Wednesday, 13 June 2012

A Crown of Swords - Chapters 25-28

In this section, old villains return
Moghedien’s escape is shown for a third time as a flashback in her own point of view. This time, it is short and to the point, serving only as introduction for what happens to her later. Moghedien is being punished inside a vacuole, which I can only conceive as being like a drop of condensation on the surface of the Pattern. It is attached to the Pattern, but not truly part of it, and the laws of space and time inside it can vary considerably. Sometimes the vacuole can detach from the Pattern. This is the third strange world we’ve seen where time runs at a different speed, the others being Mirror Worlds and the world of the Aelfinn and Eelfinn. I wonder if vacuoles might be parts of the Pattern no longer needed, which slowly wither before falling off, or maybe new buds which form new Mirror Worlds.
Her punishment consists of reliving the same dream over and over. The dream is being dictated to her, she has no control over it, as though she had entered the Dark One’s dreams and had become a player in it, much as we’ve seen in other examples of being stuck in someone else’s dream, even to the point of not truly realizing it is a dream.
Moghedien’s journey to Shayol Ghul is altered, as her Skimming platform arrives instantly instead of taking the expected several minutes or hour. The Dark One has a little effort left over to bend reality despite fixing the seasons at the height of summer. This ability is strongly implied to come from the True Power; a Power first introduced a few chapters ago by the mysterious watcher in the woods. Moghedien thinks that reality was clay to the Great Lord at Shayol Ghul, and then describes how she can bathe in the radiant glory of the Great Lord, the True Power washing around her, so strong here that attempting to channel it would fry her to a cinder. The True Power is thus linked with the ability to reshape reality, which is as much as the author wants to say on the subject until several books later. It is noteworthy that he waited this long before explaining the major tool at the villains’ disposal, and that he waits much longer before bringing it up again. The reader needs to know it so later chapters will work, but the author doesn’t want them thinking about it too much.
A third mystery character is introduced: Moridin is a man set above the Forsaken, whom even Shaidar Haran seems to serve. This is a new and unexpected development. Shaidar Haran has two resurrected Forsaken serving him, while Moghedien and one other serve Moridin. That makes up to five Forsaken in this secret group, while five others still roam the world. There are no blatant personality traits linking Moridin to Ishamael, the reader has to get there through logic, reasoning, and counting. It is left to the reader to decipher Moridin’s plans, and there is little to go on. The intent is to destabilize the reader, much as was done with Cadsuane’s introduction, showing a powerful new character to balance Cadsuane’s arrival. How does Moridin have the will to resist the True Power now that the saa have appeared in his eyes?
The mindtrap is a device which embodies the Dark One’s morals. The evil societies and characters all crave obedience, and the master’s desires are all that matters, the servant exists only to serve. The mindtrap forces voluntary obedience using the threat of eternal obedience. The one mindtrapped can only hope to escape or live for the moments of freedom when the master’s attention is directed elsewhere.
In Amador, Morgase’s master has changed several times. Niall wanted her to come to serve him willingly which she gave, then Valda exacted her capitulation under threat of pain, which she gave, and now Suroth demands an Oath under threat of enslavement as a damane. Having started by giving a little promise, the demands have grown into a promise of complete servility to the Seanchan. She now realizes her poor choices have led her to the point where anything else she does only serves to give more to her enemies and take more away from Andor. Amathera and Pura demonstrate what the Oath may entail. Giving up leadership is her only path to being a true leader to her people, something Rand will later repeat.
Balwer, a servant with no master, comes to Morgase’s aid. His motivation was to steal Valda’s prize to repay his poor treatment, but Suroth will do just as well. The Seanchan’s return is at the end of a series of introductions and reappearances of powerful enemies. There is a feeling that the Dark One’s forces are gathering which overwhelms the small victories the heroes have made in Salidar and Ebou Dar.
The grim mood continues with Perrin leaving Cairhien after a very public argument with Rand about his behaviour concerning the Aes Sedai prisoners. A potent flashback cuts down the amount of exposition needed. The chapter opens with a paragraph on Perrin’s regrets, a second paragraph on Rand promoting fear amongst his servants, and then the introduction to the flashback. By placing the flashback early in the chapter, the order of events is maintained without having to describe what happened before and immediately after their confrontation. The decision not to play up their argument stems from wanting to continue setting the mood of insurmountable obstacles and the fact that the argument is a sham, a ploy to divert attention away from Perrin while he carries out Rand’s orders. Knowing of the plot beforehand reduces an emotional impact that can be wrung out of it, this simply isn’t a powerful enough scene to warrant much attention.
The chapter also serves to list Perrin’s followers, describe his mission, and the likely obstacle she will face. As with the tail end of Lord of Chaos when Elayne and Nynaeve begin their search in Ebou Dar, this is just the beginning of the new quest, which will carry over several books. Since his battle in the Two Rivers, Perrin has only shown up briefly in the prologue of Lord of Chaos, briefly again later in that book, and for several chapters at the beginning of this one. Having been mostly absent for a long time, Perrin is about to become a steady player, much to the chagrin of many readers.
Mat has had dice rolling in his head, then not, several times in Ebou Dar. The dice first stop when he stays in the randomly selected inn that Setalle Anan owns. This is because he has acquired the link to the people needed for the Bowl of the Winds to be found. The dice start again, then stop when he agrees to stay in the Palace, because he can now form a relationship with Tylin. The dice start a third time before Beslan’s approval of Mat’s relationship with his mother disturbs him at the right moment to follow a random Kinswoman to a house on the Rahad. The dice are still spinning…
Writing Lessons:
The location of a flashback within a chapter will affect mood and comprehension.  A flashback’s length and placement can serve you as much as it’s content.

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