Monday, 23 January 2012

The Eye of the World - Chapters 40-43

In this section, all of the build-up around the quest to reach Tar Valon is tossed aside in favour of a new quest.
There have been several important reasons given to make the reader think that reaching Tar Valon might be the climax of this book:
- The Aes Sedai in Tar Valon can explain why Ba'alzamon is after the boys.
- Egwene must reach Tar Valon if she is to be taught how to use the One Power safely.
- The dangers the group faces have been barely overcome by desperate moves; more Aes Sedai means more protection.
- Moiraine has stated that her goal is to bring the boys safely to Tar Valon.
- The group has covered more than half the distance to Tar Valon, and spent over half the book on this quest.
- Other notable characters are traveling to Tar Valon: Logain, Elayne, Gawyn seem like surefire participants in a high stakes conflict to end the book.
- Mat needs Aes Sedai healing to be freed of the Shadar Logoth taint.
Balanced against that are the risk of Rand or Perrin being mishandled by the Aes Sedai due to their special abilities. In New Spring, Moiraine already considered this possibility regarding the Dragon’s ability to channel the One Power, and obviously feels confident there is no risk (readers do not yet know who the Amyrlin Seat is).
There is also the difficult obstacle of getting out of Caemlyn undetected by Ba'alzamon's forces in the countryside. The obvious solution is to join up with the other Aes Sedai. Moiraine's strength should allow her to travel with them while stonewalling any curiosity on their part.
So it is one of the first major surprises when she tosses the quest aside in favour of taking them to the Eye of the World. She could complete the original quest right now if she asked Loial to take them to Tar Valon by the grove and Waygate there. Why does she feel such urgency over stories that are years old? Do the boy's dreams and Ba'alzamon's threats make the danger so immediate that she must alter her plans? After 17 years of disappointments that must have shaken her faith, has she suddenly realized that the Pattern has taken a hand by making the boys ta'veren, and she should trust in that?
I feel that while a plot twist is all fun and good, this one comes off awkwardly. Moiraine can justify any action over another by saying it will oppose the Shadow better, but it’s just not clear to the reader what the Eye of the World is or why it matters more than reaching Tar Valon to either the characters or the readers. Moiraine still comes across as a bit of a flake, because she refuses to tell anyone what she knows, and leaves thoughts have spoken so as to imply menace without actually explaining what the menace is. If you had told me that it was actually the female half of the True Source, saidar, which was tainted, I’d point to Moiraine as proof that she’s been channelling too much.
Moiraine reminds the boys that the Dark One cannot make them his own, unless they let him. It's all a matter of denying him, and never surrendering, never yielding, for even a moment. The idea of unyielding opposition to the Dark One keeps coming up. It’ll play a role at the end of this story, and again in A Memory of Light, I am sure.
Odd to see Gareth Bryne and Morgase in the same old romantic quandary they will later be in with other people. Perhaps the author intended for them to remain an item, and later changed it? I normally am quite comfortable that Robert Jordan had meticulously planned the minutiae of the story, but the similarities with their later romantic plotlines are eerie. I'll just call it consistency of character.
Given how Elaida treated Moiraine as a novice because of her potential, can you imagine how she would have been overseeing Elayne, knowing the royal line of Andor is key to winning the Last Battle? Maybe the Amyrlin gave specific orders for Elaida not to meddle in novice affairs. Siuan and Sheriam should remember enough of their own misery to shield all the novices from Elaida, especially those showing promise.
Rand's resemblance to an Aielman is reiterated by Elaida and Gawyn, and even Loial. Everything Rand hears reinforces what Tam said in his fever. So many knowledgeable characters say the same thing, they can't all be wrong. Readers probably didn't need these additional clues, but when you have a point to make, use a hammer to drive it home. Since it pertains to the threat to Rand's identity, I guess it can't be made as subtly as when first introduced.
I recall theories and perhaps confirmation regarding the identity of the man who stumbled into a stedding to tell of a threat to the Eye of the World. Jain Farstrider? Noal Charin?
Was there anything particular during the War of the Hundred Years to make the Ways go dark? Just the usual Ba'alzamon influence? Something Guaire Amalasan did? Or just the passage of time?
I noted that Ba'alzamon claims the Black Ajah is two thousand years old. Were the Three Oaths originally given as a means of rooting out Darkfriends, only to be defeated a millennium later by the clever inclusion of the Fourth Oath?
Writing Lessons:
Make your important points more strongly, save subtlety for clues and lesser points. A plot twist has to be believable to work, lay the clues and rationales for it ahead of time. Subtly.

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