Wednesday, 18 January 2012

The Eye of the World - Chapters 25-28

In this section, the heroes begin to make their separate ways to Caemlyn, gaining and losing allies.
Perrin and Egwene have found a mentor-type character to guide them. Elyas proves to be a fount of information on the world, gushing out little known facts about Maidens of the Spear, Wolves, Traveling People, and almost something about Aes Sedai, but no, he just doesn’t want to talk about them. Raen could have served this role easily, so it seems Elyas’ main reason to appear is to introduce the wolves. Ba’alzamon is mildly surprised Perrin has Wolfbrother Powers, and claims to know something of them, maybe just from haunting the World of Dreams so often, maybe because some cursory knowledge of them still exists.
To spare us wondering whether this Wolfbrother stuff is real, Perrin becomes the ominiscient narrator of the inner lives of wolves. Perrin feels it, therefore it is fact. Presenting the wolves’ biographies and feelings in this manner saves the author some effort, and makes comprehension simpler for the reader. When Perrin later deals with human scents, his understanding is never as clear as when feeling what the wolves feel. I should compare to see if the later wolf scenes flow as smoothly and clearly as these scenes do.
Elyas gets a funny feeling that he has learned to trust. Fantasy books are overrun with these fortuitous feelings and dreams. At least Nyaneve Listening to the Wind, Lan smelling the traces of a Myrddraal, or Moiraine tracking the magic coins she gave the boys all have some semblance of explanation with the One Power. What gives Elyas his sudden trustworthy feeling? Is it a reaction to Perrin’s dream? How does Raen read the sky and abruptly decide to change directions? Is he reading omens like a Seanchan might?
Similarly, does Moiraine muttering about the Dark One’s gaze on the world and her assessment that he is still watching mean she has some way of sensing it? It appears to be particular weaves she’s learned, but is this something fairly unique she’s picked up or do most Aes Sedai have these same weaves and just choose to not pay any attention to it? If she wasn’t being elevated as the Great Know It All to the reader, it would veer towards making her appear to be a flake, or a fraud.
With Perrin’s Wolfbrother powers, all three of the boys now have cause to believe they are the one the Dark One is seeking (remember Mat’s connection to the Old Blood). And while the reader has been led to believe that Rand is Ba’alzamon’s intended target due to his prominence at the beginning of the book, this sudden focus on Perrin might be enough to make them second-guess that assumption. More conspiracy-theory prone readers (like yours truly) may note that Mat has no point of view chapters, and wonder if the other boys are the diversion, and Mat is the true target. We’ll later realize that revealing  Mat’s point of view now would ruin the secret he’s keeping alongside that dagger under his coat.
Once Thom explains how Owyn’s death led him to help the boys with their Aes Sedai troubles, there really doesn’t seem to be any further reason to keep him around. The boys can be put in greater danger by removing their last mentor character. Thom’s apparent purpose has been served, and he died well, demonstrating that characters are at real risk of death. Just ignore future books for this discussion. 
Robert Jordan often makes a description do more than simply describe, it also reveals something about the object or person being described. I have two short examples.
In an entire paragraph describing the colors of Tinker wagons and the domestic chaos of the children, he concludes with: ‘They looked like butterflies in a field of wildflowers’. We don’t yet know about the Way of the Leaf, but this description is already preparing us for that revelation. What could be more harmless or less violent than a butterfly? The comparison to butterflies was  done to serve more than one purpose.
Elyas’ cloak is called ‘a crazy quilt of rabbit and squirrel’. There are two words in there that are associated with erratic behavior, which Elyas demonstrates as soon as he opens his mouth. The choice of adjectives and nouns introduces the concept that Elyas doesn’t behave like normal people do, even before we’ve seen any of that behaviour.
Writing Lessons:
With so many words to choose from, use the ones that best introduce or reinforce the concepts you want the reader to get.

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