Monday, 2 April 2012

The Fires of Heaven - Chapters 28-32

In this section, several characters find themselves trapped in good circumstances.
Gareth knows he’ll never leave Salidar, but figures he has little to lose now. Gareth’s perspective is entertaining, providing keen insight into the politics and earning respect for the no-nonsense approach while surrounding by schemers. If for some reason readers didn’t take to Siuan, they will take to Gareth in opposition as he makes Siuan clean his boots. Gareth getting the upper hand over the Aes Sedai in his bargaining is fun to watch as well. Gareth has acquired reader’s sympathy by his ill treatment at the hands of Morgase and Rahvin. So long as Morgase, Elayne and Thom remain to remind readers of how things were in Caemlyn before the bad times, Gareth is likely to retain that sympathy.
Min turns the tables on both of them by telling Siuan she must stay near him or they will both die. The most likely reason is that without her cleaning duties to occupy her, her role guiding the rebels would be found out by the villains, and they would put an end to her. Min’s Viewing doesn’t specify a particular occasion, it is a warning against a certain behaviour, -staying away from Gareth for too far or too long- that may create an irreversible situation that ends with her death.
Kadere can’t understand why Isendre can’t seduce Rand. When he learns Isendre’s suspicions that Aviendha got there first, there is nothing left for him but to murder her. Kadere believes that the way to control Rand is through sexual relations with women that Kadere controls.
Rand discovers he is wealthy, possibly as wealthy as any man in the world. Aiel law gives him ownership of 1/50th of everything in the Stone of Tear, and of the kingdom itself since they surrendered to him. Tairen law doesn’t cover the eventual return of the Dragon Reborn, or any other conqueror who takes over the Stone; it has always been assumed the High Lords would rule forevermore. No one was likely to argue against Rand taking anything he wants, so an imposed limit of 1/50th is actually in their favour.
Wealth is a dangerous advantage to give a character. Buying off the opposition can offer a way out of many situations, so there always has to be some means of keeping this advantage in check. In Elayne’s case, she is in a remote location where her wealth cannot be used and her title carries the danger of abduction. Moiraine’s letters of rights can allow spies to track her down. Separating the character from the source of their wealth, often making the leave home, is usually sufficient to remove this advantage. Wealth often provokes resentment or other negative emotions in the reader. Most nobles and wealthy people in the series have had unfavourable portrayals. Rand’s earlier instinct was to feed the refugees in Cairhien, which somewhat removes any negative association with the so-called nobility, so readers might assume that his wealth will be put to that purpose.
Rand’s naiveté mirrors my own when I first read this series, never seeing Aviendha’s attraction to him despite the earlier emphasis, and thinking marriage was the only logical outcome. Rand’s later comment reflects all-too familiar entitlement: She can’t really mean never again. This book, more than any of the previous ones has honed in on male-female relationships, since Rand’s love life plays such a pivotal role. The author skillfully captures the good, bad, and humourous sides of relationships.
The Seanchan make a surprise appearance, and Aviendha demonstrates how enemies should be treated. Rand agrees that he needs to be harder.
I’ll analyze a paragraph relating to desperation, when Rand is hauling Aviendha from cold water. Desperation is tricky to portray, it easily veers towards parodying itself.
Got to pull her out. He crawled backward, hauling at her. She was a dead weight, sliding slowly out of the water. Don’t care if the ice scrapes her. Better that than freezing or drowning. Back. Keep moving. If you quit, she dies. Keep moving, burn you! Crawling. Pulling with his legs, pushing with one hand. The other locked in Aviendha’s hair; no time to get a better grip; she could not feel it anyway. You’ve had it easy for too long. Lords kneeling, and gai’shain running to fetch your wine, and Moiraine doing as she’s told. Back. Time to do something yourself, if you still can. Move, you flaming fatherless son of a spavined goat! Keep moving!
The sentences are clipped short, emphasizing action instead of the lengthy wordy sentences we are used to.  The lack of detail in each short sentence creates fear in the reader as they wonder what is happening. The seriousness is belied by certain words: Got to, dead, don’t care, if you quit, she dies, no time, she could not feel it, keep moving, move! Rand makes several choices between bad and worse outcomes: scrapes vs. drowning; freezing vs. getting a better grip; effort vs. quit. The imagery shows slowness and difficulty of movement: crawled, hauled, dead weight, slowly, back, crawling, pushing with one hand, locked, could not feel it. Rand’s building personal turmoil is revealed as he needs to save her, curses himself for fatigue, admonishes himself for having helpers, taunts himself for laziness, and finally lashes out with a long string of curses.
Writing Lessons:
Build up the emotion to show your character’s desperation.

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