Friday, 24 February 2012

The Dragon Reborn - Chapters 35-39

In this section, Perrin spies on the villains while Egwene is captured.
Hopper is teaching Perrin how to use the World of Dreams to his advantage. Right now it is important that Perrin know that Lanfear is a dissident within the Forsaken. Lanfear’s claim on the World of Dreams and Ba’alzamon’s attempt to yell “Aha! You are not helping the Great Lord!” reinforces the idea that she may have drilled the Bore in tel’aran’rhiod and that the Dark One has a particular interest in the World of Dreams as a matter of protecting his doorstep.
Avoiding direct confrontation, Ba’alzamon enlists minions across the globe to help him kill or ‘take’ certain of the heroes. Ba’alzamon never says he wants Mat dead, just that he should not have been allowed to escape Tar Valon. He also wants Egwene and Nynaeve captured. The Gray Men trying to kill everyone in sight are therefore someone else’s work.  
Perrin meets the falcon from Min’s viewing. There are so many Dreams, Viewings and Prophecies in this book that readers have a lot of opportunity to figure a few out, just as Egwene does. Egwene’s realization serves as a bit of a lesson to the reader on how the dreams can be interpreted, in case it wasn’t clear. Once a few have been figured out, readers are likely to want to solve the others. Some revelations will unfold over several books, leaving a lot of fun conjecture to engage the reader’s thinking muscles.
As with the two earlier books, new allies will be found leading up to the final battle. The Aiel haven’t yet committed to showing up in Tear, but with both Perrin and Nynaeve dropping clues as to where they and Rand are heading, it is expected they will show up in time to help out. And once there, Rand can finally confirm what everyone else has figured out, that he is an Aiel. The approach of keeping one character in the dark while giving all the relevant clues to other characters and the reader is used frequently in the series. It allows the reader to understand while keeping the characters doing what is needed to move the plot in the desired direction.
Some examples of this are present in the introduction to Aiel culture that Egwene, Elayne and Nynaeve receive. In some cases, the required understanding is not yet provided, so discussing the Aiel sin of so long ago does not reveal anything about their secret origin, and the knowing looks exchanged by Bain and Chiad do not give away what they know about the Wise Ones’ interest in Aviendha. In other cases, full insight into the cultural element is given, which gives readers the required background to understand future events when they take place, such as asking to become first-sisters, or knowing that Wise Ones give the clan chiefs direction based on their dreams. One method is a mystery waiting for a solution; the other is a solution to a future mystery. It will be the case that readers will read something that reminds them of a nugget of information they remember reading two books ago. Scattering the information throughout the story makes it surprising when the solution is revealed, and is also the basis of the heavy-duty theorizing that we hardcore fans love so much.
A second mention of balefire is an indication it’ll be seen again. Nynaeve’s spontaneous use of balefire reminds readers that Rand did something similar near the beginning of the book. Like Rand, Nynaeve is demonstrating the ability to create the weave she wants, as though through sheer willpower. Another parallel showing that Nynaeve is the female equivalent to the Dragon? Even Egwene seems able to do this learning to a lesser extent. My earlier suggestion that some learning was planted in Rand’s mind when he used the Eye of the World is somewhat undermined since Nynaeve didn’t have a similar experience to explain her ability. Instead, the idea that willpower is related to spontaneous learning of certain weaves of the One Power is worth remembering, given that a number of other plot elements such as tel’aran’rhiod and the heroes trials are based on willpower.
The short Rand section once again serves as a bridge between Perrin and Egwene’s parts of the story.
Egwene and Elayne have a discussion reminiscent of one Perrin had with Moiraine not long ago. Each wondered how the Pattern could allow such suffering and evil to go on. There has been little thought for the larger scale suffering in the world since the heroes’ impact on the world, and even the people around them, has been quite limited. As the series progresses, concerns of this nature will become more common.
I’ll give a few examples of analogies from this section, to demonstrate the richness it brings to the text, more so than simple adjectives would. The last part of each phrase is sometimes used to flip the meaning of the phrase, but more often is simply not necessary, it just adds flavor, often telling something about the character making the analogy as well as the thing being described. They also have vivid imagery that might convey a mood, or feel, or smell, or taste.
His voice was soft, as cold iron is soft.
He sounded like a bumblebee only the size of a dog instead of a horse.
Does he always look like that, or did he eat a rock for his last meal?
Fear struck through him like hammered spikes.
The man screamed, and began to quiver like a file struck against an anvil.
Be wary as a cub hunting porcupine.
I will be crying like a girl, next.
Yet dress and cloak were of the best wool, well cut and well sewn.
I either hunt them, or else I sit like a rabbit waiting for a hawk.
Nynaeve’s Healing caught her like a straw on the edge of a whirlpool.
They shrieked like splintered bones jamming a meatgrinder.
Amys and Bair and Melaine and Seana stalked me like ridgecats after a wild goat.
He courts the death that took his land as other men court beautiful women.
The Darter belied its name with a bluff bow as round as its captain.
Writing Lessons:
Analogies present an opportunity to make your text richer.

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