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Runes, Part 1, Chapter 7 - Companions in Flight

 
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 1:45 pm    Post subject: Runes, Part 1, Chapter 7 - Companions in Flight Reply with quote

Linden has been back in the Land for almost a day now. But, in this chapter, she's finally in the Land.

With the Dispiser's guidance, she's found hurtloam, and it has restored her in innumerable ways. Her health-sense has been returned to her, her weariness has been erased, and the Land is once again shining for her.

Quote:
Hurtloam has given her back the beauty of the Land.

Anele is before her, as distinctly as if he had been etched in sunfire. And, as Linden applies her sight, many things become clear. She confirms that he is indeed full of Earthpower. And she sees why the hurtloam failed to restore him: Anele himself opposed it.

Quote:
But his inherent energies had become part of his madness, and had opposed his restoration.

Perhaps no mundane person of the Land could resist the Land's medicament, but Anele has power, power which hurtloam must respect. If he chooses to remain mad, no hurtloam will gainsay his decision. What grief, what loss, could leave Anele so bereft as to choose madness over health? We have no answers yet.

But we learn other things.

Quote:
She saw clearly that the Despiser did not control the phases of Anele's condition; could not grasp posession of Anele at will. Instead he merely took advantage of a flaw in the defenses which the old man had erected to protect his deepest pain. And that flaw shifted and changed with the unexplained modulations of Anele's mental state.

So it is Anele himself who allows others to enter into him and possess him. Foul has found this out and takes advantage. But, again, answers lead to more questions. Was it an accident of his madness, or is this flaw something that was chosen consciously by Anele?

When it is clear that Anele is safe, Linden turns her attention to Liand. The Stowndowner has arrived with a horse, some supplies, a will, and a desire.

There are things about Liand that Linden must know. But first, she must feed her need for speed. Quickly, Anele is hoisted up behind Liand on his pinto ...

And Foul is gone like a burst soap bubble.

- - - - - - -

Linden is treated to the beauty of the Land, and the wonder of her restoration, as she follows Liand further into the Mithil valley. For the first time since her summons, she can truly appreciate the Earthpowerful bounty of the countryside. The natural wonders of the valley are luxuriant, and her joy is buoyed by the eficacy of the hurtloam. As readers, we are treated as well: we have not seen the Land in its glory since Hile Troy ascended Kevin's Watch, and Covenant followed Elena into the Westron mountains (excepting of course the extra special exception of Andelain under the Sunbane).

But Linden is not on vacation.

After the unexpected ambiguity of the Masters, Linden needs to clarify Liand's position. And her moral sense requires her to test Liand's resolve. She needed to understand him.

But before she can put her questions to the Stonedowner, Kevin's Dirt snags her attention.

Quote:
she could feel Kevin's Dirt more clearly. It seed to clog her lungs, depriving her not of oxygen but of some more subtle substance. Already it had begun to erode her health sense

Some more subtle substance - Kevin's Dirt blocks something, some essence of the Land. It would seem that lacking this ethereal nutrient causes the loss of the health-sense. (Perhaps health-sense arises from something akin to midi-chlorians?)

But Donaldson has told us to be careful of Linden's analyses. For at the beginning of this very chapter, we have seen Linden misdiagnose Anele's resistance to hurtloam: at first she thought it was a form of Earthpower overload, but came to an altogether different conclusion upon further reflection. Why tell us about Linden's mistake, unless to remind us that Linden can make mistakes?

The realities of her situation persue Linden, however, and she gives some thought to their course. This provides an opportunity to converse with Liand, to guage his willingness to help her elude the Masters.

The decide upon a course that leads past Mithil's Plunge, and westward up and into the Southron Range.

But then the conversation changed direction.

Quote:
"But before we go any further, you have some explaining to do."

"Where do you get this 'we' stuff, Liand?"

The young man swallowed uncomfortably.

And so it all comes out: Liand explains his curiosity, his urge to be of service to Linden. His need to confront the doom he senses approaching the Land.

It'd be easy to dismiss Liand as a Linden's handy native guide, who serves no other purpose than to make Linden's flight into the mountains conceivable. Or to consider him the Land's simple witness to the events of the Final Chronicles. But I do not believe that Donaldson's integrity would allow such a character. Consider these words:

Quote:
"I am as I appear to be, merely a young man among my people. But I have seen that the Land is lovely. I wish to defend it. And if I am too small for so great a task, still I will not be content until I have learned the name of our doom."

