Sunday, 6 January 2013

Towers of Midnight - Chapters 51-53

In this section, Mat learns the rules while other heroes unite nations.
Brandon Sanderson doesn’t mind using a modern term if it succinctly conveys the imagery he wants. Quite possibly the only in-world characters who would use the word ‘research’ are Brown Ajah, since the very concept of research for its own sake hardly exists. A quick check reveals only Siuan and Graendal ever used the word before Brandon took the reins, and Verin and Forsaken account for most of the uses of the word in these two most recent books. So when Min talks about ‘her research’, it stands out a bit, but it still conveys intelligence, certitude, and competence. Simply talking about her research, especially after continual reminders through half the series that she has taken up this task, implies that when Min tells readers what she has found, it will be factual and trustworthy.
Rand has tried to travel to the Black Tower, but the second dreamspike has prevented him from doing it. Perrin or Egwene are the best suited to help him assault it and depose Mazrim Taim, since one of them would have to use Tel’aran’rhiod to destroy it. What kind of defenses could Moridin have placed in Tel’aran’rhiod to stop them? Before Elaida’s Foretelling about the Black Tower’s fall can take place and it is rent in fire and blood, there has to be some way for the remaining Aes Sedai to Travel there. It would be ironic if Elaida, or Suffa as she is now called, led the Seanchan portion of an assault on the Black Tower, assuming they can see eye to eye with the other nations.
The Borderlanders relied on a Foretelling of their own, one that predicted that Rand would have all of Lews Therin’s memories, and if he did not, then he was to be killed. Rand names this reckless and foolhardy, but it implies that in all the delicate weaving of the Pattern, the only path to victory for the Light is once Rand has integrated Lews Therin’s life into his own. If he had not yet done so, perhaps his death would cause the needed integration, though the matter of his resurrection would then likely be more difficult, since it too is a delicate affair relying on certain other events. The Borderlander prophecy is a failsafe, allowing the Pattern an extra more farfetched chance to set up events as needed.
Rand unites the Borderlanders behind him, thanks to Lews Therin’s memories, while Elayne gains the throne of Cairhien thanks to her ancestry and deft political maneuvers.
Two fantastic comparisons make use of other characters to not only make the comparison but provide humour and describe other parts of the world.
People knew about his scar, but there was no need to show it off like one of Luca’s bloody wagons.
Her dress was after the Ebou Dar style, with the side pinned up to reveal petticoats colorful enough to scare away a Tinker.
In the Black Tower, Pevara learns that Tarna has been turned to Taim’s side. Pevara is not yet sure, but readers feel confident this is as a result of being forcefully turned to the shadow by a circle of channelers and Myrddraal. The result is that Tarna speaks and moves normally, but her smile is all wrong, the only visible sign of being coerced to serve the Dark One. I recall that Javindhra is Black Ajah, which would be obvious in any case since both she and Tarna now share the same opinions.
Perrin reveals he will side with Rand, which unnerves Faile. But his men, now humbly apologetic about the rumours they started, will follow him anywhere, unquestioning.
Mat’s discussion of boots with Setalle Anan fits much better on a reread than when I first read it. It is the author’s humour about metaphor which throws it off, because it feels like Anan’s comments on the topic are for the reader, not Mat. Mat still makes his point, it’s not about anything but boots. Mat is simple and straightforward, and saves his best for himself, setting his own rules. The rules and expectations around nobles, Aes Sedai, and lords make it too hard to know how to behave properly and certainly prevent one from acting the way they want to. The intent of the discussion is to show Mat’s attitude towards rules just before he enters a realm where the rules make no sense, and are as anarchic to him as he is to the people around him.
Another fantastic description sets the mood before entering the Tower: A trickling, musical stream gurgled behind them.  ‘Trickling’ sounds like tricking, the musical quality speaks to the rules inside the Tower, and of course the stream is not before them or beside them, but behind them, the best place to do trickery without being seen.  
The always necessary foreshadowing has Mat remembering what he will need to remember, just not quite in the right way yet: The Eelfinn had given him the weapon. Well if they dared stand between him and Moiraine, then they would see what he could do with their gift. By providing a particular context, it is less likely the reader will think of a second context until the author reveals it dramatically later. Any hint of an incomplete thought here might leave such an opening. A second later example: “Mat had asked for a way out. They had given it to him, but he could not remember what it was. Everything had gone black, and he had awakened hanging from the ashandarei.”
Mat discovers that even in this chaotic realm, there are rules. Openings can be made to enter the tower, but there’s a trick regarding their size. The openings work in both directions, but they close once you exit the Tower. For each surprise, Mat and his companions logically think their way through, seeming capable of overcoming the obstacles placed in their path. The reader is lulled into a sense of confidence and short-lived complacency.
Despite the surroundings looking different than in past visits, Mat proceeds down two passages before doubling back to check that the map is accurate. It is not, so Mat relies on his luck to set their path. Doubling back established that reversing direction doesn’t take you where you came from, so Mat’s continued doubling back has a proven basis for working before the author shows its success.
An Eelfinn appears and tries to charm them, but is put to sleep by Thom’s song and Mat’s singing. So far, Mat thinks he has the rules all figured out.
Writing Lessons:
Foreshadow your dramatic revelation by discussing the relevant clues in a complete context so that the reader’s mind doesn’t wander down the paths you want to keep it away from.

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