Tuesday, 27 November 2012

The Gathering Storm - Chapters 46-50 and Epilogue

In this section, Rand has his lowest moment
Egwene completes her reunification of the White Tower by choosing a Keeper of the Chronicles from the opposing faction. She is setting an example for others to follow by reaching out to a woman who is well known to have been one of her adversaries, and if the others do follow her example, then the Tower should recover nicely. It is fortunate for everyone that Elaida was no longer there, because Egwene might have had less interest in reaching out to her, and she may not have reciprocated as nicely as Silviana did.
This mending of the rift between opposing forces and reaching out to the opponent mirrors situations with the Seanchan, as well as Rand’s internal strife against himself. The greater foe cannot be defeated unless the lesser foes put their differences behind them. Egwene’s situation demonstrates how difficult that may be, requiring her to berate those who first raised her and supported her over the last few months.
Rand and Min separately ponder Callandor’s role in the Last Battle. If its function isn’t for the amount of the One Power it allows to be used, then it must reside with its purported flaw, the fact that women must control the circle to prevent wild fluctuations. It would be irregular for a new property of Callandor to be revealed at the last moment, so I maintain that it is the circle itself that is the reason that Callandor is named in the prophecies. It forces Rand to act in harmony with two women, instead of lashing out on his own as Lews Therin did.
As though to demonstrate that point, Rand has begun obsessing over the Choedan Kal, as though more power is the solution to all of his problems, even as Lews Therin recalls that brute force cannot contain the Dark One. Rand is trying his utmost to fulfill his destiny alone, never considering or allowing that others want to help him fulfill it.
Tam, Rand’s father, attempts to intervene at Cadsuane’s behest. Rand’s responses to his father are mechanical and emotionless. Until Tam reveals he has been in contact with Cadsuane, which drives Rand into a rage. Tam is the oldest relationship Rand has, and by rejecting him Rand is cutting the final tie to his humanity. He is now ready to commit genocide. Lews Therin provides the final link to Rand’s failure when Rand asks himself what he is doing, spinning balefire for his father. No more than I’ve done before, Lews Therin whispers.
Tam argues with Cadsuane, and if she still represents the Light, Tam’s argument is that not even the Light can dictate how a man interacts with his son. The Light may provide guidance and goals, but a parent’s bond with their child is even more sacred than that.
In Ebou Dar, Rand takes note of the Tinkers and the fact they have finally found a place of safety. He is able to see the Seanchan in a different light. While they may treat channelers as animals, the Seanchan treat the peaceful Traveling people with acceptance, something no nation under Rand has ever done. They are different, but they do care about people, even about Rand himself as he stumbles with nausea before he can devastate the city of Ebou Dar.
Rand and Lews Therin merge as represented through three sentences spread across three pages:
The madman didn’t sound as crazy as he once had. In fact, his voice had started to sound an awful lot like Rand’s own voice.
He didn’t know if the thought was his or if it was Lews Therin’s. The two were the same.
Why have we come here? Rand thought. Because, Rand replied. Because we made this. This is where we died.
Atop Dragonmount, Rand contemplates letting the Pattern end. Allowing himself to feel when so much was demanded of him threatened to destroy him, so he tried not to feel anything. Now that he has reconnected with his emotions, he is frustrated that even if he defeats the Dark One, men will keep acting stupidly and selfishly. He doesn’t think his destiny is simply to stop the Dark One, but also to save men from themselves, and their poor decisions. If Rand feels anything, it is futility.
The last peep of Rand’s conscience went silent after he assaulted Tam. Lews Therin’s voice makes one final appearance, saying that a second chance is always worth having. Remembering Tam’s advice, Rand wonders why he would want a second chance, and realizes he will not be satisfied unless he gets it right. He wants to make up for his mistakes, to take responsibility for what was done wrong. This core of stubbornness and determination drives most of the heroic characters. They want to do what they feel is right, not because they have to, but because they need to in order to be true to themselves.
Writing epiphanies is tricky, because there is always the chance that the author can’t convey the grandeur of the realization and its profound impact on the character. In this case the words establish the sense of wonder well, but some part of the epiphany is lost because readers have known for a while that Rand must learn to feel again. This foreseeable outcome is camouflaged nicely by the depths of Rand’s dark mood which, until just one page before the conclusion, seems destined to overturn all of the Viewings and Prophecies. Stretching out the bleakness and condensing the epiphany at the very end augments the reader’s chances of believing that Rand has doomed himself.
The epilogue unexpectedly provides an opportunity to comment on Rand’s sudden reversal of mood. The gloomy weather could have been a result of Rand’s mood instead of the Dark One’s touch. It’s difficult to separate metaphor from true causes when they parallel each other so consistently.
Writing Lessons:
To make events feel logical as they unfold, split them into progressive steps, spending more text on the things you want readers to pay attention to.

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