Wednesday, 23 October 2013

A Memory of Light - Chapters 33-36

In this section, the heroes show determination in the face of the worst odds yet.

Perrin battles Slayer in Tel’aran’rhiod, showcasing a variety of tactics granting either of them a momentary edge. Perrin has no trouble running through the sky, but is so used to swimming that he can’t maintain his focus when underwater. Exhaustion impedes his ability to manipulate the World of Dreams, and Slayer finally hits him with an arrow.

Lanfear finds Perrin, and scorns him, easily switching her favour to the victor of the battle. Alone in Tel’aran’rhiod, with no energy, Perrin realizes his hammer is warm, giving him enough clarity of mind to wake up from the Wolf Dream. He lands where he expects Faile to be, at the Field of Merrilor, where the Last Battle is upon them.

Faile begins her transit to Merrilor with the Horn of Valere, but a bubble of evil disrupts her departure. She concludes that there is likely a traitor in her midst, which she thinks is Vanin. Aravine is the one who would best be able to divine the nature of Faile’s cargo, though, so my suspicion fell on her. The traitor’s identity is not as important as the suspicion that one exists, and that Faile is without resources in a hostile land while this person bides their time. With a number of nameless travelers killed by such trivial things as mud and plants, the feeling of helplessness and paranoia is well established. Her own attempts to weed out the traitor backfire, and she is forced to flee, afoot, into the Blasted Lands with creatures in pursuit.

The perfect accentuation of this feeling of powerlessness comes with Olver’s perspective. Olver is the only child of note in the entire series, and despite training with his uncles in the band, it is obvious to the reader that Olver is well and truly outmatched by everything. By placing Olver’s perspective here, just before the Last Battle, the author greatly increases the feeling that humanity is overwhelmed by the forces arrayed against it.

At Shayol Ghul, Aviendha learns about male Aiel channelers and is forced to admit what she has discovered to Cadsuane. Aviendha sets the strategy for how to stand against so many, with so much uncertainty: set plans together to counteract any one man having too much influence, in case he is under Compulsion, and “don’t try anything clever. We just hold.”

Hessalam escapes a skirmish with Aviendha, taking a deeply-Compelled Sarene with her. Sarene, a well-developed secondary character who hunted the Black Ajah, is irreversibly converted to the enemy ranks so brutally quickly that it is hard not to feel frustration. This is a warning to readers that anyone can be lost, and it can happen very quickly. A plan is concocted between Aviendha, Sorilea and Cadsuane to eliminate this threat.

Rand stands outside the Pattern and speaks with the Dark One. The author uses imagery established long ago, threads in a Pattern, to describe the otherworld in which Rand exists. The Dark One is dismissive of Moridin now that he has delivered the Dark One’s prize into his grasp. The Dark One makes an analogy, which of course is rooted in deathly imagery: SMALL TOOLS CAN BE EFFECTIVE. THE THINNEST OF KNIVES CAN STOP A HEART.

At the same time, but at a different rate of time, Nynaeve grows impatient and discovers Alanna chained to a wall in the Pit of Doom, slowly bleeding to death. This discovery puts the Dark One’s statement in context, adding a layer of extra meaning. The jolt of dread and excitement would be lessened if Alanna had been discovered before Rand’s first meeting with the Dark One. Now that it is too late for him to do anything about it, and Nynaeve seems powerless to save her, it is the equivalent of readers being shown a drawn weapon raised at Rand which he is oblivious to.

A map is provided for the Last Battle. Maps are one of the best parts of fantasy worlds, and the inclusion of this one to help the reader navigate the upcoming battle is priceless to following the action.

Mat trains his troops. His bluster fits well in a normal context, but he completely fails to acknowledge this is the Last Battle, and the overwhelming fear his fighters must be feeling. Perhaps portraying a commander who expects to live, and his soldiers to live, is the appropriate way to motivate them to hold and not break ranks. It feels far less effective than Elayne’s earlier rallying cry, but still maintains credibility because it is interspersed with solid advice and tactics the soldiers can use.

Delarn’s association with the nameless villagers is a clue to their identity. By having Mat recall the moment he saved Delarn, the author is subtly pointing at the town where Delarn was saved, and where certain events happen every night.

Mat learns the Horn is lost, in a strange conversation where Egwene has reverted to her younger self, and accidentally gives away more than she intended. The amazing author’s trick of ta’veren, though not cited in this case, always provides an easy explanation for falling out of character.

Mat is changing the plan, realizing the Shadow likely knows everything his army has planned. He intends to heap everything in one pile, providing a chance to wipe out humanity’s forces all at once, a target the Shadow is incapable of resisting. The Shadow’s armies arrive early, because somehow all of the commanders have forgotten that Trollocs can march through the night, a mistake that recently nearly undid Elayne’s forces.

The final set-up for the Last Battle is done. The forces of humanity are vastly outnumbered and surrounded. The Horn of Valere and the Seals on the Dark One’s prison are lost. Yet another weakness of Rand’s has been exposed. Perrin is grievously wounded.  Nynaeve, Olver and other characters are nearly powerless. Forsaken appear and leave the battlefield unscathed. Several heroic characters have already been lost or removed from power. If any of the Heroes, anywhere, fail, then the Shadow falls across the world. The excitement level is off the charts.

Writing Lessons:

Use association to place clues: for example, show a person associated with an event, to represent some other aspect of that event you want to reveal only later.

No comments:

Post a Comment