Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Towers Of Midnight Prologue: Scene 3



By Linda


This post discusses the third POV of the Prologue of Towers of Midnight, available at Tor.com and selected ebook retailers.

My commentary is hidden under the link because it contains spoilers.

Click here to expand the rest of this post



Graendal

In this scene we see two Forsaken in action, and what an interesting pair they are. Both delight in sensation but only one is able to control herself and others:

Of course, Graendal enjoyed pleasures herself, but she made certain that people thought she was far more self-indulgent than she was. If you knew what people expected you to be, you could use those expectations.

- Towers of Midnight Prologue

Graendal always seems to have a foil. In the earlier books it was Sammael, now it’s Aran’gar. Both foils have died; Sammael’s death bringing Graendal down a notch. This time she will come down more than a notch, especially if the Dark One or Moridin learns the full extent of Graendal’s culpability.

I thought that Graendal was portrayed as rather ditzy in The Gathering Storm, but in this POV she is smarter again. She manipulated Aran’gar and eluded Rand’s trap, even if just barely. However she does a lot of explaining for the fans, especially about the True Power. (There’s now sufficient info on the True Power for a blog article, I think.) For instance:

Working with the True Power was similar, yet not identical, to working with the One Power. A weave of the True Power would often function in a slightly different way, or have an unanticipated side effect. And there were some weaves that could only be crafted by the True Power.

- Towers of Midnight Prologue

The following commentary is a bit more in character, since it shows her lack of reverence:

The Great Lord’s essence forced the Pattern, straining it and leaving it scarred.
Even something the Creator had designed to be eternal could be unraveled using the Dark One’s energies. It bespoke an eternal truth--something as close to being sacred as Graendal was willing to accept. Whatever the Creator could build, the Dark One could destroy.

- Towers of Midnight Prologue

and is consistent with her sceptical and amoral comments in previous books. Graendal doesn’t regard anything sacred except her own skin and the Dark One’s destructive power.

I was amused that Graendal, often nicknamed Granny in the forums, actually did some “borrowing” of an animal’s mind, just like Terry Pratchett’s character Granny Weatherwax, a highly skilled “borrower” who is as manipulative as Graendal and as tough as Cadsuane in her own way.

Graendal also tells us that it is possible to “read” Compulsion:

If Nynaeve al’Maera had the skill needed to read Compulsions, that was dangerous.

- Towers of Midnight Prologue

She is mistaken: Nynaeve doesn’t have this skill yet. It would be interesting to know if Graendal has it, or any other of the Forsaken.

When she had second thoughts about how to use Ramshalan, Graendal was able to remove her Compulsion weaves without much damage. Since removing Compulsion is akin to Healing, according to Rand, Graendal must have some Talent for Healing.

Demandred said that the True Power is dangerous and should be used only at great need, so Graendal exerted herself to keep Aran’gar at her side. This was before Ramshalan showed up and revealed Rand knew Graendal’s location.

Once Graendal felt exposed, her first instinct was to flee and establish herself elsewhere – as those who know her well, such as Aran’gar and Sammael, deduced she would do. So she’s not as unpredictable as she’d like to be.

Graenda’s “ally”, Aran’gar, personifies lust. She desires both females and males and is aroused with a light touch of the Dark One’s power. It’s amusing that she found Graendal boring when Graendal has such a reputation for debauchery. And Graendal’s tickle with the True Power impelled Aran’gar to have sex with Delana in front of Graendal.

Aran’gar was punished for losing control of Egwene and being exposed by Romanda. Since Graendal says Aran’gar still bears this punishment, it likely had a physical component, but Aran’gar isn’t as crushed by it as Mesaana was. If Graendal didn’t tell us we wouldn’t have known.

With so little self-control, Aran’gar was never going to be a successful saboteur. She was trapped and used by Graendal very neatly:

“Graendal?” Aran’gar said, voice panicked. “What are you--”

- Towers of Midnight Prologue

Aran’gar seems a born victim here.

Graendal wanted Aran'gar to serve her:

Words like those were a challenge. Aran’gar would serve her.

- Towers of Midnight Prologue

and she did serve Graendal, just not in the way Graendal expected - as a warning of what not to do

Aran’gar had fled from her place among Aes Sedai, foolishly allowing herself to be sensed channeling. She still bore punishment for her failure. If Graendal left now--discarding a chance to twist al’Thor about himself--would she be similarly punished?

- Towers of Midnight Prologue

and as a cover for Graendal’s escape. So the risk of using the True Power did pay off for Graendal. It was a moment of great need even though Graendal didn’t know it at the time.

Graendal was fairly well informed about Rand - she knew he has Lews Therin's memories, for instance - but her information wasn’t sufficiently detailed or current, otherwise she would know how dark Rand had become; so dark that he would harm a woman. At this time Rand was lashing out with the Choedan Kal and not planning carefully or considering consequences. He was behaving completely differently to what Graendal expected.

As a safety guard Graendal had Ramshalan Compelled with both saidin and saidar. She got Aran’gar and Delana to insert unexpected memories in case Nynaeve (or Rand with Lews Therin’s knowledge?) could read Compulsion. This was not needed; it was not what Rand was aiming at at all.

