The True Power of Feruchemy is the Ability to Save It
Welcome to Part 3 of Why I Love the Mistborn Trilogy
By now, you must know how I feel about Brandon Sanderson’s fiction, especially the Mistborn Trilogy. There are, of course, plenty of things to love about the series beyond the magic, but why would I talk about that instead of continuing to feed and grow my obsession with magic like some disgusting, cerebral parasite.
Sanderson’s clever construction of Allomancy and its omnipresent connections to Newton’s third law of motion might give my engineer-brain an overwhelming rush of dopamine every time I read the books, but it’s not the only system in the series.
Not only does Feruchemy do something similar with another scientific principle, it also happens to be my favorite of the three magic systems. Given the chance, I would pick Feruchemy over Allomancy any day. And I won’t even consider Hemalurgy.
So what is it about Feruchemy that appeals to me so? Well, the science, for one.
Feruchemy Obeys Conservation of Energy
In fact, “conservation of energy“ is as integral to Feruchemy as ”equal and opposite” is to Allomancy.
A user of Allomancy, known as an Allomancer, can ingest and “burn” metals to produce specific magical effects, meaning their power comes directly from the metal itself; an Allomancer is only special because of their ability to access it. While certain Allomancers are better at squeezing power out of the metals than others, the power itself still comes from the metals themselves. For this reason, Allomancy is sometimes referred to as End-Positive, meaning the user gets more energy out of the magic than they put in.
Feruchemy is End-Neutral.
A user of Feruchemy, called a Feruchemist, uses the various metals as metaphysical storage for specific attributes. A Feruchemist could, for example, store physical weight in an iron ring and make themselves lighter. Later, the Feruchemist could tap into the same metal and draw upon the energy reserve to increase their weight.
In Feruchemy, energy is never created or destroyed, only saved. Every scrap of energy a Feruchemist uses must come from the Feruchemist herself.
This is a fascinating implementation of another natural law of our universe. Even just thinking about the application and manipulation of said law gives me a massive brain-gasm much the same way Allomancy does.
But Why do I prefer Feruchemy over Allomancy?
Allomancy is flashy, uber powerful, and all around awesome, but ultimately it doesn’t resonate with my personality. While Feruchemy doesn’t provide the user with anything new, it does allow the Feruchemist to store and redistribute their natural traits and abilities in an extremely flexible manner.
I love that.
And not just the first-pick-on-the-menu kind of love. We’re talking full-on move-in-together-hurts-to-be-apart kind of love. That’s cause Feruchemy gets me. It understands my strengths and weaknesses and rewards me for them.
Like my tendency to hoard things. Sure, I made these potions for this exact situation, but I’ve only got five left. What if I need them later? Some people rush into a room, spraying the corners and walls with bullets, heedless of their dwindling ammo supply. Not me. I want to pick my targets, hitting precisely with the most efficient use of energy I can manage.
Which works well with Feruchemy, because in the end, a Feruchemist isn’t powerful because of the power they have but because of the power they save for later.
Plus there are so many cool ways I could use Feruchemy
If I to wake up tomorrow with feruchemical abilities… well, I’d probably have a heart-attack from joy… but I would start filling my metals right away. Even after a day or two spent virtually comatose, I would be in a constant state of filling one metal or another.
Then the experimentation would begin!
There are any number of creative ways I could tap and store the different attributes, especially while engaged in martial arts, parkour, playing the cello, or even when writing. Having so many possibilities and not being able to test them makes me want to weep.
When a magic system captures my imagination and sends me spiraling into endless daydreams about how I would use the power… something seems to be working.
Which brings me to an interesting lesson.
If You Want to Capture My Imagination, You Must First Capture Your Own
You want your magic, like the Egyptians of old, to reach up your reader’s nose and hook them by the frontal lobes. Granted, your goal is to capture and entertain rather than entomb and mummify, but it’s the same principle. It sounds terrible, but your readers will absolutely love you for it.
Next time you sit down with your magic, be it a new or old system, spend some time daydreaming about it. Take one of your favorite activities (sketching, music, or punching people in the face) and explore ways the magic could be used as part of the hobby. Consider how magic could make less interesting things (football, stamp collecting, or taxes) more fun. Examine the everyday life of your friends family, and victims for random and awesome applications of the magic.
Just spend some time generally goofing around with your system to give it the time it deserves. You never know, your magic might supplant Feruchemy on my favorite magic list.
I’d love to chat more, but I need to spend at least another hour thinking of all the awesome and terrible ways I could use Feruchemy to enhance my strikes and throws.