Sunday, 5 February 2012

The Great Hunt - Chapters 31-34

In this section, Rand regains his allies, and they track the Horn to an impassable obstacle.
The heroes and villains have had the Horn twice each. The back and forth skirmishes in which the Horn is taken and lost leave a strong impression of struggle, which can’t be achieved as easily in a straightforward journey quest, like in The Eye of the World. Each time the Horn changes hands is a natural turning point in the story. The arrival of Rand’s friends just after he loses the Horn makes the loss even more poignant, but also introduces hope into that bleak situation.
Rand’s first instinct is to tell Mat about the dagger, and place the Horn second. Lanfear does not like this situation, and finds even less to like as she secretly observes Rand proclaiming his lack of greatness, saying his heart is Egwene’s, burning Selene’s letters. The flames are fanned by a sudden roar of wind, indicating Lanfear’s unhappiness. Only the scent of her perfume indicates her presence. Many novice writers leave out the sense of taste and smell. In this instance, where other senses cannot detect her, smells not only round out the description, they are an essential clue as to what is taking place without having to resort to a new point of view, or an omniscient one.
The description of Perrin’s abilities relies heavily on both taste and smell. Placing these ahead of sight and touch is a simple way to show the difference in culture between men and wolves, giving a feeling of alienness while remaining rooted in the familiar. Even wolves have prophecies, or at least they recognize a Dragon when they smell one.
Verin proves to be freer with information than Moiraine was, but is considered no more trustworthy for it, simply an extension of Moiraine. The seeds of mistrust towards Aes Sedai sowed by Ba’alzamon in the The Eye of the World are sprouting. How much of Ba’alzamon’s plan was designed not to turn Rand, but to create discord between him and any potential allies, to keep any united opposition from forming?
Rand plunges headfirst into Daes Dae’mar, little knowing how any word uttered by a ta’veren in this situation sends ripples through the Pattern. The recent uptick in the seriousness of the Great Game seems Pattern spawned to let Rand affect the maximum number of people in his short time in Cairhien. After less than a week, the heads of the two most powerful houses are dead, one at Thom’s vengeful hands, the other at Lanfear’s. She should not be scorned. Why did she kill Barthanes, a known Darkfriend? Likely because he allowed the Horn and dagger to escape, items which she realizes are the best goads to push Rand where she wants.
Fain’s escape to Toman Head still needs explaining, which even Verin cannot provide. Fain didn’t know much about the Seanchan until he reached Toman Head, so how did he decide to go there? Did he write the Dark prophecy? Can he see the future with Mordeth’s powers? Mordeth is the simplest explanation, even if the reader has been given little indication it’s within his power. It is still unclear which villain is pulling strings, and at which point of the story. In general, Ba’alzamon’s master plan is to establish a Seanchan foothold on the mainland, and get the Horn of Valere into the Blight. Fain, rescued because he may have further use, has found Power and desire to break free of the Dark, while he maintains a terrible link to Rand that he wants to sever. Lanfear is acting mostly independently of Ba’alzamon, trying to seduce Rand, and probably not minding if Ba’alzamon’s plans go awry, since the Forsaken are in stiff competition with each other.  
Rand finally uses saidin, to combat Machin Shin, which could not be defeated any other way. Rand’s instinctive use of how to use the One Power in situations like this is still odd.  Saidin still fills Rand with vitality and raw power, but there is added focus on the taint, which leaves unpleasant sensations long after he has released saidin.
Getting to Toman Head seems almost impossible without the Ways, and even if they find a shortcut that lets Mat survive long enough to get the dagger, the Seanchan they will meet when they get there seem insurmountable. This is the part of the book when it looks more and more like all is lost.
Writing Lessons:
Use descriptions of all five senses to make your world come alive. Using them in unusual ways can create unique effects.

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