Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Crossroads of Twilight - Prologue part 1

In this section, a host of secondary characters are introduced.
Prologues are usually intended to give the reader information that can’t otherwise be shown in the story. When information is given in a prologue, it creates the expectation that the information will be of some necessity in building mood, explaining events, or driving the plot forward. In this case it only works if we consider Crossroads of Twilight as the first part of a larger book which includes the following volume or two. It might be best to think of it that way since this prologue spans eighty pages, almost one eighth of the entire book. At that point, the only reason to call it prologue instead of chapters is in order to lump various shorter bits together and pretend that the story actually only starts when the central characters are presented in Chapter one.
The first part of the prologue covers General Ituralde in Arad Doman, Eamon Valda leading the Children of the Light, Gabrelle at the Black Tower, Yukiri in the White Tower, Gawyn outside Tar Valon, and General Davram Bashere near Caemlyn. Four of these are battle leaders, indicating that war preparations are beginning. Four of these are completely new perspectives, though the sections previously granted to Gawyn or Valda were short, and parts of prologues themselves.
Ituralde has been mentioned by name before, but has never been seen on-page. His behaviour is consistent with Cadsuane’s, in that he seems to have been already anointed by the Light. He carries the favour of the disparate factions, and the only rules he follows are those ingrained by his morals. In comparison, Valda contemplates murder of his peers. Gawyn merely contemplates betraying his fellows, and he will act as a proxy for Rand for the next few books, looking down two divergent roads and deciding which to follow.
Gabrelle and Yukiri fail to attract any interest aside from the circumstances in their respective locales. Gabrelle’s seduction of Logain overshadows all other aspects of her personality, which is completely typical of her Ajah. As previously discussed, the Black Ajah hunters are more identifiable by their quest than by their individual personalities. As a result, each of them is interchangeable with the others, all the more so when Yukiri has a bland personality that fails to elevate her to the status of her co-conspirators Seaine and Pevara.
The mystery of the too-young Sitters is reintroduced here, and more discussion will follow in later chapters. We’ll check in to see if it warrants the attention.
In Bashere’s section, the attempted theft of the Seals on the Dark One’s Prison provides the first direct menace. All the other threats have been veiled and insinuated, none have been directly shown.
Let’s examine how the author handles the introduction of new characters, with a closer look at Ituralde’s first appearance.
Bashere is introduced as a seasoned soldier; the first two paragraphs give examples.
Jaalam is introduced in paragraph three, and his close relationship to Ituralde is demonstrated in the next two paragraphs.
The next two pages describe King Alsalam, an old friend whose erratic behaviour brought Ituralde to concoct his mad plan. Four other Lords and Ladies are named, who unswervingly obeyed the King’s orders, never to be seen again.
The next page introduces Donjel, a scout with severe facial injuries. He is trusted with carrying a packet to Ituralde’s wife should he die.
Jaalam is called to follow to Lady Osana’s hunting lodge. She too will never be heard from again. Jaalam opens doors and takes the lead to offer Ituralde some small protection as they enter the lodge.
They are met by Lord Shimron, once a trusted advisor to the King, now Dragonsworn. Shimron and Jaalam trade bows, honoring each other.
Three domain lords are named: Rajabi, Wakeda and Ankaer. The Dragonsworn have Shimron, and the Taraboners have no named leader.
Wakeda expresses doubt, taunting Ituralde. They trade verbal jabs as they discuss the Seanchan invasion.
Shimron acts as peacemaker, turning the talk to the Aiel on Almoth Plain. Ituralde points out that the Aiel have slowed the Seanchan, but can’t stop them. He reveals his latest orders from the King. He offers a truce in the King’s name to the assembled battle leaders. Now the earlier focus on the relationship between Ituralde and King is justified. All of these relationships and the choice to face the Seanchan depend on trust, which is why all the characters shown have had some element of their trustworthiness described.
Rajabi and Wakeda get one-line physical reactions. Shimron asks whether the Seanchan can be defeated, effectively deferring to Ituralde’s wisdom.
Ituralde answers yes, and Shimron, Rajabi and Wakeda agree to follow him. Their responses are given in order from he with the closest links to Ituralde to the most hostile.
The nameless Taraboners express doubt, and Ituralde offers to lead them himself. Wakeda wails at this aspect of the plan, still acting as the most vocal doubter of the group. But having already given his word, there is nothing to be done, and the Taraboner leader accepts Ituralde’s offer to put his own skin on the line.
In summary, a handful of named characters are used to establish the role of trust in relationships in this part of the world. Jaalam and Donjel offer direct examples, and the description of the other Domani’s dedication to follow orders reinforces them. Three named Lords are presented to show a range of attitudes towards Ituralde, and the domino-like fashion in which they fall into line precedes the Taraboner reaction, which represents the attitude of the everyman.
Writing Lessons:
Use a variety of characters in short speaking roles or shorter non-speaking roles to portray behaviours that will give believability to the situation.

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