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Cognitive Shadow Kelsier.jpg
Spouse Mare
Parents Mother
Siblings Marsh
Born c. 984 FE[1]
Died 1022 FE[2]
Abilities Mistborn, Sliver, Cognitive Shadow, Shard of Preservation (former)
Titles Survivor of Hathsin, Survivor of Mists[3], Survivor of Death[4], Survivor, Lord of the Mists, Sovereign
Groups Kelsier's crew
Residence Luthadel
Ethnicity Skaa
World Scadrial
Universe Cosmere
Featured In Mistborn
There's always another secret!
Kelsier really wasn't kidding when he said that. Be very wary of spoilers for all of the Mistborn books and short stories.

There's always another secret.

—Kelsier's mantra

Kelsier is a half-skaa Mistborn from Scadrial.[5] He is stern and intense, but always smiling; another act of rebellion against the Lord Ruler's oppression. He hates injustice and takes this hatred to the extreme, which originally resulted in him being unable to see good in any of the nobility. This was changed by Vin who fell in love with Elend Venture. Kelsier went on to save Elend's life from an inquisitor. His late wife Mare collected pre-Ascension memorabilia, and he keeps one piece, a drawing of a flower,[6] to inspire his crew. Kelsier is the younger brother of Marsh, who is disappointed at Kelsier's apparent lack of direction or purpose until Kelsier leads the skaa rebellion. He always keeps a smile on his face, believing that is the best way to fight.

Appearance and Personality[edit]

Kelsier and Vin

They called you their god, and you were casual with their faith! The hearts of men are NOT YOUR TOYS.

—Preservation to Kelsier[7]

Kelsier is tall and hawk-faced and has light-blonde hair and hazel eyes[8][9]; he has a multitude of large scars crossing both arms from his time in the Pits of Hathsin.[10] He usually wears a nobleman's suit (a colored vest with dark trousers and a coat), and for night time activities his mistcloak.

He is almost always late to gatherings, which he attributes to always having somewhere better to be[11]. He always smiles and projects an excited and positive attitude, which is particularly unusual in the skaa underground. He does this in order to fight the Lord Ruler's oppression of all the skaa, he wants to have one thing which cannot be taken away from him.[10] He hates all of the nobility and tends to believe that all of them are to blame for the plight of the skaa, although near the end of his life this attitude changes due to Vin's insistence that Elend is different and that not all the nobles should be fought. He has an imposing presence and is a natural leader, easily taking charge and swaying even the downtrodden skaa of Luthadel into joining the rebellion with his charming personality. However, he is not above using this personality to manipulate those around him to his own ends, as can be viewed through his spreading of the rumors of the "eleventh metal". If Kelsier orders a person around, it is a sign of affection.[12]

Some might say that Kelsier is a psychopath, though this is debatable due to the intense anger he exhibits when innocents (or rather his idea of innocents) are harmed, which is a very empathetic trait. He also shows regret and guilt for what happened to Vin in the aftermath of the Kredik Shaw burglary. Throughout the series, he has fond memories of his wife whom he misses greatly, whose death caused him to snap into Allomancy. Nevertheless, Sanderson states that Kelsier derives pleasure from killing people, but only allows that part of his personality to surface occasionally when he is fighting noblemen, and he tries to channel this aspect of his personality into a good cause.[13] This leads us to believe that he isn't a psychopath by definition, he is most likely insane in another way.

Attributes and Abilities[edit]


Kelsier is a Mistborn, so he can burn every Allomantic metal, although he is particularly proficient with the external physical metals iron and steel[2]. He is capable of using them with a high degree of precision to control the momentum and rotation of dozens of pieces of metal simultaneously. He once used them in his fight with a Steel Inquisitor, so the metals acted like they were alive, twitching and flying through the air to cut and distract the Steel Inquisitor. He lacks finesse in the external mental abilities of zinc and brass as he tends to create large changes in emotional states as opposed to the more subtle Soothing abilities of Breeze, although he can affect a relatively large mass of people.[14] He is quite proficient at pewter dragging and has enough practice to maintain it for hours and still maintain a fair amount of clarity afterwards.[15]


Early Life[edit]

