Monday, 18 June 2012

A Crown of Swords - Chapters 33-36

In this section, Rand regains his confidence and uses his unique abilities
In earlier chapters, the nature of being a ta’veren was discussed. Perrin hopes it will work for him while Mat’s ability was actively exploited by Elayne and Nynaeve.  Rand now decides to try use his ta’veren event-twisting to gain allies.
Ta’veren usually works in subtle ways, providing what is needed and drawing it near the ta’veren for the moment when it is needed. Being ta’veren altered the chance Min would fall hopelessly in love with Rand, providing a means for Rand to get glimmers of what lies ahead. Her personality is familiar and comforting, since she had an upbringing very similar to his own. Whatever she says, Rand can accept it more easily than from anyone else except maybe Egwene.   
Min tells Rand about a viewing of two men merging and one surviving. Rand decides it must mean that Lews Therin is real and that he is not mad after all. Hot on the heels of Cadsuane’s warning about the voices, Rand’s cobbled-together explanation based on more hope than fact is presented as the correct conclusion. It is still possible that Lews Therin’s voice is not there and he really is mad. The author’s ability to pull the reader one way while the evidence all points the other way continues to impress.
Rand finally visits the Sea Folk who have been waiting on him in two cities since Lord of Chaos. The ta’veren effect sweeps Harine up, and she spends the next few minutes conceding things instead of bargaining for them. She would likely have booted Rand right off the ship, Coramoor or not, except once told Min’s Viewing everyone realizes it is a done deal. Harine will make the Bargain, be punished for it, yet still eventually become Mistress of the Ships. The Sea Folk are a culture with very rigid rules for the hierarchy, but unlike the Seanchan who also have strict rules, there is a lot of mobility within Sea Folk culture. An ominous warning about the Seanchan is given just in time for their reappearance in just a few chapters.
With the Sea Folk firmly in hand and about to capitulate, Rand walks away from the table. Not because of a sudden attack or other plot device, but because he feels confined and it reminds him of his captivity. Cadsuane soon learns the truth of the captivity and how it affects him and realizes how difficult it will make her task. This major obstacle is character driven instead of plot driven. The implication that Rand can make mistakes because of this new behaviour is concerning since he rashly decides to see how far he can next push his ta’veren ability with the rebels. His optimism is summed up: “I’m the Dragon Reborn, and today I can do anything.”
Rand randomly appears in the woods, only meters from Caraline Damodred and Lord Darlin who are drawn into the ta’veren web. Caraline realizes who Rand is while her companions all accept Rand’s alias without question, inferring that the Damodreds are all smart cookies, especially Moiraine. Right then Min reveals that she had a Viewing of Moiraine that failed even though they just left a situation where the outcome rested on the assumption that her Viewings never failed. Min does not realize that her Viewing means that Moiraine is not dead. From the reader’s perspective, this apparent loophole is important in undermining confidence in Min’s Viewings, since that will come into play in later books. Other loopholes such as ‘if’ statements or choices help reduce certainty. The reader has to decide whether Min’s Viewing is wrong or whether her Viewings are always right and the other evidence is wrong.   
Min also drops hints that she is reading Fel’s books, looking for clues about what he was trying to tell Rand. Despite this and other later indications, her insights in this area still have a feel of implausibility, but I can’t figure out why; something to keep an eye on.
Being ta’veren draws Rand to Padan Fain. The wound he inflicts on Rand in just the right spot to not kill him instantly is another ta’veren twist. Grady’s healing provides Rand with the most important clue he will need for his later effort to cleanse Saidin. More importantly, Grady infers that the Asha’man are learning new weaves all the time, even without permission. This is akin to when the Aes Sedai were first introduced and every spell cast had no explanation, it was just Aes Sedai work, and needed no further explanation. Now that readers are familiar with the powers and limitations the Aes Sedai have, it is useful to the author to have a wild card that can be played by the Asha’man. “Oh this? Just a little weave I invented.” And now many situations can be resolved with an all-encompassing explanation, much like ta’veren. To a lesser extent he did the same with the Kin and their ability to do one Weave with the greatest proficiency.
Rand’s wound allows Cadsuane the opportunity to become part of his inner circle of advisors. Dashiva is already there, and is quite intent on making sure Rand has every chance to live, but is ambivalent to the outcome. The Asha’man are content to serve, so far.
The author uses verbs to great effect, and some of his choices stand out as different from the expected word selection, and symbolize something other than what they are describing.
Narishma colored, jerking himself stiffly erect. (several arousal-themed words to match the verb)
She was ready to leap if he crooked a finger (crooked implies improper behaviour)
Long trestle tables groaning with food and drink (groaning reveals Rand’s mood in the rebel’s camp)
Something crooked and red spiderwebbed across the outside of the void. (spiderwebbed is a new Jordan trademarked verb)
The fog seemed to deaden sound (threatening circumstances seem to invoke the word ‘dead’)
Fain’s dagger scored across Rand’s left side (scored implies a victory for Fain, a defeat for Rand)
Her eyebrows climbed halfway to her hair (climbing halfway symbolizes she doesn’t know as much as she thought she did)
Writing Lessons:
Use verbs that symbolize as well as describe the action.

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