Do you remember the people that Covenant met in the First Chronicles? Loyal, brave, dedicated defenders of the Land? Farmers and shepherds who defended their Stonedown from havoc and ill? Who studied, who marched, who swore Oaths, who fought? Do you remember the people who caused Covenant such anguish because he felt he did not deserve them?

This is who Liand is. A throwback to the Land's past, an icon of its best days.

In meeting Liand, Linden is indeed, in the best sense, returned to the Land.

So if Liand seems hapless, then consider him a wasted potential, brought low by the Masters and Kevin's Dirt. Wasted, but perhaps not lost. He might one day come into his own ...

Linden accepts Liand's aid. Not entirely because she needs it. But because he needs it just as much. And so she is candid with him.

Quote:
"I've been where you are. I met a man who needed help. I wanted to help him," needed to help him. "And I could never have imagined what I was getting into. If I'd known how bad it was going to be, I don't think I could have done it.

"But I wouldn't be who I am now if I hadn't refused to abandon him."

As she spoke, the young man's indignation eased. "I hear you, Linden Avery," he replied firmly. "I am content to aid you."

"Good."

As Liand, Linden, Anele, and Somo wend their way into the wilderness, we are left with the thought: there are too many men that Linden might have been speaking about, but it doesn't really matter which one, because they all made her who she is now. And as as distinctly as if he had been etched in sunfire, we can see that Liand will be made by Linden in much the same way.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 1:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you very much for filling in at such short notice Wayfriend!!!
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 3:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I second that, and thanks for the great dissection!
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 4:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good job Wayfriend, thanks for catching us up.

Good point about the Land finally being “back.” No question about it, hurtloam and persipience are nearly as essential to the magic of the land as that which they enable and reveal.


Wayfriend wrote:
she sees why the hurtloam failed to restore him: Anele himself opposed it.
This isn’t how I read it at first, but I think you might be right. The quote you provided implied that his inherent energies (earthpower) opposed it. However, it didn’t make clear whether this was something under his control. But I’m starting to think that Spoiler:
his madness may have been intentional—or if it’s not intentional, he uses it to his advantage to protect himself from the painful memory of losing the staff, and also to protect that knowledge from Lord Foul. His “restoration” would make him open for Foul to read. Later, in the Verge of Wandering, Linden tries to use her persipience to penetrate Anele’s pain, but his madness is a defense against probing, a defense made of earthpower.



Wayfriend wrote:
So it is Anele himself who allows others to enter into him and possess him. Foul has found this out and takes advantage. But, again, answers lead to more questions. Was it an accident of his madness, or is this flaw something that was chosen consciously by Anele?


I don’t think this is quite right. Does Anele allow himself to be possessed, or does his particular madness make him vulnerable to possession? Spoiler:
(I I think of his madness as a “flight from himself,” a hiding within his subconsciousness so that his deepest secrets won’t be vulnerable to discovery on the surface)

My interpretation is supported by:
Quote:
Instead [Lord Foul] merely took advantage of a flaw in the defenses which the old man had erected to protect his deepest pain.



Wayfriend wrote:
Quickly, Anele is hoisted up behind Liand on his pinto ...

And Foul is gone like a burst soap bubble.


Spoiler:
Yes, curious that his disconnect with the ground has this effect, no? Smile



Wayfriend wrote:
Some more subtle substance - Kevin's Dirt blocks something, some essence of the Land. It would seem that lacking this ethereal nutrient causes the loss of the health-sense.


Though Linden may be wrong in her diagnosis, clearly “something” is being blocked. Persipience, penetrating awareness, is blocked. This invites us to ponder on the very nature of healthsense itself. What if Spoiler:
it is not merely a power of the perceiver, but rather a shared awareness between perceiver and that which is perceived (the Land)? Similar to how Anele can communicate with stone? Except that it’s on a more general, less specific scope. It is communication similar to the One Forest’s awareness of itself: each person of the land like a tree that communicates with the whole. . . knowledge without speaking . . .awareness of Other (the world, its inhabitants, its substance) as if Other were yourself. A union of Other and Self. Transcendental awareness.

