Wednesday, 30 May 2012

A Crown of Swords - Chapters 1-4

In this section Perrin reveals how everyone feels.
Perrin’s ability to tell mood from a person’s scent allows a much more intimate understanding of the characters he meets than you would normally get from the typical third-person limited point of view. Without this ability, he and the reader would only have the usual visual and auditory clues to rely on. From any character’s point of view, there is always the chance that they are wrong, that they are an unreliable narrator like Mat or Nynaeve. Perrin’s ability is unerringly accurate. He lacks the context to understand many of the scents or emotions he is detecting, but he is never wrong about them.
Perrin can tell when Lews Therin is the more active of the two minds in Rand’s body. He knows how eager Aram is to kill. He can tell that a meek gai’shain is seething inside. He can tell when a man shifts from boasting to fear. He knows when the unflappable Aes Sedai are wary, or puzzled, or infuriated. In short, Perrin knows what you are thinking on the inside, which makes a Perrin point of view act as if told by an omniscient narrator.
So, Perrin makes a good choice of point of view character in situations where the author wants to introduce and establish the goals of a large number of characters, such as at the beginning of this book. Perrin is able to reveal the hidden moods of Tairens, Cairhienin, Aiel, individual Maidens, Mazrim Taim, the Asha’man, the Wise Ones, the captured Aes Sedai, the Two Rivers men, Alanna, Min, Loial, Dashiva.
In keeping with the proposed theme of subordinates choosing their path in this book, Perrin’s ability is also useful in establishing the relationship between the various leaders and their subordinates: Rand and Mazrim Taim, Mazrim Taim and the Asha’man, Bera and Kiruna and the other Aes Sedai, Sorilea and the other Wise Ones, Nandera and Sulin, and more. In almost all cases, the subordinates balk at what they have to do.
Aram seems like he’d do what Perrin told him not to the second his back was turned. The Two Rivers men never obey certain orders. Alanna is willfully stubborn to Bera and Kiruna in matters regarding her warder.  Mazrim Taim undermines Rand’s other followers implying only he can be trusted. The Aes Sedai try to set themselves above Rand even after they swore fealty to him. Feraighin struggles to tell Sorilea exactly everything she asked for, but fails to tell her something which she should have realized Sorilea would want to know.
All of this leads into the major obvious threat, which is that Rand’s followers in Cairhien are beginning to abandon him because they believe he has sworn fealty to the Aes Sedai.
A more insidious threat which also falls into the theme is that Perrin is ready to let the Pattern burn to save Faile. He will defy any order or action that puts Faile in danger. Surprisingly, of all the followers who may rebel against their leader, Perrin is not the one the reader would have expected.
Writing lessons:
To surprise the reader, give examples of behaviour the character disagrees with, then show what they care about enough that they would behave in just that way.

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