Monday, 17 December 2012

Towers of Midnight - Chapters 18-20

In this section, characters learn they must set aside their differences and work towards common goals.
Perrin begins his training in Tel’aran’rhiod. His interaction with wolves is one of the more interesting facets of his character, and to be portrayed convincingly, the wolves’ language and culture has to be distinct and recognizable. For the most part, their vocabulary is monosyllabic, implying only cursory language skills, which are supplemented with detailed scents and impressions which they can send to each other.
The longest words Hopper uses are: follow, understand, sparrow, cannot, slumber, always, remember, unnatural, honey, memory, remain, again, quickly, ready, especially, strongly, holding , carrying, running, practice, wrongness.  Of these words, most have simple meanings that are easy for readers to attribute to a clever animal’s mind. The ones which don’t are especially, holding, and unnatural. Especially is suitable for a language that can distinguish levels of gradation, not the precise terms generally used by wolves elsewhere. Holding is something men do, and in other contexts the wolves have called the objects Perrin holds his claws, as though they were part of him. Unnatural is applied to Perrin, yet the purplish wall of the dreamspike is termed wrongness, and the difference is lost on the reader. Wrongness is the more wolfish of the two, in keeping with the majority of the examples in other wolf dialogue, but it’s odd that Hopper would call Perrin’s presence unnatural if men have historically walked the Wolf Dream.
Overall, the few words wolves use which are mildly inappropriate can only be identified as such because of the consistency in tone, sentence structure, and vocabulary in the rest of their speech.
Ituralde is defending Maradon from a Trolloc horde, yet they won’t come to his aid. He holds his position, waiting for Rand to send help as was promised.
Faile confronts Berelain about the rumours, and she denies anything inappropriate happened. Wouldn’t she consider it appropriate if Perrin set aside his wife for her? In any case, Faile makes Berelain realize that Faile will challenge her to a death match unless she can find a way to dispel the rumours. Berelain concocts a plan that requires Faile and Berelain to behave as though they were friends, with no animosity between them, one of many examples of characters setting aside differences to work towards common goals.
Mat is badly failing to keep a low profile, thanks to rumours in Caemlyn which he cannot hope to quash. He meets with Elayne, and they discuss the manufacture of his dragons. The negotiation scene is heavy on dialogue. Mat says the opposite of almost every point he had made to himself before the talk began, consistently upending expectations. The negotiation ends with both Mat and Elayne satisfied at the outcome. Each of them will benefit from their arrangement, keeping a portion of the dragons, which are primarily to be used in the Last Battle. Defending against lightning strikes with the One Power is simple, so these cannonballs should be stopped as easily, unless they are deployed against Trollocs.
Mat had to sweeten the offer by giving up his sole protection against the gholam stalking him. Writers can be backed into a corner when their heroes become too powerful, and readers can see through contrived attempts to bring them back to a more normal power level. Mat giving up his medallion works effectively, because the immediate threat to Mat is obvious, and he is trading a short-term risk for a long-term gain, which is an entirely believable course of action. The reader’s emotional reaction to the threat and outrage that Mat has to give up his only defense will likely override any analysis which recognizes this deliberate effort to place Mat in a situation which he can’t easily escape.
Nynaeve takes her test to be confirmed an Aes Sedai, to be given and judged by several of the highest ranking Aes Sedai. Throughout the test, she consistently ignores the precepts placed in her mind to save the inhabitants of the test realms. She later says that without context, she can’t know why the rules have to be followed so strictly, so it is right that she flout them to act as she thinks an Aes Sedai should. There is a fierce debate about whether she should follow strictures or be trusted with forbidden weaves, or the ability to decide what the greater good is. She is raised by a narrow margin, yet by undergoing the test, she has decided she already knows what she must do, and the shawl of an Aes Sedai is a worthwhile goal, but not her ultimate goal. For this realization, she is able to claim the prize she most desires, Lan’s bond. As with the Ebou Dar scene in which they were married, Nynaeve is instantly rewarded for her personal growth.
Writing Lessons:
Portray other cultures with a consistent use of language specific to that culture.

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