Thursday, 10 May 2012

Lord of Chaos - Chapters 24-27

In this section, Egwene maneuvers through some tricky situations.
Egwene’s biggest concern is getting brought back to the Tower by unfriendly Aes Sedai. While the Embassy certainly has reason to apprehend her as per Elaida’s orders, the lies she has been telling or letting others believe risk increasing the severity of her treatment once in their hands. So, she has some fancy footwork to do.
She convinces the Aiel Wise Ones not to let on that she is there. She convinces Gawyn not to report her. She almost has to ask Rand for protection. With her objective firmly in mind, she is hardly deterred by any of the actions she is forced to take to accomplish her goal. This single-mindedness is the character trait that will make her more powerful than other Dreamers in Tel’aran’rhiod, where force of will gives power. Her goal has shifted slightly from earlier. She no longer wants Rand to meet the Aes Sedai in Salidar because she is worried about his mental state. It would be sufficient to mess up his relations with the Tower Aes Sedai.
Egwene has thoroughly embraced the ethics and conventions of the Aiel, shaming random people in the street when their behaviour is found wanting, not understanding why she finds servants so irritating. Aiel society is built upon personal honour, which is gained through one’s own actions. Deferring to others only happens when they have more honour, which might be a consequence of having more sense than others. Berelain gained much standing with the Aiel for acknowledging her past errors and correcting her behaviour. She may be the only other character than Egwene to receive and adopt some form of ji’e’toh in their personal code of ethics. I’ll look for signs she retains any of it once she meets up with Perrin again.
The introduction of several Aes Sedai in Elaida’s Embassy, Nesune, Coiren, Galina, Sarene, Katerine, and Erian, is quite a bit for readers to wrap their heads around. Katerine and Galina have already been tagged as both Red Ajah and Black Ajah, either of which would be an effective tag to remember them by. Aside from their own Ajahs, there are no memorable tags for the other Aes Sedai. Even after they meet Rand, they feel interchangeable. The author tried to overcome this by having Egwene discuss them with the Wise Ones beforehand, but it did not work effectively since Egwene’s descriptions had no tags which could be easily fitted to their respective Aes Sedai when they visited Rand. Having read the passages twice, and with foreknowledge of which ones will show up later and in what capacity is the only thing which kept them distinct in my mind. While this could still be intentional in keeping with the theme of confusion and uncertainty, their importance in the story makes me think this is more of a failure than deliberate.
Egwene and Gawyn have a bit of a silly teen romance. Having spent some time together in the Tower as friends of sorts, Egwene has decided that she is in love with him as much as he is in love with her. They make vows not to betray one another, and not to help each other within the limits they can. Yet from Egwene’s perspective it makes sense. Egwene has disdain for canoodling before marriage and she is very conservative in her views on proper relationships. It stands to reason that once she finds someone, she will throw herself into the relationship with abandon, fully expecting it to end in a lifetime of matrimony and Bonding with the One Power. Having set aside her pre-planned marriage to Rand, this is the first time she is in love, and she acts with all the rashness and naiveté of a teen in love.
Egwene stumbles on the constant and powerful use of the One Power by the Aes Sedai. This is the first time the ability to detect channeling has been used in a strategic manner. In the past the ability to be found because you could channel has been a weakness to be worked around, but the Tower Aes Sedai turn it into strength. This is the case for many abilities and weaves in the series. First the ability or weave is introduced, then it is used several times, and once familiar with its properties, it is used in a new fashion to give an advantage. Robert Jordan’s patience in this regard is astounding, but it almost always pays off by giving a sense of wonder and discovery to the reader.
The Sea Folk have sought out Rand, in two cities no less. A plot for another day, since there have already been Taim and the Ogier showing up unannounced; a third such visit might start pushing it.
Egwene describes how she would Travel using Tel’aran’rhiod. She would create a similarity between the real world and its reflection in Tel’aran’rhiod, which should make it possible to simply step from one to the other. This sounds like what Rand has done in the past, we’ll see if it is when Egwene tries it.
Further causing Rand to let down his guard, a weak attack by Fain’s Whitecloaks fails, and Rand’s guards don’t do much that he could not have handled himself, just as Bashere predicted. His Aiel guards warn him that a weak ambush is sometimes just a setup for a later strong ambush. His guards are correct, as this is precisely the tactic the Embassy will use. But in the next scene, Rand next learns he is not related to Elayne, and is relieved. This relief has nothing to do with ambushes, yet its placement at that point in the story will have the effect of inducing confidence and relaxation. It’s all good. Whatever we were worried about just before doesn’t matter now, does it? The discussion of connecting lines to Ishara could have been placed virtually anywhere in the story, yet it is used to great effectiveness to get both Rand and the reader’s guard down.

Writing Lessons:
Place scenes in an order that creates the desired effect on the reader’s emotions.

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