Welcome back to our read of K.M. Weiland’s Dreamlander, the fantasy novel where Chris Redston, a man who can cross between the worlds, must undo a mistake that will destroy everything.
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Orias is finding it harder and harder to adhere to his bargains with Rotoss and Mactalde. Then Mactalde informs him that he must kill Chris if he wants the bargain kept and if he wants Raz and Pitch to stay alive. For a moment, that’s one thing too many, and he almost kills Mactalde. Then Mactalde informs him that all his commanders have orders to kill the Cherazii if he dies. With no other choice, Orias agrees to kill Chris Redston.
Reader Comments: No, Orias! My stomach is twisting for him. Weiland does this very well, but it hurts to read. So either Chris is going to make him see the error of his ways, or Chris will kill him and release him from his misery that way.
Writer Comments: If you make your readers feel, you are doing well. As I read this chapter, I hurt for Orias, Pitch, and Raz. I’m frightened for Chris because Orias probably has what it takes to kill him. But the only reason this works is because Weiland lets us see Orias’s internal struggle, and she’s been showing it since the beginning. For internal struggle to work, it must be played out and shown, not told.
On his way to join up with the army, Chris finds Pitch trying to escape the Koraudians chasing him. Pitch offers to help Chris if Chris will help him. He tells Chris were a hidden piece of Koraudian artillery is on the Lael’s side. Chris and his men take it, and across the river from them, Chris spots Mactalde. He fires to kill him and misses. Mactalde signals a truce, and talks to Chris across the river. He offers for Chris to join him, and when Chris refuses, informs him that he will only accept a surrender from Lael if it comes from Chris. He acknowledges Chris as the only rightful ruler of Lael.
Reader Comments: Poor Chris is caught in the middle. And what a sick, twisted thing to do to an enemy to declare someone other than their actual ruler as leader. Love it. It’s deliciously evil.
Writer Comments: Every character has fears and weaknesses, and they should be exploited in the course of a story. What’s Mactalde’s greatest fear? Dying. The second Chris nearly kills him, he wants to talk peace. Know all your characters’ fears and use them.
On her way to the front a few days later, Allara encounters Orias. He insists that he’s not working for Mactalde anymore and wants to talk to Chris alone. She naturally doesn’t believe him but takes his message anyway. Pitch begs Chris to go, thinking Orias will accept Chris’s help. Knowing it’s probably a trap, Chris goes. Orias attacks him. Chris holds his own for a while, and Orias gives him a chance, intentionally fighting on equal terms. Then he disarms Chris and is about to kill him when Pitch leaps to Chris’s rescue and informs Orias that, if Orias kills Chris, Pitch will kill him. Chris challenges Orias, reminding him that they make their own choices and mistakes. He’s putting an end to his, when will Orias make an end to his own? Orias lets Chris ride away.
Reader Comments: So glad Chris survived that. I wish Orias would come around, but I imagine Weiland needs him for something else later. I feel so bad for Pitch too.
Writer Comments: In this scene, Quinnon intentionally does not get involved in the battle between Orias and Chris. But because of how Chris handles things, he finally earns Quinnon’s respect. This may not have a huge impact to the plot, but it’s important because it’s a benchmark for Chris and realistic. Remember that how your character act and the choices they make affect other characters. Show these changes. Heroes do not move in a vacuum.