Kelsier meeting the skaa

Born to a noble father and skaa mother[16], his mother kept both Kelsier and Marsh alive by pretending that she was noble to their father so that their children would be considered merely illegitimate noblemen instead of half-breeds; however, their father eventually found out. Thus Kelsier's mother was killed, and because of this, the brothers have a deep hatred of noblemen. Kelsier then made his living as a thief, becoming famous throughout Luthadel. However, after a failed attempt at stealing from the Lord Ruler himself in his secret room inside Kredik Shaw, he was sent to the atium mines in the Pits of Hathsin[17]. There he spent his time believing that his wife Mare had betrayed him to the Lord Ruler until he witnessed his wife being beaten to death by guards after she gifted her Atium bead to him. He then "Snapped", becoming a Mistborn[6]. Using Allomancy he was able to escape the Pits. Kelsier was then trained by a Mistborn named Gemmel[18] and they traveled to the far north of the Western Dominance to a city called Mantiz where Kelsier heard rumors of the Eleventh metal from the skaa in Keep Shezler. Kelsier sought and eventually found the Eleventh metal as he believed it would help him to defeat the Lord Ruler.[18]

Kelsier overlooking Yeden's rebel army

The Skaa Rebellion[edit]

After discovering the Eleventh Metal Kelsier travels back to Luthadel and takes a job from the skaa rebellion to bring down the Final Empire. After gathering a team of some of the best (and Kelsier believed, the kindest) thieves in the city, including skilled mistings, he sets in motion a plan to destroy the Final Empire and kill the Lord Ruler. After saving her from her former crew, he takes on Vin as a student after confirming his suspicions about her being a Mistborn and saving her from Camon[8]. While pulling off the plan, Kelsier himself takes on many roles, acting as a beacon to the repressed skaa, assisting in recruitment[14], attacking many noblemen to increase the tensions between the Great Houses[19], collecting information by purchasing it from informants, and even poses as an informant himself in order to provide misinformation to noblemen.[20] Though they suffer many setbacks, Kelsier's leadership allows the rebellion to attain an army of sufficient size to hold Luthadel.


But you can't kill me, Lord Tyrant. I represent that one thing you've never been able to kill, no matter how hard you try. I am hope.

—Kelsier to the Lord Ruler, last words before death[2]

When several skaa from the rebellion were about to be executed, Kelsier attempts to save them. He is confronted by a Steel Inquisitor, which he eventually manages to defeat by beheading him with the Inquisitor's own obsidian axe. However, Kelsier is then confronted by the Lord Ruler, who backhands him across the face and then stabs him in the chest with a spear, killing him.[2] Kelsier later reveals in his letter to Vin that he had intended to use the Eleventh Metal to destroy the Lord Ruler but could not discover how to use it in his fight.[21] After his death, OreSeur takes his bones and appears before several groups of skaa, making them believe that Kelsier survived somehow.[21] This results in the skaa considering him a god, leading to the founding of the Church of the Survivor, which refers to Kelsier as "Lord of the Mists". Vin also became a major religious figure in the wake of his death, as the Survivorists consider her Kelsier's heir. TenSoon learned the location of his bones from OreSeur, and used them to convince the people of Luthadel to hide in the caverns after King Penrod was corrupted by Ruin.[22]

Time in the Cognitive Realm[edit]

Kelsier meeting Hoid

Immediately after his death, Kelsier arrived in the Cognitive Realm and met Preservation. He then asked Preservation if Preservation was God, and after being told yes he promptly punched Preservation in the face.[23] Then he found the power at the Well of Ascension and became trapped there with Ruin, though merging with the power of the Well allowed him to become a Cognitive Shadow and resist the pull of the Beyond.[23] While he was in the Well, Hoid passed by and Kelsier essentially challenges him to a fight that Kelsier ultimately loses.[24] He feels Ruin's presence during his time in the Well.

Once he is freed from the Well along with Ruin, he initially travels around through the Cognitive version of Luthadel, seeking out his friends. He finds Vin and Ham near the steps of Keep Venture and also learned that Dockson had died in the Battle of Luthadel.[25] He walks past Luthadel towards the lake of the same name, near which he finds Khriss and Nazh.[26] They question him on Preservation's appearance after learning he has spoken directly with the Shard, and then continue their discussion onto other topics. Khriss mentions the Ire which sets Kelsier onto his next quest of finding their base of operation.[27]

During his journey to find the Ire, he runs into Ruin and has a discussion about Ruin's intent.[4] After that, he left the area of the Cognitive Realm surrounding Scadrial and moved closer to finding the Ire. When he reaches their base, he moved past their guards and passed the wall into their chambers.[28] He ultimately only took a glass orb from them after thwarting their plan to take over become the Vessel of Preservation after Leras' death.[29]

When he returned to Scadrial he found that Preservation's power was significantly weakened. He also ran into Vin and was shocked to see how far she had come in the time he was away.[30] He stayed with her for a while after that but ultimately had to leave.[31]

From the Well of Ascension, of course. It's the same power, after all. Solid in the metal you fed to Elend. The liquid in the pool you burned. And vapor in the air, confined to night. Hiding you. Protecting you.
Giving you power!

