Monday, 25 June 2012

The Path of Daggers - Prologue to Chapter 1

In this section, sinister forces move in the background
The prologue shows scenes from the point of view of three characters. It is unclear what each of the situations means in the prologue, since no clear threat is presented in two of the three sections, and even the third is vague. The vagueness of the threat is the point being made; the heroes have no idea where the threat is coming from or what it consists of.
The first section, from the point of view of Ethenielle, Queen of Kandor, comes out of nowhere. A rumour of missing rulers from earlier is proven true, and they are joining forces to march south and do something with Rand. They commit to each other, a blood oath that none will break. We see the strength of their resolve and their dedication to this cause; they were willing to kill to avoid detection. What they intend to do when they meet Rand is untold, but they will not shirk in the slightest from doing it. The reader may have slight worries, after all these are Borderland rulers who have spent their entire lives fighting the Shadow. They can’t mean Rand any harm. Unfortunately they have acquired thirteen Aes Sedai in their travels, whose motives remain unknown.
The second section picks up on the vague threat posed by the Aes Sedai and shows Verin questioning Elaida’s Aes Sedai. Verin has gone to great lengths to convince her handlers Sorilea and Amys that she can bring value to Rand by learning what Elaida had planned with regards to Rand. She has been given slight trust and she works hard to keep it. We are shown that personal discomfort and distaste for the actions she must take are no deterrent to Verin. She gives Sorilea everything she asks for and is meekly compliant. She will do what must be done and seems to have accepted that she must serve Rand as she swore to. She expresses disgust that Katerine was allowed to escape, which was made possible by forces that infiltrated the camp. And just when it seems like she has proven her trustworthiness, Verin reveals a forbidden weave and Compels an Aes Sedai to do… something. Verin’s motives become suspect. Why is she compelling the Aes Sedai and for what purpose? Why is she so quick to consider killing other Aes Sedai? How should the reader interpret her desire to keep Rand alive until it is time for him to die?
The third section reveals Moridin gloating that in the struggle to control Rand, he is manipulating both sides so that Rand will ultimately do as Moridin wishes. A metaphor is presented suggesting that those closest to Rand, holding the Fisher, will drive him to where Moridin needs him. The implication is that Rand’s allies may mishandle him, but even if they don’t then Moridin’s agents will act to destabilize him. There is no mention of a link between him and Rand.
The three sections moved from the vaguest threat to the most specific, but none of them do more than menace.
In Ebou Dar, Nynaeve still has the ability to sense imminent metaphorical storms. Her demeanor recently improved, she reaches out to help Teslyn and is soundly rejected.   Aviendha fears she is growing into a soft-hearted wetlander despite that her immediate solution to every problem is to kill someone. Aviendha exhibits the uncanny ability to know when an enemy is watching her. She catches the gholam in her sights, but she may also have detected Moridin despite his special skulker outfit. Aviendha reveals that rank amongst the Aiel stems from honour, the first outright statement on the subject. She has a plan for her future involving Rand and Elayne. Elayne asserted her position among the Aes Sedai recently, which has the consequence of cementing the Bargain she made with the Sea Folk even further. No one can countermand the Bargain she made.
Let’s examine a few short descriptors the author uses when other words might have done as well and see what was accomplished with their use:
snagged at her eye: You might often see something pull your eye, or catch it. ‘Snag’ is a more visceral word. It is used to describe how the riches of the Wetlands attract Aviendha with a violence that she is usually the one to dispense. It is used in the 3rd paragraph of her first appearance, setting the dilemma she faces.  
eye-wrenching cloak of a Warder: ‘eye-wrenching’ is a compact way of describing the cloaks readers have become familiar with.
Elayne could have made a roofmistress seem a goatherd: It is impossible to maintain dignity when goats are involved. The word ‘goatherd’ imparts an activity that is easily visualized: chasing after stubborn animals.
most with annoyance ill-concealed behind cool serenity: ‘ill-concealed’ could have been replaced with the synonym ‘visible’. Instead this compound word allows two words with negative connotation to be assigned to the Aes Sedai, helping set the mood and the relationship.
willowy, doe-eyed Chilares:  ‘doe-eyed’ describes not just her eyes but implies she is docile. Any number of eye adjectives could make her intelligent as in ‘bright-eyed’, crafty as in ‘keen-eyed’, useless as in ‘cow-eyed’. The reason she is doe-eyed is to describe the Kin’s general behaviour, not because the author preferred to describe her eyes over her hair, or had previously decided in his notes that Chilares was to be described that way.
Writing Lessons:
Use that thesaurus to find synonyms that convey mood, character, setting or action, or just cobble together your own with compound words.

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