Elantris Reread: Chapters Fifty-Five and Fifty-Six


Greetings and happy Thursday, Cosmere Chickens, and welcome… ::dramatic chord:: to Part Three.

That’s right, my fledgling falcons, we’ve come down to the final part of the book! Feathers will fly! Fanfare will sound! And Elantris will… rise? Or fall? Only one way to find out (though “fall” would fit my alliterative scheme better)—let’s read on and find out, shall we?

L: I decided to play around a little bit with the reread today, and “respond” to some of Brandon’s annotated comments as if he were here in the reread with us. (We authors are already used to talking to imaginary people in our heads, so responding to things that people wrote years ago as if they were in the room with us right now really isn’t all that different, right? … Right?) So let’s all welcome Annotation!Brandon to the reread, shall we? If it’s fun and we have time to continue doing it, we’ll keep doing it for the rest of Part Three. If you guys don’t care for it, sound off in the comments and we’ll only sulk a little about it behind the scenes. 

(Non-)Spoiler warning: This week’s article has no spoilers from other Cosmere works. Read on fearlessly, chickens!

Last time on Elantris: FINALLY!

During a planning meeting of the resistance, it is agreed that the best course of action will be to assassinate Telrii. Sarene picks up on the fact that Kaloo is actually Spirit, but when they come back from their little confrontation, Ahan is gone… because he’s gone to alert Telrii of the treason happening. Telrii shows up with a bunch of guards and they proceed to stab poor old Roial in the tum-tum, at which point Raoden finally FINALLY reveals who he really is, much to everyone’s shock.

The only person who isn’t terribly happy to hear the news that Kae’s beloved prince has returned from the dead is, of course…Hrathen. He stands by, helpless, as Eondel’s troops arrive and behead the hapless Telrii, watching his plans for a “bloodless” takeover of power go up in (literal) flames.

Chapter Essentials

POV Character(s): Raoden, Sarene

Discussion

L: This week we’re starting off with Part Three, “The Spirit of Elantris.” 

Essentially, everything is resolved in this section except for the really big questions. Who will end up as king? Will Arelon get invaded? Can anything be done to save the Elantrians? Well, you’ll just have to read on, won’t you?

–Annotation, Brandon Sanderson

L: ::dryly:: Thanks, Brandon. Look, we didn’t bring you in here from the past to steal our bit from the intro, okay?

(PAIGE, FEEL FREE TO CALL ME OUT ON STEALING FROM THE PAST HERE)

P: I’m slightly disappointed that he didn’t say RAFO.

Chapter 55

It was against one such stone that Raoden leaned now, Sarene pressed close to his side, her arms around his waist as they regarded the city.

L: Man, it’s ABOUT BLOODY TIME. It feels like we’ve been waiting FOREVER for these two to hit it off! After all those little internal speeches of hers about never feeling wanted, and never feeling like she was going to find love… This is so, so lovely to see.

P: Wuv… twu wuv. I’m just glad she wasn’t livid with him for not revealing his identity to her right off the bat. Or any time since. 

Sarene lifted her head, looking into his eyes. “I can’t believe I didn’t put it together. I was even suspicious about your—meaning Raoden’s—disappearance. I assumed the king had killed you off, or at least exiled you.”

L: ::narrows eyes:: Now you HAVE told her that you’re still an Elantrian, right, Raoden? Right? RIGHT?

P: Pssh… he’s got to be still wearing an illusion at this point.

“They would prefer to believe that I’d died than know that I’d been taken by the Shaod.”

L: Thank goodness. Good boy. Now keep up that level of honesty for a change, would ya?

P: Honesty is VERY IMPORTANT, RAODEN!

While some of the merchants had decided to cut their losses—moving on to Teod to sell what they could—a surprising number had stayed, and their ships were still moored at Kae’s docks. What could have persuaded so many to remain to try and push wares upon a people that just weren’t buying?

L: Suspicious.

P: Or maybe they were just overly hopeful that things would stabilize under Telrii.

Raoden had stayed up late memorizing modifiers. AonDor healing was a complex, difficult art, but he was determined to make certain no one else died because of his inability. It would take months of memorizing, but he would learn the modifier for every organ, muscle, and bone.

