Tuesday, 6 March 2012

The Shadow Rising - Chapters 8-12

In this section, the Heroes make plans.
Rand’s plan is coming together. This time he is the one who points out the books he has been studying. Two references to the titles and Rand’s plan is like a hammer over the reader’s head. The reader is told ‘these are the clues’ but must still guess their significance on their own. A deeper mystery would not announce the clues so blatantly. The author may draw attention to a small mystery in order to focus attention away from another one that he does not want the reader to focus on yet.  
Lanfear begins the process of telling Rand about the Forsaken, saidin, and the past. Since there are no modern characters which can easily fill the role of knowledgeable mentor on these topics, Lanfear and Ba’alzamon have filled this role. Rand gives an indication of having another source of information, when he seems to know something about Lanfear from the past. Given that he seems able to pull weaves out of thin air, it may not be surprising that he can pull facts out of thin air as well. By setting precedents, a new ability that appears to be a slight modification of existing ones seems more plausible. This recollection of a long past event will serve as a precedent for more detailed memories that Rand will remember later in the story. The author drags out the development of this ability as slowly as possible.
Rand gets two insights from Lanfear: Callandor must be kept safe, and he needs a teacher.
Egwene, Nynaeve, and Elayne must make their own plan, settling on Tanchico and the rumour of an object that is dangerous to Rand. The sense of evil pervading the city might be an indication of the Black Ajah’s presence. This only seems likely if it is due to the actions the Panarch is carrying out under the Black Ajah’s influence. If you could sense evil in tel’aran’rhiod based on the presence of Black Ajah, then the White Tower itself would suffer the same miasma from the hordes of Blacks walking its halls.
Elayne’s plan is to spend as much time with Rand as possible. She succeeds brilliantly, with some help from Aiel who find helping them find private moments a fun way to spend their time. Many readers complain about the unlikely romance, but it feels right to me. At first sight, they find each other attractive, spend some time apart, and when opportunity knocks they seize it, like typical teenagers. The unlikely part is that Elayne would have found the second opportunity to meet Rand. The fact that he is the Dragon Reborn, and leader of a nation now makes the romance possible, and much more palatable than whatever other arranged marriage might have come her way. Despite being a teenager, Elayne recognizes a good political marriage when she sees it. She’s in love at first sight, but she’s already lining it up so that the romance has a chance in the upscale world her mother controls, and Morgase is a master at the Game of Houses. Deciding that she is willing to risk her mother’s wrath is a significant commitment on Elayne’s part, one she would not undertake if it had no hope of success.
Egwene’s plan is to seek out a teacher. Amys invites her to the Aiel Waste to become a pupil, and Egwene’s thirst for knowledge and desire to get away from Nynaeve and follow her own path coincide with this opportunity nicely. There is a brilliant one sentence summary of everything Egwene knows about tel’aran’rhiod so far: A woman could be killed there, or stilled. Any other rules have, to the best of my knowledge, been followed consistently up until this point in the story. Some other readers will dispute this and point to the ‘new’ rules being introduced. It is only now that the impermanence of everyday objects is brought to the reader’s attention. In past visits, either the environment was established by a villain, or the visit was in a locale where not much ever moved, such as in the dungeons of the Stone of Tear, where doors are always shut and locked.
Mat’s plan is to fill the holes in his memory, and escape the dangers he sees so he can enjoy a life of carousing. Those who know him best see through his guile. He very nearly finds the redstone doorway, but simply in searching for it readers are reminded of it. Someone is going to walk through it.
Perrin’s plan is to get Faile away from danger. Like Rand, he dislikes others he cares about being in danger simply from being around him, as though they didn’t freely choose to take that risk. The idea that someone is free to decide what risks they will take and to apply this in a relationship of equals recurs often in the story. It’s how Elayne views her relationship with Rand, it’s how Egwene wants her relationship with Nynaeve to be.
We will later learn who killed Joiya and Amico. The observation that the Shadow has resources beyond what they know is meant to serve as a fearsome introduction to that resource, when he appears later in the book. Perhaps it is simply that no more than a throwaway line was spent on this, which explains why this tactic did not work. It will take a direct admission to their murder 4 books from now to make the link. I never understood why it had to be an unknown resource, when any old Myrddraal could have appeared in their cell and killed them. The mystery and concern would have been better served with an additional line or two about why it couldn’t be any of the known Shadowspawn, or even a Forsaken for that matter.
We will also later learn who was behind the Trollocs and Myrddraal aiding Rand in the Stone of Tear. This event served to remind readers that the Forsaken all follow slightly different objectives. Some may aid Rand just to prevent other Forsaken from getting the upper hand. In this case, orders to protect Rand and end the Trolloc threat came from the Dark One himself, though it will be books later that this is learned.
For each of these scenes, an element of mystery is added, and they serve to remind or tell readers something important.
Writing Lessons:  
Placing an element of immediate interest can distract the reader from another story element you don’t want them to pay too close attention to.

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