Monday, June 25, 2012

More Druid of Shannara: The Platypus Reads Part CLXII

Today's discussion of Terry Brooks' The Druid of Shannara brings us up to chapter 8.  As always, don't read on if you're worried about spoilers.

Once Quickening has done her requisite miracle in restoring the Meed Gardens, she then calls her disciples to her.  Three is a nice archetypal number, and it's much easier to handle three characters than twelve.  These guys aren't out to spread the good news, however, but to find relics and fight monsters.  Hellboy would be proud.  Anyhow, getting disciple number two means busting Morgan Leah out of jail.  It also means that we discover pretty quickly the Pe Ell (Pet Eel), has control issues.  As a pay-off, however, we get to see a nice flashback to a conversation with Rimmer Dal.  Once Morgan's out of the pen, we get a brief glimpse of Walker Boh trying to cure himself of the Asphinx's ("a sphinx," "not-sphinx," *anasphinxeus?) poison before we cut over to Coll Ohmsford and more Rimmer Dal.  Here again we have the question of just how much of the truth Rimmer Dal is telling.  That's the broad outline.  Now, let's take a more detailed look at what's going on.

Much of the Quickening thread of this book is told from the p.o.v. of Pe Ell, the assassin.  Naturally, it would be a mistake to tell it from Quickening's p.o.v. (Familiarity breeds contempt and the character's alterity will already almost certainly suffer the more time we spend in contact with her even if she's not the p.o.v. character).  Morgan would be a nice choice since we're familiar with him.  It's Walker's book, so I assume some of this will remain in his p.o.v. even after he joins the group (lv1 druid lfg?).  The question remains: why Pe Ell?  At a guess, I'd say that Brooks finds him interesting; he kills people, has a mysterious past, works for chief baddy Rimmer Dal, and his desire to kill Quickening places him fundamentally at odds with the rest of the team.  This should tell us something: Pe Ell is interesting while Quickening is boring.  Is that it?  We'll see.  

Shifting over to Walker, he remains one of the more interesting characters around, but his pessimism and angst will eventually make him a pain.  Brooks needs to fix that quickly (or quickeningly), and I have a feeling that's what he has in mind.  Cogline needs more screen time too as this is his story in the way that the previous series was Allanon's story.  I expect to see more of him as we go on.  Everyone likes Rumor too, and that has to be one huge Chekhov's gun waiting to go off.

Finally, we have Coll and his inevitable escape attempt that we should be pretty sure is just what Rimmer Dal wants.  The big question is why?  Again, Brooks shows us clearly what he intends to do and leaves the why and how to vex and puzzle us.  Notice that we're also allowed enough information to be sure that Rimmer Dal is the bad guy, but not enough to know how much of what he says is true or how much of what he says he believes to be true.  This creates just enough doubt to keep things interesting while preserving the sense of a clear "moral up and down" that works like this need in order to function.

Those are my thoughts for today.  Best wishes until next time!

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