Chapter Nineteen (No Spoilers)
Yes, okay. I’ll admit it. I started a chapter with a dream sequence. However, if you didn’t realize that it was a dream before you got to the end, they you obviously haven’t been paying much attention to the rest of the book. It’s usually good advice to avoid dream sequences. It’s particularly a good idea to avoid flashback dream sequences at the beginning of your novel. I did it anyway. The truth is, I liked what this scene did too much to cut it. My purpose was not to ‘fake out’ or confuse–but simply to show some things that would be otherwise impossible to show in the novel.
I wanted to show AonDor working without Elantris’ current limitations. The only way to do this–to really show this, rather than just describe it–was to have a flashback. So, I gave Raoden the dream where he able to remember the days before the fall of Elantris. You’ll notice that I refer back to this dream several times through the chapter, using it as an example of several things Raoden considers.
In this chapter, I also go a little bit into the linguistics of the novel. If you’d been able to figure out that ‘Dor’ wasn’t an Aon, then you were a step ahead of Raoden at this point. I realize it’s probably too small a thing to have been of note, but I do actually mention the ‘Dor’ one time earlier in the book. It’s in the discussion where Galladon discovers that the republic has fallen. He says, “Only outsiders–those without any sort of true understanding of the Dor–practice the Mysteries.”
There are a lot of other clues sprinkled through these chapters. If you’re really clever, you could probably figure out from this chapter what is wrong with AonDor, and from that extrapolate why the Shaod went bad.
Anyway, if you want more on linguistics, head over to the ‘goodies’ section of the website. I’ve got a whole essay on the languages in ELANTRIS over there.
This is the first chapter where I really start to get into the magic system of the book. There will be much more later. Some people have accused me of writing science fiction that masquerades as fantasy. That is, of course, an exaggeration. I like fantasy idioms–the deep characterization, the slower plot progression, the sense of wonder and magic–far more than I like the science fiction counterparts. However, I’ll admit that I do design my magic systems with an eye for science. (Or at least pseudo-science.)
The idea of a runic magic system is not new. I’ve seen several other authors write some very interesting runic systems (David Farland, for instance, has a particularly good one.)
The twist I wanted to bring to my novel was twofold. First, I wanted to focus on what went wrong with the magic–therefore really allowing me to get into its mechanics. Secondly, I wanted the runic system to be more mathematical than it was mystical. Raoden hints at this in the chapter, and you’ll get more later. However, the idea of runes that include qualifiers and functions appealed to me as a little more distinctive than some of the other systems I’d seen before.