Wednesday, 6 June 2012

A Crown of Swords - Chapters 12-13

In this section, Egwene wrangles some allies to her side, while Aviendha provides an obvious suggestion about a potential ally to her friends.
Egwene’s part in the book concludes with her discovering that Myrelle has a dark nasty secret. She received Lan’s bond without his permission. The true fault is Moiraine’s, but Myrelle is complicit. It’s a big enough faux pas that Egwene can force her to swear fealty.
Swearing to obey is portrayed as a bad thing when Aes Sedai swear to Rand, but as a good thing when these Aes Sedai do it for Egwene. The result is a feeling of uncertainty in both cases. While we’re happy Egwene is surmounting her difficulties, the fact that the Aes Sedai are constrained to obey absolutely puts a new spin on the obedience of followers theme.
Lan offers advice on the new followers: don’t let them argue again. This from a man who was compelled and had his bond passed off to Myrelle. Maybe he wanted to get back at them a little.
Off-page, the rest of Sheriam’s group will also swear fealty to Egwene. Having set the stage for their downfall, there is no purpose to showing more of the same here. Many authors would be tempted to show the big boss being taken down, but the victory was already won against Myrelle. Instead, the author lets Egwene and the readers imagine Sheriam’s downfall, showing a blissful Egwene feeling in control, at last. Yet while she basks in these good feelings, a Forsaken is standing over her, in a position of intimacy and trust, and possibly undetected influence. Using Sheriam in this way serves to set up the coming conflict, and is a very worthwhile trade off for not getting to show her downfall on-page.
Aviendha’s point of view is as alien as anyone’s but a Seanchan’s. A good portion of text is spent contrasting her understanding of the world with what we are familiar with.
Aviendha hits on the solution to finding the Bowl of the Winds. Use Mat’s ta’veren ability. This is another example contrasting similar situations. While Egwene could not get allies to support her, Nynaeve and Elayne have been purposely keeping their ally at arm’s length.
Elayne learns about bargaining the hard way. The Sea Folk have very strict rules about who leads or commands, while the pair of Aes Sedai are woefully unprepared. They quickly find that they are not equals with the Sea Folk as their meagre advantages are quickly stripped away. The overlapping conversations ending the chapter convey the sense of overwhelming chaos the women have thrown themselves into.
Here is an example of how a sentence can convey meaning about the situation while establishing facts about the society. Remarkably, the nouns make no difference to understanding the relative value attributed to them.
Do I see a Wavemistress and her Windfinder, or two deckgirls at their first shipmeet?
Do I see a Wise One and her Apprentice, or two Maidens at their first swap meet?
Do I see a physt and her yshesn, or two ujdnds at their first jsjdyf?
It is the words OR and FIRST that provide the contrast between experience and starting out. OR establishes the comparison, while FIRST supplies value to BOTH sides of the comparison. The comparison is supplemented by using nouns which include other value-laden words such as GIRL vs. MISTRESS.
Writing Lessons:
When introducing alien cultures, use words that establish familiar relationships with the unfamiliar terms.

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