Saturday, 3 March 2012

The Shadow Rising - Chapters 3-7

In this section, Moiraine realizes Rand is slipping out of her control, while romantic interests and secrets take center stage.
After many adventures, the heroes finally have some time to share each other’s company. Off page, every character seems to have some interaction with every other character, sharing information, reminiscing about the past, and talking about their future. Despite the apparent kinship and shared objectives, many of them begin keeping secrets. Egwene doesn’t tell Moiraine about her Dream ter’angreal. Perrin doesn’t tell Faile about his Wolfbrother abilities. Thom doesn’t tell anyone but Rand he’s deep into the Game of Houses again. Rand doesn’t tell anyone what he’s planning. Nynaeve and Egwene continue not to acknowledge each other’s competency. Moiraine still acts secretively, unable to truly work as part of a team after so many years on her own. For all that the heroes only have each other to lean on, living under the same roof in the Stone of Tear poses some difficulties. Until much later, this is the last time they will all be under one roof.
The points of view switch quickly, now including Thom and Elayne on top of more Perrin and Egwene chapters. The rapid pace of point of view shifts from the end of The Dragon Reborn doesn’t let up, driving the pace of this novel.
An element of mystery is introduced, with Rand insisting he must do what no one expects, while keenly avoiding revealing what his plan is. Clues are dropped: book titles, an unrelated story told by Moiraine,  so that keen-eyed readers can guess the first part involves a redstone doorway. The reminder that the Aiel are there for He Who Comes With The Dawn and Rand’s possible Aiel heritage may be enough to let readers guess the last part of his plan. Maybe. For the most part, the clues are being placed without realizing there is a mystery to solve, so it will all come back to whether the details stuck with the reader.
Moiraine is angry with Rand because he can’t see what needs to be done, and he is reluctant about going to war. The Two Rivers women have an equally difficult time fitting the concept into their worldview. Elayne understands that war and widespread destruction cannot be avoided no matter what Rand does. He may not have to embrace it, but he can’t avoid it, so he might as well do it on his terms, meaning Moiraine’s terms. Moiraine and the Two Rivers women think of a man as something to be managed, to be directed and told what to do. Men do not enjoy being henpecked.
Egwene, beginning to undo her ties to the Two Rivers, gives Elayne her blessing to pursue Rand, and releases Rand from the implied promise they would wed. Worried that Rand will fall for another woman, or has already, Elayne makes her move for Rand. She treats him the way she expects to be treated in kind, with an understanding that he has his own life to live and his own destiny to fulfill, and it is not up to her to control it. This is a style of laissez-faire relationship is depicted at various times throughout the series. For example, in Chapter 1 Min tried to get Gawyn to understand that he can’t protect Elayne or Egwene against their will, the people he loves have to be free to make their mistakes and earn their success without him.
Friendships are made with various Aiel encountered in previous books. Their presence and apparent devotion to Rand make everyone nervous. The fact that there are five named Aiel characters, more than any other group but the Emond’s Fielders themselves, is a strong indication of their importance.
The High Lords continue to act like overbearing egotists, and the Heroes continue to look good simply by echoing the reader’s sentiments about them. Everyone likes seeing bad people get their comeuppance, whether it’s Thom crafting messages riddled with innuendo to knock them down, or a Black Ajah being stilled, or Rand melting down implements of torture as soon as he learns the dungeons are stocked with them.
The Black Ajah prisoners seem willing to help their questioners, would even reveal more of about their plots, if only that pesky Oath wasn’t preventing it. That Oath is remarkably effective at forcing them to keep secrets. Amico’s face gives a first example of the effects of stilling on an Aes Sedai’s face, one that makes later use of that effect more credible and less contrived.
Many important aspects of Rand’s channeling are revealed for the first time. He is incredibly powerful, but a comparison with the two women who are more powerful than any other Aes Sedai is an effective way to demonstrate the measure of his power. He can vaguely sense a woman’s channeling. He has no one to teach him how to use the One Power. The lack of a teacher is presented as a problem without a solution, so readers won’t really be looking for Rand to find one. He channels instinctively, somehow weaving what he needs with no knowledge of how he does so. Given Egwene’s and Nynaeve’s ability to do the same, to a lesser degree, I wonder if that ability comes with great strength in the Power.
Two magic objects are brought into the story, the redstone doorway and an unknown object in Tanchico that the Black Ajah may be seeking. Ter’angreal have been discussed before this, but there is a sense that there will be more emphasis on these objects from now on.  
Writing Lessons:
Using more characters lets you examine a point in a number of different ways.

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