't work. He finds that he can read people's thoughts. He watches as Ruin accelerates the end of the world and can do nothing to stop it. Everything he tries is blocked by Ruin. He desperately tries to warn Vin, and is horrified to see that she is spiked (the earring). Ruin shoves him away. Kelsier finds Marsh and listens to his thoughts. Deep in his mind, Marsh is telling himself to remember who he is and to keep fighting. Kelsier decides to not confront Ruin directly.
Kelsier searches for places that Ruin is paying less attention to, and he finds Spook in Urteau. Ruin is urging Spook to murder, but this plot is not among his priorities, so Kelsier can intervene. Kelsier approaches Spook and notes that there are lines of Connection between them, stronger than those for Marsh and Vin. As Ruin rages on, Kelsier "says" "hope" to Spook over and over, and eventually Spook removes his spike. His spirit is wounded. Kelsier then yells "survive" at Spook and he springs into action. Ruin doesn't stop Kelsier, but he does start to burn down the city to cover his failure. Sazed is also here, but he looks worn down too. Kelsier is able to see a little ways into the future, and he sees that there is still hope for the city. Kelsier continues to encourage Spook, and Ruin arrives in force, pushing Kelsier back. Spook enters the building in flames.
Kelsier lounges on some green grass and Spook wanders over. Kelsier tells him this is a "half dream." Spook was devoted to Kelsier, and both had broken spirits but had resisted Ruin, building a strong Connection between them. Kelsier tells Spook that he is a hero and is proud of him, and he seems pleased by that. Kelsier urges him to get the message to Vin regarding spiked individuals. Spook nods his head as he awakes.
Kelsier watches as Goradel leaves Urteau with a message inscribed on metal. Ruin mocks him and summons his minion, Marsh, who quickly dispatches the messenger and reads the message to Ruin. Kelsier thanks Goradel as he passes through the Cognitive Realm and finally gives up hope. He then realizes that Ruin is not complete without the Atium, so there is still hope. He watches as Vin fights all of the Inquisitors and is then tortured by Marsh. He attacks Ruin in order to distract him. It works: Marsh, having read the message himself, removes Vin's earring. Kelsier feels his soul ripping apart as he cedes the power to Vin and Ruin continues to attack him.
Kelsier is in agony and feels the pull of death again. He holds on and decides again not to die -- a choice available to him by virtue of having Ascended. His soul is deeply wounded, but in time it repairs. Ruin was too distracted to finish him off. Kelsier watches the final battle with the Koloss and Vin's struggle with Ruin. Elend shines brightly at the moment he burns atium and duralumin. Preservation's and Ruin's powers are released as Vin sacrifices herself to defeat Ati. Kelsier considers taking the powers himself. Elend arrives and together they watch Sazed take on both powers, which seem to belong together. Vin comes next, and they hug. Ati comes next and Kelsier punches him. Sazed comes and offers to send her back, but Vin seems to know that won't work. In any case, she wishes to move on with Elend. Vin thanks Kelsier for all he's done for her, and she follows Elend into the Beyond.
Kelsier watches the world be destroyed and then reborn. During the process, he is able to see all three Realms, but when it's over, he is once again trapped in the Cognitive Realm. Sazed arrives and says that he cannot bring "them" back (presumably Vin and Elend) because he cannot reach into the Beyond. Kelsier asks Sazed to heal Spook and make him a Mistborn. He asks if there is a way to return to the physical realm, but Sazed says there is not. Kelsier decides that Harmony is a terrible liar.
Kelsier convinces Spook to play with Hemalurgy in order to extend Spook's life and maybe bring Kelsier back to a body?
| Mistborn Era 1|
The Final Empire · The Well of Ascension · The Hero of Ages
|Characters||Vin · Kelsier · Sazed · Elend Venture · Marsh · Spook · Breeze · Ham · Clubs · Dockson · Straff Venture · Zane · Ashweather Cett · Tindwyl · Allrianne Cett · TenSoon · Yomen · Quellion · The Lord Ruler · Alendi · Kwaan|
|Places||Final Empire · The Dominances · Luthadel · Kredik Shaw · Pits of Hathsin · Kandra Homeland · Urteau · Fadrex City · Tathingdwen|
|Ethnicities and Species||Skaa · Nobles · Terrismen · Inquisitors · Koloss · Kandra · Mistwraiths · Southern Scadrians|
|Organizations||Skaa rebellion · Steel Ministry · Keepers (the Synod) · Worldbringers · Noble Houses|
|Mythology||The Deepness · Terris Prophecies · Well of Ascension · Hero of Ages|
|Era 1 books||Mistborn: The Final Empire · The Well of Ascension · The Hero of Ages · (Mistborn: Secret History · The Eleventh Metal)|
|Era 2 books||The Alloy of Law · Shadows of Self · The Bands of Mourning · The Lost Metal · (Allomancer Jak and the Pits of Eltania)|
|Shards||Preservation · Ruin · Harmony|
|History||Classical Scadrial · Final Empire · Catacendre · Elendel · Southern Scadrian|
|Magic||Metallic Arts (Allomancy, Feruchemy, Hemalurgy) · Metalborn · Mistborn · Misting · Savant · Ferring · Twinborn · Compounding · Atium · Lerasium · Ettmetal|
|Other Media||Mistborn Adventure Game · Mistborn: Birthright · Mistborn film · Mistborn: House War|