—Kelsier speaks to Vin before she Ascends.[32][33]

When Leras died and Ruin began to Splinter the Shard of Preservation, Kelsier used the Ire's orb to Connect with Preservation and Ascend, allowing him to protect the power and hold it until Vin could take it.[7] Despite Preservation not usually being able to speak into the minds of other, due to some combination of Spook being near death, having a broken soul, and believing Kelsier was a god, he was able to talk to Spook.[34][35] He used this opportunity to tell Spook to send a message to Vin, warning her that any spiked person could potentially be under Ruin's control.[35] Secretly, however, he knew that Ruin would send Marsh to intercept the message, and was hoping that reading the message would give Marsh the information he needed to remove Vin's earring, which was also a Hemalurgic spike that was keeping her from taking up Preservation's power. When Marsh caught Vin in Luthadel, he attacked Ruin with Preservation's power, weakening Ruin's control over Marsh just enough for Marsh to rip out Vin's earring. With the spike removed, Kelsier encouraged her to take up the power and then let go of it so that she could do so.[33] After she and Elend are killed, Kelsier spoke with them before they move on to the Beyond.[36]

After Sazed's ascension and Spook's rise to political power, Kelsier began to speak with Spook about finding a way to bring himself back to the Physical Realm.[37] As a Cognitive Shadow tied to Scadrial, it is difficult for him to travel to other planets via Shadesmar.[38] He does not yet know the secret to overcome this limitation.[39] His bones survived the ascension of Harmony.[40]

Continued Worship Post-Catacendre[edit]

Many years after the Catacendre, the cult which started after Kelsier's deception with OreSeur directly following his death has become a fully-formed religion. The Church of the Survivor, or Survivorism, is possibly the most organized of Scadrial's religions in this period, as well as being the clear favorite among the social elite and downtrodden alike.

Steris and Marasi are both members of this religion, though Marasi admits that it is more because she was raised in it. Its central tenet is simply to survive, by any means, until you cannot survive any longer. Priests in this religion wear robes with stitching up the arms to emulate Kelsier's scars from the Pits of Hathsin.

The "Survior's Statemark" is one of the symbols of the faith. When Bleeder killed Father Bin by nailing him to a wall, it is described as a parody of the Survivor's Statemark[41], implying that the Statemark depicts the way Kelsier died, impaled by a spear.

Aside from the Survivorists, there was also a whole civilization of people that worshiped Kelsier far to to the south of Elendel, calling him the Sovereign. Kelsier had traveled there several years after the Catacendre, inhabiting a physical body that was spiked in the right eye, and found the Southern Scadrians slowly dying of an unexplained coldness. He helped the people there survive using his knowledge of the Metallic Arts, showing them how to make unsealed metalminds to store attributes like heat in a way that could be shared with anyone. As the Sovereign, Kelsier ruled the Southern Scadrians for a time and formed another religion that deified Metalborn, and then he left.[42]

Before leaving them, he created the Bands of Mourning, a collection of unsealed metalminds forged together and containing all kinds of attributes in extremely large quantities. He hid the artifact away somewhere in the north and then disappeared.[42]

Kelsier, as the Sovereign

Kelsier and Wax[edit]

Waxillium Ladrian was a direct descendant of a close associate of Kelsier, Edgard Ladrian.[43] As a Pathian, Wax did not worship Kelsier, but his life has nonetheless been drastically affected by the Survivor.

Ironeyes decided to give Wax a book explaining Hemalurgy because he believed Wax was doing Kelsier's work.[44] This book proved vital in solving the case of Bleeder. While conversing with Harmony regarding the case, Harmony said that Wax's casual way of talking to him reminded him of Kelsier.[45] Harmony also made vague allusions to the Southern Scadrians that Kelsier once ruled as the Sovereign.

Later on, a group of Southern Scadrians traveled north in search of the Sovereign's Bands of Mourning, but were captured by the Set, who decided to seek the Bands as well. Wax and his friends became embroiled in this incident in opposition to the Set, and Wax was almost killed in an encounter with them.[46] After Marasi solved the riddle of the Bands and wielded it to escape the Set, she gave it to Wax, who wielded it and became incredibly powerful.[47] Wax then used the artifact to defeat the Set and save the Southern Scadrian prisoners, using up a lot of the Investiture stored in the Bands.[48]

Soon afterwards, Wax accessed a coppermind contained in a coin-like Southern Scadrian medallion that Hoid had given him and saw a vision of what appeared to be Kelsier's memory of discovering the Southern Scadrians hundreds of years prior. The vision, seen from Kelsier's point of view, showed that his spiked right eye viewed the world through Allomantic lines, similar to Steel Inquisitors, while his left eye saw things normally.[49]


I decided that I'd see her dream fulfilled. I'd make a world where flowers returned, a world with green plants, a world where no soot fell from the sky...." He trailed off, then sighed. "I know. I'm insane.

