by Ben McSweeney
The kandra are a race of creatures on Scadrial featured in the Mistborn trilogy. The First Generation of kandra were created by the Lord Ruler through the use of Hemalurgy during his Ascension, earning him the title "Father" among the kandra. They have the ability to reshape their bodies and most are well-practiced at imitation, making them extremely sought-after as spies.
The First Generation of kandra were originally Terris Worldbringers. During his ascension, Rashek realized that a person with both Allomancy and Feruchemy would pose a serious threat to the stability of the Final Empire, so he spoke directly to the minds of his closest friends, making a deal with them to trade their Feruchemy for immortality. All living Feruchemists are transformed into mistwraiths, and these closest friends are also given Hemalurgic spikes which gave them back their sentience and bestowed certain "blessings". They were to become his spies and informants.
Kandra were the third and last of Rashek's creations. They were created with two Hemalurgic spikes and thus are less susceptible to the influence of Ruin. The First Generation of kandra, the Lord ruler's friends, created a legal code which was later approved by the Lord Ruler. This code is known as the First Contract. The Contract is the first thing a kandra learns upon gaining sentience. All future generations of kandra are created by the first by granting blessings in the form of Hemalurgic spikes to mistwraiths.
Right before the Catacendre, the majority kandra executed the Resolution. The First Generation ordered every kandra to remove their blessings in an effort to prevent Ruin from influencing them and regaining his body. They are eventually able to replace their spikes, though it is unlikely that there will be any new kandra, as Hemalurgy is not widely known. Since Harmony has absorbed Ruin into himself, kandra are now under his direct control. Kandra that go without their spikes for long periods of time lose significant portions of their memories. As of the end of The Hero of Ages, they no longer take contracts and have taken a vow to live in animal bodies. Some of them later make appearances in The Alloy of Law, as well as non-Mistborn books.
Physically, the kandra resemble Mistwraiths in their natural form. Unlike the Mistwraiths, they are sentient, courtesy of two Hemalurgic spikes implanted in them. While Mistwraiths are simply gelatinous conglomerates of various creatures, kandra can actually absorb a body and take on all of its characteristics.
Because of their age, the First Generation appear to be made of dark-colored flesh which hangs off their skeletons. The bones that they wear are their own original bones, from when they were Terris packmen.
When kandra are in their Homeland, all subsequent Generations prefer the form of a True Body, which is a set of false, human-shaped bones that are crafted by a kandra artisan. Some True Body forms are quartz, and kandra show off their True Bodies by creating translucent skin that allows the stone to sparkle faintly in the light. Kandra have spent ten centuries enslaved to humankind, serving the Contracts in an effort to keep themselves safe. Most kandra hate humans for their situation, but, ironically, most kandra True Bodies are human-shaped, with two arms, two legs, and a face, even while they curse humankind for keeping them enslaved.
The kandra are known to be secretive, keeping to themselves and mistrusting of all others, including each other. Kandra keep religiously to a social mandate they call the "Contract", which is the system by which they offer their services to humans in exchange for atium.
There are other jobs for kandra to perform in the Homeland, such as the teaching and instruction of young kandra, which is considered a prestigious job among kandra.
They refer to the Lord Ruler as the Father, because he is responsible for their creation. After his death, TenSoon advocates that Vin should be considered the Mother, because she is the one who slays the Lord Ruler. It is unknown if other kandra accept this title for her or not.
The First Generation typically only communicates with the Second Generation. All subsequent generations are then created by the Firsts, every hundred years. During the approximate thousand years of the Lord Ruler's reign, there have been eleven Generations, with a twelfth Generation unlikely, as the Father is dead. In general, all decisions about law and order are communicated to the lower generations by the Second Generation, acting as something like government officials. TenSoon suspects that the Second Generation takes advantage of being the only ones who the First Generation would speak to by making many policies on their own, then telling the younger kandra that it is the decision of the First Generation.
Most kandra have an intense loathing for the human race as they are afraid of being controlled by Allomancy, their most closely-guarded secret. Bound by the Contract, a kandra will do its master's bidding without question. During the reign of the Lord Ruler, many noblemen hire kandra (using the Contract) to be spies for their respective houses. Kandra are, however, treated poorly in general, intensifying their deeply-rooted hatred. Fulfilling Contracts is their way of "paying for their freedom" to prevent humans from seeking ways to enslave them in other ways and finding out about their weakness to Allomancy.
