Monday, 26 March 2012

The Fires of Heaven - Chapters 7-12

In this section, Nynaeve butts heads with everyone, and makes a big mistake
Several times Egwene says she will work at something until she finds it out. Readers learn little except that Egwene is more determined than she is successful. Egwene comes across as the kind of student who submits extra work for credit.
Moiraine has a rare point of view that reveals little. There is confirmation that she has seen visions of the future through the ter’angreal in Rhuidean, allusion to her ultimate plan for Lan, and near certainty about her urgent need to guide Rand before it is too late. She also takes particular care to attach the redstone ter’angreal just so in the back of a wagon. Those must be fairly specific glimpses of the paths her life could take.
Nynaeve is reintroduced and portrayed as bull-headedly wrong about so many things. A Whitecloak encounter emphasizes the danger they are in, but is just an example to set the mood. The real Whitecloak menace lies ahead. Nynaeve falls for a simple trap, drinking from a cup she should not have to try put the woman dosing her at ease. Forkroot is potent enough that it should have been widespread as a poisoner’s tool, even without its ability to block channeling.
Vague threats make the reader wonder about hidden dangers, but the pigeon messaging in Mardecin is so vague it undoes any impact. A pigeon goes to the White Tower, to the main threat that the young women know of. A second pigeon sent by the same double-dealing woman goes west, towards Tanchico? Tremalking? Moghedien? And then yet another pigeon, telling what the first two messages were, is sent in a third direction. Amador? Salidar? Darkfriends? Does it matter at this point? The reader is left with the impression that everyone in every faction with any interest in any of the plots knows exactly where Elayne and Nynaeve are.
Nynaeve and Elayne have one of the Seven Seals on the Dark One’s prison. That makes six accounted for; three broken, three fragile.
Romance is still in the air. Three older man – younger women relationships are discussed: Lan and Nynaeve, Gareth and Siuan, Thom and Elayne. Elayne’s infatuation with Thom seems to stem from Elayne’s attempt to emulate her mother. Some readers get creeped out by Elayne’s behaviour, but she is just one character, the other young women are far more proper. To make room for Aviendha’s romance with Rand, Elayne needs to be preoccupied with someone else at the time, even if it amounts to nothing.
In the various encounters, we are now getting our first sense of just how much Aes Sedai dabble in people’s lives. Most people never see an Aes Sedai, and rulers may have Aes Sedai advisors. But it is now apparent that many people undertake jobs for Aes Sedai, either spying or other tasks. It doesn’t seem a very far cry from how Darkfriends operate.
Bryne needs a new pipe, his old one represents fealty to the Queen of Andor. The woman he is pursuing has a quest. Maybe she will give him a new pipe?
Many portions of these chapters focus on some detailed descriptions of daily activities. These are the kinds of paragraphs that raise the ire of many readers. Instead of a short description of making camp for the night, several long-winded paragraphs tell more than readers want to know. Unlike earlier passages in The Dragon Reborn with Perrin, where the actions revealed character, these sections are thinner or less obvious with in-depth characterization. This paragraph is one of many about the camp, and only on typing this up could I identify its purpose. It conveys Nynaeve’s organizational and observational skills, and how she is a busybody keeping idle hands at work.
Once Nynaeve had enjoyed a slow, cooling wash of face and hands, she set about making the camp ready, and put Juilin to breaking dead branches from the trees for a fire. By the time Thom returned with two wicker hampers slung across the gelding’s back, her and Elayne’s blankets were laid out under the wagon and the two men’s under the branches of one of the twenty-foot willows, a good supply of firewood had been stacked, the teakettle stood cooling beside the ashes of a fire in a circle cleared of leaves, and the thick pottery cups had been washed. Juilin was grumbling to himself as he caught water in the tiny stream to refill the water barrels. From the snatches Nynaeve heard, she was glad he kept most of it to an inaudible mutter. From her perch on one of the wagon shafts, Elayne hardly tried to hide her interested attempt to make out what he was saying. Both she and Nynaeve had put on clean dresses on the other side of the wagon, switching colors as it happened.
Nynaeve’s personality makes it hard to remember her recent accomplishments.
Writing Lessons:
Vagueness can create confusion and disinterest. If you are vague about important details, have a good reason to do so.

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