STATE OF THE
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Annotation Elantris 58-3
Chapter Fifty-Eight Part Three
So, call me melodramatic, but I think the Kiin surprise is one of my favorite in the novel. I’ve been foreshadowing this one from almost the beginning. And while it isn’t a major part of the plot, it does suddenly explain a lot about Kiin’s character.
So, in case you couldn’t infer it from the text, Kiin is Eventeo’s (Sarene’s father) older brother. He should have inherited the throne, but he wasted his youth on pleasure voyages and exploration, visiting foreign ports while his little brother stayed behind and helped rule the kingdom. (Their father was ailing, and often Eventeo would have to hold court for him and attend the other tasks of king.)
Some minor crisis arrived at the same time as their father died, and Eventeo–thinking his brother unworthy of the throne–eased into the role of king and was crowned before Kiin was the wiser. Eventeo dealt with the problems of state, and generally was a good king. When Kiin got back from his latest trip, however, he was furious to find that his crown had been stolen from him. He demanded it back; Eventeo refused, and had Kiin banished.
Kiin was popular with the military men, however, because of the heroic figure he cut. He was the adventuring sailor, while Eventeo was a scholarly bureaucrat. Over the next few years, Kiin managed to gather a naval force from pirates, deserters from Eventeo’s armies, and mercenary forces. It was during this time he nearly died to the accident that crushed his throat. He took the name ‘Dreok,’ after Aon Reo, and sailed against Teod, trying to take the throne by force.
Eventeo won (barely) and Kiin escaped with his life (barely.) He went to Arelon to recoup and plan his next invasion. However, he fell in love with Daora, and slowly began to loose his hard edge. A decade or so later, we have Kiin the chef and home-maker.
I think it’s a great backstory because of the questions it leaves. Eventeo did something that might have been right for his country, but something that was legally incorrect. All excuses aside, he usurped the throne. Kiin wouldn’t have made a good king–he didn’t have practice at administration, and he was a brusque, impetuous young man. However, the throne still should have been his.
Moments like this one–when the secrets, foreshadowing, and hints all click together–are one of my greatest joys in writing. We’ve got a few more good ones coming up in the book. However, I did go a little overboard in places. We’ll talk about that next.
So. . .in the original draft, Torena is Eventeo’s new spy in Arelon. Do you remember the conversation that Sarene and Eventeo had a little ways back? The one where he told her he had a new spy in Arelon, and refused to tell Sarene who it is? Well, yes. Torena.
When I was writing this book, I went a little bit too far with the hidden pasts and amazing discoveries. I had Torena being the one who came to rescue Sarene from the Dakhor. (She arrived in a second carriage, I think.) However, the Dakhor caught up to them again, and suddenly Kiin appeared to save them.
This scene was terrible. It’s not that any of the pieces were bad. It’s just that it was too repetitive. First you find out Torena has a secret past, and that she’s come to rescue Sarene. Then we find out that Kiin has a secret past and he’s come to rescue Sarene. It just didn’t work–and the Torena surprise, which was only mildly foreshadowed, ruined the much better Kiin surprise.
So, I cut the Torena parts–and I’m very glad that I did. My early alpha readers said that the worst part about the book was how all of the surprises at the end interfered with each other. Looking back, some of the things I did are embarrassing. I was adding surprises just for the sake of surprises. This is always a bad idea–surprises should be integral to plot and character, just like everything else. We want to find out about Kiin because we like him and are interested in him. We don’t really care about Torena.
(In my defense, I originally intended Torena to be a female friend for Sarene, kind of a second sidekick. However, there were already too many people hanging out with Sarene, and I just couldn’t work Torena in without complicating things even further.)