On top of that, the fulfilling of Contracts also has another purpose. All the atium they earn is brought to their Homeland where it is stockpiled in a metal vault, the Trust. They do this because atium is condensed power of Ruin, and by storing it in a place where Ruin has no influence they deny him access to a part of his power.
”— Harmony on the KandraThey were of Preservation all along.
The kandra initially believe that they are of Preservation, while the koloss, humans and Inquisitors are of Ruin. This is despite the fact that, like other Hemalurgically-created races, they are possessed of Hemalurgic spikes. The Lord Ruler creates the kandra to be his spies, and the noble class believe them to be spies for the new government. They often use the kandra as such, but Rashek's ultimate plan is for them to be double agents against Ruin. According to the plan, Ruin would believe that he could take control of the Kandra whenever he wanted, as they are planted with Hemalurgic spikes. However, due to a clause in the First Contract, as well as the Trust and the Resolution, instead of being used by Ruin, they would pull their spikes free when and if Ruin were to try to seize control of them. During the events of The Hero of Ages, this plan comes to fruition exactly as the Lord Ruler had planned, disrupting Ruin's efforts and ultimately leading to his demise, demonstrating that the kandra's true allegiance has always lain with Preservation.
While the First Generation were created directly by the Lord Ruler, the First Generation create all subsequent generations of kandra through "Blessings", spikes created using the art of Hemalurgy. The Lord Ruler provides Hemalurgic metal spikes to the kandra each century, in a number requested, and the kandra use these spikes to convert mistwraiths into full kandra. Two of the same types of spike make up a Blessing, and one Blessing converts a mistwraith into a sentient kandra. During the years of the Lord Ruler's reign, there are a total of eleven Generations, with a Twelfth Generation unlikely, as the Father is dead. Without the Lord Ruler, the kandra cannot create new Blessings or new kandra. It is revealed in the The Hero of Ages that kandra of the First Generation are immortal. Kandra do not appear to die of natural causes.
There are four different blessings available to make a kandra. All four grant mistwraiths sentience and convert them into kandra, but they also have additional benefits.
- Blessing of Awareness
- A pair of tin spikes that grant a kandra increased senses, similar to Allomantically burning tin.
- Blessing of Potency
- A pair of iron spikes that give a kandra more strength, like that of an Allomancer burning pewter. It is not exactly the same effect, however; it does not grant the limitless energy received from burning pewter.
- Blessing of Presence
- A pair of copper spikes that grant increased mental capability. This capability includes the ability to focus despite physical discomfort or distraction, exceptionally sharp memory, resistance to madness, and the inability to lapse into unconsciousness due to shock. This Blessing also counters at least some of the mental weakness that is caused by Hemalurgy; kandra with these spikes are much less vulnerable to being controlled by Ruin than is the norm.
- Blessing of Stability
- Rarely used, the Blessing of Stability is a pair of zinc spikes that endows its receiver with emotional fortitude, rendering them much more resistant to control by emotional Allomancy.
There are more possible Blessings than the four already known. Allomancy can be granted to kandra via Hemalurgy, as shown when Bleeder uses the Allomantic abilities of a Coinshot, but, in-universe, only Harmony (and probably Bleeder) knows the process for doing so. It is also known that kandra can gain Allomancy by burning Lerasium.
Relation to Mistwraiths
As stated previously, kandra are mistwraiths altered by Hemalurgy and given sentience. Despite the physical similarities, and indeed origins as a mistwraith, kandra are considered a separate species in the Final Empire.
After the Ascension
Kandra still exist after the Ascension but now serve Harmony as his agents , using their abilities to blend in with those around them to perform tasks given by Harmony. They are known by Elendel society due to their mention in the Words of Founding, but their mention is reportedly vague. They are often referred to as "Faceless Immortals", and reactions to them are mixed between reverence  and scepticism as an urban legend.
After Ruin nearly takes control over the Kandra, the surviving Kandra discover a way to end their own lives at will to spare themselves should the situation require it. Many of the second generation Kandra end their own lives using this method. By Mistborn Era 2, kandra also know of a way to uncover members of their own kind in disguise, using a special substance injected into the body that causes a kandra to "droop" briefly enough to disable it temporarily. Unfortunately, the injection is fatal to humans.
Kandra still seem reluctant to cause harm and kill humans, although this has become considerably more lax.
