Wednesday, 11 January 2012

New Spring Chapters 23-26 and Epilogue

I cannot figure out how Malkieri society could have functioned with such rigid codes of behavior.  They must have just not spoken to each other very much. Or maybe they just had scripts handed out to speak from.  How much of this culture is due to its martial nature and low life expectancy? How much of this is just Bukama trying to make Malkier live again through Lan? Will Lan be relieved he can toss off this ridiculous way of life and not suicide himself in the Blight as a final tip of the hat to Bukama’s expectations? Has Lan mellowed in the main series with regard to his interactions with women? I’ll be watching to see if he waits for women to address him before speaking to them.
I also came to wonder how the Tower treats Aes Sedai who leave and never come back. They obviously don’t go looking for them, or they’d have known about Cadsuane. How long before they begin to assume Merean is dead? How long until the Black Ajah reaches the same conclusion? Do they reorganize the Black Ajah Hearts?
There are a few books in the series where the final conflict sort of comes out of left field, and this is one of them. The buildup is slow and uncertain, with a resounding crash suddenly in the last 20 pages. But did I ever enjoy this battle. A closer look might tell us why it worked.
Moiraine’s meting out justice in the rough quarter gives us an appreciation for more of her powers. The chapter could have been written with her simply finding Siuan after half a day, but we’ve still seen little of her powers. Some fireworks, a booming voice, lots of tricks to bug Lan with, even during her testing the solution was never other than completing the assigned weave. So we get to see some of her more useful weaves, and it’s becoming clear that there really aren’t many scenarios Moiraine can’t weave her way out of. Expectations are being set on her pedigree and her Channeling to get her out of jams. Again, we see Moiraine’s preparations for the unknown involve visiting a hairdresser and a bank.  Still no sign of a villain.
Moiraine presses Lan for some help, which he is held to by his adherence to a pledge made before he was born. Moiraine breaks Tower Law in exchange for it. She actually didn’t tell him much, the juicy bits she just thinks to herself, for our benefit. It is a measure of her desperation that she must begin to seek allies. Moiraine’s breaking Tower Law raises the tension significantly, and tells us that her ends justify her means.
The main plot finally clicks into place with a minor subplot: Iselle doesn’t want to marry Lan, so after Moiraine rebuffs her plea to be taken to the White Tower, she immediately turns to the other Aes Sedai in the palace for help, setting in motion the final conflict. Iselle is a pawn, a tertiary character not even speaking on page until her plea to Moiraine. Yet it is her desire for freedom, heretofore unknown, that brings the whole affair to its conclusion.
Bukama’s death brings a transformation to Lan. His final point of view words are that he did not care who saw him. He was ready to run away from his duty to Malkieri custom, but even while seeking out Bukama to pursue this dishonourable course of action, he adheres to it, trying to avoid being seen by those who would know he had broken custom. When he stops caring who sees him, he has already begun following his own rules instead of those imposed on him. A transformation of identity is a more powerful excitement builder than the death of character. It’s not their death that matters, but what that death represents and how it affects our other character’s identity.
Much like the Aiel confrontation in Chapter 1, Moiraine finds herself pondering the forces arrayed against her.  She thinks her opponent is considerably more powerful. When she confronts her, she learns that she underestimated her chances. Her pedigree and channeling will not help her win. Ryne’s superiority with the sword is confirmed. The buildup is somewhat similar to what I laid out in the Chapter 1 analysis table:
Each paragraph describes how bad their chances are, then it is demonstrated that it’s even worse than that. And then finally Moiraine is shielded. That’s it, game over. Embrace Death.
Our heroes don’t embrace death though, they only stop fighting after they are dead. Pure determination wins the day. Force of will and knowledge of self will be a recurrent theme in many future battles. No wonder I love this series so much. How can you argue with life lessons like that?
Moiraine gives a final challenge to Lan as she erases the evidence, and despite whatever he may decide about Malkieri custom, he knows he will always oppose the Shadow. “We win this battle, or the world dies.” On top of all that, the payoff is that you can delve right into the main series and pick up twenty years later as they reach the bottom of Moiraine’s list of names.
Writing Lessons:
You stop writing after you are dead. Write every day. Every page leads to a complete manuscript.
Events can grab reader’s attention, but how those events affect the characters will do so even more.  

No comments:

Post a Comment