SO . . .what if Kevin’s Dirt is similar to Anele’s madness? The Land itself is cutting off connection from its inhabitants, retreating into itself? Retracting its invitation to communion?


Wayfriend wrote:
It'd be easy to dismiss Liand as a Linden's handy native guide, who serves no other purpose than to make Linden's flight into the mountains conceivable. Or to consider him the Land's simple witness to the events of the Final Chronicles. But I do not believe that Donaldson's integrity would allow such a character.


Actually, I think this is exactly what Liand started out as, but Donaldson has made a good attempt at giving him "dignity."


Okay, as usual, I have to say a few things about style, pacing, voice, etc.

On the need to leave quickly, Linden thinks:
Quote:
“And Anele might not be able to bear it if he were captured again.”
I know that she’s empathetic, but this constant justifying her exigencies in terms of others’ needs verges on implausibility. It’s okay for her to be a little selfish, Mr. Donaldson! It’s okay for her to want to escape because she’s scared, doesn’t want to be captured, wants to save HER son, etc. I’m having a hard time relating to a character who doesn’t have these basic fears for herself. On the other hand, I suppose this is her main difference between 2nd Chrons Linden and LC Linden: her service to others is now out of love rather than self-hatred.

I’ve said this elsewhere: I enjoy the ascent into the mountains, from its first hurtloam-enhanced steps to the last, exhausted scrambled. In terms of narrative construction, this is a masterful passage. Donaldson convincingly guides us through the physical difficulty of overcoming this terrain, all the different stages, all the decisions which must be made simply to move through it. He claims not to be a visual writer, but at this point I find the pictures in my mind to be the strongest yet. I can see the rolling, ascending earth. It begins here:
Quote:

“To the east lay her easiest road. There the valley diverged more and more from the course of the Mithil; and as it curved into the southeast it rose steadily until it became a vale between mountain heads. From this distance, its slopes appeared to remain grassy and gradual two thousand feet and more above Mithil Stonedown . . .”


Okay, very good. But it’s not until the next paragraph that I can actually see this, the paragraph that talks about them being visible “for at least a league until they rounded the curve up into the vale.” Her red shirt assures it. And then it all clicks for me: I’m a Haruchai seeing the distant, slow bobbing of a red speck against the green grass of the curving, rising vale. That imaginary view from the Haruchai’s perspective seals the mental image for me, clearly outlines the scale of this rumpled earth they’re trying to traverse, the relative distances and speeds of hunter and quarry.

And this perspective communicates more than simple visuals, it communicates the sense of “pursuit” more powerfully than any mere statement of Linden worrying, or the obvious fact of their running: it shows the pursuit through the imagined eye of the hunter. Thus, the dramatic tension of flight/pursuit is reengaged (after the long pause of Foul’s Chat).

This tension gains a physical goal: the rift and the scree pile. That’s where they will focus their flight. The way into the mountains. Liand provides the path: behind Mithil’s Plunge.

But at this point—right when they have chosen their path—Donaldson again pauses the text. Just as the plot’s tension takes off again, he has the characters stop and justify their joint effort. This is a necessary step; for purely logical reasons, a writer must rationalize the fact that characters band together. Their union has to be plausible. But it’s also necessary character development. The fact that we’re silently screaming at them to “hurry up!” only heightens the necessity of their hesitation: Linden wouldn’t delay if it weren’t vital. It’s these kinds of character moments which completely put me in Donaldson’s hands. I’m willing to accept any number of arcane vocabulary choices, of prose prolonged to the point of breaking, for the sake of moments like these where the characters become real to each other, and not mere plot devices. In becoming real to each other, they become real to us.

It reminds me of the concept/practice of the greeting: ‘namaste.’ It is a recognition of another person as a subject, rather than an object, and the transcendental union possible between two subjects that is impossible between subject/object.
Wikipedia translates it as:
Quote:
* The Spirit in me meets the same Spirit in you.
* I greet that place where you and I are one.
* I salute the Light of God in you.
* I bow to the divine in you.
* I recognize that within each of us is a place where Divinity dwells, and when we are in that place, we are One.
* My higher energy salutes your higher energy.
* the God in me sees and honors the god in you.
* May the God within you, bless you


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Namaste


There’s a lot of dialogue here which sharpens both characters’ identities. I’ll leave that for others to explore, if they want. But there’s one thing Linden says which justifies this pause more than anything: “But if you’ve got some confused notion that all we have to do is escape the Masters, you should go home now. They are the least of our problems.”

