Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Winter's Heart - Chapters 5-7

In this section, Perrin is victim of a misunderstanding, and Elayne begins her long road to the throne.

Perrin has a habit of entering the wolf dream too strongly. Is it because of the intensity with which he takes actions? Perrin seems to operate in only two ways: wait, and act with full commitment.  He is fervent in his desires. This time, he was weak when he woke, though the healing he received may also have played a role. Does Elyas never enter the wolf dream?

Rumours about Perrin and Berelain begin circulating through the camp. Aram’s later behaviour will stem from him seeking out other people than Perrin to dedicate himself to. He hears the rumours that Perrin has been cheating with Berelain, and seeing that he is fallible, tries to find someone else who won’t let him down.

Berelain offers Perrin a truce, which he interprets as yet another veiled attempt to put him in a compromising position. He even dismisses what his nose tells him, even though it has been infallible in the past. He has already made up his mind about Berelain and no amount of smelling honest will change his mind! Rather than describe Berelain further, we learn how Perrin perceives her through a metaphorical description of her furniture:

One of her camp chairs squeaked faintly as she shifted. He had been here often, with Faile, to discuss plans. The tent was big enough to house a family, and Berelain’s elaborate furnishings would not have looked out of place in a palace, all intricate carving and gilt, though everything, tables and chairs and the bed itself, was held together with pegs. They could be disassembled for storage on a cart, but the pegs did not make for true sturdiness.

But, to reinforce the reader’s discomfort with Berelain, a couple of other verbs and adjectives are used in nearby paragraphs when Perrin meets her followers. Two pairs of followers who are interchangeable with each other, both physically and in behaviour. Is Berelain interchangeable for Faile? Or is it Perrin who is interchangeable with Berelain’s other conquests?

Rosene and Nana tittered behind cupped hands.

Wearily he tramped around the hill.

Once again, Perrin resists the idea that Masema is to be killed, despite that he has been secretly meeting with the Seanchan. Perrin might never have thought of a truce with the Seanchan if not for the fact they were apparently willing to meet with Masema.

Perrin’s commitment to non-violent solutions is hastily tossed aside to save Faile. As important as it is to him, it is insignificant when weighed against his desire to see Faile free. He is quite willing to have his men and those they fight pay the price to save her, but he will still do what he can to minimize that cost.

The scouts return with clues that are convincing to Perrin and the reader. They are convincing in part because of who is reporting. The scouts have all been named as the most competent people in the camp. Sulin and Gaul’s abilities have been seen first-hand, and the fact that Perrin compares Jondyn Barran to them gives him the same credibility. Warders benefit from association with the other warders we’ve seen, so even if we know nothing about these particular Warders, their rank guarantees their competence. Each clue they bring back is quickly and simply explained, and unsurprisingly they get every detail right. Since the reader already knows what happened, all this section needed to do is explain how Perrin has come to know the same things. Had Faile’s disappearance been mysterious, Perrin’s scouts may have been pressed for alternative explanations, and the author would have had to explain what Perrin believed and why. It might have been a slightly longer passage, but with the risk that Perrin gets wrong information.

Masema’s erratic behaviour is portrayed differently than Rand’s oncoming madness. First, he and his followers do something reckless by confrontationally marching out of the woods in a long line, stopping only when physically blocked by Perrin’s men despite their drawn bows. Masema’s physical description is blunt, comparing him to a rabid mountain cat, naming him zealot. He is unaware of snow falling on his scalp, something that would bother normal folk. His actions are unplanned; they are sudden, intense, and surprising. His face doesn’t change or contort like those of his followers, and gives no outward sign of his mood. To hammer home the point, after promising considerable delays to Perrin by refusing to Travel using the One Power, Masema suddenly makes an exception to his rule. Whether this is an expression of his madness, the pull of a ta’veren, or an underhanded plot to kill Perrin is as unknown as Masema’s behaviour.

Elayne is touring Caemlyn, trying to be seen as the symbol of Andor that people will rally around. Andor has an informal democratic monarchy, where both the people and the nobility must agree on a ruler before they can take the throne, however good their claim is.

Elayne has been taking reckless chances of her own, a necessary part of touching the hearts of the citizens of the city, and has nearly been kidnapped once as a result. Elayne is trying to assert her independence, refusing bodyguards, lacking protection when she walks the street at night. The threat to her is more pronounced knowing Faile has also been kidnapped.

The narrator’s internal dialogue often reveals a progression of thought, moving from outrage to denial to grudging admission:  “You talk about my language? At least I know what fits where, and what doesn’t.” Elayne colored, and her neck stiffened. She did know! Most of the time. Often enough, at least. This short evolution of thought allows the reader to learn the character’s original perception, their relationship with their critic, and how they react to uncomfortable ideas. Elayne accepts the truth of the criticism much more quickly and easily than Mat or Nynaeve do.  

Writing Lessons:

With metaphor, the description of any object, character or event can apply to any other object, character or event, either subtly or bluntly.

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