Sunday, 2 September 2012

Crossroads of Twilight - Chapters 8-9

In this section, Perrin and Faile become aware of Rand’s actions.
This is the second and third times in which characters become aware of Rand’s effort to cleanse saidin. The Forsaken were able to sense the immense amount of the One Power being used, and so are the various other channelers dispersed around the world. We already saw Mat’s perspective, now the Aes Sedai, Asha’man and Wise Ones with Perrin and Faile give warning of the event.
Up until now, important events such as the conquest of a nation, the fall of a ruler, or large-scale battles took place, and characters in other locales learned of them months, weeks or days later. The temporal gap in knowledge has been getting shorter and shorter as the series progresses. It took months for the Amyrlin to chase down Moiraine in The Great Hunt, or for news of Falme to spread across the continent. As Traveling, Dreamwalking and Bonding have been introduced, the ability to learn the truth of far-off events became quicker and more accurate.
The cleansing of saidin is the first time where events are being observed as they happen. Both Mat and Perrin, through some ta’veren link, are able, or forced, to see images of Rand taking place at that very moment. This new mechanism gives immediacy to each of their actions. It hasn’t made much difference yet, but in A Memory of Light I expect to see this ability used to its full potential, allowing the three ta’veren to coordinate actions across the continent, or even into other realms such as Tel’aran’rhiod.
The cleansing of saidin is also the first time that a world-spanning event has taken place. The fall of the Stone of Tear, the proclamation of the Dragon, the fall of Nations, or the largest battles since Hawkwing’s time have all been important, and have all had repercussions, but their scope was local first and foremost. Cleansing saidin has immediate consequences that matter to everyone in the entire world, which is one of the most important reasons for giving other character’s instantaneous perspective on it.
The other reason to show this event from multiple perspectives is to use it as an example of the personal battles each of the other characters is going through. Perrin quickly dismisses the event, since it has no relevance to finding Faile. This should heighten concern that he is neglecting important duties for selfish reasons. We’ve heard often enough from him since his return from Dumai’s Wells that the world can burn if it keeps him from Faile. Now we see direct proof that it is not rhetoric, but painful fact.
Perrin’s mood has the effect of creating a negative opinion in the reader’s mind. Aside from his single-mindedness, the brooding weighs on the reader’s spirit as much as Perrin’s. The only thing that elevates it somewhat is the comparison to a blacksmith’s puzzle. Now that he has seen all the pieces, Perrin is determined to solve it. In the face of overwhelming odds, that kind of perseverance inspires hope and approval. Leaving the scene with that mood is important to make the reader want to read the next Perrin section. You always want the reader to want to read more, no matter whether the characters are happy or despondent.
Faile has a pivotal discussion with Chiad. Chiad tells her: If I cast aside my honor and my obligations just because the Shaido have, then I allow them to decide how I will act. I will wear white for a year and a day and then they will release me, or I will walk away, but I will not throw away who I am. This lesson is equally applicable to Perrin and Rand, who are under intense pressure sufficient to make them consider paths that they would normally never take. Changing the way they act changes their character so much that the original version of them might as well be dead. Obviously, that is not the desired outcome for the reader.
Faile’s tangle is in many ways more interesting than Perrin’s, because the characters surrounding her are well-rounded individuals, unlike the generic Wise Ones, Aes Sedai, and soldiers following Perrin. Galina, Sevanna, and Therava have a solid strike against them based on their previous appearances, invoking negative emotions. Morgase, Bain and Chiad induce positive feelings. Rolan is man of mystery, and the new gai’shain introduced present interesting possible threats. The hazards Faile faces are specific, while Perrin’s are vague.  
Writing Lessons:
Be aware of the mood you end a scene with.

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