Monday, 16 January 2012

The Eye of the World - Chapters 16-19

In this section the heroes learn about the evil in the idea of the end justifying the means.
Nynaeve, renowned for berating people until they see things her way, makes her surprise entrance. Having established her typical behavior in early Emond’s Field scenes, the two pages through which the boys, and even Thom, worry about what she will do build up the tension quite well. It turns out that Nynaeve has taken matters into her own hands, doing what must be done instead of waiting for permission. She ignores those she can’t browbeat. Getting the boys and Egwene back takes precedence over the wishes of the Village Council or the Women’s Circle. It’s a mild case compared to Moiraine who earlier said that she would destroy the boys before she let the Dark One get his hands on them.
The Children of the Light also demonstrate that they are willing to do what must be done to stop the spread of the Dark. Stopping Darkfriends takes precedence over the wishes of the Governor of Baerlon or its citizens. Torture of any who oppose their views is condoned, perhaps even encouraged.
Finally, Moiraine relates the sad tale of Shadar Logoth. The city’s top advisor Mordeth also knew that defeating the Shadow was more important than staying true to the Light, and was so committed to that inflexible philosophy that it destroyed itself in the process.
From these disparate examples it’s not immediately obvious that we’ve been shown more and more extreme adherence to philosophy of the ends justifying the means. I think if it’s important enough to appear in the early parts of the story, it’s important enough to matter to the end of the story. Rand’s own journey through the series will somewhat mirror these examples, as he edges closer and closer to the most extreme view of all.
Funny that out of all these people, Nynaeve turns out to be the most flexible. I guess that’s why she’s on the Light side.
I note that dancing at the Stag and Lion is the last time these Heroes are all in the same room, bonding instead of bickering. Have they forged strong enough bonds to get them through the Last Battle? Will Rand be able to apologize to Egwene again? It was hard enough this time. Will Egwene be able to forgive Rand again?
It is obvious from the behavior of the Fade and Trollocs, and their catchpoles and hooks, that the intent is to capture the Boys, not kill them. Ba’alzamon wants them to serve the Dark One. Moiraine is beginning to understand what she might be up against as she speculates about where the extra Trolloc fists came from, and what is driving the Fades inside Shadar Logoth. The reader lacks knowledge of how it’s being done, but the fact that Moiraine herself can’t figure it out is a tension-raiser.
Knowing where Moiraine is ranked among Aes Sedai from our reading of New Spring, it’s interesting to note how much, or how little it takes before she reaches her limit. Some of those Aes Sedai must be pretty weak. I guess if you only need one weave of Shielding or Wrapping in Air, you don’t need to be strong.
As with the discussion of evil above, building on examples can be used in simpler ways as well. Observe my lightly paraphrased descriptions of swords and cloaks through this section.
Ch 17. The only mind Lan paid his cloak was to keep it clear of his sword-arm.
Ch 18. Lan unconsciously pushed back his cloak to clear his sword.
Ch 19. Rand struggled for his sword, fighting his cloak, which had become wrapped around the hilt.
We have two examples of competency placed close before an exciting moment in which Rand demonstrates his lack of competency. If the two prior examples had not been included, Rand’s moment of panic as Mordeth closes in and his sword can’t be drawn might seem like random bad fortune. By including the two examples of Lan managing his cloak and sword the right way, Rand’s predicament is no longer one that is due to luck, but to his own character.
Writing Lessons:
Why use one example when three will do even better? Let your examples make the point and reveal character as well.

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