Monday, 28 May 2012

Lord of Chaos - Summary

100th post! I am averaging two posts every three days. Slower than hoped, but satisfactory.
Other books in the series have dabbled in humour, while Lord of Chaos makes it a central theme, with a focus on who gets the last laugh, usually through trickery. In a pair of sequences bookending the novel, the principal villain Demandred has never been known to smile, but finally tells a story that has the Dark One himself laughing.  
Between those bookends, a multitude of other characters scheme and plot to get the upper hand. There are layers of subterfuge, beginning with Rand’s use of the world’s largest army to distract Sammael from the true attack. This is one of two major plots in the book, but this one remains unresolved, as though it was a distraction itself, a piece of patter meant to lure the reader one way so the punch line of the second plot line can surprise them to the fullest.
The second major plotline is the competition between the two Aes Sedai embassies to see who will recruit Rand to their cause. The setup implies he will choose one or the other, but the resolution is something else entirely, where both end up serving Rand instead.
Both of these plots, and myriad smaller ones, involve deceit and trickery, but are not presented as a question of the trickery surprising the reader. Often the trickery is exposed, but determining who benefits is the question, given that there are several reversals of fortune. The ultimate example is that in the end Rand’s victory has been the goal the Dark One sought, against all logic.
The injustice done to Rand is such that his victory provides immense satisfaction, so much so that the reader hardly notices that other plotlines involving other heroic characters or the battle with Sammael have been left unresolved. Since the following book, A Crown of Swords, ties these up, the two novels might be viewed as halves of a whole.  
Writing Lessons:
Reader satisfaction comes from emotional reaction, not from the resolution of the plot itself.

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