Friday, 19 October 2012

Knife of Dreams - Chapters 28-30

In this section, Perrin and Faile have a happy reunion, except for some overhanging doubts.
I was taken aback by the possibility that the chapters detailing Faile’s theft of the Oath Rod contained a second layer of meaning, one which pointed to her sleeping with Rolan, and being so secretive about it that she doesn’t even mention it in her own thoughts. I went back and read the chapters in Winter’s Heart where Perrin wakes in Berelain’s tent and found the same thing. Neither situation means that any cheating took place, but the author definitely used language and symbolism to infer the possibility of it having happened.
In the chapters detailing Faile’s rescue, I found other symbolism which continues to support the author’s intent for readers to question whether they are being told the whole story. Galina represents truth, and both truth and Galina let Faile down. This is symbolized by Galina plunging Faile and her followers into the basement of a burned out building. The ruined timbers that collapse on them represent the web of lies that must be concocted to hide their actions with the Aiel men.
The jumble of charred timbers and half-burned boards filling the staircase resembled one of those blacksmith’s puzzles her Perrin enjoyed. Almost everything seemed to be propping up something else. Worse, the heavier timbers might be beyond all of them working together. But if they could clear enough for them to be able to crawl through, writhing between the thick beams… It would be dangerous, that crawl. But when a dangerous path was your only route to safety, you had to take it.
Much of the effort to move the timbers fails, and further shifting causes more of them to tumble into the dirty basement. The soot and ash dirtying their faces represents their shame. It means that despite their best efforts, they cannot come up with a story that can’t be unraveled. It is only when they are able to signal Faile’s other followers that they are able to escape. Rolan, the Brotherless, and the gai’shain help Faile escape the basement, representing their pledge to preserve Faile’s secret. What she did, she did for them, and they will protect her. Rolan will keep her secret as well, but not without exacting his price. A pinch on the bottom for each of the women represents something more, a price willingly paid for freedom.
At Theoryland we put great stock in quoting the text, but here is a situation where the quoted text is of no value in understanding what may have happened. Readers can accept the story told as it appears, for after all, Perrin and Faile are in love, and would never betray each other. Or, they can note the hidden symbolism and wonder, how well do I really know these characters? The author’s goal isn’t to state the truth one way or the other, it is to cast doubt. Readers won’t know for sure, they must have faith and belief in their interpretation of events, just as Perrin and Faile will have to.
The question of how well you know someone recurs frequently in this book. Mat and Tuon state it bluntly, as they circle each other warily in their courtship. Elayne’s spies and traitors aren’t presented in the shock and awe style of writing where the betrayal carries important consequences. It’s more of a gentle questioning of how far Mellar, or Sareitha, or anyone can be trusted. The motives of High Seats are vague, and are interpreted in the obvious way, with a small chance of deceit, just as the Seanchan Banner-General is someone Perrin has to decide to take at face value, and to trust. Rand’s encounter with the fake Daughter of the Nine Moons was a more direct betrayal, but his gamble to put trust in this unknown person fits the theme which runs through the relationships in this book. Perrin and Faile’s relationship is the inverse of Mat and Tuon’s. Where readers are comfortable with Perrin and Faile’s fabled honesty, and wary with Mat and Tuon’s usual unreliability, the author inverts the roles, creating doubt about the trustworthy and giving confidence in the scoundrels.
Aram is another case of someone who we thought we knew well, yet he suddenly turns on Perrin. His motivation is to protect Faile from Perrin, as explained to him by Masema, who knows no shades of grey, only the stark black and white of the moral code he and his cult have constructed around the Dragon. Aram would have killed Perrin for not being perfect, but both Perrin and Faile easily conclude that the other may have behaved imperfectly, which doesn’t matter, so long as they are together.
Min’s Viewings about the falcon and hawk, and the tinker with a sword all involve this particular part of the storyline. Why were these images important enough to merit a Viewing? Why present them to readers unless they meant something to Perrin? The falcon and its leash are obvious, but what do the other two mean if not the scenario I have described?
This is the last we see of Therava and Galina. Therava’s ability to crush the spirit of one of the most powerful women in the world stood out far more than Anath’s mild spankings of Tuon. I was sorely disappointed Semirhage’s alter ego was not as impressive as the Shaido Wise One, though that will be rectified in the next book. Therava overcame Sevanna’s ineptitude, and Galina received a just punishment for her actions. A feeling of justice is important to convey to the reader, if it is desired to keep a hopeful tone to the story. In this case it is convenient to contrast Galina’s fate and actions with Faile’s. They both may have betrayed the faith placed in them, but the consequences for each match the severity of their betrayal.
Writing Lessons:
Contrast one relationship with another to drive a point home.

No comments:

Post a Comment