I didn’t want to like Child of the Ghosts, but I did anyway. but something about the book really annoyed me. Caina’s built up to be this strong, competent heroine. She’s really smart, tough, and doesn’t despair. But the only reason she joins the Ghsots to avenge her father is because she can’t get married and have kids like she relly wants. That’s really demeaning to women.
Essentially, this is two questions in one. 1.) Is this Caina’s motivation for joining the Ghosts, and 2.) Is her reason for joining the Ghosts demeaning to women?
As regards to 1.), I think Michelle15′s observation is spot-on: that’s the central conflict of Caina’s character. Caina very badly wants to be a wife and a mother, but she can’t because of the injuries Maglarion’s spells inflicted upon her, so she does other things instead. However, the desire to marry and have a family of her own never leaves her, and that conflict between who she is and who she would like to be drives her character.
That, if I may wax philosophical, is one of the keys to writing effective fictional characters – give the characters incompatible and mutually exclusive desires. Like, a man wants to stay with his family, but also wants to take a job on a far-sailing merchant ship. Or a man wants to stay loyal to his brother, even though his brother has joined the rebellion or the Empire or whatever. The conflict between those incompatible desires can drive a very compelling story.
As for 2.), whether that is demeaning or not…well, it depends on the woman. The bald fact is that very many, though not all, women want to marry and have children. You can tell on account of the human race not going extinct. And this is an impulse that transcends culture, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. Nowadays there is an entire genre of fictional and non-fictional literature about “single mid-40s career woman laments not having a family when she had the chance”. (I kid you not, when I started writing this on Wednesday I clicked over to the Daily Mail to search for an example, and this was literally on the front page.)
So the fact that Caina wants children is simply a common desire she shares with most women throughout history.
And it was really annoying how Caina’s teachers told her not to fight fair because most men would be stronger than she is.
I don’t think that’s so much “annoying” as it is “sound advice” for Caina’s situation. The Empire is a pre-industrial society, which means all weapons (except for crossbows and siege engines) are driven by muscle power. And since the Empire is a pre-industrial society, the vast majority of the male population will have been engaged in physical labor of some kind, and it’s more likely than not that a man in good health will be accustomed to physical exertion. So while she will be stronger than some men (Anastius Nicephorus in GHOST IN THE FLAMES being a prime example), it won’t happen all that often.
And, let us be honest, “fighting fairly” is poor advice in any life-or-death situation. Most self-defense classes emphasize “running away” or “attacking your opponent’s weak points, like throat and groin” and not “grappling with your opponent in a content of strength.” Sun Tzu in THE ART OF WAR said that one of the keys to victory was to apply your strengths to the enemy’s weakness, and successful commanders throughout history have said the same thing. Caina is a spy, not a chivalrous knight, and there’s no reason she should attempt to fight like a chivalrous knight.
i loved soul of skulls when is soul of swords coming out?
Unless real life interferes, my plan is to have SOUL OF SWORDS out by the end of the summer. Here’s my writing plan for the year:
-Finish GHOST IN THE FORGE. (I’m on Chapter 4 of 27 in the rough draft.)
-Do two short THE THIRD SOUL projects.
-Write SOUL OF SWORDS, the final DEMONSOULED book.
Now that you’ve read the whole Wheel of Time series Jon, you have any favorites?
I think THE GREAT HUNT, THE SHADOW RISING, THE FIRES OF HEAVEN, WINTER’S HEART, and the last three books (THE GATHERING STORM, TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT, and A MEMORY OF LIGHT) were the strongest ones. I’m writing a review of A MEMORY OF LIGHT, and I’ll post it sometime in the coming week.
I think CROSSROADS OF TWILIGHT and THE PATH OF DAGGERS were the weakest books. Using the word “twilight” in a book title must inspire a curse or something.