Thursday, 4 October 2012

Knife of Dreams - Chapters 11-12

In this section, Mat and Perrin are targeted by Darkfriends.
Tuon has the idea to visit a rough tavern of the lowest sort, a hell. Setalle may have given her this idea, so that she can see Mat in his natural habitat. Thom wagers that Tuon has let a sheltered life, winning a gold coin off Mat when she falls for their deceit that a tavern full of merchants is in fact a hell. Little examples about Mat’s petty wagers on just about anything are a good reminder of that aspect of his character. The same applies whenever he assesses the defenses of any location he enters, or the cleavage of any woman he encounters.
Mat plays a game of dice, winning as usual, and raising suspicions that he is cheating. When the stakes are raised to gold instead of silver, he knows that winning will trigger the accusation, and so would refusal to play. He rolls the dice, and luckily loses. Mat may not read, but he can count, and always knows the score: Laughing just as if it were not just their own coin won back, Camrin and Kostelle began dividing their winnings. His calmness and eye for subtle danger impresses Tuon.
Thom learns that Seanchan soldiers are looking for Tuon not to rescue her, but to kill her. She reckons it could be a plot by one of her sisters. Sending a secondary character off-page to gather information is a convenient way to introduce new elements quickly. Thom walks away, and returns with a plot twist in hand, no explanation required. Just in case the convenience of Thom learning about the plot to kill Tuon seems too far-fetched for readers or Mat, he adds he heard this from three different sources. Once again, almost no effort is expended to make the new information more credible. No convoluted explanations, just a simple one.
Moridin’s earlier orders to kill Mat and Perrin come to fruition, when a Darkfriend recognizes Mat, and leads a dozen men against him. Faced with tough odds, Mat takes action he deems will increase his odds of survival, no matter how odd they seem. Some of his memories come from nasty, efficient killers, and he never hesitates, once again displaying the rare traits that are suitable for life in the Imperial Family. His only lapse is to call Tuon by name, so that she can say she won the game after the battle is done. Mat has yet to find anything she will shirk from.
One of the Darkfriends is a local merchant, and Mat concludes he can’t explain away this man’s death in a satisfactory way, so they need to leave Valan Luca’s circus as soon as possible. In the next chapter, amid a swirl of colours, Perrin sees Mat leading a group on horseback into the forest, providing not only an idea of when Perrin’s actions take place in relation to Mat’s, but linking the chapters that makes the separate storylines seem like parts of a whole. The ta’veren viewing mechanism has not yet been explained, other than to say it is ta’veren, but it creates this link effortlessly, which is useful for the author, and will later be useful to the characters. I suspect A Memory of Light will involve concurrent events depending on each other’s success in different locales, such as Perrin waiting for Rand to do something before entering the Wolf Dream. The ability to monitor each other’s progress and actions will create links between the separate storylines, making them feel part of a whole, and allow for rapid pacing as the Last Battle reaches its climax.
Another link to Mat’s storyline and the earlier scene with the Forsaken is provided when Perrin is also set upon by Darkfriend assassins. There is also the man who turns into bugs, the fourth bubble of evil/failure of the Pattern shown in this book, providing another link between different storylines.
Perrin isn’t romancing Tylee Khirgan, but she as impressed with his toughness as Mat is with Tuon’s.
Balwer serves the same purpose as Thom in the previous chapter, wandering off to return with important information later, no further explanation required. It’s just what Balwer and Cha Faile do.
As a nannycrat working with the blind cord police, I love Tylee’s nervousness about dealing with an Imperial functionary. Almost every character in the story to date can be reasoned with by arguing about need, affiliation, honour, or some other ideal. Functionaries care about process. The fact that the manufactory has been successful at producing Forkroot is of no consequence, the functionary would have been just as dedicated to the correct process and procedures if the project was failing. Just one of the Goat’s thousand heads.
Robert Jordan sometimes uses uncommon words which make his prose richer, even though a simpler word may have worked as well.  
A farm on rolling ground hove into sight
I’m afraid there’s no jaunt into Maderin for you, Precious.
Small piles of gold and silver admixed with a few gold coins lay in front of each of the players.
In this next one, he repeats the fact to emphasize it, adding a word for even more emphasis: She hissed at him. She held the entry flap open, but she purely hissed like a cat.
Writing Lessons:
Look for ways to cut back on explanations while retaining their credibility, like having a competent character state a fact, learning things off-page, or using a simple explanation instead of a lengthy one.

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