L: You have to respect his dedication, even if it is impossible to learn as swiftly as he’d like. This would be like someone trying to become an ER doctor in a week.

P: It is upsetting that he wasn’t able to save Roial. But he shouldn’t beat himself up for that; he’s only been studying Aons for a short time. 

When he finished, her hair began to grow. It went lethargically, sliding out of her head like a breath slowly exhaled.

L: Okay, 1: That’s really cool, but 2: That’s got to be the WEIRDEST feeling. 

P: I felt the same thing about how it would be such a weird feeling. Also made me think of Siri from Warbreaker.

I don’t know if you, as a reader, have been imagining Sarene with short hair since her departure from Elantris, but this chapter fixes that. The heroine has her hair back—all is right in the world.

–Annotation, Brandon Sanderson

L: Well, not quite all. As we’re about to discover…

P: At least all is right with her hair?

“This is the face that loved me when it thought I was an Elantrian, all rank and title abandoned.”

L: Awwww, how romantic! He loved her for her… and not only when her rank and title were gone. Her hair was chopped off and her skin damaged, so theoretically, her beauty was marred as well. With all of those trappings stripped away, he fell in love with nothing more (or less) than the person beneath. And that’s real love, right there.

P: Exactly. He didn’t love her for what she was but who she was. If only more people were like this. 

Sarene gasped in horror as Eondel’s and Telrii’s dead faces came into focus.

L: Well… honeymoon’s over, Sarene. Sorry.

P: Poor Eondel. ::sad face::

Chapter 56

“He did it for honor, Raoden,” Sarene said, looking up from the despondent Shuden. “Telrii murdered a great man last night—Eondel acted to avenge the duke.” 
Raoden shook his head. “Revenge is always a foolish motivation, Sarene. Now we have lost not only Roial, but Eondel as well. The people are left with their second dead king in the space of a few weeks.”

L: I hate to say it, but Raoden’s right. Telrii was an idiot, but killing him accomplished little, save for also killing Eondel. An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind, and all that.

P: And now they’re missing two key allies, as well as Eondel’s meager troops.

Raoden spoke as a ruler, not as a friend.

L: As he should. 

There’s already a bit of tension between Sarene and Raoden. Nothing big, of course–but I think it’s realistic. People don’t always agree. Loving someone doesn’t change the fact that you sometimes think what they’re doing is flat-out dumb. It does, however, tend to change your reactions. And so, Sarene acknowledges that Raoden is acting like a king, not a friend, and lets the matter drop.

Annotation, Brandon Sanderson

This highlights a difference between the two of them that I have pointed out earlier. Sarene was not raised to rule–Raoden was. That lifetime of preparation has changed the way Raoden sees things; it has made him look at everything in the light of how it effects his people. Actually, there is no ‘Raoden the man’ separate from ‘Raoden the ruler.’ They’re tightly integrated.

“All right, Raoden, but not because you order it—but because I trust you. My son may call you king, but I accept the rule of no man.”

L: Kiin’s a pirate, through and through, all right.

Kiin’s personality all along has indicated how little he regards the titles and authority of other men.

Annotation, Brandon Sanderson

L: Well, when you’re used to sailing on the high seas, raiding and plundering, I guess you don’t have much use for authority other than your own. You get used to relying on your own ship and crew and not much else.

P: And when you operate outside the law like that, you don’t have much regard for the creator of the law.

So, this section marked one of the biggest changes to the text during the revision process. In the Mad Prince version of the novel, the soldiers who ride up to Kiin’s house were members of the Mad Prince’s army. They arrested Raoden—he went willingly—and tried him for the death of their leader. This took the better part of two chapters, and ended with Raoden almost getting beheaded.

Annotation Brandon Sanderson

L: That’s actually pretty interesting. We haven’t talked at all about the Mad Prince version of the book, but in an earlier revision, Raoden’s brother Eton is one of the main antagonists. You can learn more about him on the Coppermind entry here, or by reading the deleted scene on Brandon’s website here.

P: And here, I didn’t know anything about this!