This pause is acceptable because, really, the Masters are just the tip of the iceberg. If they can’t elude them, they have no hope of overcoming much larger difficulties. Liand may offer her a way to elude the Masters, but in both practical terms and moral terms, she cannot treat him as if that’s all he is. He’s a person who is worth this delay, precisely because his usefulness is so small compared to what they’re fighting. If she can’t spare a moment to honestly relate the danger—if she can’t give him that much respect—then she might as well give up now, because it’s not worth taking advantage of him just to overcome the first of many obstacles. If she’s going to start using (possessing?) people so soon, she might as well never start, because her goal ultimately arises out of empathy. It cannot be achieved by scorning those who help.

Finally, I'm there. Right there with the characters. This is where the book takes off for me. From this point, my sense of “being there” only increases. (More on that in the next two chapter dissections.)
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 8:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wayfriend, great job jumping in at the last minute! Thanks.

Malik23 wrote:
This isn’t how I read it at first, but I think you might be right. The quote you provided implied that his inherent energies (earthpower) opposed it. However, it didn’t make clear whether this was something under his control. But I’m starting to think that Spoiler:
his madness may have been intentional—or if it’s not intentional, he uses it to his advantage to protect himself from the painful memory of losing the staff, and also to protect that knowledge from Lord Foul. His “restoration” would make him open for Foul to read. Later, in the Verge of Wandering, Linden tries to use her persipience to penetrate Anele’s pain, but his madness is a defense against probing, a defense made of earthpower.

Spoiler:
That sounds suspiciously like something the Elohim would do... Smile

Just how powerful IS Anele? As we'll find out later, he was brought back to life (in the womb -- which reminds me of Paul Muad'dib's sister in Dune -- what effect would that have on him?) ... he was born in Andelain ... he was the Staff-bearer ...

How much could he do if he weren't insane? Or how much could he be manipulated? That could be a good reason to "silence" him.


malik23 wrote:
I’ve said this elsewhere: I enjoy the ascent into the mountains, from its first hurtloam-enhanced steps to the last, exhausted scrambled. In terms of narrative construction, this is a masterful passage. Donaldson convincingly guides us through the physical difficulty of overcoming this terrain, all the different stages, all the decisions which must be made simply to move through it. He claims not to be a visual writer, but at this point I find the pictures in my mind to be the strongest yet. I can see the rolling, ascending earth.

I love this whole part too... beautiful visuals, great pacing. Ah!! The Land!! Finally!! Health!! Beauty!!

Quote:
* The Spirit in me meets the same Spirit in you.
* I greet that place where you and I are one.
* I salute the Light of God in you.
* I bow to the divine in you.
* I recognize that within each of us is a place where Divinity dwells, and when we are in that place, we are One.
* My higher energy salutes your higher energy.
* the God in me sees and honors the god in you.
* May the God within you, bless you

Namaste Gandalf
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 26, 2006 7:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great dissection WayFriend, and excellent post Malik.

I agree that it is his madness, the changing tides of that madness, that makes him vulnerable to possession, rather than him giving permission for it.

And I'm amused by the opening of your post WayFriend..."With Lord Foul's aid."

He's helping her. Why?

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 26, 2006 3:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks to everyone who commented.

Avatar wrote:
I agree that it is his madness, the changing tides of that madness, that makes him vulnerable to possession, rather than him giving permission for it.

I am adopting a wait-and-see on this one. A person who retreats into madness like Anele, who feels guilty about what he has done wrong, may be hoping that someone very literally "steps into his shoes" in order to make things right. Sort of an ultimate sacrifice, the absolute utmost he can do in restitution. I am not saying he wants Lord Foul to possess him. I am saying that he may desire that he is open for possession by someone, and that he sees a way out along that path. It may be his madness that causes him to choose this ... or it may be that he had a master plan in mind when he chose the madness course, which is now lost to him.

In the Second Chronicles, we learned about the ultimate evil that is possession. If possession is so prominent in the Final Chronicles, I think Donaldson will flip the whole concept on it's head. One way would be to consider the morality of choosing possession.

