Sunday, 22 July 2012

The Path of Daggers - Chapters 28-31

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In this section, hidden enemies strike.

Both Rand’s and Elayne’s sections end unspectacularly, which ends the book rather unspectacularly. Both make the same point, which is that the opponents hidden in their midst can pose a sudden threat.

In Elayne’s case, the sudden attack takes place at the end of an otherwise bland series of interactions with her party. Reading through this recital of ordinary events is meant to emphasize the hidden nature of the threat, and show how the Black Ajah behave as normally as anyone else, using their normalcy as cover. The revelation of the Black Ajah is described as just another part of an otherwise ordinary week, provoking no excitement.

The ‘explosion’ Elayne was disturbed by turned out to be simply a runaway Accepted hiding among the Kinswomen. The manner in which she is concealed among the Kin is similar to how the Black Ajah hide among trusted friends, but with much less dire consequences. The author builds up this supposed ‘explosion’ and then offhandedly describes discovery of the double murder in an emotionless and logical fashion. This is done to continue disarming the reader’s suspicions so that the attack on Rand in the next chapter can be played for maximum effect.

Dyelin is introduced, and with the events just revealed, Elayne and the reader now can’t help wonder if she is as truthful and loyal as she claims, or whether she is a secret threat.

A long-time foil for the heroes, Carridin, is replaced by Hanlon, just as the captive Black Ajah Ispan has been replaced by the Black sister traveling with Elayne. The advantage gained by knowing who was a Darkfriend has been erased, and the heroes are back where they started with unknown villains in their midst and no clues as to their identity.

The attack on Rand is handled differently than the one on Elayne. The chapter begins with a set-up meant to remind us that everyone serves Rand loyally. The Asha’man have been elevated to Rand’s most trusted guardians now that the Maidens’ complaint has them letting anyone in to see Rand. Sorilea brings five Aes Sedai from Elaida’s embassy who have decided to swear fealty to Rand. It is implied that everyone serves Rand. There are no problems apparent, so now he decides to deal with Cadsuane.

Just as he leaves, a subtle reminder that all is not well is given in the form of a single paragraph of the Maidens outside his door. They still disapprove of his actions. And then from out of nowhere, Rand is attacked!

The attack is sudden, violent and abnormal from any previous threat he has faced. There was no warning, no challenge, no duel, just an immense hammer of Power meant to flatten him. He manages to identify his attackers, and defends himself against Dashiva’s next weave with a globe of Power that serves as a metaphor for his situation. The globe will keep out everything than can harm him, but also the things which sustain him. He cannot live that way. Moments later, his attackers have fled, leaving Rand to wander aimlessly through the wreckage looking for someone to fight.

Finally, he finds Morr, an Asha’man who has spontaneously gone mad while guarding Min. In his final encounter with Taim, Rand adds several names to the list of deserters, all men who had been raised and appointed to serve Rand by Taim. When he euthanizes Morr, Rand refuses to cry, saying he has no time for tears, already hardening himself to the perceived weakness of emotion. If he can’t trust those near him, he won’t allow himself  to feel anything for them.

Bizarrely, a few other short points of view end the book. Perrin recruits the prophet to follow him back to Cairhien, but his refusal to Travel using the One Power means long delays. Faile’s kidnapping implies the same. The Pattern offers at least these two reasons to delay Perrin’s return, in case one or the other should fail to keep him in Ghealdan. Lastly, an undetermined number of days in the future, Egwene leads her army to the shores of the Erinin to lay siege to Tar Valon. By including this scene, there is no need to discuss Egwene or the rebels in the next book.

Writing Lessons:

Build up a single paragraph, or pages at a time, to evoke the mood or emotions you want the reader to have.

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