Monday, August 06, 2012

More Elf Queen of Shannara: The Platypus Reads Part CLXXXIV

This morning's post will cover up to the beginning of chapter 14.

*Begin Spoilers*

After viewing the city and learning a little more about the history of the elves on Morrowindl, Wren is summoned to the council hall.  Here, we have Brooks try his hand at political writing as he imagines the elven high council arguing with the Queen over the fate of the island.  Ellenroh pushes for them to use the Loden, an elfstone set in the Rukh staff that the queen carries, to magically enfold the city so that it can be transported back to the Four Lands.  After initial objections the council, of course, agrees, and plans are made to begin the journey back to the beach the following day.  We then get a magnificent description of the invocation of the Loden's magic and the drawing up of the city into the Loden.  Just as things are getting interesting, however, Brooks cuts back to Walker Boh and Cogline at Paranor.


1. I appreciate Brooks' attempt at political intrigue.  This is new territory for him, at least in the Shannara books, and his initial sally is well handled.  We come away with a definite picture of how Ellenroh uses weight of personality and magical mystique to manipulate the council.  The various other players, though they don't get a lot of screen time, are given real objections and personalities.  To add spice to the mix, we are allowed to see how Gavilan hides behind his boyish charm to advance his own agenda, though what it is at this point remains unclear.  Wren's combination of teenage insistence on transparency, Rover street-smarts, and political naivete is quite believable and helps us negotiate the political situation while preserving a sense of "otherness" and mystery.

2. Did you notice that the company of the Loden shall be nine?  Little homage to Tolkien there.  Ok, so we are going to get the company of the ring here, but the trope is deployed in a more sophisticated way that it has in previous Brooks novels.  They're actually running away from Mount Doom rather than towards it with something to save rather than something to destroy.  Wren isn't exactly a hobbit, though she is still a teenager (teenagers=hobbits in Brooks' world), but she's far more savvy than any of the previous Ohmsfords with the exception of older and more magical Walker.  Without Allanon, we might also add that there's no obvious Gandalf analog.  Very interesting.  It's as if the fellowship of the ring have been thrown into Michael Chriton's Congo.

3. Has Brooks really hamstrung himself by having to constantly insert chapters that follow the other three plots?  I don't know.  It seems like they become random intrusions that disrupt the integrity of the individual novels, but I don't mind them.  They also have the advantage of keeping the other characters fresh in the audience's mind.  Still, the do disrupt the flow of the  larger narrative into which they are inserted.  It's an interesting technical choice, but I don't know what I think about it.

4. Wren's cool, but I still think Walker Boh is my favorite character in these books.  Make of that what you will.

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