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It was essential to this chapter that I establish that Raoden can catch glimpses of what’s happening around him. I went to a lot of work to get him into place above the city where he could make the connection, looking down on Elantris and the outer cities. The pool, actually, simply grew out of my need to find a way to put Raoden on the slopes of the mountains near the ending of the book. I like how it turned out in the final story–it added a dimension of mysticism to the Elantrian belief system, and it worked very well into the plotting I had developed. My only worry about it is that it was too far away from the Elantris, but we’ll talk about that later.
THE SPIRIT OF ELANTRIS
So, this moment–where Raoden is nearly dead, looking down on the cities, and finally makes the connection–was one of the scenes that made me want to write this book. In each novel I write, I have some important scenes in my mind. They’re like. . .focuses for the novel. They’re the places I know I need to get, and they’re usually very dynamic in my mind. In a way, I tell the rest of the story just so I can make my way to these moments.
This book had two main Moments for me. We haven’t gotten to the second yet, but this is the first. I hope that you, the reader, arrived at the realization just as Raoden did. I’ve had a lot of trouble getting this balance right. Some readers figured out the secret early, while others (the larger group) didn’t even understand what’s going on in this chapter.
If it requires explanation, Raoden is thinking about Aon Rao. Then he notices that Elantris and the cities around it form a pattern–the exact pattern of Aon Rao. The cities form an Aon on the ground. At this moment, Raoden realizes why Elantris fell, and why the Elantrians went with it. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I won’t spoil it for you.
I really wanted to bring these Dilaf scenes in and make them personal. That was my prime reasoning behind sending Sarene with him. I wanted the reader to care, and I wanted Hrathen to care–which, hopefully, would make the reader care even more.
Dilaf was very interesting to write as an antagonist. By the time he finally came to his own, I didn’t have to worry about developing him as a viable threat. His personality through the entire novel had prepared the reader for the awful moment when he finally got the other characters into his power. And, because Hrathen was so sympathetic a villain through the entire novel, I think I can make Dilaf more raw and unapproachable. It’s nice to have sympathetic villains, but with Hrathen in the book, I didn’t feel that I needed much sympathy for Dilaf. Also, with one such well-drawn villain, I felt that if I tried to do the same with Dilaf, the comparison would make him come off very poorly. So, I went the other direction, and the contrast gives the readers someone that they can just hate.
If they didn’t hate him already, then this last scene with Sarene was meant to push them over the edge. Here is a man who kills for pleasure. No matter how wronged he was in the past, he has no justification for the cruelty and enjoyment he displays in anticipating Sarene’s death. This is an evil man.
So, things look pretty grim, eh? Sarene about to be murdered, Teod about to fall, Elantris about to be burned, Raoden in the pool.
Hum. Guess the good guys lose. There’s no reason to read the last three chapters. . . .