Thursday, 1 November 2012

The Gathering Storm - Chapters 10-12

In this section, the heroes’ pride gets in the way.
Ituralde can’t end his unwinnable war against the Seanchan. The best outcome he can hope for now is that future generations will remember his attempt to oust the invaders. Just as he orders his men to dig in and prepare for a final confrontation with an even greater Seanchan force, Rand arrives to offer him a way out. Hope that his country may yet prevail causes Ituralde to follow Rand’s orders, sending him and his army to the Borderlands.
I note the size of the Domani and Seanchan forces are far greater than in any previous battles, even Dumai’s Wells. The short offhanded treatment of this epic battle compared to the momentous buildup to earlier smaller battles reinforces that the Last Battle’s size and scope will be far beyond what has been seen to date.
Rand is beginning to talk about his overall strategy for the Last Battle. Other heroes have been slowly priming for their part as well, and if they aren’t exactly preparing for it, they at least acknowledge it is coming soon, and are shifting their attention towards it.
Aviendha quenches a fire started by a man who spontaneously combusted, as a Pattern breakdown or a small bubble of evil. I am beginning to thin of the bubbles of evil as a misdirection ploy by the author. First, ta’veren events are explained as improbable vents being realized. Shortly after, random events began to happen that are completely improbable, and they are attributed to the Dark One by a knowledgeable character: Moiraine. Then, the Pattern itself begins to break down, causing more localized and impossible events to take place. These are distinct from bubbles of evil only because they don’t unleash some nightmarish power on spectators, these are neutral events at best. The common thread is that they are all random. It seems to me that these random events may serve a purpose if they are leading up to the discovery that they can be made non-random, and that it is possible for individuals to create or prevent them from occurring. Such a discovery would strongly resemble how such events are dealt with in Tel’aran’rhiod, and would fit in snugly with several themes, such as taking control and responsibility for events, and not blaming them on others, and that every man creates his own destiny. It ties in with my theory that the Bore is in Tel’aran’rhiod, and how force of will and identity can overcome the greatest evils. If this speculation is untrue, then ta’veren, bubbles of evil, and pattern skews are simply the random events they are portrayed as, shrewd inventions to help an author move the story along and make the occasional point. So far, the author placed every story element with purpose, and in this case I sense there was intent to misdirect readers by making these appear to be random, so that the final point of the story could be made to greater effect.
Aviendha suffers from both personal and cultural pride, which prevents her from asking for guidance, or from receiving it if she asks. Misdirection is used here as well, as Aviendha’s sound judgment in Wise One matters is displayed repeatedly, while she mistakenly believes she has run afoul of some unknown and very serious taboo. All previous Aiel behaviour shave been strongly linked to ji’e’toh and shame, so when Aviendha proclaims early on that she has violated some unknown rule, the reader immediately finds this plausible, even if they do suspect it has more to do with that other Aiel trait which is often displayed: their sense of humour.
When Aviendha puts out the fire, she has a brief pause as she slowly comprehends why the wetlanders are looking for buckets. To portray the behaviour of an outsider or alien, it is effective to have them misunderstand or overlook a fact which is self-evident to the reader. The cultural norm of using a bucket of water to put out a fire is foreign to Aviendha, highlighting her own foreignness.
As a nearly opposite example, use of the terms ‘flow’ and ‘pressure’ is appropriate in descriptive text, or technical discussion, but seem strange coming from a Wise One’s mouth. Brandon Sanderson has a firm technical grasp of many scientific concepts which he puts to effective use in his writing, but the characters do not necessarily share that understanding. Of all characters that should have the least understanding of fluid flow, the Aiel rank highest, due to their lack of any substantial amount of fluid to study or observe.
In the White Tower, Meidani wants help, but is prevented from asking by an oath of obedience rather than her pride. Egwene realizes something is amiss, and becomes the willing partner to help Meidani find a loophole.
Egwene meets the Black Ajah Hunters, and brings them to her side after a fierce debate. Egwene is pleased with the progress she is making, and both she and the reader assume this is a good thing, yet she is steadily undermining the White Tower as she tries to build it back up. She at least is beginning to recognize that the good of the Tower should be placed ahead of her crusade, and would back down if the Tower could be firmly united and strong again. That isn’t possible with Elaida as Amyrlin. Egwene’s quest to tear down the Tower to rebuild it has similarities to Rand’s debate over whether to break the Seals to seal the Dark One’s prison again.
Traveling is becoming widespread knowledge. Control over who could weave Gateways has been important to control certain plot elements, and has some similarities to how Tel’aran’rhiod access has been slowly spreading. As per the suggestion above, the lessons and concerns surrounding the spreading knowledge of Traveling would be similar to those I’d expect if the ultimate solution and lesson of the story is giving mankind the ability to alter their own reality, as though they were in Tel’aran’rhiod.
Writing Lessons:
Show outsiders misunderstanding or overlooking things that regular characters take for granted.
Misdirect readers by showing things or observations that they will take for granted.

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