Saturday, 4 February 2012

The Great Hunt - Chapters 27-30

In this section, Rand struggles to keep his gains, while hints of the future are revealed.
For the first time, Rand’s kinsmen, the Aiel, are encountered. Urien reveals much to Perrin and Verin, about Rhuidean, Wise Ones, and the prophecies that will send them out of the Three-fold Land again, the prophecies about He Who Comes With the Dawn. Verin can’t help but make an association with the Dragon. There are many ways to prepare the reader for future events: someone may have a feeling, or they wonder if certain events might come to pass, or a prophecy can be made. Prophecies automatically create an expectation that they will be fulfilled. In this story, there are many prophecies, and then more prophecies. Once a few have been fulfilled, the reliability of the prophecies and the expectation of fulfillment will be cemented in the reader’s mind.
The story compartmentalizes information, by having information important to one character revealed to another character instead, such as Perrin’s encounter with the Aiel. This approach to placing information allows the reader to learn enough to understand later events without the author having to deal with how the information would affect the character it will later affect.
Another example is Bayle Domon’s introduction to the Seanchan High Lord Turak. Domon’s perspective is most important for allowing the author to explain enough of the Seanchan culture so that later chapters involving them, which will be more action-oriented, will flow better. Seanchan culture is notable for the extreme inflexibility of the social structure, and the way in which most citizens’ actions are constrained by the will of those in the social strata above. If the Seanchan return has been scheduled by Ba’alzamon, how much of their culture reflects the Dark One’s way of thinking? Obedience trumps all other considerations. There is no free will to speak of, and the little that is afforded by one’s position must be carefully guarded at all times. This is the antithesis of Rand’s desire to not be forced into any action he doesn’t want to take. That makes two cultures, Cairhienin and Seanchan, to which readers have been exposed, and have metaphorical elements that are related to Rand’s personal conflict.
Before even Bayle Domon’s encounter with the Seanchan can make sense, the reader is gently exposed to rumours of the Seanchan presence on Toman Head, through a short Bornhald point of view. Gradual introduction of their strange behaviour creates a voyage of discovery for the reader, including an air of mystery about their objectives, powers, and secrets. Carridin’s ploy to disrupt life on Almoth Plain is meant to keep interference with the Seanchan at a minimum. Bornhald, an unintentional villain at first, is being set up as one of those misguided characters who is on the verge of reform. The majority of readers will draw the simplest conclusion: Bornhald will help Rand at Toman Head.
In Cairhien, Fain has caught up to Rand, and deploys his forces through the Foregate searching for him. Rand has had a month to train with the greatest swordsman in the world, and easily dispatches Trollocs. What he can’t do with his sword, he considers doing with saidin. He always considers that as a last resort, saidin could get him out of any jam. Despite Selene’s renewed insistence that he use the Oneness, and seek glory, Rand manages to find other means of escape that don’t require him to be exposed to temptation. When Selene is present the double-entendres just keep coming.  
Writing Lessons:
When, where, and how you introduce foreshadowed story elements is important to make them feel natural, not forced.

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