Sunday, 25 March 2012

The Fires of Heaven - Chapters 2-6

In this section, the Aiel and wetlanders get to know one another
Rand meets the clan chiefs, and the topic on their mind is whether the chiefs will follow Rand. It is decided that they will, given time, except for Couladin and the Shaido. This is the first time the idea is strongly put forth that Rand will break bonds and ties, and it applies both in his favour to get the Aiel to leave the Waste, and against him in that the Shaido will follow Couladin even though he is not a chief. Individual warriors leave their clans to take the side that reflects their views. The Shaido numbers should swell with so many throwing down spears. As with Elaida, Rand now has a group of advisors in the clan chiefs, and simple tags are applied to distinguish them from each other.
Moiraine knows she may not be with Rand for long, and is more eager than ever to convince Rand she means him no harm. Moiraine sees Aiel armies forcing the Nations to stand against Rand, while he sees them as necessary to avoid the machinations of people like Moiraine. Discussions between Moiraine and Wise Ones echo this concern.
This is also the first time the context of ji’e’toh is explained, and the role of gai’shain in the Aiel culture. Before, detailed explanations were not necessary, and all we saw were a bit of the workings of Far Dareis Mai as applied to Rand’s accidental pursuit of Aviendha. Now that Rand is officially recognized as being one of the Aiel, many of his interactions depend on proper understanding of Aiel culture, so the inner workings must be explained, often through examples. The time to do this is before the action unfolds, and any of those rules play a role in the plot.
Rand’s strange romance with Aviendha continues. He is jealous of whoever gave her a necklace, wondering who gave it to her. He takes comfort in the way she treats him as himself and acts as herself in his presence, which is also a characteristic of the relationship he has with Min and Elayne. Aviendha tells him she hates him, she happily receives flowers but presses them on Egwene, and then has herself beaten for lying twice. Her behaviour is odd enough that a reader may just shrug at the whole thing, but the more time any character spends thinking about any other reveals the possibility of romance. All this attention on their relationship means it should play a role in this book.
Why didn't anyone connect the Car'a'carn to the Dragon reborn earlier? In the wetlands, no one knew what a Dragon was, in the Waste; no one told outsiders what their link to the Dragon was. The Wise Ones and Clan Chiefs must have been able to guess that the Dragon Reborn was also the Car’a’carn and simply didn’t care to share that information.
Mat is pursued by Melindhra, a Shaido maiden who has come over to join her society amongst Rand’s followers. There is no reason to associate this with the two earlier mentions of tying a string to those close to Rand. Aside from her interest in Mat, there is nothing suspicious about Melindhra, and there are plenty of other women who have expressed interest in Mat. The later Darkhound attack on Mat provides cover for Melindhra, since any association with the idea of targeting Rand’s friends is placed on the Darkhounds, not her.
Mat’s injury from the Darkhounds gives the opportunity to learn details about how balefire works for the first time, as well as details about how his medallion works.
Egwene and Aviendha also have a friendship that gets fleshed out, along with their student-teacher relationship with the Wise Ones. The major point of showing developments among the Wise Ones is to give examples of how ji’e’toh and other cultural baggage affect Aiel life. Discussion of Melaine’s interest in Bael and the sister-wife relationship is given so that there is precedent for Rand’s relationship with three women at once.
Lanfear’s interest in Rand’s love life is another way of indicating how important the romantic relationships will be in this book. Lanfear also manages to point Rand and Rahvin at each other by pointing out Rand’s Tairen armies in Cairhien are impinging on Rahvin’s interests in crowning Morgase. All the seemingly unconnected events and characters are now linked.   
Rand is forced to act as the jailor/captor, and this can’t help but affect him. He takes strong precautions with Asmodean, never trusting him out of sight for long, even if it means Asmodean learns his plans and must be in his presence as much as possible. How many of the strange things Rand says are a by-product of his discussions with Asmodean, and how many are true memories of past lives? The reader is meant to have some doubts as to where all Rand’s sudden knowledge is coming from. Since there is precedent set by Rand being able to figure out weaves instinctively, pulling other memories up from hidden depths doesn’t seem too far out of place. The idea that Rand might remember any of his past life was first put forth by Lanfear. Rand is now a little less trustworthy as narrator, to suggest to the reader that the madness makes Rand less reliable. Some examples:
Don't mention wagons again, little sister
They’ll accept my peace, or I’ll be buried in the Can Breat.
Ilyena never flashed her temper at me when she was angry with herself.
You were always ambitious Mierin.
Writing Lessons:
Use an obvious connection to an idea to hide a second less obvious connection to the same idea.

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