Wednesday, February 27, 2002

NEW SPRING



The Blue Cat, Tar Valon, is a very large inn designed and built by the Ogier and actually resembles a curled up blue cat (New Spring, Leaving the Tower). Moiraine and Siuan pass it by as they go to collect names in the camps.

In symbolism, cats are considered comfort-loving, mysterious, watchful and feminine. So are Aes Sedai. Cats are even attracted to Aes Sedai. Blue represents infinity, eternity, truth, faith, purity, and spiritual and intellectual life (Jack Tressider, Symbols and their Meanings). It is the most detached and least material colour. Aes Sedai are long-lived individually and as an organisation and they wear the Great Serpent ring, symbol of eternity. Their task has been to preserve knowledge and stability and keep watch against the Shadow. They are detached from the mundane world.The Blue Cat inn thus appears to be a metaphor for Aes Sedai that the Ogier made in stone early in the Third Age (before the Aes Sedai lost their way). And of course, Moiraine and Siuan were soon to be raised Aes Sedai and to choose the Blue Ajah.

The Blue Rose,Canluum, is where Bukama met an old flame and Lan was nearly killed by Darkfriends (New Spring, The Deeps). In our world, natural blue roses are an impossibility and thus blue roses traditionally symbolise mystery or attaining the impossible. They are believed to be able to grant the owner wishes. For instance, in Slavic mythology a person could have their wishes granted by bringing a blue rose to the witch Baba Yaga. Certainly Lan was lucky to escape the Darkfriend attack. The mystery of the Black Ajah plots deepened at this inn.

The rose represents love – Bukama’a old love and the devotion between Lan and Bukama. Roses also are emblems of the sun and dawn, more so since the rose is blue. Both men had dedicated themselves to the Light, Lan later even becoming the Warder of an Aes Sedai of the Blue Ajah and aiding the search for the Lord of the Morning.

The Gates of Heaven is Canluum’s best inn where Moiraine met Merean, Larelle and Cadsuane (New Spring, An Arrival). The name may refer to the Gates of Hevan that Sammael betrayed to the Shadow in the Age of Legends (The Shadow Rising, The Lesser Sadness), or to heaven itself in a religious sense.

Perhaps a more likely explanation is that the heaven in the inn’s name refers to the sky. Kandor is a mountainous country and Canluum is set on high hills. Moreover Queen Ethenielle holds the Throne of Clouds. The name announces support for the monarch (as many inn names do) and proclaims the “exclusive atmosphere” that the innkeeper is trying to project. Inns sometimes have jokey names like this.

There are other inns with heaven in the title: The Golden Crown of Heaven, a poor inn in the Rahad, and The Golden Swans of Heaven, a tiny inn between a stable and a shop, both in Ebou Dar. Mat and Bethamin were each surprised that the inns were nothing much considering their grandiose names, so names containing the word heaven are normally considered upmarket.

The Plowman’s Blade in Manala has two storeys and a red roof (New Spring, Breakfast in Manala). Lan, Bukama, Ryne and Moiraine stopped there for breakfast. The arrow slits instead of windows on the ground floor show that Borderlander inns are often important defence points during Shadowspawn attacks. The name refers to a local occupation, although the blade also emphasises that everyone is prepared to fight.

The White Tower in Ravinda, Kandor (New Spring, Some Tricks of the Power). The innkeeper decided to use the White Tower bounty to build an inn called The White Tower. Moiraine thought that the first Aes Sedai to pass by would force the innkeeper to change the name, but Moiraine herself (in disguise) was the first Aes Sedai to hear of it and she did nothing.

The Ruffled Goose is a disreputable inn in Chachin (New Spring, The Evening Star). A woman tried to steal Moiraine’s horse while she stopped there looking for Siuan. The ruffled goose would represent customers like Moiraine who are about to get plucked by locals. Geese symbolise vigilance and that certainly was important at this inn.

The Blind Pig is another dirty, disreputable inn in Chachin (New Spring, The Evening Star). When Moiraine looked for Siuan there the innkeeper laughed at her. The inn has a downmarket name. Pigs can symbolise gluttony, selfishness, lust, obstinacy and ignorance. This pig is blind, so more so.

The Silver Penny, Chachin (New Spring, The Evening Star). Moiraine stopped at The Silver Penny looking for Siuan. The inn and innkeeper were well kept despite the rough clientele. The innkeeper made money out of drugging and robbing unwary and prosperous-looking clients. Just in time Moiraine realised her drink was drugged and used a Blue Ajah panic weave to force the innkeeper to drink it instead. The name may symbolise the innkeeper’s criminal scam – a traitorous piece of silver – and her mercenary nature. It also probably caters to a clientele of gamblers it wants to attract with this reference to gain.

The Evening Star in Chachin is a three storey, medium standard inn favoured by merchants (New Spring, The Evening Star). Moiraine and Siuan planned there. The star symbolizes guidance, guardianship, honour, achievement and hope (Jack Tressider, Symbols and their Meanings) and the symbolism is consistent with what Moiraine and Siuan were doing and later aimed to do for the Dragon Reborn. It is a fitting location to end this novel, the beginning of a long and dark quest for the 'rising sun' that is the Dragon Reborn. In the real world, the planet Venus is referred to as the evening star and in the sky is never seen far from the sun.




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Written by Linda, June, 2007/ illustrations by Dominic, March-April 2009





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