Annotation Elantris 53-3
Chapter Fifty-Three Part Three
There has been some confusion about Raoden’s line “After I left” to Sarene right before they go back into the kitchen. Right here, he’s getting ready to tell her that he’s really Raoden. He is implying that, after he left Kae (and was thrown into Elantris) he didn’t think his group of noblemen would keep meeting. It was supposed to be a subtle hint–Sarene would catch something too obvious, and I didn’t want to weaken the drama of Raoden’s appearance.
This is a very noble, and a very sorrowful, scene. A lot of emotions fly around in this chapter. Again, if I have done my job and made you sympathetic to the characters and their stories, then these emotions will come off as powerful drama. If I’ve failed, then all you’ll get from this scene is melodrama. I hope it worked for you. I wanted Raoden’s final revelation–and return to Kae–to be a dramatic and powerful event.
Originally, this scene happened with the Mad Prince, whom I’d built up as being deathly afraid of spirits and ghosts. When Raoden appears, Eton thought he was a ghost, and ran away. (Ha ha. Another pun off the original title of the book. I felt so clever–then cut it all out.) Anyway, on consideration–and in rewriting these scenes to use Telrii instead–I realized that Telrii’s soldiers would never strike down Raoden. His nature as the true king of Arelon would be enough to send them all fleeing in surprise and worry.
Some people are very surprised by this chapter. It isn’t the most narratively-surprising death I’ve ever written, but it was one of the more sudden ones. I’m sorry if you really liked Roial.
I wrote this book to be less of a ‘violent book than some others I’ve written or read. However, on reflection, I realize that what I intended by this was to write a novel where the protagonists didn’t rely on violence as much as they did on their wits. I didn’t mean that I wouldn’t let the bad guys be. . .well, bad.
(In addition, by the way, this is part of why Raoden and Sarene are such competent people. They don’t have swords or magic to perform flashy fight scenes–so, instead, I gave them competence in relation to their personalities. In part, this is what amuses me by complaints that Raoden and Sarene are too flat as characters. Make a man the most brilliant swordsman ever, but make him emotionally incompetent, and you have a ‘deep’ character. Make a man incapable with weaponry, but emotionally mature, and he’s flat. Go figure.)
Anyway, back to the topic at hand, I don’t think I’m particularly brutal with my characters. (I’m no David Gemmel, for instance. I swear, the body counts in that man’s books. . . .) I am, however, realistic. People die in my books. Sometimes they’re viewpoint characters. It happens. From a storyteller’s viewpoint, I think it makes the tension more real. There IS danger for the characters. In a more philosophical bent, I think this makes the characters more heroic–they aren’t protected from the consequences of their decisions. Even if those decisions are good. Choosing to try and overthrow a dictator like Telrii is a dangerous decision, and if the heroes are going to be considered ‘heroic’ for that action, then I have no right to protect them from harm. Doing so would take away the ‘will’ of my villains.