Noticing Raoden on the roof, one of the soldiers urged his horse a few steps closer. 
“We have heard rumors that Lord Raoden, crown prince of Arelon, still lives,” the man announced. “If there is truth to this, let him come forward. Our country has need of a king.”

L: The fact that Raoden actually goes up to them marks him as a much more trusting person than I would have been in such a situation. But then…he can’t die, so…

P: But he can experience pain. But yes, it was certainly brave of him. 

The statement made by choosing the patriarch of Shu-Korath to crown him was an important precedent.

L: They’re poking a very large, very war-hungry bear, here.

P: Basically thumbing their noses at Hrathen. 

Rumors were widespread that Raoden had been behind the assassination, but most of the people didn’t seem to care. Their eyes were dull from the shock, and they were beginning to show the wearied signs of extended stress. 
It will change now, Raoden promised them silently. No more questioning. No more uncertainty. We will put forth a united front, with Teod, and face Fjorden.

L: In story-structure terms, we call this the “false victory.” The hero thinks that they’ve achieved their goal. The villain is conquered, and everything is finally going to be okay. Which makes said villain’s reappearance all the more disastrous, of course.

P: And the villain’s not even who we would expect it to be.

He felt … a power. At first he thought the Dor was attacking. However, he realized this was something else—something he had never experienced before. Something external. 
Someone else was manipulating the Dor.

L: And there it is. In our moment of triumph… 

P: This is a scary thought. How could a non-Elantrian manipulate the Dor?

His eyes fell on a small red-robed form almost invisible among the noblemen. The power was coming from him.

L: Dilaf’s here, in the crowd. And what is this that he’s done?

P: And how??

Without checking, Raoden knew that his illusion had fallen.

L: The question remains… how? How has Dilaf done this?

Yes, Dilaf manipulating the Dor is supposed to be a major ‘What the. . . ?’ moment in this book. I’m sorry–I didn’t really give you much foreshadowing on this one. There really wasn’t an opportunity; this isn’t the kind of thing that Dilaf would use very often, for fear of betraying his secrets. I think it works, however, since this scene is actually supposed to be foreshadowing itself. You’ll find out more about Dilaf, obviously, in the next chapter.

Annotation, Brandon Sanderson

L: Oh, well… okay, then. Thanks, Past!Brandon.

P: :: goes to read the next chapter::

A voice came at his side. “Look at him, nobles of Arelon!” Sarene declared. “Look at the man who would have been your king. Look at his dark skin and his Elantrian face! Then tell me. Does it really matter?”

L: Sarene here to save the day! She doesn’t let the unexpected twist throw her for a loop, she just smoothly shifts gears and retains control of the situation. 

P: Bless our princess! Soon to be queen!

With Seinalan stunned, the princess of Teod took his duty upon herself and, reaching up, placed the crown on Raoden’s head.

L: And she does so with aplomb. Look at that! Smooth as silk. Almost as if it were planned.

P: It’s somehow fitting for her to crown him. I like it!

“They’re finally ready to accept a ruler not because he’s a god or because he has money, but because they know he will lead them well.” 

In this case, hope overcomes fear.

Annotation, Brandon Sanderson

L: What a nice change for them. Of course, it’s a fleeting change…

P: Yes, we do all have most of Part Three to go. 

Raoden smiled. “Of course, it helps when that ruler has a wife who can deliver a moving speech at precisely the right moment.”

L: Boy, can she ever…

P: They’re so damn cute!

“Something’s wrong, Sarene. Why did my illusion drop?” 
“You didn’t do that?”
Raoden shook his head. “I … I think that priest did it.”

L: The mystery deepens. Until the next chapter, anyway.

P: I couldn’t wait to solve the mystery!

“Find Galladon in New Elantris and tell him what just happened,” Raoden said. “Then warn him to be ready for something.” 
“For what, my lord?” 
“I don’t know,” Raoden said. “Just tell him to be prepared—and tell him that I’m worried.”

L: Much like his wife, Raoden’s preparing for the worst-case scenario. However, I don’t think any of them could be prepared for what’s coming…

P: Definitely not. It’s so… well, you’ll just have to wait and see what it is!

We’ll be leaving further speculation and discussion to you in the comments, and hope to join you there! Next week, we’ll be back with chapters 57-59.



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