Avatar wrote:
And I'm amused by the opening of your post WayFriend..."With Lord Foul's aid."

He's helping her. Why?

Do you mean where I said "With the Dispiser's guidance"? That was merely refering to the earlier chapter. I guess I don't get what you're referring to here.

In the last chapter's discussion, I mentioned that I believe that Linden's course to save Jeremiah serves Foul's purposes. Really, what else would he want Jeremiah for? So he helped her escape the Haruchai, who would have imprisoned her, thereby denying her the chance to save Jeremiah, thereby thwarting Foul's purpose. So he led her to the hurtloam in order to help her escape the Haruchai.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 28, 2016 10:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wayfriend wrote:
Linden is treated to the beauty of the Land, and the wonder of her restoration, as she follows Liand further into the Mithil valley. For the first time since her summons, she can truly appreciate the Earthpowerful bounty of the countryside. The natural wonders of the valley are luxuriant, and her joy is buoyed by the eficacy of the hurtloam. As readers, we are treated as well: we have not seen the Land in its glory since Hile Troy ascended Kevin's Watch, and Covenant followed Elena into the Westron mountains (excepting of course the extra special exception of Andelain under the Sunbane).


This is indeed a satisfying moment, for me as a reader to re-experience the Land as a place of bountiful health and loveliness after the extermination of the Sunbane. In my opinion, we didn't get to savor that victory in enough detail at the end of White Gold Wielder.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 28, 2016 10:15 pm    Post subject: Re: Runes, Part 1, Chapter 7 - Companions in Flight Reply with quote

wayfriend wrote:
Linden accepts Liand's aid. Not entirely because she needs it. But because he needs it just as much. And so she is candid with him.

Quote:
"I've been where you are. I met a man who needed help. I wanted to help him," needed to help him. "And I could never have imagined what I was getting into. If I'd known how bad it was going to be, I don't think I could have done it.

"But I wouldn't be who I am now if I hadn't refused to abandon him."

As she spoke, the young man's indignation eased. "I hear you, Linden Avery," he replied firmly. "I am content to aid you."

"Good."

As Liand, Linden, Anele, and Somo wend their way into the wilderness, we are left with the thought: there are too many men that Linden might have been speaking about, but it doesn't really matter which one, because they all made her who she is now.


Here, I think she is referring to Thomas Covenant, whom she refused to abandon to the violent cult that had kidnapped Joan. Following him and his captors, and fighting for his life, brought her into the Land and made her who she is now, a lover and defender of the Land's Earth. It could, of course, also refer to her encounter with the Creator before she met Covenant.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2016 9:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wayfriend wrote:
Linden has been back in the Land for almost a day now. But, in this chapter, she's finally in the Land.


It's a satisfying return to the health and beauty of this world, and I can vicariously feel the vitality of this place through reading a passage such as this:
Quote:
Marveling at herself, Linden matched Liand's pace while the terrain allowed the pinto to canter. If she had been less familiar with the wonders of Earthpower, she might have believed that she was dreaming. She was not the same woman who had fallen to her knees only a short time ago. One small handful of hurtloam had apparently erased her mortality. While she ran, exaltation filled her heart. Buoyed by springy grass and soft soil, by the mountain tang of the air and the luxuriant quest of the river, and by hurtloam, she felt that she could run, and go on running, until she arrived at hope.


Whenever I come to this point in a Chronicles re-read, I usually have to set the book down for a moment just so I can savor all this in my imagination.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2016 11:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

While we don't know much about Liand at this point in the story, this chapter gives us enough information about him to admire him.

Quote:
"Linden Avery," he retorted sternly, "have you not sojourned to Mithil Stonedown once before, in years long past? At that time, did it appear to you that the folk of my home were careless of their word, or lightly swayed from the path of their convictions and desires?"

She shook her head helplessly, remembering Sunder with rue and admiration. The Graveler she had known had held fast to all his choices, regardless of their consequences. Without him, she and Covenant would not have survived--

"If they did," Liand went on, "then we have come far from that time, and do not regret what we have become." Every upright line of his frame seemed to reproach her. "I am not so flighty of heart that I would recant my wish to aid you merely because the peril is great. I do not merit your doubt. And I will not abandon you."

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