Thursday, 30 August 2012

Crossroads of Twilight - Prologue part 2 to Chapter 1

In this section, old and new characters converge in Cairhien, and Mat resumes his slow escape from the Seanchan.
Samitsu has been running the Sun Palace in Cairhien since Cadsuane’s departure. She helped heal Rand after Fain scratched him with his ruby dagger, and she is considered the most skilled healer in the White Tower. However the emergence of Sashalle from her time as a Wise One apprentice derails Samitsu’s control.  Sashalle is ranked higher due to her strength in the Power, strength that has been re-established by her healing from stilling by one of the Asha’man. The two of them clash over who will take control of a handful of situations, from rebels, to Loial’s return, to Dobraine’s attempted assassination, to Logain’s appearance at the Sun Palace. 
Jordan uses a rapid series of unrelated events happening at the same time frequently, usually as a means of cramming as many conversations between characters in the same locale into as short a text as possible. Over these fifteen pages, Ailil, Loial, Dobraine, Sashalle, and Logain are handled, as well as even smaller tidbits passed quickly over so the reader can get a sense of what has happened in Cairhien since Cadsuane was last there. In this case, as it has been in the past, each interaction is introduced by someone entering the room with important news.
Mat has hidden at Valan Luca’s circus, and is still within sight of Ebou Dar nearly a week after he set the Windfinders free and abducted Tuon. He is trying to tally the losses to the Sea Folk as they made their escape to sea, measuring the cost of the choice he made to free them. Mat is surprised the Seanchan aren’t tearing the countryside apart looking for their missing heiress. There is also significant mention of the fact that the Seanchan are here to stay. There are too few ships to take them anywhere else, and the steady disgorgement of settlers means they will soon be setting down roots throughout the land. The entire Seanchan invasion may be a sort of metaphor about how one cannot be rid of the worst part of themselves. Later discussions of a truce being needed in order to concentrate on fighting the Last Battle seem to bear out this idea.
Noal is fishing near Mat, and a few clues are meant to have the reader question what they know about the gnarled old man. Astute minds may recall an old man in Graendal’s palace and note Noal’s foggy memory. Others may have noticed a family name shared between Noal and another notable figure. Whether or not they do, does it matter that he’s seen dark-skinned people with blue eyes before? By drawing attention to this mystery, the author is hinting that the reader should spend some time thinking about this. I still don’t know what it means, which is frustrating because if readers are going to spend time thinking about it at the author’s direction, they expect an answer at some point.
Writing Lessons:
If you draw attention to something, you are expected to make it worth the reader’s time.

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