Thursday, 31 May 2012

A Crown of Swords - Chapters 4-8

In this section, the heroes are back in command, for now
Colavaere has her lands and titles stripped from her as punishment for usurping the throne of Cairhien. She exemplifies the follower who gets ahead of herself, betraying her Lord for power.
Perrin has his own betrayal to deal with, as he reconciles with Faile over Berelain’s unwanted attentions and his slip of the tongue in the throne room. Unlike previous books where the theme was about rifts between men and women which would have dragged out any reconciliation, or where the theme was about deceit and trickery which is when the unnecessary argument between the two began, this time the theme is about the trust in people closest to you. Perrin comments on Faile’s disregard for her own safety and intent to do things her own way, as a wife should. Faile comments on her fears that the Aes Sedai had somehow turned Perrin. Sometimes certain events seem to have been set aside waiting for the book with the correct theme to come along before dealing with it. Other times the plot just rolls along and the author presents the plot elements in a way that fit the theme of that book, without delaying or forcing the plot’s progress.
Colavaere’s removal allows the author to draw attention to Rand’s scheme to invest Elayne in the thrones of Cairhien and Andor. Handing these nations to Elayne whole is important to Rand, and is a symbol of how he hopes to preserve the world itself through the struggles of the Last Battle. To pull this off, Rand must put faith in his trusted followers, who are few enough that he can name them. Rand repeatedly distinguishes between the followers he can trust, and those he can’t.
When the Wise Ones send word ahead to Melaine in Andor about Rand’s kidnapping and rescue, she shares it with Bael, Dorindha, and Davram and Deira Bashere. Rand has to quash his anger at the freedom his followers allow themselves. This group is split in two over the Aes Sedai captives. Rand is left to puzzle over how other Aes Sedai will be treated when he encounters them.
The Aes Sedai in question are led by Egwene, who must snatch what authority she can from the three competing factions among the rebels. She can barely control her official advisor, and she completely loses control of her captive Forsaken. Symbolizing how little control she has, in the first sentence even her folding chair can’t be trusted to stay erected. The discussion veers into spies in the camp, both for Elaida, sent to Elaida, and the most feared covert spies of all: the Black Ajah.
This is one of the first instances where the author has shown the same scene twice. This version is not exactly a flashback, but more of a fleshed out version of the short page-long scene from Lord of Chaos. Why do it this way?
In Lord of Chaos, Moghedien’s escape is meant to be a punchline and a disruptive plot element. It didn’t have to be long or detailed, it just needed to shock the reader into realizing that the villains have not been set back at all and are advancing their own goals. In this wordier section, the groundwork is being laid for Egwene’s storyline. But establishing the status quo among the rebels doesn’t require showing the same scene over again, or even continuing from that moment; it could even have been a meeting with Sheriam a week or a month later. What the scene does offer is establishing when the events happen to Egwene, in relation to when Rand’s events take place. This is of some interest to the reader, but not quite necessary, and could again have been handled with a ‘one week ago Moghedien escaped’ sort of line. The scene offers an immediate reason for Egwene to reason out which Forsaken yet live, noting that Ishamael was dead , ‘or so it seemed’, and also to wonder about the Aes Sedai look of agelessness, which will become relevant in the later Ebou Dar scenes.
Writing Lessons:
Have a good reason to show a scene twice, or from two different perspectives.

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