Aran’gar’s efforts were particularly unnecessary since Rand didn’t bother to check Ramshalam himself and Nynaeve couldn’t sense saidin. Rand assumed there would be a woman’s touch in Ramshalan’s mind, which he wouldn’t sense. The result was that Aran’gar had to die in the balefire.

These errors of judgement and knowledge cost Graendal:

“You,” she growled. “You have become far more dangerous than I assumed.” Hundreds of beautiful men and women, the finest she’d gathered, gone. Her stronghold, dozens of items of Power, her greatest ally among the Chosen. Gone.
This was a disaster.
No, she thought. I live. She’d anticipated him, if only by a few moments. Now he would think she was dead.
She was suddenly the safest she’d been since escaping the Dark One’s prison. Except, of course, that she’d just caused the death of one of the Chosen. The Great Lord would not be pleased.
She limped away from the ridge, already planning her next move. This would have to be handled very, very carefully.

- Towers of Midnight Prologue

Does she manage this carefully enough? Can she persuade Moridin or the Dark One that she was not to blame and escape the repercussions? If anyone can, Graendal will, as her quick thinking, and the way she collected herself after panicking and fleeing with barely the clothes on her back, showed. She’s got some work ahead of her though: she might be safe from Rand for a while, but not from the Dark One. Graendal has to re-establish herself again in more ways than one.

I greatly enjoyed the action and the ironies in this POV.

Oh, and balescream – great word!

7 comments:

Luckers said...

Excellent summation Linda. I particularily agree about the points related to Graendal's relative intelligence, and her sceptical mindset. This is much more in tune with Graendal than tGS.

The one thought I would add is that perhaps releasing ones compulsion weaves is different from removing compulsion. Removing hooks of the power in the brain, and letting those hooks disolve could be two distinct things, and not indicative of anything.

Also I really hope those people on our panel thought of me and went 'awesome!'

DeAnna said...

Balescream, wonderful word - totally agree. Though I'm happy one forsaken is gone, it's getting a bit old hat that we believe a forsaken to be dead only to have them be alive later or brought back to life. Still, we're at the end of the series now so, I imagine the body count is about to make a major jump in the next two books so I shouldn't complain. Granted, among the bodies will likely be some of my fav characters... *chews finger nails* I can not wait to read this book!

Lauren Roundy said...

Excellent analysis, as always! However, I feel like one major thing from this POV was left out and it truly baffles me; Graendal often refers to the Dark One in her own mind as "The Dark One." Even in the same thought, she thinks of "The Dark One's prison" and then "The Great Lord would not be pleased..."

Later she thinks "Light!" to herself. Now, this is either poor writing/editing on Team Jordan's part (highly doubtful) or there is more to this than we realize.

Yes, Graendal is a skeptic, and it is possible she doesn't even really care about taking "sides"; maybe she really is just in it for the power, and she doesn't truly worship the "Great Lord." Perhaps her mentality from before she turned to the DO is still somewhat intact, and so she sometimes thinks of him as the DO or she sometimes still says "Light" in her mind, because she's used to thinking that way before she turned over... but I still can't believe that. Graendal's mind is very keen. Would she make a mistake like this unintentionally? Is it an indication of just how unhinged she is feeling by being discovered by Rand?

OR, could it be that in Graendal's mind the "Dark One" and the "Great Lord" are actually two different entities?

Go back and re-read some of those quotes with that thought in mind and tell me if I'm just blowing smoke.

Muad Cheade said...

Very good post. I agreed with it completely. I was wondering, with Graendal perceived to be dead by Rand, do you think she will target Rand himself or those around him? And how so? She can't exactly waltz into his camp or palace.

I do wish we had more Forsaken POVs since they apparently have so many weaves from the AoL like the weave Graendal used on that bird.

And yes, balescream is a fantastic word.

Linda said...

Luckers: she wasn't releasing it, she removed it according to the text. In between making the weaves and removing them she wove a gateway intending to flee, was interrupted by Aran'gar and then borrowed the mind of a dove which had to be fetched for her.

Deanna; it's a reminder never to jump to conclusions, I guess. One did die - just not the one we thought at the time.

Lauren: she was all over the shop, yes. I'm not sure what to make of it. Certainly the only thing she is sincere about is herself. It seems it's all one to her how she refers to the Dark One. He's only important for what he can do for (or to) her.

Muad: I think it's better not to jump t conclusions here too. :) What will Graendal do next? I think that depends on what happens to her after this scene and what she is allowed to do next. The most likely thing she does next is either hide, or do some pretty swift talking.

Luckers said...

She removed her own compulsion, yes, but that did not involve her having to weave opposing webs, such as Nynaeve was forced to employ. She simply pulled it away. That was the distinction I wished to make with releasing v. removing.

Removing your own weaves is clearly different, therefore may involve none of the same implications--such as a skill for healing.

(it's a minor point :) )

wheel balancing said...

Very informative. I've been searching for relevant posts lie this for almost a week.