—Kelsier to Vin, after showing her the picture of a Marewill flower[6]

If you're always on time, it implies that you never have anything better you should be doing.

—Kelsier to Dox on his constant tardiness[11]


  • Kelsier and Hoid do not get along.[50]
  • If given the chance, Kelsier would find it "really fun" to punch Honor next.[51]
  • Kelsier would understand, but still disapprove of, Taravangian's plans.[52]
  • He is more of a coffee person than tea.[53]
  • Kelsier would beat Kaladin in a straight fight as he is prone to using dirty tactics. On the battlefield, Kaladin would be more likely to win.[54][55]
  • If he had to choose between all of the secret societies on Roshar, Kelsier would join the Ghostbloods and become their leader within a year.[56]
  • Kelsier is a cat person.[57]


Preceded by
Vessel of

Succeeded by
  1. The Well of Ascension chapter 5 #
  2. a b c d The Final Empire chapter 34 #
  3. The Alloy of Law chapter 19 #
  4. a b Mistborn: Secret History part 4 chapter 4 #
  5. The Final Empire chapter 2 #
  6. a b c The Final Empire chapter 17 #
  7. a b Mistborn: Secret History part 6 chapter 4 #
  8. a b The Final Empire chapter 3 #
  9. JordanCon 2016
    Arcanum - 2016-04-23#
  10. a b The Final Empire prologue #
  11. a b The Final Empire chapter 27 #
  12. Arcanum Unbounded release party
    Arcanum - 2016-11-22#
  13. /r/fantasy AMA 2013
    Arcanum - 2013-04-17#
  14. a b The Final Empire chapter 10 #
  15. The Final Empire chapter 25 #
  16. The Final Empire chapter 8 #
  17. The Final Empire chapter 4 #
  18. a b The Eleventh Metal #
  19. The Final Empire chapter 5 #
  20. The Final Empire chapter 19 #
  21. a b The Final Empire chapter 35 #
  22. The Hero of Ages chapter 52 #
  23. a b Mistborn: Secret History part 1 chapter 1 #
  24. Mistborn: Secret History part 2 chapter 1 #
  25. Mistborn: Secret History part 3 chapter 1 #
  26. Mistborn: Secret History part 3 chapter 2 #
  27. Mistborn: Secret History part 3 chapter 3 #
  28. Mistborn: Secret History part 5 chapter 2 #
  29. Mistborn: Secret History part 5 chapter 3 #
  30. Mistborn: Secret History part 6 chapter 1 #
  31. Mistborn: Secret History part 6 chapter 3 #
  32. The Hero of Ages chapter 72 #
  33. a b Mistborn: Secret History part 6 chapter 7 #
  34. The Hero of Ages Annotations
    Arcanum - 2010-03-09#
  35. a b Mistborn: Secret History part 6 chapter 6 #
  36. Mistborn: Secret History part 6 chapter 8 #
  37. Mistborn: Secret History Epilogue #
  38. Calamity Seattle signing
    Arcanum - 2016-02-17#
  39. Legion Release Party
    Arcanum - 2018-09-19#
  40. Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A
    Arcanum - 2009-07-08#
  41. Shadows of Self chapter 12 #
  42. a b The Bands of Mourning chapter 21 #
  43. Shadows of Self chapter 19 #
  44. The Alloy of Law epilogue #
  45. Shadows of Self chapter 7 #
  46. The Bands of Mourning chapter 27 #
  47. The Bands of Mourning chapter 28 #
  48. The Bands of Mourning chapter 29 #
  49. The Bands of Mourning epilogue #
  50. /r/fantasy AMA 2013
    Arcanum - 2013-04-15#
  51. Orem signing
    Arcanum - 2017-12-21#
  52. Leipzig Book Fair
    Arcanum - 2017-03-24#
  53. WorldCon 76
    Arcanum - 2018-08-18#
  54. Bands of Mourning release party
    Arcanum - 2016-01-25#
  55. Barnes & Noble B-Fest 2016
    Arcanum - 2016-06-11#
  56. /r/books AMA 2015
    Arcanum - 2015-07-21#
  57. Phoenix Comic-Con 2016
    Arcanum - 2016-06-02#
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