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  • L.L. Stephens

Chapter 48: What's In a Scene?

Updated: Apr 20, 2022

In a recent review of SORDANEON [Digging For Gems:] the reviewer mentioned a chapter he found particularly memorable. He also said that it added to his understanding about the Rill. Being a curious soul who also craves to know when and how her writing resonates with readers, I went to that chapter to see if I could locate what worked well enough to be memorable.

Chapter 48 has three scenes, two of which feature Daimonaeris — one scene with Nammuor and one with Dorilian. The third is a solo scene with Dorilian.

This quote from the third scene contains no spoilers.

The next day he left Sordan, ostensibly to look in on his interests in Dazunor-Rannuli. He and Legon arrived at nightfall, an hour he now detested, and immediately descended the Mount to a waiting gond. From there, he sought the secure surroundings of the Rillhome. He dined with Legon and afterward spent two hours staring at the Rill Mount across the Lower Canal, a god encapsulated by rings of warehouses and glittering palaces.

It cannot move.

As a child, he had envisioned the god in motion, a force of transformation. But there was no transformation in what he saw before him. It is static. They have fixed it; the better to serve them. They think the Rill is theirs and theirs alone. How not, when this was what they saw? For all its massive structure and soaring strangeness, the Rill glowed less brightly than the brilliant domes of Dazunor-Rannuli’s alabaster palaces, those gold-painted facades reflected in glittering carpets upon the waters of lacework canals. Perhaps all gods were ultimately ruled by their creations.

There’s more, but with spoilers.

The Rill, too, is a character in this book and in the series. As the novel progresses the reader gains understanding of what it… might be.

What the Rill is… the people who live alongside it do not fully understand. The Epoptes, who believe themselves to be the Rill’s guardians, have come to see it as a machine; as a result so has most of the World. Talk of the Rill centers almost exclusively on its utility: economic, to be sure, but also as a political or military mechanism. Lip service is given to the Rill being a living entity, but that belief is stunted by the Rill’s visible and consistent use as a machine.

Dorilian is the reader’s path into the Rill Entity. No one else sees the Rill as he does. As he does see it. And as I read this scene and recall writing it, I understand why the reviewer zeroed in on it as memorable.

Dorilian is seeing the Rill. As it is. As he is.

The reader sees them.

Edit: Second Thoughts

Long knowledge of myself has proven I am a slow thinker. As Gandalf tells Frodo at one point about old Butterbur the Innkeeper of the Prancing Pony, "He is wise enough on his own ground. He thinks less than he talks, and slower; yet he can see through a brick wall in time…”, just insert me for Butterbur.

Another day. Another perspective. I still think the Dorilian scene is an important one... but I have changed my mind about what the reviewer found memorable.

Unfortunately, to talk too much about it would be spoiler territory, but it's what happens in the scene with Dorilian and Daimonaeris.

Sometimes creators take the subtler aspects of their creations for granted. They become familiar and so don't come immediately to mind. Dorilian's Rill-bound body can do some pretty amazing tricks. These abilities are evident in the first chapter and again at later points in the book; they appear again in later books. And what he does in this scene with Daimonaeris sets up an important series arc.

So it could be that.

Or something else. If so, I will think of it later.

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