Kandra have the ability to shapeshift. However, they only have the ability to change into and take the appearance of any creature they have digested. Because of this, in order for a kandra to appear as anyone in particular, the subject must be dead and be digested. The shapeshifting process may take anything from several hours or even days to as little as a few seconds.
Especially skilled kandra are able to make their own adjustments to the shape of the creature they are taking. Although mimicking an existing unique individual or creature is most common, the most skilled kandra can use just a skull or set of bones to build a working structure to gain the ability to move around freely and communicate.
Kandra living in the homeland are known to build bodies out of uncommon materials like stone, gems, and wood. In this regard, a "True Body" is seen as a sort of luxury body that mostly looks human.
Kandra are also known as unmatched actors. Before assuming the role of a certain person, a kandra will spend a significant amount of time observing the individual in order to learn their mannerisms, history, and relationships. As a result, it is almost impossible to tell a kandra apart from the actual individual they are impersonating.
Because of their ability to change shape, most damage to a kandra is of no consequence; they do feel normal physical pain as a result of trauma, though MeLaan has said that kandra have the ability to turn nerves off and thus experience no pain. One notable exception to this imperviousness is being bathed in acid. This leads to kandra guards mostly using hammers to break bones, thus hindering movement.
Kandra do not die naturally, with the First Generation's age identical to the Lord Ruler's, exceeding a thousand years. One of the kandra secrets references the unknown acid mixture, which is one of two known processes that can kill a kandra, the other of a kandra digesting another kandra. Otherwise they are essentially immortal. After the Catacendre the kandra developed a way to take their own lives at will.
Kandra are capable of assuming smaller shapes, but losing too much mass means that a kandra is unable to maintain their intelligence.
- It is theoretically possible for a kandra to become a Knight Radiant, if they manage to convince a spren to bond with them.
- The Hero of Ages chapter 62 #
- The Hero of Ages chapter 11 #
- I can guess two possible options for the kandra
— Theoryland - 2008-10-15#
- How are there kandra and koloss?
— Theoryland - 2012-1#
- Do they remember who they were?
— Theoryland - 2008-10-17#
- How do you buy a contract with a kandra in the Alloy of Law?
— Theoryland - 2012-11-6#
- B&N book club Q&A
— Arcanum - 2009-07-08#
- Arcanum Unbounded signing Seattle
— Arcanum - 2016-12-01#
- JordanCon 2014
— Arcanum - 2014-04-11#
- Annotation for The Hero of Ages #
- Annotation for The Hero of Ages 9 #
- The Hero of Ages chapter 38 epigraph #
- Mistborn Adventure Game chapter 12 #
- The Hero of Ages chapter 39 #
- The Hero of Ages chapter 2 #
- The Hero of Ages chapter 24 #
- OreSeur Resistant to Ruin's manipulations
— Theoryland - 2008-10-15#
- Mistborn Adventure Game chapter 12 #
- The Bands of Mourning chapter 3 #
- Shadows of Self chapter 7 #
- Are there more kinds of kandra blessings than just the four we've seen?
— Theoryland - September 2012#
- Hemalurgy can give Allomantic powers to Kandra.
— Theoryland - September 2012#
- Goodreads: Ask the Author Q&A
— Arcanum - 2014-08-13#
- Shadows of Self chapter 13 #
- Shadows of Self chapter 12 #
- Shadows of Self chapter 19 #
- Shadows of Self chapter 20 #
- Shadows of Self chapter 11 #
- Shadows of Self chapter 21 #
- The Bands of Mourning chapter 24 #
- They must keep a certain mass to maintain intelligence and a bunny is very small.
— 17th Shard forums - 26 Feb, 2016#
- Warsaw signing
— Arcanum - 2017-3-18#
|The Metallic Arts|
|Arts||Allomancy · Feruchemy · Hemalurgy|
|Concepts||Metalborn · Snapping · Savants · Metalminds · Twinborn · Compounding · Blessings|
|Constructs||Steel Inquisitors · Koloss · Kandra|
|Base Metals||Iron · Steel · Tin · Pewter · Zinc · Brass · Copper · Bronze · Cadmium · Bendalloy · Gold · Electrum · Chromium · Nicrosil · Aluminum · Duralumin|
|God Metals||Atium (Malatium) · Lerasium · Ettmetal · Trellium|
|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|