Annotation Elantris Chapter 36
Dakhor. One of the better words I came up for this book, I think.
Be patient with me–I’m going somewhere with this whole Dakhor monastery thing. We’ll get there eventually. For now, enjoy Hrathen’s visions. Or, rather, be disturbed by them. (Dakhor, if you haven’t noticed, isn’t a very friendly place. . . .)
Yes, all this time Hrathen was under the effects of the potion. It was a little bit contrived not to tell the reader that Hrathen had asked for the effects to be temporary, but I figured the drama was worth it. You should have been able to figure it out anyway–it was the only logical reason Hrathen would drink the potion.
Of all the politickings, maneuverings, and plannings in this book, I think this is the best one. In a single brilliant gamble, Hrathen managed to make himself into a saint who is seen to have power over Elantris. He out-witted Sarene and Dilaf at the same time, gaining back everything he’d lost during his arguments and self-questioning. This isn’t really a ‘twist,’ in my mind–it’s something better. It’s something that makes logical sense, something that carries the plot forward without having to trick the reader, yet still earning wonder and appreciation.
In my mind, this sort of plot twist is superior to gimmick surprises. I don’t often pull it off, but there’s something. . .majestic about a plotting device that is obvious, rational, yet still surprising.
This chapter asks the question ‘What is a miracle?’ You’ve heard me wax pontificatory too much on religion, so I’ll hold off here. Instead, I’ll just point out that what Hrathen thinks–that something can be a miracle even if there was nothing ‘miraculous’ involved–makes perfect sense, I think. Look at it this way. A) Hrathen believes (as many in our world do) that God controls everything. B) Hrathen believes (as many in our world do) that God can do whatever he wants without expending any resources or weakening Himself. C) Therefore, it doesn’t matter to God whether or not He has to ‘magically’ cause something to occur or not–as long as an event is made to coincide with what He wants to happen, it is miraculous. It’s just as easy for Him to make something occur through the natural flow of the universe as it is for him to make it occur through breaking of normal laws.
(This, by the way, is why ‘miracles’ such as faith healings or the like should never, in my opinion, form one’s grounds for belief in a particular religion.)