Saturday, 6 October 2012

Knife of Dreams - Chapters 13-16

In this section, Elayne has no control over the little things.
The price Elayne must pay for her efforts to take the throne is discomfort and annoyance. She and her warder are exhausted. The mercenaries won’t do as she commands. She continues to endure the inconveniences of pregnancy and the uninformed opinions of helpful followers who want the best for her baby. And in this case, by climbing the city walls in the rain to see her opponents flee, she is drenched. There has been a continual series of assaults on the city walls, the defense of which must be led by someone. Who else is there to do that? Birgitte laments, echoing Elayne’s feelings. A small start towards a solution comes in the form of an Andoran officer who has led ten thousand men to the Palace by Gateway.
A series of encounters in the palace prevents Elayne and her followers from changing into dry clothes. Former damane are beginning to assert their new identities. Sul’dam ready to admit they can channel will be sent back to Seanchan to undermine the foundations of their society. Vandene is still leading a search for the Black Ajah in the Palace. The Sea Folk pester her with questions about their missing apprentice. Every person she meets tells her to change out of her wet clothes. When the Sea Folk Windfinder repeats this advice for the umpteenth time, Elayne screams in frustration. The notion of someone in a position of command being told to do the same thing over and over by everyone proves to be quite funny.
Even the Palace itself seems to conspire against Elayne, as she gets lost. This is the first time a new sign of the Pattern breaking down is shown; physical locations rearrange themselves. The author is quite intent on making sure readers understand that nowhere in the world is safe from these random events or from the bubbles of evil like the dark clouds of lightning over the Inner City.
Aviendha has the ability to tell what the function of a ter’angreal is. There is no basis for this Talent. It is simply the fact that other rare skills are Talents that allows the author to throw a new Talent into the story and have the reader accept it at face value. By now there have been enough Talents and new weaves shown, some surprising even the Forsaken, that one more seems plausible. This Talent for knowing what ter’angreal do avoids author intrusion by way of explanation and the lengthy info-dumps that might have come with it. The Talent is made more believable by introducing it gently, showing Aviendha’s progression from vague understanding to sure knowledge. To diminish any remaining scorn from readers about introducing the Talent, Aviendha is summoned away from Elayne’s side before she can catalogue the contents of the ter’angreal cache in its entirety. An ability that can’t be used is more likely to be accepted than one that is revealed just as it is needed or useful.
Elayne receives a ter’angreal in the shape of a knife from Aviendha that may be able to make her undetectable to the Dark One and his minions. She loans Aviendha an angreal in exchange. This ter’angreal could be a real Knife of Dreams, but its absence in the rest of the story infers that the title is more of a metaphor, as in the quote from the beginning of the book, describing the margin between victory and defeat in each of the characters’ plotlines.
After looking over her meal, the Aiel Wise Ones pester her about getting a midwife. Elayne angrily agrees, thinking she’ll be just one more woman to make sure her meals are wretched.
Elayne tells some mercenary captains to be happy with what they are being paid and firmly threatens to throw them out of the city if they show signs of further grievances.
An expert pickpocket is brought before Elayne and set the task of following Captain Mellar, who has lost the trust of Elayne and Birgitte. Could Shiaine’s plan all along have been to plant an obvious flunky in Elayne’s midst so she could lure her out of the Palace? There are many ways such a plan could go wrong, but maybe no more than if the original assassins had tried to kidnap her and smuggle her out of the Palace undetected instead.
Writing Lessons:
Conceal contrived plot elements by making them the latest in a series of similar elements that were not contrived.

No comments:

Post a Comment