I don’t know if you remember or not, but there was some small confusion on Raoden’s part earlier about who Sarene was getting to bring supply shipments into Elantris. They always came and left at night, and didn’t want anybody there to greet them. I realize we haven’t seen the beggars very often, but I thought I’d use them again in this section. It made sense that they would be the ones Sarene used, assuming she knew about them. I’d say that Ashe found them in one of his information-gathering excursions.
In the original drafts of the book, I had Sarene feeling a sense of foreboding here at the beginning of her section. My thought was that we’d just seen the Dakhor attack Raoden–the reader is going to be feeling some tension, so I thought I’d like to keep it up in the Sarene scene.
There’s still a little bit of it there, but I cut most at Moshe’s recommendation. He felt that having Sarene feel an unnatural eeriness about this particular night was too melodramatic, and implied a kind of psychic link. Personally, I think there’s nothing psychic about it–it’s just a general storytelling convention that characters can sense when something is wrong.
Either way, I do think the more subdued tone of this first part has its own advantages. By having Sarene completely ignorant, even unconsciously, of what is coming, I think I build a sense of tension. The reader knows danger is approaching.
So, this is where the book turns a little violent. You can read some of my earlier annotations on the topic. I was a little bit worried about putting any strong violence in this book, since it was generally focused around politics and other, more subtle methods of building tension. However, I decided to go with contrast instead. So far, nearly everything in the book has been surprisingly peaceful. We didn’t even see Shaor’s men kill many people.
Now things are going very wrong. An evil that nobody was expecting has come against the city, and it’s controlled by a demented, hateful creature. I don’t see how we could get around having these scenes be particularly dark. I think there is an element of realism here too, however. This is what happens with all of the politics and the maneuvering breaks down.