Wednesday, 7 March 2012

The Shadow Rising - Chapters 13-18

In this section, the Heroes split up to follow their individual quests.
A significant amount of the pace can be attributed to the rapid changes from one character’s perspective to the next. In later books, a single character will be followed for multiple chapters in a row, such as it was done through much of The Dragon Reborn. In The Shadow Rising, even if the narrative follows a group of people who are adventuring together, the point of view switches from one of them to the other, from Elayne to Egwene and back again, for example. The story has hardly progressed from where it began in this book, but it feels like much more has taken place. Aside from overcoming a Trolloc attack, and a visit to the land of the Aelfinn, none of the characters have advanced the plot much, except to scout out the possible paths before them. Two hundred pages in, and characters are just now setting out on their quests. With eight heroic points of view to address, each individual character’s plotlines can move along at a rapid clip, but still leave the major plot unaddressed. As in prior examples, spreading the narrative among more characters slows down the pace of the book. Keeping the narrative of each individual section short speeds up the pace. In this book, the author strikes a balance that is immensely satisfying, small wonder it’s my favorite of the series.
Mat used up his three questions, but somehow wrangles three more out of the Aelfinn. Mere ta’veren ability, or does the fact that he asked three times has something to do with it? Three times he asks “What Fate?” and then the Aelfinn answer. Asking three times has shown up in two other important instances: Lews Therin appeals three times “Light! Forgive me!” Later, using the Eye of the World, Rand tries to escape thinking  “Away!” three times and suddenly Travels . We’ll later see how Seanchan marriages are performed by declaring something three times, making them true. It may simply be that repetition is an effective way of building up the urgency and desperation of the situation.
Two ta’veren in the twisty realm of the Aelfinn is enough to shake their world to its foundations?  Mat’s continued presence would make it ‘too late’ for what? Tearing the connection between worlds as Moiraine suggests? Are the Aelfinn worried about being swept up in a ta’veren effect? How would that affect their role or abilities? They seem to be able to see Viewings like Min, but much more reliably. Would seeing too much of Mat’s or Rand’s future tell them too much about their own fate?
Perrin’s quest to return to the Two Rivers and face the Children of the Light would be heavy and depressing, if not for the ridiculousness of Faile’s efforts to make him recognize his error in trying to send her away. An otherwise dreary two chapters are considerably livened up by the back and forth between Faile and Perrin and their Aiel sidekicks.
Many of the best moments have been when two characters have an opportunity to play off each other over some personal plot point. In these contests of wills, their personalities shine in a way that can’t be done in physical action sequences. Thom and Moiraine’s mutual unearthing of each other’s secrets is an entertaining way to expose their backstories and have them vie for leverage over each other. Berelain’s and Faile’s quick exchange of blows sets up a conflict that will continue to nip at Perrin for a long time to come. Mat and Perrin. Nynaeve and Lan. Rhuarc and Faile. Elmindreda and Gawyn. A lot of effort has gone into presenting the emotional and personal lives of the characters in these early chapters, which should provide a large payoff when the action-oriented sequences get underway.
The Myrddraal knew Mat had sounded the Horn. There are few people who knew that, so this may have been a clue about Black Ajah. But if Lanfear knew, or guessed it, then it’s a moot point. The purpose of the statement is to make Mat realize that he can try running away, but the Shadow will follow him. He is being pulled to fulfill his destiny.
A mysterious Aes Sedai murders Sahra Covenry and the farmers watching over her. Dislike of Elaida is so strong this is taken as potential proof she must be Black Ajah. Recall that she shared her own suspicions with someone else. The point of showing the two Aes Sedai, Elaida and Alviarin, discussing those suspicions earlier, is so readers can make the connection between their discussion and the murders. Had the author wanted to implicate someone else, he should have made the knowledge of Sahra’s interaction with Elmindreda more widespread.
Here are a few examples of how one character’s emotional life is made more personal by the way it reflects how they view the other characters you are reading about. As an added bonus, they all seem to be about relations between the sexes.
Mat: He was surprised Egwene and Nynaeve had not dusted while they were down here. Women were always dusting and straightening, even things that did not need it.
Mat: Nynaeve liked finding ways to make a man work; likely she had deliberately hunted out some fellows enjoying themselves.
Thom: Horrible woman. If we had turned her loose on the Trollocs, she’d have had them all sweeping and mopping.
Thom: She wanted to separate him from Rand, leave him naked to her manipulations.
Mat: Especially Bode. Probably thinking of marriage before too much longer, already with some dull farmer picked out whether the fellow knew it or not.
Faile: Swaying along as if that walk of hers was not deliberately calculated to make male eyes pop.
Moiraine: Wretched boys playing with things you do not know the danger of. Perrin! Is Perrin in there too? Did he share your… exploit?
Nynaeve: He may be a man, but he is not a complete dolt.
Min: “Oh, I could never forget meeting you, my Lord Galad”, she said in her best foolish girl voice.
Min: “I fear I know little of books my Lord Gawyn. I always mean to read one – I do. But there is so little time. Why, just fixing my hair properly takes hours. Do you think it is pretty?” It was a pleasure to turn the tables on him for a change; she would have to see if she could do it more often.

Writing Lessons:
Show how your characters react to other people and situations, not only in relation to the main plot.

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